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The Square Baby is not particularly attracted by the poultry as a whole, save when it is boiled with bacon or roasted with bread-sauce; but he is much interested in the “invaleeds.” Whenever Phoebe and I start for the hospital with the tobacco-pills, the tin of paraffin, and the bottle of oil, he is very much in evidence. Perhaps he has a natural leaning toward the medical profession; at any rate, when pain and anguish wring the brow, he is in close attendance upon the ministering angels.
Now it is necessary for the physician to have practice as well as theory, so the Square Baby, being left to himself this afternoon, proceeded to perfect himself in some of the healing arts used by country practitioners.
When discovered, he was seated in front of the wire-covered “run” attached to a coop occupied by the youngest goslings. A couple of bottles and a box stood by his side, and I should think he had administered a cup of sweet oil, a pint of paraffin, and a quarter of a pound of tobacco during his clinic. He had used the remedies impartially, sometimes giving the paraffin internally and rubbing the patient’s head with tobacco or oil, sometimes the reverse.
Several goslings leaned languidly against the netting, or supported themselves by the edge of the water-dish, while others staggered and reeled about with eyes half closed.
It was Mrs. Heaven who caught her son red-handed, so to speak. She was dressed in her best, and just driving off to Woodmucket to spend a day or two with her married daughter, and soothe her nerves with the uproar incident to a town of six hundred inhabitants. She delayed her journey a half-hour—long enough, in fact, to change her black silk waist for a loose sacque which would give her arms full and comfortable play. The joy and astonishment that greeted the Square Baby on his advent, five years ago, was forgotten for the first time in his brief life, and he was treated precisely as any ordinary wrongdoer would have been treated under the same circumstances, summarily and smartly; the “wepping,” as Phoebe would say, being Mrs. Heaven’s hand.
All but one of the goslings lived, like thousands of others who recover in spite of the doctors, but the Square Baby’s interest in the healing art is now perceptibly lessened.
The day was Friday; Phoebe’s day to go to Buffington with eggs and chickens and rabbits; her day to solicit orders for ducklings and goslings. The village cart was ready in the stable; Mr. and Mrs. Heaven were in Woodmucket; I was eating my breakfast (which I remember was an egg and a rasher) when Phoebe came in, a figure of woe.
The Square Baby was ill, very ill, and would not permit her to leave him and go to market. Would I look at him? For he must have dowsed ’imself as well as the goslings yesterday; anyways he was strong of paraffin and tobacco, though he ’ad ’ad a good barth.