The Single Lens Microscope and the Discovery of Tubercle Bacillus
Falma de Médicis was the second-born son of Archduke Bruno.
Unlike Palle who was the eldest son and the heir to the de Médicis family, Falma would become the household Royal Court Apothecary in the future. So his father, Bruno, raised him in a very strict manner since childhood. It was so that Falma could withstand the heavy responsibilities of a full-fledged Royal Court Apothecary with sense of fulfillment.
He was allowed to handle dangerous medical herbs, and be in situations where he could get burned.
Falma would get so exhausted from his training in Divine Arts, that lasted from morning to evening, he ended up crying because he wanted to play.
It reached the point where he was already afraid to look straight into his father’s eye.
It was not a whip of love anymore, Bruno inadvertently became very strict to his own son. Therefore, his father stopped guiding Falma directly and left the training for pharmacology and Divine Arts to Eleonore Bonnefoy, Bruno’s most reliable and excellent disciple. Eleonore seemed to have trained him well. For the past several years, Bruno wasn’t able to directly keep an eye to Falma’s growth.
An apothecary tended to be close to the lives of their patient. Since it was most necessary for an apothecary to have an empathizing heart than skills.
It was the sincere face to face interaction with the patient that granted belief. Bruno neglected to make any effort to understand his son’s heart. Even in regards to his son’s thoughts or dreams.
Bruno didn’t know Falma very well.
Though, he still realized that the boy in front of him wasn’t the Falma he knew.
Bruno couldn’t remember when the change happened. He was deeply ashamed of it.
Bruno took out a notebook from Falma’s bag which was beside him. He flipped through the pages. Falma was separated by a wall of ice so he couldn’t stop his father from checking his notebook.
Bruno went pale.
Falma wrote down his notes in Japanese so nobody could read it. He regretted his blunder that his notes in the process of examining stained samples were unexpectedly snatched away.. Though, it didn’t change anything as his father couldn’t read Japanese. He also began to take all kinds of records of this world like the medical records of the servants he examined and the medication records. He also graphed a lot of examination data. Mathematical and chemical structural formulas would look like a cipher that resembles some kind of magic in his father’s eye.
“I will say it again. Who are you!”
In this world, there was a legend of a Changeling (child that was swapped).There was something like an evil spirit that will stealthily swap children. The swapped child was considered to be a child of a monster and not of a human. He suspected that Falma was a changeling because of the strange characters that was written and the use of Divine Arts without a wand. There was also a legend that if a changeling was discovered by a human, it would disappear into thin air.
He thought about risking his son’s life, but it wasn’t his son anymore that would disappear.
“This writing, what is it? this, and this, and this! Where did you learn this!”
“I acquired this knowledge of medicine in a dream I saw, on the day I was struck by the lightning, as well as the written characters.”
Falma cooked up an explanation, and his father bought it. It wasn’t necessarily a lie if he described his previous life as an event in a dream. If Falma didn’t explain, it would be troublesome if he was asked where he learned it, or what book it was written in as those could be searched.
“It was during the lightning strike huh?”
“Yes it was.”
In the dim compounding room, Falma took off his coat in order to show the scars on both arms. His father clearly saw it through the transparent ice wall.
“……The medicine god dwells in you.”
How did this happen? what kind of person was he? Falma doesn’t even know if he was still human. Because Falma had become silent since then, it indirectly transmitted to his father, and he affirmed it.
Unlike the father who had been striving day and night on the way of medicine, the son was blessed by the medicine god. His father didn’t have any choice but to follow the will of the guardian deity whom he couldn’t stop to love and respect.
“Dear father, please use this potion for her majesty. This is special medicine.”
If it was said that Bruno compounded the potion and the treatment succeeded, his honor would be maintained. He would also keep his position as the Royal Court Apothecary and would gain the favor of the Empress. Even if Falma didn’t meddle, it was better for his father to do so.
“You administer the medicine you made, Falma.”
His father shook his head a little bit to decline and solemnly told him.
“That is the pride and responsibility of an apothecary. The patient believed you because you staked your life for the medicine that they receive.”
Falma thought that his father was a true Apothecary. He truly realized how immature he had been.
Falma cancelled the ice wall with his right hand, held the potion, and went past his father out of the compounding room. He left a word to his father when passing by.
“Please leave it to me, father. I’m going to save you and her Majesty.”
This kind of tone was something his father had never heard from Falma before.
It was not the words of an arrogant boy, but he heard it like it was the words of a god.
Bruno bowed his head in silence, then fell down on his knees.
How could he stop Falma anyway?
Falma, with the potion in hand, appeared before the empress.
The empress was sitting up impatiently waiting for Falma to return. She held great expectations. She mustered her last drop of energy to return from the edge of death back to the land of the living.
“You’re late, her Majesty had been waiting. What happened to your father? Did he run away?”
The chief court physician, Claude, tattled. Claude thought that because Bruno wasn’t able to make a proper medicine, he didn’t consider the boy capable of any better. This was not child’s play. Claude was irritated that Bruno didn’t come back immediately and euthanize the Empress.
“I don’t mind that it took time, come closer.”
The Empress called Falma to come close. Since Falma was wearing a mask, he was spared from airborne infection. He approached without hesitation.
“For your information, my father did not run away. My father and I compounded this medicine for her Majesty. This is a new medicine, your Majesty.”
Falma had honored the work my father had done as an Apothecary until now, that was what I had conveyed to them.
Unsteadily walking over, Bruno appeared at that moment. The group of physicians looked at him with contempt for his inability to remonstrate his son’s intrusion but Bruno no longer wanted to stop Falma.
Besides, there was no way for him to stop Falma anyway.
Whatever Falma did with his hands from now on, Bruno would engrave it into his memory.
“Before I explain the efficacy of the new medicine, I want to show something to your Majesty. Will you cooperate for a moment?”
Falma held out a palm-sized metal tool respectfully before the Empress.
“What… is this?”
The Empress picked it up while ruminating. It was a small metal instrument. Falma once again took a sample of the Empress’ phlegm and stained it on the glass plate, he then set it on the metal plate of the instrument.
“Please observe the bodily fluids that I took from your Majesty with the instrument. Then, please look at the hole from a bright place… Like this.”
He opened the needle sized hole on the instrument and urged the Empress to bring her eyes close to it and peep through. Falma asked the chamberlain to open the window for ventilation and bring a lamp. The lamp was then placed below the instrument to guarantee some light.
The Empress was skeptical as she peeped.
“What is that? Are you mocking her Majesty!?”
The Chief Court Physician, Claude, shook his voice in anger.
“Wait, don’t be so noisy.”
The Chief Court Physician kept his mouth shut. The Empress’ attention was already absorbed on the small instrument…
“I see something visible.”
Falma could magnify his view with the [Diagnosis Eye], but it lacked details on the object.
Science could prove the existence of tuberculosis bacteria.
He had invited the Empress to the micro-world which no one from this world had seen yet.
What Falma had presented was a simple microscope with the simplest structure that had a pinhole, a glass ball, and piece of metal. The single lens microscope was the invention of Leeuwenhoek, it had sufficient performance even if it doesn’t have a good lens. An electrical system was not necessary at all, there are no lens tube as it was just a lens on a metal plate with a specimen holder, it was simple and very small at 5 cm.
Don’t underestimate the power of antiques. During Falma’s previous life, he was able to identify disease causing germs in countries without electricity, the microscope had about 200x resolution. You couldn’t say that the magnification was sufficient, but it had minimum performance.
The image that the simple mechanism showed unveiled the clear truth.
“Your majesty, do you know that rod like thing that keeps wriggling?”
Falma drew its shape in the air with his finger.
It was the mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Preventive measures are taken in Japan by vaccinating infants with BCG vaccine.
“That creature is the cause of the White Fatal Disease (tuberculosis). This organism is destroying your body, your Majesty.”
It was at that moment that all the people in the room knew that organisms called bacteria existed in this world.
“Everyone, please look at the instrument after her Majesty is done.”
The court physicians were fighting to look into the microscope. Until that time, the court physician thought that the smallest thing was what could only be seen by bringing it close to the eye. To their suprise, there was a world which couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. It was a fact that they couldn’t easily accept.
“Wha- what are these! Insects!?”
Claude twitched his face when he saw something repulsive wriggling.
“If necessary, I will create a blueprint and will also teach you how to build it.”
Falma didn’t have the intention to monopolize the microscope. With it, they would have a deeper understanding about the microorganism if they apply medical science.
“It should be noted that this is not a divine skill.”
Bruno’s hands were trembling when he peeped into it.
“What in the…”
He was lost for words. Humans were now allowed to peek at the world that only gods could see, that was the impression Bruno had. His whole body was overwhelmed by an unknown excitement.
Falma started to speak when everybody was observing the tuberculosis bacteria. He then prepared another slide glass with the tuberculosis bacteria sample, that was stained, that he set aside earlier.
The atmosphere had changed completely.
“I will now explain the treatment plan from here on out.”
Falma quickly took out the syrup and showed it to the Empress.
“As you have surmised, that organism is living inside the body of her majesty, the treatment is to completely kill it.”
In the presence of the Empress, the line of renowned court physicians froth at their mouth from too much shock. Bruno dropped down to his knees.
“This potion contains four types of special medicine. Each part of the medicine will prevent the organism from propagating and some parts of the drug will kill that organism. If it’s only one type, some of the organisms may be resistant to the medicine. Therefore. I used multiple medicines.”
When Falma immersed the organism into the medicine, they saw it perish. Falma explained it while inserting a joke that they might be able to hear its death throes.
“These 4 types of special medicine will intensively kill the disease in 2 months.”
“And I will provide additional treatments afterwards by reducing the prescription to 2 types.”
“Since your Majesty’s case is severe, it may require additional dosage.”
“You have just overturned a concept of conventional medicine from its roots with that explanation.”
The Empress was also very surprised.
The court physicians didn’t say anything, but they also were just as surprised as the Empress.
They had gained knowledge beyond the conventional wisdom that they had.
“Will taking such strong medicine harm the body?”
“There’s little effect on the body but there is concern for side effects. Mainly it would be a liver dysfunction. I will closely monitor the treatment for it. I will divide the compounded potion, I will first drink half of it, and you will drink the other half. Can I have your majesty’s decision after you see it?”
Falma had to do this to dispel any doubt of assassination or the medicine being fake.
“Will you agree to it?”
“Yes, by all means, let me drink it.”
The Empress showed a cheerful face towards Falma. Her mind was fully set at ease as all of her fears and anxieties were eliminated, even though she was still seriously ill. The imperial prince also stopped crying.
“The symptoms will improve soon. But it will take at least 6 months for full recovery.”
In 6 months, without the treatment, she wouldn’t not be able to survive that long. In a situation where there was no cure… his father had nothing to say. Thus,they had no other recourse.
“So that means, it takes time, I understand.”
She had observed the tuberculosis bacteria, as the empress realized that her whole body was infected by it, her understanding and curiosity had deepened.
Carefully over time, it wouldl kill the bacteria slowly, that is to say it would not instantly kill all of it, but there wouldn’t be any bacteria remaining. She was able to understand the explanation of Falma.
“Your majesty, you will to drink this everyday in my presence.”
It was effective to administer the medicine right in the presence of the attending physician, so that there wouldn’t be a situation where she forgot to take the medicine.
Falma had to patiently continue to treat the tuberculosis of the patient.
Just because her symptoms improved, it didn’t mean that she could stop taking the medicine.
Falma poured the potion from the flask into the 3 test tubes evenly.
Then, Falma gulped down the first one to show it was not poison.
“If you will, your Majesty.”
When the empress drank it until the last drop, her haggard face smiled.
“That was delicious.”
The empress then gently fell asleep, Falma wrote down a medical record in Japanese for the new patient in his book.
“Dear father, let’s return back to the mansion. I’m hungry now and I want to eat something sweet today.”
His father felt anxious as Falma had said it in a childish way.
“Also, this medicine is for you, dear father. That is… if you feel like receiving it.”
Falma handed over the the last test tube of medicine to his father.
His father, who was infected by tuberculosis, received it after hesitating for a long time.
“From now on, White Fatal Disease can be cured.”
It was no longer an incurable disease. They would now live together with this new method of medicine.
The father grasped the hand of the son, who spoke with reliable words, with both of his hands.
“Thank you, my son.”
Lotte, Ellen and the servants were waiting at the gate of the de Médicis family residence for many hours after the sun went down. The dinner that was already prepared had cooled down, but no one had touched it.
The father and son hadn’t come back yet from the Empress’ palace.
Nobody knew the condition of the empress aside from the Royal Court Apothecary, everyone could only guess at that time if an accident happened along the way.
Ellen had considered one possibility.
If they both failed in the treatment, they might have taken responsibility and killed themselves. In the occasion that the empress died, the Chief Royal Court Apothecary which acted as the lead physician and the Chief Court Physician would kill themselves together to take responsibility. Bruno was a proud Royal Court Apothecary so his sense of responsibility was very strong. It was a possible scenario.
“Milord… Master Falma.”
Ellen removed her glasses,while in tears as she assumed the worse case scenario.Lotte was grasping the vial of medicine that was given by Falma and made into an amulet.
Just how much longer are they going to wait? Every minute felt like an eternity.
Everyone was waiting for their return. Lotte suddenly raised her face as she happened to hear the faint sound of a trumpet echoing over the mountain.
After that, they started to clearly hear the sounds of horses hooves. As the rhythm became louder, the knight’s horses could now be seen from the mansion. Lotte suppressed a lot of her emotions, as she felt her tears flow out.
“Milord, master Falma–!”
Lotte ran up to them at full speed.
“Thank goodness… really. Jeez, don’t make us worry anymore…”
Ellen held on to her glasses firmly as she followed behind Lotte.
Falma caught Lotte as she jumped to him as soon as he got off from his horse.
Thus, the upheaval of today’s events had come to a close.