Pap's Bone Felon

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Pap's been in a bad fix fer work. He's a-settin' aroun' the house with a bone felon on his thumb, an' on his right han' at that. He's been a-wishin' somethin' could be done fer a bone felon that didn't hurt so bad. He tried ever'thing under the sun that anybody tole him was good fer it, except to cut it off, an' he said he would er done that ef he'd had a good sharp knife.

Maw made him scald hit in hot lye to set it back, but it never sot hit back. Then she put a bar-grass poultice on it to draw it to a head, but it never done it—hit only made it worse, an' he took it off. The she tried Jimson weed an' salt, an that 'peared to make it hurt still worser.

Ole Mis' Freshours 'lowed pokeberried was powerful good, but the bes' thing ever she tried was house leek baked in a pone o' corn bread, an' he tried both an' they never done no good. Then she said scrape a raw beet an' wrop it up in hit; but laws, he never let that stay on a minute! Thwn Mis' Strong come in and 'lowed a ingon poultice was the best of all, an' he tried that. Ole Mis' Pinkey said hops an' slippery elm was good, an' he tried that, but it never eased him, an' when Mis' Simmons come she said: "You'uns may say what you please, but nothin' in the worl' is e-kel to the plain ole-fashion mush poultice."

An' Pap he 'lowed: "Well, fer the lan's sake slap it on, an' do hit quick."

I stirred one up as quick as I could, fer by that time Pap was mighty nigh distracted.

When Aunt Nancy come she wheeled in an' made a poultice o' saff soap an' sugar an' rossum, an' wondered

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why Maw hadn't thought of it; she said it was a remedy ole as the hills fer drawin' the mizry out'n a bone felon. She jerked off the mush poultice an' put her'n on; but it kep' a-hurtin', an' Pap he kep' a-hollerin'.

Squire Roberson an' his ole 'oman come over—they had jes' heard about it—an' the Squire 'lowed a bacon rind, er a piece o' fat meat tied to hit would mighty quick fetch it to a head: an' Mis' Roberson 'lowed her remedy was honey an' flour, an' her an' her ole man had it up an' down as to which was the best.

Pap was still a-hurtin' an' he 'lowed: "Put 'em on, put 'em both on, an' put 'em on quick!"

It was a-hurtin' so bad he couldn't hardly stand it. He was a-walkin' the floor an' a-hollerin' when Buddy come in and 'lowed it ought to be split. Pap turned 'round an' tole him to shet up his mouth.

Maw wanted to send atter ole Mis' Green—she's the herb doctor—to come an' cut it, but Pap 'lowed ole Mis' Green shouldn't doctor a cat fer him. Maw tole him to go along to a town doctor, then, ef he wanted to pay out all he was worth. Pap had stood hit about as long as he could, an' was willin' to pay mos' any price to ease it.

Miss Arminty Pendergrass happened in about that time an' said a strong mustard plaster would draw all that fire an' fever out'n it, an' before I knowed what they was a-doin' her an' Pap had it tied on his thumb—he'd er tried anything. But I tell yo' that made him hop. He jerked it off mighty quick, an' said no more mustard plasters fer him. Then she wanted to try a sample bottle o' liniment that was left at her house free, but Pap said no, hit mought be pi-zen, an' he was afeard to resk it.

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In a few minutes Aunt Mahaley come, an' axed what all had been done fer it, an' when we tole her she said:

"My stars alive! What do you'uns mean? Ef you'uns don't stop a-puttin' so many fool things on that ar bone felon you air a-gwine to pi-zen it. Fus' thing you'uns know information 'll set in, an' it 'll be petrified. Ef it's pi-zened it 'll have to be cut off—his whole han' may have to come off. Hit looks to me like it had inard fever in it now, but I can't tell fer certain till I see it."

The she untied it and looked at it—funny how ever'body wants to look at a sore. Aunt Mahaley shook her head when she seed it, an' said it looked mighty vi-grous to her, an' was plum full o' proud flesh, an' what it needed was to have a little burnt alum sprinkled on it to aggervate all that proud flesh out'n it. So she raked a few coals out on the haith, an' burnt some alum in the shovel, then beat it up fine an' sprinkled it on, an' it sho' sot him a-fire. He pranced around an' said he had stood about all he could, he was gwine to one o' them town doctors.

When he got back home he said the doctor had lanced it and holp it a-sight, an' jes' set his foot down agin' anybody doin' anything else to it. An' I sent ever'body out'n the room, an' sot down by the bed to keep the flies off. In a few minutes Pap was sound asleep an' a-snorin'.


Source: Hamilton, Betsy Ward. Southern Character Sketches. Richmond: Dietz, 1937. 21-23.

Colin Tate prepared and Nicola Hart proofread this typescript.

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