The doctor bowed to Mr. L—-, and then said–
“My name is Dr. Grimes.”
Mr. L—- bowed in return, remarking, as he did so–
“Will you walk in?”
The doctor was rather disappointed at the manner of his reception, and experienced a slight depression of spirits as he followed the merchant back into one of the counting-rooms attached to the store.
“Will you take a chair, sir?” said the merchant.
Both the gentlemen sat down. About L—- there was an air of expectancy, which the doctor did not fail to remark.
“My name is Doctor Grimes,” said he, repeating his first introduction.
“I am happy to see you, doctor,” returned L—-, bowing again.
“I received a letter from your house, this morning,” said the victim, for such he really was, “desiring me to call, as you had some communication to make that would be to my advantage.”
“There’s some mistake,” replied the merchant. “No letter of the kind has emanated from us.”
“Are you certain?” asked the disappointed man, in a voice greatly changed; and he drew forth the letter he had received.
L—- looked at the communication, and shook his head.
“There is no truth in this, sir. I regret to say that you have, most probably, been made the victim of an idle and reprehensible jest. To-day, you are aware, is the First of April.”
“Can it be possible!” exclaimed the doctor, clasping his hands together, while his face became pale and overcast with disappointment. “Who could have been so unkind, so cruel!”
“And is the disappointment very great?” said the merchant, touched with the manner of his visitor, which showed more pain than mortification at the cheat practised upon him.
With an effort at self-command, Doctor Grimes regained, to some extent, his lost composure, and rising, remarked, as he partly turned himself away–
“Forgive this intrusion, sir. I ought to have been more on my guard.”
But an interest having been awakened in the mind of Mr. L—-, he would not suffer his visitor to retire until he held some conversation with him. In this conversation he learned, through delicately asked questions, even more of his real condition in life than the latter meant to communicate; and he still further learned that the mother of Doctor Grimes had been one of his early friends.
“Will you be willing to take the place of Resident Physician at the —- Hospital?” finally asked Mr. L.
“To one like me,” replied Dr. Grimes, “that place would be exceedingly desirable. But I do not suppose I could get it.”
“I am a stranger here.”
“Can you bring testimonials as to professional ability?” asked Mr. L—-.
“I can. Testimonials of the very highest character.”
“Bring them to me, doctor, at the earliest possible moment. I do not, in the least, doubt that my influence will secure you the place. I believe you have no family?”
“That may be an objection. A furnished dwelling is provided for the physician; and, I believe, one with a family is preferred.”
“I have a widowed sister, who would be glad to join me; and whom I would be glad to place in so comfortable a position.”
“That will do just as well, doctor. Bring over your testimonials as soon as possible. Not so much of an April fool, after all, I begin to think. Unless I am very greatly mistaken, you have heard something to your advantage.”
All came out to the satisfaction of both Doctor Grimes and the kind-hearted Mr. L—-. In less than a month, the former was in comfortable quarters at —- Hospital, and in the receipt of twelve hundred dollars per annum. This was exclusive of rent for his sister’s family–now his own–and table expenses. Moreover, for certain duties required of her in the hospital, his sister received three hundred dollars additional.
So it turned out that Dr. Grimes, so far from being made an April fool, was benefited by the wonderfully “smart” trick of Mr. Bunting. But of the particular result of his extra work, the village-jester remained ignorant. Being on the lookout, he was “tickled to death” when he saw the doctor start off post haste for New York; and he looked out for his return, anticipating rare pleasure at seeing his “face as long as his arm.” But this particular pleasure was not obtained, for he didn’t see the doctor afterward.