Адаптация текста, комментарии и словарь О. Н. Прокофьевой
© Прокофьева О. Н., адаптация текста, комм. и словарь
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It is a good thing, perhaps, to write for the amusement of the public, but it is a far higher and nobler thing to write for their instruction – their profit – their actual benefit. It is the only object of this article.
If it helps to restore the health of one sufferer among my race, to bring back to his dead heart again the quick, generous impulses of other days, I shall be rewarded for my work.
Having led a pure and blameless life, I believe that no man who knows me will reject the suggestions I am about to make, out of fear that I am trying to deceive him.
Let the public do itself the honor to read my experience in curing a cold and then follow in my footsteps.
When the White House was burned in Virginia, I lost my home, my happiness, my constitution and my trunk.
The loss of the two first named articles was a matter of no great consequence, since a home without a mother or a sister, or a distant young female relative in it, who remind you that there are those who think about you and care for you, is easily obtained.
And I did not care about the loss of my happiness. I was not a poet, and it could not be possible that melancholy would stay with me long.
But to lose a good constitution and a better trunk were serious misfortunes.
On the day of the fire, my constitution succumbed to a severe cold.
The first time I began to sneeze, a friend told me to go and bathe my feet in hot water and go to bed.
I did so.
Shortly afterward, another friend advised me to get up and take a cold shower-bath. I did that also.
Within the hour, another friend told me that I had to “feed a cold and starve a fever.”
I had both.
I decided to fill myself up for the cold, and then let the fever starve a while.
I ate pretty heartily; once I went to a stranger who had just opened his restaurant that morning. He waited near me in respectful silence until I had finished feeding my cold, when he asked if the people in Virginia were much afflicted with colds?
I told him I thought they were.
He then went out and took in his sign.
I started down toward the office, and on the way met another friend, who told me that a quart of salt water, taken warm, would cure a cold in no time.
I hardly had room for it, but I tried it anyhow.
The result was surprising; I must have vomited three-quarters of an hour; I believe I threw up my immortal soul.
I believe, warm salt water may be a good enough remedy, but I think it is too severe. If I had another cold, and there was no way out but to take either an earthquake or a quart of warm salt water, I would be glad to choose the earthquake.
After the storm in my stomach I went back to handkerchiefs, as had been my custom in the early stages of my cold, until I came across a lady who said she had lived in a part of the country where doctors were scarce and had from necessity learnt to treat simple “family complaints.”
I knew she must have had much experience, for she seemed to be a hundred and fifty years old.
She mixed a variety of drugs and instructed me to take a wine glass full of it every fifteen minutes.
I never took but one dose; that was enough.
Under its influence, my brain showed miracles of meanness, but my hands were too weak to execute them. Like most other people, I often feel mean, and act so, but until I took that medicine I had never felt proud of it.
At the end of two days, I was ready to go to curing again. I took a few more remedies, and finally drove my cold from my head to my lungs.
I got to coughing, and my voice fell below Zero. I spoke in a thundering bass two octaves below my natural tone.
My case grew more and more serious every day.
Plain gin was recommended; I took it.
Then gin and molasses; I took that also.
Then gin and onions; I added the onions and took all three.
I detected no particular result, however, except that I had acquired a breath like a buzzard’s.
I understood I had to travel for my health. I went to Lake Bigler with my comrade reporter, Adair Wilson. My friend took all his baggage with him, consisting of two excellent silk handkerchiefs and his grandmother.
I had my regular gin and onions along.
We sailed and hunted and fished and danced all day, and I treated my cough all night.
But my disease continued to grow worse. A sheet-bath was recommended. I had never refused a remedy yet, and it seemed poor policy to start then.
It was done at midnight, and the weather was very frosty. My breast and back were bared, and a sheet (there appeared to be a thousand yards of it) soaked in ice-water was put all around me.
When the chilly rag touches one’s warm flesh, it makes him feel sudden violence and gasp for breath just as men do in the death agony. It stopped the beating of my heart. I thought my time had come.
Never take a sheet-bath – never.
When the sheet-bath failed to cure my cough, a lady friend recommended the application of a mustard plaster to my breast.
I believe that would have cured me, if it had not been for young Wilson.
When I went to bed, I put my mustard plaster – which was an eighteen-inch square – where I could reach it when I was ready for it.
But young Wilson got hungry at night, and ate it up.
I never saw anybody have such an appetite; I am confident that he would have eaten me if I had been healthy.
After a week at Lake Bigler, I went to Steamboat Springs, and besides the steam baths, I took a lot of the worst medicines ever created. They would have cured me, but I had to go back to Virginia, where, in spite of the variety of new remedies I took every day, I managed to aggravate my disease.
I finally went to San Francisco, and the first day I got here one lady told me to drink a quart of whisky every twenty-four hours, and a friend recommended precisely the same.
Each advised me to take a quart – that makes half a gallon. I plan to do it or perish in the attempt.
Now, with the kindest motives in the world, I offer for the consideration of patients the course of treatment I have lately gone through. Let them try it – if it doesn’t cure them, it can’t more than kill them.