A lover, whose mistress was dangerously ill, sought every where for a skilful physician in whom he could place confidence, and to whose care he might confide a life so dear to him. In the course of his search he met with a talisman, by the aid of which spirits might be rendered visible.
The young man exchanged, for this talisman, half his possessions, and having secured his treasure, ran with it to the house of a famous physician. Flocking round the door he beheld a crowd of shades, the ghosts of those persons whom this physician had killed. Some old, some young; some the skeletons of fat old men; some gigantic frames of gaunt[a1] fellows; some little puling infants and squalling women; all joined in menaces and threats against the house of the physician—the den of their destroyer— who however peacefully marched through them, with his cane to his chin, and a grave and solemn air. The same vision presented itself, more or less, at the house of every physician of eminence. One at length was pointed out to him in a distant quarter of the city, at whose door he only perceived two little ghosts. “Behold,” exclaimed he, with a joyful cry, “the good physician of whom I have been so long in search!” The doctor, astonished, asked him how he had been able to discover this.
“Pardon me,” said the afflicted lover, complacently, “your ability and your reputation are well known to me.” “My reputation !" said the physician, “why I have been in Paris but eight days, and in that time I have had but two patients.” “Good God!” involuntarily exclaimed the young man, “and there they are.”