“HE is a good man, suppose, and an excellent doctor,” said Mrs. Salina Simmons, with a dubious shake of her head but——”
“But what, Mrs. Simmons?”
“They say he drinks!”
“No, impossible!” exclaimed Mr. Josiah Query, with emphasis.
“Impossible? I hope so,” said Mrs. Simmons. “And—mind you, I don’t say he drinks, but that such is the report. And I have it upon tolerably good authority, too, Mr. Query.”
“Oh, I couldn’t tell that: for you know I never like to make mischief. I can only say that the report is—he drinks.”
Mr. Josiah Query scratched his head.
“Can it be that Dr. Harvey drinks?” he murmured. “I thought him pure Son of Temperance. And his my family physician, too! I must look into this matter forthwith. Mrs. Simmons, you still decline slating who is your authority for this report?”
Mrs. Simmons was firm; her companion could gain no satisfaction. She soon compelled him to promise that he would not mention her name, if he spoke of the affair elsewhere, repeating her remark that she never liked to make mischief.
Dr. Harvey was a physician residing in a small village, where he shared the profits of practice with another doctor, named Jones. Dr. Harvey was generally liked and among his friends was Mr. Josiah Query, whom Mrs. Simmons shocked with the bit of gossip respecting the doctor’s habits of intemperance. Mr. Query was a good-hearted man, and he deemed it his duty to inquire into the nature of the report, and learn if it had any foundation in truth. Accordingly, be went to Mr. Green, who also employed the doctor in his family.
“Mr. Green,” said he, “have you heard anything about this report of Dr. Harvey’s intemperance?”
“Dr. Harvey’s intemperance?” cried Mr. Green, astonished.
“Yes—a flying report.”
“No, I’m sure I haven’t.”
“Of course, then, you don’t know whether it is true or not?”
“That he drinks.”
“I never heard of it before. Dr. Harvey is my family physician, and I certainly would not employ a man addicted to the use of ardent spirits.”
“Nor I,” said Mr. Query “and for this reason, and for the doctor’s sake, too, I want to know the truth of the matter. I don’t really credit it myself; but I thought it would do no harm to inquire.”
Mr. Query next applied to Squire Worthy for information.
“Dear me!” exclaimed the squire, who was a nervous man; “does Dr. Harvey drink?”
“Such is the rumour; how true it is, I can’t say.”
“And what if he should give one of my family a dose of arsenic instead of the tincture of rhubarb, some time, when he is intoxicated? My mind is made up now. I shall send for Dr. Jones in future.”