Smuggled aboard the belongings of the ayurvedic from Moratuwa was a cache of datura leaves and seeds from Pakistan. He had purchased a plant for Sir Hector to dispel the recent disruptions on his body, and also to retard the onset of hydrophobia. Datura was to be the most successful potion the millionaire took during his sea journey. The drug had a reputation for being versatile yet unreliable. Supposedly, if you were laughing when its white flower was picked, it resulted in much laughter, or dancing if that was the activity during the gathering. (As a flower it was most fragrant in the evening.) It was good for fevers and tumours. However, as part of its wayward nature, while under its influence a person would also respond to questions with no hesitation and with utter truthfulness. And Hector de Silva was known as a cautiously truthful man.
from "The Cat's Table" by Michael Ondaatje