Camel sedative. Dose according to need.

From Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond (ch 12). I more and more understand the fame of the novel’s opening line – “Take my camel, dear.”

[Halide] and I looked at aunt Dot’s things, to see what she had taken with her. Her miscellaneous collection of medicine bottles was here; it was a largish collection, because she did not know what most of them were, or for what complaints, on account of chemists not caring to say more on the labels than “The Pills “, “The Tablets “, “The Mixture “, and other non-committal tides, so aunt Dot took a great many of these anonymous bottles about with her on her travels and ate and drank them at random when she ailed. She always said this anonymity was owing to chemists not being able to read the handwriting of the doctors who wrote the prescriptions, or understand the abbreviations of the Latin words used, so that they did not know whether they were making up the things prescribed or another set of things altogether, and thought it better that the labels should be non-committal. I once asked a doctor why he did not write better, and also in English, and put the words in full. He said that the patient might in that case understand it, which would not do. Chemists too think that this would not do, and that if a patient knew what he was taking it might even prove fatal, because of nerves, and the name of the remedy might make him guess what illness he had, which would prove still more fatal. For the same reason, nurses who take temperatures will not ever tell the patient what the thermometer says, because that too might end in death, so that people who like to know how they are getting on have to hide their private thermometers somewhere about them and take their own temperatures. Anyhow, aunt Dot had left her array of bottles and pill-boxes in her medicine bag, and I thought I would take them along with me and eat and drink some of them when I felt weak, and one would counteract another, so they would do no harm.

[and in the next chapter]

Then I went back to the camel and took it to the stables where it had lodged and gave it mash and root and things, and said, “Lie down. Go to sleep,” and it knelt down and chewed, and I thought that later I would give it something from a bottle that aunt Dot had among her medicines which was only labelled “The Mixture” by the chemist, but aunt Dot had written on it “Camel sedative. Dose according to need.” I thought that either she had never given the camel any of this stuff, or that the stuff was no good. However, I decided to give it a dose later, in case it made it stamp and kick and roar less in the night, as this annoys the people near it a good deal.

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