Ten Days in a Mad-House
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Nellie Bly, posing as "Nellie Brown," went undercover to investigate the deplorable conditions of insane asylums. Her memoirs of this event form the basis of "Ten Days in a Mad-House," which forever changed the way the world looks at treatment and housing of the insane.
little indiscreet, that they young doctor only meant kindness to me. He came forward, seated himself on the side of my bed, and put his arm soothingly around my shoulders. It was a terrible task to play insane before this young man, and only a girl can sympathize with me in my position. "How do you feel to-night, Nellie?" he asked, easily. "Oh, I feel all right." "But you are sick, you know," he said. "Oh, am I?" I replied, and I turned by head on the pillow and smiled. "When did
chunks of bread and bits of scrap meat, completed our company. The door was guarded by two female attendants. One was clad in a dress made of bed-ticking and the other was dressed with some attempt at style. They were coarse, massive women, and expectorated tobacco juice about on the floor in a manner more skillful than charming. One of these fearful creatures seemed to have much faith in the power of the glance on insane people, for, when any one of us would move or go to look out of the high
visitor comes in. This keeps up the appearance of careful and good management. The patients who are not able to take care of themselves get into beastly conditions, and the nurses never look after them, but order some of the patients to do so. For five days we were compelled to sit in the room all day. I never put in such a long time. Every patient was stiff and sore and tired. We would get in little groups on benches and torture our stomachs by conjuring up thoughts of what we would eat
after ten days in the mad-house on Blackwell's Island. CHAPTER XVII THE GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION. SOON after I had bidden farewell to the Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum, I was summoned to appear before the Grand Jury. I answered the summons with pleasure, because I longed to help those of God's most unfortunate children whom I had left prisoners behind me. If I could not bring them that boon of all boons, liberty, I hoped at least to influence others to make life more bearable for
expression, be liable to "give myself dead away." So I insisted on sitting on the side of the bed and staring blankly at vacancy. My poor companion was put into a wretched state of unhappiness. Every few moments she would rise up to look at me. She told me that my eyes shone terribly brightly and then began to question me, asking me where I had lived, how long I had been in New York, what I had been doing, and many things besides. To all her questionings I had but one response--I told her that I