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   Chapter 1 THE DOCTOR'S ADVICE

The White Crystals By Howard R. Garis Characters: 13911

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Dr. Glasby looked over the rims of his spectacles at the boy before him. Then he glanced at Mr. Anderson, cleared his throat with a loud "ahem" that made Roger start, and said, very ponderously:

"Um!"

"Well?" asked Mr. Anderson, a little anxious tone coming into his voice, "what's the verdict, doctor?"

"Um!" said the physician again. "Nothing very serious, Mr. Anderson. Roger, here, is a little run down, that's all. He's been studying too hard, his eyes are a trifle weak, muscles flabby, and his blood hasn't enough of the good red stuff in it. In short, he must live out of doors for a year or so, and then I'll guarantee he will come back with red cheeks and a pair of arms that will make you proud of him. Eh, Roger?" and Dr. Glasby pinched the rather small and soft biceps of the boy, smiling the while, good naturedly.

"No disease, then, doctor?" from Mr. Anderson.

"Nothing, my dear sir, except a general poor condition of the system."

"Don't he need medicine, a tonic, or something? His mother and I are quite worried about him."

"Not a drop of medicine for this patient," exclaimed Dr. Glasby. "Fresh air, fresh country air, and more air. That's all."

The physician turned aside to replace the apparatus he had used; the stethoscope, with which he had listened to the beating of Roger's heart, the eye-testing mirrors and lights, and the lung-cylinder, into which the boy had blown more feebly than Dr. Glasby had liked to see.

"Then your prescription is-?" began Mr. Anderson.

"Have him drop his books and studies, stop school, at least for a year, and get out into the country. You'll have to see for yourself that it is put up, for no drug store could supply those ingredients. Can you arrange it?"

"I think so, doctor. I'll try, anyhow," and, with a hearty handshake, while his face wore a more relieved look than when he entered the office, Mr. Anderson left Dr. Glasby, taking Roger with him.

The journey home was rather a quiet one between Roger and his father. They boarded a surface car on Broadway, and, as it swung along through the turmoil of this principal New York street, they were thinking of what they had just heard. Moving now fast and now slow, according to the obstructions of trucks on the tracks, the car clanged on its way. Once it stopped short, suddenly, to allow a spark-emitting fire engine and a swaying truck with long ladders to dash by to a blaze. Then Roger leaped to his feet, watching, as long as possible, the exciting rush of the red-helmeted and rubber-coated men, his eyes brightening as he noted the plunging, rearing horses.

"Let's get out and go to the fire!" he called to his father.

"Not now, son," answered Mr. Anderson. "Your mother will be anxious to hear what Dr. Glasby said, and we don't want to delay and cause her worry, you know."

"All right," agreed Roger, with just a little disappointment in his tone, for he did want to see the fire. But he soon forgot that in wondering what would happen if he didn't have to go to school for a whole year. The suggestion contained such possibilities that he was lost in a maze with plans of what he would do with his time.

Meanwhile the car continued along more rapidly, and it was not a great while before father and son reached home. Then, as Roger helped his five-year-old brother Edward to build a castle out of blocks, Mr. Anderson told his wife the result of the visit to Dr. Glasby. She was much relieved when she learned there was nothing serious the matter with her son, and there was a happy look in her eyes as she glanced at her two boys playing together on the floor.

The Andersons lived in a large but pleasant apartment house on the "west side," as it is called in New York. It was on Thirty-third Street, just west of Ninth Avenue, along which thoroughfare the elevated railroad passed. It was so near this, that in warm weather, when the windows were open nights, Roger could hear the rattle of the trains and the clatter and hum of the electric motor cars. In fact it was quite a noisy place, where Roger lived, but no one in the neighborhood seemed to mind it, or, if they did, they had grown so used to it that they never spoke of it. Of course there was no yard, and no place to play, except in the street, for space is too valuable in New York to have yards to houses. But there was the flat roof of the big apartment, where scores of families lived, and Roger and his boy friends sometimes enjoyed their sports up there.

Roger Anderson was just past his fifteenth year, rather small for his age, and not nearly as strong and sturdy as his parents wished he was. Lately his eyes had been troubling him, and he had complained of frequent headaches. He was in his first season at high school, and what, with taking up Latin and algebra, two new worlds of study for the boy, he had been rather closely applied to his books at night. As he was ambitious he threw himself into the vim of learning with an energy that was pleasing to his parents and teachers, though it had a bad effect on his health. For, after a few weeks of school, it was noticed that he was failing in energy. There were many days when, in spite of his desire, he felt disinclined to go to his classes, and he was troubled with dizziness. In short he seemed in such poor shape that Mr. Anderson determined on a visit to Dr. Glasby, the old family physician. That night, after the consultation with the medical man, when Roger had gone to bed, his father and mother sat up to talk the matter over.

"I don't like to think of his losing a year's schooling," said Mr. Anderson, as he thought how valuable education was.

"Better that than to have him get really ill and have to stop altogether," replied Mrs. Anderson.

Both were silent a few minutes, turning the question over in their minds.

"I suppose we should follow Dr. Glasby's advice as soon as possible," said Mrs. Anderson, at length. "I wonder what we ought to do. Where can we send him? Oh dear! I don't at all like the idea of his going away from us. I just know he'll sit about in damp shoes, and his buttons will all come off, for they are always loose, and no one to sew them on."

"Well," said Mr. Anderson, a little twinkle in his eyes, "losing buttons isn't to be compared to having one's health break down, and, as for wet shoes, he can take pairs enough along to change whenever he gets in the water. Still I must confess I don't like to think of Roger being away from us, but he'll have to leave home some day, I suppose, and there's nothing like getting used to it. I went away from my home when I was fourteen years old."

"It was different when you were a boy," said Mrs. Anderson, and her husband smiled, while he wondered how it was.

"Where do you suppose we can send him?" went on Mr. Anderson. "Dr. Glasby says a year in the country. Now we can't afford to pay heavy expenses, yet I am determined the boy shall have a

free run in the fresh air, and live out doors for a change."

Mrs. Anderson thought for a moment.

"I have it!" she cried, suddenly. "He can go to his Uncle Bert's, at Cardiff. It will be the very thing for him, and when you get your vacation next summer we can all go up there and see him."

Mr. Anderson hesitated a minute, for that idea had never come to him.

"I believe it will be a good plan," he said heartily. "Yes, I'm sure it will. I'm glad you thought of it. We'll send Roger to Cardiff."

Thus it was settled that Roger was to give up his studies, which announcement, when he heard it next morning, made him both glad and sorry.

It was a fine day in October, and school had been in session a little more than a month of the fall term. The visit to the doctor had been made on Saturday. Sunday was spent in talking over the subject more fully in the Anderson household, and in writing a letter to "Albertus Kimball, Esq., Cardiff, Onondaga County, N. Y." This man was Mrs. Anderson's farmer brother. On Monday, instead of going to school, Roger accompanied his father down town, where they did considerable shopping in the way of buying some clothing and underwear for the boy's outfit. Mr. Anderson also got a stout valise, and filled it with articles he thought his son might need. Then, rather tired with tramping about, they had dinner in a busy restaurant on Barclay Street, much to Roger's delight, for he seldom ate in such places, and it was quite a treat to order just what he liked best.

After lunch Mr. Anderson went to the high school where his son was enrolled, to give notice to the principal of Roger's withdrawal.

They arrived just before school assembled for the afternoon session, and, while Mr. Anderson was talking with Mr. Blake, the principal, Roger wandered into the familiar court-yard, where he met a number of classmates.

"Going to leave, eh?" they all questioned as the news got around. "Say, Roger, you're a lucky chap. I wish my father would take me out of school."

"I believe I'd rather stay," said Roger.

"Oh, cut that out! What you giving us!" called several, sincerely, if not politely.

"No, I would, really," insisted Roger, and he honestly meant it, though he could not help feeling a little important over the small excitement he was creating among his companions. Still he did like his studies very much, for he was just beginning to appreciate the inspiration of Virgil, the wonders of the science work, and the sturdy exactness of algebraic equations.

A few minutes later Mr. Anderson came out of Mr. Blake's office, and the two men walked over to where Roger stood. Mr. Blake shook hands with him, gravely, and, while expressing regret that his pupil was leaving school, agreed that it was best, under the circumstances. He hoped to see Roger back again, he said, much improved in health, and, with cheery good-byes from his companions, the boy walked out of the school-yard with his father. There was just the trace of tears in Roger's eyes, which he hoped his father wouldn't see, for, after all, it was rather hard to leave such a lot of fine chums as he had.

For the next few days there were busy times in the Anderson home. Such an overhauling of Roger's clothes, such a sewing on of buttons, double strong, almost enough for a small army of boys, such a darning of stockings, and a mending of rents in coats and trousers, and such admonition and advice as his mother gave him, from never forgetting to say his prayers, to not neglecting to clean his teeth. For he had never been away from his parents before, in all his short life, and it was a momentous occasion.

The novelty of the affair, and the anticipation of adventures in store for him, kept Roger from thoughts that he might possibly be lonesome or homesick, after he had started away. Under the stimulus of preparation he even began to feel better in health. His pale cheeks showed a little color, and his head had not ached since he had been to the doctor's.

On Thursday a letter came from Uncle Bert, telling Mrs. Anderson to send Roger right along; that they would all try to make him comfortable and happy. So it was arranged he was to start next Monday night, and, to Mrs. Anderson, the time, until then, seemed altogether too short, though, boylike, Roger thought the intervening days would never pass. His ticket had been purchased, his valise packed, and by Sunday night everything was in readiness. At church that day the boy felt his eyes grow a little misty as the choir sang the solemn songs, but he made up his mind that he must play the part of a man now, at least as far as appearances went. So he gulped down the lump in his throat.

The train was to leave the Grand Central Station of the New York Central Railroad at nine o'clock Monday night. The last arrangements had been made, and Mr. Anderson prepared to accompany his son to the depot.

"Bwing me back suffin' nice, Roggy," called little Edward, sleepily, as he put up his cheek to be kissed.

"I will, Eddie, I will," said Roger, his voice trembling a bit, in spite of his determination to be firm. He cuddled his baby brother close to him.

"Now be very careful, my boy," said Mrs. Anderson, for at least the twentieth time. "Clean your teeth every day, and change your shoes as soon as you get your feet wet."

Her motherly eyes showed a suspicious brilliancy, and her voice was not as steady as it usually sounded. She hugged Roger closely to her, and gave him a kiss that he long remembered, and then, with a broken good-bye, she turned and went into the house, while Roger and Mr. Anderson started for the station.

They stepped out briskly, boarded a surface car, and were soon rattling toward Forty-second Street, where the depot was located. Roger was to take a train for Syracuse, a city twelve miles from Cardiff, to which village he would go by wagon or stage. There was plenty of time before nine o'clock, but Mr. Anderson believed in being a little ahead of a train, instead of behind it. He didn't give his son much advice, for he knew Mrs. Anderson had said all there was to say, and he realized that Roger was a boy who didn't need to be cautioned after what his mother had told him.

The train Roger was to go in had already been made up, and the porter showed him to his place in the sleeping-car, where he had a lower berth.

"Now, my boy," said Mr. Anderson, looking at his watch, "you have ten minutes before starting time. I think I'll leave you, as you are in good shape here, and I want to get back to your mother. I know you will get along nicely, and I needn't say I know you'll do what's right, at all times, for I'm sure you will. Your Uncle Bert will meet you in Syracuse, when you arrive there in the morning, and you don't have to change cars. The porter will look after you occasionally. Now, good-bye," and with a hearty handshake Mr. Anderson left Roger alone.

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