But Jobling was far too knowing to connect himself with the company in any closer ties than as a paid (and well paid) functionary, or to allow his connection to be misunderstood abroad, if he could help it. Hence he always stated the case to an inquiring patient, after this manner:
'Why, my dear sir, with regard to the Anglo-Bengalee, my information, you see, is limited; very limited. I am the medical officer, in consideration of a certain monthly payment. The labourer is worthy of his hire; BIS DAT QUI CITO DAT'--('classical scholar, Jobling!' thinks the patient, 'well-read man!')--'and I receive it regularly. Therefore I am bound, so far as my own knowledge goes, to speak well of the establishment.' ('Nothing can be fairer than Jobling's conduct,' thinks the patient, who has just paid Jobling's bill himself.) 'If you put any question to me, my dear friend,' says the doctor, 'touching the responsibility or capital of the company, there I am at fault; for I have no head for figures, and not being a shareholder, am delicate of showing any curiosity whatever on the subject. Delicacy--your amiable lady will agree with me I am sure--should be one of the first characteristics of a medical man.' ('Nothing can be finer or more gentlemanly than Jobling's feeling,' thinks the patient.) 'Very good, my dear sir, so the matter stands. You don't know Mr Montague? I'm sorry for it. A remarkably handsome man, and quite the gentleman in every respect. Property, I am told, in India. House and everything belonging to him, beautiful. Costly furniture on the most elegant and lavish scale. And pictures, which, even in an anatomical point of view, are per-fection. In case you should ever think of doing anything with the company, I'll pass you, you may depend upon it. I can conscientiously report you a healthy subject. If I understand any man's constitution, it is yours; and this little indisposition has done him more good, ma'am,' says the doctor, turning to the patient's wife, 'than if he had swallowed the contents of half the nonsensical bottles in my surgery. For they ARE nonsense--to tell the honest truth, one half of them are nonsense--compared with such a constitution as his!' ('Jobling is the most friendly creature I ever met with in my life,' thinks the patient; 'and upon my word and honour, I'll consider of it!')
'Commission to you, doctor, on four new policies, and a loan this morning, eh?' said Crimple, looking, when they had finished lunch, over some papers brought in by the porter. 'Well done!'
'Jobling, my dear friend,' said Tigg, 'long life to you.'
'No, no. Nonsense. Upon my word I've no right to draw the commission,' said the doctor, 'I haven't really. It's picking your pocket. I don't recommend anybody here. I only say what I know. My patients ask me what I know, and I tell 'em what I know. Nothing else. Caution is my weak side, that's the truth; and always was from a boy. That is,' said the doctor, filling his glass, 'caution in behalf of other people. Whether I would repose confidence in this company myself, if I had not been paying money elsewhere for many years--that's quite another question.'
He tried to look as if there were no doubt about it; but feeling that he did it but indifferently, changed the theme and praised the wine.
'Talking of wine,' said the doctor, 'reminds me of one of the finest glasses of light old port I ever drank in my life; and that was at a funeral. You have not seen anything of--of THAT party, Mr Montague, have you?' handing him a card.
'He is not buried, I hope?' said Tigg, as he took it. 'The honour of his company is not requested if he is.'
'Ha, ha!' laughed the doctor. 'No; not quite. He was honourably connected with that very occasion though.'
'Oh!' said Tigg, smoothing his moustache, as he cast his eyes upon the name. 'I recollect. No. He has not been here.'
The words were on his lips, when Bullamy entered, and presented a card to the Medical Officer.
'Talk of the what's his name--' observed the doctor rising.