“Now she arose in royal wrath. ‘How dare you speak to me in that way!’ she said. ’You are a younger man at this moment than that old stranger you represent yourself to be.’ Then she called her guards and had me sent to prison as a cheat and an impostor. I remained in prison for some time, but as no definite charge was made against me, I was not brought to trial, and after a time was released to make room for somebody else. I got away as soon as I could, and thus ended my most ambitious dream.”
“Now, my dear,” said Mr. Crowder, regarding his wife with a tender kindness which I had frequently noticed in him, “just for a change, I know you would like to hear of a career of prosperity, wouldn’t you?”
“Indeed, I would!” said Mrs. Crowder. “You will have noticed,” said her husband, “that there has been a great deal of variety in my vocations; in fact, I have not mentioned a quarter of the different trades and callings in which I have been engaged. It was sometimes desirable and often absolutely necessary for me to change my method of making a living, but during one epoch of my life I steadily devoted myself to a single profession. For nearly four hundred years I was engaged almost continuously in the practice of medicine. I found it easier for me, as a doctor, to change my place of residence and to appear in a new country with as much property as I could carry about with me, than if I had done so in any other way. A prosperous and elderly man coming as a stranger from a far country would, under ordinary circumstances, be regarded with suspicion unless he were able to give some account of his previous career. But a doctor from a far country was always welcome; if he could cure people of their ailments they did not ask anything about the former circumstances of his life. It was perfectly natural for a learned man to travel.”
“Did thee regularly study and go to college?” asked Mrs. Crowder, “or was thee a quack?”
“Oh, I studied,” said her husband, smiling, “and under the best masters. I had always a fancy for that sort of thing, and in the days of the patriarchs, when there were no regular doctors, I was often called upon, as I told you.”
“Oh, yes,” said his wife; “thee rubbed Joshua with gravel and pepper.”
“And cured him,” said he, “You ought not to have omitted that. But it was not until about the fifth century before Christ that I thought of really studying medicine. I was in the island of Cos, where I had gone for a very queer reason. The great painter Apelles lived there, and I went for the purpose of studying art under him. I was tired of most of the things I had been doing, and I thought it would be a good idea to become a painter. Apelles gave me no encouragement when I applied to him; he told me I was entirely too old to become a pupil. ’By the time you would really know how to paint,’ said he, ’supposing you have any talent for it, you ought to be beginning to arrange your affairs to get ready to die.’ Of course this admonition had no effect upon me, and I kept on with my drawing lessons. If I could not become a painter of eminence, I thought that at least I might be able, if I understood drawing, to become a better schoolmaster—if I should take up that profession again.