Once upon a time, girls, there lived, as far away up among the bonnie Highland hills and shaggy forests above Beauly (Inverness-shire) a beautiful old lady and her husband Ian (pronounced Zean, please). They belonged to the clan Dannachie, being Robertsons of Struan. They were not considered extremely aged by their neighbours, for the wife was barely ninety-seven and her husband was only a hundred and one, and Scotchfolks, you know, who dwell among the heather and inhale mountain ozone, and the sweet balsamic breath of the pine-trees, who eat plain wholesome food and all that, can live as long as they please.
so one day, when Ian did not return from the forest in time for his
frugal one o’clock dinner, and the ghillies were sent in search of him
and found him, snuff-box in hand, seated at the foot of a pine-tree
dead, it was only considered an accident. It was winter, and the
beautiful spruce-tree branches were all pointing downwards with the load
of snow they bore; but as the roses never left the dear old man’s
cheeks, he was kept near to the fire rolled in blankets and rubbed with
whisky for six long days and nights before hope was given up. Then came
the wake and the funeral.
Well, this was my maternal
great-grandfather, and his wife, certain in her simple soul that she had
only to die in order to meet her Ian once again on a happier shore,
lived for many years after this. I think that the secret of long life in
this good and virtuous old couple lay in their love and respect for
fresh air and cleanliness, and the their mantle – or rather Highland
plaid – has fallen on me, their unworthy great-grandchild. Not that I
expect to have a long life, but just in order that I might breach yet a
while the doctrines of health to my GIRL’S OWN PAPER readers, I might,
Cleanliness, however, was a craze with the
old lady whom I have mentioned. No one, for example, dared ever to eat
with the same knives or forks or from plates, etc., appropriated to her
use alone. She had an easy-chair in which nobody ever sat but herself, a
Bible that she alone was allowed to use, and, still more strange, a
well of her own, with lid and lock and key, the water from which no one
else ever drank. But I don’t want my girls to be faddists, although as
regards hygiene it is better to err on the right side than the wrong.
Moreover, I wish my girls to be always fresh and happy because
healthful, and to live to ninety or thereabouts.
have no doubt that I have harped upon this string before now, and may
again, just to keep it fresh in the memory of our regular subscribers,
and by way of teaching the regiment of new girls that annually join our
SOME HINTS CONCERNING FRESH AIR.
air constantly renewed is quite as necessary to a healthful existence
as food itself, and those unfortunate girls who are confined to
office-stools or shops where this never exists soon deteriorate. They do
not develop well; they become weakly anaemic, and suffer from loss of
appetite, backache of a wearisome character, restless nights and
irregularities of every sort. I am sorry to add that the minds of such
girls are usually on a par with their bodies, and that scarcely even
religion itself suffices to keep them altogether in the right path. I
assure you that my heart bleeds when I think of all that these poor
lassies have to suffer and endure. But many of these mercantile offices
would like to have the windows open if their elders or superiors would
only permit it.
In Government offices it is just the
same, only for the most part worse. Some of our post-offices, fir
instance, are never ventilated, and when you enter one early in the
morning the air is of such a foul and ghastly nature that I verily
believe blue-bottle flies would drop dead if they came under its
influence. Instead of getting fresh air to breathe all day long, as they
ought to, these poor hard-worked girl-clerks, shopkeepers,
seamstresses, etc., only manage to get a puff of oxygen as they hurry to
or from their meals. Is it any wonder that – but there, I’m not going
to preach! If, however, girls value beauty of complexion and skin
generally, bright eyes and a happy disposition, they will endeavour to
obtain at night that of which they are bereft all day, namely fresh air.
Let them sleep in it, and this is easily done, as I will presently show
The lungs are, so to speak, a pair of bellows
which keep up the fires of life. In them the blood, which returns from
every part of the body vitiated by carbon or soot,is purified and sent
back to the heart, to be pumped out again by that marvellous organ to
supply all the needs of nature. Pure blood is supplied to the most
minute and uttermost regions of the body, and these make use of it and
its oxygen to warm the body and make up for waste of tissue. The blood,
darkened now by carbon, returns to the heart, and is sent thence to the
lungs to meet fresh air and be once more purified. You cannot see the
red or arterial blood circulating from the heart because it is so light
in colour, but you cannot look at hand or arm without noticing the veins
in which the black blood is rushing backwards to heart and lungs.
often hear of people being found dead in bed. A man or woman does not
appear at the breakfast-table, but this gives rise to no concern. “She
was rather late up last night,” someone may remark. “Let her rest.”
when the forenoon slips away and there are still no signs of the
sleeper, someone more anxious than the others goes to her bedroom door
and taps. No answer. Then alarm becomes more general and the door is
forced, to find that poor Miss or Mrs Blank sleeps
“The sleep that knows not breaking,
Morn of toil nor night of waking.”
And so the mourners go about the streets.
is usually about three or four in the morning that such an accident
occurs. This is the truth, but I have never heard anyone wonder why. If
you ask a medical man, he will tell you that at this hour the powers of
life are at their lowest ebb. This may be correct, but in all such cases
as I myself have investigated, I have found the bedroom almost
hermetically sealed, and believe that had the window been open and the
pure air been circling in the apartment, Miss Blank would not have died.
You see that in a close room nearly all the oxygen is
exhausted by four o’clock in the morning, and carbonic acid gas has
taken its place. There is barely enough pure air therefore to keep body
and soul together, and so the weakly one runs a very great risk. I think
that the sleep one gets in such a vitiated atmosphere is of no account
and very unrefreshing. It is a poisoned sleep of lethargy, such as that
which Greenland bears and other hibernating animals obtain, and which
reduces them to living skeletons before they emerge in springtime; but
these wild animals are possessed of a strength and a vis naturae that is not granted to human beings.
is another bedroom danger to which I must briefly allude. If one has
eaten too freely before going to bed, or of that which may create
fermentation, the stomach gets distended and presses against the heart,
causing the dreadful nightmares which, combined with the want of fresh
air, may end fatally. Concerning nightmares, I have heard it said that
if the wild bull you are chased by overtakes you, or if you do in that
terrible dream reach the bottom of the precipice over which you feel
yourself falling, you never wake again. There is doubtless truth in
It must be obvious, then, to the youngest girl
who reads this paper, that we cannot have health if we exclude fresh air
from the bedroom. I want you to remember too that fires in rooms use
the oxygen up and so do lamps and even candles, and that for this very
reason you are better to sleep in total darkness. The dangers of
bedrooms are very much increased by putting woollen list around the
edges of the door, of making use of that awful and deadly sand or
sawdust sausage-looking business either at the foot of the door or on
the windows. The want of ventilation in the bedroom is very apt indeed
to engender colds and to render the lungs themselves ready for the seeds
of consumption to be sown therein. You must understand the physiology
of this. It is not so much, then, on account of the extra heat of the
bedchamber as that the vitiated air renders the system weak; so a girl
that has passed the night in such an apartment is in a fit condition to
be attacked by any microbe that happens to be afloat.
THE BEDROOM’S VENTILATION.
I must inform you that the larger the apartment is the better, because
the greater is the space for oxygen. Therefore, the less furniture there
is in a bedroom the better, and no curtains should be hung either
around the windows or bed, nor should dresses be hung up therein. These
all harbour dust, and in the dust lives the microbes of almost any
disease you can name. But if the room you occupy is small and low in
ceiling, it is ever so much more unhealthy, and ventilation is
imperative. Ventilation is very simple. For instance, one pane of glass
may be taken out and a jalousied glass-work substituted, or the window
may be lifted about six inches, and the lower sash allowed to rest upon a
board that quite fills up the open space. The air, you see, thus gets
in only between the two sashes, and blows right up towards the roof,
thus mingling with the rising gases, and rendering them pure and
innocuous. Or the upper sash may be lowered and the space filled up with
a piece of framed perforated zinc.
But in summer keep
the windows wide open all the time, not a wee bit, mind you, but that
would mean a roaring draught, but widely, generously open. Your reward
will be a total disappearance of all languor on first getting up, the
rose tints on lips and cheeks, brighter eyes, and that calm contented
feeling which is never experienced by any but the strong.
SAVING UP FOR A HOLIDAY.
now at once to put by small sums for this. If you don’t think yourself
too old to put money in the savings bank, do so by all means, and little
by little your fresh air fund will mount up, and how very useful this
will be when you do get your summer or autumn holiday time will prove.
Try this scheme. Mind that pennies saved result in pounds gained.
NERVOUS AND WEAK.
am really putting the cart before the horse, because it is in the
weakness which causes the nervousness, and the symptoms of this trouble
are far too numerous even to name. This ailment is called neurasthenia
by medical men, a word compounded of two Greek ones, meaning absence of
strength in the nervous. It usually arises from want of proper food,
fresh air, and pleasurable exercise. Cycling girls who spurt or scorch
are subject to it, because they weaken or stretch their hearts. Overwork
won’t induce it, but work and worry will. Eating more than enough at
meal-times is a very common cause of neurasthenia, owing to the strain
on the internal system to get rid of the superabundance. A girl who is
fond of the table is always more or less in a state of fever, especially
if she uses much meat, flour puddings and sugar.
cases of this kind, the ignorant fly to physic and dose themselves with
tonics, which are most pernicious. The meals should be, breakfast at
eight or earlier, having taken a large glass of hot water half an hour
before it. Dinner at half-past twelve to one, a small cup of tea with
milk and sugar, but nothing to eat, at five, and supper at eight. A
light biscuit or two before going to bed, and a glass of milk will do
good if hunger is felt, or any gnawing sensation at the pit of the
stomach. You may drink if thirsty between meals, but a mere mouthful of
water with dinner is enough.