Strabusmus And Justice by Edgar Wilson Nye

Story type: Essay

Over in St. Paul I met a man with eyes of cadet blue and a terra cotta nose. His eyes were not only peculiar in shape, but while one seemed to constantly probe the future, the other was apparently ransacking the dreamy past. While one rambled among the glorious possibilities of the remote yet golden ultimately, the other sought the somber depths of the previously.

He told me that years ago he had a mild case of strabismus and that both eyes seemed to glare down his nose till he got restless and had them operated on. Those were the days when they used to fasten a crochet hook under the internal rectus muscle and cut it a little with a pair of optical sheep shears. The effect of this course was to allow the eye to drift back to a direct line; but this man fell into the hands of a drunken surgeon who cut the muscle too much, and thereby weakened it so that it gradually swung past the point it ought to have stopped at, and he saw with horror that his eye was going to turn out and protrude, as it were, so that a man could hang his hat on it. The other followed suit, and the two orbs that had for years looked along the bridge of the terra cotta nose, gradually separated, and while one looked toward next Christmas with fond anticipations, the other loved to linger over the remembrances of last fall.

This thing continued till he had to peer into the future with his off eye closed, and vice versa.

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It is needless to say that he hungered for the blood of that physician and surgeon. He tried to lay violent hands on him and wipe up the ground with him and wear him out across a telegraph pole. But the authorities always prevented the administration of swift and lawful justice.

Time passed on, till one night the abnormal wall-eyed man loosened a board in the sidewalk up town so that the physician and surgeon caught his foot in it and caused an oblique fracture of the scapula, pied his dura mater, busted his cornucopia and wrecked his sarah-bellum.

Perhaps I am in error as to some of these medical terms and their orthography, but that is about the way the man with the divergent orbs told it to me.

The physician and surgeon was quite a ruin. He had to wear clapboards on himself for months, and there were other doctors, and laudable pus and threatened gangrene and doctors’ bills, with the cemetery looming up in the near future. Day after day he took his own anti-febrile drinks, and rammed his busted system full of iron and strychnine and beef tea and dover’s powders and hypodermic squirt till he wished he could die, but death would not come. He pawed the air and howled. They fed him his own nux vomica, tincture of rhubarb and phosphates and gruel, and brought him back to life with a crooked collar bone, a shattered shoulder blade and a look of woe.

Then he sued the town for $50,000 damages because the sidewalk was imperfect, and the wild-eyed man with the inflamed nose got on the jury.

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I will not explain how it was done, but there was a verdict for defendant with costs on the Esculapian wreck. The man with the crooked vision is not handsome, but he is very happy. He says the mills of the gods grind slowly, but they pulverise middling fine.

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