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                      WRECKED IN PORT.


                             BOOK III.

               CHAPTER VIII. TOO LATE.

DR. OSBORNE'S opinion of Mr. Creswell's
serious state, and the absolute necessity for
the old gentleman's immediate withdrawal
from everything calculated to cause worry or
excitement, and consequently from the election,
was soon promulgated through Brocksopp,
and caused the greatest consternation
amongst the supporters of the Tory policy.
Mr. Teesdale was summoned at once to
Woolgreaves, and there had a long interview
with Mrs. Creswell, who convinced him
he had been somewhat incredulous at first,
being a wary man of the world, and holding
the principle that doubt and disbelief were
on the whole the safest and most remunerative
doctrinesthat it was physically
impossible for her husband to continue the
contest. The interview took place in the
large, carpeted, and furnished bow-window
recess on the landing immediately outside
the door of Mr. Creswell's room, and, as
Mr. Teesdale afterwards remarked in
conversation with Mr. Gould, whom he
summoned by telegraph from London, there
was no question of any malingering or
shamming on the old gentleman's part, as
he could be heard groaning, poor old boy,
in a very lamentable manner, and Dr.
Osborne, who called at the time, said his
patient was by no means out of the wood
yet. Mr. Teesdale's talk, professional as it
was, was tinged with more sympathy and
respect for the sufferer than were Mr.
Gould's remarks. Mr. Teesdale had other
relations in business with Mr. Creswell; he
was his land agent and general business
representative, had known him intimately
for years, and had experienced innumerable
kindnesses at his hands; whereas, Mr.
Gould had simply made Mr. Creswell's
acquaintance in his capacity of Conservative
candidates' dry-nurse, and Mr. Creswell
was to him merely an errant and peccant
nine-pin, which, from fate or its own
shortcomings, it was impossible for him, skilful
"setter-up" though he were, to put properly
on end. He saw this after five minutes'
conversation with his local representative,
Mr. Teesdale, and saw that there was an
end of his chance, so far as Brocksopp was
concerned.  " It won't do here, Teesdale,"
he said; " this finishes our business! It
hasn't looked very promising throughout,
but if this old character had gone to the
poll, and specially if he had said one or two
things you could have crammed him with
on the nomination day, we might have
pulled through! You see he's so eminently
respectable; though he, of course, is not
to be compared with this young chap that
Potter and Fyfe's people have got hold of
and where they dug him up astonishes me!
Newspaper office, eh?  'Gad, we haven't got
much of that sort of stuff in the newspaper
offices of our partyhowever, though the
old gentleman couldn't hold a candle to
this young Joyce, I'm not sure that we
couldn't have got him in. They'd have
had the show of hands and the hurraying
and all that, but we know how much that's
worth, and what with Sir George Neal's
people and our own, we could have run
him deuced close, even if we didn't win.
Nuisance it is, too, for he's kept us from
running anybody else. There was young
Clare, Sir Willis Clare's eldest son, was up in
Pall Mall the other day, ready to go in for
anything, and with rather a hankering for
this place, which his father sat for once; but I
said we were booked, and nowconfound it!"