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Woman's Endurance

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Bethulie Concentration Camp, August, 1901.

Wednesday, August 21.—Arrived station 8.30 a.m. (from Bloemfontein); tedious delay; no pass to village obtainable, official in village for breakfast; number of refugees in same train, among them a sick girl, with fever: "Pappie, Pappie, ach mij ou Pappie!" ("Daddy, daddy! O my dear daddy!" Thus she cried whenever she was touched, as they carried her out of the train, and lifted her on to the wagon. She was fever-stricken and terribly emaciated. (Reference is made later to this same girl.) Alas! Arrival village; visit parsonage (Becker's); dinner; things forwarded per wagon; arrival camp (mile out); meet superintendent; given a tent; dust; misery; the Van As's offer me a home; kind; bitter cold night; leakage; bad draught; bad cold; feel lonesome; orphanish; pipe to rescue; great consolation.

Thursday, August 22.—My tent untenable position; in the thoroughfare; speak Superintendent; obtain new site; private; buy 150 bricks 1s. 6d., hire three boys, barrow 1s. 3d.; with miershoop (antheap, excellent for making floor) make brick kraal; hard work; Mr. Van As and Fourie grand; fine floor.

First visits: Young girl, orphan, bad; Weinanda, little girl, "Ja Oom, ik is nou bij mij Mamie" ("Yes, Uncle, now I am with my mother"); mind wanders. Third tent: Two babies wrestling with death; mothers raadeloos (in despair); 486, wife, babe at breast, measles; daughter, 14, convalescent; behind screen three children sick, measles; condition pitiable; husband prisoner Ladismith; great dirt; unbearable; the pity of it!

Pitch tent; wet floor; inside dire confusion.

Meeting Church-square thirty-nine elders; each a block; prayer; introduction Rev. Becker; kind words and cheer.

Early bed; restless night; hospital close by; commotion; groans; fifteen buried to-day; service for Mr. Van As.

Friday, August 23.—Early bird; wash spruit; first shave (tears); Van As coffee; pathetic sight; old man leading old wife back to tent from hospital; Hugo; son just died.

Visit Hugo's; dinner Van As; outspan (rest); cigar grand.

Unpack; three Red Cross boxes (gift of the chemist); order out of chaos; spirits revive; visits 2.5 p.m.

Dying child; mother broken-hearted.

Dying mother; clear doorway; deathbed grim attraction for our people; prayer; understands.

Widow; husband found dead outside in night; heart disease.

Sick child (since dead); sick child; sweet face; Louw.

Visit sick child of yesterday, also Weinanda.

Stray; hear cough; enter; father invalid (wife dead); three sick children; youngest very bad.

Comfort mother of dead child.

Funerals (seven), Mr. Becker: "I was dumb and opened not my mouth."

Burial ground; about 120 graves; weeping mothers; visit dying child; fool of myself, broke down in prayer; the helplessness in presence of Death!

Throat hoarse; dead off; return tent; meditate; convinced this work the very hardest in whole world.

Avoid taking guide next time (handicapped).

Neglected to visit 486 and mothers of yesterday's dying children.

Stienie; down measles; jelly.

Mr. Otto's dear loving daughter died hospital.

Fourteen corpses (in morgue tents).

Very many old friends all about of Papa's and Oom Jacob's.

One man disappointed; had expected Oom Jacob.

Night: Strains of Psalm-singing; calm and fresh after shower of rain; follow ear; Snyman; short conversation.

Saturday, August 24.—Evening: Coughing; wailing; crying; groaning.

Exhausting day; pure, clear air after refreshing rain.

The misery in our Camp heart-rending; hopeless to cope with work.

Up early; coffee in hospital kitchen; work.

235a; six orphans; baby; dirt; sad!

241; mother died to-day suddenly.

239; boy 12, Ignatius; malignant growth shoulder; hopeless; pining away.

249; child; measles.

468; Venter; motherless infants; all sick; food scarce; despair; powerful grandmother (arms!); daughter; all measles; "Ziet, minheer, die dochter is nog'n lady: sij is nie getrouwd nie" ('This daughter, sir, is still a lady; she is not yet married'); Bengers; beef tea.

485; Van Heerde; mother and tentful of sick children; pitiable; camphor; brandy....