Before I had been many months in the shop Mr Brookes was able to leave when any exigence required his immediate attendance. I made up the pills, but he weighed out the quantities in the prescriptions; if, therefore, any one came in for medicines, I desired them to wait the return of Mr Brookes, who would be in very soon. One day, when Mr Brookes was out, and I was sitting behind the counter, Timothy sitting on it, and swinging his legs to and fro, both lamenting that we had no pocket-money, Timothy said, “Japhet, I’ve been puzzling my brains how we can get some money, and I’ve hit it at last; let you and I turn doctors; we won’t send all the people away who come when Mr Brookes is out, but we’ll physic them ourselves.”
I jumped at the idea, and he had hardly proposed it, when an old woman came in, and addressing Timothy, said, “That she wanted something for her poor grandchild’s sore throat.”
“I don’t mix up the medicines, ma’am,” replied Timothy; “you must apply to that gentleman, Mr Newland, who is behind the counter—he understands what is good for every body’s complaints.”
“Bless his handsome face—and so young too! Why, be you a doctor, sir?”
“I should hope so,” replied I; “what is it you require—a lotion, or an embrocation?”
“I don’t understand those hard words, but I want some doctor’s stuff.”
“Very well, my good woman; I know what is proper,” replied I, assuming an important air. “Here, Timothy, wash out this vial very clean.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Timothy, very respectfully.
I took one of the measures, and putting in a little green, a little blue, and a little white liquid from the medicine bottles generally used by Mr Brookes, filled it up with water, poured the mixture into the vial, corked, and labelled it, haustus statim sumendus, and handed it over the counter to the old woman.
“Is the poor child to take it, or is it to rub outside?” inquired the old woman.
“The directions are on the label;—but you don’t read Latin?”
“Deary me, no! Latin! and do you understand Latin? What a nice clever boy!”
“I should not be a good doctor if I did not,” replied I. On second thoughts, I considered it advisable and safer, that the application should be external, so I translated the label to her—Haustus, rub it in—statim, on the throat—sumendus, with the palm of the hand.
“Deary me! and does it mean all that? How much have I to pay, sir?”
“Embrocation is a very dear medicine, my good woman; it ought to be eighteen-pence, but as you are a poor woman, I shall only charge you nine-pence.”
“I’m sure I thank you kindly,” replied the old woman, putting down the money, and wishing me a good morning as she left the shop.
“Bravo!” cried Timothy, rubbing his hands; “it’s halves, Japhet, is it not?”
“Yes,” I replied; “but first we must be honest, and not cheat Mr Cophagus; the vial is sold, you know, for one penny, and I suppose the stuff I have taken is not worth a penny more. Now, if we put aside two-pence for Mr Cophagus, we don’t cheat him, or steal his property; the other seven-pence is of course our own—being the profits of the profession.”