The Lives of Chang and Eng: Siam's Twins in Nineteenth-Century America

By Joseph Andrew Orser | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Over Their Dead Bodies

Chang Bunker died on the morning of January 17, 1874, a Saturday, about a quarter till five. He was sixty-two years old.

His brother had little more than two hours to live, bound irrevocably to his dead twin.

In the intervening years since his stroke almost four years earlier, Chang had regained some of his strength, enough so that the twins could get around their farms, each located in rolling countryside about four miles from Mount Airy, North Carolina, and about a mile and a half apart. Nevertheless, he remained stricken on his right—the side of his body that was closest to his brother. He took to heavy drinking and stayed in poor health.

On the Monday evening before he died, at his own home, Chang came down with a deep cold characterized by a harsh cough and a rattle in his lungs. By Wednesday the cough had subsided, though his labored and loud breathing continued and he perspired heavily. On Thursday, the brothers were scheduled to travel to Eng’s home, part of their long-standing habit of alternately spending three days at each household. But the weather that January was frigid, and the doctor advised him to stay indoors and not travel. His wife and brother also expressed concern. Nevertheless, despite his affliction, the freezing conditions, and Adelaide’s worries, Chang left his home on Thursday, riding with his brother in an open wagon to Eng’s place.

On Friday morning, Chang felt a bit better, but by evening his coughing fits had returned. After the rest of Eng’s family retired upstairs for the night, the brothers remained in the downstairs quarters, a lingering effect of Chang’s paralysis; he could no longer climb or descend steps easily, and so they stayed on the ground floors of their homes. On this night, Chang and Eng slept very little. Chang coughed violently and could hardly breathe when lying down. They went out on the side porch to have some water before returning to their room and building a large fire. Eng complained that he was sleepy, but Chang maintained that to lie down would kill him.

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The Lives of Chang and Eng: Siam's Twins in Nineteenth-Century America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - The Monster Now before Us 1
  • Chapter One - In and Chun 9
  • Chapter Two - Under Their Own Direction 37
  • Chapter Three - The Connected Twins 76
  • Chapter Four - Asiatic Americans 105
  • Chapter Five - Southern Curiosities 147
  • Chapter Six - Over Their Dead Bodies 174
  • Epilogue - The Past Rears Its Head 193
  • Notes 203
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 253
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