A Rogue's Life HTML version

Chapter 9
THE doctor (like me) had his shoes off. The doctor (like me) had come in without
making the least noise. He cocked the pistol without saying a word. I felt that I
was probably standing face to face with death, and I too said not a word. We two
Rogues looked each other steadily and silently in the face--he, the mighty and
prosperous villain, with my life in his hands: I, the abject and poor scamp, waiting
his mercy.
It must have been at least a minute after I heard the click of the cocked pistol
before he spoke.
"How did you get here?" he asked.
The quiet commonplace terms in which he put his question, and the perfect
composure and politeness of his manner, reminded me a little of Gentleman
Jones. But the doctor was much the more respectable-looking man of the two;
his baldness was more intellectual and benevolent; there was a delicacy and
propriety in the pulpiness of his fat white chin, a bland bagginess in his
unwhiskered cheeks, a reverent roughness about his eyebrows and a fullness in
his lower eyelids, which raised him far higher, physiognomically speaking, in the
social scale, than my old prison acquaintance. Put a shovel-hat on Gentleman
Jones, and the effect would only have been eccentric; put the same covering on
the head of Doctor Dulcifer, and the effect would have been strictly episcopal.
"How did you get here?" he repeated, still without showing the least irritation.
I told him how I had got in at the second-floor window, without concealing a word
of the truth. The gravity of the situation, and the sharpness of the doctor's
intellects, as expressed in his eyes, made anything like a suppression of facts on
my part a desperately dangerous experiment.
"You wanted to see what I was about up here, did you?" said he, when I had
ended my confession. "Do you know?"
The pistol barrel touched my cheek as he said the last words. I thought of all the
suspicious objects scattered about the room, of the probability that he was only
putting this question to try my courage, of the very likely chance that he would
shoot me forthwith, if I began to prevaricate. I thought of these things, and boldly
"Yes, I do know."