The esteemed medical personage Dr. H.R. Frillweed of Dropsy Lane, Wainscott, reports that he was on Thursday night awoken from his sleep by loud pounding upon his chamber doors. He was astonished to find without “a runtish, dirty boy, no more than 6 years old, clad in rags, gasping for breath” who bade him come quickly to the Wainscott Workhouse, as an inmate at that grim location had become dangerously ill.
Frillweed demanded of the child to explain why Master Finn Razorwire, Warden of the Workhouse, had not himself come to request assistance, and was told that Master Razorwire was “overcome with drink and could not be roused.” Hastily gathering his bloodletting equipment, Frillweed accompanied the young messenger back to the Workhouse, and there found a scene of squalor. Locating the sick child, little Charlie Tipp of Sag Harbor, who had been delivered to the workhouse by his parents in response to his “insolence and sloth,” Frillweed was dubious of the usefulness of medical science in improving the poor boy’s condition. Nevertheless, he bled the patient copiously and hoped for the best.