(Intermediate level vocabulary exercise.)
In 1638, in the palace in Lima, Peru, a rich young woman lay very ill. She was the wife of the Viceroy, appointed by the King in Spain. The young woman had malaria and she drifted between hot dry fevers, shivering and shaking with cold, and then sweating heavily. The family and their doctor tried that they could but it seemed that there was nothing they could do. The woman became weaker and weaker and her family that she would die.
Eventually, in desperation, a doctor suggested trying a that he had heard was used in the north of the country. It was made from the bark of a tree and it was called quinquina. The family was to try anything and they quickly sent someone to collect some. The bark of the tree was obtained as quickly as possible, and boiled to the quinquina.
To the surprise of her family, the young woman quickly recovered. In fact, the woman was the first European to be cured with quinine. Once she realised the of the medicine, she used it both in Peru and in Spain to help to cure her workers when they had malaria. Gradually, the effectiveness of the bark became by more people. They realised the value of the medicine they could get from the bark of the tree. It became more and more expensive and by 1840 it cost about £2 for one kilogramme in weight, which is to about £400 today.