ページの画像
PDF
ePub

many cases of ague too, and, of course, people had their own troubles to attend to. The result was, that we were in a sad case enough. Oh for one of those feminine men, who can make good gruel, and wash the children's faces ! Mr. Clavers certainly did his best, and who can more ? But the hot side of the bowl always would come to his fingers—and the sauce-pan would overset, let him balance it ever so nicely. And then—such hungry children They wanted to eat all the time. After a day’s efforts, he began to complain that stooping over the fire made him very dizzy. I was quite self-absorbed, or I should have noticed such a complaint from one who makes none without cause ; but the matter went on, until, when I asked for my gruel, he had very nearly fallen on the coals, in the attempt to take it from the fire. He staggered to the bed, and was unable to sit up for many days after. When matters reached this pitch—when we had, literally, no one to prepare food, or look after the children—little Bell added to the sick-list, too—our physician proved our good genius. He procured a nurse from a considerable distance; and it was through his means that good Mrs. Danforth heard of our sad condition, and sent us a maiden of all-work, who materially amended the aspect of our domestic affairs. Our agues were tremendous. I used to think I should certainly die in my ten or twelve hours' fever— and Mr. Clavers confidently asserted, several times, that the upper half of his head was taking leave of the lower. But the event proved that we were both mistaken; for our physician verified his own assertion, that an ague was as easily managed as a common cold,

by curing us both in a short time after our illness had assumed the intermittent form. There is, however, one important distinction to be observed between a cold and the ague—the former does not recur after every trifling exertion, as the latter is sure to do. Again and again, after we seemed entirely cured, did the insidious enemy renew his attacks. A short ride, a walk, a drive of two or three miles, and we were prostrated for a week or two. Even a slight alarm, or any thing that occasioned an unpleasant surprise, would be followed by a chill and fever. These things are, it must be conceded, very discouraging. One learns to feel as if the climate must be a wretched one, and it is not till after these first clouds have blown over, that we have resolution to look around us— to estimate the sunny skies of Michigan, and the ruddy countenances of its older inhabitants as they deserve. The people are obstinately attached to some superstitious notions respecting agues. They hold that it is unlucky to break them. “You should let them run on,” say they, “till they wear themselves out.” This has probably arisen from some imprudent use of quinine, (or “Queen Ann,”) and other powerful tonics, which are often taken before the system is properly prepared. There is also much prejudice against “Doctor's physic;” while Lobelia, and other poisonous plants, which happen to grow wild in the woods are used with the most reckless rashness. The opinion that each region produces the medicines which its own diseases require, prevails extensively,–a notion which, though perhaps theoretically correct to a certain ex

tent, is a most dangerous one for the ignorant to prac. tise upon.

These agues are, as yet, the only diseases of the country. Consumption is almost unknown, as a Michigan evil. Indeed many, who have been induced to forsake the sea-board, by reason of too sensitive lungs, find themselves renovated after a year in the Peninsula. Our sickly season, from August till October, passed over without a single death within our knowledge.

To be sure, a neighbour told me, not long ago, that her old man had a complaint of “the lights,” and that “to try to work any, gits his lights all up in a heap.” But as this is a disease beyond the bounds of my medical knowledge, I can only “say the tale as 't was said to me,” hoping, that none of my emigrating friends may find it contagious:—any disease which is brought on by working, being certainly much to be dreaded in this Western country!

[ocr errors]

The house's form within was rude and strong,
Like an huge cave hewn out of rocky clift;

[ocr errors]

And over them Arachne high did lift
Her cunning web, and spread her subtle net,
Enwrapped in foul smoke, and clouds more black than jet.
SPENCER.—Faery Queene.

It were good that men, in their innovations, would follow the example of time itself, which, indeed, innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived.—BAcon.

It was on one of our superlatively doleful ague days, when a cold drizzling rain had sent mildew into our unfortunate bones; and I lay in bed, burning with fever, while my stronger half sat by the fire, taking his chill with his great-coat, hat, and boots on, that Mr. Rivers came to introduce his young daughter-in-law. I shall never forget the utterly disconsolate air, which, in spite of the fair lady's politeness, would make itself visible in the pauses of our conversation. She did try not to cast a curious glance round the room. She fixed her eyes on the fire-place—but there were the clay-filled sticks, instead of a chimney-piece—the half

consumed wooden crane, which had, more than once, let our dinner fall—the Rocky-Mountain hearth, and the reflector, baking biscuits for tea—so she thought it hardly polite to appear to dwell too long there. She turned towards the window : there were the shelves, with our remaining crockery, a grotesque assortment and, just beneath, the unnameable iron and tin affairs, that are reckoned among the indispensables, even of the half-civilized state. She tried the other side, but there was the ladder, the flour-barrel, and a host of other things—rather odd parlour furniture—and she cast her eyes on the floor, with its gaping cracks, wide enough to admit a massasauga from below, and its inequalities, which might trip any but a sylph. The poor thing looked absolutely confounded, and I exerted all the energy my fever had left me, to try to say something a little encouraging. “Come to-morrow morning, Mrs. Rivers,” said I, “and you shall see the aspect of things quite changed ; and I shall be able to tell you a great deal in favour of this wild life.” She smiled faintly, and tried not to look miserable, but I saw plainly that she was sadly depressed, and I could not feel surprised that she should be so. Mr. Rivers spoke very kindly to her, and filled up all the pauses in our forced talk with such cheering observations as he could muster. He had found lodgings, he said, in a farm-house, not far from us, and his son's house would, ere long, be completed, when we should be quite near neighbours. I saw tears swelling in the poor girl's eyes, as she took leave, and I longed to be well for her sake. In

« 前へ次へ »