Saturday 25th March, 2017
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A home for waifs

A home for waifs

There are among them twins from other districts, and del­icate children who must have died had they been left in their villag­es, and a very wonderful young lady, very plump and very pretty, aged about four.
Her mother died a few days after her birth, so the child was taken and thrown into the bush, by the side of the road that led to the market.
This was done one market-day some distance from the Okyon town.
This particular market is held eve­ry ninth day, and on the succeeding market-day some women from the village by the side of Miss Slessor’s house happened to pass along the path and heard the child feebly cry­ing : they came into Miss Slessor’s yard in the evening, and sat chatting over the day’s shopping, &c., and casual­ly mentioned in the way of conversa­tion that they had heard the child cry­ing, and that it was rather remarkable it should be still alive.
Needless to say, Miss Slessor was off, and had that waif home. It was truly in an awful state, but just alive. In a mar­vellous way it had been left by leop­ards and snakes, with which this bit of forest abounds, and, more marvellous still, the driver ants had not scented it.
Other ants had considerably eat­en into it one way and another ; nose, eyes, &c., were swarming with them and flies ; the cartilage of the nose and part of the upper lip had been abso­lutely eaten into., but in spite of this she is now one of the prettiest black children I have ever seen, which is saying a good deal, for negro children are very pretty with their round fac­es, their large mouths not yet coars­ened by heavy lips, their beautifully shaped flat little ears, and their im­mense melancholy deer-like eyes, and above these charms they possess that of being fairly quiet.
This child is not an object of ter­ror, like the twin children ; it was just thrown away because no one would be bothered to rear it, but when Miss Slessor had had all the trouble of it the natives had no objection to pet and play with it, calling it “ the child of wonder,” because of its survival.
Travels in West Africa, Congo Fran­çais, Corisco and Cameroons by King­sley, Mary Henrietta

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