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Let Me Feel Your Pulse
by [?]

The Hotel Bonair proved to be a nine-hundred-room fashionable hostelry on an island off the main shore. Everybody who did not dress for dinner was shoved into a side dining-room and given only a terrapin and champagne table d’hote. The bay was a great stamping ground for wealthy yachtsmen. The Corsair anchored there the day we arrived. I saw Mr. Morgan standing on deck eating a cheese sandwich and gazing longingly at the hotel. Still, it was a very inexpensive place. Nobody could afford to pay their p rices. When you went away you simply left your baggage, stole a skiff, and beat it for the mainland in the night.

When I had been there one day I got a pad of monogrammed telegraph blanks at the clerk’s desk and began to wire to all my friends for get-away money. My doctor and I played one game of croquet on the golf links and went to sleep on the lawn.

When we got back to town a thought seemed to occur to him suddenly. “By the way,” he asked, “how do you feel?”

“Relieved of very much,” I replied.

Now a consulting physician is different. He isn’t exactly sure whether he is to be paid or not, and this uncertainty insures you either the most careful or the most careless attention. My doctor took me to see a consulting physician. He made a poor guess and gave me careful attention. I liked him immensely. He put me through some coordination exercises.

“Have you a pain in the back of your head?” he asked. I told him I had not.

“Shut your eyes,” he ordered, “put your feet close together, and jump backward as far as you can.”

I always was a good backward jumper with my eyes shut, so I obeyed. My head struck the edge of the bathroom door, which had been left open and was only three feet away. The doctor was very sorry. He had overlooked the fact that the door was open. He closed it.

“Now touch your nose with your right forefinger,” he said.

“Where is it?” I asked.

“On your face,” said he.

“I mean my right forefinger,” I explained.

“Oh, excuse me,” said he. He reopened the bathroom door, and I took my finger out of the crack of it.

After I had performed the marvellous digito-nasal feat I said:

“I do not wish to deceive you as to symptoms, Doctor; I really have something like a pain in the back of my head.” He ignored the symptom and examined my heart carefully with a latest-popular-air-penny-in-the-slot ear-trumpet. I felt like a ballad.

“Now,” he said, “gallop like a horse for about five minutes around the room.”

I gave the best imitation I could of a disqualified Percheron being led out of Madison Square Garden. Then, without dropping in a penny, he listened to my chest again.

“No glanders in our family, Doc,” I said.

The consulting physician held up his forefinger within three inches of my nose. “Look at my finger,” he commanded.

“Did you ever try Pears’ –” I began; but he went on with his test rapidly.

“Now look across the bay. At my finger. Across the bay. At my finger. At my finger. Across the bay. Across the bay. At my finger. Across the bay.” This for about three minutes.

He explained that this was a test of the action of the brain. It seemed easy to me. I never once mistook his finger for the bay. I’ll bet that if he had used the phrases: “Gaze, as it were, unpreoccupied, outward — or rather laterally — in the direction of the horizon, underlaid, so to speak, with the adjacent fluid inlet,” and “Now, returning — or rather, in a manner, withdrawing your attention, bestow it upon my upraised digit” — I’ll bet, I say, that Henry James himself could have passed the exami nation.