CLUE: More Pages from Perdita's
Wednesday, December 25, 1833. Father
gathered all the company at six bells, and the pageant was performed.
Father and Mother assumed their usual roles, and Canby, Carlotto and McAvoy
attempted the Three Wise Men. I played the part of the Angel, who "hath
good news for all mankind," and afterwards Riordan chided me: "Do
not be bringin' tears to our eyes, lass, for they freeze over and keep
us blind for half a watch."
Thursday, December 26, 1833.
Boxing Day. There is no magician more astounding
than the common seaman, who can transform a stick of wood into a treasure
and conjure a wrap and a ribbon out of thin air.
The gifts were simple and thoughtful. The generosity
in such dire circumstance struck straight to the heart. Mr. Dermot gave
away six of his coats (retaining three). Tabot gave Pierce his prized
Pendleton wool cap and blanket, and took for himself those that had belonged
to a man who died of fever early in the voyage. Father had a present for
each man, if only a tin of kippers or a square of chocolate. Mother's
gift for the ailing Mr. Grigg, her warmest shawl, brought three cheers
from the crew.
In return, Eddington astonished and delighted Father
with a meteorite Harper had found in the ice. Of course the discussion
turned to meteors and their properties and remained there for many hours.
As I expected, Lt Harding presented me with the scrimshaw comb that he
has laboured over lo these many months. And a fine one it is, showing
the hills of England rolling down to a placid sea.
Friday, December 27, 1833.
None witnessed the exchange, but Mr Yates now sports
the woolen mittens woven by Sarah Byers lo these many weeks. I grant he
is a gentle soul, but how his pockmarked face can kindle love is beyond
Sunday, December 29, 1833.
The days (though I hesitate to call them that, as
there is no sun) grow colder. I shuffle with Mother in endless laps inside
Wednesday, January 1, 1834.
We begin the new year with the most ominous of portents:
a raging fever in Mr Tabot. The doctor believes that quick and decisive
Sunday, January 19, 1834.
Although the fever crisis seems to have passed,
Father is moving the camp. Lt Harding says the new location will be more
visible to passing ships. I of course asked him sweetly how many ships
he expected to sail past atop the ice, and he blushed in an entirely satisfactory
way. Jakkelson persists in his potions and tonics twice a day for all
Tuesday, January 21, 1834.
Horror today written on the face of poor Mr Harper.
And Mr Carlotto is being consumed by the deadly fever. The sailors in
a panic approached Father. The circumstances being what they are, he was
forced to order a separate camp to be prepared.
Despite a clumsy manner Mr Yates is of course the obvious
choice to care for Mr Harper. Mr Jakkelson objected, claiming he had been
inoculated and the job by rights fell to him. But my father did not relent,
much to the relief of all.
To everyone's surprise our maid Sarah also stated
her determination to go into the quarantine tent. Mr Jakkelson protested
but after hearing her story and examining her forearms, with the greatest
reluctance he permitted her to accompany Mr Yates. Mother was astonished,
...insisted that the infernal stone go along with the
sick into the quarantine tent. It can be a measure of Father's prostrating
shock that he allowed it to be so.
An Access Excellence
Science Mystery sponsored by Genentech, Inc.
Copyright © 1997 Genentech, Inc.; all rights reserved.