The narrator, J., tells this story in Chapter I. He had gone to the British Museum to use a health encyclopedia, and he was compelled to look at the lists of symptoms for each and every disease in the book. As he moved from “ague” to “zymosis,” J. convinced himself that he had some variations of nearly every malady except one: “housemaid’s knee.” (Naturally he wouldn’t suffer from this ailment, since he would never be one to get down and scrub a floor.) But J. put a good spin on this realization. He could farm himself out to medical school students. They wouldn’t even have to go to a hospital to study multiple patients, because he had it all in one package. They could merely study him: a singular disease compendium. “All they need do would be to walk round me, and, after that, take their diploma,” he said. Whether he was truly a hypochondriac, or was using exaggeration for humorous effect, is a decision left to the readers.