When on Friday, November 27, the parents reached Topsham, they found their three sons and Adelia waiting for them at the depot. Apparently all were in good health, except for Henry, who had a cold. But by the next Tuesday, December 1, Henry was very ill with pneumonia. Years later Willie, his youngest brother, reconstructed the story:
During the absence of their parents Henry and Edson, under the supervision of Brother Howland, were busily engaged in mounting the charts on cloth, ready for sale. They worked in a rented store building about a block from the Howland home. At length they had a respite for a few days while they were waiting for charts to be sent from Boston. . . .Returning from a long tramp by the river, he [Henry] thoughtlessly lay down and slept on a few damp cloths used in backing the paper charts. A chilly wind was blowing in from an open window. This indiscretion resulted in a severe cold (WCW, "Sketches and Memories of James and Ellen G. White," RH, Dec. 10, 1936).