Section 2: Illness & Recuperation
I studied real hard that summer -- I believe more hours than any member of the class. I could soon get longer and better lessons than any but Dilateur. He was smarter to learn Latin than I was. Toward the end of the Term, Hall had a close fight to hold his place in the class and I got to like him, but the Worrells and I never were friendly.
There was no manual labor there that amounted to anything. A pretense of running the farm by the students was kept up, but I mind of doing very little work and I know I studied faithfully. During that summer I learned to swim in the Lehigh. Some of the older students got to manufacturing laughing gas. I inhaled, I think, twice. It made my head ache and I have never tried it since.
Along about August bilious fever broke out in the College. One of my roommates named Morton got it. I frequently sat up with him, and when I did I read Latin sometimes all night, and next day the class would be surprised at how well I could read long lessons, and I got credit for being far smarter than I was for I did not enlighten them about my night studies -- and I bestowed many a triumphant sneer at my friends the Worrells.
Horton grew worse; several others were down. I was working hard for my fall examination. Suddenly word came that the cholera had reached New York and in a few days many were dying. About that time my roommate, Horton, died. The evening he was buried I felt so unwell I could not attend his funeral. That evening the cholera reached Easton and two or three Irishmen died in a few hours' sickness. Next day Dr. Swift came to see me and told me I had the bilious fever. My recollection of the next three weeks is misty -- emetics, calomel and flighty dreams, all in a confused mass. Dr. Swift was an old and skillful physician. With a good constitution and plenty of physic he ran the fever out of me. I mind of falling asleep one forenoon and I heard nothing till after the middle of the day. No one was in the room -- nurses were scarce and I put in several sick nights alone, but that day when I woke I had a strange feeling. I never was as happy in my life. It seemed to me all the world had sat down to rest, and there was no more trouble in life. As I got more awake, I knew there was a change. I put my hand to my forehead and my skin was moist. While I lay wondering what was the matter, Dr. Swift came in and rubbed his hand over my face, then took a sharp look at my tongue, laughed and said, "You are well. All you want is something to eat", and he went off and got me food. Then I had nothing to do but get well.
My tutor, Mr. McCoy had about as bad a time as I had and lay sick at Dr. Jankin's. He had got to be very friendly with me during the summer and as he grew better he wanted me for company. I had not seen a female face while I was sick, but during my convalescence one day a knock was heard at my door and Mrs. Jankin came in (she had a good motherly face), and in her kind way pitied me till I came within an ace of blubbering. But she made me go with her in their carriage - - I did not know where, but took me home with her, and no Mother could have been kinder than she was to Charley and me. They lived over in the town.
At that time there was a large society of young ladies in Easton, as well as older ones, and we saw a good deal of company and I improved very fast. In the short time I was there, I formed a profound respect for Mrs. Jankin and loved her as a Mother. My tutor was very friendly -- though older, when alone together he was as much a boy as I was; but my cheeks were filling up and the young ladies began to look too pretty for me to stay longer. So I got in the stage at 1 o'clock one morning and started home. That night at 11 P.M. I was in Harrisburg -- weak, tired and hungry. I rested there a day and on the 4th day of November, just one year from the day I left, I rode up the valley and received a warm welcome from those around my Father's hearth.
I found home an excellent place to recuperate, but as I grew fat, my hair fell out. Although a new crop soon started out, I think it has never been so thick, healthy or curly since. My two older brothers have good heads of hair yet, while mine is grey and very thin amounting to baldness.
There was beautiful Indian Summer weather that fall after I went home, and Uncle John Oliver, my brother Oliver and I visited our friends the Pattersons in Tuscarora. We went on horseback, crossed the Juniata River below Meyersburg and struck into Humphreys Gap and followed a path and blind road right through the mountains and came out in the evening in the valley near where the Reverend Mr. Coulter lived, where we stayed all night. Next day we went down to Uncle John Pattersons' where we found, besides the old people, two boy cousins, Robert and John, and four girls, and there were several married and gone. We were royally entertained. The girls were Betsey, Mollie, Isabella and Jane. They were nice looking young ladies. Jane was about eighteen and I fell a little bit in love with her. She was smaller than the others, but decidedly pretty. We were escorted across the valley to farmer John Patterson's and found another house full of cousins. Uncle John went home in a day or two and Oliver and I stayed several days. I recollect of my Cousin Jane with one of the other and older girls escorting me away across the fields to hear a little Scotchman play the bagpipes. Well, it was a very pleasant visit and we started home and I never saw Jane since.