Chapter Nineteen

SOME EIGHT WEEKS later, on a crisp December morning, I came out, before breakfast, to the front porch, of "The Glen." The little town lay tranquilly before me, and as I gazed at its familiar outlines, the thought of our impending departure gave me a pang of regret. For three years now we had lived in Tredegar. Here we had really taken up the yoke of married life, here our first child had been born. The work which I had done might not rank high in the social or professional scale. I didn't wear a frock coat and a stiff collar, but more often than not leggings and hobnail boots. I usually walked straight into my patients' houses without knocking. I had no bedside manner to speak of, and could discourage a malingerer with the rudest adjectives. Yet I had made many friends among the miners and officials of the surrounding collieries. They never directly paid me fees -- as I have explained, my quarterly cheque came from the society -- but always at Christmas I received evidence of their regard in a host of homely presents. There would be a couple of ducks or chickens from one, a print of fresh butter from another, a hand-tufted rug from a third. . . nor should I neglect to mention old Mrs. Griffiths, whom I had almost (but, to be honest, not quite) cured of her rheurnatism, and who hobbled across the bridge on New Year's Eve to offer us her blessings and a fine fat goose.

There was a quality in this gratitude which moved me profoundly -- something which went deep down to the very roots of life. Then why should I be leaving? Most of my classmates at the University had already settled down permanently in steady provincial practices.

-171-

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