- Project Runeberg -  The story of San Michele /
55

(1929) [MARC] Author: Axel Munthe - Tema: Medicine
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did Petrarca’s Laura, Mary Queen of Scots and Le
Roi Soleil. Poor Jack! Our friendship lasted
to the end. He had been ailing ever since
Christmas, his complexion became ashy grey, his cheeks
hollow and his eyes sank deeper and deeper into
their sockets. He became restless and fretful,
was losing flesh rapidly, and soon a dry, ominous
cough set in. I took his temperature several
times but had to be very careful for, like children,
he was apt to break the thermometer to see what
was moving inside. One day as he sat on my
lap holding on to my hand, he had a violent fit of
coughing which brought on a slight hæmorrhage
of the lungs. The sight of the blood terrified him,
as is the case with most people. I often noticed
during the war how even the bravest Tommies
who looked quite unconcerned at their gaping
Wounds could grow pale at the sight of a few
drops of fresh blood. He lost more and more his
appetite and could only with great difficulty be
coaxed to eat a banana or a fig. One morning I
found him lying on his bed with the blanket
pulled over his head, just as my patients in the
Salle St. Claire used to lie, when they were tired
to death and sick of everything. He must have
heard me coming for he stretched out his hand
from under the blanket and got hold of mine. I
didn’t want to disturb him and sat there for a
long while with his hand in mine, listening to his
heavy irregular respiration and to the phlegm
rattling in his throat. Presently a sharp fit of
coughing shook his whole body. He sat up in
his bed and put his two hands to his temples in a
gesture of despair. The whole expression of his

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