The Illustrious Prince
25. Hobson's Choice
There were some days when the absence of patients seemed to Dr. Spencer Whiles a
thing almost insupportable. Too late he began to realize that he had set up in the wrong
neighborhood. In years to come, he reflected gloomily, when the great building estate
which was to have been developed more than a year ago was really opened up, there
might be an opportunity where he was, a very excellent opportunity, too, for a young
doctor of ability. Just now, however, the outlook was almost hopeless. He found himself
even looking eagerly forward every day for another visit from Mr. Inspector Jacks.
Another trip to town would mean a peep into the world of luxury, whose doors were so
closely barred against him, and, what was more important still, it would mean a fee which
would keep the wolf from the door for another week. It had come to that with Dr. Whiles.
His little stock of savings was exhausted. Unless something turned up within the course
of the next few weeks, he knew very well that there was nothing left for him to do but to
slip away quietly into the embrace of the more shady parts of the great city, to find a
situation somewhere, somehow, beyond the ken of the disappointed creditors whom he
would leave behind.
Mr. Inspector Jacks, however, had apparently no further use, for the present at any rate,
for his medical friend. On the other hand, Dr. Spencer Whiles was not left wholly to
himself. On the fourth day after his visit to London a motor car drew up outside his
modest surgery door, and with an excitement which he found it almost impossible to
conceal, he saw a plainly dressed young man, evidently a foreigner and, he believed, a
Japanese, descend and ring the patients' bell. The doctor had dismissed his boy a week
ago, from sheer inability to pay his modest wages, and he did not hesitate for a moment
about opening the door himself. The man outside raised his hat and made him a sweeping
"It is Dr. Spencer Whiles?" he asked.
The doctor admitted the fact and invited his visitor to enter.
"It is here, perhaps," the latter continued, "that a gentleman who was riding a bicycle and
was run into by a motor car, was brought after the accident and treated so skilfully?"
"That is so," Dr. Whiles admitted. "There was nothing much the matter with him. He had
rather a narrow escape."
"I am that gentleman's servant," the visitor continued with a bland smile. "He has sent me
down here to see you. The leg which was injured is perfectly well, but there was a pain in
the side of which he spoke to you, which has not disappeared. This morning, in fact, it is
worse,--much worse. My master, therefore, has sent me to you. He begs that if it is not
inconvenient you will return with me at once and examine him."
The doctor drew a little breath. This might mean another week or so of respite!