Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/497

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

uct of that complex cause, either by flight to a colder climate, or by adopting a less calorific regimen. The latter expedient is the cheaper, and generally the shorter and safer one; and in no other disease is the remedy more clearly indicated by the promptings of instinct. The premonitory stage of yellow fever is characterized by an intense longing for refrigeration: fresh air, cold water, cooling fruits or fruit extracts. The fever-dreams of an ague-patient are crowded with visions of tree-shade and mountain-brooks. Even "chills" are often accompanied by a burning thirst; and during the cold stage of an intermittent fever the temperature of the system is actually higher than during the sweating stage; according to Dr. Francis Home, respectively 104° and 99°.

In the first place, remove the patient to the airiest available room in the house. The art of house-cooling seems to have been lost with the ancient civilization of Southern Europe. There is not a room in the narrowest alley of the Naples Jew quarter where open windows and ten cents' worth of ice would fail to lower the temperature from twenty to thirty degrees below that of the outer atmosphere. Create a draught, and if possible a cross-draught, without fear that the admission of air from a sun-blistered courtyard, for instance, would make the room equally uncomfortable; the thermal contrast itself will create an air-current, and that draught will be cooler to the feeling than stagnant air of an actually lower temperature. The shade of a leafy tree is never more grateful than when the surrounding fields tremble under the rays of a vertical sun. The evaporation of ice water, or even of common cistern-water, will greatly aid the good work. Pour it into flat basins, tubs, etc., and place them in the center of the room, or get a wheelbarrow full of unglazed bricks, that can be procured at any pottery, put them close together on the floor and sprinkle them from time to time with cold water. The water will soak into the porous mass and evaporate more rapidly than from an impervious surface. A bundle of bathing-sponges or a sheaf of bulrushes, suspended from the ceiling and sprinkled from time to time, will serve the same purpose; and, where ice is cheap, a dog's-day sirocco can be easily reduced to an April breeze.

But the best time to begin the refrigeration-cure is an hour after sunset. On this continent alone, the night-air superstition costs annually the lives of about fifteen thousand human beings; for at least one half of the thirty thousand North Americans who succumb every year to yellow fever, ague, and congestive chills, could have saved themselves by opening their bedroom-windows. In the jungles of our Southern Gulf-coast thousands of hunters and lumbermen breathe with impunity the air of the very swamps to whose neighborhood the city-dweller ascribes the summer epidemics. Their febrifuge is the cooling night wind, for here, as in the dyspeptic shopkeeper cities and consumptive factory-towns, each night labors to undo the mischief of each day,