(A Monologue)

      John, John, wake up quick, Aconite has the croup! Yes, he was all right when we went to bed an hour ago but don’t you hear that dry, croupy cough? It’s suffocating him! Shut the window – temperature has dropped ten degrees in the last hour. He’s been in a draft. Hear that awful cough! Turn him on his back? He’s burning up with fever. Poor dear, he is so frightened and anxious.

      Don’t stand there! Do something! Call mother! For pity’s sake shut off that radio. Don’t you know music always makes Aconite worse?

      Lard and molasses! Why, mother! Lard is unhealthful – I always use Krisco and there hasn’t been any molasses in the house dear knows when – would sugar do? Listen to that awful cough. He’s in such agony that he can’t keep still an instant. John, what are you standing there for? Phone for the doctor! Oh dear, men are so helpless! No, no, mama’s little boy is not going to die, he’ll be better soon. How red his face is and he’s so hot! How hoarse he is!

      He wants to cough and can’t. Look, he is pointing to his larynx trying to tell us where the trouble is. Do turn on more light, John – you know Aconite is afraid of the dark. Oh, doctor, is that you? My little boy has taken a sudden cold, or maybe the terrible fright that he had yesterday is making him sick. I knew he would be sick after that fright. He always is. He is timid anyway. He was all right an hour ago! The cough woke him from a sound sleep at midnight. He thinks he’s going to die. See how hot and red and restless he is. He’s a sick boy, doctor – I hope you can save him.

      You know, he had a sun-stroke last summer. He fell asleep out in the meadow, in the sunshine. He has such dreadful headaches, congestion – his head feels full and heavy, as if everything was pushing out at the forehead.

      John, turn off some of that light! Have you forgotten that Aconite is sensitive to light? See how blood-shot his eyes are. Doctor, what makes his pupils contract and dilate? He had scarlet fever last winter, doctor, and he was dreadfully sick. The roof of his mouth was all dotted with eruptions and he was burning up with fever, just as he is now. He took cold and suppressed the rash. Then he was very restless and distressed – had to sit up straight in bed to breathe.

      John, give him a drink. What if you did just give him one, he wants another. No, don’t give him ice water, that makes him cough worse. No, don’t give him wine, it might relieve him out it might cause congestion and a haemorrhage. Don’t make him speak to you, John! Speaking makes the cough worse. Did you ever see such a terrible fever, doctor? No wonder his mouth is dry? See what a strong, hard pulse he has. See how his stomach draws in toward the spine when he breathes and every expiration ends with a hoarse cough.

      No, doctor, I wouldn’t call him a delicate child. When he is well he is very well. Even so, we have had a hard time keeping him. He was almost asphyxiated when he was born. He is always suddenly falling into some sickness or other. He had bronchitis when a baby, almost suffocated then. He barked his way through measles and when he had pneumonia, he coughed up bright red blood. It came up very easily. There was dullness on percussion. His fever was dreadful, he could hardly stand it. We almost lost him that time.

      He isn’t so restless now. His eyes are closing. Doctor, do you think he is dying? He’s only falling asleep? He is better? Doctor, do you really mean he is better? His fever has gone, his breathing is better, his cough has stopped. It is three a. m., doctor, are you sure he will be all right now? John, you show the doctor out, then go to bed. I’ll look after Aconite the rest of the night. Yes, mother, run along to bed. You need the rest.