“The best sleep I’ve had for a week,” James answered. “I was dreadful tired last night. I feel better this morning.”

The ague is a fitful disease, and attacks its victims periodically, leaving them comparatively comfortable and strong on some days. James was really very comfortable on that morning—there was no visible appearance of the ague upon him—and he proposed to get up, dress himself, and look about the home that seemed more pleasant to him than ever. Returning to the kitchen, Mrs. Garfield prepared some simple remedy for him, such as pioneers were wont to administer to ague-patients. Pioneers were more or less familiar with the disease, and understood somewhat how to manage it. In severe cases a physician was called in to administer calomel—that was considered a specific at that time— until salivation was produced.

James was not comfortable long. On the following day a violent attack of the disease prostrated him completely.

“There’s a hard bunch on my left side, and pain,” said James to his mother.

“That’s the ague-cake,” replied his mother, on examining the spot. “That always appears in severe cases.” The name was given by pioneers to the hardness; perhaps physicians called it by some other name.

“You are pretty sick, my son,” continued Mrs. Garfield, “and I think you must have the doctor. Don’t you think you had better have the doctor?”

“Perhaps so; just as you think about it,” was James’s reply.

The physician of a neighbouring village was sent for, and he put the patient through the usual calomel treatment, salivating him, and really causing him to suffer more by the remedy than by the disease. For weeks the big, strong boy lay almost as weak and helpless as a child. It was a new and rough experience for James. It was the first sickness he ever had; and to lie in bed and toss with fever, and shake with ague, by turns, was harder for him than chopping wood or planning boards. But for the wise management and tender care of his mother, his experience would have been much more trying yet.

“How fortunate it was, James, that you came home when you did!” remarked his mother.

“It was so; thought I should have come home before long if I had been well,” replied James.

“Then you thought of giving up work on the canal?” continued Mrs. Garfield.

“Yes; I got about enough of it. Amos told me that I was a fool to follow such business when I am capable of something better,” replied James, dropping just a word concerning his interview with Captain Letcher.

“I should agree with Amos on that,” remarked his mother, smiling. “You knew that before.”

“If God saved my life on that night, I didn’t know but He saved it for something,” added James; another indication of higher aspirations that gratified his mother very much.

“If God did not save your life, it would be hard telling who did,” responded Mrs. Garfield. “None of us should be blind to the lessons of His Providence. It’s my opinion that the Lord didn’t mean you should go to sea, and so He headed you off by that monster of a captain.”

“Perhaps so,” James answered, in a tone that might indicate either indifference or weakness.

“If God answers my prayers, James, you’ll get an education, and be a teacher or preacher. My cup will run over when I see you in such a position.”

“What if I should be a lawyer?” remarked James.

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