Chapter 22: The Beginnings of American Foreign Missions (7/11)
“As soon as I had gone out at the call of the governor, one of the jailers rushed into Mr. J’s little room-roughly seized him by the arm-pulled him out-stripped of all his clothes, excepting shirt and pantaloons-took his shoes, hat, and all his bedding-tore off his chains-tied a rope round his waist, dragged him to the courthouse, where the other prisoners had previously been taken. They were then tied two and two, and delivered into the hands of the Lamine Woon, who went on before them on horseback, while his slaves drove the prisoners, one of the slaves holding the rope which connected two of them together. It was in May, one of the hottest months in the year, and eleven o’clock in the day, so that the sun was intolerable indeed.
“They had proceeded only half a mile, when your brother’s feet became blistered, and so great was his agony, even at this early period, that as they were crossing the little river, he longed to throw himself into the water to be free from misery. But the sin attached to such an act alone prevented. They had then eight miles to walk. The sand and gravel were like burning coals to the feet of the prisoners, which soon became perfectly destitute of skin; and in this wretched state they were goaded on by their unfeeling drivers. Mr. J’s debilitated state, in consequence of the fever, and having taken no food that morning, rendered him less capable of bearing such hardships than the other prisoners.
“When about halfway on their journey, as they stopped for water, your brother begged the Lamine Woon to allow him to ride his horse a mile or two, as he could proceed no farther in that dreadful state. But a scornful, malignant look was all the reply that was made. He then requested Captain Laird, who was tied with him, and who was a strong, healthy man, to allow him to take hold of his shoulder, as he was fast sinking. This the kind-hearted man granted for a mile or two, but then found the additional burden insupportable. Just at that period, Mr. Gouger’s Bengalee servant came up to them, and seeing the distresses of your brother, took off his headdress, which was made of cloth, tore it in two, gave half to his master, and half to Mr. Judson, which he instantly wrapped round his wounded feet, as they were not allowed to rest even for a moment. The servant then offered his shoulder to Mr. J. and was almost carried by him the remainder of the way.
“The Lamine Woon, seeing the distressing state of the prisoners, and that one of their number was dead, concluded they should go no farther that night, otherwise they would have been driven on until they reached Oung-pen-la the same day. An old shed was appointed for their abode during the night, but without even a mat or pillow, or anything to cover them. The curiosity of the Lamine Woon’s wife, induced her to make a visit to the prisoners, whose wretchedness considerably excited her compassion, and she ordered some fruit, sugar, and tamarinds, for their refreshment; and the next morning rice was prepared for them, and as poor as it was, it was refreshing to the prisoners, who had been almost destitute of food the day before. Carts were also provided for their conveyance, as none of them were able to walk. All this time the foreigners were entirely ignorant of what was to become of them; and when they arrived at Oung-pen-la, and saw the dilapidated state of the prison, they immediately, all as one, concluded that they were there to be burned, agreeably to the report which had previously been in circulation at Ava. They all endeavored to prepare themselves for the awful scene anticipated, and it was not until they saw preparations making for repairing the prison that they had the least doubt that a cruel lingering death awaited them. My arrival was an hour or two after this.
“The next morning I arose and endeavored to find something like food. But there was no market, and nothing to be procured. One of Dr. Price’s friends, however, brought some cold rice and vegetable curry, from Amarapora, which, together with a cup of tea from Mr. Lansago, answered for the breakfast of the prisoners; and for dinner, we made a curry of dried salt fish, which a servant of Mr. Gouger had brought. All the money I could command in the world I had brought with me, secreted about my person; so you may judge what our prospects were, in case the war should continue long. But our heavenly Father was better to us than our fears; for notwithstanding the constant extortions of the jailers, during the whole six months we were at Oung-pen-la, and the frequent straits to which we were brought, we never really suffered for the want of money, though frequently for want of provisions, which were not procurable.
“Here at this place my personal bodily sufferings commenced. While your brother was confined in the city prison, I had been allowed to remain in our house, in which I had many conveniences left, and my health continued good beyond all expectations. But now I had not a single article of convenience-not even a chair or seat of any kind, excepting a bamboo floor. The very morning after my arrival, Mary Hasseltine was taken with the smallpox, the natural way. She, though very young, was the only assistant I had in taking care of little Maria. But she now required all the time I could spare from Mr. Judson whose fever still continued in prison, and whose feet were so dreadfully mangled that for several days he was unable to move.