The Autobiography of a Quack: In Two Parts. Part Ii

I SOLEMNLY believe that I should have continued to succeed in the virtuous practice of my profession, if it had not happened that fate was once more unkind to me, by throwing in my path one of my old acquaintances. I had had a consultation one day with the famous homœopath, Dr. Zwanzig ; and as we walked away we were busily discussing the case of a poor consumptive fellow who had previously lost a leg. In consequence of this defect, Dr. Zwanzig considered that the ten - thousandth of a grain of Aur.1 would be an over-dose, and that it must be fractioned so as to allow for the departed leg, otherwise the rest of the man would be getting a legdose too much. I was particularly struck with this view of the case, but I was still more, and less pleasingly, impressed with the sight of my quondam patient, Stagers, who nodded to me familiarly from the opposite pavement.

I was not at all surprised when, that evening quite late, I found this worthy seated waiting in my office. I looked around uneasily, which was clearly understood by my friend, who retorted, “Ain’t took nothin’, Doc. You don’t seem right awful glad to see me. You need n’t be afraid, — I ’ve only fetched you a job, and a right good one too.”

I replied, that I had my regular business, that I preferred he should get some one else, and pretty generally made Mr. Stagers conscious that I had had enough of him.

I did not ask him to sit down, and, just as I supposed him about to leave, he seated himself with a grin, remarking, “ No use, Doc. Got to go into it this one time.”

At this I naturally enough grew angry, and used several rather violent phrases.

“No use, Doc,” remarked Stagers.

Then I softened down, and laughed a little, treated the thing as a joke, whatever it was, for I dreaded to hear.

But Stagers was fate. Stagers was inevitable. “Won’t do, Doc,—not even money would n’t get you off.”

“ No ? ” said I interrogatively, and as coolly as I could, contriving at the same time to move towards the window. It was summer, the sashes were up, the shutters drawn in, and a policeman whom I knew was lounging opposite, as I had noticed when I entered. I would give Stagers a scare anyhow ; charge him with theft, — anything but get mixed up with his kind again.

He must have understood me, the scoundrel, for in an instant I felt a cold ring of steel against my ear, and a tiger clutch on my cravat. “ Sit down,” he said ; “ what a fool you are. Guess you ’ve forgot that there coroner’s business.” Needless to say, I obeyed. “ Best not try that again,” continued my guest. “Wait a moment,” — and, rising, he closed the windows.

There was no resource left but to listen ; and what followed I shall condense, rather than relate it in the language employed by my friend Mr. Stagers.

It appeared that another acquaintance, Mr. File, had been guilty of a cold-blooded and long - premeditated murder, for which he had been tried and convicted. He now lay in jail awaiting his execution, which was to take place at Carsonville, Ohio, one month after the date at which I heard of him anew. It seemed that, with Stagers and others, he had formed a band of counterfeiters in the West, where he had thus acquired a fortune so considerable that I was amazed at his having allowed his passions to seduce him into unprofitable crime. In his agony he unfortunately thought of me, and had bribed Stagers largely in order that he might he induced to find me. When the narration had reached this stage, and I had been made fully to understand that I was now and hereafter under the sharp eye of Stagers and his friends, that, in a word, escape was out of the question, I turned on my tormentor.

“And what does all this mean ?” I said ; “ what does File expect me to do ? ”

“ Don't believe be exactly knows,” said Stagers ; “ something or other to get him clear of hemp.”

“ But what stuff! ” I replied. “ How can I help him ? What possible influence could I exert ? ”

“Can’t say,” answered Stagers imperturbably : “ File has a notion you ’re most cunning enough for anything. Best try somethin’, Doc.”

“ And what if I won't do it ? ” said I. “What docs it matter to me, if the rascal swings or no ? ”

“ Keep cool, Doc,” returned Stagers, “ I 'm only agent in this here business. My principal, that’s File, he says, ' Tell Sandcraft to find some way to get me clear. Once out, I give him ten thousand dollars. If he don’t turn up something that ’ll suit, I ’ll blow about that coroner business, and break him up generally.’ ”

“ You don't mean,” said I, in a cold sweat,—“ you don’t mean that, if I can’t do this impossible thing, he will inform on me ? ”

“ Just so,” returned Stagers. "Got a cigar, Doc ? ”

I only half heard him. What a frightful position. I had been leading a happy and an increasingly comfortable life,—no scrapes, and no dangers ; and here, on a sudden, I had presented to me the alternative of saving a wretch from the gallows, or of spending unlimited years in a State penitentiary. As for the money, it became as dead leaves for this once only in my life. My brain seemed to be spinning in its case ; lights came and went before my eyes. In my ears were the sounds of waters. I grew weak all over.

“ Cheer up a little,” said Stagers. “ Here, take a nip of whiskey. Things ain’t at the worst, by a good bit. You just get ready, and we ’ll start by the morning train. Guess you ’ll try out something smart enough, as we travel along. Ain’t got a heap of time to lose.”

I was silent. A great anguish had me in its grip. I might writhe and bite as I would, it was to be all in vain. Hideous plans arose to my ingenuity, Lorn of this agony of terror and fear, I could murder Stagers, but what good would that do. As to File, he was safe from my hand. At last I became too confused to think any longer. “When do we leave ? ” I said, feebly.

At six to-morrow,” he returned.

How I was watched and guarded, and how hurried over a thousand miles of rail to my fate, little concerns us now. 1 find it dreadful to recall it to memory. Above all, an aching eagerness for revenge upon the man who had caused me these sufferings predominated in my mind. Could I not fool the wretch and save myself? On a sudden an idea came to my consciousness, like a sketch on an artist’s paper. Then it grew, and formed itself, became possible, probable, it seemed to me sure. “ Ah,” said I, “ Stagers, give me something to eat and drink.” I had not tasted food for two days.

Within a day or two after my arrival, I was enabled to see File in his cell, — on the plea of being a clergyman from his native place.

I found that I had not miscalculated my danger. The man did not appear to have the least idea as to how I was to help him. He only knew that I was in his power, and he used his control to insure that something more potent than friendship should be enlisted on his behalf. As the days went by, this behavior grew to be a frightful thing to witness. He threatened, flattered, implored, offered to double the sum he had promised, if I would but save him. As for myself, I had gradually become clear as to my course of action, and only anxious to get through with the matter. At last, a few days before the time appointed for the execution, I set about explaining to File my plan, of saving him. At first I found this a very difficult task ; but as he grew to understand that ally other escape was impossible, he consented to my scheme, which I will now briefly explain.

I proposed, on the evening before the execution, to make an opening in the man’s windpipe, low down in the neck, and where he could conceal it by a loose cravat. As the noose would be above this point, I explained that he would be able to breathe through the aperture, and that, even if stupefied, he could easily be revived if we should be able to prevent his being hanged too long. My friend had some absurd misgivings lest his neck should be broken by the fall; but as to this I was able to reassure him, upon the best scientific authority. There were certain other and minor questions, as to the effects of sudden, nearly complete cessation of the supply of blood to the brain ; but with these physiological refinements I thought it needlessly cruel to distract a man in his peculiar position. Perhaps I shall be doing injustice to my own intellect if I do not hasten to state that I had not the remotest belief in the efficacy of my plan for any purpose except to extricate me from a very uncomfortable position.

On the morning of the day before the execution, I made ready everything that I could possibly need. So far our plans, or rather mine, had worked to a marvel. Certain of File’s old accomplices succeeded in bribing the hangman to shorten the time of suspension. Arrangements were made also to secure me two hours alone with the prisoner, so that nothing seemed to be wanting. I had assured File that I would not see him again previous to the operation, but during the morning I was seized with a feverish impatience, which luckily prompted me to visit him once more. As usual, I was admitted readily, and nearly reached his cell, when I became aware from the sound of voices heard through the grating in the door that there was a visitor in the cell. “ Who is with him ? ” I inquired of the warden.

“The doctor,” he replied.

“Doctor?” I said. “What doctor?”

O, the jail physician,” he returned. “ I was to come back in half an hour and let him out; but he’s got a quarter to stay as yet. Shall I admit you, or will you wait ? ”

“ No,” I replied. “ It is hardly right to interrupt them. I will walk in the corridor for ten minutes or so, and then you can send the turnkey to let me in.”

“Very good,” he returned, and left me.

As soon as I was alone, T cautiously advanced up the entry, and stood alongside of the door, through the barred grating of which I was able readily to hear what went on within. The first words I caught were these : —

“ And you tell me, Doctor, that, even if a man’s windpipe was open, the hanging would kill him, -— are you sure ? ”

“Yes,” returned the other, “I believe there would be no doubt of it. I cannot see how escape would be possible ; but let me ask you,” he went on more gravely, “ why you have sent for me to ask all these singular questions. You cannot have the faintest hope of escape, and least of all in such a manner as this. I advise you to think rather on the fate which is inevitable. You must, I fear, have much to reflect upon.”

“ But,” said File, “ if I wanted to try this plan of mine, could n’t some one be found to help me, say if he was to make twenty thousand or so by it ?”

“ If you mean me,” answered the doctor, “ some one cannot be found, neither for twenty nor for fifty thousand dollars. Besides, if anyone were wicked enough to venture on such an attempt, he would only be deceiving you with a hope which would be utterly vain.”

I understood all this, with an increasing fear in my mind. The prisoner was cunning enough to want to make sure that I was not playing him false.

After a pause, he said,‘‘ Well, Doctor, you know a poor devil in my fix will clutch at straws. Hope I have n't offended you.”

“Not the least !” returned the doctor. “ Shall I send to Mr. Smith ? ” This was my present name, — in fact I was known as the Rev. Mr. Eliphalet Smith.

“ I would like it,” answered File ; “ but as you go out, tell the warden I want to see him immediately about a matter of great importance.”

At this stage, I began to conceive very distinctly that the time had arrived when it would be wiser for me to make my escape, if this step were yet possible. Accordingly I waited until I heard the doctor rise, and at once stepped quietly away to the far end of the corridor, which I had scarcely reached when the door which closed it was opened by a turnkey who had come to relieve the doctor. Of course my own peril was imminent. If the turnkey mentioned my near presence to the prisoner, immediate disclosure and arrest would follow. If time were allowed for the warden to obey the request from File, that he would visit him at once, I might gain thus half an hour, but hardly more. I therefore said to the officer: “Tell the warden that the doctor wishes to remain an hour longer with the prisoner, and that I shall return myself at the end of that time.”

“ Very good, sir,” said the turnkey, allowing me to pass out, and relocking the door ; “ I 'll tell him.”

In a few moments I was outside of the jail gate, and saw my fellow-clergyman, Mr. Stagers, in full broadcloth and white tie, coming down the street towards me. As usual he was on guard ; but this time he had to deal with a man grown perfectly desperate, with everything to win, and nothing to lose. My plans were made, and, wild as they were, I thought them worth the trying. I must evade this man’s terrible watch. How keen it was, you cannot imagine ; but it was aided by three of the infamous gang to which File had belonged, for without these spies no one person could possibly have sustained so perfect a system.

I took Stagers’s arm. “ What time,” said I, “does the first train start for Dayton ? ”

“At twelve,” said the other; “what do you want?”

“ How far is it?” I continued,

“ About filteen miles,” he replied.

“ Good; I can get back by eight o'clock to-night.”

“ Easily,” said Stagers, “ if you go. What is it you want ? ”

“I want,” said I, “a smaller tube, to put in the windpipe. Must have it, in fact.”

“ Well, I don’t like it,” said he, “but the thing’s got to go through somehow. If you must go, I will go along myself. Can’t lose sight of you, Doc, just at present. You ’re monstrous precious. Did you tell File ? ”

“Yes,” said I. “He’s all right. Come. We’ve no time to lose.” Nor had we. Within twenty minutes we were seated in the last car of a long train, and running at the rate of twenty miles an hour towards Dayton. In about ten minutes I asked Stagers for a cigar.

“ Can’t smoke here,” said he.

“No,” I answered; “I'll go forward into the smoking-car.”

“ Come along, then,” said he, and we went through the train accordingly. I was not sorry he had gone with me when I found in the smoking-car one of the spies who had been watching me so constantly. Stagers nodded to him and grinned at me, and we sat down together.

“ Chut,” said I, “dropped my cigar. Left it on the window-ledge, in the hindmost car. Be back in a moment.” This time, for a wonder, Stagers allowed me to leave unaccompanied. I hastened through to the back car, and gained the platform at its nearer end, where I instantly cut the signal cord. Then I knelt down, and, waiting until the two cars ran together, I removed the connecting pin. The next moment I leaped to my feet, and screwed up the brake wheel, so as to check the pace of the car. Instantly the distance widened between me and the flying train. A few moments more, and the pace of my own car slackened, while the hurrying train flew around a distant curve. I did not wait for my own car to stop entirely before I slipped down off the steps, leaving the other passengers to dispose of themselves as they might until their absence should be discovered and the rest of the train return.

As I wish rather to illustrate my very remarkable professional career, than to amuse by describing its mere incidents, I shall not linger to tell how I succeeded, at last, in reaching St. Louis. Fortunately, I had never ceased to anticipate a moment when escape from File and his friends would be possible, so that I always carried about with me the funds with which I had hastily provided myself upon leaving. The whole amount did not exceed a hundred dollars ; but with this, and a gold watch worth as much more, I hoped to be able to subsist until my own ingenuity enabled me to provide more liberally for the future. Naturally enough, I scanned the papers closely, to discover some account of File’s death, and of the disclosures concerning myself which he was only too likely to have made. I met with a full account of his execution, but with no allusion to myself, an omission which I felt fearful was due only to a desire on the part of the police to avoid alarming me in such a way as to keep them from pouncing upon me on my way home. Be this as it may, from that time to the present hour I have remained ignorant as to whether or not the villain betrayed my part in that curious coroner’s inquest.

Before many days I had resolved to make another and a bold venture. Accordingly appeared in the St. Louis papers an advertisement to the effect that Dr. Von Ingenhoff, the well-known German physician, who had spent two years on the plains acquiring a knowledge of Indian medicine, was prepared to treat all diseases by vegetable remedies alone. Dr. Von Ingenhoff would remain in St. Louis for two weeks, and was to be found at the Grayson House every clay from ten until two o’clock.

To my delight I got two patients the first day. The next I had twice as many ; when at once I hired two connecting rooms, and made a very useful arrangement, which I may describe dramatically in the following way.

There being two or three patients waiting while I finish my cigar and morning julep, there enters a respectable looking old gentleman, who inquires briskly of the patients if this is really Dr. Von IngenhofFs. He is told it is.

“Ah,” says he, “ I shall be delighted to see him; five years ago I was scalped on the plains, and now ” — exhibiting a well-covered head — “you see what the Doctor did for me. ’T is n’t any wonder I’ve come fifty miles to see him. Any of you been scalped, gentlemen ? ”

To none of them had this misfortune arrived as yet ; but, like most folks in the lower ranks of life and some in the upper ones, it was pleasant to find a genial person who would listen to their account of their own symptoms. Presently, after hearing enough, the old gentleman pulls out a large watch. “ Bless me ! it ’s late. I must Call again. May I trouble you, sir, to say to the Doctor that his old friend, Governor Brown, called to see him, and will drop in again to-morrow. Don’t forget : Governor Brown of Arkansas.” A moment later the Governor visited me by a side-door, with his account of the symptoms of my patients. Enter a tall Hoosier,— the Governor having retired. “ Now, Doc,” says Hoosier, “ I ’ve been handled awful these two years back.” “ Stop,” I exclaim, “ open your eyes. There now, let me see,” taking his pulse as I speak. “ Ah, you’ve a pain there, and you can't sleep. Cocktails don’t agree any longer. Were n’t you bit by a dog two years’ ago ? ” “I was,” says the Hoosier, in amazement. " Sir,”I reply, “you have chronic hydrophobia. It’s the water in the cocktails that disagrees with you. My bitters will cure in a week, sir.”

The astonishment of my friend at these accurate revelations may be imagined. He is allowed to wait for his medicine in the ante-room, where the chances are in favor of his relating how wonderfully I had told all his symptoms at a glance.

Governor Brown of Arkansas was a small but clever actor, whom I met in the billiard-room, and who, day after day, in varying disguises and modes, played off the same trick, to our great mutual advantage.

At my friend’s suggestion, we very soon added to our resources by the purchase of two electro-magnetic batteries. This special means of treating all classes of maladies has advantages which are altogether peculiar. In the first place, you instruct your patient that the treatment is of necessity a long one. A striking mode of putting it is to say, “ Sir, you have been six months getting ill, it will require six months for a cure.” There is a correct sound about such a phrase, and it is sure to satisfy. Two sittings a week, at three dollars a sitting, pays pretty well. In many cases the patient gets well while you are electrifying him. Whether or not the electricity cures him is a thing I shall never know. If, however, he begins to show signs of impatience, you advise him that he will require a year’s treatment, and suggest that it will be economical for him to buy a battery and use it at home. Under this advice he pays you twenty dollars for an instrument which cost you ten, and you are rid of a troublesome case.

If the reader has followed me closely, he will have learned that I am a man of large views in my profession, and of a very justifiable ambition. The idea had often occurred to me of combining in one establishment all the various modes of practice which are known as irregular. This, as will be understood, is merely a more liberal rendering of the idea which prompted me to unite in my own business homoeopathy and the ordinary practice of medicine. I proposed to my partner, accordingly, to combine with our present business that of spiritualism, which I knew had been very profitably turned to account in connection with medical practice. As soon as he agreed to this plan, which, by the way, I hoped to enlarge, so as to include all the available isms, I set about making such preparations as were necessary. I remembered to have read somewhere, that a Doctor Schiff had shown that you could produce remarkably clever knockings, so called, by voluntarily dislocating the great toe and then forcibly drawing it back again into its socket. A still better noise could be made by throwing the tendon of the peroneus longus muscle out of the hollow in which it lies, alongside of the ankle. After some effort I was able to accomplish both feats quite readily, and could occasion a remarkable variety of sounds, according to the power which I employed or the positions which I occupied at the time. As to all other matters, I trusted to the suggestions of my own ingenuity, which, as a rule, has rarely foiled me.

The largest success attended the novel plan which my lucky genius had devised ; so that soon we actually began to divide large profits, and to lay by a portion of our savings. It is, of course, not to be supposed that this desirable result was attained without many annoyances and some positive clanger. My spiritual revelations, medical and other, were, as may be supposed, only more or less happy guesses ; but in this, as in predictions as to the weather and other events, the rare successes always get more prominence in the minds of men than the numerous failures. Moreover, whenever a person has been fool enough to resort to folks like myself, he is always glad to be able to defend his conduct by bringing forward every possible proof of skill on the part of the man he has consulted. These considerations, and a certain love of mysterious or unusual means, I have commonly found sufficient to secure an ample share of gullible individuals ; while I may add, that, as a rule, those who would be shrewd enough to understand and expose us are wise enough to keep away altogether. Such as did come were, as a rule, easy enough to manage, but now and then we hit upon some utterly exceptional patient, who was both fool enough to consult me and clever enough to know he had been swindled. When such a fellow made a fuss, it was occasionally necessary to return his money, if it was found impossible to bully him into silence. In one or two instances, where I had promised a cure upon prepayment of two or three hundred dollars, I was either sued or threatened with suit, and had to refund a part or the whole of the amount ; but most folks preferred to hold their tongues, rather than expose to the world the extent of their own folly.

In one case I suffered personally to a degree which I never can recall without a distinct sense of annoyance, both at my own want of care and at the disgusting consequences which it brought upon me.

Early one morning an old gentleman called, in a state of the utmost agitation, and explained that he desired to consult the spirits as to a heavy loss which he had experienced the night before. He had left, he said, a sum of money in his pantaloonspocket, upon going to bedIn the morning he had changed his clothes, and gone out, forgetting to remove the notes. Returning in an hour in great haste, he discovered that the garment still lay upon the chair where he had thrown it, but that the money was missing. I at once desired him to be seated, and proceeded to ask him certain questions, in a chatty way, about the habits of his household, the amount lost, and the like, expecting thus to get some clew which would enable me to make my spirits display the requisite share of sagacity in pointing out the thief. I learned readily that he was an old and wealthy man, a littleclose too, I suspected ; and that he lived in a large house, with but two servants, and an only son about twentyone years old. The servants were both elderly women, who had lived in the household many years, and were probably innocent. Unluckily, remembering my own youthful career, I presently reached the conclusion that the young man had been the delinquent. When I ventured to inquire a little as to his character and habits, the old gentleman cut me very short, remarking that he came to ask questions, and not to be questioned, and that he desired at once to consult the spirits. Upon this I sat down at a table, and, after a brief silence, demanded in a solemn voice if there were present any spirits. By industriously cracking my big-toe joint, I was enabled to represent at once the presence of a numerous assembly of these worthies. Then I inquired if any one of them had been present when the robbery was effected. A prompt double-knock replied in the affirmative. I may say here, by the Way, that the unanimity of the spirits as to their use of two knocks for yes, and one for no, is a very remarkable point ; and shows, if it shows anything, how perfect and universal must be the social intercourse of the respected departed. It is worthy of note, also, that if the spirit, I will not say the medium, perceives, after one knock, that it were wiser to say yes, he can conveniently add the second tap. Some such arrangement in real life would, it appears to me, be very desirable.

To return to the subject. As soon as I explained that the spirit who answered had been a witness of the theft, the old man became strangely agitated. “ Who was it ? ” said he. At once the spirit indicated a desire to use the alphabet. As we went over the letters, (always a slow method, but useful when you want to observe excitable people,) my visitor kept saying, " Quicker. Go quicker.” At length the spirit spelt out the words, " I know not his name.” " Was it,” said the gentleman, — " was it a — was it one of my household ?” I knocked yes, without hesitation ; who else could it have been ? " Excuse me,” he went on, “if I ask you fora little wine.” This I gave him. He continued, " Was it Susan, or Ellen ? answer instantly.”

“ No, — No.”

“ Was it—” He paused, " If I ask a question mentally, will the spirits reply ? ” I knew what he meant. He wanted to ask if it was his son, but did not wish to speak openly.

“ Ask,” said I.

“ I have,” he returned.

I hesitated. It was rarely my policy to commit myself definitely ; yet here I fancied, from the facts of the case, and his own terrible anxiety, that he suspected or more than suspected his son as the guilty person. I became sure of this as I studied his face. At all events it would be easy to deny or explain, in case of trouble ; and after all, what slander was there in two knocks ! I struck twice as usual.

Instantly the old gentleman rose up, very white, but quite firm. " There,” he said, and cast a bank-note on the table, " I thank you ” ; — and bending his head on his breast, walked, as I thought with great effort, out of the room.

On the following morning, as I made my first appearance in my outer room, which contained at least a dozen persons awaiting advice, who should I see standing by the window but the old gentleman with sandy-gray hair. Along with him was a stout young man, with a decided red head, and mustache and whiskers to match. Probably the son, thought I, — ardent temperament, remorse, — come to confess, etc. Except as to the temper, I was never more mistaken in my life. I was about to go regularly through my patients, when the old gentleman began to speak.

“ I called, Doctor,” said he, “ to explain the little matter about which I — about which I — ”

“ Troubled your spirits yesterday.” added the youth jocosely, pulling his mustache.

“ Beg pardon,” I returned. " Had we not better talk this over in private ? Come into my office,” I added, touching the lad on the arm.

Would you believe it ? — he took out his handkerchief, and dusted the place I had touched. " Better not,” he said. Go on, father ; let us get done with this den.”

“ Gentlemen,” said the elder person, addressing the patients, " I called here yesterday, like a fool, to ask who had stolen from me a sum of money, which I believed I left in my room on going out in the morning. This doctor here and his spirits contrived to make me suspect my only son. Well, I charged him at once with the crime, as soon as I got back home ; and what do you think he did. He said, ‘Father, let us go up stairs and look for it, and — ’ ”

Here the young man broke in with " Come, father, don't worry yourself for nothing”; and then, turning, added, " To cut the thing short, he found the notes under his candlestick, where he had left them on going to bed. This is all of it. We came here to stop this fellow ” (by which he meant me) " from carrying a slander further. I advise you, good people, to profit by the matter, and to look up a more honest doctor, it doctoring be what you want.”

As soon as he had ended, I remarked solemnly : " The words of the spirits are not my words. Who shall hold them accountable ? ”

“ Nonsense,” said the young man. “Come, father.” and they left the room.

Now was the time to retrieve my character. " Gentlemen,” said I, “you have heard this very singular account. Trusting the spirits utterly and entirely as I do, it occurs to me that there is no reason why they may not after all have been right in their suspicions of this young person. Who can say that, overcome by remorse, he may not have seized the time of his father’s absence to replace the money ? ”

To my amazement up gets a little old man from the corner. “ Well, you are a low cuss,” said he ; and, taking up a basket beside him, hobbled out ol the room. You may be sure I said some pretty sharp things to him, for I was out of humor to begin with, and it is one thing to be insulted by a stout young man, and quite another to be abused by a wretched old cripple. However, he went away, and I supposed, for my part, that I was done with the whole business.

An hour later, however, I heard a rough knock at my door, and, opening it hastily, saw my red-headed young man with the cripple.

“ Now,” said the former, catching me by the collar, and pulling me into the room among my patients, “ I want to know, my man, if this doctor said that it was likely I was the thief, after all ? ”

“ That s what he said,” replied the cripple ; “just about that, sir.”

I do not desire to dwell on the after conduct of this hot-headed young man. It was the more disgraceful, as I offered but little resistance, and endured a beating such as I would have hesitated to inflict upon a dog. Nor was this all ; he warned me that, if I dared to remain in the city after a week, he would shoot me. In the East I should have thought but little, of such a threat, but here it was only too likely to be practically carried out. Accordingly, with much grief and reluctance, I collected my whole fortune, which now amounted to at least seven thousand dollars, and turned ray back upon this ungrateful town. I am sorry to say that I also left behind me the last of my good luck, as hereafter I was to encounter only one calamity after another.

Travelling slowly eastward, my spirits began at last to rise to their usual level, and when I arrived in Boston I set myself to thinking how best I could contrive to enjoy life, and at the same time to increase my means.

On former occasions I was a moneyless adventurer ; now I possessed sutficient capital, and was able and ready to embark in whatever promised the best returns with the smallest personal risk. Several schemes presented themselves as worthy the application of industry and talent, but none of them altogether suited my tastes. I thought at times of travelling as a Physiological Lecturer, combining with it the business of a practitioner. Scare the audience at night with an enumeration of symptoms which belong to ten out of every dozen of healthy people, and then doctor such of them as are gulls enough to consult me next day. The bigger the fright, the better the pay. I was a little timid, however, about facing large audiences, as a man will be naturally if he has lived a life of adventure, so that, upon clue consideration, I gave up the idea altogether.

The patent-medicine business also looked well enough, but it is somewhat overdone at all times, and requires a heavy outlay, with the possible result of ill-success. Indeed, I believe fifty quack remedies tail for one that succeeds ; and millions must have been wasted in placards, bills, and advertisements, which never returned half their value to the speculator. If I live, I think I shall beguile my time with writing the lives of the principal quacks who have met with success. They are few in number, after all, as any one must know who recalls the countless remedies which are puffed awhile on the fences, and disappear to be heard of no more.

Lastly, I inclined for a while to undertake a private insane asylum, which appeared to me to offer facilities tor money-making ; as to which, however, I may have been deceived by the writings of certain popular novelists. I went so far, I may say, as actually to visit Concord for the purpose of finding a pleasant locality and a suitable atmosphere ; but, upon due reflection, abandoned my plan as involving too much personal labor to suit one of my easy frame of mind.

Tired at last of idleness and of lounging on the Common, I engaged in two or three little ventures of a semi-professional character, such as an exhibition of laughing-gas ; advertising to cure cancer ; send ten stamps by mail to J. B., and receive an infallible receipt, etc. I did not find, however, that these little enterprises prospered well in New England, and I had recalled to me very forcibly a story which my grandfather was fond of relating to me in my boyhood. It briefly narrated how certain very knowing flies went to get molasses, and how it ended by the molasses getting them. This, indeed, was precisely what happened to me in all my little efforts to better myself in the Northern States, until at length my misfortunes climaxed in total and unexpected ruin.

The event which deprived me of the hard-won earnings of years of ingenious industry was brought about by the baseness of a man who was concerned with me in purchasing drugs for exportation to the Confederate States. Unluckily, I was obliged to employ as my agent a long-legged seacaptain from Maine. With his aid, I invested in this enterprise about six thousand dollars, which I reasonably hoped to quadruple. Our arrangements were cleverly made to run the blockade at Charleston, and we were to sail on a certain Thursday morning in September, 1863. I sent my clothes on board, and went down the evening before to go on board, but found that the little schooner had been hauled out from the pier. The captain, who met me at this time, endeavored to get a boat in order to ferry us to the ship, but the night was stormy, and we were obliged to return to our lodgings. Early next day I dressed and went to the captain’s room, which proved to be empty. I was instantly filled with doubt, and ran frantically to the foot of Long Wharf, where, to my horror, I could see no signs of schooner or captain. Neither have I ever again set eyes on them from that time to this. I immediately lodged information with the police as to the unpatriotic designs of the rascal who had swindled me, but whether or not justice ever overtook him I am unable to say.

It was, as I perceived, such utterly spilt milk as to be little worth lamenting ; and I therefore set to work with my accustomed energy to utilize on my own behalf the resources of my medical education, which so often before had saved me from want. The war, then raging at its height, appeared to me to offer numerous opportunities to men of talent. The path which I chose myself was apparently a humble one, but it enabled me to make very agreeable use of my professional knowledge, and afforded rapid and secure returns, without any other investment than a little knowledge cautiously employed. In the first place, I deposited my small remnant of property in a safe bank, and then proceeded to Providence, where, as I had heard, patriotic persons were giving very large bounties in order, I suppose, to insure to the government the services of better men than themselves. On my arrival I lost no time in offering myself as a substitute, and was readily accepted, and very soon mustered into the Twentieth Rhode Island. Three months were passed in camp, during which period I received bounties to the extent of six hundred and fifty dollars, with which I tranquilly deserted about two hours before the regiment left for the field. With the product of my industry I returned to Boston, and deposited all but enough to carry me to New York, where within a month I enlisted twice, earning on each occasion four hundred dollars.

My next essay, was in Philadelphia, which I approached, even after some years of absence, with a good deal of doubt. It was an ill-omened place for me ; for although I got nearly seven hundred dollars by entering the service as a substitute tor an editor, — whose pen, I presume, was mightier than his sword, — I was disagreeably surprised by being hastily forwarded to the front under a foxy young lieutenant, who brutally shot down a poor devil in the streets of Baltimore for attempting to desert. At this point I began to make use of my medical skill, for I did not in the least degree fancy being shot, either because of deserting or of not deserting, it happened, therefore, that a day or two later, while in Washington, I was seized in the street with a lit, which perfectly imposed upon the officer in charge, and caused him to leave me at the Douglas Hospital. Here I found it necessary to perform tits about twice a week ; and as there were several real epileptics in the wards I had a capital chance of studying their symptoms, which finally I learned to imitate with the utmost cleverness.

I soon got to know three or four men, who, like myself, were personally averse to bullets, and who were simulating other forms of disease with more or less success. One of them suffered with rheumatism of the back, and walked about bent like an old man; another, who had been to the front, was palsied in the left arm ; and a third kept open an ulcer on the leg, by rubbing in a little antimonial ointment, which I sold him at five dollars a box, and bought at fifty cents.

A change in the hospital staff brought all of us to grief. The new surgeon was a quiet, gentlemanly person, with pleasant blue eyes and clearly cut features, and a way of looking you through without saying much. I felt, so safe myself that I watched his procedures with just that kind of enjoyment which one clever man takes in seeing another at work.

The first inspection settled two of us.

“ Another back case,” said the ward surgeon to his senior.

“Back hurt you?” says the latter, mildly.

“ Yes, sir ; run over by a howitzer ; ain’t never been straight since.”

“ A howitzer ! ” says the surgeon. “ Lean forward, my man, so as to touch the floor, — so. That will do.” Then, turning to his aid, he said, “Prepare this mail’s discharge papers.”

His discharge, sir ?”

“Yes, I said that. Who ’s next ?”

“ Thank you, sir,” groaned the man with the back. “ How soon, sir, do you think it will be ? ”

“Ah, not less than a month,” replied the surgeon, and passed on.

Now as it was unpleasant to be bent like a letter V, and as the patient presumed that his discharge was secure, he naturally took to himself a little relaxation in the way of becoming straighten Unluckily, those nice blue eyes were everywhere at all hours ; and, one fine morning, Smithson was appalled at finding himself in a detachment bound for the field, and bearing on his descriptive list an ill-natured endorsement about his malady.

The surgeon came next on O'Callahan. “ Where ’s your cap, my man ? ”

“ On my head, yer honor,” said the other, insolently. “ I ’ve a paralytics in my arm.”

“ Humph ! ” cried the surgeon. “ You have another hand.”

“ An’ it ’s not rigulation to saloot with yer left,” said the Irishman, with a grin, while the patients around us began to laugh.

“ How did it happen ? ” said the surgeon.

“ I was shot in the shoulder,” answered the patient, “ about three months ago, sir. I have n’t stirred it since.”

The surgeon looked at the scar.

“ So recently ? ” said he. “ The scar looks older ; and, by the way, doctor,” to his junior, “ it could not have gone near the nerves. Bring the battery, orderly.”

In a few moments the surgeon was testing, one after another, the various muscles. At last he stopped. “ Send this man away with the next detachment. Not a word, my man. You are a rascal, and a disgrace to these good fellows who have been among the bullets.”

The man muttered something, I did not hear what.

“ Put this man in the guard-house,” cried the surgeon ; and so passed on, without smile or frown.

As to the ulcer case, to my amusement he was put in bed, and his leg locked up in a wooden splint, which effectually prevented him from touching the part diseased. It healed in ten days, and he too went as food for powder.

As for myself, he asked me a few questions, and, requesting to be sent for during my next fit, left me alone.

I was of course on my guard, and took care to have my attacks only in his absence, or to have them over before he arrived.

At length, one morning, in spite of my care, he chanced to be in the ward, when I fell at the door. I was carried in and laid on a bed, apparently in strong convulsions. Presently I felt a finger on my eyelid, and as it was raised, saw the surgeon standing beside me. To escape his scrutiny, I became more violent in my motions. He stopped a moment, and looked at me steadily. “ Poor fellow ! ” said he, to my great relief, as I felt at once that I had successfully deceived him. Then he turned to the ward doctor and remarked : “ Take care he does not hurt his head against the bed ; and, by the by, doctor, do you remember the test we applied in Smith’s case ? Just tickle the soles of his feet, and see if it will cause those backward spasms of the head.”

The aid obeyed him, and, very naturally, I jerked my head backwards as hard as I could.

“ That will answer,” said the surgeon, to my horror. “ A clever rogue. Send him to the guard-house when he gets over it.”

“ Happy had I been if my ill-luck had ended here ; but, as I crossed the yard, an officer stopped me. To my disgust it was the captain of my old Rhode Island company.

“ Halloa said he; ‘‘keep that fellow safe. I know him.”

To cut short a long story ; I was tried, convicted, and forced to refund the Rhode Island bounty, for by ill luck they found my bank-book among my papers. I was finally sent to Fort Mifflin for a vear, and kept at hard labor, handling and carrying shot, policing the ground, picking up cigar-stumps, and other like unpleasant occupations.

Upon my release, I went at once to Boston, where I had about two thousand dollars in bank. I spent nearly all of the latter sum before I could prevail .upon myself to settle down to some mode of making a livelihood ; and I was about to engage in business as a vender of lottery policies, when I first began to feel a strange sense of lassitude, which soon increased so as quite to disable me from work of any kind. Month after month passed away, while my money lessened, and this terrible sense of weariness still went on from bad to worse. At last one day, after nearly a year had elapsed, I perceived on my face a large brown patch of color, in consequence of which I went in some alarm to consult a well-known physician. He asked me a multitude of tiresome questions, and at last wrote off a prescription, which I immediately read. It was a preparation of iron.

“What do you think,” said I, “is the matter with me, doctor ?”

“ I am afraid,” said he, “ that you have a very serious trouble, — what we call Addison’s disease.”

“ What’s that ? ” said I.

“ I do not think you would comprehend it,” he replied. “ It is an affection of the supra-renal capsules.

I dimly remembered that there were such organs, and that nobody knew what they were meant for. It seemed the doctors had found a use for them at last.

“ Is it a dangerous disease ? ” I said.

“ I fear so,” he answered.

“ Don’t you know,” I asked, “ what’s the truth about it ? ”

“ Well” he returned gravely, “ I am sorry to tell you it is a very dangerous malady.”

“ Nonsense,” said I, “ I don't believe it,” — for I thought it was only a doctor’s trick, and one I had tried often enough myself.

“ Thank you,” said he, “ you are a very ill man, and a fool besides. Good morning.” He forgot to ask for a fee, and I remembered not to offer one.

Several months went by ; my money was gone ; my clothes were ragged, and, like my body, nearly worn out ; and I am an inmate of a hospital. To-day I feel weaker than when I first began to write. How it will end I do not know. If I die, the doctor will get this pleasant history ; and if I live, I shall burn it, and, as soon as I get a little money, I will set out to look for my little sister, about whom I dreamed last night. What I dreamed was not very agreeable. I thought I was walking up one of the vilest streets near my old office, when a girl spoke to me, — a shameless, worn creature, with great sad eyes, not so wicked as the rest of her face. Suddenly she screamed aloud, “ Brother ! Brother ! ” and then, remembering what she had been, — with her round, girlish, innocent face, and fair hair, — and seeing what she was, I awoke, and cursed myself in the darkness for the evil I had done in the days of my youth.

  1. Aurum, used in religious melancholy, (see Jahr,) and not a bad remedy, it strikes me.