Scrofula is a form of tuberculosis which affects the lymph nodes in the neck, causing them to swell into painless but extremely unsightly abscesses that grow steadily over time, rupturing the skin. It is perhaps from the appearance of these lesions that scrofula gets its name — the word means “little pigs” in Latin. It is also known as “the King’s Evil,” owing to an ancient belief that it could be cured by the touch of the reigning monarch. Despite what Hawthorne says here, scrofula is not genetically inherited but results from breathing in air contaminated by microbacteria. Children are especially prone to it.