Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/200

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under ten years of age were less liable to the disease than those who were older, and, when stricken, easier to coax back to life, his mortality list was very much less than our own.

“With our first deaths we would send for him to come up the hill and perform the last rites over the poor fellows, but, as our lists grew, we abandoned even this. Why I escaped at the time I do not know, unless it was by sheer force of will. I have always believed that the mind has such positive influence over the body that if you can keep it working you can arrest the progress of any disease—certainly long enough for the other forces of the body to come to its aid. So when I was at last bowled over and so ill that I could not stand on my feet, or even turn on my bed, I would have some one raise me to a sitting posture and then I would deliberately shave myself. The mental effort to get the beard off without cutting the skin; the determination to leave no spot untouched; the making of the lather, balancing of the razor, and propping up of the small bit of looking-glass so as to reflect my face properly, was what I have always thought really saved my life.

“What I started to tell you, however, hap-