Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Autobiography of a Quack, and The Case of George Dedlow
Author: Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Autobiography of a Quack, and The Case of George Dedlow" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A QUACK

AND

THE CASE OF GEORGE DEDLOW


By S. Weir Mitchell, M.D., LL.D. Harvard And Edinburgh



CONTENTS

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A QUACK

THE CASE OF GEORGE DEDLOW



INTRODUCTION


Both of the tales in this little volume appeared originally in the
“Atlantic Monthly” as anonymous contributions. I owe to the present
owners of that journal permission to use them. “The Autobiography of a
Quack” has been recast with large additions.

“The Case of George Dedlow” was not written with any intention that it
should appear in print. I lent the manuscript to the Rev. Dr. Furness
and forgot it. This gentleman sent it to the Rev. Edward Everett
Hale. He, presuming, I fancy, that every one desired to appear in the
“Atlantic,” offered it to that journal. To my surprise, soon afterwards
I received a proof and a check. The story was inserted as a leading
article without my name. It was at once accepted by many as the
description of a real case. Money was collected in several places to
assist the unfortunate man, and benevolent persons went to the “Stump
Hospital,” in Philadelphia, to see the sufferer and to offer him aid.
The spiritual incident at the end of the story was received with joy by
the spiritualists as a valuable proof of the truth of their beliefs.

S. WEIR MITCHELL



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A QUACK

At this present moment of time I am what the doctors call an interesting
case, and am to be found in bed No. 10, Ward 11, Massachusetts General
Hospital. I am told that I have what is called Addison’s disease, and
that it is this pleasing malady which causes me to be covered with large
blotches of a dark mulatto tint. However, it is a rather grim subject
to joke about, because, if I believed the doctor who comes around every
day, and thumps me, and listens to my chest with as much pleasure as
if I were music all through--I say, if I really believed him, I should
suppose I was going to die. The fact is, I don’t believe him at
all. Some of these days I shall take a turn and get about again; but
meanwhile it is rather dull for a stirring, active person like me to
have to lie still and watch myself getting big brown and yellow spots
all over me, like a map that has taken to growing.

The man on my right has consumption--smells of cod-liver oil, and coughs
all night. The man on my left is a down-easter with a liver which has
struck work; looks like a human pumpkin; and how he contrives to whittle
jackstraws all day, and eat as he does, I can’t understand. I have tried
reading and tried whittling, but they don’t either of them satisfy me,
so that yesterday I concluded to ask the doctor if he couldn’t suggest
some other amusement.

I waited until he had gone through the ward, and then seized my chance,
and asked him to stop a moment.

“Well, my man,” said he, “what do you want!”

I thought him rather disrespectful, but I replied, “Something to do,
doctor.”

He thought a little, and then said: “I’ll tell you what to do. I think
if you were to write out a plain account of your life it would be pretty
well worth reading. If half of what you told me last week be true, you
must be about as clever a scamp as there is to be met with. I suppose
you would just as lief put it on paper as talk it.”

“Pretty nearly,” said I. “I think I will try it, doctor.”

After he left I lay awhile thinking over the matter. I knew well that I
was what the world calls a scamp, and I knew also that I had got little
good out of the fact. If a man is what people call virtuous, and fails
in life, he gets credit at least for the virtue; but when a man is
a--is--well, one of liberal views, and breaks down, somehow or other
people don’t credit him with even the intelligence he has put into the
business. This I call hard. If I did not recall with satisfaction the
energy and skill with which I did my work, I should be nothing but
disgusted at the melancholy spectacle of my failure. I suppose that
I shall at least find occupation in reviewing all this, and I
think, therefore, for my own satisfaction, I shall try to amuse my
convalescence by writing a plain, straightforward account of the life I
have led, and the various devices by which I have sought to get my share
of the money of my countrymen. It does appear to me that I have had no
end of bad luck.

As no one will ever see these pages, I find it pleasant to recall for my
own satisfaction the fact that I am really a very remarkable man. I
am, or rather I was, very good-looking, five feet eleven, with a lot
of curly red hair, and blue eyes. I am left-handed, which is another
unusual thing. My hands have often been noticed. I get them from my
mother, who was a Fishbourne, and a lady. As for my father, he was
rather common. He was a little man, red and round like an apple, but
very strong, for a reason I shall come to presently. The family must
have had a pious liking for Bible names, because he was called Zebulon,
my sister Peninnah, and I Ezra, which is not a name for a gentleman. At
one time I thought of changing it, but I got over it by signing myself
“E. Sanderaft.”

Where my father was born I do not know, except that it was somewhere in
New Jersey, for I remember that he was once angry because a man called
him a Jersey Spaniard. I am not much concerned to write about my people,
because I soon got above their level; and as to my mother, she died when
I was an infant. I get my manners, which are rather remarkable, from
her.

My aunt, Rachel Sanderaft, who kept house for us, was a queer character.
She had a snug little property, about seven thousand dollars. An old
aunt left her the money because she was stone-deaf. As this defect came
upon her after she grew up, she still kept her voice. This woman was the
cause of some of my ill luck in life, and I hope she is uncomfortable,
wherever she is. I think with satisfaction that I helped to make her
life uneasy when I was young, and worse later on. She gave away to the
idle poor some of her small income, and hid the rest, like a magpie,
in her Bible or rolled in her stockings, or in even queerer places.
The worst of her was that she could tell what people said by looking at
their lips; this I hated. But as I grew and became intelligent, her ways
of hiding her money proved useful, to me at least. As to Peninnah, she
was nothing special until she suddenly bloomed out into a rather
stout, pretty girl, took to ribbons, and liked what she called “keeping
company.” She ran errands for every one, waited on my aunt, and thought
I was a wonderful person--as indeed I was. I never could understand her
fondness for helping everybody. A fellow has got himself to think about,
and that is quite enough. I was told pretty often that I was the most
selfish boy alive. But, then, I am an unusual person, and there are
several names for things.

My father kept a small shop for the sale of legal stationery and the
like, on Fifth street north of Chestnut. But his chief interest in life
lay in the bell-ringing of Christ Church. He was leader, or No. 1, and
the whole business was in the hands of a kind of guild which is nearly
as old as the church. I used to hear more of it than I liked, because my
father talked of nothing else. But I do not mean to bore myself writing
of bells. I heard too much about “back shake,” “raising in peal,”
 “scales,” and “touches,” and the Lord knows what.

My earliest remembrance is of sitting on my father’s shoulder when he
led off the ringers. He was very strong, as I said, by reason of this
exercise. With one foot caught in a loop of leather nailed to the floor,
he would begin to pull No. 1, and by and by the whole peal would be
swinging, and he going up and down, to my joy; I used to feel as if it
was I that was making the great noise that rang out all over the town.
My familiar acquaintance with the old church and its lumber-rooms, where
were stored the dusty arms of William and Mary and George II., proved of
use in my later days.

My father had a strong belief in my talents, and I do not think he was
mistaken. As he was quite uneducated, he determined that I should not
be. He had saved enough to send me to Princeton College, and when I
was about fifteen I was set free from the public schools. I never liked
them. The last I was at was the high school. As I had to come
down-town to get home, we used to meet on Arch street the boys from the
grammar-school of the university, and there were fights every week. In
winter these were most frequent, because of the snow-balling. A fellow
had to take his share or be marked as a deserter. I never saw any
personal good to be had out of a fight, but it was better to fight
than to be cobbed. That means that two fellows hold you, and the other
fellows kick you with their bent knees. It hurts.

I find just here that I am describing a thing as if I were writing for
some other people to see. I may as well go on that way. After all, a
man never can quite stand off and look at himself as if he was the only
person concerned. He must have an audience, or make believe to have one,
even if it is only himself. Nor, on the whole, should I be unwilling, if
it were safe, to let people see how great ability may be defeated by the
crankiness of fortune.

I may add here that a stone inside of a snowball discourages the fellow
it hits. But neither our fellows nor the grammar-school used stones in
snowballs. I rather liked it. If we had a row in the springtime we all
threw stones, and here was one of those bits of stupid custom no man can
understand; because really a stone outside of a snowball is much more
serious than if it is mercifully padded with snow. I felt it to be
a rise in life when I got out of the society of the common boys who
attended the high school.

When I was there a man by the name of Dallas Bache was the head master.
He had a way of letting the boys attend to what he called the character
of the school. Once I had to lie to him about taking another boy’s ball.
He told my class that I had denied the charge, and that he always took
it for granted that a boy spoke the truth. He knew well enough what
would happen. It did. After that I was careful.

Princeton was then a little college, not expensive, which was very well,
as my father had some difficulty to provide even the moderate amount
needed.

I soon found that if I was to associate with the upper set of young men
I needed money. For some time I waited in vain. But in my second year
I discovered a small gold-mine, on which I drew with a moderation which
shows even thus early the strength of my character.

I used to go home once a month for a Sunday visit, and on these
occasions I was often able to remove from my aunt’s big Bible a five- or
ten-dollar note, which otherwise would have been long useless.

Now and then I utilized my opportunities at Princeton. I very much
desired certain things like well-made clothes, and for these I had to
run in debt to a tailor. When he wanted pay, and threatened to send the
bill to my father, I borrowed from two or three young Southerners; but
at last, when they became hard up, my aunt’s uncounted hoard proved a
last resource, or some rare chance in a neighboring room helped me out.
I never did look on this method as of permanent usefulness, and it was
only the temporary folly of youth.

Whatever else the pirate necessity appropriated, I took no large amount
of education, although I was fond of reading, and especially of novels,
which are, I think, very instructive to the young, especially the novels
of Smollett and Fielding.

There is, however, little need to dwell on this part of my life.
College students in those days were only boys, and boys are very strange
animals. They have instincts. They somehow get to know if a fellow does
not relate facts as they took place. I like to put it that way, because,
after all, the mode of putting things is only one of the forms of
self-defense, and is less silly than the ordinary wriggling methods
which boys employ, and which are generally useless. I was rather given
to telling large stories just for the fun of it and, I think, told them
well. But somehow I got the reputation of not being strictly definite,
and when it was meant to indicate this belief they had an ill-mannered
way of informing you. This consisted in two or three fellows standing up
and shuffling noisily with their feet on the floor. When first I heard
this I asked innocently what it meant, and was told it was the noise
of the bearers’ feet coming to take away Ananias. This was considered a
fine joke.

During my junior year I became unpopular, and as I was very cautious, I
cannot see why. At last, being hard up, I got to be foolishly reckless.
But why dwell on the failures of immaturity?

The causes which led to my leaving Nassau Hall were not, after all,
the mischievous outbreaks in which college lads indulge. Indeed, I have
never been guilty of any of those pieces of wanton wickedness which
injure the feelings of others while they lead to no useful result.
When I left to return home, I set myself seriously to reflect upon the
necessity of greater care in following out my inclinations, and from
that time forward I have steadily avoided, whenever it was possible, the
vulgar vice of directly possessing myself of objects to which I could
show no legal title. My father was indignant at the results of my
college career; and, according to my aunt, his shame and sorrow had
some effect in shortening his life. My sister believed my account of
the matter. It ended in my being used for a year as an assistant in the
shop, and in being taught to ring bells--a fine exercise, but not
proper work for a man of refinement. My father died while training his
bell-ringers in the Oxford triple bob--broke a blood-vessel somewhere.
How I could have caused that I do not see.

I was now about nineteen years old, and, as I remember, a middle-sized,
well-built young fellow, with large eyes, a slight mustache, and, I have
been told, with very good manners and a somewhat humorous turn. Besides
these advantages, my guardian held in trust for me about two thousand
dollars. After some consultation between us, it was resolved that I
should study medicine. This conclusion was reached nine years before the
Rebellion broke out, and after we had settled, for the sake of economy,
in Woodbury, New Jersey. From this time I saw very little of my deaf
aunt or of Peninnah. I was resolute to rise in the world, and not to be
weighted by relatives who were without my tastes and my manners.

I set out for Philadelphia, with many good counsels from my aunt and
guardian. I look back upon this period as a turning-point of my life.
I had seen enough of the world already to know that if you can succeed
without exciting suspicion, it is by far the pleasantest way; and I
really believe that if I had not been endowed with so fatal a liking
for all the good things of life I might have lived along as reputably as
most men. This, however, is, and always has been, my difficulty, and
I suppose that I am not responsible for the incidents to which it gave
rise. Most men have some ties in life, but I have said I had none which
held me. Peninnah cried a good deal when we parted, and this, I think,
as I was still young, had a very good effect in strengthening my
resolution to do nothing which could get me into trouble. The janitor
of the college to which I went directed me to a boarding-house, where
I engaged a small third-story room, which I afterwards shared with Mr.
Chaucer of Georgia. He pronounced it, as I remember, “Jawjah.”

In this very remarkable abode I spent the next two winters, and finally
graduated, along with two hundred more, at the close of my two years of
study. I should previously have been one year in a physician’s office as
a student, but this regulation was very easily evaded. As to my studies,
the less said the better. I attended the quizzes, as they call them,
pretty closely, and, being of a quick and retentive memory, was thus
enabled to dispense with some of the six or seven lectures a day which
duller men found it necessary to follow.

Dissecting struck me as a rather nasty business for a gentleman, and on
this account I did just as little as was absolutely essential. In fact,
if a man took his tickets and paid the dissection fees, nobody troubled
himself as to whether or not he did any more than this. A like evil
existed at the graduation: whether you squeezed through or passed with
credit was a thing which was not made public, so that I had absolutely
nothing to stimulate my ambition. I am told that it is all very
different to-day.

The astonishment with which I learned of my success was shared by the
numerous Southern gentlemen who darkened the floors and perfumed with
tobacco the rooms of our boarding-house. In my companions, during
the time of my studies so called, as in other matters of life, I was
somewhat unfortunate. All of them were Southern gentlemen, with
more money than I had. Many of them carried great sticks, usually
sword-canes, and some bowie-knives or pistols; also, they delighted in
swallow-tailed coats, long hair, broad-brimmed felt hats, and very tight
boots. I often think of these gentlemen with affectionate interest, and
wonder how many are lying under the wheat-fields of Virginia. One could
see them any day sauntering along with their arms over their companions’
shoulders, splendidly indifferent to the ways of the people about them.
They hated the “Nawth” and cursed the Yankees, and honestly believed
that the leanest of them was a match for any half a dozen of the
bulkiest of Northerners. I must also do them the justice to say that
they were quite as ready to fight as to brag, which, by the way, is no
meager statement. With these gentry--for whom I retain a respect which
filled me with regret at the recent course of events--I spent a good
deal of my large leisure. The more studious of both sections called us
a hard crowd. What we did, or how we did it, little concerns me here,
except that, owing to my esteem for chivalric blood and breeding, I was
led into many practices and excesses which cost my guardian and myself
a good deal of money. At the close of my career as a student I found
myself aged twenty-one years, and the owner of some seven hundred
dollars--the rest of my small estate having disappeared variously within
the last two years. After my friends had gone to their homes in the
South I began to look about me for an office, and finally settled upon
very good rooms in one of the down-town localities of the Quaker City.
I am not specific as to the number and street, for reasons which may
hereafter appear. I liked the situation on various accounts. It had
been occupied by a doctor; the terms were reasonable; and it lay on the
skirts of a good neighborhood, while below it lived a motley population,
among which I expected to get my first patients and such fees as were to
be had. Into this new home I moved my medical text-books, a few bones,
and myself. Also, I displayed in the window a fresh sign, upon which was
distinctly to be read:

DR. E. SANDERAFT. Office hours, 8 to 9 A.M., 7 to 9 P.M.


I felt now that I had done my fair share toward attaining a virtuous
subsistence, and so I waited tranquilly, and without undue enthusiasm,
to see the rest of the world do its part in the matter. Meanwhile I
read up on all sorts of imaginable cases, stayed at home all through my
office hours, and at intervals explored the strange section of the town
which lay to the south of my office. I do not suppose there is anything
like it else where. It was then filled with grog-shops, brothels,
slop-shops, and low lodging-houses. You could dine for a penny on soup
made from the refuse meats of the rich, gathered at back gates by a
horde of half-naked children, who all told varieties of one woeful tale.
Here, too, you could be drunk for five cents, and be lodged for three,
with men, women, and children of all colors lying about you. It was this
hideous mixture of black and white and yellow wretchedness which made
the place so peculiar. The blacks predominated, and had mostly
that swollen, reddish, dark skin, the sign in this race of habitual
drunkenness. Of course only the lowest whites were here--rag-pickers,
pawnbrokers, old-clothes men, thieves, and the like. All of this, as it
came before me, I viewed with mingled disgust and philosophy. I hated
filth, but I understood that society has to stand on somebody, and I was
only glad that I was not one of the undermost and worst-squeezed bricks.

I can hardly believe that I waited a month without having been called
upon by a single patient. At last a policeman on our beat brought me a
fancy man with a dog-bite. This patient recommended me to his brother,
the keeper of a small pawnbroking-shop, and by very slow degrees I began
to get stray patients who were too poor to indulge in up-town doctors.
I found the police very useful acquaintances; and, by a drink or a cigar
now and then, I got most of the cases of cut heads and the like at the
next station-house. These, however, were the aristocrats of my practice;
the bulk of my patients were soap-fat men, rag-pickers, oystermen,
hose-house bummers, and worse, with other and nameless trades, men and
women, white, black, or mulatto. How they got the levies, fips, and
quarters with which I was reluctantly paid, I do not know; that, indeed,
was none of my business. They expected to pay, and they came to me in
preference to the dispensary doctor, two or three squares away, who
seemed to me to spend most of his days in the lanes and alleys about us.
Of course he received no pay except experience, since the dispensaries
in the Quaker City, as a rule, do not give salaries to their doctors;
and the vilest of the poor prefer a “pay doctor” to one of these
disinterested gentlemen, who cannot be expected to give their best
brains for nothing, when at everybody’s beck and call. I am told, indeed
I know, that most young doctors do a large amount of poor practice, as
it is called; but, for my own part, I think it better for both parties
when the doctor insists upon some compensation being made to him. This
has been usually my own custom, and I have not found reason to regret
it.

Notwithstanding my strict attention to my own interests, I have been
rather sorely dealt with by fate upon several occasions, where, so far
as I could see, I was vigilantly doing everything in my power to keep
myself out of trouble or danger. I may as well relate one of them,
merely to illustrate of how little value a man’s intellect may be when
fate and the prejudices of the mass of men are against him.

One evening, late, I myself answered a ring at the bell, and found a
small black boy on the steps, a shoeless, hatless little wretch, curled
darkness for hair, and teeth like new tombstones. It was pretty cold,
and he was relieving his feet by standing first on one and then on the
other. He did not wait for me to speak.

“Hi, sah, Missey Barker she say to come quick away, sah, to Numbah 709
Bedford street.”

The locality did not look like pay, but it is hard to say in this
quarter, because sometimes you found a well-to-do “brandy-snifter”
 (local for gin-shop) or a hard-working “leather-jeweler” (ditto for
shoemaker), with next door, in a house better or worse, dozens of human
rats for whom every police trap in the city was constantly set.

With a doubt in my mind as to whether I should find a good patient or
some dirty nigger, I sought the place to which I had been directed.
I did not like its looks; but I blundered up an alley and into a back
room, where I fell over somebody, and was cursed and told to lie down
and keep easy, or somebody, meaning the man stumbled over, would make
me. At last I lit on a staircase which led into the alley, and, after
much useless inquiry, got as high as the garret. People hereabout did
not know one another, or did not want to know, so that it was of little
avail to ask questions. At length I saw a light through the cracks in
the attic door, and walked in. To my amazement, the first person I saw
was a woman of about thirty-five, in pearl-gray Quaker dress--one of
your quiet, good-looking people. She was seated on a stool beside a
straw mattress upon which lay a black woman. There were three others
crowded close around a small stove, which was red-hot--an unusual
spectacle in this street. Altogether a most nasty den.

As I came in, the little Quaker woman got up and said: “I took the
liberty of sending for thee to look at this poor woman. I am afraid she
has the smallpox. Will thee be so kind as to look at her?” And with this
she held down the candle toward the bed.

“Good gracious!” I said hastily, seeing how the creature was speckled “I
didn’t understand this, or I would not have come. I have important cases
which I cannot subject to the risk of contagion. Best let her alone,
miss,” I added, “or send her to the smallpox hospital.”

Upon my word, I was astonished at the little woman’s indignation. She
said just those things which make you feel as if somebody had been
calling you names or kicking you--Was I really a doctor? and so on.
It did not gain by being put in the ungrammatical tongue of Quakers.
However, I never did fancy smallpox, and what could a fellow get by
doctoring wretches like these? So I held my tongue and went away. About
a week afterwards I met Evans, the dispensary man, a very common fellow,
who was said to be frank.

“Helloa!” says he. “Doctor, you made a nice mistake about that darky
at No. 709 Bedford street the other night. She had nothing but measles,
after all.”

“Of course I knew,” said I, laughing; “but you don’t think I was going
in for dispensary trash, do you?”

“I should think not,” said Evans.

I learned afterwards that this Miss Barker had taken an absurd fancy
to the man because he had doctored the darky and would not let the
Quakeress pay him. The end was, when I wanted to get a vacancy in the
Southwark Dispensary, where they do pay the doctors, Miss Barker was
malignant enough to take advantage of my oversight by telling the whole
story to the board; so that Evans got in, and I was beaten.

You may be pretty sure that I found rather slow the kind of practice I
have described, and began to look about for chances of bettering myself.
In this sort of locality rather risky cases turned up now and then;
and as soon as I got to be known as a reliable man, I began to get the
peculiar sort of practice I wanted. Notwithstanding all my efforts, I
found myself, at the close of three years, with all my means spent, and
just able to live meagerly from hand to mouth, which by no means suited
a man of my refined tastes.

Once or twice I paid a visit to my aunt, and was able to secure moderate
aid by overhauling her concealed hoardings. But as to these changes of
property I was careful, and did not venture to secure the large amount
I needed. As to the Bible, it was at this time hidden, and I judged
it, therefore, to be her chief place of deposit. Banks she utterly
distrusted.

Six months went by, and I was worse off than ever--two months in arrears
of rent, and numerous other debts to cigar-shops and liquor-dealers. Now
and then some good job, such as a burglar with a cut head, helped me
for a while; but, on the whole, I was like Slider Downeyhylle in Neal’s
“Charcoal Sketches,” and kept going “downer and downer” the more I tried
not to. Something had to be done.

It occurred to me, about this time, that if I moved into a more genteel
locality I might get a better class of patients, and yet keep the best
of those I now had. To do this it was necessary to pay my rent, and
the more so because I was in a fair way to have no house at all over my
head. But here fortune interposed. I was caught in a heavy rainstorm on
Seventh Street, and ran to catch an omnibus. As I pulled open the door
I saw behind me the Quaker woman, Miss Barker. I laughed and jumped in.
She had to run a little before the ‘bus again stopped. She got pretty
wet. An old man in the corner, who seemed in the way of taking charge of
other people’s manners, said to me: “Young man, you ought to be ashamed
to get in before the lady, and in this pour, too!”

I said calmly, “But you got in before her.”

He made no reply to this obvious fact, as he might have been in the
bus a half-hour. A large, well-dressed man near by said, with a laugh,
“Rather neat, that,” and, turning, tried to pull up a window-sash. In
the effort something happened, and he broke the glass, cutting his
hand in half a dozen places. While he was using several quite profane
phrases, I caught his hand and said, “I am a surgeon,” and tied my
handkerchief around the bleeding palm.

The guardian of manners said, “I hope you are not much hurt, but there
was no reason why you should swear.”

On this my patient said, “Go to ----,” which silenced the monitor.

I explained to the wounded man that the cuts should be looked after at
once. The matter was arranged by our leaving the ‘bus, and, as the rain
had let up, walking to his house. This was a large and quite luxurious
dwelling on Fourth street. There I cared for his wounds, which, as I had
informed him, required immediate attention. It was at this time summer,
and his wife and niece, the only other members of his family, were
absent. On my second visit I made believe to remove some splinters of
glass which I brought with me. He said they showed how shamefully thin
was that omnibus window-pane. To my surprise, my patient, at the end of
the month,--for one wound was long in healing,--presented me with one
hundred dollars. This paid my small rental, and as Mr. Poynter allowed
me to refer to him, I was able to get a better office and bedroom on
Spruce street. I saw no more of my patient until winter, although I
learned that he was a stock-broker, not in the very best repute, but of
a well-known family.

Meanwhile my move had been of small use. I was wise enough, however, to
keep up my connection with my former clients, and contrived to live. It
was no more than that. One day in December I was overjoyed to see
Mr. Poynter enter. He was a fat man, very pale, and never, to my
remembrance, without a permanent smile. He had very civil ways, and now
at once I saw that he wanted something.

I hated the way that man saw through me. He went on without hesitation,
taking me for granted. He began by saying he had confidence in my
judgment, and when a man says that you had better look out. He said he
had a niece who lived with him, a brother’s child; that she was out of
health and ought not to marry, which was what she meant to do. She was
scared about her health, because she had a cough, and had lost a brother
of consumption. I soon came to understand that, for reasons unknown
to me, my friend did not wish his niece to marry. His wife, he also
informed me, was troubled as to the niece’s health. Now, he said, he
wished to consult me as to what he should do. I suspected at once that
he had not told me all.

I have often wondered at the skill with which I managed this rather
delicate matter. I knew I was not well enough known to be of direct
use, and was also too young to have much weight. I advised him to get
Professor C.

Then my friend shook his head. He said in reply, “But suppose, doctor,
he says there is nothing wrong with the girl?”

Then I began to understand him.

“Oh,” I said, “you get a confidential written opinion from him. You can
make it what you please when you tell her.”

He said no. It would be best for me to ask the professor to see Miss
Poynter; might mention my youth, and so on, as a reason. I was to get
his opinion in writing.

“Well?” said I.

“After that I want you to write me a joint opinion to meet the case--all
the needs of the case, you see.”

I saw, but hesitated as to how much would make it worth while to pull
his hot chestnuts out of the fire--one never knows how hot the chestnuts
are.

Then he said, “Ever take a chance in stocks?”

I said, “No.”

He said that he would lend me a little money and see what he could do
with it. And here was his receipt from me for one thousand dollars, and
here, too, was my order to buy shares of P. T. Y. Would I please to Sign
it? I did.

I was to call in two days at his house, and meantime I could think it
over. It seemed to me a pretty weak plan. Suppose the young woman--well,
supposing is awfully destructive of enterprise; and as for me, I had
only to misunderstand the professor’s opinion. I went to the house, and
talked to Mr. Poynter about his gout. Then Mrs. Poynter came in, and
began to lament her niece’s declining health. After that I saw Miss
Poynter. There is a kind of innocent-looking woman who knows no more of
the world than a young chicken, and is choke-full of emotions. I saw it
would be easy to frighten her. There are some instruments anybody can
get any tune they like out of. I was very grave, and advised her to see
the professor. And would I write to ask him, said Mr. Poynter. I said I
would.

As I went out Mr. Poynter remarked: “You will clear some four hundred
easy. Write to the professor. Bring my receipt to the office next week,
and we will settle.”

We settled. I tore up his receipt and gave him one for fifteen hundred
dollars, and received in notes five hundred dollars.

In a day or so I had a note from the professor stating that Miss Poynter
was in no peril; that she was, as he thought, worried, and had only a
mild bronchial trouble. He advised me to do so-and-so, and had ventured
to reassure my young patient. Now, this was a little more than I
wanted. However, I wrote Mr. Poynter that the professor thought she had
bronchitis, that in her case tubercle would be very apt to follow,
and that at present, and until she was safe, we considered marriage
undesirable.

Mr. Poynter said it might have been put stronger, but he would make it
do. He made it. The first effect was an attack of hysterics. The final
result was that she eloped with her lover, because if she was to die,
as she wrote her aunt, she wished to die in her husband’s arms. Human
nature plus hysteria will defy all knowledge of character. This was what
our old professor of practice used to say.

Mr. Poynter had now to account for a large trust estate which had
somehow dwindled. Unhappily, princes are not the only people in whom you
must not put your trust. As to myself, Professor L. somehow got to know
the facts, and cut me dead. It was unpleasant, but I had my five hundred
dollars, and--I needed them. I do not see how I could have been more
careful.

After this things got worse. Mr. Poynter broke, and did not even pay
my last bill. I had to accept several rather doubtful cases, and once a
policeman I knew advised me that I had better be on my guard.

But, really, so long as I adhered to the common code of my profession I
was in danger of going without my dinner.

Just as I was at my worst and in despair something always turned up, but
it was sure to be risky; and now my aunt refused to see me, and Peninnah
wrote me goody-goody letters, and said Aunt Rachel had been unable to
find certain bank-notes she had hidden, and vowed I had taken them. This
Peninnah did not think possible. I agreed with her. The notes were
found somewhat later by Peninnah in the toes of a pair of my aunt’s old
slippers. Of course I wrote an indignant letter. My aunt declared that
Peninnah had stolen the notes, and restored them when they were missed.
Poor Peninnah! This did not seem to me very likely, but Peninnah did
love fine clothes.

One night, as I was debating with myself as to how I was to improve my
position, I heard a knock on my shutter, and, going to the door, let in
a broad-shouldered man with a whisky face and a great hooked nose. He
wore a heavy black beard and mustache, and looked like the wolf in the
pictures of Red Riding-hood which I had seen as a child.

“Your name’s Sanderaft?” said the man.

“Yes; that’s my name--Dr. Sanderaft.”

As he sat down he shook the snow over everything, and said coolly: “Set
down, doc; I want to talk with you.”

“What can I do for you?” said I.

The man looked around the room rather scornfully, at the same time
throwing back his coat and displaying a red neckerchief and a huge
garnet pin. “Guess you’re not overly rich,” he said.

“Not especially,” said I. “What’s that your business?”

He did not answer, but merely said, “Know Simon Stagers?”

“Can’t say I do,” said I, cautiously. Simon was a burglar who had blown
off two fingers when mining a safe. I had attended him while he was
hiding.

“Can’t say you do. Well, you can lie, and no mistake. Come, now, doc.
Simon says you’re safe, and I want to have a leetle plain talk with
you.”

With this he laid ten gold eagles on the table. I put out my hand
instinctively.

“Let ‘em alone,” cried the man, sharply. “They’re easy earned, and ten
more like ‘em.”

“For doing what?” I said.

The man paused a moment, and looked around him; next he stared at me,
and loosened his cravat with a hasty pull. “You’re the coroner,” said
he.

“I! What do you mean?”

“Yes, you’re the coroner; don’t you understand?” and so saying, he
shoved the gold pieces toward me.

“Very good,” said I; “we will suppose I’m the coroner. What next?”

“And being the coroner,” said he, “you get this note, which requests you
to call at No. 9 Blank street to examine the body of a young man which
is supposed--only supposed, you see--to have--well, to have died under
suspicious circumstances.”

“Go on,” said I.

“No,” he returned; “not till I know how you like it. Stagers and another
knows it; and it wouldn’t be very safe for you to split, besides not
making nothing out of it. But what I say is this, Do you like the
business of coroner?”

I did not like it; but just then two hundred in gold was life to me, so
I said: “Let me hear the whole of it first. I am safe.”

“That’s square enough,” said the man. “My wife’s got”--correcting
himself with a shivery shrug--“my wife had a brother that took to
cutting up rough because when I’d been up too late I handled her a
leetle hard now and again.

“Luckily he fell sick with typhoid just then--you see, he lived with
us. When he got better I guessed he’d drop all that; but somehow he was
worse than ever--clean off his head, and strong as an ox. My wife said
to put him away in an asylum. I didn’t think that would do. At last he
tried to get out. He was going to see the police about--well--the
thing was awful serious, and my wife carrying on like mad, and wanting
doctors. I had no mind to run, and something had got to be done. So
Simon Stagers and I talked it over. The end of it was, he took worse of
a sudden, and got so he didn’t know nothing. Then I rushed for a doctor.
He said it was a perforation, and there ought to have been a doctor when
he was first took sick.

“Well, the man died, and as I kept about the house, my wife had
no chance to talk. The doctor fussed a bit, but at last he gave a
certificate. I thought we were done with it. But my wife she writes
a note and gives it to a boy in the alley to put in the post. We
suspicioned her, and Stagers was on the watch. After the boy got away a
bit, Simon bribed him with a quarter to give him the note, which wasn’t
no less than a request to the coroner to come to the house to-morrow and
make an examination, as foul play was suspected--and poison.”

When the man quit talking he glared at me. I sat still. 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 nonsense; only I suppose you don’t want the
officers about, and a fuss, and that sort of thing.”

“Exactly,” said my friend. “It’s all bosh about poison. 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 needn’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
isn’t a jury, and so on?”

“Bless you,” said the man, “the girl isn’t over seventeen, and doesn’t
know no more than a baby. As we live up-town miles away, she won’t know
anything about you.”

“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.”

Then I knew it was serious.

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

A minute later he came back and said: “Stagers is in this business, and
I was to remind you of Lou Wilson,--I forgot that,--the woman that died
last year. That’s all.” Then he went away, leaving me in a cold sweat. I
knew now I had no choice. I understood why I had been selected.

For the first time in my life, that night I couldn’t 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 along-side 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 uptown 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
haggard-looking young woman came down, and led me into a small parlor,
for whose darkened light I was thankful enough.

“Did you write this note?”

“I did,” said the woman, “if you’re the coroner. Joe File--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 strange firmness. “If there
ain’t no murder been done I shall have to run for it; if there was”--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 could 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 funk, and especially when going through the forms of a
post-mortem examination.

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 bundle in her hand.

“Well,” said she, rising as she spoke, and with a certain eagerness in
her tone, “what killed him? Was it poison?”

“Poison, my good woman!” said I. “When a man has typhoid fever he don’t
need poison to kill him. He had a relapse, that’s all.”

“And do you mean to say he wasn’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. 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. The man had a perforation. It is common enough in typhoid.”

“That’s what the doctor said--I didn’t believe him. 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 about the cause of your brother’s death.”

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
for the third time into the penitentiary. Then I felt at ease. I now
see, for my own part, that I was guilty of more than one mistake, and
that I displayed throughout a want of intelligence. I ought to have
asked more, and also might 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 comfortable.

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 cents 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 more foolish 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 as painful as your own, so
that I prefer to distribute pecuniary suffering among many rather than
to concentrate it on myself. That’s a rather neat phrase.

About six months after the date of this 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, 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 may have decided the future of an egg or two, and remarked
briskly: “Don’t see no little bottles about; got the wrong stall, I
guess. You ain’t no homeopath 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 pay your money and you take your choice,”
 but thought better of it, and held my 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, didn’t you?”

“Just so,” replied I.

“Clams or oysters, whichever opens most lively, as my old Joe
says--tends the oyster-stand at stall No. 9. Happen to know Joe?”

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

They proved to be numerous, and included a stunning in the head and a
misery in the side, with bokin after victuals.

I proceeded, of course, to apply a stethoscope over her ample bosom,
though what I heard on this and 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
clamorous silver watch in the watchfob of a sea-captain, I concluded for
a moment that he was suffering from a rather remarkable displacement of
the heart. As to my old lady, whose name was Checkers, and who kept an
apple-stand 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 homeopathic 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 labeled concisely
“Lac.,” “Led.,” “Onis.,” “Op.,” “Puls.,” etc., while behind him were
shelves filled with bottles of what looked like minute white shot.

“I want some homeopathic medicine,” said I.

“Vat kindt?” said my friend. “Vat you vants to cure!”

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

“Vell, ve gifs you a case, mit a pook,” and thereon produced a large box
containing bottles of small pills and powders, labeled variously with
the names of the 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; it was called “Jahr’s
Manual.” Opening at page 310, vol. i, I lit upon “Lachesis,” which
proved to my amazement to be snake-venom. This Mr. Jahr stated to be
indicated for use in upward of a hundred symptoms. 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 “Homeopathic Physician and Surgeon,”
 whatever that may mean, and was regarded by my medical brothers 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 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 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 “Lac.,” or “Puls.,” or “Sep.,” when a man needed a dose of
oil, or a white-faced girl iron, or the like. I soon made the useful
discovery that it was only necessary to prescribe 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 taken seriously to practising this double form 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. My medicines (being chiefly milk-sugar, 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.

I solemnly believe that I should have continued to succeed in the
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 a consultation one day with the famous homeopath Dr. Zwanzig. As
we walked away we were busily discussing the case of a poor consumptive
fellow who previously had lost a leg. In consequence of this defect, Dr.
Zwanzig considered that the ten-thousandth of a grain of aurum would
be an overdose, and that it must be fractioned so as to allow for the
departed leg, otherwise the rest of the man would be getting a leg-dose
too much. I was particularly struck with this view of the case, but I
was still more, and less pleasingly, impressed at the sight of my former
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 waiting in my office. I looked around uneasily, which was clearly
understood by my friend, who retorted: “Ain’t took nothin’ of yours,
doc. You don’t seem right awful glad to see me. You needn’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 aware 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,” said Stagers.

Then I softened down, and laughed a little, and 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 wouldn’t get you off.”

“No?” said I, interrogatively, and as coolly as I could, contriving at
the same time to move toward the window. It was summer, the sashes were
up, the shutters half drawn in, and a policeman whom I knew was lounging
opposite, as I had noticed when I entered. I would give Stagers a scare,
charge him with theft--anything but get mixed up with his kind again. It
was the folly of a moment and I should have paid dear for it.

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 forgot that there
coroner’s business and the rest.” Needless to say that I obeyed. “Best
not try that again,” continued my guest. “Wait a moment”; and rising, he
closed the window.

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

It appeared that my other 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. It seemed that with Stagers and
others he had formed a band of expert counterfeiters in the West. Their
business lay in the manufacture of South American currencies. File had
thus acquired a fortune so considerable that I was amazed at his having
allowed his passion to seduce him into unprofitable crime. In his agony
he unfortunately thought of me, and had bribed Stagers largely in order
that he might be 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.

“What does all this mean?” I said. “What does File expect me to do?”

“Don’t believe he 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 something, doc.”

“And what if I won’t do it?” said I. “What does 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 Sanderaft to find
some way to get me clear. Once out, I give him ten thousand dollars. If
he don’t turn up something that will suit, I’ll blow about that coroner
business and Lou Wilson, 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 profitable 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 round. I grew weak all
over.

“Cheer up a little,” said Stagers. “Take a nip of whisky. 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 squirm as I
would, it was all in vain. Hideous plans rose to my mind, born of this
agony of terror. I might 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. I find it dreadful to recall it
to memory. Above all, an aching eagerness for revenge upon the man who
had caused me these sufferings was uppermost in my mind. Could I not
fool the wretch and save myself? Of a sudden an idea came into my
consciousness. Then it grew and formed itself, became possible,
probable, 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 in his behalf. As the days
went by, his behavior grew to be a frightful thing to witness. He
threatened, flattered, implored, offered to double the sum he had
promised if I would save him. My really reasonable first thought was to
see the governor of the State, and, as Stagers’s former physician,
make oath to his having had many attacks of epilepsy followed by brief
periods of homicidal mania. He had, in fact, had fits of alcoholic
epilepsy. Unluckily, the governor was in a distant city. The time was
short, and the case against my man too clear. Stagers said it would not
do. I was at my wit’s end. “Got to do something,” said File, “or I’ll
attend to your case, doc.”

“But,” said I, “suppose there is really nothing?”

“Well,” said Stagers to me when we were alone, “you get him satisfied,
anyhow. He’ll never let them hang him, and perhaps--well, I’m going to
give him these pills when I get a chance. He asked to have them. But
what’s your other plan?”

Stagers knew as much about medicine as a pig knows about the opera. So
I set to work to delude him, first asking if he could secure me, as a
clergyman, an hour alone with File just before the execution. He said
money would do it, and what was my plan?

“Well,” said I, “there was once a man named Dr. Chovet. He lived in
London. A gentleman who turned highwayman was to be hanged. You see,”
 said I, “this was about 1760. Well, his friends bribed the jailer and
the hangman. The doctor cut a hole in the man’s windpipe, very low down
where it could be partly hid by a loose cravat. So, as they hanged him
only a little while, and the breath went in and out of the opening below
the noose, he was only just insensible when his friends got him--”

“And he got well,” cried Stagers, much pleased with my rather
melodramatic tale.

“Yes,” I said, “he got well, and lived to take purses, all dressed in
white. People had known him well, and when he robbed his great-aunt, who
was not in the secret, she swore she had seen his ghost.”

Stagers said that was a fine story; guessed it would work; small town,
new business, lots of money to use. In fact, the attempt thus to save
a man is said to have been made, but, by ill luck, the man did not
recover. It answered my purpose, but how any one, even such an ass as
this fellow, could believe it could succeed puzzles me to this day.

File became enthusiastic over my scheme, and I cordially assisted his
credulity. The thing was to keep the wretch quiet until the business
blew up or--and I shuddered--until File, in despair, took his pill. I
should in any case find it wise to leave in haste.

My friend Stagers had some absurd misgivings lest Mr. File’s neck might
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 effect of sudden, nearly complete arrest of the
supply of blood to the brain; but with these physiological refinements
I thought it needlessly cruel to distract a man in File’s peculiar
position. Perhaps I shall be doing injustice to my own intellect if I
do not hasten to state again that I had not the remotest belief in
the efficacy of my plan for any purpose except to get me out of a very
uncomfortable position and give me, with time, a chance to escape.

Stagers and I were both disguised as clergymen, and were quite freely
admitted to the condemned man’s cell. In fact, there was in the little
town a certain trustful simplicity about all their arrangements. The
day but one before the execution Stagers informed me that File had the
pills, which he, Stagers, had contrived to give him. Stagers seemed
pleased with our plan. I was not. He was really getting uneasy and
suspicious of me--as I was soon to find out.

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 to secure me two hours alone
with the prisoner, so that nothing seemed to be wanting to this tomfool
business. I had assured Stagers that I would not need to see File again
previous to the operation; but in the forenoon of the day before that
set for the execution 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 turnkey.

“The doctor,” he replied.

“Doctor?” I said, pausing. “What doctor?”

“Oh, the jail doctor. I was to come back in half an hour to let him out;
but he’s got a quarter to stay. Shall I let you in, 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 come back to let me
into the cell.”

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

As soon as I was alone, I cautiously advanced until I 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, I believe there would be no doubt of it. I cannot see how escape
would be possible. But let me ask you why you have sent for me to ask
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 about
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, couldn’t some
one be found to help me, say if he was to make twenty thousand or so by
it? I mean a really good doctor.” Evidently File cruelly mistrusted my
skill, and meant to get some one to aid me.

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

I understood all this with an increasing fear in my mind. I had meant to
get away that night at all risks. I saw now that I must go at once.

After a pause he said: “Well, doctor, you know a poor devil in my fix
will clutch at straws. Hope I have not offended you.”

“Not in the least,” returned the doctor. “Shall I send you Mr. Smith?”
 This was my present name; in fact, I was known as the Rev. 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 apprehend very distinctly that the time
had arrived when it would be wiser for me to delay escape no longer.
Accordingly, I waited until I heard the doctor rise, and at once stepped
quietly away to the far end of the corridor. I had scarcely reached it
when the door which closed it was opened by a turnkey who had come to
relieve the doctor and let me into the cell. Of course my peril was
imminent. If the turnkey mentioned my near presence to the prisoner,
immediate disclosure would follow. If some lapse of time were secured
before the warden obeyed the request from File that he should visit him,
I might gain thus a much-needed 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, as
he followed me, relocking the door of the corridor. “I’ll tell him,”
 he said. It is needless to repeat that I never had the least idea of
carrying out the ridiculous scheme with which I had deluded File and
Stagers, but so far Stagers’s watchfulness had given me no chance to
escape.

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 toward me. As usual, he was on his 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. What do you want?”

“How far is it?”

“About fifteen miles,” he replied.

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

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

“I want 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 toward
Dayton. In about ten minutes I asked Stagers for a cigar.

“Can’t smoke here,” said he.

“No,” I answered; “of course not. I’ll go forward into the smoking-car.”

“Come along,” said he, and we went through the train.

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, “left my cigar 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 nearer end of the hindmost car, and stood on
the platform. I instantly cut the signal-cord. Then I knelt down, and,
waiting until the two cars ran together, I tugged at the connecting-pin.
As the cars came together, I could lift it a little, then as the strain
came on the coupling the pin held fast. At last I made a great effort,
and out it came. The car I was on instantly lost speed, and there on the
other platform, a hundred feet away, was Stagers shaking his fist at me.
He was beaten, and he knew it. In the end few people have been able to
get ahead of me.

The retreating train was half a mile away around the curve as I screwed
up the brake on my car hard enough to bring it nearly to a stand. I did
not wait for it to stop entirely before I slipped 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 lesser incidents, I shall not linger to
tell how I succeeded, at last, in reaching St. Louis. Fortunately, I
had never ceased to anticipate the moment when escape from File and his
friends would be possible, so that I always carried about with me the
very small funds with which I had hastily provided myself upon leaving.
The whole amount did not exceed sixty-five dollars, but with this, and
a gold watch worth twice as much, 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 came at last on an account of how he had poisoned himself, and so
escaped the hangman. I never learned what he had said about me, but I
was quite sure he had not let me off easy. I felt that this failure to
announce his confessions was probably due to a desire on the part of the
police to avoid alarming me. Be this as it may, I remained long ignorant
as to whether or not the villain betrayed my part in that unusual
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 day 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 finished my cigar and
morning julep, enters a respectable-looking old gentleman who inquires
briskly of the patients if this is really Dr. von Ingenhoff’s. He is
told it is. My friend was apt to overact his part. I had often occasion
to ask him to be less positive.

“Ah,” says he, “I shall be delighted to see the doctor. 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 isn’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 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
the Hoosier, “I’ve been handled awful these two years back.” “Stop!” I
exclaimed. “Open your eyes. There, now, let me see,” taking his pulse
as I speak. “Ah, you’ve a pain there, and there, and you can’t sleep;
cocktails don’t agree any longer. Weren’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 you in a week, sir. No more whisky--drink
milk.”

The astonishment of my patient at these accurate revelations may be
imagined. He is allowed to wait for his medicine in the anteroom, 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 tricks, to our great common advantage.

At my friend’s suggestion, we very soon added to our resources by
the purchase of two electromagnetic 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 two dollars a sitting, will
pay. In many cases the patient gets well while you are electrifying him.
Whether or not the electricity cured him is a thing I shall never know.
If, however, he began to show signs of impatience, I advised him that
he would require a year’s treatment, and suggested that it would be
economical for him to buy a battery and use it at home. Thus advised,
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 and liberal views in my profession, and of a very
justifiable ambition. The idea has 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 really only a wider
application of the idea which prompted me to unite in my own business
homeopathy and the 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 having
read somewhere that a Dr. Schiff had shown that he could produce
remarkable “knockings,” so called, by voluntarily dislocating the great
toe and then forcibly drawing it back 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 failed 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 danger. 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 men 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. I may add, too, that 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 foolish enough to consult us and sharp 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 people preferred to hold their tongues rather than
expose to the world the extent of their own folly.

In one most disastrous 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 pantaloons pocket upon going to bed. In 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
clue 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 little close, too, I suspected, and that
he lived in a large house with but two servants, and an only son about
twenty-one years old. The servants were both 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 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 any spirits
present. 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
highly desirable.

It seemed that the spirit was that of Vidocq, the French detective. I
had just read a translation of his memoirs, and he seemed to me a very
available spirit to call upon.

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 spelled 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, indeed, could it have
been?

“Excuse me,” he went on, “if I ask you for a little whisky.”

This I gave him. He continued: “Was it Susan or Ellen?”

“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 head as
red as mine, and mustache and whiskers to match. Probably the son, I
thought--ardent temperament, remorse, come to confess, etc. 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 younger man on the arm.

Would you believe it? he took out his handkerchief and dusted the place
I had touched. “Better not,” said he. “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 candle-stick, where he 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, if 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
hastily out of 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, taking 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 my usual decision of
character, but with much grief and reluctance, I collected my whole
fortune, which now amounted to at least seven thousand dollars, and
turned my back upon this ungrateful town. I am sorry to say that I also
left behind me the last of my good luck.

I traveled in a leisurely way until I reached Boston. The country
anywhere would have been safer, but I do not lean to agricultural
pursuits. It seemed an agreeable city, and I decided to remain.

I took good rooms at Parker’s, and concluding to enjoy life, amused
myself in the company of certain, I may say uncertain, young women who
danced at some of the theaters. I played billiards, drank rather too
much, drove fast horses, and at the end of a delightful year was shocked
to find myself in debt, and with only seven dollars and fifty-three
cents left--I like to be accurate. I had only one resource: I determined
to visit my deaf aunt and Peninnah, and to see what I could do in the
role of the prodigal nephew. At all events, I should gain time to think
of what new enterprise I could take up; but, above all, I needed a
little capital and a house over my head. I had pawned nearly everything
of any value which I possessed.

I left my debts to gather interest, and went away to Woodbury. It was
the day before Christmas when I reached the little Jersey town, and
it was also by good luck Sunday. I was hungry and quite penniless. I
wandered about until church had begun, because I was sure then to find
Aunt Rachel and Peninnah out at the service, and I desired to explore a
little. The house was closed, and even the one servant absent. I got in
with ease at the back through the kitchen, and having at least an hour
and a half free from interruption, I made a leisurely search. The
role of prodigal was well enough, but here was a better chance and an
indulgent opportunity.

In a few moments I found the famous Bible hid away under Aunt Rachel’s
mattress. The Bible bank was fat with notes, but I intended to be
moderate enough to escape suspicion. Here were quite two thousand
dollars. I resolved to take, just now, only one hundred, so as to keep a
good balance. Then, alas! I lit on a long envelop, my aunt’s will. Every
cent was left to Christ Church; not a dime to poor Pen or to me. I was
in a rage. I tore up the will and replaced the envelop. To treat
poor Pen that way--Pen of all people! There was a heap more will than
testament, for all it was in the Bible. After that I thought it was
right to punish the old witch, and so I took every note I could find.
When I was through with this business, I put back the Bible under
the mattress, and observing that I had been quite too long, I went
downstairs with a keen desire to leave the town as early as possible. I
was tempted, however, to look further, and was rewarded by finding in
an old clock case a small reticule stuffed with bank-notes. This I
appropriated, and made haste to go out. I was too late. As I went into
the little entry to get my hat and coat, Aunt Rachel entered, followed
by Peninnah.

At sight of me my aunt cried out that I was a monster and fit for the
penitentiary. As she could not hear at all, she had the talk to herself,
and went by me and up-stairs, rumbling abuse like distant thunder
overhead.

Meanwhile I was taken up with Pen. The pretty fool was seated on a
chair, all dressed up in her Sunday finery, and rocking backward and
forward, crying, “Oh, oh, ah!” like a lamb saying, “Baa, baa, baa!” She
never had much sense. I had to shake her to get a reasonable word.
She mopped her eyes, and I heard her gasp out that my aunt had at last
decided that I was the person who had thinned her hoards. This was bad,
but involved less inconvenience than it might have done an hour earlier.
Amid tears Pen told me that a detective had been at the house inquiring
for me. When this happened it seems that the poor little goose had tried
to fool deaf Aunt Rachel with some made-up story as to the man having
come about taxes. I suppose the girl was not any too sharp, and the old
woman, I guess, read enough from merely seeing the man’s lips. You never
could keep anything from her, and she was both curious and suspicious.
She assured the officer that I was a thief, and hoped I might be caught.
I could not learn whether the man told Pen any particulars, but as I was
slowly getting at the facts we heard a loud scream and a heavy fall.

Pen said, “Oh, oh!” and we hurried upstairs. There was the old woman
on the floor, her face twitching to right, and her breathing a sort of
hoarse croak. The big Bible lay open on the floor, and I knew what had
happened. It was a fit of apoplexy.

At this very unpleasant sight Pen seemed to recover her wits, and said:
“Go away, go away! Oh, brother, brother, now I know you have stolen her
money and killed her, and--and I loved you, I was so proud of you! Oh,
oh!”

This was all very fine, but the advice was good. I said: “Yes, I had
better go. Run and get some one--a doctor. It is a fit of hysterics;
there is no danger. I will write to you. You are quite mistaken.”

This was too feeble even for Pen, and she cried:

“No, never; I never want to see you again. You would kill me next.”

“Stuff!” said I, and ran down-stairs. I seized my coat and hat, and went
to the tavern, where I got a man to drive me to Camden. I have never
seen Pen since. As I crossed the ferry to Philadelphia I saw that I
should have asked when the detective had been after me. I suspected from
Pen’s terror that it had been recently.

It was Sunday and, as I reminded myself, the day before Christmas. The
ground was covered with snow, and as I walked up Market street my feet
were soon soaked. In my haste I had left my overshoes. I was very
cold, and, as I now see, foolishly fearful. I kept thinking of what a
conspicuous thing a fire-red head is, and of how many people knew me.
As I reached Woodbury early and without a cent, I had eaten nothing all
day. I relied on Pen.

Now I concluded to go down into my old neighborhood and get a lodging
where no references were asked. Next day I would secure a disguise and
get out of the way. I had passed the day without food, as I have just
said, and having ample means, concluded to go somewhere and get a good
dinner. It was now close to three in the afternoon. I was aware of two
things: that I was making many plans, and giving them up as soon as
made; and that I was suddenly afraid without cause, afraid to enter an
eating-house, and in fear of every man I met.

I went on, feeling more and more chilly. When a man is really cold his
mind does not work well, and now it was blowing a keen gale from the
north. At Second and South I came plump on a policeman I knew. He looked
at me through the drifting snow, as if he was uncertain, and twice
looked back after having passed me. I turned west at Christian street.
When I looked behind me the man was standing at the corner, staring
after me. At the next turn I hurried away northward in a sort of anguish
of terror. I have said I was an uncommon person. I am. I am sensitive,
too. My mind is much above the average, but unless I am warm and well
fed it does not act well, and I make mistakes. At that time I was
half frozen, in need of food, and absurdly scared. Then that old fool
squirming on the floor got on to my nerves. I went on and on, and at
last into Second street, until I came to Christ Church, of all places
for me. I heard the sound of the organ in the afternoon service. I felt
I must go in and get warm. Here was another silly notion: I was afraid
of hotels, but not of the church. I reasoned vaguely that it was a dark
day, and darker in the church, and so I went in at the Church Alley
entrance and sat near the north door. No one noticed me. I sat still in
a high-backed pew, well hid, and wondering what was the matter with me.
It was curious that a doctor, and a man of my intelligence, should have
been long in guessing a thing so simple.

For two months I had been drinking hard, and for two days had quit,
being a man capable of great self-control, and also being short of
money. Just before the benediction I saw a man near by who seemed to
stare at me. In deadly fear I got up and quickly slipped through a
door into the tower room. I said to myself, “He will follow me or wait
outside.” I stood a moment with my head all of a whirl, and then in
a shiver of fear ran up the stairs to the tower until I got into the
bell-ringer’s room. I was safe. I sat down on a stool, twitching and
tremulous. There were the old books on bell-ringing, and the miniature
chime of small bells for instruction. The wind had easy entrance, and it
swung the eight ropes about in a way I did not like. I remember saying,
“Oh, don’t do that.” At last I had a mad desire to ring one of the
bells. As a loop of rope swung toward me it seemed to hold a face, and
this face cried out, “Come and hang yourself; then the bell will ring.”

If I slept I do not know. I may have done so. Certainly I must have
stayed there many hours. I was dull and confused, and yet on my guard,
for when far into the night I heard noises below, I ran up the steeper
steps which ascend to the steeple, where are the bells. Half-way up I
sat down on the stair. The place was cold and the darkness deep. Then I
heard the eight ringers down below. One said: “Never knowed a Christmas
like this since Zeb Sanderaft died. Come, boys!” I knew it must be close
on to midnight. Now they would play a Christmas carol. I used every
Christmas to be roused up and carried here and set on dad’s shoulder.
When they were done ringing, Number Two always gave me a box of
sugar-plums and a large red apple. As they rang off, my father would cry
out, “One, two,” and so on, and then cry, “Elias, all over town people
are opening windows to listen.” I seemed to hear him as I sat in the
gloom. Then I heard, “All ready; one, two,” and they rang the Christmas
carol. Overhead I heard the great bells ringing out:

     And all the bells on earth shall ring
     On Christmas day, on Christmas day.

I felt suddenly excited, and began to hum the air. Great heavens! There
was the old woman, Aunt Rachel, with her face going twitch, twitch, the
croak of her breathing keeping a sort of mad time with “On Christmas
day, on Christmas day.” I jumped up. She was gone. I knew in a hazy sort
of way what was the matter with me, but I had still the sense to sit
down and wait. I said now it would be snakes, for once before I had been
almost as bad. But what I did see was a little curly-headed boy in a
white frock and pantalets, climbing up the stairs right leg first;
so queer of me to have noticed that. I knew I was that boy. He was an
innocent-looking little chap, and was smiling. He seemed to me to grow
and grow, and at last was a big, red-headed man with a live rat in his
hand. I saw nothing more, but I surely knew I needed whisky. I waited
until all was still, and got down and out, for I knew every window. I
soon found a tavern, and got a drink and some food. At once my fear
left me. I was warm at last and clear of head, and had again my natural
courage. I was well aware that I was on the edge of delirium tremens and
must be most prudent. I paid in advance for my room and treated myself
as I had done many another. Only a man of unusual force could have
managed his own case as I did. I went out only at night, and in a week
was well enough to travel. During this time I saw now and then that
grinning little fellow. Sometimes he had an apple and was eating it. I
do not know why he was worse to me than snakes, or the twitchy old woman
with her wide eyes of glass, and that jerk, jerk, to right.

I decided to go back to Boston. I got to New York prudently in a
roundabout way, and in two weeks’ time was traveling east from Albany.

I felt well, and my spirits began at last to rise to their usual level.
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.
I possessed sufficient capital, and was able and ready to embark in
whatever promised the best returns with the smallest personal risks. I
settled myself in a suburb, paid off a few pressing claims, and began to
reflect with my ordinary sagacity.

We were now in the midst of a most absurd war with the South, and it was
becoming difficult to escape the net of conscription. It might be wise
to think of this in time. Europe seemed a desirable residence, but
I needed more money to make this agreeable, and an investment for my
brains was what I wanted most. Many schemes presented themselves
as worthy the application of industry and talent, but none of them
altogether suited my case. I thought at times of traveling 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 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 due 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 probable
result of ill success. Indeed, I believe one hundred quack remedies fail
for one that succeeds, and millions must have been wasted in placards,
bills, and advertisements, which never returned half their value to the
speculator. I think I shall some day beguile my time with writing an
account of the principal quack remedies which have met with success.
They are few in number, after all, as any one must know who recalls the
countless pills and tonics 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 for 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.
Upon reflection I abandoned my plans, as involving too much personal
labor to suit one of my easy frame of mind.

Tired at last of idleness and 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
twenty-five 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 very forcibly a story
which my father was fond of relating to me in my boyhood. It was about
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 efforts to better myself in the Northern States, until at
length my misfortunes climaxed in total and unexpected ruin.

Having been very economical, I had now about twenty-seven hundred
dollars. It was none too much. At this time I made the acquaintance of a
sea-captain from Maine. He told me that he and two others had chartered
a smart little steamer to run to Jamaica with a variety cargo. In fact,
he meant to run into Wilmington or Charleston, and he was to
carry quinine, chloroform, and other medical requirements for the
Confederates. He needed twenty-five hundred dollars more, and a doctor
to buy the kind of things which army surgeons require. Of course I was
prudent and he careful, but at last, on his proving to me that there was
no risk, I agreed to expend his money, his friends’, and my own up to
twenty-five hundred dollars. I saw the other men, one of them a rebel
captain. I was well pleased with the venture, and resolved for obvious
reasons to go with them on the steamer. It was a promising investment,
and I am free to reflect that in this, as in some other things, I have
been free from vulgar prejudices. I bought all that we needed, and was
well satisfied when it was cleverly stowed away in the hold.

We were to sail on a certain Thursday morning in September, 1863. I
sent my trunk to the vessel, and went down the evening before we were to
start to go on board, but found that the little steamer had been hauled
out from the pier. The captain, who met me at this time, endeavored
to get a boat to ferry us to the ship; but a gale was blowing, and he
advised me to wait until morning. My associates were already on board.
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
Long Wharf, where, to my horror, I could see no signs of the vessel or
captain. Neither have I ever set eyes on them from that time to this.
I thought of lodging information with the police as to the unpatriotic
design of the rascal who swindled me, but on the whole concluded that it
was best to hold my tongue.

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 offer numerous opportunities to men of talent. The path
which I chose was apparently a humble one, but it enabled me to make
very practical use of my professional knowledge, and afforded for a time
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. Then I went to Providence, where, as
I had heard, patriotic persons were giving very large bounties in order,
I suppose, to insure 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 bounty 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.

After this I thought it wise to try the same game in some of the smaller
towns near to Philadelphia. I approached my birthplace with a good deal
of doubt; but I selected a regiment in camp at Norristown, which is
eighteen miles away. Here I got nearly seven hundred dollars by entering
the service as a substitute for an editor, whose pen, I presume, was
mightier than his sword. I was, however, 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
fit, 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 fits about twice a week, and as there were several real
epileptics in the ward, 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 like an old man; another, who had been to the front,
was palsied in the right arm. A third kept open an ulcer on the leg,
rubbing in a little antimonial ointment, which I bought at fifty cents,
and sold him at five dollars a box.

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 at you 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 assistant surgeon to his senior.

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

“Yes, sir; run over by a howitzer; ain’t never been able to stand
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 man’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 the letter C, and as the
patient presumed that his discharge was secure, he naturally allowed
himself a little relaxation in the way of becoming straighter.
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
indorsement about his malady.

The surgeon came next on O’Callahan, standing, like each of us, at the
foot of his own bed.

“I’ve paralytics in my arm,” he said, with intention to explain his
failure to salute his superior.

“Humph!” said the surgeon; “you have another hand.”

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

“How did it happen?” said the surgeon.

“I was shot in the shoulder,” answered the patient, “about three months
ago, sir. I haven’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
honest men who have been among 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.

The surgeon 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
during his absence, or to have them over before he arrived. At length,
one morning, in spite of my care, he chanced to enter the ward as I fell
on the floor. I was laid on the 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 Carstairs’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 backward as
hard as I could.

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

Happy had I been had my ill luck 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.

“Hello!” 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 Delaware and kept at hard
labor, handling and carrying shot, policing the ground, picking up
cigar-stumps, and other light, unpleasant occupations.

When the war was over I was released. I went at once to Boston, where I
had about four hundred dollars in bank. I spent nearly all of this sum
before I could satisfy the accumulated cravings of a year and a half
without drink or tobacco, or a decent meal. I was about to engage in a
little 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 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 arsenic.

“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 suprarenal capsules.”

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

“Is it a dangerous disease?” I said.

“I fear so,” he answered.

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

“Well,” he returned gravely, “I’m 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 did not therefore find it
necessary to escape payment by telling him I was a doctor.

Several weeks went by; my money was gone, my clothes were ragged, and,
like my body, nearly worn out, and now 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 sister. I dreamed about her last night. What I
dreamed was not very agreeable. I thought it was night. I was walking up
one of the vilest streets near my old office, and a girl spoke to me--a
shameless, worn creature, with great sad eyes. Suddenly she screamed,
“Brother, brother!” and then remembering what she had been, with her
round, girlish, innocent face and fair hair, and seeing what she was
now, I awoke and saw the dim light of the half-darkened ward.

I am better to-day. Writing all this stuff has amused me and, I think,
done me good. That was a horrid dream I had. I suppose I must tear up
all this biography.

“Hello, nurse! The little boy--boy--”


“GOOD HEAVENS!” said the nurse, “he is dead! Dr. Alston said it would
happen this way. The screen, quick--the screen--and let the doctor
know.”



THE CASE OF GEORGE DEDLOW

The following notes of my own case have been declined on various
pretests by every medical journal to which I have offered them. There
was, perhaps, some reason in this, because many of the medical facts
which they record are not altogether new, and because the psychical
deductions to which they have led me are not in themselves of medical
interest. I ought to add that a great deal of what is here related is
not of any scientific value whatsoever; but as one or two people on
whose judgment I rely have advised me to print my narrative with all
the personal details, rather than in the dry shape in which, as a
psychological statement, I shall publish it elsewhere, I have yielded
to their views. I suspect, however, that the very character of my record
will, in the eyes of some of my readers, tend to lessen the value of the
metaphysical discoveries which it sets forth.


I am the son of a physician, still in large practice, in the village
of Abington, Scofield County, Indiana. Expecting to act as his future
partner, I studied medicine in his office, and in 1859 and 1860 attended
lectures at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. My second
course should have been in the following year, but the outbreak of the
Rebellion so crippled my father’s means that I was forced to abandon my
intention. The demand for army surgeons at this time became very great;
and although not a graduate, I found no difficulty in getting the place
of assistant surgeon to the Tenth Indiana Volunteers. In the subsequent
Western campaigns this organization suffered so severely that before the
term of its service was over it was merged in the Twenty-first Indiana
Volunteers; and I, as an extra surgeon, ranked by the medical officers
of the latter regiment, was transferred to the Fifteenth Indiana
Cavalry. Like many physicians, I had contracted a strong taste for army
life, and, disliking cavalry service, sought and obtained the position
of first lieutenant in the Seventy-ninth Indiana Volunteers, an infantry
regiment of excellent character.

On the day after I assumed command of my company, which had no captain,
we were sent to garrison a part of a line of block-houses stretching
along the Cumberland River below Nashville, then occupied by a portion
of the command of General Rosecrans.

The life we led while on this duty was tedious and at the same time
dangerous in the extreme. Food was scarce and bad, the water horrible,
and we had no cavalry to forage for us. If, as infantry, we attempted to
levy supplies upon the scattered farms around us, the population
seemed suddenly to double, and in the shape of guerrillas “potted” us
industriously from behind distant trees, rocks, or fences. Under these
various and unpleasant influences, combined with a fair infusion of
malaria, our men rapidly lost health and spirits. Unfortunately, no
proper medical supplies had been forwarded with our small force
(two companies), and, as the fall advanced, the want of quinine and
stimulants became a serious annoyance. Moreover, our rations were
running low; we had been three weeks without a new supply; and our
commanding officer, Major Henry L. Terrill, began to be uneasy as to
the safety of his men. About this time it was supposed that a train with
rations would be due from the post twenty miles to the north of us; yet
it was quite possible that it would bring us food, but no medicines,
which were what we most needed. The command was too small to detach any
part of it, and the major therefore resolved to send an officer alone to
the post above us, where the rest of the Seventy-ninth lay, and whence
they could easily forward quinine and stimulants by the train, if it had
not left, or, if it had, by a small cavalry escort.

It so happened, to my cost, as it turned out, that I was the only
officer fit to make the journey, and I was accordingly ordered to
proceed to Blockhouse No. 3 and make the required arrangements. I
started alone just after dusk the next night, and during the darkness
succeeded in getting within three miles of my destination. At this time
I found that I had lost my way, and, although aware of the danger of my
act, was forced to turn aside and ask at a log cabin for directions. The
house contained a dried-up old woman and four white-headed, half-naked
children. The woman was either stone-deaf or pretended to be so; but, at
all events, she gave me no satisfaction, and I remounted and rode away.
On coming to the end of a lane, into which I had turned to seek the
cabin, I found to my surprise that the bars had been put up during my
brief parley. They were too high to leap, and I therefore dismounted to
pull them down. As I touched the top rail, I heard a rifle, and at the
same instant felt a blow on both arms, which fell helpless. I staggered
to my horse and tried to mount; but, as I could use neither arm, the
effort was vain, and I therefore stood still, awaiting my fate. I am
only conscious that I saw about me several graybacks, for I must have
fallen fainting almost immediately.

When I awoke I was lying in the cabin near by, upon a pile of rubbish.
Ten or twelve guerrillas were gathered about the fire, apparently
drawing lots for my watch, boots, hat, etc. I now made an effort to find
out how far I was hurt. I discovered that I could use the left forearm
and hand pretty well, and with this hand I felt the right limb all
over until I touched the wound. The ball had passed from left to right
through the left biceps, and directly through the right arm just below
the shoulder, emerging behind. The right arm and forearm were cold and
perfectly insensible. I pinched them as well as I could, to test the
amount of sensation remaining; but the hand might as well have been that
of a dead man. I began to understand that the nerves had been wounded,
and that the part was utterly powerless. By this time my friends had
pretty well divided the spoils, and, rising together, went out. The old
woman then came to me, and said: “Reckon you’d best git up. They-’uns
is a-goin’ to take you away.” To this I only answered, “Water, water.”
 I had a grim sense of amusement on finding that the old woman was not
deaf, for she went out, and presently came back with a gourdful, which I
eagerly drank. An hour later the graybacks returned, and finding that
I was too weak to walk, carried me out and laid me on the bottom of
a common cart, with which they set off on a trot. The jolting was
horrible, but within an hour I began to have in my dead right hand a
strange burning, which was rather a relief to me. It increased as the
sun rose and the day grew warm, until I felt as if the hand was caught
and pinched in a red-hot vise. Then in my agony I begged my guard for
water to wet it with, but for some reason they desired silence, and at
every noise threatened me with a revolver. At length the pain became
absolutely unendurable, and I grew what it is the fashion to call
demoralized. I screamed, cried, and yelled in my torture, until, as
I suppose, my captors became alarmed, and, stopping, gave me a
handkerchief,--my own, I fancy,--and a canteen of water, with which I
wetted the hand, to my unspeakable relief.

It is unnecessary to detail the events by which, finally, I found myself
in one of the rebel hospitals near Atlanta. Here, for the first time, my
wounds were properly cleansed and dressed by a Dr. Oliver T. Wilson,
who treated me throughout with great kindness. I told him I had been a
doctor, which, perhaps, may have been in part the cause of the unusual
tenderness with which I was managed. The left arm was now quite easy,
although, as will be seen, it never entirely healed. The right arm was
worse than ever--the humerus broken, the nerves wounded, and the hand
alive only to pain. I use this phrase because it is connected in my
mind with a visit from a local visitor,--I am not sure he was a
preacher,--who used to go daily through the wards, and talk to us or
write our letters. One morning he stopped at my bed, when this little
talk occurred:

“How are you, lieutenant?”

“Oh,” said I, “as usual. All right, but this hand, which is dead except
to pain.”

“Ah,” said he, “such and thus will the wicked be--such will you be if
you die in your sins: you will go where only pain can be felt. For all
eternity, all of you will be just like that hand--knowing pain only.”

I suppose I was very weak, but somehow I felt a sudden and chilling
horror of possible universal pain, and suddenly fainted. When I awoke
the hand was worse, if that could be. It was red, shining, aching,
burning, and, as it seemed to me, perpetually rasped with hot files.
When the doctor came I begged for morphia. He said gravely: “We have
none. You know you don’t allow it to pass the lines.” It was sadly true.

I turned to the wall, and wetted the hand again, my sole relief. In
about an hour Dr. Wilson came back with two aids, and explained to me
that the bone was so crushed as to make it hopeless to save it, and
that, besides, amputation offered some chance of arresting the pain.
I had thought of this before, but the anguish I felt--I cannot say
endured--was so awful that I made no more of losing the limb than
of parting with a tooth on account of toothache. Accordingly, brief
preparations were made, which I watched with a sort of eagerness such as
must forever be inexplicable to any one who has not passed six weeks of
torture like that which I had suffered.

I had but one pang before the operation. As I arranged myself on the
left side, so as to make it convenient for the operator to use the
knife, I asked: “Who is to give me the ether?” “We have none,” said the
person questioned. I set my teeth, and said no more.

I need not describe the operation. The pain felt was severe, but it was
insignificant as compared with that of any other minute of the past
six weeks. The limb was removed very near to the shoulder-joint. As the
second incision was made, I felt a strange flash of pain play through
the limb, as if it were in every minutest fibril of nerve. This was
followed by instant, unspeakable relief, and before the flaps were
brought together I was sound asleep. I dimly remember saying, as I
pointed to the arm which lay on the floor: “There is the pain, and here
am I. How queer!” Then I slept--slept the sleep of the just, or, better,
of the painless. From this time forward I was free from neuralgia. At a
subsequent period I saw a number of cases similar to mine in a hospital
in Philadelphia.

It is no part of my plan to detail my weary months of monotonous prison
life in the South. In the early part of April, 1863, I was exchanged,
and after the usual thirty days’ furlough returned to my regiment a
captain.

On the 19th of September, 1863, occurred the battle of Chickamauga, in
which my regiment took a conspicuous part. The close of our own share
in this contest is, as it were, burned into my memory with every least
detail. It was about 6 P. M., when we found ourselves in line, under
cover of a long, thin row of scrubby trees, beyond which lay a gentle
slope, from which, again, rose a hill rather more abrupt, and crowned
with an earthwork. We received orders to cross this space and take the
fort in front, while a brigade on our right was to make a like movement
on its flank.

Just before we emerged into the open ground, we noticed what, I think,
was common in many fights--that the enemy had begun to bowl round shot
at us, probably from failure of shell. We passed across the valley in
good order, although the men fell rapidly all along the line. As we
climbed the hill, our pace slackened, and the fire grew heavier. At
this moment a battery opened on our left, the shots crossing our heads
obliquely. It is this moment which is so printed on my recollection.
I can see now, as if through a window, the gray smoke, lit with red
flashes, the long, wavering line, the sky blue above, the trodden
furrows, blotted with blue blouses. Then it was as if the window closed,
and I knew and saw no more. No other scene in my life is thus scarred,
if I may say so, into my memory. I have a fancy that the horrible shock
which suddenly fell upon me must have had something to do with thus
intensifying the momentary image then before my eyes.

When I awakened, I was lying under a tree somewhere at the rear.
The ground was covered with wounded, and the doctors were busy at an
operating-table, improvised from two barrels and a plank. At length two
of them who were examining the wounded about me came up to where I lay.
A hospital steward raised my head and poured down some brandy and water,
while another cut loose my pantaloons. The doctors exchanged looks and
walked away. I asked the steward where I was hit.

“Both thighs,” said he; “the doctors won’t do nothing.”

“No use?” said I.

“Not much,” said he.

“Not much means none at all,” I answered.

When he had gone I set myself to thinking about a good many things I had
better have thought of before, but which in no way concern the history
of my case. A half-hour went by. I had no pain, and did not get weaker.
At last, I cannot explain why, I began to look about me. At first things
appeared a little hazy. I remember one thing which thrilled me a little,
even then.

A tall, blond-bearded major walked up to a doctor near me, saying, “When
you’ve a little leisure, just take a look at my side.”

“Do it now,” said the doctor.

The officer exposed his wound. “Ball went in here, and out there.”

The doctor looked up at him--half pity, half amazement. “If you’ve got
any message, you’d best send it by me.”

“Why, you don’t say it’s serious?” was the reply.

“Serious! Why, you’re shot through the stomach. You won’t live over the
day.”

Then the man did what struck me as a very odd thing. He said, “Anybody
got a pipe?” Some one gave him a pipe. He filled it deliberately, struck
a light with a flint, and sat down against a tree near to me. Presently
the doctor came to him again, and asked him what he could do for him.

“Send me a drink of Bourbon.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

As the doctor left him, he called him back. “It’s a little rough, doc,
isn’t it?”

No more passed, and I saw this man no longer. Another set of doctors
were handling my legs, for the first time causing pain. A moment after
a steward put a towel over my mouth, and I smelled the familiar odor of
chloroform, which I was glad enough to breathe. In a moment the trees
began to move around from left to right, faster and faster; then a
universal grayness came before me,--and I recall nothing further until I
awoke to consciousness in a hospital-tent. I got hold of my own identity
in a moment or two, and was suddenly aware of a sharp cramp in my left
leg. I tried to get at it to rub it with my single arm, but, finding
myself too weak, hailed an attendant. “Just rub my left calf,” said I,
“if you please.”

“Calf?” said he. “You ain’t none. It’s took off.”

“I know better,” said I. “I have pain in both legs.”

“Wall, I never!” said he. “You ain’t got nary leg.”

As I did not believe him, he threw off the covers, and, to my horror,
showed me that I had suffered amputation of both thighs, very high up.

“That will do,” said I, faintly.

A month later, to the amazement of every one, I was so well as to be
moved from the crowded hospital at Chattanooga to Nashville, where
I filled one of the ten thousand beds of that vast metropolis of
hospitals. Of the sufferings which then began I shall presently speak.
It will be best just now to detail the final misfortune which here fell
upon me. Hospital No. 2, in which I lay, was inconveniently crowded with
severely wounded officers. After my third week an epidemic of hospital
gangrene broke out in my ward. In three days it attacked twenty persons.
Then an inspector came, and we were transferred at once to the open air,
and placed in tents. Strangely enough, the wound in my remaining arm,
which still suppurated, was seized with gangrene. The usual remedy,
bromine, was used locally, but the main artery opened, was tied, bled
again and again, and at last, as a final resort, the remaining arm was
amputated at the shoulder-joint. Against all chances I recovered, to
find myself a useless torso, more like some strange larval creature than
anything of human shape. Of my anguish and horror of myself I dare not
speak. I have dictated these pages, not to shock my readers, but to
possess them with facts in regard to the relation of the mind to the
body; and I hasten, therefore, to such portions of my case as best
illustrate these views.

In January, 1864, I was forwarded to Philadelphia, in order to enter
what was known as the Stump Hospital, South street, then in charge
of Dr. Hopkinson. This favor was obtained through the influence of my
father’s friend, the late Governor Anderson, who has always manifested
an interest in my case, for which I am deeply grateful. It was thought,
at the time, that Mr. Palmer, the leg-maker, might be able to adapt some
form of arm to my left shoulder, as on that side there remained five
inches of the arm-bone, which I could move to a moderate extent. The
hope proved illusory, as the stump was always too tender to bear any
pressure. The hospital referred to was in charge of several surgeons
while I was an inmate, and was at all times a clean and pleasant home.
It was filled with men who had lost one arm or leg, or one of each, as
happened now and then. I saw one man who had lost both legs, and one
who had parted with both arms; but none, like myself, stripped of every
limb. There were collected in this place hundreds of these cases, which
gave to it, with reason enough, the not very pleasing title of Stump
Hospital.

I spent here three and a half months, before my transfer to the United
States Army Hospital for Injuries and Diseases of the Nervous System.
Every morning I was carried out in an arm-chair and placed in the
library, where some one was always ready to write or read for me, or to
fill my pipe. The doctors lent me medical books; the ladies brought me
luxuries and fed me; and, save that I was helpless to a degree which was
humiliating, I was as comfortable as kindness could make me.

I amused myself at this time by noting in my mind all that I could learn
from other limbless folk, and from myself, as to the peculiar feelings
which were noticed in regard to lost members. I found that the great
mass of men who had undergone amputations for many months felt the usual
consciousness that they still had the lost limb. It itched or pained, or
was cramped, but never felt hot or cold. If they had painful sensations
referred to it, the conviction of its existence continued unaltered
for long periods; but where no pain was felt in it, then by degrees the
sense of having that limb faded away entirely. I think we may to some
extent explain this. The knowledge we possess of any part is made up
of the numberless impressions from without which affect its sensitive
surfaces, and which are transmitted through its nerves to the spinal
nerve-cells, and through them, again, to the brain. We are thus kept
endlessly informed as to the existence of parts, because the impressions
which reach the brain are, by a law of our being, referred by us to
the part from which they come. Now, when the part is cut off, the
nerve-trunks which led to it and from it, remaining capable of being
impressed by irritations, are made to convey to the brain from the stump
impressions which are, as usual, referred by the brain to the lost parts
to which these nerve-threads belonged. In other words, the nerve is like
a bell-wire. You may pull it at any part of its course, and thus ring
the bell as well as if you pulled at the end of the wire; but, in any
case, the intelligent servant will refer the pull to the front door,
and obey it accordingly. The impressions made on the severed ends of
the nerve are due often to changes in the stump during healing, and
consequently cease when it has healed, so that finally, in a very
healthy stump, no such impressions arise; the brain ceases to correspond
with the lost leg, and, as les absents ont toujours tort, it is no
longer remembered or recognized. But in some cases, such as mine
proved at last to my sorrow, the ends of the nerves undergo a curious
alteration, and get to be enlarged and altered. This change, as I have
seen in my practice of medicine, sometimes passes up the nerves toward
the centers, and occasions a more or less constant irritation of the
nerve-fibers, producing neuralgia, which is usually referred by
the brain to that part of the lost limb to which the affected nerve
belonged. This pain keeps the brain ever mindful of the missing part,
and, imperfectly at least, preserves to the man a consciousness of
possessing that which he has not.

Where the pains come and go, as they do in certain cases, the subjective
sensations thus occasioned are very curious, since in such cases the
man loses and gains, and loses and regains, the consciousness of the
presence of the lost parts, so that he will tell you, “Now I feel my
thumb, now I feel my little finger.” I should also add that nearly every
person who has lost an arm above the elbow feels as though the lost
member were bent at the elbow, and at times is vividly impressed with
the notion that his fingers are strongly flexed.

Other persons present a peculiarity which I am at a loss to account for.
Where the leg, for instance, has been lost, they feel as if the foot
were present, but as though the leg were shortened. Thus, if the thigh
has been taken off, there seems to them to be a foot at the knee; if the
arm, a hand seems to be at the elbow, or attached to the stump itself.

Before leaving Nashville I had begun to suffer the most acute pain in
my left hand, especially the little finger; and so perfect was the idea
which was thus kept up of the real presence of these missing parts that
I found it hard at times to believe them absent. Often at night I would
try with one lost hand to grope for the other. As, however, I had no
pain in the right arm, the sense of the existence of that limb gradually
disappeared, as did that of my legs also.

Everything was done for my neuralgia which the doctors could think of;
and at length, at my suggestion, I was removed, as I have said, from
the Stump Hospital to the United States Army Hospital for Injuries
and Diseases of the Nervous System. It was a pleasant, suburban,
old-fashioned country-seat, its gardens surrounded by a circle of
wooden, one-story wards, shaded by fine trees. There were some three
hundred cases of epilepsy, paralysis, St. Vitus’s dance, and wounds of
nerves. On one side of me lay a poor fellow, a Dane, who had the same
burning neuralgia with which I once suffered, and which I now learned
was only too common. This man had become hysterical from pain. He
carried a sponge in his pocket, and a bottle of water in one hand, with
which he constantly wetted the burning hand. Every sound increased his
torture, and he even poured water into his boots to keep himself from
feeling too sensibly the rough friction of his soles when walking. Like
him, I was greatly eased by having small doses of morphia injected under
the skin of my shoulder with a hollow needle fitted to a syringe.

As I improved under the morphia treatment, I began to be disturbed by
the horrible variety of suffering about me. One man walked sideways;
there was one who could not smell; another was dumb from an explosion.
In fact, every one had his own abnormal peculiarity. Near me was a
strange case of palsy of the muscles called rhomboids, whose office it
is to hold down the shoulder-blades flat on the back during the motions
of the arms, which, in themselves, were strong enough. When, however, he
lifted these members, the shoulder-blades stood out from the back like
wings, and got him the sobriquet of the “Angel.” In my ward were also
the cases of fits, which very much annoyed me, as upon any great change
in the weather it was common to have a dozen convulsions in view at
once. Dr. Neek, one of our physicians, told me that on one occasion
a hundred and fifty fits took place within thirty-six hours. On my
complaining of these sights, whence I alone could not fly, I was placed
in the paralytic and wound ward, which I found much more pleasant.

A month of skilful treatment eased me entirely of my aches, and I then
began to experience certain curious feelings, upon which, having nothing
to do and nothing to do anything with, I reflected a good deal. It was
a good while before I could correctly explain to my own satisfaction
the phenomena which at this time I was called upon to observe. By the
various operations already described I had lost about four fifths of my
weight. As a consequence of this I ate much less than usual, and could
scarcely have consumed the ration of a soldier. I slept also but little;
for, as sleep is the repose of the brain, made necessary by the waste
of its tissues during thought and voluntary movement, and as this latter
did not exist in my case, I needed only that rest which was necessary to
repair such exhaustion of the nerve-centers as was induced by thinking
and the automatic movements of the viscera.

I observed at this time also that my heart, in place of beating, as it
once did, seventy-eight in the minute, pulsated only forty-five times in
this interval--a fact to be easily explained by the perfect quiescence
to which I was reduced, and the consequent absence of that healthy and
constant stimulus to the muscles of the heart which exercise occasions.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, my physical health was good, which, I
confess, surprised me, for this among other reasons: It is said that a
burn of two thirds of the surface destroys life, because then all the
excretory matters which this portion of the glands of the skin evolved
are thrown upon the blood, and poison the man, just as happens in an
animal whose skin the physiologist has varnished, so as in this way to
destroy its function. Yet here was I, having lost at least a third of my
skin, and apparently none the worse for it.

Still more remarkable, however, were the psychical changes which I
now began to perceive. I found to my horror that at times I was less
conscious of myself, of my own existence, than used to be the case. This
sensation was so novel that at first it quite bewildered me. I felt like
asking some one constantly if I were really George Dedlow or not; but,
well aware how absurd I should seem after such a question, I refrained
from speaking of my case, and strove more keenly to analyze my feelings.
At times the conviction of my want of being myself was overwhelming and
most painful. It was, as well as I can describe it, a deficiency in the
egoistic sentiment of individuality. About one half of the sensitive
surface of my skin was gone, and thus much of relation to the outer
world destroyed. As a consequence, a large part of the receptive central
organs must be out of employ, and, like other idle things, degenerating
rapidly. Moreover, all the great central ganglia, which give rise to
movements in the limbs, were also eternally at rest. Thus one half of me
was absent or functionally dead. This set me to thinking how much a man
might lose and yet live. If I were unhappy enough to survive, I might
part with my spleen at least, as many a dog has done, and grown fat
afterwards. The other organs with which we breathe and circulate the
blood would be essential; so also would the liver; but at least half of
the intestines might be dispensed with, and of course all of the limbs.
And as to the nervous system, the only parts really necessary to life
are a few small ganglia. Were the rest absent or inactive, we should
have a man reduced, as it were, to the lowest terms, and leading an
almost vegetative existence. Would such a being, I asked myself, possess
the sense of individuality in its usual completeness, even if his organs
of sensation remained, and he were capable of consciousness? Of course,
without them, he could not have it any more than a dahlia or a tulip.
But with them--how then? I concluded that it would be at a minimum,
and that, if utter loss of relation to the outer world were capable of
destroying a man’s consciousness of himself, the destruction of half
of his sensitive surfaces might well occasion, in a less degree, a like
result, and so diminish his sense of individual existence.

I thus reached the conclusion that a man is not his brain, or any one
part of it, but all of his economy, and that to lose any part must
lessen this sense of his own existence. I found but one person who
properly appreciated this great truth. She was a New England lady, from
Hartford--an agent, I think, for some commission, perhaps the Sanitary.
After I had told her my views and feelings she said: “Yes, I comprehend.
The fractional entities of vitality are embraced in the oneness of
the unitary Ego. Life,” she added, “is the garnered condensation of
objective impressions; and as the objective is the remote father of the
subjective, so must individuality, which is but focused subjectivity,
suffer and fade when the sensation lenses, by which the rays of
impression are condensed, become destroyed.” I am not quite clear that
I fully understood her, but I think she appreciated my ideas, and I felt
grateful for her kindly interest.

The strange want I have spoken of now haunted and perplexed me so
constantly that I became moody and wretched. While in this state, a
man from a neighboring ward fell one morning into conversation with the
chaplain, within ear-shot of my chair. Some of their words arrested my
attention, and I turned my head to see and listen. The speaker, who wore
a sergeant’s chevron and carried one arm in a sling was a tall, loosely
made person, with a pale face, light eyes of a washed-out blue tint, and
very sparse yellow whiskers. His mouth was weak, both lips being almost
alike, so that the organ might have been turned upside down without
affecting its expression. His forehead, however, was high and thinly
covered with sandy hair. I should have said, as a phrenologist, will
feeble; emotional, but not passionate; likely to be an enthusiast or a
weakly bigot.

I caught enough of what passed to make me call to the sergeant when the
chaplain left him.

“Good morning,” said he. “How do you get on?”

“Not at all,” I replied. “Where were you hit?”

“Oh, at Chancellorsville. I was shot in the shoulder. I have what the
doctors call paralysis of the median nerve, but I guess Dr. Neek and
the lightnin’ battery will fix it. When my time’s out I’ll go back to
Kearsarge and try on the school-teaching again. I’ve done my share.”

“Well,” said I, “you’re better off than I.”

“Yes,” he answered, “in more ways than one. I belong to the New Church.
It’s a great comfort for a plain man like me, when he’s weary and sick,
to be able to turn away from earthly things and hold converse daily with
the great and good who have left this here world. We have a circle in
Coates street. If it wa’n’t for the consoling I get there, I’d of wished
myself dead many a time. I ain’t got kith or kin on earth; but this
matters little, when one can just talk to them daily and know that they
are in the spheres above us.”

“It must be a great comfort,” I replied, “if only one could believe it.”

“Believe!” he repeated. “How can you help it? Do you suppose anything
dies?”

“No,” I said. “The soul does not, I am sure; and as to matter, it merely
changes form.”

“But why, then,” said he, “should not the dead soul talk to the living?
In space, no doubt, exist all forms of matter, merely in finer, more
ethereal being. You can’t suppose a naked soul moving about without a
bodily garment--no creed teaches that; and if its new clothing be of
like substance to ours, only of ethereal fineness,--a more delicate
recrystallization about the eternal spiritual nucleus,--must it not then
possess powers as much more delicate and refined as is the new material
in which it is reclad?”

“Not very clear,” I answered; “but, after all, the thing should be
susceptible of some form of proof to our present senses.”

“And so it is,” said he. “Come to-morrow with me, and you shall see and
hear for yourself.”

“I will,” said I, “if the doctor will lend me the ambulance.”

It was so arranged, as the surgeon in charge was kind enough, as usual,
to oblige me with the loan of his wagon, and two orderlies to lift my
useless trunk.

On the day following I found myself, with my new comrade, in a house in
Coates street, where a “circle” was in the daily habit of meeting. So
soon as I had been comfortably deposited in an arm-chair, beside a large
pine table, the rest of those assembled seated themselves, and for some
time preserved an unbroken silence. During this pause I scrutinized
the persons present. Next to me, on my right, sat a flabby man, with
ill-marked, baggy features and injected eyes. He was, as I learned
afterwards, an eclectic doctor, who had tried his hand at medicine
and several of its quackish variations, finally settling down on
eclecticism, which I believe professes to be to scientific medicine what
vegetarianism is to common-sense, every-day dietetics. Next to him sat
a female-authoress, I think, of two somewhat feeble novels, and much
pleasanter to look at than her books. She was, I thought, a good deal
excited at the prospect of spiritual revelations. Her neighbor was a
pallid, care-worn young woman, with very red lips, and large brown eyes
of great beauty. She was, as I learned afterwards, a magnetic patient of
the doctor, and had deserted her husband, a master mechanic, to follow
this new light. The others were, like myself, strangers brought hither
by mere curiosity. One of them was a lady in deep black, closely veiled.
Beyond her, and opposite to me, sat the sergeant, and next to him the
medium, a man named Brink. He wore a good deal of jewelry, and had large
black side-whiskers--a shrewd-visaged, large-nosed, full-lipped man,
formed by nature to appreciate the pleasant things of sensual existence.

Before I had ended my survey, he turned to the lady in black, and asked
if she wished to see any one in the spirit-world.

She said, “Yes,” rather feebly.

“Is the spirit present?” he asked. Upon which two knocks were heard in
affirmation. “Ah!” said the medium, “the name is--it is the name of a
child. It is a male child. It is--”

“Alfred!” she cried. “Great Heaven! My child! My boy!”

On this the medium arose, and became strangely convulsed. “I see,”
 he said--“I see--a fair-haired boy. I see blue eyes--I see above you,
beyond you--” at the same time pointing fixedly over her head.

She turned with a wild start. “Where--whereabouts?”

“A blue-eyed boy,” he continued, “over your head. He cries--he says,
‘Mama, mama!’”

The effect of this on the woman was unpleasant. She stared about her for
a moment, and exclaiming, “I come--I am coming, Alfy!” fell in hysterics
on the floor.

Two or three persons raised her, and aided her into an adjoining room;
but the rest remained at the table, as though well accustomed to like
scenes.

After this several of the strangers were called upon to write the names
of the dead with whom they wished to communicate. The names were spelled
out by the agency of affirmative knocks when the correct letters were
touched by the applicant, who was furnished with an alphabet-card upon
which he tapped the letters in turn, the medium, meanwhile, scanning his
face very keenly. With some, the names were readily made out. With one,
a stolid personage of disbelieving type, every attempt failed, until at
last the spirits signified by knocks that he was a disturbing agency,
and that while he remained all our efforts would fail. Upon this some of
the company proposed that he should leave; of which invitation he took
advantage, with a skeptical sneer at the whole performance.

As he left us, the sergeant leaned over and whispered to the medium, who
next addressed himself to me. “Sister Euphemia,” he said, indicating the
lady with large eyes, “will act as your medium. I am unable to do more.
These things exhaust my nervous system.”

“Sister Euphemia,” said the doctor, “will aid us. Think, if you please,
sir, of a spirit, and she will endeavor to summon it to our circle.”

Upon this a wild idea came into my head. I answered: “I am thinking as
you directed me to do.”

The medium sat with her arms folded, looking steadily at the center
of the table. For a few moments there was silence. Then a series of
irregular knocks began. “Are you present?” said the medium.

The affirmative raps were twice given.

“I should think,” said the doctor, “that there were two spirits
present.”

His words sent a thrill through my heart.

“Are there two?” he questioned.

A double rap.

“Yes, two,” said the medium. “Will it please the spirits to make us
conscious of their names in this world?”

A single knock. “No.”

“Will it please them to say how they are called in the world of
spirits?”

Again came the irregular raps--3, 4, 8, 6; then a pause, and 3, 4, 8, 7.

“I think,” said the authoress, “they must be numbers. Will the spirits,”
 she said, “be good enough to aid us? Shall we use the alphabet?”

“Yes,” was rapped very quickly.

“Are these numbers?”

“Yes,” again.

“I will write them,” she added, and, doing so, took up the card and
tapped the letters. The spelling was pretty rapid, and ran thus as she
tapped, in turn, first the letters, and last the numbers she had already
set down:

“UNITED STATES ARMY MEDICAL MUSEUM, Nos. 3486, 3487.”

The medium looked up with a puzzled expression.

“Good gracious!” said I, “they are MY LEGS--MY LEGS!”

What followed, I ask no one to believe except those who, like myself,
have communed with the things of another sphere. Suddenly I felt a
strange return of my self-consciousness. I was reindividualized, so to
speak. A strange wonder filled me, and, to the amazement of every one,
I arose, and, staggering a little, walked across the room on limbs
invisible to them or me. It was no wonder I staggered, for, as I briefly
reflected, my legs had been nine months in the strongest alcohol. At
this instant all my new friends crowded around me in astonishment.
Presently, however, I felt myself sinking slowly. My legs were going,
and in a moment I was resting feebly on my two stumps upon the floor. It
was too much. All that was left of me fainted and rolled over senseless.

I have little to add. I am now at home in the West, surrounded by every
form of kindness and every possible comfort; but alas! I have so
little surety of being myself that I doubt my own honesty in drawing
my pension, and feel absolved from gratitude to those who are kind to
a being who is uncertain of being enough himself to be conscientiously
responsible. It is needless to add that I am not a happy fraction of
a man, and that I am eager for the day when I shall rejoin the lost
members of my corporeal family in another and a happier world.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Autobiography of a Quack, and The Case of George Dedlow" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home