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Sick Headache

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Cocks had crowed and hens liad cackled for a full hour at least. This was a world of scratching, they said to themselves, and eggs were not built in a day. Early to bed and early to rise makes fowls healthy and lively and wise. The robins in the apple-trees, the swallows in the barn, the little brown phcebes that held town-meetings in the Hieadow, had been piping and trilling that it was day, day, day, till they half expected to hear the noon bell ringing. The shy quail in the hedge-row had called their warning of "hot and dry, hot and dry," over and over, "to any ears that would listen. The spiders had long since hung out their glittering webs a-drying on the wild-rose bushes. The bells of the morning glory, blue and pink and purple, had swung for hours outside the buttery window, before the delinquent tiunt Larkin lifted the latch and entertd, not as her wont was, quickly, as with desire, but on leaden feet of dull resolve, and looking white as her own linen. There stood the row of milk-pails waiting to be emptied, to be washed, to be spread in the sun, already fierce and hot oatside. There was the long array of pana mantllng with yellow cream. There, in the corner, waited the exacting cliurn, the dasher leaning toward bet hand with what seemed a malevolent readiness. As she took up the skimmer the kitchen clock struck six. 'Oh dear,' sighed Aunt Larkin, " 'mornin' lost, evenin' closed.' " But when, with conscientious care, she had stripped the third pan of its rich abundance, she laid down her weapons, so to speak, and capitulated to the one foe able to conquer that resolved soul. 'Thanny,' she called, at the foot of the stairs. 'Yes, mother,' answered a cheerful voice from among the lilac bushes, and a brown curly head, set on the slender shoulders of young manhood, showed itself in the door-way. 'What, another of the evil brood ! Go straight to bed, mother. I'll go right over to Obadiah's Sarah. And I'll make you some tea, and manage my own breakfast. Don't you worry about me. But you see I was right, mother. You must have a girl. Sliall I help you up stairs Y 'Xo, dear. You just see to yourself. The cofïee's ready, and the bread's in the stone pot, and there's plen-ty of doughnuts, and a currant pie. and dried beef, and cheese o olie outtey and if you want to fry yourself a slice of meat, there's the fat in the red jar, and the veal's out in the spring'-house.' But though the mother instinct insisted on thus making the way easy for its young, human nature shuddered at this catalogue, and poor Aunt Larkin staggered to lier bed too horribly ill to speak again for hours. Sight and sound were alike dreadful. The swift jingle of the wooing bobolink swinging outside in the golden ropes of the laburnum pierced her sensitive ears like the steely clash of swords. And tlie droning hum of bees, plunging deep in the white sweetness of thesyringas, was as the bray of a trombone. Her heavy limbs ached, to ache the more as she tried to rest them in new positions. It seemed to her that the deadly nausea was in her feet, in her arms, in her spine - everywhere. That the entrance of any human being, even her beloved Thanny, would be unendurable, she knew. But oh, if some phantom, some invisible, inaudible agency would but turn the swivel of the blind, where a ray of abhorrible sunlight was already creeping m! IIow could she ever have let that bottle of Bohemian glass stand on her bureau, even though Thanny liad given it her, filled with cologne for lier poor head! lts vivid red seemed to sniite her through the cloud of dull pain above her brows. And if she shut her eyes, it did but glare the redder. Thanny brought her the tea, and it was vile. Presently Obadiah's Sarah carne creeping in with demonstrative quietness, in shoes that creaked and gown that crackled, to set down a tinkling tray by the bedside. Aunt Larkin, who would have mourned over a lie as over a lost soul, had she been capable of telling one, feigned sleep to dismiss that amiable vandal. But when she opened her eyes and saw the yellow butter, the deep blue plate, the brown toast, the red milk pitcher, the black earthen pot, she feit that sex alone,not gratitude nor Christian grace, bridled her tongue from profane and vain babbling. Meantime, Nature, who did not include sick headache, or any other mortal malady, in her scheme of existence, went about her usual business. The sun mounted higher and higher, cattle browsed, sheep fattened, buds blossomed, crops grew. Among these the plantage at the village academy flourished apaee. Here lay the daily toil of Mr. Nathan Larkin, assistant principal, a sensitivo, conscientious fellow, of indomitable will, loving work, and toiling to kindie in duller brains and lighter natures his own enthusiasm and his own resolve. ïhe Keverend Edward Grannis,D. D., Ph. D., L.L. D.principal of the Quaboag Seminary, being a tleman of phlegimtic temperament, much addicted to heavy dinners at noonday, was quite willing to let his esteemed young friend do most of the pulling of the doublé team, especially through the hard places, though simply for his own improveinent, of course. ïhus the youth, taking no rest, spending of his intense personality with prodigal readiness, inheriting from his mother a set of tense and swift-responding nerves, found himself beset, once a fortnight or so, by the same fiend, sick headache, which had devastated years of her useful life. He was young and heroic. Sometimes he could grapple with it, hold it still, and, thus hampered, go through the routine of his work after a dull fashion. Sometimes he yielded, Undergoing tortures greater than his mother's, as his imagination was more vivid. But, either way, he counted a month each year an unredeeined sacriflce to this Moloch. On this summer day he feit wonderfully alert and alive. The boys thought he made Caesar and Anabasis al most interesting, with his vivid sketch of the splendid life of the republic, and his showing up of hot-headed Cyrus, andcool, cruel, able Artaxerxes, "longmemoried" for his wrongs. But in secret he was much disquieted. For Miss Allis Putnam Was to come that afternpOHj and he feit that his poor mother would "worry" more than was needful. Not that he had not his own misgivings. A strong-minded young woman who had graduated first in her cl iss from the medical college, and walked the hospitals abroad for a year, who had written a prize treatise on some disgusting and sanguinary subject, and no doubt practiced vivisection, should be, to his thinking, though for quite opposite reasons, like Wordsworth's Lucy, "A maid whom there were none to praise, And very few to love." He fancied he knew how she would look: slight, sandy-complexioned, her light characterless hair very neat and wholly uninteresting, her dress very upright and uncomprowising about the biases, collars and cufts pnm and spotless - no "sweet neglect" about her, nor even 'th' adulteries of art," which notwithstanding Ben Jonson, he thought most bewildering. She was so distant a cousin that kinship had not made the invitation obligatory. But his mother had dearly loved lier mother, and when that gentle widow wrote that her dear Allis had returned, and that she longed to have her everbeloved Candace know her before she settled down to her profession, the ever-beloved andever-obliging Candace replied at once that the young traveler should be made welcome. A carava of unexpected guests could not upset Aunt Larkin's perfect order, nor flnd her garrison unprovisioned. But she conflded to Thanny that she "expected a girl't had lived to Paris would flnd their way of livin' dreadful old-fashioned and common." And he guessed that she secretly dreaded the incursión, as he did. Polite he would certainly be, but he thought he would move his books out to the stable loft, and live as little as possible at home while Dr. Allis remained. He wished women would keep to their own spliere, and let men's work alone. By the time the two sessions were over, the compositions inspected, all the school 'chores' done. and his face turned homeward, he w;is sure that he detested unwomanly women, and of these sinners he reckoned female doctors chiefest. As he opened the kitchen door, Obadiah's Sarah stood revealed, buxom, red-armed, good-natured, carefully straining aromatic broth inte a china bowl. ''Twas her notion,' she explained. 'I sliouldn't never have teched the best no, nor made the soup neither - 'thout tellin'. I took lier up the toast an' tea, 's you said, an' she never looked at 'em. But she said she must take suthin' an' she made it herself. You never see such a handy little thing. Myl L guess the full soul could eat that mess. Honeycomb's cloyin' alwuz. I never see the force of that tex'. An' she gave 1 er some sort o' revi vin' medicine 't didn't have no taste or sinell, 's fur 's I ses, an' she's a-setting up a'ready, an' sez her headache's most gone, aud I never knowed her out o' bed before in less'n two days, when 't really took holt oh her.' What meaning even so close a translator of difficult tongues as Mr. Nathan Larkin would have distilled from this speech may not be known. Por ;it this time there appeared in the.opposite door the most satisfaetory gloss imaginable. A fluffy head, all blonde curls, pufts, frizzes, he knew not wlnit; pink cheeks; laughing brown eyes; shining teeth; a eambric gown tüat might lutve awed him, liad it not even been more piel uresque t!iaa f ashionable; trim slippered feet beiieath its abbreviated crispness - behold the fcey to Sarah's voluble obscurity. 'I am Allis Putman,' said the planton of delight, coming forward, with frank hand out-stretched. 'and 1 beg your pardon for coming unannounced. But we found the late train did hot connect. And mamma said Aunt Larkin could not be taken at a úU;v.vantage. Having come, my professional no e snifïed action at once. Sarah was the beit of aasistj&ats' - shedding a brilliant smiie on that staring xeophyte, which KTathaa was iaclined to consider a waste of riches - 'and between us we have really set your mother on her feet again. Now L'm going to administer my next remedy, and then you may talji with her as long as : she'll listen. I think we can persuade her out on tJüs lovely veranda.' And the doctor disappeared with her savory brotli. 'Don't she beat all?' inquired the bustling Sarah, intent on the impending supper. 'Pooty's that wild rose, au' smarter 'n lightnin.' 'Taint strauge the old doctors, that jest look owlish, an' don't do no good, don't want women inter the business." ïbey'd steal the trade in no time. There's sour cream enough, an' I told her I'd make some tip-top flap-jacks for supper. 'Don't you take any extra steps for me, Sarah,' she says. 'I'm goin' to feast on brown bread an' milk while I stay.' ïhere ain't nothin' better 'n sour cream flap-jacks, but she's so 'f raid o' givin' trouble ! ïhat's whatlcalla real lady.' If Nathan guessed that the name of this extólled delight was written on Dr. Allis's Index Expurgatorius, he nevertheless ate bis own share with due satisfaction, and equally enjoyed the rich preserves, the fru.ty cake, the crumbling tarts, and the delicate, strong tea, set forth in the best china to honor the visitor, who, muoh to Sarah's disappointment, elected brownbread and milk after all. How it was brought about aeither Aunt Larkin nor ïTathan could have told, but Obadiah's Sarah, whuse Declaratiou of Independence has alwaya read thai she 'wouldn't lire out lor r.obody,' found herself permanently installed in that cool and spotless kitchen within three days of Doctor Allis's advent. Aunt Larkin having repeated for thirty years tliat she 'didu't see the sense of having a girl clutterin' round to piek up after,' and her son being accustomed to accept as tinal whatever domestic views liis mother promulgated, received the new dispensation with submission on the one part and rejoicing on the other. The doctor's luggage appeared to consist in great part of 'Franklin Square' novéis, and the infinite riches, in a little room, of tlie 'Ilalf-hour Series.' And when Xathan came home one af ternoon to lind his mother comfortably rocking in her large chair on the veranda, deep in the fortunes of the Greatest Heiress in England, instead of stirring up pancakes or making button-holes, he sáid to himself, 'Allis is a witch, bless her!' Yes, already it had gone so far that the unwoinanly doctor was 'Allis" to liim. And at tea this studious young sag'.% who spent all liis leisure in gardening among classic roots, announced thát as to-morrow would be Saturday, he was s u re they could do no better thsri to drive over to Bethesda Springs, all of them and spend an idle day in tlie great Vanity Fair. ïo-morrow it was Nathan'a turn. II is head was chained to his pillow with shackles ef pain. It was seasickness, he said to himself, without the palsy of the will. It was fever, without ttje blessed intervals of un:onsciousness. It was the rack, the ihumbscrew, the iron boot. If the 'aint stirrings of desire miglit be called ïope, he hoped his mother would not rescribe magnesia, or bring him lic dreaded 'cup o' tea.' By-and-by came Dr. Allis, with noiseess presence, cool hands, low volce.and wtent prescription. As the slow hours dragged on, the headache yielded grudgingly, irresolutely, with spasnis )f re-asserting power. Next day NTa;han was free frotn pain, but tired out and despondent. Sitting in the cool dusk of the honey-suckles, he said, 'I'd jive a third of my life, Allis, to buy off hese headaches from the rest of it. Sometimes I think they will shut me out from any career whatever. Can'L you cure them, little Galen 't' 'No, Herr Professor, not while you nvite them, solicit them, conipel them.' 'I, Allis? I don't give them an inch of vantage. I rise early, go to bed early, don't even smoke, and üght them ;o death when they come.' 'Nathan, I should like to talk to you 'or your good, though you'll hate me for it. You've half forgotten that 1 am a female doctor, and as a person I am less objectionable than you feared. 'Twere pity of my life to disturb this state of amity. Uut at lieart I'm professional above all things, and you see I cant advise your mother lest I seem disrespectful.' ' ' Lay on, Macduff.' I daré say I sluui't kiiow when I'm liit. And if I do feel 'the whiff and wind of your feil sword.' 1 won't whimper." ' Xathan, do you knovv that your ïuotlier killed those six children whose little graves she showed me to-day ?' 'All is!' 'Tes; although she would have died for any one of tlicm. And luit that you were well as flner libred, than the rest, you woukl have completod the hecatomb. Yourgrandinother, mamma says, was exacüy like your mother, all 'faculty,' energy and thrift. She would clean two rooms in a day - paint, Windows, and all- churu, get the dinner for a great family of 'uien folks,' take care of her children, and make a pair tf pantaloons before bed-time. Of course she was 'worryin',' with all lier nerves on the surface, and of course she had to bequeath to her girls this saine over-wrought mental and physical condition. Aunt Larkin, with less muscular strength than her mother, has emulated her achievements, and, half starved herself, has half starved her children, lirst, in their inhfiitaiice, and second, in their rearing.' 'Allis, you are wild. Mother, and giaodmother before her, made generous living a primal duty.' 'That's j ust what I smy, child. 'Geni livin' is sureto be setni-atarvation. You have had the fluest of bread, and deiicious fatal 'light biscirit,' and . and preserves, and pastry, and nis Bapjacks, and riek doughnuts, and incessant colïee, and salt fish friet! with pork scraps, aud heavy d dishes' veiled in film of fat, and ■ inoats fried, and saiisages, and spare-rib, spare-rib, toufours spare-rib. Wíl it luis your brain found in this J3ar ■ I e f east ? Wiiat food f or your delLcate, tense nerves? Do you think it any wonder tliat they collapse, as it . i'rom inanitioii tvvicea month or soy All your life you liave gorged yourielf (pardon the expression, batí am in a temper - professioiial,of course) pn hydro-carbonaceous loods, imposing monstrous basks on your rebeliious liver, whteh 'strikes,' and spreads disalïection throughout the ranks of its associates. You are starving for vital phosphates. Didn't you study pliysiology at school ? Perhaps you teach it, even, and what do you care for its sacred teaching? Yes, Imeansacred. There's a religión of tl ie body, let me teil you, imregenerate boy. I've no doubt you render into beautiful Euglish that story of Marsyas and Apollo, and what do you kuow or care about your own skin, that texture of miraculous SKUl i 1 ou reuil that Minerva sprang f'nmi the bram of Jove. Uut why Bhouldyou expect wisdom to beborn ('rom yours? Yon use it without mercy Sixteea honra a day. You are sub ject to that fata] drain wliich stupidity is ahvays maling upon cleverness. There's no vampire like it. You never play. Why don't you swiin, ride,dance, row, play base-balt, praetice archery, whist, and go to town every vacaüon for au instrucüve course of theatres?' 'When, Allis? Why, there isn't time. I leave out half the work I ought to do as it is." 'Ought! ought! Oh dear! how shall we stop the roll of that Juggernaut vvhich crashes all your race? You liave no pure joy in existence. It does'nt even seern that you have any love of life iCself. It's only usef ui for the woLk you can wring out of it. You make yourselves less than vour moods and tenses, less than our butter and eheese. Time! If there iSn't time to get vvell and keep wel], you'd better change for eternky, as you wil!, niy dear young friend, if yon Ám't reform. I know tliat the kind of headache wliich you and Aunt Larkin re cursed with never comes except with overwork and under feeding. 8he ra 1 it go on to suffer, poor thing, though less, I hope. But you can cure yourselí' if you will. Obey me, and you steaH hs a ñew man in a year, gi ving me tliat delight in your growing health which an artist feels in his growing picture.' ■Dear Allis, I abhorbran, and mother wüuld oever cook it.' 'Dear simpteton, wiio asked you ? No, TOi shall have delicious soups, and méats, and Balada of celestial Un. eage, and vegetables, and miik, and such bread as you Have never tasted, made of' flour whose whole valúa has not paid tribute to the miller.' ■But ObadiaU's Sarah-' 'Oh, yes she can. i'll teach her. We can do it all, and inore, if oaly you will uade your mother that it' is my lark, or your whim, or what yon wili, so that we do no; seem to subvert tlie law of generations, or reproach the oíd order with the new. Dou'c you see what a new creature she is, since I luive made her res) ? And when she says, plaintively, as in lier mouients of. rebellioa shO does, 'The house is not what il was' (if, peradventure, Sarah lias forgotten to s t tne salí box on the right hand of the sugar crock ustead of the leí't), I reply, 'Never mind, dear Aunt Larkin, tlie home is more. J)id you ever see Nathan so happy about you, as now that you tuck up your feet and read in tlie afiernootí, or go out riding with me y' And tiien she is silenced, and talces another turn at the Maid of Sker with vi íble satïsfaction. Do you soppose ánythiug in life wonld b her so happy as for you to esc ipe your headnelicsV And I have shosvu you the way.' 'Haviug put myself in yoiit hands, Dr. Putnam, I ambound to followyour prescription, [súppose. Tbe preserves shall niould upo tlieir slielves, tlie cake box shaU rust upon its hinges, flapjacks Erom henceforth be called accursed, and the majesl ic shades of Sylvester Graham and Dio Lewis command my obedience. "Slowly their phantoms arise before us, Ojr Liftior brothers, butnue iu bo.d, At tiBil aud lable they lor i it o'er us Wioh lo.iki of baauty au'l words ot good.' 'Admirable, Maatei Na than! I can stay two weeks longer to see my remedies in action, and then you are to he mi honor. At the Thanksgiving v.ication cune to town, and [ will administer tlie course of theatres advised, and measure your improvement. To-morrow aí'ternoon, if you picase, we wil] go to the top of tliat beautiful purple hill, up which you have not had the ciVility to invite ma As a young lady, .ind your guest, I could not, of course, tnention the oinisslon; bul as your physician, andina strictly medical manner, proceed to rectify it.' F rom that day a new king aróse over Egypt. No sparkling brook hid itself so cuaningly ainong the leaves tliat Nathan and Allia dld uot tind it in the long summer afternoona wlien work was done. No liill was too difficultfor their nimble feefc, no berry patch too far, no lily-bearing pond too inaccessible. Sometimos Aunt Larkta joined them in their frolic, wondering at herself for electing ay wlien work waited to be done, feeling herself apostate to the faith of her fathers, yet delighting to see her son so brown ;md liungry. Then Doctor Allis had to say goodby, and betake herself to town, évolving what she ealled her "office" ('rom a confusión of books, pictures, flowera, patterns óf waU puper, white muslin, and the spoils of her life abroad. VViien Nathan saw it, in November, bis notions of professional life for womcii niiderwent f urther disintegration. "Nothing could be more refined," he said to himself. 'My mother's house, even, does not look half so feminine." But if the eanny Mis. Putnani had expected that her pretty and professional daughter would establish herself' in another vocation when she sent lier on a missionaiy visit among the Franklin hills, hers was a hope deferred. For it was a year after this before the corresj)ondence, of w'nich a specimen is appenáed, enriclied the Department: UK TO HEK. " ■ . So I llave hoen offered the Professorship of the Classics at College. Willyou come too? I would not ask you while my lines were fixed at Franklin, wanting to leave you free to live your owu life of books and and work, which tliere you could not do. At , the society is delightful, aud I thiuk yon would be happy, li it is your wish still to practice your profession, I have uo more right, as I trust I have no more wish, to object thau you would have concerning mine. And, indeed, I hold that there is no nobler work in the workl than yours. Personally it would ill becoine me to limit your bsneficence. For know, Doctor Allis, that I have not had a vestige of sick headache in six months. I said 1 would give a third of my li fe to save the other two f rom its ravages. Take, O doctor, thrice the fee; Tike, I Kivaiteaaerlj; For, invisible to thee, Devils blue iiave gone from me. Does not tliis sound like a love-letter? If I do uot say I adore you with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, it is because you fouúd it out, as you foiuid out everything else about me, by witehcraft, I believe, inonths on months ago. And if I seem too jolly for the attitude of prayer I assume, it is because the hope of having you always lias gone to my brain (weakened, as who knows better than you, by intervals of agonizing pain from my birth,) and intoxicated me, as 1 with the mead of the gods. Would not 'Doctor Larkin' serve e vervend as well as 'Doctor Patnam' ? Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Ciesar. 'i use this form of entréaty ratlier than ano t her more familiar toDoets and lovers because you assured me that, before all things, you were professional. My little darling, I am hedged about with dangers. At the other day ] was even ofleredand preased upon with - Pie! IL I have a housekeeper, 1 doubt not that poiaonous compound will be daily on the table, and presently, in an unvigiiant moment, perhaps wlien I am lost in reilection onadoubtl'ul ictus, I shall fall! My lite, or at least my digestión, which in your view is more than Ufe, 1 lay at your feet. we are ncü tor country tolk, little Allis. I have bought a charming house at . and the reception room seenis to me paríicularly elig ble as an office. You shall have it on tho most favorable terins, and permanently, byaddressing at on e, Your devoted, K L.' SIIE TO HIM. 'Deae Sir: - My diagnosis is favorable. Your auramary of symptoma I iiiul satisfactory. No headachw in sij months; Gao 1. A cipacity to laugh over serious isues, and make the best of things, such as would have been impossible to you a year or so ago. Better. A hopeful, because gradually developed, sense of the necessity of obedience to your medical advrser In all things. Best, What you say of the advantage of the otli.'o you offer me has received my attention. I consider mysélf well placed, witha rapidly growing practiee. But as my greatest success has been in the relief of maladies of the nerves and digestión, and as a college tovvu is a settlementof dyspeptics, martyrs to sick headaches the temptation to enlargeknowledge in my aptjcialty is over-mastering. 1 will tharefore take the office on the terras proposed; resetving to myself the right to use it for boudoir, reception room, study, or private growlery for the prolessorof Gréek aad Latin at college, should it seem to me advisable. I will trouble you to Irive the key ready whenever I demand it; andremain, with recommendation to follow your treatmeot as previously advised, Truly yours, A. P. 'P. S. - It was üv. belief of the ancients thiit the liver was the snat of the affuctions. 'Tliis was some time a paradox, but iww the time gives it


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