I know Pete pretty well. When I talk to him I do not have to pull my punches, and neither does he. We had not seen each other all summer, so it was a surprise to me that he was resting his two feet on the draw-leaf of his desk, bandaged to twice their size, and a pair of crutches stood against the wall behind him. He was directing everything from where he sat, with a phone at one elbow, stenographer at the other, and a stream of subordinates coming and going in front of him. The perfect picture of a strong man, perfectly sound in every way except his feet.
“High living again I see,” said I. “Why dont you cut it out and you would not be having the gout?”.
“High living me eye!” countered he. “Ive been having these ding-donged sores on my feet all summer and cant seem to get rid of them, and Im getting pretty well tired of it. You know Steve? Wasnt he in your class? Any way, he went to medical school and now he is a big specialist in town. I dont know of a better man. He gets plenty, and I am paying him plenty, and I wouldnt mind that if he only gets me on my feet again. But so far he hasnt, and I am doing everything he tells me to do, and I dont see any progress. Ive just about concluded that doctors dont know very much about their job”.
“What does he say the trouble is?”.
“That just the h– of it. He doesnt know. Think I probably got a stone bruise or something down at the beach. But how would I get a stone bruise on each foot, both at the same time, and not know it?”.
“What is he doing for you, — or to you?”.
“He is doing plenty to me, I can tell you that. He has operated for the fifth time, I believe it is, and the wounds are just beginning to heal again. Before they get healed some new sores always crop out”.
“Well, Pete,” said I, “this is none of my business and it isnt what I came over to talk about, but as long as you seem to be dissatisfied I am going to tell you something. If you were under anybodys treatment and felt content with it, I would not open my trap if you died. I am only talking now because you said you werent getting anywhere and you thought there were no doctors that know what they are doing, or words to that effect. You know I am considerably interested in medicine as a layman”.
“Well, what have you got? Hurry up with it. I have work to do”.
“Then listen to me, my man. Where were your feet when your father and your mother got married?”.
“Be careful, now,” warned Pete. “This is a decent office and I dont want to ask Mabel to go out. I havent finished with my mail yet”.
“I am simply talking about your feet. That is where your trouble is, isnt it?”.
“Yes of course. And I am in the hands of the countrys best specialist. What more can I do? Now go on”.
“But when you started, young man, you had no feet. You were nothing more than a little seed too small for anyone to know you were there. Your feet sprouted out from the inside of you, and that is where your brain would have come from if you had ever grown one. Ever since then, your feet have developed to their present whooping size and have been holding you off the ground and doing their arduous job for you, and getting their nourishment and their repair from inside you, where they started from in the first place, and you have never given them a thought until they got sore on you”.
“Nice story. But what do you want me to do about it?”.
“Think about it, that is what. Why are your feet sore and the specialist and I both also have feet but they are not sore? Do you suppose nobody ever had a stone bruise but you? Didnt you ever stop to think that just as the source of your feet was inside you, the source of your foot trouble might also be inside you?”.
“Well,” Peter reflected, “I still think Steve is a good man. He gets plenty of bright people to come to him and pay him big money. They cant all be wrong. But I will say that Steve never put out a line of talk anything like that”.
“Listen,” I said. “You knew all the time that your feet are only two parts of you. You knew all the time that they came after you did, and that they sprouted out from your inside and have been living on you ever since. Yet when they get sore you let Steve work on your feet, assuming that the rest of you is all right, paying no more attention to what might have given rise to the sores than if he were working on a cadaver, and you have never even asked him why”.
“Do you know any better man than Steve?”.
“I am no advance agent for doctors. I only like the subject and believe I have started to do a little thinking about it. Yes, if you want, I can give you the names of two men around here who at least remember where your feet came from. They dont get big money. But they do know how to treat their patients constitutionally, and they do get some very remarkable cures”.