Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Finishing the Cure

Jethro and I were so filled with curiosity to learn how long the sick man would live after such rough treatment, that we ran after him, coming into the village just as all the boys were forming in a ring on the cleared ground where I had often seen them play ball.

The Indian whom we had followed was well wrapped in blankets by this time, and had seated himself on the earth in the middle of the ring of boys. He had on his knees what looked to be a piece of board, worn, or ground, very smooth, and two small sticks.

You can guess that by this time Jethro and I had our eyes open very wide, for it was the oddest way of taking medicine we had ever seen.

The sick man began to tap on the board with the sticks, and sing, or howl, in the most dismal manner. I suppose he called it singing, but I couldn't for the life of me make out any tune, and am certain there was no music in his voice.

When he began to make this noise, the boys ran around him, sometimes leaping high in the air, and again darting out of the circle as if about to make an attack upon the fellow because of his not singing better. Then two of them would come together, with their hands on each other's shoulders, and spin around like tops, until they became so dizzy as to fall over, when they rolled out from under the feet of their comrades, while another couple went through the same antics.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

As we afterward learned, this leaping, running, and whirling around was a regular dance, and supposed to be a portion of the remedy necessary to finish the cure of him who had been so thoroughly steamed and then cooled off so suddenly.

The boys did their part until the sick man stopped howling, after which they went about their play or business, as if nothing out of common had taken place. The sick Indian carried the board and sticks into his but, and a few moments later we saw him walking around the village as if having entirely recovered from the illness. Then Jethro and I went slowly home, trying to make out how much the dancing and the howling had to do with working the cure.


Front Matter

The Name of My City
My Own Name
Why We Went to London
Bound for America
On Board Ship
Unknown Country
The End of the Voyage
Going Ashore
Our First Shelter
A Tedious Task
Our Cave Home Completed
How We Kept House
Savages Come to Town
What the Savages Wore
Game in Plenty
Sea Food
News of the Factor
Arrival of the Amity
Going to Meet the Factor
A Tiresome Journey
Meeting Old Friends
Roasting Turkeys
Turning an Honest Penny
A Place for the City
Building the City
A Bear Hunt
The New Home
Penn's Care for Colonists
The First Baby
How the Indians Live
Indian Utensils and Tools
Canoes of Bark
Making Wampum
The Beehive Huts
Finishing the Cure
Starting a Fire
Cooking Indian Corn
News of Penn's Arrival
Our Humble Preparations
The Welcome to Penn
A Day of Festivities
Penn Joins in the Sports
More Serious Business
What a Bake Oven Is
Baking in the New Oven
Penn Plans to Buy Land
Penn and the Indians
The Price Paid for Land
Gratitude of the Indians
Trapping Wild Turkeys
New Arrivals
Government by the People
The Promise of a School
Dock Creek Bridge
The Nail Business
Buying Iron in New York
No Merrymaking after Dark
Busy Days
Enoch Flower's School
End of Our School Days
Settlement of Germantown
New Laws in Our Own Town
A Division of Opinion
A Matter of History
Boundary Lines
The Governor's Following
A Proud Departure
The Settlement of Chester
Dining in State
Anchored off New Castle
An Uncomfortable Night
A Dull Journey
In Lord Baltimore's City
A Splendid Home
A Question of Duty
Amy of Maryland
The Shops of Maryland
The Result of the Visit
Philadelphia Progresses
Penn Goes Back to London