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At Arms With Morpheus
by [?]

I never could quite understand how Tom Hopkins came to make that blunder, for he had been through a whole term at a medical college — before he inherited his aunt’s fortune — and had been considered strong in therapeutics.

We had been making a call together that evening, and afterward Tom ran up to my rooms for a pipe and a chat before going on to his own luxurious apartments. I had stepped into the other room for a moment when I heard Tom sing out:

“Oh, Billy, I’m going to take about four grains of quinine, if you don’t mind — I’m feeling all blue and shivery. Guess I’m taking cold.”

“All right,” I called back. “The bottle is on the second shelf. Take it in a spoonful of that elixir of eucalyptus. It knocks the bitter out.”

After I came back we sat by the fire and got our briars going. In about eight minutes Tom sank back into a gentle collapse.

I went straight to the medicine cabinet and looked.

“You unmitigated hayseed!” I growled. “See what money will do for a man’s brains!”

There stood the morphine bottle with the stopple out, just as Tom had left it.

I routed out another young M.D. who roomed on the floor above, and sent him for old Doctor Gales, two squares away. Tom Hopkins has too much money to be attended by rising young practitioners alone.

When Gales came we put Tom through as expensive a course of treatment as the resources of the profession permit. After the more drastic remedies we gave him citrate of caffeine in frequent doses and strong coffee, and walked him up and down the floor between two of us. Old Gales pinched him and slapped his face and worked hard for the big check he could see in the distance. The young M.D. from the next floor gave Tom a most hearty, rousing kick, and then apologized to me.

“Couldn’t help it,” he said. “I never kicked a millionaire before in my life. I may never have another opportunity.”

“Now,” said Doctor Gales, after a couple of hours, “he’ll do. But keep him awake for another hour. You can do that by talking to him and shaking him up occasionally. When his pulse and respiration are normal then let him sleep. I’ll leave him with you now.”

I was left alone with Tom, whom we had laid on a couch. He lay very still, and his eyes were half closed. I began my work of keeping him awake.

“Well, old man,” I said, “you’ve had a narrow squeak, but we’ve pulled you through. When you were attending lectures, Tom, didn’t any of the professors ever casually remark that m-o-r-p-h-i-a never spells ‘quinia,’ especially in four-grain doses? But I won’t pile it up on you until you get on your feet. But you ought to have been a druggist, Tom; you’re splendidly qualified to fill prescriptions.”

Tom looked at me with a faint and foolish smile.

“B’ly,” he murmured, “I feel jus’ like a hum’n bird flyin’ around a jolly lot of most ‘shpensive roses. Don’ bozzer me. Goin’ sleep now.”

And he went to sleep in two seconds. I shook him by the shoulder.

“Now, Tom,” I said, severely, “this won’t do. The big doctor said you must stay awake for at least an hour. Open your eyes. You’re not entirely safe yet, you know. Wake up.”

Tom Hopkins weighs one hundred and ninety-eight. He gave me another somnolent grin, and fell into deeper slumber. I would have made him move about, but I might as well have tried to make Cleopatra’s needle waltz around the room with me. Tom’s breathing became stertorous, and that, in connection with morphia poisoning, means danger.