Chapter 22: The Beginnings of American Foreign Missions (8/11)
“I knew not what to do, for I could procure no assistance from the neighborhood, or medicine for the sufferers, but was all day long going backwards and forwards from the house to the prison, with little Maria in my arms. Sometimes I was greatly relieved by leaving her, for an hour, when asleep, by the side of her father, while I returned to the house to look after Mary, whose fever ran so high as to produce delirium. She was so completely covered with the smallpox that there was no distinction in the pustules. As she was in the same little room with myself, I knew Maria would take it; I therefore inoculated her from another child, before Mary’s had arrived at such a state to be infectious. At the same time, I inoculated Abby, and the jailer’s children, who all had it so lightly as hardly to interrupt their play. But the inoculation in the arm of my poor little Maria did not take-she caught it of Mary, and had it the natural way. She was then only three months and a half old, and had been a most healthy child; but it was above three months before she perfectly recovered from the effects of this dreadful disorder.
“You will recollect I never had the smallpox, but was vaccinated previously to leaving America. In consequence of being for so long a time constantly exposed, I had nearly a hundred pustules formed, though no previous symptoms of fever, etc. The jailer’s children having had the smallpox so lightly, in consequence of inoculation, my fame was spread all over the village, and every child, young and old, who had not previously had it, was brought for inoculation. And although I knew nothing about the disorder, or the mode of treating it, I inoculated them all with a needle, and told them to take care of their diet-all the instructions I could give them. Mr. Judson’s health was gradually restored, and he found himself much more comfortably situated than when in the city prison.
“The prisoners were at first chained two and two; but as soon as the jailers could obtain chains sufficient, they were separated, and each prisoner had but one pair. The prison was repaired, a new fence made, and a large airy shed erected in front of the prison, where the prisoners were allowed to remain during the day, though locked up in the little close prison at night. All the children recovered from the smallpox; but my watchings and fatigue, together with my miserable food, and more miserable lodgings, brought on one of the diseases of the country, which is almost always fatal to foreigners.
“My constitution seemed destroyed, and in a few days I became so weak as to be hardly able to walk to Mr. Judson’s prison. In this debilitated state, I set off in a cart for Ava, to procure medicines, and some suitable food, leaving the cook to supply my place. I reached the house in safety, and for two or three days the disorder seemed at a stand; after which it attacked me violently, that I had no hopes of recovery left-and my anxiety now was, to return to Oung-pen-la to die near the prison. It was with the greatest difficulty that I obtained the medicine chest from the governor, and then had no one to administer medicine. I however got at the laundanum, and by taking two drops at a time for several hours, it so far checked the disorder as to enable me to get on board a boat, though so weak that I could not stand, and again set off for Oung-pen-la. The last four miles were in that painful conveyance, the cart, and in the midst of the rainy season, when the mud almost buries the oxen. You may form some idea of a Burmese cart, when I tell you their wheels are not constructed like ours, but are simply round thick planks with a hole in the middle, through which a pole that supports the body is thrust.
“I just reached Oung-pen-la when my strength seemed entirely exhausted. The good native cook came out to help me into the house but so altered and emaciated was my appearance that the poor fellow burst into tears at the first sight. I crawled on the mat in the little room, to which I was confined for more than two months, and never perfectly recovered, until I came to the English camp. At this period when I was unable to take care of myself, or look after Mr. Judson we must both have died, had it not been for the faithful and affectionate care of our Bengalee cook. A common Bengalee cook will do nothing but the simple business of cooking; but he seemed to forget his caste, and almost his own wants, in his efforts to serve us. He would provide, cook, and carry your brother’s food, and then return and take care of me. I have frequently known him not to taste of food until near night, in consequence of having to go so far for wood and water, and in order to have Mr. Judson’s dinner ready at the usual hour. He never complained, never asked for his wages, and never f or a moment hesitated to go anywhere, or to perform any act we required. I take great pleasure in speaking of the faithful conduct of this servant, who is still with us, and I trust has been well rewarded for his services.
“Our dear little Maria was the greatest sufferer at this time, my illness depriving her of her usual nourishment, and neither a nurse nor a drop of milk could be procured in the village. By making presents to the jailers, I obtained leave for Mr. Judson to come out of prison, and take the emaciated creature around the village, to beg a little nourishment from those mothers who had young children. Her cries in the night were heartrending, when it was impossible to supply her wants. I now began to think the very affliction of Job had come upon me. When in health, I could bear the various trials and vicissitudes through which I was called to pass. But to be confined with sickness, and unable to assist those who were so dear to me, when in distress, was almost too much for me to bear; and had it not been for the consolations of religion, and an assured conviction that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I must have sunk under my accumulated sufferings. Sometimes our jailers seemed a little softened at our distress, and for several days together allowed Mr. Judson to come to the house, which was to me an unspeakable consolation. Then again they would be as iron-hearted in their demands as though we were free from sufferings, and in affluent circumstances. The annoyance, the extortions, and oppressions, to which we were subject, during our six months residence in Oung-pen-la, are beyond enumeration or description.