black and brown house near trees
By Don Rose, guest contributor

“Come on to bed Minnie,  hit’s two in the mornin, you been walk­ing the floor all night.  Hit ain’t goin to hep them young ‘uns a bit you stay’n up all night and walkin’ the floor.”

“Willie, Charlie, Lizzie and Jack has got the measles, they’ve been run­nin’ a high fever three days and ain’t broke out. We have to do somthin’. That fever can cause brain damage.” 

“They ain’t got much sense nohow.”

They’re yourn, I reck­on that would account fer that.”

“I ain’t so shore about that. Your old boyfriend Jack Crowe hung around here a lot while I was workin’ in West Virginia a few years ago.”

“He was just hep­pin’ the youn­guns with their home work.”

“I ain’t shore he was­n’t hep­pin’ me with my home­work too.”

“Hush that fool­ish­ness Willie, I have to fix somthin’ to give them to break them measles out.”

Minnie poked the fire and put some more coal on the grate. “I know they’re burnin’ up, but we have  keep the house warm so we don’t all freeze to death.”

Minnie walked into the bed­room and felt the fore­heads of the sick chil­dren. She went to the water buck­et in the kitchen and soaked three rags, and placed them on the fore­heads of the three fever­ish children.

She went to the oth­er bed in the room and gen­tly shook fif­teen-year-old Estil. 

“Git up, Esstil! I want you to go down to Jerden Ratliff’s and get me some sheep manure.”

“Ma, hit’s two in the morn­ing, I’m tard, I worked all day fer Big Bill Williams. Let me sleep.”

“You’ve already had the measles, so you have to go.”

Estil reluc­tant­ly got up and put on the warmest clothes he had.

Minnie unbut­toned the top but­ton of her black dress, reached into her bosom, and pulled out an old North State tobac­co cloth sack. She undid the yel­low strings of the sack and care­ful­ly extract­ed a quar­ter. She hand­ed Estil the quar­ter and a brown paper bag.

“Take this quar­ter and this poke and go down to Jerden’s and tell him I need a quarter’s worth of sheep manure.”

“But Ma, hit’s plumb dark.”

“Take your daddy’s minin’ lamp and put his boots on. I have to make some tea to break the fever on these young ‘uns. Hurry and get back as soon as you can. Be care­ful crossin’ the creek on that foot log and don’t fall in. I’ll car­ry in some water and have the ket­tle boilin’ by the time you get back.”

Estil made his way down the frozen dirt road and safe­ly across the foot log.

He stood in the yard below Jerden’s upstairs bed­room win­dow and yelled, “Hey Jerden! HEY JERDEN!”

Jerden’s bed­room win­dow flew up with a bang. “What is wrong Estil? Do you know what time it is?”

“I ain’t got no watch! Ain’t you got no clock?” 

“What is wrong that you wake me from a sound sleep in the mid­dle of the night?”

“Mommie sent me to get a quarter’s worth of sheep manure; she wants to make some tea to break the fever on the young ‘uns that’s got the measles.”

“Estil, go out there to the pas­ture and get all of the sheep manure you want free. Please don’t wake me at this time of morn­ing again.”

Estil went to the pas­ture and filled his bag with sheep manure.

He hur­ried home as fast as he could with his pre­cious medicine.

Minnie had the water boil­ing on the red hot coal stove when Estil got home.

She made two half-gal­lon fruit jars of tea. She fil­tered it through a piece of screen wire and dosed the chil­dren, who drank it — unaware of what it was made of!

The chil­dren broke out with measles that after­noon, and their fever broke.

Nature pro­vides many cures for many things if you are will­ing to par­take of the potent.