Story type: Essay
If there be one thing above another that I revel in, it is science. I have devoted much of my life to scientific research, and though it hasn’t made much stir in the scientific world so far, I am positive that when I am gone the scientists of our day will miss me, and the red-nosed theorist will come and shed the scalding tear over my humble tomb.
My attention was first attracted to insomnia as the foe of the domestic animal, by the strange appearance of a favorite dog named Lucretia Borgia. I did not name this animal Lucretia Borgia. He was named when I purchased him. In his eccentric and abnormal thirst for blood he favored Lucretia, but in sex he did not. I got him partly because he loved children. The owner said Lucretia Borgia was an ardent lover of children, and I found that he was. He seemed to love them best in the spring of the year, when they were tender. He would have eaten up a favorite child of mine, if the youngster hadn’t left a rubber ball in his pocket which clogged the glottis of Lucretia till I could get there and disengage what was left of the child.
Lucretia soon after this began to be restless. He would come to my casement and lift up his voice, and howl into the bosom of the silent night. At first I thought that he had found some one in distress, or wanted to get me out of doors and save my life. I went out several nights in a weird costume that I had made up of garments belonging to different members of my family. I dressed carefully in the dark and stole out to kill the assassin referred to by Lucretia, but he was not there. Then the faithful animal would run up to me and with almost human, pleading eyes, bark and run away toward a distant alley. I immediately decided that some one was suffering there. I had read in books about dogs that led their masters away to the suffering and saved people’s lives; so, when Lucretia came to me with his great, honest eyes and took little mementoes out of the calf of my leg, and then galloped off seven or eight blocks, I followed him in the chill air of night and my Mosaic clothes. I wandered away to where the dog stopped behind a livery stable, and there, lying in a shuddering heap on the frosty ground, lay the still, white features of a soup bone that had outlived its usefulness.
On the way back, I met a physician who had been up town to swear in an American citizen who would vote twenty-one years later, if he lived. The physician stopped me and was going to take me to the home of the friendless, when he discovered who I was.
You wrap a tall man, with a William H. Seward nose, in a flannel robe, cut plain, and then put a plug hat and a sealskin sacque and Arctic overshoes on him, and put him out in the street, under the gaslight, with his trim, purple ankles just revealing themselves as he madly gallops after a hydrophobia infested dog, and it is not, after all, surprising that people’s curiosity should be a little bit excited.
After I had introduced myself to the physician and asked him for a cigar, explaining that I could not find any in the clothes I had on, I asked him about Lucretia Borgia. I told the doctor how Lucretia seemed restless nights and nervous and irritable days, and how he seemed to be almost a mental wreck, and asked him what the trouble was.
He said it was undoubtedly “insomnia.” He said that it was a bad case of it, too. I told him I thought so myself. I said I didn’t mind the insomnia that Lucretia had so much as I did my own. I was getting more insomnia on my hands than I could use.
He gave me something to administer to Lucretia. He said I must put it in a link of sausage and leave the sausage where it would appear that I didn’t want the dog to get it, and then Lucretia would eat it greedily.
I did so. It worked well so far as the administration of the remedy was concerned, but it was fatal to my little, high strung, yearnful dog. It must have contained something of a deleterious character, for the next morning a coarse man took Lucretia Borgia by the tail and laid him where the violets blow. Malignant insomnia is fast becoming the great foe to the modern American dog.