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An Insurance Act
by [?]

I gave my celebrated imitation of a sick rhinoceros gasping out its life. It went well. I got an encore.

“Um,” he said gravely, “um.” He put his stethoscope away and looked earnestly at me.

“Tell me the worst,” I begged. “I’m not bothering about this stupid insurance business now. That’s off, of course. But–how long have I? I must put my affairs in order. Can you promise me a week?”

He said nothing. He took my wrists in his hands and pressed them. It was evident that grief over-mastered him and that he was taking a silent farewell of me. I bowed my head. Then, determined to bear my death-sentence like a man, I said firmly, “So be it,” and drew myself away from him.

However, he wouldn’t let me go.

“Come, come,” I said to him, “you must not give way”; and I made an effort to release one of my hands, meaning to pat him encouragingly on the shoulder.

He resisted….

I realized suddenly that I had mistaken his meaning, and that he was simply feeling my pulses.

“Um,” he said, “um,” and continued to finger my wrists.

Clenching my teeth, and with the veins starting out on my forehead, I worked my pulses as hard as I could.

. . . . .

“Ah,” he said, as I finished tying my tie; and he got up from the desk where he had been making notes of my disastrous case, and came over to me. “There is just one thing more. Sit down.”

I sat down.

“Now cross your knees.”

I crossed my knees. He bent over me and gave me a sharp tap below the knee with the side of his hand.

My chest may have disappointed him…. He may have disliked my back…. Possibly I was a complete failure with my pulses…. But I knew the knee-trick.

This time he should not be disappointed.

I was taking no risks. Almost before his hand reached my knee, my foot shot out and took him fairly under the chin. His face suddenly disappeared.

“I haven’t got that disease,” I said cheerily.