||THERE was a great sensation among the natives when one Sunday before a congregation of 1,000, C. T. appeared with a new set of shining white teeth. He had had much trouble with his’teeth, or the few that remained of them, and for some time had only been able to live practically on slops. One day, when some of the missionaries were with him, one of them said, ” Bwana, you know you ought to go home and get your teeth seen to.” But we knew what his answer would be before he spoke. ” If God wants me to have some new teeth, He can just as easily send me some here.” We all took it as a joke and laughed, but God had heard ! A few months later a dentist in England wrote to the Committee and offered his services for the Heart of Africa. The Committee considered his application, but finding him ten years over the age limit, refused him. But that did not daunt him. He sold up his practice, with the proceeds bought a passage to the mouth of the Congo and set off by him¬self. Arrived there, he began to practise dentistry amongst officials and traders, and in a few months had made enough money to complete the journey into the interior.
C. T.’s youngest daughter Pauline and her husband were then on their way home. They were travelling by native canoe, a fortnight’s journey on the Aruwimi river down to the point where it joins the Congo. One morning early, as they were being paddled along, they saw another canoe approaching from the opposite direction, making for the interior. In it was a white man. They wondered who it could be, for white travellers were very rare in those regions. As the canoes drew near to each other they called out a greeting in English, to be answered in the same language. It was an Englishman. In a few minutes we discovered that this was Mr. Buck, the dentist, on his way to join Mr. Studd. It was breakfast time, so we drew into the bank, got out into the forest, and had a meal and some prayer together. Then just as we were parting, Mr. Buck took Mrs. Grubb aside and said, ” As you are a daughter of Mr. Studd, I would like to tell you a secret that I have told no one else. God has sent me to the Heart of Africa not only to preach the Gospel, but also to bring Mr. Studd a new set of teeth, and I have brought with me all that is necessary for making and fitting them ! ” Mr. Buck arrived, extracted Mr. Studd’s remaining teeth, opera¬ting on his mouth so thoroughly that C. T.’s comment afterwards was that he ” felt like the poet who wrote :
Gums, gums everywhere But not a sign of teeth I “
Then C. T. himself tells the remainder of the story :
“When Buck arrived, he said, ‘ The first thing God sent me to Congo to do was your teeth.’ Just fancy God sending a dentist to the very Heart of Africa to look after the teeth of His child, who could not return home ! ! ! What wonder will God not do next ?
” I have heard much about bears with sore heads, but just at present I am thinking much more of the poor bears with sore teeth, for the gums are yet un-healed, so the adopted family of my mouth is rather wearing. I can sing much better with the plates in, for so much empty air does not escape and the plate acts as a sounding board, but they get so sore that I have to remove them after a while. Imagine the scene last Sunday. I began the big meeting with teeth all in place. Hallelujahs and wonder. But it was too much, so during prayer I removed them, then as we sang again, you should have seen the faces of the blacks simply consternation ! Who had extracted Bwana’s teeth while we prayed ? Whenever I appear now, every eye settles on my mouth to see if it is their old Bwana or the new one with the teeth. The boys came along the other day, so I put my lower plate lightly in, sat down on a low stool, took up a pair of nippers and pulled out eight teeth with one pull Tableau !”
The first set never fitted him really well, and as a ‘consequence were often to be found lying on his writing table doing duty as a pen rack. One day he had a narrow shave. He received an unexpected visit from an official. He was only told of his coming when he was a short distance from the house and only just had time to wash the ink stains off his teeth and pop them in his mouth !