Disdain at first sight
Sir Donald asked: ‘Have you taken your Chlorodyne?’
‘Doctor Roberts brought me some mixture of his own.’
‘Then you should have taken them both,’ Sir Donald declared. ‘I have sent away for some pulmonic wafers, as well, but they are slow in coming.’
Michael nodded and thanked him. Sir Donald, with occasional contributions from Lady Bedivere, continued to dilate on the subject of Michael’s health, while his heir picked his way through a modest meal, leaving a great deal on his plate. That, too, was noticed and commented on: he really must make an effort to take nourishment. Michael nodded docilely, and stammered a promise to do better.
I’m afraid I did not attend to all this with any sympathy. I was used to dealing with coughs and colds – Liza in particular was prone to such ailments – by means of goosegrease rubbed on the chest and a spoonful or two of linctus: those simple remedies and the passage of time were enough to work a cure. Visiting by doctors – Dr Roberts rode over on his black gelding practically every morning – and sending away for pulmonic wafers, whatever they might be, seemed to be taking a trifling disorder too seriously; especially when coupled with such over-attentiveness. And I was faintly disgusted by the meek way in which Michael accepted his father’s solicitous admonishments. I recalled the occasion the previous winter, when Harry had been quite worryingly ill with mumps, and I had had almost to use force to keep him to his bed. Michael’s acquiescence in this fussing over a cold on the chest was simply another illustration of his feebleness: a feebleness which seemed to belong to his character as much as his physique. It renewed the disdain I had felt for him at first sight.