At No.13 he stopped and rapped loudly upon the door with the head of his metal-headed stick. "Mrs. McTavish?" he asked, as a hard-lined, angular woman responded to his summons.
"That's me, sir."
"Mr. Dimsdale lives with you, I believe?"
"Third floor front, sir."
"Is he in?"
Suspicion shone in the woman's eyes. "Was it aboot a bill?" she asked.
"A bill, my good woman! No, no, nothing of the kind. Dr. Dimsdale is my name. I am the lad's father--just come up from London to see him. I hope he has not been overworking himself?"
A ghost of a smile played about the woman's face. "I think not, sir," she answered.
"I almost wish I had come round in the afternoon," said the visitor, standing with his thick legs astride upon the door-mat. "It seems a pity to break his chain of thought. The morning is his time for study."
"Houts! I wouldna' fash aboot that."
"Well! well! The third floor, you say. He did not expect me so early, I shall surprise the dear boy at his work."
The landlady stood listening expectantly in the passage. The sturdy little man plodded heavily up the first flight of stairs. He paused on the landing.
"Dear me!" he murmured. "Some one is beating carpets. How can they expect poor Tom to read?"
At the second landing the noise was much louder. "It must be a dancing school," conjectured the doctor.
When he reached his son's door, however, there could no longer be any doubt as to whence the sounds proceeded. There was the stamp and shuffle of feet, the hissing of in-drawn breath, and an occasional soft thud, as if some one were butting his head against a bale of wool. "It's epilepsy," gasped the doctor, and turning the handle he rushed into the room.
One hurried glance showed him the struggle which was going on. There was no time to note details. Some maniac was assaulting his Tom. He sprang at the man, seized him round the waist, dragged him to the ground, and seated himself upon him. "Now tie his hands," he said complacently, as he balanced himself upon the writhing figure.
A RECTORIAL ELECTION.
It took some little time before his son, who was half-choked with laughter, could explain to the energetic doctor that the gentleman upon whom he was perched was not a dangerous lunatic, but, on the contrary, a very harmless and innocent member of society. When at last it was made clear to him, the doctor released his prisoner and was profuse in his apologies.
"This is my father, Garraway," said Dimsdale. "I hardly expected him so early."
"I must offer you a thousand apologies, sir. The fact is that I am rather short-sighted, and had no time to put my glasses on. It seemed to me to be a most dangerous scuffle."
"Don't mention it, sir," said Garraway, with great good humour.
"And you, Tom, you rogue, is this the way you spend your mornings? I expected to find you deep in your books. I told your landlady that I hardly liked to come up for fear of disturbing you at your work. You go up for your first professional in a few weeks, I understand?"
"That will be all right, dad," said his son demurely. "Garraway and I usually take a little exercise of this sort as a preliminary to the labours of the day. Try this armchair and have a cigarette."
The doctor's eye fell upon the medical works and the disarticulated skull, and his ill-humour departed.
"You have your tools close at hand, I see," he remarked.
"Yes, dad, all ready."
"Those bones bring back old memories to me. I am rusty in my anatomy, but I dare say I could stump you yet. Let me see now. What are the different foramina of the sphenoid bone, and what structures pass through them? Eh?"
"Coming!" yelled his son. "Coming!" and dashed out of the room.
"I didn't hear any one call," observed the doctor.
"Didn't you, sir?" said Garraway, pulling on his coat. "I thought I heard a noise."
"You read with my son, I believe?"
"Then perhaps you can tell me what the structures are which pass