« AnteriorContinuar »
health was sacrificed, and the free and joyous period of childhood too often shadowed with a cloud which was not of heaven's sending, but man's raising.
Dr. Trevor called in the afternoon. He was a kind and judicious man, very fond of his profession, and taking that enlarged and liberal view of its duties which did not allow him to rest satisfied with simply prescribing for the bodily ailments of his patients. He knew full well the intimate connection which subsists between the moral and physical powers of man, and it was his aim, so far as he was permitted to do so, to explain and enforce this truth; so that, in many cases, even among the poor and unlettered of the community, he succeeded in winning a cordial and hearty co. operation in the measures he suggested, and was looked upon as a friend and adviser for many miles round. With Mrs. Thornton, how. ever, he knew he had a difficult person to deal, and, feeling strongly the dangerous tendency of the system she was pursuing, he had often
dropped a word of advice and caution, but hitherto without much success.
“Why, my little girl, what a pale face!” said the doctor, as Flora entered the room. “ Who would think you had been living among the hills, in the finest air in England? You are a discredit to us all, and something must be done to bring the roses to your cheeks. Why, what a cold little hand! And now I will venture upon a bold guess. The lessons have not gone on well lately; hey, is it
A faint flush came into Flora's countenance, as she looked at her grandmama.
“Nay, nay," said the kind doctor, “I am not going to bring you into trouble, my dear. I am going to prescribe what you will like very much, I know-a long holiday. We will have nothing to do with lessons, and very little with physic, but a great deal with the fresh morning air and the wild honeysuckles.”
The child looked earnestly at the doctor, and then at her grandmama, as if debating
within herself how far this pleasant remedy would be carried out. She answered intelligently the several questions and inquiries which Dr. Trevor put, and then, patting her kindly on the shoulder, he said, “Now you may go, my dear, and ask Percy what he thinks of my prescription.”
As soon as she had left the room he turned to Mrs. Thornton, and said, “Now, my good lady, you must allow me to speak plainly with you. You will never rear that child, unless you pursue a totally different course with her. You must leave her alone, and let her follow where Nature leads, or I tell you truly you will repent it. That child is made of a texture so fragile in body and mind that she will no more bear handling than a butterfly's wing. The discipline and method which are useful, nay, needful, for other children, are altogether harmful for her, and, with such a temperament, all we may do is to stand by and watch, and guard her from all rough collision as we may.”
“Well, doctor, I will follow any plan you suggest, so far as is consistent with my duty to the children; but you must remember, now is the time for education. These are precious years, and when girls are destined for India, as mine are, they are doubly precious, because they have no further opportunities for improve. ment after they leave this country.”
“My dear madam, education is a grand thing, and no one values it or appreciates it more than I do; but health (and with health happiness and usefulness too) is a far grander thing. Look at that poor child, she is all nerve and suffering. If she were a poor man's child, now, she would have a far better chance ; for Nature would then have her own way, and she is a far wiser nurse than we are. Those weak little limbs of hers have no strength of muscle, and perhaps you do not know how in. timately connected our muscular and nervous systems are. The nerves cannot be kept in healthy action, unless the muscles are suffi. ciently developed, and kept in continual exer. cise; and it is to this cause, I think, we may attribute it, that boys are, as a race, so much more healthy than girls. My girls have a gymnasium in the garden, where they are accustomed to play for an hour almost every day. I wish you would send your little one to join them. I will see that she does not over. fatigue herself.”
A vision of ropes and pulleys, and wooden beams, passed through Mrs. Thornton's brain in connection with Flora's soft, white, delicate little hands, and she felt it impossible to agree to this; so, to avoid the pain of a direct refusal, she proposed that Flora should ride the pony every day for an hour. The doctor was too glad to fall in with anything like concurrence in his views to oppose her in anything, and after prescribing a tonic medicine, and en. forcing his advice by every argument he thought likely to have weight, he rose, and took his leave.
As he walked slowly on to the house of his next patient, revolving in his mind the thoughts which his visit had suggested, and