"Well, doctor, decide our fate," said the princess. "Tell me
"Is there hope?" she meant to say, but her lips quivered, and she
could not utter the question. "Well, doctor?"
"Immediately, princess. I will talk it over with my colleague,
And then I will have the honor of laying my opinion before you."
"So we had better leave you?"
"As you please."
The princess went out with a sigh.
When the doctors were left alone, the family doctor began timidly
explaining his opinion, that there was a commencement of
tuberculous trouble, but...and so on. The celebrated doctor
listened to him, and in the middle of his sentence looked at his
big gold watch.
"Yes," said he. "But..."
The family doctor respectfully ceased in the middle of his
"The commencement of the tuberculous process we are not, as you
are aware, able to define; till there are cavities, there is
nothing definite. But we may suspect it. And there are
indications; malnutrition, nervous excitability, and so on. The
question stands thus: in presence of indications of tuberculous
process, what is to be done to maintain nutrition?"
"But, you know, there are always moral, spiritual causes at the
back in these cases," the family doctor permitted himself to
interpolate with a subtle smile.
"Yes, that's an understood thing," responded the celebrated
physician, again glancing at his watch. "Beg pardon, is the
Yausky bridge done yet, or shall I have to drive around?" he
asked. "Ah! it is. Oh, well, then I can do it in twenty
minutes. So we were saying the problem may be put thus: to
maintain nutrition and to give tone to the nerves. The one is in
close connection with the other, one must attack both sides at
"And how about a tour abroad?" asked the family doctor.