Hasheesh Row

“Row(Purple Kush)” by hexthat – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – plant used to produce hasheesh

Sick and tired of his medicinal habit and his womanizing, Leila muttered, “You are despicable.”

Hank grabbed the railing of the balcony, his knuckles white. He glared at Leila and gritted his teeth. “You’re a woman, you don’t understand.”

“I have had enough. Go to your medicine, or to your women. I want a divorce.”

Hank’s jaw dropped. Her father supports them. Hank, the money handler says, “I will never give you a divorce, never.”


Indigo Sky book cover

Indigo Sky book cover

My story in “Indigo Sky”, names and exact wording have been changed, was inspired by the real-life of love and hate of a married couple and their escapades. His medicinal habit was founded upon a hasheesh pill he found in his doctor friend’s apothecary.

One morning, in the spring of circa 1854, I dropped in upon the doctor for my accustomed lounge.

“Have you seen,” said he, “my new acquisitions?” A rapid glance showed most of them to be old acquaintances. “Conium, taraxacum, rhubarb—ha! What is this? Cannabis Indica?”


“That is a preparation of the East Indian hemp, a powerful agent in cases of lock-jaw.”

Fitz pulled out a broad and shallow cork to reveal an olive-brown extract, of the consistency of pitch and an aromatic odor. Drawing out a small portion upon the point of my penknife, I was just going to put it to my tongue, when “Hold on!” cried the doctor—“do you want to kill yourself? That stuff is deadly poison.”

Indeed!” he replied. Fitz replace the cork and put it back on the shelf, only to sneak some after consulting the Dispensatory under the title “Cannabis Indica.”.

German postage stamp from 1991, commemorating 750 years of the apothecary profession

German postage stamp from 1991, commemorating 750 years of the apothecary profession

He tried one pill of five-grain weight. On different days, spread apart, he tried more, increasing by five grains each time, all with no effects, until he reached thirty grains. That’s when his life changed. His hallucinations, exaggerated imagination, and potential over analysis on simple subjects, drove him to see his doctor, who said all is normal, you will not die, and gave him a sedative to calm him down.


His fears diminished as his hallucinations increased. It soon became a habit he could not break. It was not long before he wanted more and turned to opium.

There were no rules, no laws, and no comprehension to the effects. Hasheesh or hashish and marijuana, means dry weed, is made from the flower of the plant. According to Fitz Hugh Ludlow’s 1857 book, “The Hasheesh Eater,” how the plant is used depends on where it’s grown. In northern latitudes the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa) grows almost entirely to fiber, becoming, in virtue of this quality, the great resource for mats and cordage. Under a southern sun this same plant loses its fibrous texture.

It is distinguished from its brother of the colder soil by the name Cannabis Indica. The resin of the Cannabis Indica is hasheesh. To all the nations of the East it’s know to possess powerful stimulant and narcotic properties, and is used by all classes of society as a habitual indulgence. Fitz continues in his book, the dried plant is smoked in pipes or chewed, as tobacco among ourselves. The chain of its bondage may last for a long time—where captivity becomes painful. He desired to stop, but had great difficulty doing so. According to his life story, he did finally release himself from the narcotic habit and addiction


A small piece of Hashish, obtained in Paris

Hashish is a sticky, thick, dark-colored resin (like sap), which is made from the flower of the female cannabis plant. Today Hashish is an illegal drug in the United States, Canada, and many other countries.

It is controversial, since some people think it and marijuana should be legal, some think it should be legal only for medical purposes, and some think it should not be legal at all.

Louisa May Alcott is the author of Perilous Play, her story about hasheesh.

Have you ever read anything by Fitz Hugh Ludlow?


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