As promised: more about tuberculosis and other breathing diseases.
Isabella has stopped at home outside of Colorado Springs. She names them only with —s.*
“I found the —s living in a small room which served for parlor, bedroom, and kitchen and combined the comforts of all. It is inhabited also by two prairie dogs,** a kitten, and a deerhound. It is truly homelike.”
The wife of the family walked her over to a boarding house, which they spent some time in that parlor talking to the landlady. Opposite Isabella is the door to a bedroom. It is open enough that she can see the people within.
“On a bed opposite the door a very sick-looking young man was half-lying, half-sitting, fully dressed, supported by another, and a very sick-looking young man much resembling him passing in and out occasionally, or leaned on the chimney piece in an attitude of extreme dejection. Soon the door was half-closed, and some one came to it saying rapidly, ‘Shields, quick, a candle!’ And then there were movings about in the room.”
All this time, Isabella says, the 7 or 8 people in the parlor talking and laughing.
In the bedroom, “I saw two large white feet sticking up at the end of the bed. I watched and watched, hoping those feet would move, but they did not; and somehow, to my thinking, they grew stiffer and whiter, and then a horrible suspicion deepened, and while we were sitting there a human spirit untended and desolate had passed forth into the night.”
And, indeed, that is what had happened.
The next morning, when Isabella entered the parlor, the landlady was wearing a “fashionable” black dress. “… and there, to my horror, not even covered with a face cloth, and with the sun blazing in through the unblinded window, lay that thing of terror, a corpse, on some chairs which were not even placed straight. It was buried in the afternoon, and from the looks of the brother, who continued to sob and moan, his end cannot be far off.”
* She’s usually happy to put a family name to a house, btw. This is out of character.
** as one does?