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what we did, or how we did it, little gathered at back gates by a horde of concerns us here, except that, owing half-naked children, who all tell varieto my esteem for chivalric blood and ties of one woful tale. Here, too, you breeding, I was led into many prac- may be drunk at five cents, and lodge tices and excesses which cost my guar- for three, with men, women, and childian much distress and myself a good dren of all colors lying about you. It deal of money.
is this hideous mixture of black and At the close of my career as a stu- white and yellow wretchedness which dent, I found myself aged twenty-one makes the place so peculiar. The years, and owner of twelve hundred blacks predominate, and have mostly dollars, — the rest of my small estate that swollen, reddish, dark skin, the having disappeared variously within sign in this race of habitual drunkenthe last two years. After my friends ness. Of course only the lowest whites had gone to their homes in the South, are here, - rag-pickers, pawnbrokers, I began to look about me for an office, old-clothes-men, thieves, and the like. and finally settled upon a very good All of this, as it came before me, I room in one of the down-town localities viewed with mingled disgust and phiof the Quaker City. I am not specific losophy. I hated filth, but I underas to number and street, for reasons stood that society has to stand on which may hereafter appear. I liked somebody, and I was only glad that I the situation on various accounts. It was not one of the undermost and had been occupied by a doctor; the worst-squeezed bricks. terms were reasonable ; and it lay on You will hardly believe me, but I the skirts of a good neighborhood; had waited a month without having while below it lived a motley popula- been called upon by a single patient. tion, amongst whom I expected to get At last the policeman on the beat my first patients and such fees as brought me a fancy man, with a dog were to be had. Into this new home bite. This patient recommended me I moved my medical text-books, a to his brother, the keeper of a small few bones, and myself. Also I dis- pawnbroking shop, and by very slow played in the window a fresh sign, degrees I began to get stray patients upon which was distinctly to be who were too poor to indulge in upread:
town doctors. I found the police very “ DR. ELIAS SANDCRAFT.
useful acquaintances; and, by a drink Office hours, 7 to 9 A. M., 3 to 6
or a cigar now and then, I got most of
the cases of cut heads and the like at P. M., 7 to 9 P. M.”
the next station-house. These, howI felt now that I had done my fair ever, were the aristocrats of my pracshare towards attaining a virtuous sub- tice; the bulk of my patients were soapsistence, and so I waited tranquilly, fat-men, rag-pickers, oystermen, hoseand without undue enthusiasm, to see house bummers, and worse, with other the rest of the world do its part in the and nameless trades, men and women, matter. Meanwhile I read up on all white, black, or mulatto. How they sorts of imaginable cases, stayed at got the levies and quarters with which home all through my office hours, I was reluctantly paid, I do not know; and at intervals explored the strange that indeed was none of my business. section of the town which lay to the They expected to pay, and they came south of my office. I do not suppose to me in preference to the dispenthere is anything like it elsewhere. sary doctor two or three squares away, It was then, and still is, a nest of end- who seemed to me to live in the lanes less grog-shops, brothels, slop-shops, and alleys about us. Of course he reand low lodging-houses. You may ceived no pay except experience, since dine here for a penny off of soup made the dispensaries in the Quaker City, from the refuse meats of the rich, as a rule, do not give salaries to their
doctors; and the vilest of the poor will. I lit on a staircase which led into the prefer a pay doctor, if he can get one, alley, and, after some inquiry, got as to one of these disinterested gentlemen high as the garret. People hereabouts who are at everybody's call and beck. did not know one another, or did not I am told that most young doctors do want to know, so that it was of little a large amount of poor practice, as it avail to ask questions. At length I saw is called; but, for my own part, I think a light through the cracks in the attic it better for both parties when the door, and walked in. To my amazement, doctor insists upon some compensa- the first person I saw was a woman of
tion being made to him. This has about thirty-five, in pearl-gray Quaker been usually my own custom, and I dress, - one of your calm, good-looking have not found reason to regret it. people. She was seated on a stool be
Notwithstanding my strict attention side a straw mattress, upon which lay a to my own interests, I have been rather black woman. There were three others sorely dealt with by fate, upon several crowded close around a small stove, occasions, where, so far as I could see, which was red-hot, an unusual specI was vigilantly doing everything in tacle in this street. Altogether a most my power to keep myself out of trouble or danger. I may as well relate As I came in, the little Quaker woone of them, merely as an illustration man got up, and said, “ I took the libof how little value a man's intellect erty of sending for thee to look at this may be, when fate and the prejudices poor woman. I am afraid she has the of the mass of men are against him. small-pox. Will thee be so kind as to
One evening late, I myself answered look at her?" And with this she held a ring at the bell, and found a small down the candle towards the bed. black boy on the steps, a shoeless, hat- “Good gracious !” said I hastily, seeless little wretch, with curled darkness' ing how the creature was speckled, for hair, and teeth like new tomb- “I did n't understand this, or I would stones. It was pretty cold, and he was not have come. Best let her alone, relieving his feet by standing first on miss," I added, “there 's nothing to be one and then on the other. He did done for these cases." not wait for me to speak.
Upon my word, I was astonished at “Hi, sah, Missy Barker she say to the little woman's indignation. She come quick away, sah, to Numbah 709 said just those things which make you Bedford Street."
feel as if somebody had been calling The locality did not look like pay, you names or kicking you. Was I a but it was hard to say in this quarter,
doctor? Was I a man? and so on. because sometimes you found a well- However, I never did fancy the smallto-do “brandy-snifter," – local for gin- pox, and what could a fellow get by docshop, — or a hard-working leather- toring wretches like these ? So I held jeweller," — ditto for shoemaker, - with my tongue and went away. About a next door, in a house no better or worse, week afterwards, I met Evans, the Disdozens of human rats for whom every
pensary man. police trap in the city was constantly set. “ Halloa !” says he.
Doctor, you . With a doubt, then, in my mind as to made a nice mistake about that darky whether I should find a good patient or at No. 709 Bedford Street the other some mean nigger, I sought out the night. She had nothing but measles place to which I had been directed. I after all." did not like its looks; but I blundered “Of course I knew,” said I, laughing ; up an alley, and into a back room, “ but you don't think I was going into where I fell over somebody, and was dispensary trash, do you?”
I cursed and told to lie down and keep “I should think not,” says Evans. easy, or somebody, meaning the man I learned afterwards that this Miss stumbled over, would make me. At last Barker had taken an absurd fancy to the man because he had doctored the pin. “Guess you 're not overly rich,” darky, and would not let the Quakeress he said. pay him. The end was, that when I “Not especially," said I. wanted to get a vacancy in the South- “ Know Simon Stagers ?” wark Dispensary, where they do pay “Can't say I do,” said I. Simon was the doctors, Miss Barker was malig- a burglar who had blown off two fingers nant enough to take advantage of my when mining a safe, and whom I had oversight by telling the whole story to attended while he was hiding. the board ; so that Evans got in, and I “Can't say you do," says the wolf. was beaten.
“Well, you can lie, and no mistake. You may be pretty sure that I found Come now, Doctor, Simon says you ’re rather slow the kind of practice I have safe, and I want to do a leetle plain described, and began to look about for talk with you.” With this he laid ten chances of bettering myself. In this eagles on the table; I put out my hand sort of location these came up now instinctively. and then ; and as soon as I got to be “Let 'em' alone,” cried the man known as a reliable man, I began to sharply. “They're easy earned, and get the peculiar sort of practice I want- ten more like em." ed. Notwithstanding all my efforts, “For doing what ?" said I. however, I found myself at the close of The man paused a moment, looked three years with all my means spent, around him, eyed me furtively, and and just able to live meagrely from finally loosened his cravat with a hasty hand to mouth, which by no means pull. “You 're the coroner,” said he. suited a person of my luxurious turn. “I! What do you mean?” Six months went by, and I was worse “ Yes, you, — the coroner, don't you off than ever, — two months in arrears understand ? " and so saying he shoved of rent, and numerous other debts to the gold pieces towards me. cigar-shops and liquor-dealers. Now “Very good,” said I, “we will supand then, some good job, such as a pose I'm the coroner.” burglar with a cut head, helped me up “And being the coroner,” said he, for a while ; but on the whole, I was “you get this note, which requests you like Slider Downeyhylle in poor Neal's to call at No. 9 Blank Street to examCharcoal Sketches, and “kept going ine the body of a young man which is downer and downer the more I tried supposed — only supposed, you see not to.” Something must be done. to have — well, to have died under sus
One night, as I was debating with picious circumstances." myself as to how I was to improve my “Go on,” said I. position, I heard a knock on my shut- “No," he returned, “not till I know ter, and, going to the door, let in a how you like it. Stagers and another broad - shouldered man with a white knows it; and it would n't be very safe face and a great hooked nose. He for you to split, besides not making wore a heavy black beard and mus- nothing out of it; but what I say is tache, and looked like the wolf in the this. Do you like the business of pictures of Red Riding-Hood which I coroner ?” had seen as a child.
Now I did not like it, but two hun“ Your name 's Sandcraft?” said the dred in gold was life to me just then; man, shaking the snow over every- so I said, “Let me hear the whole of it thing. “Set down, want to talk to you." first.”
" That's my name. What can I do “That's square enough,” said the for you ?” said I.
man; “my wife 's got” – correcting The man looked around the room himself with a little shiver — “my wife rather scornfully, at the same time had a brother that 's been cuttin' up throwing back his coat, and displaying rough, because, when I'd been up too a red neckerchief and a huge garnet late, I handled her a leetle hard now and again. About three weeks ago, With this the man buttoned about he threatened to fetch the police on me him a shaggy gray overcoat, and took for one or two little things Stagers and his leave without a single word in addiI done together. Luckily, he fell sick tion. with a typhoid just then ; but he made For the first time in my life I failed such a thunderin' noise about opening that night to sleep. I thought to mysafes, and what he done, and I done, self at last that I would get up early, and so on, that I did n't dare to have pack a few clothes, and escape, leaving any one about him. When he began my books to pay, as they might, my to mend, I gave him a little plain talk arrears of rent. Looking out of the about this business of threatening to window, however, in the morning, I bring the police on us, and next day I saw Stagers prowling about the oppocaught him a saying something to my site pavement, and, as the only exit wife about it. The end of it was, he except the street door was an alleywas took worse next morning, and - way, which opened alongside of the well he died yesterday. Now what front of the house, I gave myself up for does his sister do, but writes a note, lost. About ten o'clock I took my and gives it to a boy in the alley to put case of instruments, and started for in the post. Luckily, Stagers hap- File's house, followed, as I too well unpened to be round; and after the boy derstood, by Stagers. got away a bit, Bill bribes him with a I knew the house, which was in a quarter to give him the note, which small street, by its closed windows and was n't no less than a request to the the craped bell, which I shuddered as I coroner to come to our house to-mor- touched. However, it was too late to row and make an examination, as foul draw back, and I therefore inquired for play was suspected.”
Mrs. File. A young and haggard-lookHere he paused. As for myself, I ing woman came down, and led me inwas cold all over. I was afraid to go to a small parlor, for whose darkened on, and afraid to go back, besides which light I was thankful enough. I did not doubt that there was a good “ Did you write me this note ?" deal of money in the case. “Of said I. course," said I, “it's all nonsense; “I did,” said the woman, “if you 're only I suppose you don't want the the coroner. Joe, he 's my husband, officers about, and a fuss, and that he's gone out to see about the funeral. sort of thing."
I wish it was his, I do." Exactly,” said my friend, you 're “What do you suspect ? " said I. the coroner ; you take this note and “I'll tell you," she returned, in a come to my house. Says you, Mrs. whisper. “I think he was made away File, are you the woman that wrote this with. I think there was foul play. I note ? because in that case I must ex- think he was poisoned. That's what I amine the body.'”
think.” “ I see," said I ;“she need n't know "I hope you may be mistaken," who I am, or anything else. But if I said I. “Suppose you let me see the tell her it's all right, do you think she body." won't want to know why there ain't a “You shall see it,” she replied ; and, jury, and so on?”
following her, I went up stairs to a “Bless you,” said the man, “the front chamber, where I found the corpse. girl is n't over seventeen, and does n't “Get it over soon,” said the woman, know no more than her baby.”
with a strange firmness. “ If there “I'll do it,” said I, suddenly, for, as ain't no murder been done, I shall I saw, it involved no sort of risk; “ but have to run for it. If there is,” and I must have three hundred dollars." her face set hard, “ I guess I'll stay."
“ And fifty,” added the wolf, " if you with this she closed the door, and left do it well."
me with the dead.
If I had known what was before me, you should have troubled me about it I never should have gone into the
at all.” thing at all. It looked a little better “ Neither I would," said she, “if I when I had opened a window, and let had n't been pretty sure. I guess now in plenty of light; for, although I was, the sooner I leave, the better for me.”
I on the whole, far less afraid of dead “ As to that,” I returned, “it is none than living men, I had an absurd feel- of my business; but you may rest cering that I was doing this dead man a tain that you are mistaken about the distinct wrong, as if it mattered to the cause of your brother's death.” dead, after all. When the affair was As I left the house, whom should over, I thought more of the possible I meet but Dr. Evans. “Why, halconsequences than of its relation to loa!” said he ; "called you in, have the dead man himself; but do as I they? Who's sick ? would at the time, I was in a ridiculous You may believe I was scared. tremor, and especially when, in going “Mrs. File,” said I, remembering with through the forms of a post-mortem horror that I had forgotten to ask dissection, I had to make the first cut whether at any time the man had had through the skin. Of course, I made a doctor. no examination of the internal organs. “ Bad lot,” returned Evans; “ I was I wanted to know as little as possible sent for to see the brother when he was about them, and to get done as soon as as good as dead.” I could. Unluckily, however, the walls “As bad as dead,” I retorted, with of the stomach had softened and given a sickly effort at a joke. “What killed way, so that I could not help seeing him ?” among the escaped contents of the “I suppose one of the ulcers gave stomach, numerous grains of a white way, and that he died of the consepowder, which I hastened to conceal quences. Perforation, you know, and from my sight by rapidly sewing up that sort of thing. I thought of asking the incisions which I had made. File for a post, but I did n't.”
I am free to confess now that I was “Wish you luck of them. Good careful not to uncover the man's face, by." and that when it was over I backed to I was greatly alarmed at this new the door, and hastily escaped from the incident, but my fears were somewhat room. On the stairs opposite to me quieted that evening when Stagers and Mrs. File was seated, with her bonnet the wolf appeared with the remainder on, and a small bundle in her hand. of the money, and I learned that Mrs.
“Well,” said she, rising as she spoke, File had fled from her home, and, as and with a certain eagerness in her File thought likely, from the city also. tones, “what killed him ? Was it ar- A few months later, File himself disapsenic ? "
peared, and Stagers found his way into “ Arsenic, my good woman !” said I; the Penitentiary. “ when a man has typhoid fever, he I felt, for my own part, that I had don't need poison to kill him.”
been guilty of more than one mistake, “ And you mean to say he was n't and that I had displayed throughout a poisoned,” said she, with more than a want of intelligence for which I came trace of disappointment in her voice, near being punished very severely. “not poisoned at all ?”
I should have made proper inquiries “No more than you are,” said I. before venturing on a matter so dan“If I had found any signs of foul play, gerous, and I ought also to have got I should have had a regular inquest. a good fee from Mrs. File on account As it is, the less said about it the bet- of my services as coroner. It served ter; and the fact is, it would have been me, however, as a good lesson, but it much wiser to have kept quiet at the was several months before I felt quite beginning. I can't understand why easy in mind. Meanwhile, money be