AFTERNOON ADVENTURES AT MY CLUB
1.—The Anecdotes of Dr. So and So
That is not really his name. I merely call him that from his manner of talking.
His specialty is telling me short anecdotes of his professional life from day to day.
They are told with wonderful dash and power, except for one slight omission, which is, that you never know what the doctor is talking about. Beyond this, his little stories are of unsurpassed interest—but let me illustrate.
He came into the semi-silence room of the club the other day and sat down beside me.
“Have something or other?” he said.
“No, thanks,” I answered.
“Smoke anything?” he asked.
The doctor turned to me. He evidently wanted to talk.
“I’ve been having a rather peculiar experience,” he said. “Man came to me the other day—three or four weeks ago—and said, ‘Doctor, I feel out of sorts. I believe I’ve got so and so.’ ‘Ah,’ I said, taking a look at him, ‘been eating so and so, eh?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Very good,’ I said, ‘take so and so.’
“Well, off the fellow went—I thought nothing of it—simply wrote such and such in my note-book, such and such a date, symptoms such and such—prescribed such and such, and so forth, you understand?”
“Oh, yes, perfectly, doctor,” I answered.
“Very good. Three days later—a ring at the bell in the evening—my servant came to the surgery. ‘Mr. So and So is here. Very anxious to see you.’ ‘All right!’ I went down. There he was, with every symptom of so and so written all over him—every symptom of it—this and this and this——”
“Awful symptoms, doctor,” I said, shaking my head.
“Are they not?” he said, quite unaware that he hadn’t named any. “There he was with every symptom, heart so and so, eyes so and so, pulse this—I looked at him right in the eye and I said—’Do you want me to tell you the truth?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Very good,’ I answered, ‘I will. You’ve got so and so.’ He fell back as if shot. ‘So and so!’ he repeated, dazed. I went to the sideboard and poured him out a drink of such and such. ‘Drink this,’ I said. He drank it. ‘Now,’ I said, ‘listen to what I say: You’ve got so and so. There’s only one chance,’ I said, ‘you must limit your eating and drinking to such and such, you must sleep such and such, avoid every form of such and such—I’ll give you a cordial, so many drops every so long, but mind you, unless you do so and so, it won’t help you.’ ‘All right, very good.’ Fellow promised. Off he went.”
The doctor paused a minute and then resumed:
“Would you believe it—two nights later, I saw the fellow—after the theatre, in a restaurant—whole party of people—big plate of so and so in front of him—quart bottle of so and so on ice—such and such and so forth. I stepped over to him—tapped him on the shoulder: ‘See here,’ I said, ‘if you won’t obey my instructions, you can’t expect me to treat you.’ I walked out of the place.”
“And what happened to him?” I asked.
“Died,” said the doctor, in a satisfied tone. “Died. I’ve just been filling in the certificate: So and so, aged such and such, died of so and so!”
“An awful disease,” I murmured.