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Medallion’s Whim
by [?]

When the Avocat began to lose his health and spirits, and there crept through his shrewd gravity and kindliness a petulance and dejection, Medallion was the only person who had an inspiriting effect upon him. The Little Chemist had decided that the change in him was due to bad circulation and failing powers: which was only partially true.

Medallion made a deeper guess. “Want to know what’s the matter with him?” he said. “Ha, I’ll tell you! Woman.”

“Woman–God bless me!” said the Little Chemist, in a frightened way.

“Woman, little man; I mean the want of a woman,” said Medallion.

The Cure, who was present, shrugged his shoulders. “He has an excellent cook, and his bed and jackets are well aired; I see them constantly at the windows.”

A laugh gurgled in Medallion’s throat. He loved these innocent folk; but himself went twice a year to Quebec City and had more expanded views.

“Woman, Padre”–nodding to the priest, and rubbing his chin so that it rasped like sand-paper–“Woman, my druggist”–throwing a sly look at the Chemist—-“woman, neither as cook nor bottle-washer, is what he needs. Every man-out of holy orders”–this in deference to his good friend the Cure–“arrives at the time when his youth must be renewed or he becomes as dry bones–like an empty house–furniture sold off. Can only be renewed one way–Woman. Well, here’s our Avocat, and there’s his remedy. He’s got the cooking and the clean fresh linen; he must have a wife, the very best.”

“Ah, my friend, you are droll,” said the Cure, arching his long fingers at his lips and blowing gently through them, but not smiling in the least; rather serious, almost reproving.

“It is such a whim, such a whim!” said the Little Chemist, shaking his head and looking through his glasses sideways like a wise bird.

“Ha–you shall see! The man must be saved; our Cure shall have his fees; our druggist shall provide the finest essences for the feast–no more pills. And we shall dine with our Avocat once a week–with asparagus in season for the Cure, and a little good wine for all. Ha!”

His Ha! was never a laugh; it was unctuous, abrupt, an ejaculation of satisfaction, knowledge, solid enjoyment, final solution.

The Cure shook his head doubtfully; he did not see the need; he did not believe in Medallion’s whim; still he knew that the man’s judgment was shrewd in most things, and he would be silent and wait. But he shrank from any new phase of life likely to alter the conditions of that old companionship, which included themselves, the Avocat, and the young Doctor, who, like the Little Chemist, was married.

The Chemist sharply said: “Well, well, perhaps. I hope. There is a poetry (his English was not perfect, and at times he mixed it with French in an amusing manner), a little chanson, which runs:

“‘Sorrowful is the little house,
The little house by the winding stream;
All the laughter has died away
Out of the little house.
But down there come from the lofty hills
Footsteps and eyes agleam,
Bringing the laughter of yesterday
Into the little house,
By the winding stream and the hills.
Di ron, di ron, di ron, di ron-don!'”

The Little Chemist blushed faintly at the silence that followed his timid, quaint recital. The Cure looked calm and kind, and drawn away as if in thought; but Medallion presently got up, stooped, and laid his long fingers on the shoulder of the apothecary.

“Exactly, little man,” he said; “we’ve both got the same idea in our heads. I’ve put it hard fact, you’ve put it soft sentiment; and it’s God’s truth either way.”

Presently the Cure asked, as if from a great distance, so meditative was his voice: “Who will be the woman, Medallion?”

“I’ve got one in my eye–the very right one for our Avocat; not here, not out of Pontiac, but from St. Jean in the hills–fulfilling your verses, gentle apothecary. She must bring what is fresh–he must feel that the hills have come to him, she that the valley is hers for the first time. A new world for them both. Ha!”