THE VILLAGE, as the spring came, lost all its bleakness. Wrapped in soft airs, the blue sky feathered by fleecy clouds, the cottage gardens filled with the scent of honeysuckle and the hum of bees, the hillsides alive with the bleating of lambs, Tannochbrae became a sweet and pleasant place. Trout were leaping in the mountain burns, and whenever I had a spare hour I sought them with all the throbbing eagerness of an insatiable fisherman. I was happy in my work, becoming attached to my crusty old colleague, free, on my occasional day off, to travel to Glasgow to visit the girl I could not forget, who still was attending medical classes at the University. I even felt myself winning some faint signs of favour from our primly disapproving housekeeper when, unfortunately, I was involved in a serious and most worrying dispute.
An outbreak of scarlet fever had occurred in the district, starting in the month of May, a severe form of the disease, affecting chiefly the children of the village, and it showed no signs of abating in the ordinary way. As the days passed, and one case followed another despite all our efforts at treatment and isolation, I lost patience and told myself I must get to the root of the matter. Some specific factor was definitely disseminating the disease, and I pledged myself to find it.
At the outset I realised that I could expect little help from the public health authorities. At this time the post of medical officer of health to the county was vested in the person of Dr. Snoddie, a rather self-important practitioner who lived in the neigbbouring