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   Chapter 83 March 19th.

Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 1743

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

... The death-rate in St. Pierre is now between three hundred and fifty and four hundred a month. Our street is being depopulated. Every day men come with immense stretchers,-covered with a sort of canvas awning,-to take somebody away to the lazaretto. At brief intervals, also, coffins are carried into houses empty, and carried out again followed by women who cry so loud that their sobbing can be heard a great way off.

... Before the visitation few quarters were so densely peopled: there were living often in one small house as many as fifty. The poorer classes had been accustomed from birth to live as simply as animals,-wearing scarcely any clothing, sleeping on bare floors, exposing themselves to all changes of weather, eating the cheapest and coarsest food. Yet, though living under such adverse conditions, no healthier people could be found, perhaps, in t

he world,-nor a more cleanly. Every yard having its fountain, almost everybody could bathe daily,-and with hundreds it was the custom to enter the river every morning at daybreak, or to take a swim in the bay (the young women here swim as well as the men)....

But the pestilence, entering among so dense and unprotected a life, made extraordinarily rapid havoc; and bodily cleanliness availed little against the contagion. Now all the bathing resorts are deserted,-because the lazarettos infect the bay with refuse, and because the clothing of the sick is washed in the Roxelane.

... Guadeloupe, the sister colony, now sends aid;-the sum total is less than a single American merchant might give to a charitable undertaking: but it is a great deal for Guadeloupe to give. And far Cayenne sends money too; and the mother-country will send one hundred thousand francs.

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