Grand Bahama in 1917
A big schooner from the sponging fields loomed in front of us and, casting
anchor, furled her sails; the concerted chanting of the ship's crew wafted
across to us and when the last hymn had been sung we heard them playing
the concertina and beating out a rhythm on the back of some tin box or
Life on a desert island has its variety!
And if it has its discomforts and dangers it certainly has many advantages
which millionaires in their yachts and Society women in their hotels do
not ever experience.
On Eight Mile Rock, with its monthly mail, one hardly realises it is
not a three days' journey to New Yorkby yacht!
But the ends of the earth are always quite near, and savages are not only
on remote islands. If manners maketh the man, one would judge these people
as far more civilized than many in the big cities.
The urchin who came to call Aunt Celia to the birth of his mother's tenth
child raised his ragged cap to me with the courtesy and gentleness of
a prince, and the Royal Physician himself could not have given me a finer
bow than the wise woman gave as she rose from the ground and went away
to her "case," promising me she'd come again to-morrow.
"If God gives life."
Every appointment is made with this prefix:
"If God gives life."
Last summer a mild sort of typhoid was brought into this distant island
by some "stranger" and many children died of itsimply,
Aunt Celia said, because their parents were lazy and careless./
She herself had two, out of her eight, delirious and "talking in
unknown tongues," but she saved them "by hard work."
She "packed" them with pepper grass and she "filled"
them with oil and other purges; she made them sweat and removed their
clothing each time: she covered them continually in dry, clean rags and
threw away the damp ones; she bathed them unceasingly in hot water and
rubbed them with hot lard. She put plasters of red pepper and earth at
the napes of their necks and on their temples; she covered her finger
in a piece of flannel and wiped out their throats and she fetched certain
cool branches from the bush and made them fresh beds which "drew
away the heat;" she fed them only on "biled" milk and when
at last the fever broke and they slept, she cleaned out the rooms and
washed the floors, and, for the first time in many days, she took off
her own clothes and rested. Afterwards, she gave them conch, stewed, with
a few eggs and a medicine with rusty irons in it; and they were speedily
cured, but remained deaf, so she melted candle and lard and beeswax, and
poured it into their ears, which she afterward syringed with soap suds.
And so saved them.
"Nobody never die wid my treatment, please Gawd,": she repeats
periodically; and really one grows to have a great deal of faith in herand
she is not nearly so rough as one would think.
When you have a headache and she begins with her fingers (you have suggested
that she first cut her nails) upon your scalp, the quality of her touch
is quite remarkable. She soon soothes you and "draws all the blood
together"then immerses the/ legs up to the knees in a hot bath
and puts a towel rung in boiling water across the abdomen, and lo! your
headache is gone and your nerves are steady!
She makes gargles for sore throats and syringes the nose with soothing
lotionsand whatever is wrong she invariably "cleans you all
If she were cleaned up herself and set up in Bond Street or Fifth Avenue
as "the New Herbalist," she would reap a fortune; but fifty
cents will pay for any treatment and, as she is now, she will thank God
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