I hopped the trolley to Kenton to spend the afternoon helping Susan with the quarantine. After I got off the trolley, I purchased thirty of the Extra Editions and handed them out to the families of the Cholera victims. Mostly because I wanted people to know about the seawater treatment, I figured that word about the pump water would spread quickly, and only a fool would drink from the pump now. My main worry was the people who had already consumed water before the dissemination of the broadsheet. The flux and the quarantine would prevent them from finding out about the treatment. It is hard to buy a newspaper if you can’t leave the house. Or get off the toilet.

It was a satisfying day, and I felt for the first time we had the potential to make a positive impact on the Cholera. People were getting the information they needed to treat and prevent the Cholera.

I made it back to the foot of Paul Bunyan, and for the first time in several days, there was a small crowd in the park, although most of the people were keeping their distance from the pump. I was happy to see no one was using the pump. There was also a newsstand, and the owner was waving a broadsheet, shouting “Oregon Journal Extra. Read about it here. Medical Society Challenge. Read about it here.”

I walked over and bought a paper. Like the River Weekly extra, it was a single sheet.


A Joint Statement from the Naturopathic, Homeopathic, Humourist, Eastern, and Chiropractic Societies

On Thursday, June 2nd, the River Weekly published an explanation of the Cholera: its cause and treatment.

There is no truth to their report. It is false news.

The Medical Societies are the only ones to know the one true cause and treatment of all diseases, including the Cholera.

Denying the true cause and treatment of disease offered by the Crown Medical Societies can only lead to more death and suffering.

We know the truth of the Cholera, and the truth has nothing to do with invisible so-called animalcules.

But how to disprove the absurd idea that animalcules in water are the source and cause of the Cholera, now that the lie has become widespread?

Today, at 7 p.m., the heads of the Crown Medical Societies will meet at the Kenton Park pump and drink the water straight from the purportedly polluted pump.

Our continued good health will be proof that the “facts” presented in the River Weekly are preposterous.

We invite the citizens of Portland to join us and witness the truth.

As I finished reading, there was a tap on my shoulder, and I turned to see John Bonham grinning at me. “Quite the show, isn’t it?”

I returned the smile. “It is.” I looked at my watch. Two hours to go before they driank the pump water. “Care to join me for dinner?” I asked. “It looks like we have some time to kill before the exhibition.”

“Sure,” said Bonham. “I could use a bite.”

We went to the Kenton Public House and took a seat on the patio where we could see the park. We ordered beer and food.

“I saw the River Weekly Extra,” said Bonham. “Amazing. I have never seen a wasp nest hit with such enthusiasm. I did not see your name anywhere, but I assume you had a role in its production?”

I shrugged. I was unwilling to describe my role in the Extra to Bonham. I could probably trust him, but my level of paranoia was too high. Probably not high enough.

“I understand,” he said. “The less said, the better.”

The beer arrived, and we touched glasses.


I took a long gulp and sighed. “So,” I said. “What’s in the bag?”

He had a large shopping bag. “A few things. Surprises for later. I think I will keep it under wraps for now.”

“Suit yourself,” I replied.

The next two hours were spent in idle conversation, mostly avoiding anything to do with the Cholera. As we talked, I kept an eye on the park. A large platform was placed next to the pump with five chairs and a podium on it. There were two rows of 10 chairs in front of the platform that was roped off. For the VIPs, I guessed. Starting about 6:15 the park began to fill until about five hundred people were standing in front of the platform. At 6:45, we paid the check and walked over to my favorite part of Kenton, at the foot of Paul Bunyan, to watch the presentation.

Blair Colvin joined us a few minutes before 7.

“You have certainly riled things up,” I said.

“I think you mean we,” he replied. “I was just the messenger. You provided the message.”

“Fair enough.”

“This should be interesting,” said Colvin, as we saw a group of people moving towards the platform. “Looks like the show is about to begin.”

At 7 o’clock precisely, six people walked on to the platform. Five took a seat while the sixth stood at the podium. She looked at a watch, held up a hand for the crowd to be quiet, and began to speak. She had a high, clear voice that carried clearly to the back of the crowd.

“My name,” she said, “is Emily Henry. I am the Under Secretary for the Homeopathic Society. Thank you all for coming tonight.”

There was a smattering of applause.

“The last two weeks have been difficult for the citizens of Portland, with those in the Kenton neighborhood, in particular, bearing the brunt of the Cholera. The cases continue to mount, and concern has been raised that the Medical Societies, who have been tasked with the health of the Empire, have erred in their understanding of Cholera.”

She paused and slowly swept her gaze over the audience.

“We are here today to prove that wrong. The Medical Societies have long been the bulwark against disease in the Empire. Homeopaths, Naturopaths, Humourists, Eastern Philosophers, and Chiropractors have worked tirelessly to provide the Empire with the best medical care in the world. Their understanding of health and disease is unparalleled. Today we will prove that their understanding of disease reigns supreme.”

She pointed to the seated people.

“Allow me in introduce the heads of each of the Societies. Maxwell Pettenkofer of the Homeopathic Society.”

As she announced each name, they stood, gave a slight bow, and sat back down.

“Tristan Redmond of the Naturopathic Society, Tobin Watkinson of the Chiropractic Society, Eleanor Kelliher of the Eastern Medicine Society and Elizabeth Cramond of the Humourist Society.”

There was another smattering of applause.

“I will now bring to the podium the honorable Maxwell Pettenkofer of the Homeopathic Society.”

Pettenkofer had a softer voice, but it still carried, tinged with a sneer. “Thank you,” he said to Mrs. Henry, and turned to the crowd. “We, the heads of the Medical Societies, are here this evening to disprove a recent newspaper article purporting that the cause of the Cholera are animalcules coming from this…”

He pointed at the pump. “… water pump.” He paused. “Nonsense. While it may seem to the uninitiated that the Medical Societies offer different causes and treatments for ailments, I assure it is not true. What we offer are diagnoses and treatments for the different manifestations of the one true cause of illness. Just like there are many ways to make a loaf of bread, there are many ways to diagnose and treat an illness. But it is still bread.”

“That,” said Colvin softly, “Makes zero sense. They are all different yet all the same. A baguette is no challah.”

He shook his head and made notes on a pad.

“Equally,” continued Pettenkofer. “We recognize when the health of our community can be threatened by a false Philosophy. Like the preposterous ideas that animalcules in water are causing the Cholera.”

“We.” He gestured at the seated heads on the platform. “Think that is foolery. As if following the Medical Philosophy provided by a mere…”

He grimaced.

“… newspaper could be of benefit. Hardly a source of the expertise needed to guide us in health and disease, an expertise that can only be obtained from the Medical Societies.”

“But, how to demonstrate the error of their ways? How to emphasize the authority of the Medical Societies. How to prove the…” He grimaced dramatically again. “… newspaper’s wrong?”  He paused and looked at the audience meaningfully.

“By drinking the water. We are going to drink the water, freshly pumped, to demonstrate its safety. Animalcules in the water cannot be a cause of the Cholera. Something so small, even if real, which they are not, could not cause such a massive flux. It defies understanding. Even if, by some remote possibility unknown to the Societies, there is some way this water could transmit the Cholera, and that is impossible, none of us will get the Cholera due to the effectiveness of our Philosophies. I, for one, am protected by a Choleric nosode. My colleagues by the application of their unique arts.’

“That’s having it both ways,” said Colvin.

With that, Pettenkofer produced a pitcher and five glasses. He walked over to the pump, filled the pitcher, then went back to the podium. He handed glasses to all the participants and filled them halfway.

He raised his glass to the sky.


And with that, they drained their glasses. As they finished, someone started yelling.

“Point of order. Point of order.”

It was Bonham. He had made his way to the podium and, while all attention was fixed on those drinking the water, he had walked up to the lectern. He continued to talk loudly and quickly.

“It was also noted that drinking water that had been boiled prevented the Cholera,” he said as he pulled something out of his sack. “I have here a burner that will rapidly boil a glass of water, which I will drink. While you get the Cholera, I will not.”

A move was made by security to get him off the stage, but the audience started to hiss. Pettenkofer gestured them to stop.

“It’s fine,” said Pettenkofer condescendingly. “Let him proceed.”

As Bonham set up his burner and quickly brought a sample of water to a boil, Pettenkofer continued.

“What he does will, of course, prove nothing. We will not get the Cholera, as there is no reason to suspect that the water contains the Cholera. And so, neither will he.”

Bonham finished boiling the water, blew on it for a while to cool it off.

“It’s hot,” he said, “And I can’t chug it.”

The audience laughed.

Then he sipped the glass dry, to applause from the audience, and he finished with a bow.

He made his way back to me, many in the crowd slapping him on the back.

“That was gutsy,” I said.

“I don’t think so,” Bonham replied. “And besides, like them, I need to have the courage of my convictions. You have to walk the walk, or in this case, drink the drink.”

“Just the same, I think that was courageous. Or crazy.”

As we talked, the heads of the Societies left the podium and walked off, and the audience dispersed.

“Tomorrow will be an interesting day,” I said.

“Indeed,” said Bonham. “We will know soon enough what will hit the fan. Blair and I are off for a pint or three, Care to join us?”

“No, thanks,” I said. “I’m tired. But have fun.”

I shook hands with Bonham and Colvin, thanked them both, and went home for the night.



  • Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, from 1990 to 2023. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His multi-media empire can be found at

Posted by Mark Crislip

Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, from 1990 to 2023. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His multi-media empire can be found at