Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SMEAR (03/10/16)
- TITLE: Under the Microscope
By Bonnie Bowden
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Dr. David Livingstone’s family and crew left Kolobeng for the northern region of Africa, so that they could open up this uncharted area for future missionaries to work in. They were trying to locate Chief Sebitoane who lived by the Zouga River.
The expedition made good time in reaching the Zouga River, but they learned Chief Sebitoane was now camped along the Chobe River. This meant the group had to cross the great salt flats of Ntwetwe. Miles and miles of white desert sparkled before them in the sun.
“You need to feed and water the oxen and horses before crossing and take enough water for at least three days,” a local native said.
The trek was more difficult than they had planned. The crust of salt concealed a quagmire of mud that submerged the wagon wheels below the thin surface. The oxen had to be whipped continuously to make them keep pulling the partially stuck wagons out. Panic began to spread through the group at their slow progress.
On day five, they entered some grassland and were able to find a small waterhole. Streaks of black rhinoceroses’ dung were spread across the opening. But they were all too thirsty to care, and they knelt and lapped it up willingly.
From then on they were able to find enough water to meet their needs each day, but with the water came mosquitoes that swarmed around the children, Robert, Agnes, and Thomas, unmercifully, leaving huge welts all over their small bodies.
When they arrived at the Chobe River, Tonuana, escorted the men to meet the chief on an island thirty miles downstream. Soon after they met with Chief Sebitoane, he fell ill and died of pneumonia. Fortunately, Mamochisane, the chief’s daughter bore them no ill will, and even sent some of her men to escort them back to their camp site.
David was glad to get back to the wagon, because his wife, Mary, was expecting a baby any day.
The blazing African sun rose as red as blood.
The wagons once again were camped by the Zouga River.
Suddenly a loud sound filled the air—the crying of a new born baby. David wiped off the blood smudges from his tiny infant and carried him in his arms toward the river. “I’ll call you Zouga.” He whispered.
A couple of days later when they were getting ready to leave, David heard screaming coming from the wagon.
“David, come quickly!” Mary said, “Something’s wrong with Thomas; he’s burning up and his face is covered with red splotches.”
“Thomas, keep still, child,” his dad said, “I need to poke your finger.” David Livingstone rubbed several glass slides against the blood to get two thick and two thin smears.
Peering through the eyepiece lens of his microscope, David examined each specimen. He could see the malarial parasites among the red blood cells.
David mixed a quinine and rhubarb compound to create a special medicine. “Drink this down,” David said, as he wrapped his son’s body firmly in a moist sheet to quell the fever. He also drove the wagons to the distant hills where it was slightly cooler. Thomas lay sick for a month before he showed signs of improvement. Only when he was up and about did the party continue on their way south.
After these two incidents, David decided he could no longer put his wife and children in danger. He was sending them home to his family in Scotland. His mother-in-law had been right in chastising him; he would not smear his reputation by jeopardizing his loved ones.
David waved goodbye as the Trafalgar drifted out into the bay and hoisted its sails He hoped he would see his family in the not too distant future.
This story is based on the life of Dr. David Livingstone.
David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer /Janet & Geoff Benge
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