Phosphorus lived on one street and Causticum lived on the next. They didn’t intend to be neighbors, but unfortunately, each had selected the fourth house from the corner, therefore their back yards came together, being separated by a fence only and that one fence bore witness to many quarrels. No one could tell just how the family feud began, but there were always plenty of chances to renew the quarrel. The ball of the Causticums was always flying over into the Phosphorus’ yard and the Phosphorus’ marbles were always slipping under the fence to the Causticum’s side. If Mrs. Phosphorus’ girl had the washing on the line, Mrs. Causticum’s girl would be sure to come out and clean the doormat. Mr. Phosphorus’ black cat promenaded down the fence and bristled his tail and arched his back at Mr. Causticum’s great black dog, who barked in return from his kennel. And so the sources of irritation multiplied.
The Phosphoruses were dark-haired and slim while the dark-haired Causticums were more of a rigid fibre. The Causticums were more of a rigid fibre. The Causticums are restless, active, always moving about, as Mr. Phosphorus says, always into some mischief, while according to Mr. Causticum, the Phosphorus children are too stupid and lazy to be roguish like his own merry little fellows.
One day, when the children were all in the yard at play, the unfortunate Causticum ball went over the fence and struck a little Phosphorus on the nose and mouth. Now the Phosphorus family are extremely hemorrhagic, and bleed from everywhere on the slightest provocation, and when the little Phosphorus caught the Causticum ball on the end of his nose, he proved to be no exception to the general rule and thin bright red blood freely flowed from his nose and mouth and continued so long that Mrs. Phosphorus despaired of stopping it.
When little Causticum saw where his ball had gone, he clambered over the fence to secure it, but on his hasty return, he stumbled and fell. it so happened that the Causticums were just as hemorrhagic as the Phosphoruses, only their hemorrhages were venous, while those of the Phosphoruses were arterial, and when little Causticum landed face down from his fall, dark blood immediately made its appearance from his nose. Mrs. Causticum didn’t have such a hard time as Mrs. Phosphorus in stopping the flow. But that wasn’t the end of it; Mr. Phosphorus, who was always on the lookout for an insult, was sure this was an intended one and demanded that Mr. Causticum should see that the Causticum children threw no more balls at the Phosphorus children who were playing peacefully in their own yard. Mr. Phosphorus, in his office had planned a nice little speech, in which he demanded an apology, but the moment he came into Mr. Causticum’s presence, he became so confused that he forgot what he was going to say.
The oldest son of each family had been cramming for the promotion examination at school and was suffering from brain fag. Each had been ordered by his respective physician to leave school and remain in the open air as much as possible. The result was a continued back door wrangle and the only peace the neighborhood had was during stormy weather when the Phosphoruses were compelled to stay indoors. The Phosphoruses can always tell when a storm is approaching. It makes them feel sick and stiff. The Phosphoruses, Rhus toxicodendron and Rhododendron families are the barometers of the neighborhood. The Causticums don’t mind a storm, it sometimes gives them a little facial neuralgia but otherwise they feel better in damp weather, but they have to be careful of a draft of cold air, for drafts of cold air have caused much woe in the Causticum family. One little fellow is partially paralyzed because he has been exposed to a cold wind. One little fellow is lame from shortening of muscles and drawing of tendons under the knee and one has been kept awake night after night by the drawing, tearing, rheumatic pains which would not permit him to keep still.
His friends Rhus toxicodendron and Pulsatilla expressed great sympathy for him for they know just what is was to have such severe rheumatic pains that they couldn’t keep still, but the little Causticum thought that Rhus and Pulsatilla couldn’t quite appreciate his rheumatism for their restless tossing about made them feel better, while he, although he couldn’t keep still, obtained no relief from motion.
The Phosphoruses are sensitive to cold also; they take cold easily and their colds settle on their chest; they don’t like it, for being slim-narrow-chested people and subject to hemorrhages, they fear the result, and no wonder for many of the family from way back have died of pneumonia or phthisis. Mr. Phosphorus who considers himself “as good as any doctor” usually treats the sickness of his family according to his own ideas. When the children begin to complain of rawness and burning in the trachea, larynx and chest, worse on coughing, painful, soreness extending all over the chest, and abdomen and when they have a hard, dry, exhausting cough, during which they hold on to the chest, the cough, during which they hold on to the chest, the cough is worse lying on the left side, worse in the evening, worse talking and laughing, worse in cold air, and an involuntary stool with the cough, then he begins to dose them. Mr. Causticum, who also prides himself on being a pretty good doctor, if he hasn’t studied medicine, thinks Phosphorus must be exceedingly stupid or he would just give the children a drink of water to stop that cough. Causticum thinks there is nothing like cold water for a cough, if people only knew it. When his children had whooping cough, he had stopped some of their hardest paroxysms by giving them a drink of water. Phosphorus was frightened when his children had colds and said he wouldn’t be fool enough to try water. Any one with any experience would know that water always made the cough worse, so he dosed and dosed them until they would have died if his neighbour Arsenicum had not come in and taken the cases in hand.
Mrs. Phosphorus had been an exquisite singer, but had taken cold which had caused inflammation of the vocal cords and hoarseness resulted. There was rattling with the hoarseness all of which was better from clearing the mucus from the throat. Phosphorus succeeded in reducing the inflammation but a hoarseness caused by paralysis remained which Phosphorus couldn’t relieve. Now Causticum was real good in hoarseness caused by paralysis of the vocal cords and could have cured her, but he wouldn’t touch a case that Phosphorus had failed in until after some one else had taken the case and invited him to do
Phosphorus thinks it’s no wonder that Causticum is good in paralysis, he has so much of it in his own family. After Mrs. Causticum was confined, she had no symptoms at all with the exception of inability to urinate from paralysis of the bladder. The Causticum children are constipated from paralysis of the rectum. One of the children has paralysis of the bladder and difficulty in urinating because he was obliged to retain his urine until school was out one day. One of the children has numbness of one leg and paralysis of the other. One poor little fellow starved to death because the oesophagus was paralyzed, while another died of paralysis of the brain. Causticum says that although Phosphorus may not have as much paralysis in his family as he has still he has enough to give him plenty of experience, if he only had sense enough to profit by it. The fingers of one of Phosphorus’ children are so paralyzed, he can’t feed himself and another has spinal paralysis.
It was strange how much the children of Causticum and Phosphorus resemble each other. Each had a child detained from school by brain fag. Causticum had a child which had paralysis of the rectum and bladder, while Phosphorus had a child with paralysis of the sphincters. Causticum had one with paralysis of the arm, and Phosphorus had one with paralysis of the fingers. Each had one with paralyzed vocal cords, and each had one that was lame from shortened tendons under the knee.
All had good appetites usually. The Phosphorus children desired cold food and drink, ice-cream and refreshing spicy things. The Causticum children liked smoked-meat, beer, cold drinks, and pungent things. Both disliked fresh meat, or sweet things. When hungry, the Phosphorus children feel faint, with nausea and anxiety about the heart, better from eating. When the Causticum children are extremely hungry, they have a headache until they get something to eat.
One day there was a great uproar in the back yard and when Mr. Causticum ran out to see what was the matter, he found his little girl on the ground in convulsions. The Phosphorus cat had had a misunderstanding with the Causticum dog and frightened the child. After that day she was subject to convulsions coming with a scream at night, during sleep. There were violent movements of the limbs, gnashing of teeth, fever heat, with coldness of hands and feet. After that day, chorea also developed. Mr. Causticum wanted to kill the Phosphorus cat, but Mr. Phosphorus insisted that if it hadn’t been for Mr. Causticum’s dog, there would have been no trouble. Mrs. Phosphorus was a sensitive hysterical woman and when she heard the life of her pet cat threatened, she fainted and recovered only to go into hysterical convulsions after which she was completely prostrated. Mr. Phosphorus thought he had enough trouble in his weak condition without having troublesome neighbours to deal with. But this time, the cold air had set him to coughing and he had to return to the house.
When Mrs. Causticum saw her child in convulsions, she almost fainted. She had the awful deadly sinking feeling like fainting, but did not lose consciousness. She soon had complete control of herself, however, for the sake of her child. One of the Causticum children had diphtheria. The doctor probably didn’t give him the right remedy, for it left him with post diphtheritic paralysis and complete loss of voice. Causticum took the case in hand and cured the child himself. In spite of all precautions, the contagion went over the fence to the Phosphorus mansion and one of the little Phosphoruses came down with it. He didn’t fare so well as the little Causticum. The adynamic character of the disease showed itself early. There was rapid prostration and threatened paralysis of the heart; but Phosphorus managed to pull him through all right, even though he didn’t know so much about paralysis as Causticum did.
Phosphorus has a weak stomach. He vomits everything soon after swallowing it. Ice water remains down until it becomes warm and then is thrown up. He has a weak empty feeling about 11 a.m. with pain in the stomach and pain in the back opposite the stomach, made better by eating. The pains in the stomach are made better by eating cold food, ice-cream, ice etc. Causticum is disgusted with any one who won’t refrain from ice-water and ice-cream when they are suffering from dyspepsia. Ice-water causes so much pain. Causticum has to be very careful of what he eats. Bread causes pressure, fresh meat causes nausea and waterbrash, coffee and acids seem to aggravate his symptoms. He has great burning in the stomach, severe pain and cramps in the pit of the stomach. It is sore to touch. Phosphorus also has great burning in the stomach. He drinks cold water, seems as though he couldn’t get enough but he throws it up again as soon as it becomes warm. Phosphorus has the cramps in the stomach also and severe cutting pains, cannot tolerate the least pressure. Both have sour vomiting and both vomit blood. When Phosphorus goes along the street, Causticum watches him stumble and stagger and diagnosis the case progressive locomotor ataxia and is thankful it is Phosphorus instead of himself who has the disease. He doesn’t know that his own disturbances of vision, his inability to always put his hands and feet in just the place he wishes, is but the beginning of the same trouble.
Causticum has much burning. It is almost everywhere and as though they didn’t have burning enough on the inside, the little Causticums are always burning their fingers. Phosphorus has great burning from his mouth down to his stomach, but he doesn’t let the Causticums know and when he sees their burnt fingers, he says they will be well prepared for what may come in the future. Mrs. Causticum wonders how Mrs. Phosphorus can be so foolish as to use cold applications to the head during headache when warmth makes the head feel so much better and Mrs. Phosphorus wonders how it is that Mrs. Causticum is so prejudiced against cold applications and insists upon warmth when she has the headache!.
And so the warfare goes on and so I suspect it will continue as long as one Causticum and one Phosphorus are left in this world with breath enough to continue it.