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HOME > Short Stories > The Disagreeable Woman > CHAPTER XI. A POOR PATIENT.
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I was accustomed to remain in my office till about four o'clock in the afternoon waiting for possible patients. It was a long and weary wait, and oftentimes not a caller rewarded me. I suppose it is the usual fortune of young medical practitioners who are comparatively unknown. When four o'clock came I went out for a walk. Generally my steps tended to Sixth Avenue where there was some life and bustle.

I was compelled to practise the most rigid economy, but I could not deny myself the luxury of an evening paper. I would buy either the Sun or World, each of which cost but a penny. One little [Pg 105]newsboy came to know me, and generally lay in wait for me as I emerged from a side street. He was a bright, attractive little boy of ten, whose name I found to be Frank Mills. His clothing was well-worn but clean, and his whole appearance was neat, so that I judged he had a good mother.

Usually Frank's manner was cheerful, but on the day succeeding my visit to the Park I found he looked sober and his eyes looked red as if he had been crying.

"What is the matter, Frank?" I asked.

"My sister is sick," he said, sadly.

"Is it an older sister?"

"Yes; she works at O'Neil's dry goods store. She has been sick two days."

"What is the matter?"

"Mother thinks it is a fever."

"Have you called a doctor?"

"N—no," answered Frank.

"Why not?"

"We haven't any money to pay a doctor. We are very poor, and now that[Pg 106] sister isn't working I don't know how we shall get along. There is no one to earn money except me, and I don't make more than thirty cents a day."

"If I were rich, Frank, I would help you."

"I am sure you would, sir, for you look like a kind gentleman."

This simple tribute went to my heart. The boy felt that I was a friend, and I determined that I would be one so far as I was able.

"Still I can do something for you. I am a doctor, and if you will take me round to your house I will look at your sister and see if I can do anything for her."

The boy's eyes lighted up with joy.

"Will you be so kind, sir? I will go with you now."

"Yes, Frank, the sooner the better."

I followed him for perhaps a quarter of a mile to a poor house situated on one of the side streets leading down to the North River. The street was shabby[Pg 107] enough, and the crowd of young children playing about showed that it was tenanted by poor families, rich in children if nothing else.

Frank stopped at one of these houses and opened the door into a dirty hall.

"We live on the top floor," he said, "if you won't mind going up."

"I shall mind it no more than you, Frank," I said. "I am still a young man."

We climbed three staircases, and stood on the upper landing.

"I'll go in and tell mother I have brought a doctor," said Frank. "Just wait here a minute."

He opened a door and entered. He came out again almost immediately. He was followed by a woman of perhaps forty, with a pleasant face, but looking very sad.

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