“Do you think General Lincoln might be knocked out of the field?” Shaman asked.
Dr. Barr shook his head sadly. “Not if it’s still war. There is no better prerequisite for re-election than war. “
In July the rains finally stopped, but the sun was like a copper disk in the sky and the prairie steamed and turned dry and brown. The measles epidemic now reached Holden’s Crossing, and Shaman was being brought out of bed to see a patient more often than not, even though the disease was less severe than it was in Rock Island. His mother said that the measles killed half a dozen people, including several children, at Holden’s Crossing last year. Shaman suggested that a massive incidence of the disease might induce partial immunity in the following years. He contemplated writing to Harold Meigs, his former teacher in Cincinnati, to ask what he thought of the theory.
On a windless evening, when the sultriness discharged into a thunderstorm, Shaman felt the vibrations of the violent claps of thunder and opened his eyes in bed every time the lightning flashed his room as bright as day. Eventually his tiredness got the better of him and he fell asleep, so hard that his mother had to shake his shoulder for a few seconds until he came to. Sarah held the lamp in front of her face so that he could see her lips. “You have to get up.”
“Anyone with measles?” He asked, pulling into his clothes. “No. Lionel Geiger is here to get you. “
In the meantime he had slipped into his shoes and went out. “What’s the matter, Lionel?”
“My sister’s little boy. He’s having an attack of suffocation. Always trying to take a breath and making an eerie noise like a pump not sucking in water. “