'You think you do,' replied the doctor; 'but science knows better. There was a patient of mine once,' touching one of the many mourning rings upon his fingers, and slightly bowing his head, 'a gentleman who did me the honour to make a very handsome mention of me in his will--"in testimony," as he was pleased to say, "of the unremitting zeal, talent, and attention of my friend and medical attendant, John Jobling, Esquire, M.R.C.S.,"--who was so overcome by the idea of having all his life laboured under an erroneous view of the locality of this important organ, that when I assured him on my professional reputation, he was mistaken, he burst into tears, put out his hand, and said, "Jobling, God bless you!" Immediately afterwards he became speechless, and was ultimately buried at Brixton.'
'By your leave there!' cried Bullamy, without. 'By your leave! Refreshment for the Board-room!'
'Ha!' said the doctor, jocularly, as he rubbed his hands, and drew his chair nearer to the table. 'The true Life Assurance, Mr Montague. The best Policy in the world, my dear sir. We should be provident, and eat and drink whenever we can. Eh, Mr Crimple?'
The resident Director acquiesced rather sulkily, as if the gratification of replenishing his stomach had been impaired by the unsettlement of his preconceived opinions in reference to its situation. But the appearance of the porter and under-porter with a tray covered with a snow-white cloth, which, being thrown back, displayed a pair of cold roast fowls, flanked by some potted meats and a cool salad, quickly restored his good humour. It was enhanced still further by the arrival of a bottle of excellent madeira, and another of champagne; and he soon attacked the repast with an appetite scarcely inferior to that of the medical officer.
The lunch was handsomely served, with a profusion of rich glass plate, and china; which seemed to denote that eating and drinking on a showy scale formed no unimportant item in the business of the Anglo-Bengalee Directorship. As it proceeded, the Medical Officer grew more and more joyous and red-faced, insomuch that every mouthful he ate, and every drop of wine he swallowed, seemed to impart new lustre to his eyes, and to light up new sparks in his nose and forehead.
In certain quarters of the City and its neighbourhood, Mr Jobling was, as we have already seen in some measure, a very popular character. He had a portentously sagacious chin, and a pompous voice, with a rich huskiness in some of its tones that went directly to the heart, like a ray of light shining through the ruddy medium of choice old burgundy. His neckerchief and shirt-frill were ever of the whitest, his clothes of the blackest and sleekest, his gold watch-chain of the heaviest, and his seals of the largest. His boots, which were always of the brightest, creaked as he walked. Perhaps he could shake his head, rub his hands, or warm himself before a fire, better than any man alive; and he had a peculiar way of smacking his lips and saying, 'Ah!' at intervals while patients detailed their symptoms, which inspired great confidence. It seemed to express, 'I know what you're going to say better than you do; but go on, go on.' As he talked on all occasions whether he had anything to say or not, it was unanimously observed of him that he was 'full of anecdote;' and his experience and profit from it were considered, for the same reason, to be something much too extensive for description. His female patients could never praise him too highly; and the coldest of his male admirers would always say this for him to their friends, 'that whatever Jobling's professional skill might be (and it could not be denied that he had a very high reputation), he was one of the most comfortable fellows you ever saw in your life!'
Jobling was for many reasons, and not last in the list because his connection lay principally among tradesmen and their families, exactly the sort of person whom the Anglo-Bengalee Company wanted for a medical officer.