“Davy is very sick,” she says, with a white face.
“What! My boy!! When was he taken? Is it diphtheria? What has the doctor said? Why wasn’t I called? Where is he? Here, Davy, here’s papa. Here’s papa! Old boy! Old fel’! Oh, God, I’m so scared!”
All this as Lockwin goes up the stairs.
It is a wheezing little voice that replies; “S-u-h-p-e-s-o-J! What’s that, papa?”
“Does that hurt, Davy? There? or there?”
“That’s ‘Josephus,’ papa, on your big book, that I’ll have some day—it I live. If I live I’ll have all your books!”
DR. FLODDIN’S PATIENT
If there be one thing of which great Chicago stands in fear, it is that King Herod of the latter day, diphtheria.
This terror of the people is absolute, ignorant, and therefore supine. The cattle have a scourge, but the loss of money makes men active. When the rinderpest appears, governors issue proclamations. When horses show the glanders, quarantine is established. But when a father’s flock is cut off, it is done before he can move, and other fathers will not or cannot interpose for their own protection.
All the other fathers do is to discount the worst—to dread the unseen sword which is suspended over all heads.
When David Lockwin heard that one of his tenants had a child dead with the contagion, the popular idol strove to recall his movements. Had he been in the sick-room? Had Davy been in that region? The thought which had finally alarmed Lockwin was the recollection that he had stopped with Davy in the grocery beneath the apartments of the dying child.
That was nine days before. Why is Dr. Tarpion absent? What a good fortune, however, that Dr. Floddin can be given charge. And if the disease be diphtheria, whisky will alleviate and possibly cure the patient. It is a hobby with Lockwin.
Dr. Floddin has come rather oddly by this practice. Who he is, no other regular doctor knows. But Dr. Floddin has an honest face, and keeps a little drug store on State street below Eighteenth. He usually charges fifty cents a visit, which is all he believes his services to be worth. This piece of quackery would ruin his name with Lockwin, were it known to him, or had Dr. Tarpion been consulted.
The regular fee is two dollars.
The poor come daily to Dr. Floddin’s, and his fame is often in their mouths.
Why is Davy white and beautiful? Why is he gentle and so marvelously intelligent?
A year back, when his tonsils swelled, Dr. Tarpion said they must be cut out. The house-keeper said it was the worst possible thing to do. The cook said it should never be done. The peddling huckster’s son said Dr. Floddin didn’t believe in it.
Then Davy would wake in the night. “I tan’t breathe,” he would complain.