Dr. Davenport

Damon Runyon

Dr. Davenport was a wonderful man.

He came to Our Town fresh from medical college, and opened an office.

He soon had a great practice.

Dr. Davenport had some money of his own, and he never sent a bill for his service to anybody that he knew was a little pressed, trusting them to pay him when things got better for them.

So, of course, nobody ever paid Dr. Davenport.

Often he took care of hospital bills out of his own pocket.

Everybody said Dr. Davenport was a great philanthropist and a fine man.

The only patients that ever got statements from Dr. Davenport were those he knew could afford to pay, but very few of them ever remembered to settle with him, because they knew he had a little money and would never press them.

Dr. Davenport was a gentle, kindly soul. He always spoke well of everybody.

His charity saved many lives in Our Town.

When the depression came on, it wiped out all of Dr. Davenport’s resources and left him without a dime. He was greatly surprised at this, as he had always been accustomed to having a little money whenever he needed it.

He decided to collect some of what was coming to him, and looking over his books he discovered that he had $123,876.70 outstanding after fifteen years of practice in Our Town, much of it due from well-known citizens.

So Dr. Davenport sent out a few bills, though he hated to do it. In fact, he felt embarrassed about it. Those who received the bills were not embarrassed. They were only surprised. They threw the bills in the wastebasket and forgot all about them at once.

Things got pretty bad for Dr. Davenport. In fact, he was almost starving. He went around looking seedy, and forlorn, and most people said it served him right for being such a bad businessman and not attending to his affairs better.

Then one morning, Dr. Davenport got up very early, and borrowed a six-shooter from a friend on the police force, and went around to the citizens who owed him money, and told each and every one that he would blow their heads off if they did not pay him at once.

Dr. Davenport had $6,876.70 in his pocket by nightfall and was able to eat his first square meal in nine months, but he never had much standing in Our Town afterward, as the better class would not patronize him.

They said a doctor who expected to get paid for his services must be crazy. The seventy cents Doc Davenport collected from Mrs. Gabe Wheeler, whose husband, Gabe Wheeler, had borrowed the money from Dr. Davenport seven years before to buy Rough-on-rats, which Gabe took himself.

Mrs. Wheeler always felt grateful to Dr. Davenport for that, even though she had neglected to pay back the money.