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The Doctor.

A CERTAIN poor man, named Chang, who lived at I, fell in one day with a Taoist priest. The latter was highly skilled in the science of physiognomy; and, after looking at Chang’s features, said to him, “You would make your fortune as a doctor.” “Alas!” replied Chang, “I can barely read and write; how then could I follow such a calling as that?” “And where, you simple fellow,” asked the priest, “is the necessity for a doctor to be a scholar? You just try, that’s all.” Thereupon Chang returned home; and, being very poor, he simply collected a few of the commonest prescriptions, and set up a small stall with a handful of fishes’ teeth and some dry honeycomb from a wasp’s nest, hoping thus to earn, by his tongue, enough to keep body and soul together, to which, however, no one paid any particular attention. Now it chanced that just then the Governor of Ch‘ingchou was suffering from a bad cough, and had given orders to his subordinates to send to him the most skilful doctors in their respective districts; and the magistrate of I, which was an out-of-the-way mountainous district, being unable to lay his hands on any one whom he could send in, gave orders to the beadle to do the best he could under the circumstances. Accordingly, Chang was nominated by the people, and the magistrate put his name down to go in to the Governor. When Chang heard of his appointment, he happened to be suffering himself from a bad attack of bronchitis, which he was quite unable to cure, and he begged, therefore, to be excused; but the magistrate would not hear of this, and forwarded him at once in charge of some constables. While crossing the hills, he became very thirsty, and went into a village to ask for a drink of water; but water there was worth its weight in jade, and no one would give him any. By-and-by he saw an old woman washing a quantity of vegetables in a scanty supply of water which was, consequently, very thick and muddy; and, being unable to bear his thirst any longer, he obtained this and drank it up. Shortly afterwards he found that his cough was quite cured, and then it occurred to him that he had hit upon a capital remedy. When he reached the city, he learned that a great many doctors had already tried their hand upon the patient, but without success; so asking for a private room in which to prepare his medicines, he obtained from the town some bunches of bishopwort, and proceeded to wash them as the old woman had done. He then took the dirty water, and gave a dose of it to the Governor, who was immediately and permanently relieved. The patient was overjoyed; and, besides making Chang a handsome present, gave him a certificate written in golden characters, in consequence of which his fame spread far and wide; and of the numerous cases he subsequently undertook, in not a single instance did he fail to effect a cure. One day, however, a patient came to him, complaining of a violent chill; and Chang, who happened to be tipsy at the time, treated him by mistake for remittent fever. When he got sober, he became aware of what he had done; but he said nothing to anybody about it, and three days afterwards the same patient waited upon him with all kinds of presents to thank him for a rapid recovery. Such cases as this were by no means rare with him; and soon he got so rich that he would not attend when summoned to visit a sick person, unless the summons was accompanied by a heavy fee and a comfortable chair to ride in.




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