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PAGE 5

"Man Proposes–"; The Story Of A Man Who Wanted To Die
by [?]

“Jove! I’m hungry,” he said as he dressed himself.

“I expected to find you mighty sick,” his friend exclaimed, wonderingly. “I slept cold all night.”

“It seems I didn’t catch it that time. I must be stronger than I thought.”

He ate a hearty breakfast, and, although he tramped the hills all day in the snow and cold, watching himself carefully for signs of approaching illness, he was disappointed to discover none whatever. At bedtime he repeated his performance of the night before, but with the same result. When he awoke on the second morning, however, he found the desert town wrapped in the dark folds of a fog that chilled his marrow and clung to his clothing in little beads. It was a strange phenomenon, for the air was bitterly cold and yet saturated with moisture; mountain and valley were hidden in an impalpable dust that was neither fog nor snow, but a freezing, uncomfortable combination of both.

DeVoe hugged the fire all day, saying to his guest: “You’ll have to do the trick alone, Butler; it’s too deucedly unpleasant sitting there in the cold every night. I’ll get sick.”

“It’s not very agreeable for me, either, and the least you can do is to keep me company. That’s the agreement, you know.”

After some argument DeVoe acceded, saying, “Oh, if you want me to hold your hand while you freeze I suppose I’ll have to do it, although I can’t see the use of it.”

That night when Murray had regained his cheerless room after taking his Turkish bath he drank a goblet of raw whisky, then flung wide the door, and, standing upon the sill, half nude and gleaming with perspiration, inhaled the deadly Poganip. When the fiery liquor had driven the last drop of his hot blood to the surface he seized a bottle of alcohol and, upending it, drenched his body. If he had suffered previously, he now endured supreme agony. As the alcohol evaporated upon his naked skin it fairly froze the blood he had forced up from his heart’s cavities. He groaned with the pain of it. Again he felt as if his body were coating with ice; his lungs contracted with that agonizing grip.

“This is too c-cold for me,” DeVoe chattered, finally. “I’m going to beat it.”

As Butler Murray cowered and shook in his bed an hour later he decided that his third and final effort had succeeded, for not only did he plainly feel the effects of that terrible ordeal, but by every law of nature and hygiene he was doomed. He had drunk the whisky to increase the peripheral circulation of his body to the highest point, then by the use of the alcohol had reduced his temperature to a frightful extent and driven his blood back, frozen and sluggish. That was inevitably suicidal, as the least knowledge of medicine would show; it could not be otherwise. He was very glad, too, for this suffering was more than he had bargained for.

He awoke in the morning feeling none the worse for his action. He did not even have a cold.

DeVoe’s amazement at this miracle was mingled with annoyance which he showed by complaining: “See here, Butler, are you kidding? You might at least have a little consideration for my feelings; this suspense is awful.”

“My dear fellow, I’m doing all I can.” Murray filled his chest, then pressed it gingerly with his palm. There was not a trace of soreness; his muscles lacked even a twinge of rheumatism.

* * * * *

That day he had another window cut in the wall of his room, immediately over his bed, and, after exposing himself as usual upon retiring, left it open and slept in the draught. Finding that this had no effect, he undertook to sleep without covers, but the bitter weather would not permit, so he purchased drugs and, after returning from his Turkish bath, swallowed a sleeping-potion. When he could no longer keep his eyes open he lay down nude and dripping where the frigid wind sucked over him. Some time, somehow, before morning he must have covered himself, for he awoke between the sheets as usual. With the exception of a thick feeling in his head, however, which quickly wore off, he possessed no ill effects.