“What’s become of Dr. Grimes?” he asked of one and another, after a few days had passed, and he did not see that individual on the street as before.
But none of whom he made inquiry happened to know any thing of the doctor’s movements. It was plain to Bunting that, he had driven the said doctor out of the village; and this circumstance quite flattered his vanity, and made him feel of more consequence than before. In a little while, he told his secret to one and another, and it was pretty generally believed that Doctor Grimes had gone away under a sense of mortification at the storekeeper’s practical joke.
“Look out for next year,” said one and another. “If Doctor Grimes isn’t even with you then, it’ll be a wonder.”
“It will take a brighter genius than he is to fool me,” Bunting would usually reply to these words of caution.
The First of April came round again. Thomas Bunting was wide awake. He expected to hear from the doctor, who, he was certain, would never forgive him. Sure enough, with the day, came a letter from New York.
“You don’t fool me!” said Bunting, as he glanced at the postmark. He had heard that the doctor was in, or somewhere near, the city.
“Ha! ha!” he laughed, as he read–
“If Mr. Thomas Bunting will call on Messrs. Wilde & Lyon, Pearl Street, New York, he may hear of something to his advantage.”
“Ha! ha! That’s capital! The doctor is a wag. Ha! ha!”
Of course, Bunting was too wide awake for this trap. Catch him trudging to New York on a fool’s errand!
“Does he think I haven’t cut my eye-teeth?” he said to himself exultingly, as he read over the letter. “Doctor Grimes don’t know this child–he don’t.”
And yet, the idea that something might be lost by not heeding the letter, came stealing in upon him, and checking in a small degree the delight he felt at being too smart for the doctor. But this thought was instantly pushed aside. Of course, Bunting was not so “green,” to use one of his favourite words, as to go on a fool’s errand to New York.
Five or six months afterward, Bunting, while in the city on business, happened to meet Doctor Grimes.
“How are you, doctor?” said he, grasping the hand of the physician, and smiling with one of the smiles peculiar to his face when he felt that he had played off a capital joke on somebody.
“I’m well, Mr. Bunting. And how are you?” replied the doctor.
“First-rate–first-rate!” and Bunting rubbed his hands. Then he added, with almost irrepressible glee–
“You wasn’t sharp enough, last April, doctor.”
“Why so?” inquired Doctor Grimes.
“You didn’t succeed in getting me to the city on a fool’s errand.”
“I don’t understand you, Mr. Bunting,” said the doctor seriously.
“Wilde & Lyon, Pearl Street–something to my advantage. Ha?”
The doctor looked puzzled.
“You needn’t play the innocent, doctor. Its no use. I sent you on a fool’s errand to New York; and it was but natural that you should seek to pay me back in my own coin. But I was too wide awake for you entirely. It takes a sharp man to catch me.”
“You’re certainly too wide awake for me now,” said Doctor Grimes. “Will you please be serious and explain yourself.”
“Last April a year, you received a letter from New York, to the effect that if you would call at a certain place in Wall Street, you would hear something to your advantage?”
“I did,” replied the doctor.
“I called, accordingly, and received information which has proved greatly to my advantage.”
“What?” Bunting looked surprised.
“The gentleman upon whom I called was a leading director in —- Hospital, and in search of a Resident Physician for that establishment. I now fill that post.”
“Is it possible?” Bunting could not conceal his surprise, in which something like disappointment was blended. “And you did not write a similar letter to me last April?” he added.