was already seriously ill. But he was still going about his business as though he was perfectly well. He had not mistaken his man. Dr. Martineau received him as though there had never been a shadow of offence between them.
He came straight to the point. “Martineau,” he said, “I must have those drugs I asked you for when first I came to you now. I must be bolstered up. I can’t last out unless I am. I’m at the end of my energy. I come to you because you will understand. The Commission can’t go on now for more than another three weeks. Whatever happens afterwards I must keep going until then.”
The doctor did understand. He made no vain objections. He did what he could to patch up his friend for his last struggles with the opposition in the Committee. “Pro forma,” he said, stethoscope in hand, “I must order you to bed. You won’t go. But I order you. You must know that what you are doing is risking your life. Your lungs are congested, the bronchial tubes already. That may spread at any time. If this open weather lasts you may go about and still pull through. But at any time this may pass into pneumonia. And there’s not much in you just now to stand up against pneumonia....”
“I’ll take all reasonable care.”
“Is your wife at home!”
“She is in Wales with her people. But the household is well trained. I can manage.”