You have been hearing about good fairies and good old Mother Carey and Medicine in the Sky. Now I am going to warn you against the three-fingered Demon, the wicked snakevine that basks on stone walls and climbs up the tree trunk, and does more harm than all the other plants, vines, trees, and bushes put together; for it is not like the Deathcup, ea
This is the Poison Ivy. Does it not look poisonous as it crawls snake-like up some trunk, sending suckers out into the tree to suck the sap; and oozing all over its limbs with poison in tiny wicked little drops? Sometimes it does not climb but crawls on the ground, but by this ye may always know it: It has only three fingers on its hand; that is, only three leaflets on each stalk.
The one thing that looks like it, is the Boston Ivy, but that does not grow in the woods, and the Poison Ivy leaf always has the little bump and bite out on the side of the leaf as you see in the drawing.
It is known and feared for its power to sting and blister the skin when it is handled or even touched. The sting begins with an unpleasant itching which gets worse, especially if rubbed, until it blisters and breaks open with sores which are very hard to heal.
The cause of the sting is a blistering oil, which is found in tiny drops on all parts of the leaf and branches; it is a fixed oil; that is, it will not dry up, and as long as it is on the skin, it keeps on burning and blistering, worse and worse.
And this is the cure for the sting of the Demon Vine:—
Anything that will dissolve and remove oil without injuring the skin:—
Hot water, as hot as you can stand it, is good; a little salt in it helps.
Hot soapy water is good.
Hot water with washing soda is good.
A wash of alcohol is good.
But best of all is a wash of strong alcohol in which is a little sugar of lead as an antiseptic.
The Guide should remember that three persons out of five are immune from Poison Ivy, while a few are so sensitive that they are poisoned by flies carrying it to them on their feet. It can be easily cured if treated at once; if neglected it often becomes very bad and may need the help of a doctor.
This is the Eighth Secret of the Woods.