Il mistero ✍️

IL MISTERO (prima parte)

Domenica 7 ottobre 1849, Baltimora – Washington College Hospital –

“Questa mattina, alle cinque, il paziente è deceduto. Da mercoledì 3 ottobre us, momento in cui è stato ricoverato delirante con brividi e allucinazioni, non ha ripreso conoscenza se non per brevi istanti, in cui ha pronunciato frasi sconnesse su una moglie che lo attende a Richmond e, la notte scorsa, ha ripetutamente menzionato un certo Mr. Reynolds.
Ha rifiutato di assumere un sorso d’alcool che gli era stato portato alle labbra e ha bevuto solo un po’ d’acqua, ma con gran difficoltà. Una reazione che potrebbe indicare idrofobia.

La causa del decesso tuttavia è ancora ignota: potrebbe dipendere da rabbia, delirium tremens, cardiopatia, epilessia, sifilide, meningite, avvelenamento o trauma per lesioni fisiche. Per il momento verrà semplicemente imputata a congestione cerebrale. Il paziente aveva poco più di 40 anni.”

Mercoledì 3 ottobre 1849, Baltimora.

Era da poco cominciato ottobre ma l’aria si era già fatta fredda. Gli aceri ai bordi di High Street si stavano tingendo di mille tonalità di giallo e di rosso rendendo il paesaggio simile alla tavolozza di un pittore.
La campagna elettorale indetta per designare il rappresentante dello stato del Maryland da inviare al Congresso era in pieno svolgimento, e questo aumentava la frenesia della già convulsa città di Baltimora.
Nodo ferroviario e importante scalo marittimo, pullulava di ladri, borsaioli e imbroglioni d’ogni sorta. A siffatti delinquenti ordinari in quel periodo si erano aggiunte bande elettorali organizzate che battevano le strade, soprattutto quelle intorno al porto, alla ricerca di individui da sequestrare e costringere a votare a ripetizione per un determinato candidato . Questa pratica coercitiva e fraudolenta era chiamata “cooping” cioè “ messa nella stia”. I malcapitati venivano infatti segregati in una specie di gabbia, drogati con una miscela di whisky e narcotici e poi costretti, anche con percosse, a votare più volte, cambiando vestiti per ingannare i funzionari di voto.
Quando non servivano più venivano rinchiusi nuovamente nella stia a smaltire l’intossicazione e lo sfinimento e, non appena sembravano tornati in sé, venivano sbattuti fuori.

Joseph W. Walker, tipografo del “Baltimore Sun”, stava rincasando sotto una leggera pioggia che aveva da poco preso a cadere, dopo aver trascorso qualche ora al bar con gli amici, per farsi qualche drink e discutere dell’argomento del giorno: le elezioni.
Lo scambio di vedute si era fatto molto animato quando qualcuno aveva tirato fuori dalla tasca un volantino distribuito dai Democratici in cui si metteva in guardia la cittadinanza dai brogli dei loro oppositori. Infatti i Whigs , i Repubblicani, venivano accusati di far ricorso a ogni sotterfugio pur di assicurarsi il successo, soprattutto in quella Circoscrizione, la Quarta.
Aveva appena acceso l’ennesima sigaretta, ripromettendosi che, se i Democratici avessero vinto, avrebbe smesso di fumare. Lanciò un pensiero anche alla moglie Susan, soffermandosi sul suo seno generoso e sulla morbida pelle che profumava di sapone. Chissà, magari avrebbe abbandonato per un attimo l’ago e il filo e si sarebbe dedicata un po’ a lui, prima che dovesse recarsi al giornale.

A un tratto scorse qualcosa sul marciapiede, all’altezza di Gunners Hall. Questa era una taverna irlandese, utilizzata anche come sede del partito Repubblicano della Quarta Circoscrizione, in cui si stavano svolgendo le votazioni. L’oggetto sembrava un mucchio di stracci abbandonato al bordo della strada.
Ma c’era qualcosa di strano in quei cenci. Avvicinatosi, notò che quello che da lontano pareva una massa informe era un uomo, avvolto in abiti sporchi e laceri. Il malcapitato delirava e sembrava in uno stato di estrema prostrazione.
Il tipografo si chinò per prestargli soccorso e notò che quegli abiti erano troppo larghi e lunghi per essere i suoi. L’aspetto di quell’individuo aveva un che di ripugnante: sotto una chioma arruffata e sudata c’era un viso sporco e contratto, con uno sguardo vacuo e la bocca che si muoveva di continuo, farfugliando parole incomprensibili. Gli parve di riconoscere qualcuno sotto quei lineamenti decomposti e deformati, ma non si soffermò molto a richiamare alla memoria dove li avesse già visti: doveva prestargli immediatamente soccorso. Fermò una carrozza di passaggio, vi caricò il corpo e chiese di essere portato al Washington College Hospital, in Broadway and Fayette Street.

1. Continua

NB : I translated the first part of my story into English very quickly: please let me know where I made some mistakes

THE MYSTERY


Sunday October 7, 1849, Baltimore – Washington College Hospital –


“This morning, at five o’clock, the patient passed away. Since Wednesday, October 3, when he was hospitalized delusional with chills and hallucinations, he did not regain consciousness except for brief moments, in which he uttered disjointed phrases about a wife waiting for him in Richmond and, last night, he repeatedly mentioned a certain Mr. Reynolds.
He refused to take a sip of alcohol that had been brought to his lips and drank only a little water, but with great difficulty. A reaction that could indicate hydrophobia.

The cause of death, however, is still unknown: it could be due to rabies, delirium tremens, heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, meningeal inflammation, poisoning or trauma from physical injuries. For the time being, it will be recorded as “congestion of the brain”. The patient was a little over 40 years old.”

Wednesday, October 3, 1849, Baltimore.

October had just begun but the air had already turned cool. The maple trees on High Street were turning a thousand shades of yellow and red, making the landscape look like a painter’s palette.
The election campaign to designate the Maryland state representative to send to Congress was in progress, increasing the frenzy of the city of Baltimore.
A railway junction and an important seaport, it was crowded with thieves, pickpockets and swindlers of all sorts. In that period, there were also organized electoral gangs who roamed the streets, especially those around the port, in search of individuals to kidnap and force to vote repeatedly for a particular candidate. This coercive and fraudulent practice was called cooping . The unfortunates were in fact segregated in a kind of cage, drugged with a mixture of whiskey and narcotics and then forced, even with beatings, to go in and out of poll after poll , voting over and over again. Their clothing were continuously changed to deceive the voting officials.
When they were no longer needed, they were locked up again in the coop to sober up and, as soon as they seemed to come to their senses, they were thrown out.

Joseph W. Walker, typographer of the “Baltimore Sun”, was returning home in a light rain that had just begun to fall, after spending a few hours at the pub with friends, to have a few drinks and discuss the topic of the day: elections.
The exchange of views had become very energetic when someone had pulled out of his pocket a leaflet distributed by the Democrats in which the citizens were warned against the fraud of their opponents. In fact, the Whigs, the Republicans, were accused of resorting to every subterfuge to ensure success, especially in that District, the Fourth.
He had just lit another cigarette, vowing to himself that if the Democrats won, he would quit smoking. He also thought of his wife Susan, lingering over her generous breasts and soft skin that smelled of soap. He hoped she would lay down needle and thread for a moment and she would devote her attention to him, before he had to go to the newspaper.

Suddenly he saw something on the sidewalk, near Gunners Hall. This was an Irish tavern, also known as Ryan’s 4th Ward Polls, used as the headquarters of the Republican party. The object looked like a pile of rags abandoned in a gutter.
But there was something strange about those rags. As he approached, he noticed that what looked like a shapeless mass from a distance was a man, wrapped in dirty and tattered clothes. He was delirious and seemed in a state of extreme prostration.
The typographer bent down to help him and noticed that he was wearing clothes that could not be his own. His appearance was a bit repulsive: His hair was dishevelled and sweaty, the face dirty and contracted, with a blank look and a mouth that moved constantly, mumbling incomprehensible words. He thought he recognized someone under those decomposed and deformed features, but he did not pause too long to recall where he had already seen him: that man was in great distress, and needed immediate assistance. He stopped a passing carriage, loaded the body into it, and asked to be taken to Washington College Hospital on Broadway and Fayette Street.

  1. To be continued

52 thoughts on “Il mistero ✍️

      1. LOL. I just checked the name in Wikipedia and the dates match. I’ll leave you to reveal the mystery. Have a lovely day. He does have a local connection to where I currently live.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Very imaginative, Luisa. I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on, but I’ll be thoughtful like the other commenters and won’t mention it. As to the English, I’m impressed with your English as a second language. I picked up a slight error. As to the cause of death: “For the time being (it) will be ( recorded as)….

    Liked by 1 person

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