A Poor Wise Man
"I wish you'd stop whistling that thing," said Miss Boyd, irritably. "It makes me low
in my mind."
"Sorry," said Willy Cameron. "I do it because I'm low in my mind."
"What are you low about?" Miss Boyd had turned toward the rear of the counter,
where a mirror was pasted to a card above a box of chewing gum, and was
carefully adjusting her hair net. "Lady friend turned you down?"
Willy Cameron glanced at her.
"I'm low because I haven't got a lady friend, Miss Boyd." He held up a sheet of
prescription paper and squinted at it. "Also because the medical profession writes
with its feet, apparently. I've done everything to this but dip it in acid. I've had it
pinned to the wall, and tried glancing at it as I went past. Sometimes you can
surprise them that way. But it does no good. I'm going to take it home and dream
on it, like bride's cake."
"They're awful, aren't they?"
"When I get into the Legislature," said Willy Cameron, "I'm going to have a bill
passed compelling doctors to use typewriters. Take this now. Read upside down,
its horse liniment. Read right side up, it's poison. And it's for internal use."
"What d'you mean you haven't got a lady friend?"
"The exact and cruel truth." He smiled at her, and had Miss Boyd been more
discerning she might have seen that the smile was slightly forced. Also that his
eyes were somewhat sunken in his head. Which might, of course, have been due
to too much political economy and history, and the eminent divines on Sunday
evenings. Miss Boyd, however, was not discerning, and moreover, she was
summoning her courage to a certain point.
"Why don't you ask me to go to the movies some night?" she said. "I like the
movies, and I get sick of going alone."
"My dear child," observed Willy Cameron, "if that young man in the sack suit who
comes in to see you every day were three inches shorter and twenty pounds
lighter, I'd ask you this minute."