The Prisoners of Hartling by J.D. Beresford Book Summary
"Dog's life, old man, a dog's life; you can't get away from that."
Arthur Woodroffe's voice was quite cheerful as he framed this indictment of the life of a general practitioner in a poor neighbourhood, but his companion frowned and shook his head impatiently.
"You are still re-acting to the pernicious influences of that damnable war," he said. "You're hankering after the intoxication of saving wounded under fire; exciting stunts of that sort; Sbana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus. You've got to learn to be content with Jordan. Risk your life in more homely ways saving the sick in Peckham. Same thing, really; only you don't get orders for it. And of course ..." he hesitated, pushed up his gold-rimmed spectacles, and stared hard at his friend and paid assistant. "Any way, what is it you're hankering after, my good chap?" he concluded.
Woodroffe looked critically round the little room, and then at Somers glowering down at him from the hearthrug. "More space," he said briefly; "and more...." He seemed to jib at the word that was obviously in his mind.
"More beauty," Somers suggested.
"If you like," Woodroffe agreed carelessly. "Something of that sort. I'd like to get about the world a bit, too."
"As medical attendant to a hypochondriac millionaire?"
"Or some job abroad; or...."
"What you really want, my lad, is an independent income and lots of leisure," Somers commented.
"You can't say I've ever been a slacker, Bob," Woodroffe said.
"No, but you'd soon pick it up if you had got enough to live on without worrying."
Woodroffe considered that before he replied. "Don't believe I should. Go in for research or something. Hate having nothing to do."
"There's always hunting and golf, and bridge and billiards, and cricket, and so on," Somers said. "Life of a country gentleman. Also, you might marry and beget a family, and go in for politics. Quite a strenuous life it seems, for a lot of 'em."
"Bit of a change wouldn't it, after the life of a panel doctor in Peckham," Woodroffe remarked; "but I don't think it's my style all the same. I'd like to do something, something useful. And by the way, old thing, if you're taking on Nellie Mason, I'd advise you to turn in. I saw her this morning, and she's pretty near her time. Rotten job it'll be, too. But I'll take her on if you like. A fat primip like her would be good for my character."
"No, I'll take it," Somers said. "I promised her I would. She thinks you're a bit young. All the same, I'm not going to bed yet. I want to have this out with you. It's interesting, for one thing. I suppose nothing particular has upset you lately, has it? Nothing that's set your mind roving."
"I don't know. Yes. In a way. Had a letter this morning asking me to spend a week-end with a wealthy sort of connection of mine in Sussex—or Surrey, is it? Hartling's the name of the place."
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