Monday, December 5

Mr. Araiza's Hair

Our ship was once set upon by a plague of lice that came aboard with several of the dirtier sailors. Through the efforts of the doctor no one was lost, but many were laid low for quite some time. The doctor hisself was among the first stricken, but he was soon cured by having his mate to shave his head and apply lye soap and fresh water to his clothing. The doctor was a handsome fellow with a full head of hair which he wore cut at the collar in the modern fashion. When he was recovered enough to come up above deck to take the air, a topmast fellow named Araiza, on seeing him all shaved, laughed so hard he fell down. Araiza later told me he knew he was in the wrong, but it just struck him as so comic that he couldn’t help hisself.

It was not long after that Araiza come down with a fever and a flux. He had some taint of a Spaniard or Portuguese in his ancestry, but it had gifted him with a full head of thick black hair that he wore in a beautiful que that reached to his belt. The doctor had the mate to shave it off and apply cooling rags. The mate, an old Frenchman whose hair had mostly jumped ship on him, looked like he was going to weep the whole while he was at the task. Araiza said it was of no concern to him because it grew fast on him and he would have it back soon enough.

Arazia recovered shortly, but throughout the rest of the commission anytime he grew a bit of hair the doctor would have his mate to shave Araiza’s head on some pretext of ill health. I reckon that that Spanish blood made him too proud to seek the doctor’s forgiveness.

Three days before we finally made port at the end of the commission Arazia broke two fingers on his left hand. After he had set them the doctor had his mate to shave Araiza s head, just as a precaution against an infection fever he said.

-James Cullen, Remembrances of Eight years before the Mast, 1834.

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