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The Doctor (a Chapter Of Accidents)
by [?]

I felt pretty certain that I was still in one of the Home Counties, and I did not seem to remember having crossed the Thames, so that if only I could find a star which pointed to the south I was in a fair way to get home. I set out to look for a star; with the natural result that, having abandoned all hope of finding a man, I immediately ran into him.

“Now then,” he said good-naturedly.

“Could you tell me the way to–” I tried to think of some place near my London–“to Westminster Abbey?”

He looked at me in astonishment. His feeling seemed to be that I was too late for the Coronation and too early for the morning service.

“Or–or anywhere,” I said hurriedly. “Trams, for instance.”

He pointed nervously to the right and disappeared.

Imagine my joy; there were tram-lines, and, better still, a tram approaching. I tumbled in, gave the conductor a penny, and got a workman’s ticket in exchange. Ten minutes later we reached the terminus.

I had wondered where we should arrive, whether Gray’s Inn Road or Southampton Row, but didn’t much mind so long as I was again within reach of a cab. However, as soon as I stepped out of the tram, I knew at once where I was.

“Tell me,” I said to the conductor; “do you now go back again?”

“In ten minutes. There’s a tram from here every half-hour.”

“When is the last?”

“There’s no last. Backwards and forwards all night.”

I should have liked to stop and sympathize, but it was getting late. I walked a hundred yards up the hill and turned to the right…. As I entered the gates I could hear the sound of music.

“Isn’t this our dance?” I said to Miss White, who was taking a breather at the hall door. “One moment,” I added, and I got out of my coat and umbrella.

“Is it? I thought you’d gone.”

“Oh no, I decided to stay after all. I found out that the trams go all night.”

We walked in together.

“I won’t be more autobiographical than I can help,” I said, “but I must say it’s a hard life, a doctor’s. One is called away in the middle of a dance to a difficult case of–of mumps or something, and–well, there you are. A delightful evening spoilt. If one is lucky, one may get back in time for a waltz or two at the end.

“Indeed,” I said, as we began to dance; “at one time to-night I quite thought I wasn’t going to get back here at all.”


RONALD, surveying the world from his taxi–that pleasant corner of the world, St James’s Park–gave a sigh of happiness. The blue sky, the lawn of daffodils, the mist of green upon the trees were but a promise of the better things which the country held for him. Beautiful as he thought the daffodils, he found for the moment an even greater beauty in the Gladstone bags at his feet. His eyes wandered from one to the other, and his heart sang to him, “I’m going away–I’m going away–I’m going away.”

The train was advertised to go at 2.22, and at 2.20 Ronald joined the Easter holiday crowd upon the platform. A porter put down his luggage and was then swallowed up in a sea of perambulators and flustered parents. Ronald never saw him again. At 2.40, amidst some applause, the train came in.

Ronald seized a lost porter.

“Just put these in for me,” he said. “A first smoker.”

“All this lot yours, sir?”

“The three bags–not the milk-cans,” said Ronald.

It had been a beautiful day before, but when a family of sixteen which joined Ronald in his carriage was ruthlessly hauled out by the guard, the sun seemed to shine with a warmth more caressing than ever. Even when the train moved out of the station, and the children who had been mislaid emerged from their hiding-places and were bundled in anywhere by the married porters, Ronald still remained splendidly alone … and the sky took on yet a deeper shade of blue.