Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

There were signs of a recent occupation when we reached the village at the edge of the wilderness. But we didn’t realize just how much until we set out this morning.

One entire building was filled up with dead bodies, our attention drawn to it by a swarm of buzzing flies. A makeshift hospital I assumed, but Mr. Kagi called that into question when he observed that all of them wore the uniform of the army of the North. A detail that bore a more sinister connotation.

While Tomas and the Captain ranged ahead, picking a way for us off of the beaten path, Elijah walked with Mawuli.

Mr. Kagi and I marveled at the depth of the lad’s understanding.

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Day Nine Hundred Eighty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another night of intercession. We emerged with direction and purpose. Elijah asked the Purser to escort us to their makeshift hospital.

Tomas asked if he could help. Elijah assented and chose him to be by his side. I took Mawuli with me.

At first the former army surgeon in charge resisted us, for our protection, he claimed. But then it was clear that he considered our actions as an intrusion into his sphere of authority.

It took the Purser’s utmost persuasion to calm him enough to back off.

To his amazement Elijah and Tomas went into those down with fevers and sickness and raised them from their beds. Mawuli watched as I did the same for those with physical injuries.

Day Nine Hundred Forty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our fellow prisoners swarmed around Elijah. I recognized many from the hospital of the coastal town we visited so long ago. I talked with two who remembered me. They were very solicitous to know any news about Raj G. How they were gladdened to hear my report.

It was a late night, that culminated with a unanimous vote – Elijah was chosen to make all the decisions going forward. He acceded to their request but only until he can affect their release from this prison and see them safely to the hiding place.

As we sought to implement better communications today, we were stopped cold in our efforts by the sudden influx of guards into the dungeon that they call home.

Day Seven Hundred Eighteen #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

All aspects of our situation are providential in the extreme. A day later and we would have missed G and his charges altogether.

One of the men with him had been one of those raised up from a sickbed by Elijah in that hospital in the seaport so long ago. He is from this area and had lead them to the safety of the compound. And he lead the way towards our next destination somewhere off to the north.

Without his help and his knowledge of the surrounding territory we would have completely missed the unmarked path that branches off the main trail where we now stand after our trek down from the mountains.

We made our goodbyes and parted.

Day Six Hundred Ninety Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A number of vehicles passed by today. We had plenty of notice, so we were well out of sight before they came into view.

Many more came from the hospital behind us than came from the army ahead on the pass. I concluded that meant that things must be going very well for the army.

This appeared to be confirmed shortly after when trucks lumbered by carrying the elements of the mobile hospital.

And we were once again dropping further and further behind the army.

So, with Elijah’s consent I dispatched Tomas ahead for the express purpose of finding a better way to catch up.

But when the time came to camp for the night, Tomas was nowhere in sight.

Naval Research

The Curious Case of L B Foster (pt 1)

I have been doing research on the ante bellum era Naval Academy in Annapolis for over a decade now. I keep databases of the individuals who were at the Academy compiled from various sources.

Recently I have been entering the data from the Naval Academy hospital records – recording the name of the individual – the date and reason for admittance – and the date for his discharge. I was working on the page of 1857 entries with names beginning with “F,” and came down to “Foster, L. B”. Midshipman Lyman Beecher Foster is an interesting individual, but I’ll cover more details on him later.

I had already made several entries for Midshipman Foster for the following ailments: Odontalgia, Constipation, Intermittent Fever, and now a curious entry on May 21st 1857 for Cephalalgia.  By this time the term was not unfamiliar to me, as I had to look it up when working on the “A”s. (It’s a headache, by the way). What was odd, however, there was no discharge date. There was a month – May, but no date. Now the thought occurred to me that maybe there was a missing ditto mark on Foster’s line to an ailment listed for the individual on the line above – but the line above also was missing the date. On the line below (for May 29th), Foster’s name again is recorded for another bout of Cephalalgia. He was discharged the next day for this instance, so one day, like we should expect, would be a normal turn around for this ailment. I could surmise then, that the May 21st admittance was followed by a discharge on the 22nd.

I decided to look up Foster in some other records with dates. It’s nice to compare or rather conflate records from other sources to get a better picture of what may have happened. In the register of delinquencies, an incident is recorded for May 29th 1857, Dr Sharp gave Foster six demerits for “Carelessly setting fire to bedding in Hospital.”

Was the headache that bad?

That wasn’t my first thought though. Knowing that a good proportion of demerits were given for tobacco use (forbidden according to the regulations), I thought a lit pipe may have been the culprit. But then again if it had, Foster would have gotten demerits for tobacco too. An accident with a kerosene lamp? Most likely not. The Academy was fitted out for gas lighting back then. Foster would have had to have held up his bedding at a good height to catch it on fire. A dropped match? Definitely careless. But what would he have been trying to light? Tobacco that he had successfully hidden from the doctor? The gas lamp? Or…

Proving that sometimes answers to questions lead to more questions.

Tarzan and the Card Castles

Tarzan and Card Castles

My hospital stay lasted ten days. I guess the doctors wanted to be sure there were no hidden side effects or brain damage. After all there was little else they could do, a linear fracture doesn’t need to be set, nor like a dental cavity be “filled in.” My head wasn’t even bandaged, a la the soldier on the cover of my comic The War between the States (a giant Classics Illustrated version).
As I recovered in my hospital bed, my family visited, and I had a couple of roommates. The roommates must have cycled out faster than me, because I don’t remember any of them. Or maybe we were all just focused on the TV mounted on the opposing wall.
I do remember watching some daytime TV, whatever was on (NOT soap operas), usually reruns or old movies. Of the latter in particular I recall Tarzan of the Apes, the Johnny Weismuller/Maureen O’Sullivan version. The exciting part was the search for the elephant grave yard, and Tarzan swinging through the trees and that cool yell of his that let us know that help was on the way. And oh yeah there was some kind of love story between Tarzan and Jane.
I taught myself something cool.  The hospital supplied playing cards but instead of playing solitaire with them, I taught myself how to build a card castle. I used the table top that swung on an arm over my bed at which I ate my meals. It was hard at first, getting those first cards to balance at their tops against each other.  And if you could get the next pair to stand beside the first, you could place a single card to bridge the top of both and help stabilize the structure.
I ended up with a classic structure as things go, a first row of six pairs, topped with a row of five, then four – three – two, and one pair at the top. All with one deck. After a while my fingers became quite adept, and I could slap together a castle quickly and without any collapsing. It helped, giving the cards a sleight curvature so at their tops they met at two points.
But as they say, all that goes up, will come down.  And so they did.  And likewise things come to an end, and so did my hospital stay.