Sivut kuvina

and again. About three weeks ago, he threatened to fetch the police on me for one or two little things Stagers and I done together. Luckily, he fell sick with a typhoid just then; but he made such a thunderin' noise about opening safes, and what he done, and I done, and so on, that I did n't dare to have any one about him. When he began to mend, I gave him a little plain talk about this business of threatening to bring the police on us, and next day I caught him a saying something to my wife about it. The end of it was, he was took worse next morning, and — well he died yesterday. Now what does his sister do, but writes a note, and gives it to a boy in the alley to put in the post Luckily, Stagers happened to be round; and after the boy got away a bit, Bill bribes him with a quarter to give him the note, which was n't no less than a request to the coroner to come to our house to-morrow and make an examination, as foul play was suspected."

Here he paused. As for myself, I was cold all over. I was afraid to go on, and afraid to go back, besides which I did not doubt that there was a good deal of money in the case. "Of course," said I, "it's all nonsense; only I suppose you don't want the officers about, and a fuss, and that sort of thing."

"Exactly," said my friend, "you 're the coroner; you take this note and come to my house. Says you, 'Mrs. File, are you the woman that wrote this note ? because in that case I must examine the body.'"

"I see," said I; " she need n't know who I am, or anything else. But if I tell her it's all right, do you think she won't want to know why there ain't a jury, and so on?"

"Bless you," said the man, "the girl is n't over seventeen, and does n't know no more than her baby."

"I 'll do it," said I, suddenly, for, as I saw, it involved no sort of risk ; "but I must have three hundred dollars."

"And fifty," added the wolf, " if you do it well."

With this the man buttoned about him a shaggy gray overcoat, and took his leave without a single word in addition.

For the first time in my life I failed that night to sleep. I thought to myself at last that I would get up early, pack a few clothes, and escape, leaving my books to pay, as they might, my arrears of rent. Looking out of the window, however, in the morning, I saw Stagers prowling about the opposite pavement, and, as the only exit except the street door was an alleyway, which opened alongside of the front of the house, I gave myself up for lost About ten o'clock I took my case of instruments, and started for File's house, followed, as I too well understood, by Stagers.

I knew the house, which was in a small street, by its closed windows and the craped bell, which I shuddered as I touched. However, it was too late to draw back, and I therefore inquired for Mrs. File. A young and haggard-looking woman came down, and led me into a small parlor, for whose darkened light I was thankful enough.

"Did you write me this note?" said I.

"I did," said the woman, "if you 're the coroner. Joe, he 's my husband, he 's gone out to see about the funeral. I wish it was his, I do."

"What do you suspect ?" said I.

"I 'll tell you," she returned, in a whisper. "I think he was made away with. I think there was foul play. I think he was poisoned. That's what I think."

"I hope you may be mistaken," said I. "Suppose you let me see the body."

"You shall see it," she replied; and, following her, I went up stairs to a front chamber, where I found the corpse.

"Get it over soon," said the woman, with a strange firmness. "If there ain't no murder been done, I shall have to run for it. If there is," and her face set hard, " I guess I 'll stay." With this she closed the door, and left me with the dead.

If I had known what was before me, I never should have gone into the thing at all. It looked a little better when I had opened a window, and let in plenty of light; for, although I was, on the whole, far less afraid of dead than living men, I had an absurd feeling that I was doing this dead man a distinct wrong, as if it mattered to the dead, after all. When the affair was over, I thought more of the possible consequences than of its relation to the dead man himself; but do as I would at the time, I was in a ridiculous tremor, and especially when, in going through the forms of a post-mortem dissection, I had to make the first cut through the skin. Of course, I made no examination of the internal organs. I wanted to know as little as possible about them, and to get done as soon as I could. Unluckily, however, the walls of the stomach had softened and given way, so that I could not help seeing, among the escaped contents of the stomach, numerous grains of a white powder, which I hastened to conceal from my sight by rapidly sewing up the incisions which I had made.

I am free to confess now that I was careful not to uncover the man's face, and that when it was over I backed to the door, and hastily escaped from the room. On the stairs opposite to me Mrs. File was seated, with her bonnet on, and a small bundle in her hand.

"Well," said she, rising as she spoke, and with a certain eagerness in her tones, "what killed him? Was it arsenic?"

"Arsenic, my good woman !" said I; "when a man has typhoid fever, he don't need poison to kill him."

"And you mean to say he was n't poisoned," said she, with more than a trace of disappointment in her voice, — " not poisoned at all?"

"No more than you are," said I. "If I had found any signs of foul play, I should have had a regular inquest. As it is, the less said about it the better; and the fact is, it would have been much wiser to have kept quiet at the beginning. I can't understand why

you should have troubled me about it at all."

"Neither I would," said she, "if I had n't been pretty sure. I guess now .the sooner I leave, the better for me."

"As to that," I returned, " it is none of my business; but you may rest certain that you are mistaken about the cause of your brother's death."

As I left the house, whom should I meet but Dr. Evans. "Why, halloa!" said he; "called you in, have they? Who 's sick?

You may believe I was scared. "Mrs. File," said I, remembering with horror that I had forgotten to ask whether at any time the man had had a doctor.

"Bad lot," returned Evans; "I was sent for to see the brother when he was as good as dead."

"As bad as dead," I retorted, with a sickly effort at a joke. "What killed him?"

"I suppose one of the ulcers gave way, and that he died of the consequences. Perforation, you know, and that sort of thing. I thought of asking File for a post, but I did n't."

"Wish you luck of them. Good by."

I was greatly alarmed at this new incident, but my fears were somewhat quieted that evening when Stagers and the wolf appeared with the remainder of the money, and I learned that Mrs. File had fled from her home, and, as File thought likely, from the city also. A few months later, File himself disappeared, and Stagers found his way into the Penitentiary.

I felt, for my own part, that I had been guilty of more than one mistake, and that I had displayed throughout a want of intelligence for which I came near being punished very severely. I should have made proper inquiries before venturing on a matter so dangerous, and I ought also to have got a good fee from Mrs. File on account of my services as coroner. It served me, however, as a good lesson, but it was several months before I felt quite easy in mind. Meanwhile, money became scarce once more, and I was driven to my wit's end to devise how I should continue to live as I had done. I tried, among other plans, that of keeping certain pills and other medicines,which I sold to my patients; but on the whole I found it better to send all my prescriptions to one druggist, who charged the patient ten or twenty per cent over the correct price, and handed this amount to me.

In some cases I am told the percentage is supposed to be a donation on the part of the apothecary; but I rather fancy the patient pays for it in the end. It is one of the absurd vagaries of the profession to discountenance the practice I have described, but I wish, for my part, I had never done anything worse or more dangerous. Of course it inclines a doctor to change his medicines a good deal, and to order them in large quantities, which is occasionally annoying to the poor; yet, as I have always observed, there is no poverty so painful as your own, so that in a case of doubt I prefer equally to distribute pecuniary suffering among many, rather than to concentrate it on myself.

About six months after the date of my rather annoying adventure, an incident occurred which altered somewhat, and for a time improved, my professional position. During my morning office-hour an old woman came in, and, putting down a large basket, wiped her face with a yellow cotton handkerchief first, and afterwards with the corner of her apron. Then she looked around uneasily, got up, settled her basket on her arm with a jerk, which decided the future of an egg or two, and remarked briskly, "Don't see no little bottles about; got to the wrong stall I guess. You ain't no homoeopath doctor, are you?"

With great presence of mind, I replied, "Well, ma'am, that depends upon what you want. Some of my patients like one, and some like the other." I was about to add, "You pays your money and you takes your choice," but thought better of it, and

held ray peace, refraining from classical quotation.

"Being as that's the case," said the old lady, " I 'll just tell you my symptoms. You said you give either kind of medicine, did n't you?"

"Just so," I replied.

"Clams or oysters, whichever opens most lively, as my Joe says. Perhaps you know Joe, — tends the oyster-stand at stall No. 9."

No, I did not know Joe; but what were the symptoms?

They proved to be numerous, and included a stunnin' in the head, and a misery in the side, and a goin' on with bokin' after victuals.

I proceeded of course to apply a stethoscope over her ample bosom, though what I heard on this or similar occasions I should find it rather difficult to state. I remember well my astonishment in one instance, where, having unconsciously applied my instrument over a large chronometer in the watch-fob of a sea-captain, I concluded for a brief space that he was suffering from a rather remarkable displacement of the heart. As to the old lady, whose name was Checkers, and who kept an apple-stall near by, I told her that I was out of pills just then, but would have plenty next day. Accordingly I proceeded to invest a small amount at a place called a Homoeopathic Pharmacy, which I remember amused me immensely.

A stout little German, with great silver spectacles, sat behind a counter containing numerous jars of white powders labelled concisely, Lach., Led., Onis., Op., Puis., etc., while behind him were shelves filled with bottles of what looked like minute white shot.

"I want some homoeopathic medicine," said I.

"Vat kindst ?" said my friend. "Vat you vants to cure?"

I explained at random that I wished to treat diseases in general.

"Veil, ve gifs you a case, mit a pooks " ; — and thereupon produced a large box containing bottles of small pills and powders, labelled variously with the names of diseases, so that all you required was to use the headache or colic bottle in order to meet the needs of those particular maladies.

I was struck at first with the exquisite simplicity of this arrangement; but before purchasing, I happened luckily to turn over the leaves of a book, in two volumes, which lay on the counter, and was labelled, "Jahr—Manual." Opening at page 310, Vol. I., I lit upon Lachesis, which, on inquiry, proved to be snake-venom. This Mr. Jahr stated to be indicated in upwards of a hundred maladies. At once it occurred to me that Lach. was the medicine for my money, and that it was quite needless to waste cash on the box. I therefore bought a small jar of Lach. and a lot of little pills, and started for home.

My old woman proved a fast friend; and as she sent me numerous patients, I by and by altered my sign to "Homoeopathic Physician and Surgeon," whatever that may mean, and was regarded by my medical brethren as a lost sheep, and by the little-pill doctors as one who had seen the error of his ways.

In point of fact, my new practice had decided advantages. All the pills looked and tasted alike, and the same might be said of the powders, so that I was never troubled by those absurd investigations into the nature of the remedies which some patients are prone to make. Of course I desired to get business, and it was therefore obviously unwise to give little pills of Lach. or Puis. or Sep., when a man distinctly needed full doses of iron, or the like. I soon discovered, however, that it was only necessary to describe cod-liver oil, for instance, as a diet, in order to make use of it where required. When a man got impatient over an ancient

ague, I usually found, too, that I could persuade him to let me try a good dose of quinine; while, on the other hand, there was a distinct pecuniary advantage in those cases of the shakes which could be made to believe that it was "best not to interfere with nature." I ought to add, that this kind of faith is uncommon among folks who carry hods or build walls.

For women who are hysterical, and go heart and soul into the business of being sick, I have found the little pills a most charming resort, because you cannot carry the refinement of symptoms beyond what my friend Jahr has done in the way of fitting medicines to them, so that, if I had been disposed honestly to practise this droll style of therapeutics, it had, as I saw, certain conveniences.

Another year went by, and I was beginning to prosper in my new mode of life. The medicines (being chiefly milksugar, with variations as to the labels) cost next to nothing; and, as I charged pretty well for both these and my advice, I was now able to start a gig, and also to bring my sister, a very pretty girl of fourteen years old, to live with me in a small house which I rented, a square from my old office.

This business of my sister's is one of the things I like the least to look back upon. When she came to me she was a pale-faced child, with large, mournful gray eyes, soft, yellow hair, and the promise of remarkable good looks. As to her attachment to me, it was someting quite ridiculous. She followed me to the door when I went out, waited for me to come in, lay awake until she heard my step at night, and, in a word, hung around my neck like a kind of affectionate mill-stone.


« T AM indebted to you for a knowl-I- edge of life in the old cathedral towns of England, — of the ecclesiastical side of society, so minute and authentic that it is like a personal experience." Thus I replied to Anthony Trollope's declaration that he lacked an essential quality of the novelist,— imagination. "Ah," he replied, "when you speak of careful observation and the honest and thorough report thereof, I am conscious of fidelity to the facts of life and character; but," he added, with that bluff heartiness so characteristic of the man, "my brother is more than an accurate observer: he is a scholar, a philosopher as well, with historical tastes and cosmopolitan sympathies, — a patient student. You should read his books " ;— and he snatched a pencil, and wrote out the list for me.# Only two of Thomas Adolphus Trollope's volumes have been republished in this country, — one a novel of English life, in tenor and traits very like his brother's, the other a brief memoir of a famous and fair Italian- f This curious neglect on the part of American publishers induces us to briefly record this industrious and interesting author's claims to grateful recognition, especially on the part of those who cherish fond recollections of Italian travel, and enjoy the sympathetic and intelligent illustration of Italian life and history.

In a literary point of view "An Englishman in Italy," in the last century, would be suggestive of a classical tour like that of Addison and Eustace, — a field of study and speculation quite apart from the people of the country,

* A History of Florence, in four volumes; Paul the Pope and the Friar; Filippo Strozzi; The Girlhood of Catharine irV' Medici; A Decade of Italian Women; Tuscany in 1849; La Beata; Marietta; Giulio Malatesta; Beppo the Conscript. London: Chapman and Hall. 1856 1865.

t Lindisfarn Chase. Harper and Brothers, 1863. Life of Vittoria Colonna. Sheldon & Co., 1859,

who, except for purposes of deprecatory contrast, would probably be ignored; and, in our own times, the idea is rather identified with caricature than sympathy,— we associate these insular travellers with exclusiveness and prejudice. As a general rule, they know little and care less for the fellow-creatures among whom they sojourn, holding themselves aloof, incapable of genial relations, and owning no guide to foreign knowledge but Murray and the Times. Farce and romance have long made capital out of this obtuse and impervious nationality; and it is the more refreshing, because of the general rule, to note a noble exception, — to see an Englishman, highly educated, studious, domestic, and patriotic, yet dwelling in Italy, not to despise and ignore, but to interpret and endear the country and people, — making his hospitable dwelling, with all its Italian trophies and traits, the favorite rendezvous for the best of his countrymen and the native society,— there discussing the principles and prospects of civic reform, doing honor to men of genius and aspiration, irrespective of race, — blending in his salon the scholarly talk of Landor with the fervid pleas of " Young Italy," giving equal welcome to English radical, Piedmontese patriot, American humanitarian, and Tuscan dilettante, — and thus, as it were, recognizing the free and faithful spirit of modern progress and brotherhood amid the old armor, bridal chests, parchment tomes, quaintly carved chairs, and other mediaeval relics of a Florentine palazzo.

But this cosmopolitan candor, so rare as a social phenomenon among the English in Italy, is no less characteristic of Adolphus Trollope as a writer. As he entertained, in his pleasant, antique reception - room or garden-terrace, disciples of Cavour, of Mazzini, and of Gioberti, with men and women of varied genius and opposite convictions from England and the Unit

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