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THE CONSTRICTION

17

occurrence. Unfavourable circumstances during the pregnancy of her Royal Highness.…"

"That's all nonsense!" The Grand Duke was so much excited that he did not wish for any justification, in fact he would not allow one. "I would remind you, sir, that I am beside myself. Unfortunate occurrence! It was your business to take precautions against unfortunate occurrences.…"

The Surgeon-General stood with half-bowed head and, sinking his voice to a submissive tone, addressed the ground at his feet.

"I humbly beg to be allowed to remind you that I, at least, am not alone responsible. Privy Councillor Grasanger—an authority on gynæcology—examined her Royal Highness. But nobody can be held responsible in this case. …"

"Nobody … Really! I permit myself to make you responsible. … You are answerable to me. … You were in charge during the pregnancy, you superintended the confinement. I have relied on the knowledge to be expected from your rank, Surgeon-General, I have trusted to your experience. I am bitterly disappointed, bitterly disappointed. All that your skill can boast of is … that a crippled child has been born.…"

"Would your Royal Highness graciously weigh…"

"I have weighed, I have weighed and found wanting. Thank you!"

Surgeon-General Eschrich retired backwards, bowing. In the ante-room he shrugged his shoulders, while his cheeks glowed.

The Grand Duke again fell to pacing the library in his princely wrath, unreasonable, misinformed, and foolish in his loneliness. However, whether it was that he wished to humiliate the Physician-in-Ordinary still further, or that he regretted having robbed himself of any explana-