The Story of Frances Flood
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The Devonshire Woman
or a wonderful narrative of
Showing how she was taken by the Small-pox in the street of Saltford, near Bath, in the year 1723; and having no place of abode [being a stranger] she got to a Barn in the said town, where her legs broke short off in the small, and was healed without the help of Physician or Surgeon.
I Frances Flood, was born in Gitson near Honiton in Devonshire; and on the 22nd of January 1723 being 32 Years of age, I went from Philips Norton to the town of Saltford; where I paid for lodging at an Inn. I arose well in the morning to go about my business; but being come out of the door, I was taken very ill, and before I came to the village I was not sensible in what condition I was in, and not able to go, was forced to hold by the wall as I went along. With great difficulty I got to the Overseer's house, and desired him to get me a lodging, but he denied me; whereupon I went up the Street and lay in a Hog-sty where many people came to see me. I lay there till the evening in a sad condition, when the Owner's Wife of that place led me to the Overseer's again, but he still denied me relief; and, not being very sensible I returned again to the same place, but they had been so inhuman as to put some dung into it, to prevent my lodging there again; but at last I got into another which had no cover over it as the other had. In the morning when I awoke, I went into the Street, and with weakness fell down, so that streams of water run over me, till helped up by the Clerk of the Parish's Wife, who led me till I came to the wall by which I held, and with great trouble got to the Barn, and a stranger let me in, but the owner of the Barn was so barbarous as tounhang the door the next day; a young man, out of compassion, hung the door again; the Owner was so displeased, that he came a second time and unhung it
The next day the Small-Pox appeared on me, and was noised about insomuch that the Overseer came and put up the door, and then I had both meat and drink, but took no further care of me for 14 Days; the Small-Pox appeared very kind and favourable and might have done very well, had I not been taken in my legs, and should have been able to go away in a fortnight; after which I was taken in my calves, which turned black and cold, and looked much like scalds, and broke out. I applied to them first of all a bathe, but the flesh speedily parted from the small of my legs to the Bones. I had then by me some ointment, which was brought me by the Overseer, but had no one to help me to dress my wounds, but did all myself.
I freely forgive all the Parish; and as for the Overseers, they did to the utmost of their power, when my flesh was separated; and, whatever I desired of them they sent me, so I desire that all may be blameless of my misfortunes. My pains increased to a wonderful degree, and my legs grew worse, and was driven to dismal extremity, and lay in that condition three Weeks.
On the 18th day of March, about 8 o’clock in the evening there came a woman to the Barn door to ask me how I did; I was going to show her how my legs were, and how the flesh was separated from the bones, and, leaning a little harder than ordinary upon my left leg, it broke off as though it were a rotten stick, a little below the Calf; the woman left me, and I was surprised, but God enabled me to bind up my leg again with the same medicines as before; and when most of the people of the Village were at rest, then a man that lived over against the Barn, came to see me, and asked me how I did? I desired him to get me some beer at the Overseer's, but he fetched me some of his own and left me, so there was no one with me. I submitted myself to God, and after some time fell asleep, and slept till the morning, and, as soon as 'twas light, dressed the wound before any came to me, and the flesh covered the bone, but had no loss of marrow, and but little of blood, nor hardly any pain; the mercies then received at the hands of God, exceeded all the punishment was due to me through sin, and his mercy I never did deserve. I was visited by abundance of people, and amongst them God sent me the Minister of Keynsham, and Mr. Brown of the same town came along with him, and they afforded me much comfort; they told me they never saw the like, and it was God's handiwork and not man's, so taking their leave of me they wished that the God of Heaven might be my Physician, and it gave me both a merry heart and cheerful countenance, and gave them thanks for what favours I had received from them, and my pains still ceased. Abundance came both far and near all the week to see me; but upon Sunday I had scores of people to visit me, and amongst the rest a Surgeon, who persuaded me to have the bone of my right leg taken off to which I gave consent. On the 25th, about 6 in the morning, when I arose and opened the cloths, I found my legs were fallen from me, and the pains I then suffered not worthy to be called pains, so I dressed it with the same medicine I made use of before; within two hours after came several people to visit me. I unbound the cloths and the flesh was closed over the bone, the blood was stopped, so I had great reason to praise the Lord for all his mercies and favours I had received from time to time.