“We won’t argue; the mischief’s done now. You’ve lived. We can’t start you again. You ought never to have started at all. Frankly—the Euthanasia!”
Bindon hated him in silence for a space. Every word of this brutal expert jarred upon his refinements. He was so gross, so impermeable to all the subtler issues of being. But it is no good picking a quarrel with a doctor. “My religious beliefs,” he said, “I don’t approve of suicide.”
“You’ve been doing it all your life.”
“Well, anyhow, I’ve come to take a serious view of life now.”
“You’re bound to, if you go on living. You’ll hurt. But for practical purposes it’s late. However, if you mean to do that—perhaps I’d better mix you a little something. You’ll hurt a great deal. These little twinges … ”
“Mere preliminary notices.”
“How long can I go on? I mean, before I hurt—really.”
“You’ll get it hot soon. Perhaps three days.”
Bindon tried to argue for an extension of time, and in the midst of his pleading gasped, put his hand to his side. Suddenly the extraordinary pathos of his life came to him clear and vivid. “It’s hard,” he said. “It’s infernally hard! I’ve been no man’s enemy but my own. I’ve always treated everybody quite fairly.”
The medical man stared at him without any sympathy for some seconds. He was reflecting how excellent it was that there were no more Bindons to carry on that line of pathos. He felt quite optimistic. Then he turned to his telephone and ordered up a prescription from the Central Pharmacy.
He was interrupted by a voice behind him. “By God!” cried Bindon; “I’ll have her yet.”
The physician stared over his shoulder at Bindon’s expression, and then altered the prescription.
So soon as this painful interview was over, Bindon gave way to rage. He settled that the medical man was not only an unsympathetic brute and wanting in the first beginnings of a gentleman, but also highly incompetent; and he went off to four other practitioners in succession, with a view to the establishment of this intuition. But to guard against surprises he kept that little prescription in his pocket. With each he began by expressing his grave doubts of the first doctor’s intelligence, honesty and professional knowledge, and then stated his symptoms, suppressing only a few more material facts in each case. These were always subsequently elicited by the doctor. In spite of the welcome depreciation of another practitioner, none of these eminent specialists would give Bindon any hope of eluding the anguish and helplessness that loomed now close upon him. To the last of them he unburthened his mind of an accumulated disgust with medical science. “After centuries and centuries,” he exclaimed hotly; “and you can do nothing—except admit your helplessness. I say, ‘save me’—and what do you do?”
“No doubt it’s hard on you,” said the doctor. “But you should have taken precautions.”