Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/203

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

the respiratory organs; on the contrary, it strengthens them. Statistics show that lecturing and preaching savants outlive their graphic colleagues. In Carrollton, near New Orleans, I knew a hectic old Mexican banana-vender who was so short of breath that he had often to clutch the legs of his chair in his dire struggles for life-air, and who told me that every few days or so he had to hitch up his market-wagon, and bawl out his wares at the top of his voice, and for hours together—in order to ease his lungs. Intead of speaking in a whisper, consumptives should envy cattle-drivers, whose business gives them a plausible pretext for yelling.

The prejudice against after-dinner speeches is founded upon a more valid reason. Rest, mental and physical, is really a prime condition of a thorough digestion. Invalids, especially, need a liberal siesta, and a two hours' nap in the shade of a shelving rock can do no harm. Long, sultry afternoons, though, are unknown in the highlands, and before 3 p. m. the air will again be cool enough for any kind of outdoor sport. If the spring needs cleaning out, a wheelbarrow full of flat rocks from the next creek will turn it into a deep, limpid brunnen, where a pail can be filled at a single dip. On sunny days butterfly hunters may bag their game on every mountain-meadow. Grasshoppers can be flushed by the dozen, and make the best bait for brook trout. The rock-benches at the water's edge would invite to a prolonged session if other pastimes were not too tempting and numerous. There are raspberries and muscadines in the brake; farther up the woods are strewed with chestnuts, and the collector soon learns to find the little dells where they accumulate, like nuggets in the cavities of a California gold-creek.

It is astonishing how work of that sort makes the hours vanish, together with many evils which tedium is apt to aggravate: languor, spleen, and dull headache. But more wonderful yet is its effect on the disorders of the respiratory organs. Under anything like favorable circumstances the lungs are, indeed, the most curable part of the human body. With every inspiration the balm of pure air can be brought into contact with the thousand times thousand air-cells of the respiratory apparatus,[1] and, as we breathe about twenty times per minute, the panacea can be applied twenty-seven thousand times in twenty-four hours. Every day six hundred and eighty cubic feet of gaseous food circulates through the lungs of a full-grown man, carrying nourishment and restoratives to every fiber and enabling it to rid itself of its morbid excretions. The rapidity of the remedial process has more than once forced upon me the thought, "What persistent outrages against the health laws of Nature must it have required to make the lungs the seat of a chronic disease!"

  1. ↑ "It has been calculated by M. Rouehoux that as many as 17,790 air-cells are grouped around each terminal bronchus, and that their total number amounts to not less than 600,000,000 "(Carpenter's" Physiology, p. 507).