THE BEEHIVE HUTS
IT was not until we had been in this land of America
nearly a year that Jethro and I could make out why
three little huts, shaped much like an acorn when placed
with the big end down, had been built near the river
at a considerable distance from the Indian village.
These huts were hardly more than large enough to
admit of three people sitting very closely together in
them, and so low in height that whoever was inside
could not rise more than to his knees. They were
formed of many layers of reeds, and plastered thick with
mud until you would say that no air could get through,
save at the very bottom, where was a hole about the
size of a man's body.
But one day Jethro and I came to know for what
use these beehive-like huts were intended. A big
fire was built outside one of these odd structures, and
in it were heated eight big stones until they must have
been red-hot. Then we saw a sick Indian being led
down to the hut, where he wriggled through the small
opening after the manner of a snake.
As soon as he was inside, the hot rocks were pushed
in after him, and on them was thrown a dozen or more
 pots of cold water. Of course a great steam
immediately filled the hut, and the small opening was closed
as tightly as possible by two mats.
We thought the man surely would be stifled, for it
must have been much as if he had been held over a
kettle of boiling water, forced to breathe in the steam;
but those who had charge of the business gave little or
no heed to his possible suffering. They squatted
outside the hut, burning tobacco in the little stone
bowls, until suddenly we saw the mats thrust aside,
and the sick Indian
looking exactly as if
he had been well
The rest of the
savages, who were
puffing smoke from
their mouths, did
not so much as turn their heads, when the Indian, dripping with
perspiration, leaped into the river.
I said to myself that if he did not count on drowning
himself to escape the steam from the hot rocks, he
would certainly be killed by going into the cold water
while he was so warm; but in this I was mistaken.
He swam around while I might have counted twenty,
 and then, coming ashore, started on a run for the village,
leaving his friends to go on with burning tobacco, or to
follow him, as best pleased them.