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Three Years in Tristan da Cunha By K. M. Barrow Characters: 7483

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


On Easter Sunday we had eight o'clock Communion; twelve were present. As there are no Communion rails we knelt in front of two forms. Almost every family has provided a form which just gives the necessary seating accommodation. The next service was at 10:30. I am so glad we brought prayer-books and hymn-books, as not many seem to possess them. We were again struck with the heartiness of the singing. Graham spoke a few simple words on the Resurrection. All the babies were brought to church, and there was a little crying. There was one very fat child of thirteen months that has something wrong with it, for it cannot sit up. I noticed also a man with no forearms, but with terribly deformed fingers where the elbow would be.

This afternoon we had baptisms; there were four children to be baptized, and a fifth to be received into the congregation. One of the mothers, a Mrs. Hagan, came in before the service to ask if Ellen "would come along with her to church." Graham could not make out what she meant; it was, would Ellen be god-mother to her baby boy. It was a large assembly that stood round the small font. The children were young enough for Graham to take in his arms. As the people stayed on while he wrote the particulars in the register, I played hymns to them. When we got back at about 4:20 we had visitors till 6:30. They are so pleased to have some one to talk to; the men come in as much as, if not more than, the women.

I must not forget to record that we had rather a disturbed night on Saturday. First, there was heavy rain and it came through the ceiling close to where Ellen was sleeping; then the cat caught a rat under the table, and Rob went for her wishing to share the spoil. This is the first rat I have seen here, though I have heard them in the house. They are in shoals all over the mountains, and eat the fruit in the orchards. There have been no peaches for years, and there used to be bushels of them. The people say it is owing to the rats. Graham has spoken seriously to the men, and told them they should have one day a week for an onslaught. They did try it one year, and say it made a perceptible difference in the number.

It was decidedly cold when we first got here, making us glad to have warm things, and in the evening we appreciated our large open hearth and wood fire. To-day it is much warmer.

Wednesday, April l8.-On Monday, though not a very good day, the men went in two boats to fetch more luggage. Unfortunately it came on to rain hard. In landing on the shore where it is stored they nearly lost their boats, the surf was so heavy. We spent the morning in pasting strips of calico along the cracks of the ceiling in our sitting-room; it was rather a business, but Rebekah came in and helped. At present there is no getting a rest in the middle of the day, for there is no quiet spot for it.

On Monday night we again heard the rats scampering about overhead, and this morning early Graham was much pleased to find five in the wire trap on the kitchen window-ledge; one eventually escaped. Through the night we had heard the cat crunching rats close by.

Yesterday upon opening a case we found three pillows and a mattress had got wet. If the wetting is from salt water they will have to be soaked in fresh. The other pillows that got wet have not felt dry since, but still I have had to lie upon them; the deck-chairs are in the same state.

We are living in such a muddle, our things being heaped up against the wall. Presently they will have to be removed to another room while this one is whitewashed and then back again. To find things is almost an impossibility. By the end of the week we hope to be much straighter. All the men have worked with a will. This mor

ning they fetched the remaining luggage from the shore, and this afternoon have been working hard at the house. I went down with my camera and took photographs of the boats unloading and of the ox-wagons which had gone to bring up the luggage. The women came down with hot coffee and tea for the men.

Graham picked up the other day an old porthole window with the glass unbroken, and it has been used for the house. Many of the people's possessions are from shipwrecks. I noticed what nice white jugs they bring our milk in; it seems a case of these was found on a wrecked ship. They have also a good deal of glass and china from the same source.

Friday, April 20.-It was such a hot day yesterday, just like summer. The fatigue of such a day is felt all the more because there is hardly a resting-place for the sole of one's foot. To-day has been wet. The men have been finishing the house, and have fixed the stove in the kitchen. Repetto and Swain have managed the piping splendidly, and out of tins have made plates to place over the woodwork which the pipe passes through. An old bucket has been placed round the piping near the roof as an extra safeguard against fire. Our bedrooms have been whitewashed, and to-morrow we hope to move our things into them. I really find a deck-chair most comfortable; lined with pillows it does splendidly as a bed.

We like the people; they are generous and kind. Repetto is most helpful. This afternoon he has been fixing the washing-stands. Every one is so interested in seeing anything new; the stove especially is an object of great interest.

Saturday, April 2l.-It has been very wet. The men have now finished the house, and we have devoted ourselves to getting things a little more shipshape.

I gave Repetto the material A-- had sent, telling him to divide it amongst all the families; he was very grateful. They do need clothing so badly; some of their clothes are much patched. They all wear white stockings. The women are very good knitters, and are nearly always to be seen with knitting in their hands, even in their walks to and from the potato patches. I wish they could throw as much energy into cleaning their houses, only one or two of which are kept clean. Their shoes (moccasins) are made of cow's hide and are most quaint. They are made of one piece, with a seam up the front and at the heel. Little slits are cut round the edge of the shoe and a string run in to tie on with. As there is no leather sole their feet must always be in a wet condition in rainy weather. It rains so much that the thickest boots are needed to keep the feet dry. The need of these has just been brought home to us by a flood at our back door caused by the stream overflowing. Graham has now got Bob Green to divert it, which is a great improvement. The pathway, too, in front of the house at one end becomes a pool after rain. The other night I splashed right into it, and it took me days to get my house shoes dry. Tom Rogers, however, is draining it.

[Illustration: MOCCASINS]

The house being very damp on the south side, we have to keep almost everything in the sitting-room on the other side. Our bedrooms which are in the middle of the house and cut off by a passage from the south side are the two driest rooms. Graham and Repetto have been busy hauling up cases into the loft and opening others which looked damp; happily most of the stores are in tins. They have also been putting up the beds, which required some fixing. Ash poles at the sides and ends are fitted into six wooden legs, over which canvas is laced. We find them quite comfortable. Our red blankets look very well against the whitewashed walls. We are by no means straight yet, but well on the way to being so.

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