Rose and Rose
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Rose and Rose, by E. V. LucasThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictionswhatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Rose and RoseAuthor: E. V. LucasRelease Date: September 30, 2018 [eBook #57995]Last Updated: October 5, 2018Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ROSE AND ROSE***
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ROSE AND ROSE
E. V. LUCAS
METHUEN & CO. LTD.
36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
Fifty years ago, when I was a young medical student, I was inthe habit of spending as many week-ends as possible at home withmy father, to whose practice I was one day to succeed.
On a certain Saturday the only other occupants of the railwaycompartment were an artist and his wife. I knew him to bean artist from certain scraps of his conversation that Ioverheard, but I should have guessed it also on the evidence ofhis hands and dress. I don’t mean that he wore ablack velvet tam-o’-shanter and trousers tight at theankles, as in plays; but his hands were eloquent, and there was ageneral careless ease about his tweeds that suggested theantipodes of any commercial or anxious calling.
After a while he turned to me and asked if I knew the town ofLowcester.
I said that I had lived in the neighbourhood—atBullingham, five miles away—all my life.
“We are going to spend a few days at the Crown atLowcester,” he said, “looking about to try and find ahouse.”
“Next door to the doctor,” said the lady, speakingnow for the first time. “That would be a greatconvenience.”
One result of this chance meeting was that they took the houseand we became friends; another was the general shaping of mylife; and a third is this narrative, the fruit of an oldman’s egoism and leisure.
I don’t put my own case as an example to the medicalprofession, but you can’t deny there is a kind of fitnessin it: it is surely more proper than not that the doctor whopresides at the birth of a child should continue to take aninterest in that child throughout its life. Being born is,after all, something of an event, and he who assists in thatadventure and helps to introduce a new soul (not to mention a newbody) to this already overcrowded and over-complicated planet ofours, ought to be counted as something a little more importantthan a jobbing gardener, say, or any other useful ally that thehouseholder calls in. For no matter how mechanical hisservices, he is also an instrument of destiny.
None the less, if accoucheurs were expected to
All this, however, is more or less irrelevant and too muchconcerned with myself. But you will find thatpreoccupation, I fear, throughout this story, such as itis. I commenced author, you see, at a time of life when itis not easy to keep to the point or exclude garrulity. Whenone does not take to writing until one is over seventy—Ishall be seventy-one this year, 1920—readers must expect acertain want of business-like adroitness. Had you known mein the days when I was in practice, before I was established onthe shelf, you would have found me, I hope, direct and forcibleand relevant enough. The stethoscope was mightier than thepen.
p. 4Still,there is more relevance than perhaps you would think, for I amcoming to a case where the doctor and the newly-born establishedan intimacy that was destined to grow and to endure throughlife. For, as it chanced, my father died very soon after Iwas qualified, and when our new neighbours, the Allinsons, becameparents, it was I who was called in to assist. I was thentwenty-seven. Circumstances of personal friendship andcontiguity alone might have promoted a closer association than iscustomary between the babe and the intermediary; but thecontrolling factors were the death of the mother, after whichmany of the decisions which a mother would have to make devolvedon me; and Rose’s delicate little body, which caused herduring her early years to need fairly constant watching. The result was that until a certain unexpected event happened shemoved about almost exclusively between her father’s houseand mine, and was equally at home in both. But even withsuch a beginning it never crossed my mind that the strands of ourfate were to be so interwoven.
Rose’s father was a landscape painter of rather morethan independent means: sufficient at any rate to make itpossible for him to seek loveliness in no matter how distant aland. He had sketches which he had made all over Europe, inMorocco, p. 5inEgypt, in Japan. But France was his favourite huntingground, partly, I think, because he liked the comments of theFrench peasants who stood behind his easel better than those ofany other critic.
Artists, even when they are poor, are enviable men. Theylive by enjoyment—their work is fun—for even if theunequal struggle to persuade pigments to reproduce nature fillsthem with despair, they are still occupied with beauty, stillseeing only what they want to see, and remote from squalor andsordidness and the ills of life.
Theodore Allinson took the fullest advantage of his artistictemperament and his private fortune. The one enabled him toignore whatever was unpleasing, and the other to fulfil everywandering caprice. It was all in keeping with such aman’s destiny that he should have as a next-door neighbouran ordinary trustworthy fellow like myself, who could be dependedupon to keep an eye on his motherless infant when he wasabsent. Or, for that matter, when he was present too. He would have taken it as a very cruel injustice on the part ofthe gods if I had moved to any other part of the kingdom—asprobably any decently ambitious young man in my position wouldhave done. How he would have raised his clenched fists toHeaven and railed against fate! But, luckily for him, Icould eat the lotus too.
My lotus-eating, however, would have been only half asdelightful if Allinson were not my
She had taken to me at once, or at any rate had taken to mywatch—watches having always been useful links betweeninfantile patients and their medical men. Mine was a goldrepeater, very satisfying to immature gums and surprising andamusing to the ear. I still have it, and sophisticatedthough the world has grown, and mechanically melodious withgramophone and piano-player, it still chimes for the young withall its old allurement.
As Rose developed, the function of the repeater as a mediatordecreased in importance, and she and I took to more ordinarymeans of communicating our sympathy; but the watch laid thefoundations and laid them truly.
It is extraordinary what a small child’s tongue can dowith an honest English name. Every one has had experienceof this fantastic adaptive gift, but none could be more curiousthan my own. My name is Greville—Julius Greville,M.D., if you please—and if there is a sound less likeGreville than “Dombeen” I should like to be told ofit; but Dombeen was Rose’s translation
Our gardens were separated only by an old fruit wall with agate in it, both sides of the gate being equally Rose’sdomain; and I used to rejoice when on returning from my rounds Isaw her dainty proud little head among the fruit bushes.
Briggs, my gardener and my father’s gardener before me,was the happier for her society too, as she circled about himlike a robin and never ceased her inquisitorial functions.
“Lord, but she do flummox me sometimes,” he wouldsay. “The things that child wants to know! Itisn’t only book-learning that’s needed, it’sflower-learning too. It makes me feel thatignorant.”
“What sort of things?”
“Well, why one flower’s blue and anotherpink. Man and boy I’ve worked in gardens, and withgood head-men over me too when I was learning—Scotchmen andall—but I never heard about that. Never even wonderedabout it. ‘So as to look prettier in nosegays’was all I could say; but it must go deeper than that.
“Here’s some more nuts of hers tocrack—‘Why do some flowers have scent and othersdon’t?’ ‘Who discovered that potatoes aregood to eat?’ ‘Who began to put horse-radishwith beef?’ ‘Why are butterflies calledbutterflies?’ Really, sir, you ought to take her on,she makes me seem that ignorant. She won’t ask me thethings I do know. The funny part of it is,” Briggswent on, “she doesn’t want to have a garden of herown. Some children are mad about that, but shedoesn’t care. All she wants is to walk about amongthe flowers, or stand by me, and watch and watch.”
And off he went.
He came back a moment later. “It would be verygood of you,” he said, “to try and find out whybutterflies are called butterflies. My missis wants to knowtoo.”
I remember another of Briggs’ stories of Rose. “The other day,” he said—this was when Rose wasabout six—“she brought a tooth—the one that yougave her a shilling for if she didn’t cry when she went tohave it pulled—and what do you think? She wanted meto plant it for her. Plant it! And what for? Soas it would grow into a soldier, as it did in some bookthey’d been reading to her.
“‘Pooh, gardeners!’ she said. ‘That wouldn’t be any fun. Besides, teethdon’t grow into gardeners anyway, they grow intosoldiers’; and she comes out every morning and evening towater it.”
Rose’s want of interest in work of any kind extended togames. Her boredom when her father and I were at croquet orbilliards was abysmal, and I could never induce her to perseverewith a mallet. Her playground was the world, and her playwas to be in it, and see it, and, I doubt not, speculate as toits peculiarities. She liked to have stories read to her,but she liked better to invent them for herself and relate themto herself as she walked about, outdoors or in. But whenshe could get one’s whole attention, which is thetoo-often-frustrated desire of most children, she washappiest. A walk with me in the garden when I was“ab-so-loot-ly” idle, without scissors or spud orpreoccupation, was one of her special treats; the tendency ofgrown up people to let their eyes wander towards weeds or suckersor green fly being among her heavy crosses.