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Chapter 8

1635: Another Missive from New Amsterdam

March 6, 1635

Dear Sir Thomas:

I really have no political news to report to you from New Amsterdam. The facts haven't changed. The rumors I reported in my last letter have made the rounds, and are still circulating, getting more outlandish with every telling, I fear. I write to you for another purpose.

It never came up during our mutual journey: I know how to prevent smallpox. You would think that I am about you tell you about some great invention from Grantville. Though I learned about it by accident in Grantville, it is no great discovery.

If a man has had cowpox, he become immune to smallpox. If you go to a cow with a cowpox sore on her udder, you can scrape up some of the serum leaking from the sore. Scratch that same serum into a man's arm, and he will develop a cowpox sore on that arm. Once the sore goes away, he will never catch smallpox, either.

The Americans are so careful. They are too careful. They carefully purify the cowpox serum to give to those they "vaccinate." They are so careful, that they soon run out of serum. Hundreds or even thousands might die, waiting for them to make more. We cannot afford that time.

Find a cow with cowpox. You may have to send back to Denmark or the Orkneys to scrape up the scabs and the serum. Always use a knife that has passed through a flame. Scrape some liquid from the cowpox sore on the udder, and then scratch it into a man's shoulder. He will develop one sore, not a whole body's worth of sores. What you will do next, the Americans never do.

You go to the man with a fresh cowpox sore. Take some serum and a piece of the scab from his arm. Scratch them into someone else's shoulder. One more sore will appear there. One man can give the cowpox to as a many as ten others. Those ten can "vaccinate" a hundred. Go on until every colonist and every native has a cowpox sore or a scar. Spread this word and those sores like a fire.

If you need proof, try this on a man or woman with smallpox scars. It won't work. No sore will appear. Don't wait too long. Once a sore begins to heal, this won't work anymore. If you do this, there will be no more smallpox among the people in your care.

I am going to try this on the family of my friend Simon van Tanken, but all I have is some very old cowpox scabs. I hope they work. I am going to translate this letter into Dutch, with his help, and leave a copy with him. I hope every Dutchman in New Amsterdam is immune to smallpox before any American ship ever gets here. I will leave a copy in English for their medical people, for when they arrive.

This isn't a rumor. Someday soon, you'll see USE ships sailing into your harbors, and it won't be a great many months from now, I think. They are a people who like to push in all directions.

May God bless you.

Your Obedient Servant,

Eliezer St. Clair

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