Mrs. E. Prentiss
Part 1 out of 6
January 15, 1831.
How dreadfully old I am getting! Sixteen! Well, I don't see as I can
help it. There it is in the big Bible in father's own hand:
"Katherine, born Jan. 15, 1815."
I meant to get up early this morning, but it looked dismally cold out
of doors, and felt delightfully warm in bed. So I covered myself up,
and made ever so many good resolutions.
I determined, in the first place, to begin this Journal. To be sure,
I have begun half a dozen, and got tired of them after a while. Not
tired of writing them, but disgusted with what I had to say of
myself. But this time I mean to go on, in spite of everything. It
will do me good to read it over, and see what a creature I am.
Then I resolved to do more to please mother than I have done.
And I determined to make one more effort to conquer my hasty temper.
I thought, too, I would be self-denying this winter, like the people
one reads about in books. I fancied how surprised and pleased
everybody would be to see me so much improved!
Time passed quickly amid these agreeable thoughts, and I was quite
startled to hear the bell ring for prayers. I jumped up in a great
flurry and dressed as quickly as I could. Everything conspired
together to plague me. I could not find a clean collar, or a
handkerchief. It is always just so. Susan is forever poking my things
into out-of-the-way places! When at last I went down, they were all
"I hoped you would celebrate your birthday, dear, by coming down in
good season," said mother.
I do hate to be found fault with, so I fired up in an instant.
"If people hide my things so that I can't find them, of course I have
to be late," I said. And I rather think I said it in a very cross
way, for mother sighed a little. I wish mother wouldn't sigh. I would
rather be called names out and out.
The moment breakfast was over I had to hurry off to school. Just as I
was going out mother said, "Have you your overshoes, dear?"
"Oh, mother, don't hinder me! I shall be late," I said. "I don't need
"It snowed all night, and I think you do need them," mother said.
"I don't know where they are. I hate overshoes. Do let me go,
mother," I cried. "I do wish I could ever have my own way."
"You shall have it now, my child," mother said, and went away.
Now what was the use of her calling me "my child" in such a tone, I
should like to know.
I hurried off, and just as I got to the door of the schoolroom it
flashed into my mind that I had not said my prayers! A nice way to
begin on one's birthday, to be sure! Well, I had not time. And
perhaps my good resolutions pleased God almost as much as one of my
rambling stupid prayers could. For I must own I can't make good
prayers. I can't think of anything to say. I often wonder what mother
finds to say when she is shut up by the hour together.
I had a pretty good time at school. My teachers praised me, and
Amelia seemed so fond of me! She brought me a birthday present of a
purse that she had knit for me herself, and a net for my hair. Nets
are just coming into fashion. It will save a good deal of time my
having this one. Instead of combing and combing and combing my old
hair to get it glossy enough to suit mother, I can just give it one
twist and one squeeze and the whole thing will be settled for the
Amelia wrote me a dear little note, with her presents. I do really
believe she loves me dearly. It is so nice to have people love you!
When I got home mother called me into her room. She looked as if she
had been crying. She said I gave her a great deal of pain by my
self-will and ill temper and conceit.
"Conceit!" I screamed out. "Oh, mother, if you only knew how horrid I
think I am!"
Mother smiled a little. Then she went on with her list till she made
me out the worst creature in the world. I burst out crying, and was
running off to my room, but she made me come back and hear the rest.
She said my character would be essentially formed by the time I
reached my twentieth year, and left it to me to say if I wished to be
as a woman what I was now as a girl. I felt sulky, and would not
answer. I was shocked to think I had got only four years in which to
improve, but after all a good deal could be done in that time. Of
course I don't want to be always exactly what I am now.
Mother went on to say that I had in me the elements of a fine
character if I would only conquer some of my faults. "You are frank
and truthful," she said, "and in some things conscientious. I hope
you are really a child of God, and are trying to please Him. And it
is my daily prayer that you may become a lovely, loving, useful
I made no answer. I wanted to say something, but my tongue wouldn't
move. I was angry with mother, and angry with myself. At last
everything came out all in a rush, mixed up with such floods of tears
that I thought mother's heart would melt, and that she would take
back what she had said.
"Amelia's mother never talks so to her!" I said. "She praises her,
and tells her what a comfort she is to her. But just as I am trying
as hard as I can to be good, and making resolutions, and all that,
you scold me and discourage me!"
Mother's voice was very soft and gentle as she asked, "Do you call
this 'scolding,' my child?"
"And I don't like to be called conceited," I went on. "I know I am
perfectly horrid, and I am just as unhappy as I can be."
"I am very sorry for you, dear," mother replied. "But you must bear
with me. Other people will see your faults, but only your mother will
have the courage to speak of them. Now go to your own room, and wipe
away the traces of your tears that the rest of the family may not
know that you have been crying on your birthday." She kissed me but I
did not kiss her. I really believe Satan himself hindered me. I ran
across the hall to my room, slammed the door, and locked myself in. I
was going to throw myself on the bed and cry till I was sick. Then I
should look pale and tired, and they would all pity me. I do like so
to be pitied! But on the table, by the window, I saw a beautiful new
desk in place of the old clumsy thing I had been spattering and
spoiling so many years. A little note, full of love, said it was from
mother, and begged me to read and reflect upon a few verses of a
tastefully bound copy of the Bible, which accompanied it every day of
my life. "A few verses," she said, "carefully read and pondered,
instead of a chapter or two read for mere form's sake." I looked at
my desk, which contained exactly what I wanted, plenty of paper,
seals, wax and pens. I always use wax. Wafers are vulgar. Then I
opened the Bible at random, and lighted on these words:
"Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
There was nothing very cheering in that. I felt a real repugnance to
be always on the watch, thinking I might die at any moment. I am sure
I am not fit to die. Besides I want to have a good time, with nothing
to worry me. I hope I shall live ever so long. Perhaps in the course
of forty or fifty years I may get tired of this world and want to
leave it. And I hope by that time I shall be a great deal better than
I am now, and fit to go to heaven.
I wrote a note to mother on my new desk, and thanked her for it I
told her she was the best mother in the world, and that I was the
worst daughter. When it was done I did not like it, and so I wrote
another. Then I went down to dinner and felt better. We had such a
nice dinner! Everything I liked best was on the table. Mother had not
forgotten one of all the dainties I like. Amelia was there too.
Mother had invited her to give me a little surprise. It is bedtime
now, and I must say my prayers and go to bed. I have got all chilled
through, writing here in the cold. I believe I will say my prayers in
bed, just for this once. I do not feel sleepy, but I am sure I ought
not to sit up another moment.
JAN. 30. -Here I am at my desk once more. There is a fire in my room,
and mother is sitting by it, reading. I can't see what book it is,
but I have no doubt it is Thomas A Kempis. How she can go on reading
it so year after year, I cannot imagine. For my part I like something
new. But I must go back to where I left off.
That night when I stopped writing, I hurried to bed as fast as I
could, for I felt cold and tired. I remember saying, "Oh, God, I am
ashamed to pray," and then I began to think of all the things that
had happened that day, and never knew another thing till the rising
bell rang and I found it was morning. I am sure I did not mean to go
to sleep. I think now it was wrong for me to be such a coward as to
try to say my prayers in bed because of the cold. While I was writing
I did not once think how I felt. Well, I jumped up as soon as I heard
the bell, but found I had a dreadful pain in my side, and a cough.
Susan says I coughed all night. I remembered then that I had just
such a cough and just such a pain the last time I walked in the snow
without overshoes. I crept back to bed feeling about as mean as I
could. Mother sent up to know why I did not come down, and I had to
own that I was sick. She came up directly looking so anxious! And
here I have been shut up ever since; only to day I am sitting up a
little. Poor mother has had trouble enough with me; I know I have
been cross and unreasonable, and it was all my own fault that I was
ill. Another time I will do as mother says.
JAN. 31. -How easy it is to make good resolutions, and how easy it is
to break them! Just as I had got so far, yesterday, mother spoke for
the third time about my exerting myself so much. And just at that
moment I fainted away, and she had a great time all alone there with
me. I did not realize how long I had been writing, nor how weak I
was. I do wonder if I shall ever really learn that mother knows more
than I do!
Feb. 17. -It is more than a month since I took that cold, and here I
still am, shut up in the house. To be sure the doctor lets me go down
stairs, but then he won't listen to a word about school. Oh, dear!
All the girls will get ahead of me.
This is Sunday, and everybody has gone to church. I thought I ought
to make a good use of the time while they were gone, so I took the
Memoir of Henry Martyn, and read a little in that.
I am afraid I am not much like him. Then I knelt down and tried to
pray. But my mind was full of all sorts of things, so I thought I
would wait till I was in a better frame. At noon I disputed with
James about the name of an apple. He was very provoking, and said he
was thankful he had not got such a temper as I had. I cried, and
mother reproved him for teasing me, saying my ill- ness had left me
nervous and irritable. James replied that it had left me where it
found me, then. I cried a good while, lying on the sofa, and then I
fell asleep. I don't see as I am any the better for this Sunday, it
has only made me feel unhappy and out of sorts. I am sure I pray to
God to make me better, and why doesn't He?
Feb. 20.-It has been quite a mild day for the season, and the doctor
said I might drive out. I enjoyed getting the air very much. I feel
just well as ever, and long to get back to school. I think God has
been very good to me in making me well again, and wish I loved Him
better. But, oh, I am not sure I do love Him! I hate to own it to
myself, and to write it down here, but I will. I do not love to pray.
I am always eager to get it over with and out of the way so as to
have leisure to enjoy myself. I mean that this is usually so. This
morning I cried a good deal while I was on my knees, and felt sorry
for my quick temper and all my bad ways. If I always felt so, perhaps
praying would not be such a task. I wish I knew whether anybody
exactly as bad as I am ever got to heaven at last. I have read ever
so many memoirs, and they were all about people who were too good to
live, and so died; or else went on a mission. I am not at all like
any of them.
March 26.-I have been so busy that I have not said much to you, you
poor old journal, you, have I? Somehow I have been behaving quite
nicely lately. Everything has gone on exactly to my mind. Mother has
not found fault with me once, and father has praised my drawings and
seemed proud of me. He says he shall not tell me what my teachers say
of me lest it should make me vain. And once or twice when he has met
me singing and frisking about the house he has kissed me and called
me his dear little Flibbertigibbet, if that's the way to spell it.
When he says that I know he is very fond of me. We are all very happy
together when nothing goes wrong. In the long evenings we all sit
around the table with our books and our work, and one of us reads
aloud. Mother chooses the book and takes her turn in reading. She
reads beautifully. Of course the readings do not begin till the
lessons are all learned. As to me, my lessons just take no time at
all. I have only to read them over once, and there they are. So I
have a good deal of time to read, and I devour all the poetry I can
get hold of. I would rather read "Pollok's Course of Time" than read
nothing at all.
APRIL 2.-There are three of mother's friends living near us, each
having lots of little children. It is perfectly ridiculous how much
those creatures are sick. They send for mother if so much as a pimple
comes out on one of their faces. When I have children I don't mean to
have such goings on. I shall be careful about what they eat, and keep
them from getting cold, and they will keep well of their own accord.
Mrs. Jones has just sent for mother to see her Tommy. It was so
provoking. I had coaxed her into letting me have a black silk apron;
they are all the fashion now, embroidered in floss silk. I had drawn
a lovely vine for mine entirely out of my own head, and mother was
going to arrange the pattern for me when that message came, and she
had to go. I don't believe anything ails the child! a great chubby
April 3.-Poor Mrs. Jones! Her dear little Tommy is dead! I stayed at
home from school to-day and had all the other children here to get
them out of their mother's way. How dreadfully she must feel! Mother
cried when she told me how the dear little fellow suffered in his
last moments. It reminded her of my little brothers who died in the
same way, just before I was born. Dear mother! I wonder I ever forget
what troubles she has had, and am not always sweet and loving. She
has gone now, where she always goes when she feels sad, straight to
God. Of course she did not say so, but I know mother.
April 25.-I have not been down in season once this week. I have
persuaded mother to let me read some of Scott's novels, and have sat
up late and been sleepy in the morning. I wish I could get along with
mother as nicely as James does. He is late far oftener than I am, but
he never gets into such scrapes about it as I do. This is what
happens. He comes down when it suits him.
Mother begins.-"James, I am very much displeased with you."
James.-"I should think you would be, mother."
Mother, mollified.-"I don't think you deserve any breakfast."
James, hypocritically.-"No, I don't think I do, mother."
Then mother hurries off and gets something extra for his breakfast.
Now let us see how things go on when I am late.
Mother.-"Katherine" (she always calls me Katherine when she is
displeased, and spells it with a K), "Katherine, you are late again;
how can you annoy your father so?"
Katherine.-"Of course I don't do it to annoy father or anybody else.
But if I oversleep myself, it is not my fault."
Mother.-"I would go to bed at eight o'clock rather than be late as
often as you. How should you like it if I were not down to prayers ?"
Katherine, muttering.-"Of course that is very different. I don't see
why I should be blamed for oversleeping any more than James. I get
all the scoldings."
Mother sighs and goes off.
I prowl round and get what scraps of breakfast I can.
May 12.-The weather is getting perfectly delicious. I am sitting with
my window open, and my bird is singing with all his heart. I wish I
was as gay as he is.
I have been thinking lately that it was about time to begin on some
of those pieces of self-denial I resolved on upon my birthday. I
could not think of anything great enough for a long time. At last an
idea popped into my head. Half the girls at school envy me because
Amelia is so fond of me, and Jane Underhill, in particular, is just
crazy to get intimate with her. But I have kept Amelia all to myself.
To-day I said to her, Amelia, Jane Underhill admires you above all
things. I have a good mind to let you be as intimate with her as you
are with me. It will be a great piece of self-denial, but I think it
is my duty. She is a stranger, and nobody seems to like her much."
"You dear thing, you!" cried Amelia, kissing me. "I liked Jane
Underhill the moment I saw her. She has such a sweet face and such
pleasant manners. But you are so jealous that I never dared to show
how I liked her. Don't be vexed, dearie; if you are jealous it is
your only fault!"
She then rushed off, and I saw her kiss that girl exactly as she
This was in recess. I went to my desk and made believe I was
studying. Pretty soon Amelia came back.
"She is a sweet girl," she said, "and only to think! She writes
poetry! Just hear this! It is a little poem addressed to me. Isn't
it nice of her?"
I pretended not to hear her. I was as full of all sorts of horrid
feelings as I could hold. It enraged me to think that Amelia, after
all her professions of love to me, should snatch at the first chance
of getting a new friend. Then I was mortified because I was enraged,
and I could have torn myself to pieces for being such a fool as to
let Amelia see how silly I was.
"I don't know what to make of you, Katy," she said, putting her arms
round me. "Have I done anything to vex you? Come, let us make up and
be friends, whatever it is. I will read you these sweet verses; I am
sure you will like them."
She read them in her clear, pleasant voice.
"How can you have the vanity to read such stuff?" I cried.
Amelia colored a little.
"You have said and written much more flattering things to me," she
replied. "Perhaps it has turned my head, and made me too ready to
believe what other people say." She folded the paper, and put it into
her pocket. We walked home together, after school, as usual, but
neither of us spoke a word. And now here I sit, unhappy enough. All
my resolutions fail But I did not think Amelia would take me at my
word, and rush after that stuck-up, smirking piece.
May 20.-I seem to have got back into all my bad ways again. Mother is
quite out of patience with me. I have not prayed for a long time. It
does not do any good.
May 21.-It seems this Underhill thing is here for health, though she
looks as well as any of us. She is an orphan, and has been adopted by
a rich old uncle, who makes a perfect fool of her. Such dresses and
such finery as she wears! Last night she had Amelia there to tea,
without inviting me, though she knows I am her best friend. She gave
her a bracelet made of her own hair. I wonder Amelia's mother lets
her accept presents from strangers. My mother would not let me. On
the whole, there is nobody like one's own mother. Amelia has been
cold and distant to me of late, but no matter what I do or say to my
darling, precious mother, she is always kind and loving. She noticed
how I moped about to-day, and begged me to tell her what was the
matter. I was ashamed to do that. I told her that it was a little
quarrel I had had with Amelia.
"Dear child," she said, "how I pity you that you have inherited my
quick, irritable temper."
"Yours, mother!" I cried out; "what can you mean?"
Mother smiled a little at my surprise.
"It is even so," she said.
"Then how did you cure yourself of it? Tell me quick, mother, and let
me cure myself of mine."
"My dear Katy," she said, "I wish I could make you see that God is
just as willing, and just as able to sanctify, as He is to redeem us.
It would save you so much weary, disappointing work. But God has
opened my eyes at last."
"I wish He would open mine, then," I said, "for all I see now is that
I am just as horrid as I can be, and that the more I pray the worse I
That is not true, dear," she replied; "go on praying-pray without
I sat pulling my handkerchief this way and that, and at last rolled
it up into a ball and threw it across the room. I wished I could toss
my bad feelings into a corner with it.
"I do wish I could make you love to pray, my darling child," mother
went on. "If you only knew the strength, and the light, and the joy
you might have for the simple asking. God attaches no conditions to
His gifts. He only says, 'Ask!'"
"This may be true, but it is hard work to pray. It tires me. And I do
wish there was some easy way of growing good. In fact I should like
to have God send a sweet temper to me just as He sent bread and meat
to Elijah. I don't believe Elijah had to kneel down and pray for
II. June 1.
LAST Sunday Dr. Cabot preached to the young. He first addressed those
who knew they did not love God. It did not seem to me that I belonged
to that class. Then he spoke to those who knew they did. I felt sure
I was not one of those. Last of all he spoke affectionately to those
who did not know what to think, and I was frightened and ashamed to
feel tears running down my cheeks, when he said that he believed that
most of his hearers who were in this doubtful state did really love
their Master, only their love was something as new and as tender and
perhaps as unobserved as the tiny point of green that, forcing its
way through the earth, is yet unconscious of its own existence, but
promises a thrifty plant. I don't suppose I express it very well, but
I know what he meant. He then invited those belonging to each class
to meet him on three successive Saturday afternoons. I shall
July 19.-I went to the meeting, and so did Amelia. A great many young
people were there and a few children. Dr. Cabot went about from seat
to seat speaking to each one separately. When he came to us I
expected he would say something about the way in which I had been
brought up, and reproach me for not profiting more by the
instructions and example I had at home. Instead of that he said, in a
"Well, my dear, I cannot see into your heart and positively tell
whether there is love to God there or not. But I suppose you have
come here to-day in order to let me help you to find out?"
I said, "Yes"; that was all I could get out.
"Let me see, then," he went on. "Do you love your mother?"
I said "Yes," once more.
"But prove to me that you do. How do you know it?"
I tried to think. Then I said,
"I feel that I love her. I love to love her, I like to be with her. I
like to hear people praise her. And I try--sometimes at least--to do
things to please her. But I don't try half as hard as I ought, and I
do and say a great many things to displease her."
"Yes, yes," he said, "I know."
"Has mother told you?" I cried out.
"No, dear, no indeed. But I know what human nature is after having
one of my own fifty years, and six of my children's to encounter."
Somehow I felt more courage after he said that.
"In the first place, then, you feel that you love your mother? But
you never feel that you love your God and Saviour?"
"I often try, and try, but I never do," I said.
"Love won't be forced," he said, quickly.
"Then what shall I do?"
"In the second place, you like to be with your mother. But you never
like to be with the Friend who loves you so much better than she
"I don't know, I never was with Him. Sometimes I think that when Mary
sat at His feet and heard Him talk, she must have been very happy."
"We come to the third test, then. You like to hear people praise your
mother. And have you ever rejoiced to hear the Lord magnified?"
I shook my head sorrowfully enough.
"Let us then try the last test. You know you love your mother because
you try to do things to please her. That is to do what you know she
wishes you to do? Very well. Have you never tried to do anything God
wishes you to do?" "Oh yes; often. But not so often as I ought."
"Of course not. No one does that. But come now, why do you try to do
what you think will please Him? Because it is easy? Because you like
to do what He likes rather than what you like yourself?"
I tried to think, and got puzzled.
"Never mind," said Dr. Cabot, " I have come now to the point I was
aiming at. You cannot prove to yourself that you love God by
examining your feelings towards Him. They are indefinite and they
fluctuate. But just as far as you obey Him, just so far, depend upon
it, you love Him. It is not natural to us sinful, ungrateful human
beings to prefer His pleasure to our own, or to follow His way
instead of our own way, and nothing, nothing but love to Him can or
does make us obedient to Him."
"Couldn't we obey Him from fear ?"Amelia now asked. She had been
listening all this time in silence.
"Yes; and so you might obey your mother from fear, but only for a
season. If you had no real love for her you would gradually cease to
dread her displeasure, whereas it is in the very nature of love to
grow stronger and more influential every hour."
"You mean, then, that if we want to know whether we love God, we must
find out whether we are obeying Him?" Amelia asked.
"I mean exactly that. 'He that keepeth my commandments he it is that
loveth me.' But I cannot talk with you any longer now. There are many
others still waiting. You can come to see me some day next week, if
you have any more questions to ask."
When we got out into the street, Amelia and I got hold of each
other's hands. We did not speak a word till we reached the door, but
we knew that we were as good friends as ever.
"I understand all Dr. Cabot said," Amelia whispered, as we separated.
But I felt like one in a fog. I cannot see how it is possible to love
God, and yet feel as stupid as I do when I think of Him. Still, I am
determined to do one thing, and that is to pray, regularly instead of
now and then, as I have got the habit of doing lately.
July 25.- School has closed for the season. I took the first prize
for drawing, and my composition was read aloud on examination day,
and everybody praised it. Mother could not possibly help showing, in
her face, that she was very much pleased. I am pleased myself. We are
now getting ready to take a journey. I do not think I shall go to see
Dr. Cabot again. My head is so full of other things, and there is so
much to do before we go. I am having four new dresses made, and I
can't imagine how to have them trimmed. I mean to run down to
Amelia's and ask her.
July 27.-I was rushing through the hall just after I wrote that, and
"I am going to Amelia's," I said, hurrying past her.
"Stop one minute, dear. Dr. Cabot is downstairs. He says he has been
expecting a visit from you, and that as you did not come to him, he
has come to you."
"I wish he would mind his own business," I said.
"I think he is minding it, dear," mother answered. "His Master's
business is his, and that has brought him here. Go to him, my darling
child; I am sure you crave something better than prizes and
compliments and new dresses and journeys."
If anybody but mother had said that, my heart would have melted at
once, and I should have gone right down to Dr. Cabot to be moulded in
his hand to almost any shape. But as it was I brushed past, ran into
my room, and locked my door. Oh, what makes me act so! I hate myself
for it, I don't want to do it!
Last week I dined with Mrs. Jones. Her little Tommy was very fond of
me, and that, I suppose, makes her have me there so often. Lucy was
at the table, and very fractious. She cried first for one thing and
then for another. At last her mother in a gentle, but very decided
way put her down from the table. Then she cried louder than ever. But
when her mother offered to take her back if she would be good, she
screamed yet more. She wanted to come and wouldn't let herself come.
I almost hated her when I saw her act so, and now I am behaving ten
times worse and I am just as miserable as I can be.
July 29.- Amelia has been here. She has had her talk with Dr. Cabot
and is perfectly happy. She says it is so easy to be a Christian! It
may be easy for her; everything is. She never has any of my dreadful
feelings, and does not understand them when I try to explain them to
her. Well, if I am fated to be miserable, I must try to bear it.
Oct. 3.-Summer is over, school has begun again, and I am so busy that
I have not much time to think, to be low spirited. We had a
delightful journey, and I feel well and bright, and even gay. I never
enjoyed my studies as I do those of this year. Everything goes on
pleasantly here at home. But James has gone away to school, and we
miss him sadly. I wish I had a sister. Though I dare say I should
quarrel with her, if I had.
Oct 23.-I am so glad that my studies are harder this year, as I am
never happy except when every moment is occupied. However, I do not
study all the time, by any means. Mrs. Gordon grows more and more
fond of me, and has me there to dinner or to tea continually. She has
a much higher opinion of me than mother has, and is always saying the
sort bf things that make you feel nice. She holds me up to Amelia as
an example, begging her to imitate me in my fidelity about my
lessons, and declaring there is nothing she so much desires as to
have a daughter bright and original like me. Amelia only laughs, and
goes and purrs in her mother's ears when she hears such talk. It
costs her nothing to be pleasant. She was born so. For my part, I
think myself lucky to have such a friend. She gets along with my odd,
hateful ways better than any one else does. Mother, when I boast of
this, says she has no penetration into character, and that she would
be fond of almost any one fond of her; and that the fury with which I
love her deserves some response. I really don't know what to make of
mother. Most people are proud of their children when they see others
admire them; but she does say such pokey things! Of course I know
that having a gift for music, and a taste for drawing, and a
reputation for saying witty, bright things isn't enough. But when she
doesn't find fault with me, and nothing happens to keep me down, I am
the gayest creature on earth. I do love to get with a lot of nice
girls, and carry on! I have got enough fun in me to keep a houseful
merry. And mother needn't say anything. I inherited it from her.
Evening.-I knew it was coming! Mother has been in to see what I was
about, and to give me a bit of her mind. She says she loves to see me
gay and cheerful, as is natural at my age, but that levity quite
upsets and disorders the mind, indisposing it for serious thoughts.
"But, mother," I said, "didn't you carry on when you were a young
"Of course I did," she said, smiling. "But I do not think I was quite
so thoughtless as you are."
"Thoughtless" indeed! I wish I were! But am I not always full of
uneasy, reproachful thoughts when the moment of excitement is over?
Other girls, who seem less trifling than I, are really more so. Their
heads are full of dresses and parties and beaux, and all that sort of
nonsense. I wonder if that ever worries their mothers, or whether
mine is the only one who weeps in secret? Well, I shall be young but
once, and while I am, do let me have a good time!
Sunday, Nov. 20.-Oh, the difference between this day and the day I
wrote that! There are no good times in this dreadful world. I have
hardly courage or strength to write down the history of the past few
weeks. The day after I had deliberately made up my mind to enjoy
myself, cost what it might, my dear father called me to him, kissed
me, pulled my ears a little, and gave me some money.
"We have had to keep you rather low in funds," he said laughing. "But
I recovered this amount yesterday, and as it was a little debt I had
given up, I can spare it to you. For girls like pin-money, I know,
and you may spend this just as you please."
I was delighted. I want to take more drawing-lessons, but did not
feel sure he could afford it. Besides-I am a little ashamed to write
it down-I knew somebody had been praising me or father would not have
seemed so fond of me. I wondered who it was, and felt a good deal
puffed up. "After-all," I said to myself, "some people like me if I
have got my faults." I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him,
though that cost me a great effort. I never like to show what I feel.
But, oh! how thankful I am for it now.
As to mother, I know father never goes out without kissing her
I went out with her to take a walk at three o'clock. We had just
reached the corner of Orange Street, when I saw a carriage driving
slowly towards us; it appeared to be full of sailors. Then I saw our
friend, Mr. Freeman, among them. When he saw us he jumped out and
came up to us. I do not know what he said. I saw mother turn pale and
catch at his arm as if she were afraid of falling. But she did not
speak a word.
"Oh! Mr. Freeman, what is it?" I cried out. "Has anything happened to
father? Is he hurt? Where is he?"
"He is in the carriage," he said. We are taking him home. He has had
Then we went on in silence. The sailors were carrying father in as we
reached the house. They laid him on the sofa, we saw his poor head...
Nov. 23.-I will try to write the rest now. Father was alive but
insensible. He had fallen down into the hold of the ship, and the
sailors heard him groaning there. He lived three hours after they
brought him home. Mr. Freeman and all our friends were very kind. But
we like best to be alone, we three, mother and James and I. Poor
mother looks twenty years older, but she is so patient, and so
concerned for us, and has such a smile of welcome for every one that
comes in, that it breaks my heart to see her.
Nov. 25.-Mother spoke to me very seriously to-day, about controlling
myself more. She said she knew this was my first real sorrow, and how
hard it was to bear it. But that she was afraid I should become
insane some time, if I indulged myself in such passions of grief. And
she said, too, that when friends came to see us, full of sympathy and
eager to say or do something for our comfort, it was our duty to
receive them with as much cheerfulness as possible.
I said they, none of them, had anything to say that did not provoke
"It is always a trying task to visit the afflicted," mother said,
"and you make it doubly hard to your friends by putting on a gloomy,
forbidding air, and by refusing to talk of your dear father, as if
you were resolved to keep your sorrow all to yourself."
"I can't smile when I am so unhappy," I said.
A good many people have been here to-day. Mother has seen them all,
though she looked ready to drop. Mrs. Bates said to me, in her
little, weak, watery voice:
"Your mother is wonderfully sustained, dear. I hope you feel
reconciled to God's will. Rebellion is most displeasing to Him,
I made no answer. It is very easy for people to preach. Let me see
how they behave when they their turn to lose their friends.
Mrs. Morris said this was a very mysterious dispensation. But that
she was happy to see that Mother was meeting it with so much
firmness. "As for myself," she went on, "I was quite broken down by
my dear husband's death. I did not eat as much as would feed a bird,
for nearly a week. But some people have so much feeling; then again
others are so firm. Your mother is so busy talking with Mrs. March
that I won't interrupt her to say good-bye. I came prepared to
suggest several things that I thought would comfort her; but perhaps
she has thought of them herself."
I could have knocked her down. Firm, indeed! Poor mother.
After they had all gone, I made her lie down, she looked so tired and
Then, I could not help telling her what Mrs. Morris had said.
She only smiled a little, but said nothing.
"I wish you would ever flare up, mother," I said.
She smiled again, and said she had nothing to "flare up" about.
"Then I shall do it for you!" I cried. To hear that namby-pamby
woman, who is about as capable of understanding you as an old cat,
talking about your being firm! You see what you get by being quiet
and patient! People would like you much better if you refused to be
comforted, and wore a sad countenance."
"Dear Katy," said mother, "it is not my first object in life to make
people like me."
By this time she looked so pale that I was frightened. Though she is
so cheerful, and things go on much as they did before, I believe she
has got her death-blow. If she has, then I hope I have got mine. And
yet I am not fit to die. I wish I was, and I wish I could die. I have
lost all interest in everything, and don't care what becomes of me.
Nov. 23.-I believe I shall go crazy unless people stop coming here,
hurling volleys of texts at mother and at me. When soldiers drop
wounded on the battle-field, they are taken up tenderly and carried
"to the rear," which means, I suppose, out of sight and sound. Is
anybody mad enough to suppose it will do them any good to hear
Scripture quoted sermons launched at them before their open, bleeding
wounds are staunched?
Mother assents, in a mild way, when I talk so and says, "Yes, yes, we
are indeed lying wounded on the battle-field of life, and in no
condition to listen to any words save those of pity. But, dear Katy,
we must interpret aright all the well-meant attempts of our friends
to comfort us. They mean sympathy, however awkwardly they express
And then she sighed, with a long, deep sigh, that told how it all
Dec. 14.-Mother keeps saying I spend too much time in brooding over
my sorrow. As for her, she seems to live in heaven. Not that she has
long prosy talks about it, but little words that she lets drop now
and then show where her thoughts are, and where she would like to be.
She seems to think everybody is as eager to go there as she is. For
my part, I am not eager at all. I can't make myself feel that it will
be nice to sit in rows, all the time singing, fond as I am of music.
And when I say to myself, "Of course we shall not always sit in rows
singing," then I fancy a multitude of shadowy, phantom-like beings,
dressed in white, moving to and fro in golden streets, doing nothing
in particular, and having a dreary time, without anything to look
I told mother so. She said earnestly, and yet in her sweetest,
"Oh, my darling Katy! What you need is such a living, personal love
to Christ as shall make the thought of being where He is so
delightful as to fill your mind with that single thought!"
What is "personal love to Christ?"
Oh, dear, dear! Why need my father have been snatched away from me,
when so many other girls have theirs spared to them? He loved me so!
He indulged me so much! He was so proud of me! What have I done that
I should have this dreadful thing happen to me? I shall never be as
happy as I was before. Now I shall always be expecting trouble. Yes,
I dare say mother will go next. Why shouldn't I brood over this
sorrow? I like to brood over it; I like to think how wretched I am; I
like to have long, furious fits of crying, lying on my face on the
Jan. I, 1832.-People talk a great deal about the blessed effects of
sorrow. But I do not see any good it has done me to lose my dear
father, and as to mother she was good enough before.
We are going to leave our pleasant home, where all of us children
were born, and move into a house in an out-of-the-way street. By
selling this, and renting a smaller one, mother hopes, with economy,
to carry James through college. And I must go to Miss Higgins' school
because it is less expensive than Mr. Stone's. Miss Higgins, indeed!
I never could bear her! A few months ago, how I should have cried and
stormed at the idea of her school. But the great sorrow swallows up
the little trial.
I tried once more, this morning, as it is the first day of the year,
to force myself to begin to love God.
I want to do it; I know I ought to do it; but I cannot. I go through
the form of saying something that I try to pass off as praying, every
day now. But I take no pleasure in it, as good people say they do,
and as I am sure mother does. Nobody could live in the house with
her, and doubt that.
Jan. 10.-We are in our new home now, and it is quite a cozy little
place. James is at home for the long vacation and we are together all
the time I am out of school. We study and sing together and now and
then, when we forget that dear father has gone, we are as full of fun
as ever. If it is so nice to have a brother, what must it be to have
a sister! Dear old Jim! He is the very pleasantest, dearest fellow in
Jan. 15.-I have come to another birthday and am seventeen. Mother has
celebrated it just as usual, though I know all these anniversaries
which used to be so pleasant, must be sad days to her now my dear
father has gone. She has been cheerful-and loving, and entered into
all my pleasures exactly as if nothing had happened. I wonder at
myself that I do not enter more into her sorrows, but though at times
the remembrance of our loss overwhelms me, my natural elasticity soon
makes me rise above and forget it. And I am absorbed with these
school-days, that come one after another, in such quick succession
that I am all the time running to keep up with them. And as long as I
do that I forget that death has crossed our threshold, and may do it
again. But to night I feel very sad, and as if I would give almost
any thing to live in a world where nothing painful could happen.
Somehow mother's pale face haunts and reproaches me. I believe I will
go to bed and to sleep as quickly as possible, and forget everything.
My school-days are over! I have come off with flying colors, and
mother is pleased at my success. I said to her today that I should
now have time to draw and practice to my heart's content.
"You will not find your heart content with either," she said.
"Why, mother!" I cried, "I thought you liked to see me happy!"
"And so I do," she said, quietly. "But there is something better to
get out of life than you have yet found."
"I am sure I hope so," I returned. "On the whole, I haven't got much
Amelia is now on such terms with Jenny Underhill that I can hardly
see one without seeing the other After the way in which I have loved
her, this seems rather hard. Sometimes I am angry about it, and
sometimes grieved. However, I find Jenny quite nice. She buys all the
new books and lends them to me. I wish I liked more solid reading;
but I don't. And I wish I were not so fond of novels; but I am. If it
were not for mother I should read nothing else. And I am sure I often
feel quite stirred up by a really good novel, and admire and want to
imitate every high-minded, noble character it describes.
Jenny has a miniature of her brother "Charley" in a locket, which she
always wears, and often shows me. According to her, he is exactly
like the heroes I most admire in books. She says she knows he would
like me if we should meet. But that is not probable. Very few like
me. Amelia says it is because I say just what I think.
Wednesday.-Mother pointed out to me this evening two lines from a
book she was reading, with a significant smile that said they
"A frank, unchastened, generous creature, Whose faults and virtues
stand in bold relief."
"Dear me!" I said, "so then I have some virtues after all!"
And I really think I must have, for Jenny's brother, who has come
here for the sake of being near her, seems to like me very much.
Nobody ever liked me so much before, not even Amelia. But how foolish
to write that down!
Thursday.-Jenny's brother has been here all evening. He has the most
perfect manners I ever saw. I am sure that mother, who thinks so much
of such things, would be charmed with him but she happened to be out,
Mrs. Jones having sent for her to see about her baby. He gave me an
account of his mother's death, and how he and Jenny nursed her day
and night. He has a great deal of feeling. I was going to tell him
about my father's death, sorrow seems to bring people together so,
but I could not. Oh, if he had only had a sickness that needed our
tender nursing, instead of being snatched from us in that sudden way!
Sunday, Aug. 5.-Jenny's brother has been at our church all day. He
walked home with me this afternoon. Mother, after being up all night
with Mrs. Jones and her baby, was not able to go out.
Dr Cabot preaches as if we had all got to die pretty soon, or else
have something almost as bad happen to us. How can old people always
try to make young people feel uncomfortable, and as if things
Aug. 25.-Jenny says her brother is perfectly fascinated with me, and
that I must try to like him in return. I suppose mother would say my
head was turned by my good fortune, but it is not. I am getting quite
sober and serious. It is a great thing to be--to be--well--liked. I
have seen some verses of his composition to-day that show that he is
all heart and soul, and would make any sacrifice for one he loved. I
could not like a man who did not possess such sentiments as his.
Perhaps mother would think I ought not to put such things into my
Jenny has thought of such a splendid plan! What a dear little thing
she is! She and her brother are so much alike! The plan is for us
three girls, Jenny, Amelia and myself, to form ourselves into a
little class to read and to study together. She says "Charley" will
direct our readings and help us with our studies. It is perfectly
September 1.-Somehow I forgot to tell mother that Mr. Underhill was
to be our teacher. So when it came my turn to have the class meet
here, she was not quite pleased. I told her she could stay and watch
us, and then she would see for herself that we all behaved ourselves.
Sept. 19.-The class met at Amelia's to-night. Mother insisted on
sending for me, though Mr. Underhill had proposed to see me home
himself. So he stayed after I left. It was not quite the thing in
him, for he must see that Amelia is absolutely crazy about him.
Sept. 28-We met at Jenny's this evening. Amelia had a bad headache
and could not come. Jenny idled over her lessons, and at last took a
book and began to read. I studied awhile with Mr. Underhill. At last
he said, scribbling something on a bit of paper:
"Here is a sentence I hope you can translate."
I took it, and read these words:
"You are the brightest, prettiest, most warm-hearted little thing in
the world. And I love you more than tongue can tell. You must love me
in the same way."
I felt hot and then cold, and then glad and then sorry. But I
pretended to laugh, and said I could not translate Greek. I shall
have to tell mother, and what will she say?
Sept. 29.-This morning mother began thus:
"Kate, I do not like these lessons of yours. At your age, with your
judgment quite unformed, it is not proper that you should spend so
much time with a young man.
"Jenny is always there, and Amelia," I replied.
"That makes no difference. I wish the whole thing stopped. I do not
know what I have been thinking of to let it go on so long. Mrs.
"Mrs. Gordon! Ha!" I burst out, "I knew Amelia was at the bottom of
it! Amelia is in love with him up to her very ears, and because he
does not entirely neglect me, she has put her mother up to coming
here, meddling and making--"
"If what you say of Amelia is true, it is most ungenerous in you to
tell of it. But I do not believe it. Amelia Gordon has too much good
sense to be carried away by a handsome face and agreeable manners."
I began to cry.
"He likes me," I got out, "he likes me ever so much. Nobody ever was
so kind to me before. Nobody ever said such nice things to me. And I
don't want such horrid things said about him."
"Has it really come this!" said mother, quite shocked. "Oh, my poor
child, how my selfish sorrow has made me neglect you."
I kept on crying.
"Is it possible," she went on, "that with your good sense, and the
education you have had, you are captivated by this mere boy?"
"He is not a boy," I said. "He is a man. He is twenty years old; or
at least he will be on the fifteenth of next October."
"The child actually keeps his birthdays!" cried mother. "Oh, my
wicked, shameful carelessness."
"It's done now," I said, desperately. "It is too late to help it
"You don't mean that he has dared to say anything without consulting
me?" asked mother. "And you have allowed it! Oh, Katherine!"
This time my mouth shut itself up, and no mortal force could open it.
I stopped crying, and sat with folded arms. Mother said what she had
to say, and then I came to you, my dear old Journal.
Yes, he likes me and I like him. Come now, let's out with it once for
all. He loves me and I love him. You are just a little bit too late,
Oct 1.-I never can write down all the things that have happened. The
very day after I wrote that mother had forbidden my going to the
class, Charley came to see her, and they had a regular fight
together. He has told me about it since. Then, as he could not
prevail, his uncle wrote, told her it would be the making of Charley
to be settled down on one young lady instead of hovering from flower
to flower, as he was doing now. Then Jenny came with her pretty ways,
and cried, and told mother what a darling brother Charley was. She
made a good deal, too, out of his having lost both father and mother,
and needing my affection so much. Mother shut herself up, and I have
no doubt prayed over it. I really believe she prays over every new
dress she buys. Then she sent for me and talked beautifully, and I
At last she said she would put us on one year's probation. Charley
might spend one evening here every two weeks, when she should always
be present. We were never to be seen together in public, nor would
she allow us to correspond. If, at the end of the year, we were both
as eager for it as we are now, she would consent to our engagement.
Of course we shall be, so I consider myself as good as engaged now.
Dear me! how funny it seems.
Oct 2.-Charley is not at all pleased with mother's terms, but no one
would guess it from his manner to her. His coming is always the
signal for her trotting down stairs; he goes to meet her and offers
her a chair, as if he was delighted to see her. We go on with the
lessons, as this gives us a chance to sit pretty close together, and
when I am writing my exercises and he corrects them, I rather think a
few little things get on to the paper that sound nicely to us, but
would not strike mother very agreeably. For instance, last night
"Is your mother never sick? A nice little headache or two would be so
convenient to us!"
And I wrote back.
"You dear old horrid thing How can you be so selfish?"
Jan. 15, 1833.-I have been trying to think whether I am any happier
today than I was at this time a year ago. If I am not, I suppose it
is the tantalizing way in which I am placed in regard to Charley. We
have so much to say to each other that we can't say before mother,
and that we cannot say in writing, because a correspondence is one of
the forbidden things. He says he entered into no contract not to
write, and keeps slipping little notes into my hand; but I don't
think that quite right. Mother hears us arguing and disputing about
it, though she does not know the subject under discussion, and to-day
she said to me:
"I would not argue with him, if I were you. He never will yield."
"But it is a case of conscience," I said, "and he ought to yield."
"There is no obstinacy like that of a f---," she and stopped short.
"Oh, you may as well finish it!" I cried. "I know you think him a
Then mother burst out,
"Oh, my child," she said, "before it is too late, do be persuaded by
me to give up this whole thing. I shrink from paining or offending
you, but it is my duty, as your mother, to warn you against a
marriage that will make shipwreck of your happiness."'
"Marriage!" I fairly shrieked out. That is the last thing I have ever
thought of. I felt a chill creep over me. All I had wanted was to
have Charley come here every day, take me out now and then, and care
for nobody else.
"Yes, marriage!" mother repeated. "For what is the meaning of an
engagement if marriage is not to follow? How can you fail to see,
what I see, oh! so plainly, that Charley Underhill can never, never
meet the requirements of your soul. You are captivated by what girls
of your age call beauty, regular features, a fair complexion and soft
eyes. His flatteries delude, and his professions of affection gratify
you. You do not see that he is shallow, and conceited, and selfish
"Oh mother! How can you be so unjust? His whole study seems to be to
"Seems to be--that is true," she replied. "His ruling passion is love
of admiration; the little pleasing acts that attract you are so many
traps set to catch the attention and the favorable opinion of those
about him. He has not one honest desire to please because it is right
to be pleasing. Oh, my precious child, what a fatal mistake you are
making in relying on your own judgment in this, the most important of
I felt very angry.
"I thought the Bible forbade back-biting," I said.
Mother made no reply, except by a look which said about a hundred and
forty different things. And then I came up here and wrote some
poetry, which was very good (for me), though I don't suppose she
would think so.
Oct. 1.-The year of probation is over, and I have nothing to do now
but to be happy. But being engaged is not half so nice as I expected
it would be. I suppose it is owing to my being obliged to defy
mother's judgment in order to gratify my own. People say she has
great insight into character, and sees, at a glance, what others only
learn after much study.
Oct. 10.-I have taken a dreadful cold. It is too bad. I dare say I
shall be coughing all winter, and instead of going out with Charley,
be shut up at home.
Oct. 12.-Charley says he did not know that I was subject to a cough,
and that he hopes I am not consumptive, because his father and mother
died of consumption, and it makes him nervous to hear people cough. I
nearly strangled myself all the evening trying not to annoy him with
I really think I am sick and going to die. Last night I raised a
little blood. I dare not tell mother, it would distress her so, but I
am sure it came from my lungs. Charley said last week he really must
stay away till I got better, for my cough sounded like his mother's.
I have been very lonely, and have shed some tears, but most of the
time have been too sorrowful to cry. If we were married, and I had a
cough, would he go and leave me, I wonder?
Sunday, Nov 18-Poor mother is dreadfully anxious about me. But I
don't see how she can love me so, after the way I have behaved. I
wonder if, after all, mothers are not the best friends there are! I
keep her awake with my cough all night, and am mopy and cross all
day, but she is just as kind and affectionate as she can be.
Nov. 25.-The day I wrote that was Sunday. I could not go to church,
and I felt very forlorn and desolate. I tried to get some comfort by
praying, but when I got on my knees I just burst out crying and could
not say a word. For I have not seen Charley for ten days. As I knelt
there I began to think myself a perfect monster of selfishness for
wanting him to spend his evenings with me, now that I am so unwell
and annoy him so with my cough, and I asked myself if I ought not to
break off the engagement altogether, if I was really in consumption,
the very disease Charley dreaded most of all. It seemed such a proper
sacrifice to make of myself. Then I prayed-yes, I am sure I really
prayed as I had not done for more than a year, the idea of
self-sacrifice grew every moment more beautiful in my eyes, till at
last I felt an almost joyful triumph in writing to poor Charley, and
tell him what I had resolved to do. This is my letter:
My Dear, Dear Charley -I dare not tell you what it costs me to say
what I am about to do; but I am sure you know me well enough by this
time believe that it is only because your happiness is far more
precious to me than my own, that I have decided to write you this
letter. When you first told me that you loved me, you said, and you
have often said so since then, that it was my "brightness and gayety"
that attracted you. I knew there was something underneath my gayety
better worth your love, and was glad I could give you more than you
asked for. I knew I was not a mere thoughtless, laughing girl, but
that I had a heart as wide as the ocean to give you-as wide and as
But now my "brightness and gayety" have gone; I am sick and perhaps
am going to die. If this is so, it would be very sweet to have your
love go with me to the very gates of death, and beautify and glorify
my path thither. But what a weary task this would be to you, my poor
Charley! And so, if you think it best, and it would relieve you of
any care and pain, I will release you from our engagement and set you
free. Your Little Katy.
I did not sleep at all that night. Early on Monday I sent off my
letter; and my heart beat so hard all day that I was tired and faint.
Just at dark his answer came; I can copy it from memory.
Dear Kate: -What a generous, self-sacrificing little thing you are! I
always thought so, but now you have given me a noble proof of it. I
will own that I have been disappointed to find your constitution so
poor, and that it has been very dull sitting and hearing you cough,
especially as I was reminded of the long and tedious illness through
which poor Jenny and myself had to nurse our mother. I vowed then
never to marry a consumptive woman, and I thank you for making it so
easy for me to bring our engagement to an end. My bright hopes are
blighted, and it will be long before I shall find another to fill
your place. I need not say how much I sympathize with you in this
disappointment. I hope the consolations of religion will now be
yours. Your notes, the lock of your hair, etc., I return with this
now. I will not reproach you for the pain you have cost me; I know it
is not your fault that your health has become so frail. I remain your
Jan. I, 1834.-Let me finish this story If I can.
My first impulse after reading his letter was to fly to mother, and
hide away forever in her dear, loving arms.
But I restrained myself, and with my heart beating so that I could
hardly hold my pen, I wrote:
Mr.. Underhill Sir-The scales have fallen from my eyes, and I see you
at last just as you are. Since my note to you on Sunday last, I have
had a consultation of physicians, and they all agree that my disease
is not of an alarming character, and that I shall soon recover. But I
thank God that before it was too late, you have been revealed to me
just as you are-a heartless, selfish, shallow creature, unworthy the
love of a true-hearted woman, unworthy even of your own self-respect.
I gave you an opportunity to withdraw from our engagement in full
faith, loving you so truly that I was ready to go trembling to my
grave alone if you shrank from sustaining me to it. But I see now
that I did not dream for one moment that you would take me at my word
and leave me to my fate. I thought I loved a man, and could lean on
him when strength failed me; I know now that I loved a mere creature
of my imagination. Take back your letters; loathe the sight of them.
Take back the ring, and find, if you can, a woman who will never be
sick, never out of spirits, and who never will die. Thank heaven it
is not Katherine Mortimer.
These lines came to me in reply:
"Thank God it is not Kate Mortimer. I want an angel for my wife, not
a vixen. C. U."
Jan. 15-What a tempest-tossed creature this birthday finds me. But
let me finish this wretched, disgraceful story, if I can, before I
quite lose my senses.
I showed my mother the letters. She burst into tears and opened her
arms, and I ran into them as a wounded bird flies into the ark. We
cried together. Mother never said, never looked, "I told you so."
All she did say was this,
"God has heard my prayers! He is reserving better things for my
Dear mother's are not the only arms I have flown to. But it does not
seem as if God ought to take me in because I am in trouble, when I
would not go to him when I was happy in something else. But even in
the midst of my greatest felicity I had many and many a misgiving;
many a season when my conscience upbraided me for my willfulness
towards my dear mother, and my whole soul yearned for something
higher and better even than Charley's love, precious as it was.
Jan. 26.-I have shut myself up in my room to-day to think over
things. The end of it is that I am full of mortification and
confusion of face. If I had only had confidence in mother's judgment
I should never have get entangled in this silly engagement. I see now
that Charley never could have made me happy, and I know there is a
good deal in my heart he never called out. I wish, however, I had not
written him when I was in passion. No wonder he is thankful that he
free from such a vixen. But, oh the provocation was terrible!
I have made up my mind never to tell a human soul about this affair.
It will be so high- minded and honorable to shield him thus from the
contempt he deserves. With all my faults I am glad that there is
nothing mean or little about me!
Jan. 27.-I can't bear to write it down, but I will. The ink was
hardly dry yesterday on the above self-laudation when Amelia came.
She had been out of town, and had only just learned what had
happened. Of course she was curious to know the whole story.
And I told it to her, every word of it! Oh, Kate Mortimer, how
"high-minded" you are! How free from all that is "mean and little"! I
could tear my hair if it would do any good?
Amelia defended Charley, and I was thus led on to say every harsh
thing of him I could think of. She said he was of so sensitive a
nature, had so much sensibility, and such a constitutional aversion
to seeing suffering, that for her part she could not blame him.
"It is such a pity you had not had your lungs examined before you
wrote that first letter, she went on. "But you are so impulsive! If
you had only waited you would be engaged to Charley still!"
"I am thankful I did not wait," I cried, angrily. "Do, Amelia, drop
the subject forever. You and I shall never agree upon it. The truth
is, you are two-thirds in love with him, and have been, all along."
She colored, and laughed, and actually looked pleased. If anyone had
made such an outrageous speech to me I should have been furious.
"I suppose you know," said she, "that old Mr. Underhill has taken
such a fancy to him that he has made him his heir; and he is as rich
as a Jew."
"Indeed!" I said, dryly.
I wonder if mother knew it when she opposed our engagement so
Jan. 31.-1 have asked her, and she said she did. Mr. Underhill told
her his intentions when he urged her consent to the engagement. Dear
mother! How unworldly, how unselfish she is!
Feb. 4.-The name of Charley Underhill appears on these pages for the
last time. He is engaged to Amelia! From this moment she is lost to
me forever. How desolate, how mortified, how miserable I am! Who
could have thought this of Amelia! She came to see me, radiant with
joy. I concealed my disgust until she said that Charley felt now that
he had never really loved me, but had preferred her all along. Then I
burst out. What I said I do not know, and do not care. The whole
thing is so disgraceful that I should be a stock or a stone not to
Feb. 5.-After yesterday's passion of grief, shame, and anger, I feel
perfectly stupid and .languid. Oh, that I was prepared for a better
world, and could fly to it and be at rest!
Feb. 6.-Now that it is all over, how ashamed I am of the fury I have
been in, and which has given Amelia such advantage over me! I was
beginning to believe that I was really living a feeble and
fluttering, but real Christian life, and finding some satisfaction in
it. But that is all over now. I am doomed to be a victim of my own
unstable, passionate, wayward nature, and the sooner I settle down
into that conviction, the better. And yet how my very soul craves the
highest happiness, and refuses to be comforted while that is wanting.
Feb. 7.-After writing that, I do not know what made me go to see Dr.
Cabot. He received me in that cheerful way of his that seems to
promise the taking one's burden right off one's back.
"I am very glad to see you, my dear child," he said.
I intended to be very dignified and cold. As if I was going to have
any Dr. Cabot's undertaking to sympathize with me! But those few kind
words just upset me, and I began to cry.
"You would not speak so kindly," I got out at last, "if you knew what
a dreadful creature I am. I am angry with myself, and angry with
everybody, and angry with God. I can't be good two minutes at a time.
I do everything I do not want to do, and do nothing I try and pray to
do. Everybody plagues me and tempts me. And God does not answer any
of my prayers, and I am just desperate."
"Poor child!" he said, in a low voice, as if to himself. "Poor,
heart-sick, tired child, that cannot see what I can see, that its
Father's loving arms are all about it?"
I stopped crying, to strain my ears and listen. He went on.
"Katy, all that you say may be true. I dare say it is. But God loves
you. He loves you."
"He loves me," I repeated to myself. "He loves me! Oh, Dr. Cabot, if
I could believe that! If I could believe that, after all the promises
I have broken, all the foolish, wrong things I have done and shall
always be doing, God perhaps still loves me!"
"You may be sure of it," he said, solemnly. "I, minister, bring the
gospel to you to-day. Go home and say over and over to yourself, 'I
am a wayward, foolish child. But He loves me! I have disobeyed and
grieved Him ten thousand times. But He loves me! I have lost faith in
some of my dearest friends and am very desolate. But He loves me! I
do not love Him, I am even angry with Him! But He loves me! '"
I came away, and all the way home I fought this battle with myself,
saying, "He loves me!" I knelt down to pray, and all my wasted,
childish, wicked life came and stared me in the face. I looked at it,
and said with tears of joy, "But He loves me!" Never in my life did I
feel so rested, so quieted, so sorrowful, and yet so satisfied.
Feb 10.-What a beautiful world this is, and how full it is of truly
kind, good people! Mrs. Morris was here this morning, and just one
squeeze of that long, yellow old hand of hers seemed to speak a
bookful! I wonder why I have always disliked her so, for she is
really an excellent woman. I gave her a good kiss to pay her for the
sympathy she had sense enough not to put into canting words, and if
you will believe it, dear old Journal, the tears came into her eyes,
and she said:
"You are one of the Lord's beloved ones, though perhaps you do not
I repeated again to myself those sweet, mysterious words, and then I
tried to think what I could do for Him. But I could not think of
anything great or good enough. I went into mother's room and put my
arms round her and told her how I loved her. She looked surprised and
"Ah, I knew it would come!" she said, laying her hand on her Bible.
"Knew what would come, mother?"
"Peace," she said.
I came back here and wrote a little note to Amelia, telling her how
ashamed and sorry I was that I could not control myself the other
day. Then I wrote a long letter to James. I have been very careless
about writing to him.
Then I began to hem those handkerchiefs mother -asked me to finish a
month ago. But I could not think of anything to do for God. I wish I
could. It makes me so happy to think that all this time, while I was
caring for nobody but myself, and fancying He must almost hate me, He
was loving and pitying me.
Feb. 15.-I went to see Dr. Cabot again to-day. He came down from his
study with his pen in his hand.
"How dare you come and spoil my sermon on Saturday?" he asked,
Though he seemed full of loving kindness, I was ashamed of my
thoughtlessness. Though I did not know he was particularly busy on
Saturdays. If I were a minister I am sure I would get my sermons done
early in the week.
"I only wanted to ask one thing," I said. "I want to do something for
God. And I cannot think of anything unless it is to go on a mission.
And mother would never let me do that. She thinks girls with delicate
health are not fit for such work."
"At all events I would not go to-day," he replied. Meanwhile do
everything you do for Him who has loved you and given Himself for
I did not dare to stay any longer, and so came away quite puzzled.
Dinner was ready, and as I sat down to the table, I said to myself:
"I eat this dinner for myself, not for God. What can Dr. Cabot mean?"
Then I remembered the text about doing all for the glory of God, even
in eating and drinking; but I do not understand it at all.
Feb. 19.It has seemed to' me for several days that it must be that I
really do love God, though ever so little. But it shot through my
mind to-day like a knife, that it is a miserable, selfish love at the
best, not worth my giving, not worth God's accepting. All my old
misery has come back with seven other miseries more miserable than
itself. I wish I had never been born! I wish I were thoughtless and
careless, like so many other girls of my age, who seem to get along
very well, and to enjoy themselves far more than I do.
Feb. 21.-Dr. Cabot came to see me to-day. I told him all about it. He
could not help smiling as he said:
"When I see a little infant caressing its mother, would you have me
say to it, 'You selfish child, how dare you pretend to caress your
mother in that way? You are quite unable to appreciate her character;
you love her merely because she loves you, treats you kindly?'"
It was my turn to smile now, at my own folly.
"You are as yet but a babe in Christ," Dr. Cabot continued. "You love
your God and Saviour because He first loved you. The time will come
when the character of your love will become changed into one which
sees and feels the beauty and the perfection of its object, and if
you could be assured that He no longer looked on you with favor, you
would still cling to Him with devoted affection."
"There is one thing more that troubles me," I said. "Most persons
know the exact moment when they begin real Christian lives. But I do
not know of any such time in my history. This causes me many uneasy
"You are wrong in thinking that most persons have this advantage over
you. I believe that the children of Christian parents, who have been
judiciously trained, rarely can 'point to any day or hour when they
began to live this new life. The question is not, do you remember, my
child, when you entered this world, and how! It is simply this, are
you now alive and an inhabitant thereof? And now it is my turn to ask
you a question. How happens it that you, who have a mother of rich
and varied experience, allow yourself to be tormented with these
petty anxieties which she is as capable of dispelling as I am?"
"I do not know," I answered. "But we girls can't talk to our mothers
about any of our sacred feelings, and we hate to have them talk to
Dr. Cabot shook his head.
"There is something wrong somewhere," he said, "A young girl's mother
is her natural refuge in every perplexity. I hoped that you, who have
rather more sense than most girls of your age, could give me some
idea what the difficulty is."
After he had gone, I am ashamed to own that I was in a perfect
flutter of delight at what he had said about my having more sense
than most girls. Meeting poor mother on the stairs while in this
exalted state of mind, I gave her a very short answer to a kind
question, and made her unhappy, as I have made myself.
It is just a year ago to-day that I got frightened at my
novel-reading propensities, and resolved not to look into one for
twelve months. I was getting to dislike all other books, and night
after night sat up late, devouring everything exciting I could get
hold of. One Saturday night I sat up till the clock struck twelve to
finish one, and the next morning I was so sleepy that I had to stay
at home from church. Now I hope and believe the back of this taste is
broken, and that I shall never be a slave to it again. Indeed it does
not seem to me now that I shall ever care for such books again.
Feb. 24.-Mother spoke to me this morning for the fiftieth time, I
really believe, about my disorderly habits. I don't think I am
careless because I like confusion, but the trouble is I am always in
a hurry and a ferment about something. If I want anything, I want it
very much, and right away. So if I am looking for a book, or a piece
of music, or a pattern, I tumble everything around, and can't stop to
put them to rights. I wish I were not so-eager and impatient. But I
mean to try to keep my room and my drawers in order, to please
She says, too, that I am growing careless about my hair and my dress.
But that is because my mind is so full of graver, more important
things. I thought I ought to be wholly occupied with my duty to God.
But mother says duty to God includes duty to one's neighbor, and that
untidy hair, put up in all sorts of rough bunches, rumpled cuffs and
collars, and all that sort of thing, make one offensive to all one
meets. I am sorry she thinks so, for I find it very convenient to
twist up my hair almost any how, and it takes a good deal of time to
look after collars and cuffs.
March 14.-To-day I feel discouraged and disappointed. I certainly
thought that if God really loved me, and I really loved Him, I should
find myself growing better day by day. But I am not improved in the
least. Most of the time I spend on my knees I am either stupid;
feeling nothing at all, or else my head is full of what I was doing
before I began to pray, or what I am going to do as soon as I get
through. I do not believe anybody else in the world is like me in
this respect. Then when I feel differently, and can make a nice, glib
prayer, with floods of tears running down my cheeks, I get all puffed
up, and think how much pleased God must be to see me so fervent in
spirit. I go down-stairs in this frame, and begin to scold Susan for
misplacing my music, till all of a sudden I catch myself doing it,
and stop short, crestfallen and confounded. I have so many such
experiences that I feel like a baby just learning to walk, who is so
afraid of falling that it has half a mind to sit down once for all.
Then there is another thing. Seeing mother so fond of Thomas A
Kempis, I have been reading it, now and then, and am not fond of it
at all. From beginning to end it exhorts to self-denial in every form
and shape. Must I then give up all hope of happiness in this world,
and modify all my natural tastes and desires? Oh, I do love so to be
happy! I do so hate to suffer! The very thought of being sick, or of
being forced to nurse sick people, with all their cross ways, and of
losing my friends, or of having to live with disagreeable people,
make's me shudder. I want to please God, and to be like Him. I
certainly do. But I am so young, and it is so natural to want to have
a good time! And now I am in for it I may as well tell the whole
story. When I read the lives of good men and women who have died and
gone to heaven, I find they all liked to sit and think about God and
about Christ. Now I don't. I often try, but my mind flies off in a
tangent. The truth is I am perfectly discouraged.
March 17.-I went to see Dr. Cabot to-day, but he was out, so I
thought I would ask for Mrs. Cabot, though I was determined not to
tell her any of my troubles. But somehow she got the whole story out
of me, and instead of being shocked, as I expected she would be, she
actually burst out laughing! She recovered herself immediately,
"Do excuse me for laughing at you, you dear child you!" she said.
"But I remember so well how I use to flounder through just such
needless anxieties, and life looks so different, so very different,
to me now from what it did then! What should you think of a man who,
having just sowed his field, was astonished not to see it at once
ripe for the harvest, because his neighbor's, after long months of
waiting, was just being gathered in?"
"Do you mean," I asked, "that by and by I shall naturally come to
feel and think as other good people do?"
"Yes, I do. You must make the most of what little Christian life you
have; be thankful God has given you so much, cherish it, pray over
it, and guard it like the apple of your eye. Imperceptibly, but
surely, it will grow, and keep on growing, for this is its nature."
"But I don't want to wait," I said, despondently. "I have just been
reading a delightful book, full of stories of heroic deeds-not
fables, but histories of real events and real people. It has quite
stirred me up, and made me wish to possess such beautiful heroism,
and that I were a man, that I might have a chance to perform some
truly noble, self-sacrificing acts."
"I dare say your chance will come," she replied, "though you are not
a man. I fancy we all get, more or less, what we want."
"Do you really think so? Let me see, then, what I want most. But I am
staying too long. Were you particularly busy?"
"No," she returned smilingly, "I am learning that the man who wants
me is the man I want."
"You are very good to say so. Well, in the first place, I do really
and truly want to be good. Not with common goodness, you know, but-"
"But uncommon goodness," she put in.
"I mean that I want to be very, very good. I should like next best to
be learned and accomplished. Then I should want to be perfectly well
and perfectly happy. And a pleasant home, of course, I must have,
with friends to love me, and like me, too. And I can't get along
without some pretty, tasteful things about me. But you are laughing
at me! Have I said anything foolish?"
"If I laughed it was not at you, but at poor human nature that would
fain grasp everything at once. Allowing that you should possess all
you have just described, where is the heroism you so much admire for
"That is just what I was saying. That is just what troubles me."
"To be sure, while perfectly well and happy, in a pleasant home;
with friends to love and admire you--"
"Oh, I did not say admire," I interrupted.
"That was just what you meant, my dear."
I am afraid it was, now I come to think it over.
"Well, with plenty of friends, good in an uncommon way, accomplished,
learned, and surrounded with pretty and tasteful objects, your life
will certainly be in danger of not proving very sublime."
"It is a great pity," I said, musingly.
"Suppose then you content yourself for the present with doing in a
faithful, quiet, persistent way all the little, homely tasks that
return with each returning day, each one as unto God, and perhaps by
and by you will thus have gained strength for a more heroic life."
"But I don't know how."
"You have some little home duties, I suppose?"
"Yes; I have the care of my own room, and mother wants me to have a
general oversight of the parlor; you know we have but one parlor
"Is that all you have to do?"
"Why, my music and drawing take up a good deal of my time, and I read
and study more or less, and go out some, and we have a good many
"I suppose, then, you keep your room in nice lady-like order, and
that the parlor is dusted every morning, loose music put out of the
way, books restored to their places-"
"Now I know mother has been telling you."
"Your mother has told me nothing at all."
"Well, then," I said, laughing, but a little ashamed, "I don't keep
my room in nice order, and mother really sees to the parlor herself,
though I pretend to do it."
"And is she never annoyed by this neglect?"
"Oh, yes, very much annoyed."
"Then, dear Katy, suppose your first act of heroism tomorrow should
be the gratifying your mother in these little things, little though
they are. Surely your first duty, next to pleasing God, is to please
your mother, and in every possible way to sweeten and beautify her
life. You may depend upon it that a life of real heroism and
self-sacrifice must begin and lay its foundation in this little
world, wherein it learns its first lesson and takes its first steps."
"And do you really think that God notices such little things ?"
"My dear child, what a question! If there is any one truth I would
gladly impress on the mind of a you Christian, it is just this, that
God notices the most trivial act, accepts the poorest, most
threadbare little service, listens to the coldest, feeblest petition,
and gathers up with parental fondness all our fragmentary desires and
attempts at good works. Oh, if we could only begin to conceive how He
loves us, what different creatures we should be!"
I felt inspired by her enthusiasm, though I don't think I quite
understand what she means. I did not dare to stay any longer, for,
with her great host of children, she must have her hands full.
March 25.-Mother is very much astonished to see how nicely I am
keeping things in order. I was flying about this morning, singing,
and dusting the furniture, when she came in and began, "He that is
faithful in that which is least "-but I ran at her my brush, and
would not let her finish. really, really don't deserve to be praised.
For I have been thinking that, if it is true that God notices every
little thing we do to please Him, He must also notice every cross
word we speak, every shrug of the shoulders, every ungracious look,
and that they displease Him. And my list of such offences is as long
as my life.
March 29-Yesterday, for the first time since that dreadful blow, I
felt some return of my natural gayety and cheerfulness. It seemed to
come hand in hand with my first real effort to go so far out of
myself as to try to do exactly what would gratify dear mother.
But to-day I am all down again. I miss Amelia's friendship, for one
thing. To be sure I wonder how I ever came to love such a superficial
character so devotedly, but I must have somebody to love, and perhaps
I invented a lovely creature, and called it by her name, and bowed
down to it and worshiped it. I certainly did so in regard to him
whose heart less cruelty has left me so sad, so desolate.
Evening.-Mother has been very patient and forbearing with me all day.
To-night, after tea, she said, in her gentlest, tenderest way,
"Dear Katy, I feel very sorry for you. But I see one path which you
have not yet tried, which can lead you out of these sore straits. You
have tried living for yourself a good many years, and the result is
great weariness and heaviness of soul. Try now to live for others.
Take a class in the Sunday-school. Go with me to visit my poor
people. You will be astonished to find how much suffering and
sickness there is in this world, and how delightful it is to
sympathize with and try to relieve it."
This advice was very repugnant to me. My time is pretty fully
occupied with my books, my music and my drawing. And of all places in
the world I hate a sick-room. But, on the whole, I will take a class
in the Sunday-school.
I have taken it at last. I would not take one be fore, because I knew
I could not teach little children how to love God, unless I loved Him
myself. My class is perfectly delightful. There are twelve dear
little things in it, of all ages between eight and nine. Eleven are
girls, and the one boy makes me more trouble than all of them put
together. When I get them all about me, and their sweet innocent
faces look up into mine, I am so happy that I can hardly help
stopping every now and then to kiss them. They ask the very strangest
questions I mean to spend a great deal of time in preparing the
lesson, and in hunting up stories to illustrate it. Oh, I am so glad
I was ever born into this beautiful world, where there will always be
dear little children to love!
APRIL 13.-Sunday has come again, and with it my darling little class!
Dr. Cabot has preached delightfully all day, and I feel that I begin
to understand his preaching better, and that it must do me good. I
long, I truly long to please God; I long to feel as the best
Christians feel, and to live as they live.
APRIL 20.-Now that I have these twelve little ones to instruct, I am
more than ever in earnest about setting them a good example through
the week. It is true they do not, most of them, know how I spend my
time, nor how I act. But I know, and whenever I am conscious of not
practicing what I preach, I am bitterly ashamed and grieved. How much
work, badly done, I am now having to undo. If I had begun in earnest
to serve God when I was as young as these children are, how many
wrong habits I should have avoided; habits that entangle me now, as
in so many nets. I am trying to take each of these little gentle
girls by the hand and to lead her to Christ. Poor Johnny Ross is not
so docile as they are, and tries my patience to the last degree.
APRIL 27.-This morning I had my little flock about me, and talked to
them out of the very bottom of my heart about Jesus. They left their
seats and got close to me in a circle, leaning on my lap and drinking
in every word. All of a sudden I was aware, as by a magnetic
influence, that a great lumbering man in the next seat was looking at
me out of two of the blackest eyes I ever saw, and evidently
listening to what I was saying. I was disconcerted at first, then
angry. What impertinence. What rudeness! I am sure he must have seen
my displeasure in my face, for he got up what I suppose he meant for
a blush, that is he turned several shades darker than he was before,
giving one the idea that he is full of black rather than red blood. I
should not have remembered it, however-by it-I mean his
impertinence--if he had not shortly after made a really excellent
address to the children. Perhaps it was a little above their
comprehension, but it showed a good deal of thought and earnestness.
I meant to ask who he was, but forgot it.
This has been a delightful Sunday. I have really feasted on .Dr.
Cabot's preaching. But I am satisfied that there is something in
religion I do not yet comprehend. I do wish I positively knew that
God had forgiven and accepted me.
MAY 6.-Last evening Clara Ray had a little party and I was there. She
has a great knack at getting the right sort of people together, and
of making them enjoy themselves.
I sang several songs, and so did Clara, but they all said my voice
was finer and in better training than hers. It is delightful to be
with cultivated, agreeable people. I could have stayed all night, but
mother sent for me before any one else had thought of going.
MAY 7.-I have been on a charming excursion to-day with Clara Ray and
all her set. I was rather tired, but had an invitation to a concert
this evening which I could not resist.
JULY 21.-So much has been going on that I have not had time to write.
There is no end to the picnics, drives, parties, etc., this summer. I
am afraid I am not getting on at all. My prayers are dull and short,
and full of wandering thoughts. I am brimful of vivacity and good
humor in company, and as soon as I get home am stupid and peevish. I
suppose this will always be so, as it always has been and I declare I
would rather be so than such a vapid, flat creature as Mary Jones, or
such a dull, heavy one as big Lucy Merrill.
JULY 24.-Clara Ray says the girls think me reckless and imprudent in
speech. I've a good mind not to go with her set any more. I am afraid
I have been a good deal dazzled by the attentions I have received of
late; and now comes this blow at my vanity.
On the whole, I feel greatly out of sorts this evening.
JULY 28.-People talk about happiness to be found in a Christian life.
I wonder why I do not find more! On Sundays I am pretty good, and
always seem to start afresh; but on week-days I am drawn along with
those about me. All my pleasures are innocent ones; there is surely
no harm in going to concerts, driving out, singing, and making little
visits! But these things distract me; they absorb me; they make
religious duties irksome. I almost wish I could shut myself up in a
cell, and so get out of the reach of temptation.
The truth is, the journey heavenward is all up hill I have to force
myself to keep on. The wonder is that anybody gets there with so much
to oppose--- so little to help one!
JULY 29.-It is high time to stop and think. I have been like one
running a race, and am stopping to take breath. I do not like the way
in which things have been going on of late. I feel restless and ill
at ease. I see that if I would be happy in God, I must give Him all.
And there is a wicked reluctance to do that. I want Him-but I want to
have my own way, too. I want to walk humbly and softly before Him,
and I want to go where I shall be admired and applauded. To whom
shall I yield? To God? Or to myself?
JULY 30.-I met Dr. Cabot to-day, and could not, help asking the
"Is it right for me to sing and play in company when all I do it for
is to be admired?"
"Are you sure it is all you do it for?" he returned.
"Oh," I said, "I suppose there may be a sprinkling of desire to
entertain and please, mixed with the love of display."
"Do you suppose that your love of display, allowing you have it,
would be forever slain by your merely refusing to sing in company?"
"I thought that might give it a pretty hard blow," I said, "if not
"Meanwhile, in, punishing yourself you punish your poor innocent
friends," he said laughing. "No child, go on singing; God has given
you this power of entertaining and, gratifying your friends. But
,pray without ceasing, that you may sing from pure benevolence and
not from pure self-love."
"Why, do people pray about such things as that?" I cried.
"Of course they do. Why, I would pray about my little finger, if my
little finger went astray."
I looked at his little finger, but saw no signs of its becoming
AUG. 3.-This morning I took great delight in praying for my little
scholars, and went to Sunday-school as on wings. But on reaching my
seat, what was my horror to find Maria Perry there!
Oh, your seat is changed," said she. "I am to have half your class,
and I like this seat better than those higher up. I suppose you don't
"But I do care," I returned; "and you have taken my very best
children-the very sweetest and the very prettiest. I shall speak to
Mr. Williams about it directly."
"At any rate, I would not fly into such a fury," she said. "It is
just as pleasant to me to have pretty children to teach as it is to
you. Mr. Williams said he had no doubt you would be glad to divide
your class with me, as it is so large; and I doubt if you gain
anything by speaking to him.
There was no time for further discussion, as school was about to
begin. I went to my new seat with great disgust, and found it very
inconvenient. The children could not cluster around me as they did
before, and I got on with the lesson very badly. I am sure Maria
Perry has no gift at teaching little children, and I feel quite vexed
and disappointed. This has not been a profitable Sunday, and I and
now going to bed, cheerless and uneasy.
AUG. 9.-Mr. Williams called this evening to say that I am to have my
old seat and all the children again. All the mothers had been to see
him, or had written him notes about it, and requested that I continue
to teach them. Mr. Williams said he hoped I would go on teaching for
twenty years, and that as fast as his little girls grew old enough to
come to Sunday-school he should want me to take charge of them. I
should have been greatly elated by these compliments, but for the
display I made of myself to Maria Perry on Sunday. Oh, that I could
learn to bridle my unlucky tongue!
JAN.15, 1835.-To-day I am twenty. That sounds very old, yet I feel
pretty much as I did before. I have begun to visit some of mother's
poor folks with her, and am astonished to see how they love her, how
plainly they let her talk to them. As a general rule, I do not think
poor people are very interesting, and they are always ungrateful.
We went first to see old Jacob Stone. I have been there a good many
times with the baskets of nice things mother takes such comfort in
sending him, but never would go in. I was shocked to see how worn
away he was. He seemed in great distress of mind, and begged mother
to pray with him. I do not see how she could. I am perfectly sure
that no earthly power could ever induce me to go round praying on
bare floors, with people sitting, rocking and staring all the time,
as the two Stone girls stared at mother. How tenderly she prayed for
We then went to see Susan Green. She had made a carpet for her room
by sewing together little bits of pieces given her, I suppose, by
persons for whom she works, for she goes about fitting and making
carpets. It looked bright and cheerful. She had a nice bed in the
corner, covered with a white quilt, and some little ornaments were
arranged about the room. Mother complimented her on her neatness, and
said a queen might sleep in such a bed as that, and hoped she found
it as comfortable as it looked.
"Mercy on us!" she cried out, "it ain't to sleep in! I sleep up in
the loft, that I climb to by a ladder every night."
Mother looked a little amused, and then she sat and listened,
patiently, to a long account of how the poor old thing had invested
her money; how Mr. Jones did not pay the interest regularly, and how
Mr. Stevens haggled about the percentage. After we came away, I asked
mother how she could listen to such a rigmarole in patience, and what
good she supposed she had done by her visit.
"Why the poor creature likes to show off her bright carpet and nice
bed, her chairs, her vases and her knick-knacks, and she likes to
talk about her beloved money, and her bank stock. I may not have done
her any good; but I have given her a pleasure, and so have you."
"Why, I hardly spoke a word."
"Yes, but your mere presence gratified her. And if she ever gets into
trouble, she will feel kindly towards us for the sake of our sympathy
with her pleasures, and will let us sympathize with her sorrows."
I confess this did not seem a privilege to be coveted. She is not
nice at all, and takes snuff.
We went next to see Bridget Shannon. Mother had lost sight of her for
some years, and had just heard that she was sick and in great want.
We found her in bed; there was no furniture in the room, and three
little half-naked children sat with their bare feet in some ashes
where there had been a little fire. Three such disconsolate faces I
never saw. Mother sent me to the nearest baker's for bread; I ran
nearly all the way, and I hardly know which I enjoyed most, mother's
eagerness in distributing, or the children's in clutching at and
devouring it. I am going to cut up one or two old dresses to make the
poor things something to cover them. One of them has lovely hair that
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