The Scare Cure





Early in this century a restless Yankee, who wore the uninspiring name of

Tompkinson, found his way into Carondelet--or Vuide Poche, the French

settlement on the Mississippi since absorbed by St. Louis--and cast about

for something to do. He had been in hard luck on his trip from New

England to the great river. His schemes for self-aggrandizement and the

incidental enlightenment and prosperity of mankind had not thriven, and

it was largely in pity that M. Dunois gave shelter to the ragged,

half-starved, but still jaunty and resourceful adventurer. Dunois was the

one man in the place who could pretend to some education, and the two got

on together famously.



As soon as Tompkinson was in clothes and funds--the result of certain

speculations--he took a house, and hung a shingle out announcing that

there he practised medicine. Now, the fellow knew less about doctoring

than any village granny, but a few sick people that he attended had the

rare luck to get well in spite of him, and his reputation expanded to

more than local limits in consequence. In the excess of spirits that

prosperity created he flirted rather openly with a number of virgins in

Carondelet, to the scandal of Dunois, who forbade him his house, and of

the priest, who put him under ban.



For the priest he cared nothing, but Dunois's anger was more serious--for

the only maid of all that he really loved was Marie Dunois, his daughter.

He formally proposed for her, but the old man would not listen to him.

Then his practice fell away. The future looked as dark for him as his

recent past had been, until a woman came to him with a bone in her throat

and begged to be relieved. His method in such cases was to turn a

wheel-of-fortune and obey it. The arrow this time pointed to the word,

Bleeding.



He grasped a scalpel and advanced upon his victim, who, supposing that he

intended to cut her throat open to extract the obstacle, fell a-screaming

with such violence that the bone flew out. What was supposed to be his

ready wit in this emergency restored him to confidence, and he was able

to resume the practice that he needed so much. In a couple of years he

displayed to the wondering eyes of Dunois so considerable an accumulation

of cash that he gave Marie to him almost without the asking, and, as

Tompkinson afterward turned Indian trader and quadrupled his wealth by

cheating the red men, he became one of the most esteemed citizens of the

West.





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