Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/498

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The flat-boat men who often contract the ague during a week's delay in a Southern inland port, need no quinine by the time they reach New Orleans, a week or two of chill night-camps on the open river having cured them as effectually as the first November frosts cure the chlorotic city-dweller.

For direct refrigeration a sponge-bath is more effective as well as less disagreeable than a wet-pack; though an air-bath, before an open window (under cover of night) is preferable to both, if the strength of the patient is reduced by a protracted ague or injudicious medication. In obstinately sultry weather an ice-pack will afford almost immediate relief—a pailful of crushed ice, stuffed into linen bags and wrapped for a few minutes around the neck and arms, or around the wrists of a bedridden patient.

"Stuff a cold and starve a fever" was, in regard to fevers, at least, not a bad plan, when "stuffing" implied a monster dose of beef and beer. But the want of appetite which characterizes all febrile affections is properly defined as only an abhorrence of calorific food—flesh, hot soups, and greasy made-dishes. The mere sight of such comestibles is enough to aggravate the sick-headache that precedes yellow fever and follows an ague-fit, and, when the idea of food has become closely associated with visions of smoking grease, the voice of instinct is apt to be in favor of total abstinence. But that protest is always accompanied by a passionate craving for cooling drinks, which easily connives at an admixture of solid nourishment, after a refrigerating diet has once been tasted in the form of cooling fruits. Cold sweet milk, whipped eggs with a drop of lemon-flavor, a sherbet of ice-water, sugar, and orange-juice, offered to the rebellious stomach of a fever patient, are not only tolerated, but absorbed with an almost conscious satisfaction. Fruits, however, rank first among the dietetic febrifuges of Nature, especially tropical fruits. "Under the exhaustion of a blazing sun," says Sir Emerson Tennent,[1] "no more exquisite physical enjoyment can be imagined than the chill and fragrant flesh of the pineapple, or the abundant juice of the mango, which, when freshly pulled, feels almost as cool as ice-water. . . . It would almost seem as if plants possessed a power of producing cold, analogous to that exhibited by animals in producing heat. Dr. Hooker, when in the valley of the Ganges, found the fresh, milky juice of the mudar (calotropis) to be but 72°, while the damp sand in the bed of the river where it grew was from 90° to 104°."

With a biscuit or two, a sliced pineapple, two or three bananas or a couple of oranges, will make a sufficient meal; and in very warm weather bananas alone would do for a couple of days, for the nutritive value of saccharine fruit is generally underestimated; our next relatives, whose digestive organs are a close copy of our own, are exclusively frugivorous, and withal the most active and indefatigable crea-

  1. "Ceylon," p. 121.