ACROSS THE WAY VII

It so happened that as Mr. Horace Barker and the Misses Barker descended the steps of the late Mr. Cherrington’s house, they came plump upon Mr. Homer Ramsay, who was taking his morning stroll. The old gentleman was standing leaning on his cane, glaring across the street; and, by way of acknowledging that he perceived his first cousin once removed, he raised the cane, and, pointing in the line of his scowling gaze, ejaculated:

“This street is going to perdition. As though it weren’t enough to have a school opposite me, a fellow has had the impudence to put his doctor’s sign right next door to my house–an oculist, he calls himself. In my day, a man who was fit to call himself a doctor could set a leg, or examine your eyes, or tell what was the matter with your throat, and not leave you so very much the wiser even then; but now there’s a different kind of quack for every ache and pain in our bodies.”

“We live in a progressive world, Cousin Homer,” said Mr. Barker, placing his eyeglass astride his nose to examine the obnoxious sign across the way. “Dr. James Clay, Oculist,” he read aloud, indifferently.

“Progressive fiddlesticks, Cousin Horace. A fig for your oculists and your dermatologists and all the rest of your specialists! I have managed to live to be seventy-five, and I never had anybody prescribe for me but a good old-fashioned doctor, thank Heaven! And I’m not dead yet, as the speculators who have their eyes on my house and are waiting for me to die will find out.” Mr. Ramsay scowled ferociously; then casting a sweeping glance from under his eyebrows at the little girls, he said, “Cousin Horace, if your children don’t have better health than their mother, they might as well be dead. Do they go there?” he asked, indicating the school-house with his cane.

“I am removing them this morning. Anabel had concluded to send them there, but I find that the young woman who is the teacher has such hoity-toity notions that I cannot consent to let my daughters remain with her. In my opinion, so arbitrary a young person should be checked; and my belief is that before many days she will find herself without pupils.” Whereupon Mr. Barker proceeded on his way, muttering to himself, when at a safe distance, “Irrational old idiot!”…
by: Robert Grant (1852-1940)

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