Lesson No. 9
The Foolish Quack
One evening as the sun was setting, some travelers stayed to rest under a clump of trees, and, loosening their camels, set them to graze. It happened that one of seeing this and fearing to lose the animal, tied a blanket round its throat, and then struck the place with all his might. Instantly the melon broke in the throat, and then camel, and it was then easily swallowed.
A certain man, who had just come up, looking on and observing this proceeding, shouldered his bundle, and, going to the next village, pretended that he was a doctor.
“But what can you cure?” asked the villagers.
“I can cure the goiter,” answered the quack.
An old woman, whose throat was swollen to a frightful size, exclaimed: “O my son, if you could only cure my goiter, I would bless you for evermore!”
“Certainly,” answered the man; “here, bring me a blanket and a good-sized mallet.”
As soon as they were brought, he tied up the woman’s throat, and struck the swollen part with so much force that the poor old creature instantly expired.
“Ah,” cried the people, “this fellow is a villain!”
So they seized him, being minded to carry him before the king. One of them, however, said: “She was a very old woman, who must have died shortly in any case.
Let us therefore compel the wretch to dig her grave, and then we can beat him and let him ho.” So they took him and set him to work, but the ground was so stiff and hard that he made slow progress.
“IF you do not dig it,” said they “before the king you shall go and then you will be hanged.
Thus exhorted the unfortunate man, in the greatest fear, labored away with all his might; and at last, when the villagers saw that he had, finished his task and buried the victim of him mistaken treatment, they beat him well and let him go.
Uninfluenced by the severity of his punishment, the man mounted his camel and went on the next village, and again gave himself out as a great doctor.
“And what can you cure?” said someone.
“I can cure goiter,” answered he.
This time it was an old man who offered himself for treatment. But the pretended doctor said: “Look here, good people. I shall do m best to cure this case; but remember, if I am so unfortunate as to kill him, I am not to be compelled to dig the man’s grave.”
“A pretty sort of doctor you must be!” cried them, “Before you begin your treatment, you are talking of digging the patient’s grave! Away with you; we shall have nothing to do with you. “
Hearing this, the pretended doctor began to say to himself. “What an extraordinary thing this is! My best plan surely is to return to the camel-men and tell them they have not shown me the right way to cure this disease. Perhaps they will advise me.”
When he had overtaken them, he cried; ‘What foolish men you must be! I met an old woman, who suffered from goiter just like your camel, and I tied a blanket round her neck and struck her with a mallet but, instead of recovering like your camel, she died, and instead of getting a fee I was compelled to gig her grave!”
“It is not we who are stupid,” answered the camel-men, “but you. We are not stupid at all. These animals are camels of prodigious size and strength. How was a feeble old woman to stand the blow of a mallet? No; it is you, and you only, who are stupid.”
One of the men now stepped forward, saying to his friends: “You remain quiet, and leave this fellow to me. “Then, addressing himself to the newcomer, he cried: “Hear you, sir; these men do not understand the matter at all. I can set it all right for you in a minute.” Saying this, he lifted a heavy stick, bound with iron rings, and struck a camel which was feeding off the leaves of a wild plum-tree. The stolid creature, scarcely feeling the blow, merely moved a step or two forward. “You observe,” said the man, “the effect of this treatment on the camel. Now observe its effect on a human being!” He then struck the man himself a similar blow, which felled him to the earth like a log. When consciousness returned, this bewildered victim inquired: “Why, sir, this cruel usage?”
‘Do you not perceive?’ answered the camel-men. ‘I wished to show you that what is good for camels is not good for poor old men and women.’
“Ah,” said the wretched man, “I now begin to see my error. Never, never again shall I set myself up for a doctor!”