Today, the wagons ahead of us slowed and stopped, but we had no idea why. Travis Lark came galloping by, telling us that there was a peddler who wanted to show his wares. Captain Walsh said we could stop for a few minutes in case anyone wanted to make a purchase.
The man was dressed in fancy clothes, including a vest and top hat. His wagon was bright red and yellow, and it opened up on the side, like a little stage. We wondered, what in the world is this?
He said, “Folks, Dr. Xavier Zoren at your service. It is my pleasure to present to you an amazement, a wonder, a staggering demonstration that has confounded commoners and gentry alike.”
We gathered around.
Dr. Zoren continued. “My assistant, the lovely Flavia, will help me.”
A woman wearing a strange costume came from the side, pushing a large cage to the center of the tiny stage. The cage was covered with a green velvet cloth. She flipped the cloth back for us to see what was inside. A pitiful looking dog sat looking at us. He was so thin his ribs showed.
Dr. Zoren said in a loud voice, “Notice this unhealthy mongrel. Not one of you would want him in this condition.” He paused. “Fortunately, I have a regenerative syrup, a life-giving liquid, a restorative recipe, which will dramatically improve this animal’s condition, right before your very eyes.”
He held up a glass bottle containing a red liquid.
“Dr. Zoren’s Elixir of Life. This highly sought-out formula comes from the Rendini People of eastern Rambonia. Its medicinal powers are astounding.”
He poured some syrup in a big spoon and stuck it through the bars of the cage. The dog lapped it up hungrily. “See?” Dr. Zoren said. “This dog is eager to get well. He is weak, let me tell you. Even the sun hurts his sore eyes.”
His assistant, Flavia, flipped the green cloth back over the front of the cage, so the dog was hidden.
Dr. Zoren said, “My miracle cure, Elixir of Life, only takes a short while to work on small animals. It takes a few days on humans, but it will have the same healing effect on any one of you. It’s been known to cure rheumatism, arthritis, ringworm, sleeplessness, gout, headache, teething babies, and general malaise. It works on colic, dyspepsia, fungus, and—the swooning vapors.”
He snapped his fingers.
Flavia whipped the cover back, so we could see. The dog was fat and healthy! He held his head high, and his eyes were bright! We crowded forward. The dog was a beauty. He barked and wagged his tail.
Everyone gasped, including me. Folks started digging into their pockets to buy bottles of the syrup.
Dr. Zoren said, “They’re going like hotcakes, ladies and gents. Get yours while the getting’s good.” While he sold his elixir, Flavia pushed the cage off the stage, back into the wagon.
I took one last look at the beautiful dog, wishing he was mine.
A few minutes later, Dr. Zoren and his assistant were gone.
On our way back to the wagon, I said, “Pap, have you ever seen anything like that?”
He said, “I’ve seen a trickster in a monkey suit before.”
That made me mad. I said, “Didn’t you see how he healed the sick dog? Made him like new?”
Pap said, “Theodosia, some people will try any trick in the book to cheat you out of your money.”
Why does Pap have to be such a fuddy-duddy? Seeing is believing. Why can’t he believe?