Mrs. E. Prentiss
Part 2 out of 6
would curl beautifully if it were only brushed out. I told her to
come to see me to-morrow, she is so very pretty. Those few visits
used up the very time I usually spend in drawing. But on the whole I
am glad I went with mother, because it has gratified her. Besides,
one must either stop reading the Bible altogether, or else leave off
spending one's whole time in just doing easy pleasant things one
likes to do.
JAN. 20.-The little Shannon girl came, and I washed her face and.
hands, brushed out her hair and made it curl in lovely golden
ringlets all round her sweet face, and carried her in great triumph
"Look at the dear little thing, mother!" I cried; "doesn't she look
like a line of poetry?"
"You foolish, romantic child!" quoth mother. "She looks, to me,
like a very ordinary line of prose. A slice of bread and butter and a
piece of gingerbread mean more to her than these elaborate ringlets
possibly can. They get in her eyes, and make her neck cold; see, they
are dripping with water, and the child is all in a shiver."
So saying, mother folded a towel round its neck, to catch the falling
drops, and went for bread and butter, of which the child consumed a
quantity that, was absolutely appalling. To crown all, the ungrateful
little thing would not so much as look at me from that moment, but
clung to mother, turning its back upon me in supreme contempt.
Moral.-Mothers occasionally know more than their daughters do.
JANUARY 24. A Message came yesterday morning from Susan Green to the
effect that she had had a dreadful fall, and was half killed. Mother
wanted to set off at once to see her, but I would not let her go, as
she has one of her worst colds. She then asked me to go in her place.
I turned up my nose at the bare thought, though I dare say it turns
up enough on its own account.
"Oh, mother!" I said, reproachfully that dirty old woman!"
Mother made no answer, and I sat down at the piano, and played a
little. But I only played discords.
"Do you think it is my duty to run after such horrid old women ?" I
asked mother, at last.
"I think, dear, you must make your own duties, she said kindly. "I
dare say that at your age I should have made a great deal out of my
personal repugnance to such a woman as Susan, and very little out of
I believe I am the most fastidious creature in the world. Sick-rooms
with their intolerable smells of camphor, and vinegar and mustard,
their gloom and their whines and their groans, actually make me
shudder. But was it not just such fastidiousness that made Cha-no, I
won't utter his name----that made somebody weary of my possibilities?
And has that terrible lesson really done me no good?
JAN. 26.-No sooner had I written the above than I scrambled into my
cloak and bonnet, and flew, on the wings of holy indignation, to
Susan Green. Such wings fly fast, and got me a little out of breath.
I found her lying on that nice white bed of hers, in a frilled cap
and night-gown. It seems she fell from her ladder in climbing to the
dismal den where she sleeps, and lay all night in great distress with
some serious internal injury. I found her groaning and complaining in
a fearful way.
"Are you in such pain ?" I asked, as kindly as I could.
"It isn't the pain," she said, "it isn't the pain. Its the way my
nice bed is going to wreck and ruin, and the starch all getting out
of my frills that I fluted with my own hands. And the doctor's bill,
and the medicines; oh, dear, dear, dear!"
Just then the doctor came in. After examining her, he said to a woman
who seemed to have charge of her:
"Are you the nurse?"
"Oh, no, I only stepped in to see what I could do for her."
"Who is to be with her to-night, then?"
"I will send a nurse, then," he said. "But some one else will be
needed also,' he added, looking at me.
"I will stay," I said. But my heart died within me.
The doctor took me aside.
"Her injuries are very serious," be said." If she has any friends,
they ought to be sent for."
"You don't mean that she is going to die?" I asked.
"I fear she is. But not immediately." He took leave, and I went back
to the bedside. I saw there no longer a snuffy, repulsive old woman,
but a human being about to make that mysterious journey a far country
whence there is no return. Oh, how I wished mother were there!
"Susan," I said, "have you any relatives?"
"No, I haven't," she answered sharply. "And if I had they needn't
come prowling around me. I don't want no relations about my body."
"Would you like to see Dr. Cabot?"
"What should I want of Dr. Cabot? Don't tease, child."
Considering the deference with which she had heretofore treated me,
this was quite a new order of things.
I sat down and tried to pray for her, silently, in my heart. Who was
to go with her on that long journey, and where was it to end?
The woman who had been caring for her now went away, and it was
growing dark. I sat still listening to my own heart, which beat till
it half choked me.
"What were you and the doctor whispering about?" she suddenly burst
"He asked me, for one thing, if you had any friends that could be
"I've been my own best friend," she returned. "Who'd have raked and
scraped and hoarded and counted for Susan Green if I hadn't ha' done
it? I ve got enough to make me comfortable as long as I live, and
when I lie on my dying bed."
"But you can't carry it with you," I said. This highly original
remark was all I had courage to utter.
"I wish I could," she cried. "I suppose you think I talk awful. They
say you are getting most to be as much of a saint as your ma. It's
born in some, and in some it ain't. Do get a light. It's lonesome
here in the dark, and cold."
I was thankful enough to enliven the dark room with light and fire.
But I saw now that the thin, yellow, hard face had changed sadly. She
fixed her two little black eyes on me, evidently startled by the
expression of my face.
"Look here, child, I ain't hurt to speak of, am I?
"The doctor says you are hurt seriously."
My tone must have said more than my words did for she caught me by
the wrist and held me fast.
"He didn't say nothing about my-about it being dangerous? I ain't
dangerous, am I?"
I felt ready to sink.
"Oh Susan!" I gasped out; "you haven't any time to lose. You're
going, you're going!" "Going!" she cried; "going where? You don't
mean to say I'm a-dying? Why, it beats all my calculations. I was
going to live ever so years, and save up ever so much money, and when
my time come, I was going to put on my best fluted night-gown and
night-cap, and lay my head on my handsome pillow, and draw the
clothes up over me, neat and tidy, and die decent. But here's my bed
all in a toss, and my frills all in a crumple and my room all upside
down, and bottles of medicine setting around alongside of my vases,
and nobody here but you, just a girl, and nothing else!"
All this came out by jerks, as it were, and at intervals.
"Don't talk so!" I fairly screamed. "Pray, pray to God to have mercy
She looked at me, bewildered, but yet as if the truth had reached her
"Pray yourself!" she said, eagerly. "I don't' know how. I can't
think. Oh, my time's come my time's come!; And I ain't ready! I ain't
ready! Get down on your knees and pray with all your, might and
And I did; she holding my wrist tightly in hard hand. All at once I
felt her hold relax. After that the next thing I knew I was lying on
the and somebody was dashing water in my face.
It was the nurse. She had come at last, and found me by the side of
the bed, where I had fallen, ,and had been trying to revive me ever
since. I started up and looked about me. The nurse was closing
Susan's eyes in a professional way, and performing other little
services of the sort. The room wore an air of perfect desolation. The
clothes Susan had on when she fell lay in a forlorn heap on a chair;
her shoes and stockings were thrown hither and thither; the mahogany
bureau, in which she had taken so much pride, was covered with vials,
to make room for which some pretty trifles had been hastily thrust
aside. I remembered what I had once said to Mrs. Cabot about having
tasteful things about me, with a sort of shudder. What a mockery they
are in the awful presence of death!
Mother met me with open arms when I reached home. She was much
shocked at what I had to tell, and at my having encountered such a
scene alone I should have felt myself quite a heroine under her
caresses if I had not been overcome with bitter regret that I had
not, with firmness and dignity turned poor Susan's last thoughts to
her Saviour. Oh, how could I, through miserable cowardice, let those
precious moments slip by!
Feb 27.-I have learned one thing by yesterday's experience that is
worth knowing. It is this: duty looks more repelling at a distance
than when fairly faced and met. Of course I have read the lines,
"Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face;"
but I seem to be one of the stupid sort, who never apprehend a thing
till they experience it. Now, however, I have seen the smile, and
find it so "fair," that I shall gladly plod through many a hardship
and trial to meet it again.
Poor Susan! Perhaps God heard my prayer for her soul, and revealed
Himself to her at the very last moment.
March 2.-Such a strange thing has happened! Susan Green left a will,
bequeathing her precious savings to whoever offered the last prayer
in her hearing! I do not want, I never could touch a penny of that
hardly-earned store; and if I did, no earthly motive would tempt me
to tell a human being, that it was offered by me, an inexperienced,
trembling girl, driven to it by mere desperation! So it has gone to
Dr. Cabot, who will not use it for himself, I am sure, but will be
delighted to have it to give to poor people, who really besiege him.
The last time he called to see her he talked and prayed with her, and
says she seemed pleased and grateful, and promised to be more regular
at church, which she had been, ever since.
March 28.-I feel all out of sorts. Mother says it is owing to the
strain I went through at Susan's dying bed. She wants me to go to
visit my aunt Mary, who is always urging me to come. But I do not
like to leave my little Sunday scholars, nor to give mother the
occasion to deny herself in order to meet the expense of such a long
journey. Besides, I should have to have some new dresses, a new
bonnet, and lots of things.
To-day Dr. Cabot has sent me some directions for which I have been
begging him a long time. Lest I should wear out this precious letter
by reading it over, I will copy it here. After alluding to my
complaint that I still "saw men as trees walking," he says:
"Yet he who first uttered this complaint had had his eyes opened by
the Son of God, and so have you. Now He never leaves His work
incomplete, and He will gradually lead you into clear and open
vision, if you will allow Him to do it. I say gradually, because I
believe this to be His usual method, while I do not deny that there
are cases where light suddenly bursts in like a flood. To return to
the blind man When Jesus found that his cure was not complete, He put
His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up; and he was
restored, and saw every man clearly. Now this must be done for you;
and in order to have it done you must go to Christ Himself, not to
one of His servants. Make your complaint, tell Him how obscure
everything still looks to you, and beg Him to complete your cure He
may see fit to try your faith and patience by delaying this
completion; but meanwhile you are safe in His presence, and while led
by His hand; He will excuse the mistakes you make, and pity your
falls. But you will imagine that it is best that He should at once
enable you to see clearly. If it is, you may be sure He will do it.
He never makes mistakes. But He often deals far differently with His
disciples. He lets them grope their way in the dark until they fully
learn how blind they are, how helpless, how absolutely in need of
"What His methods will be with you I cannot foretell. But you may be
sure that He never works in an arbitrary way. He has a reason for
everything He does. You may not understand why He leads you now in
this way and now in that, but you may, nay, you must believe that
perfection is stamped on His every act.
"I am afraid that you are in danger of falling into an error only too
common among young Christians. You acknowledge that there has been
enmity to towards God in your secret soul, and that one of the first
steps towards peace is to become reconciled to Him and to have your
sins forgiven for Christ's sake. This done, you settle down with the
feeling that the great work of life is done, and that your salvation
is sure. Or, if not sure, that your whole business is to study your
own case to see whether you are really in a state of grace. Many
persons never get beyond this point. They spend their whole time in
asking the question:
"'Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I His or am I not?'
"I beg you, my dear child, if you are doing this aimless, useless
work, to stop short at once. Life is to precious to spend in a
tread-mill.. Having been pardoned by your God and Saviour, the next
thing you have to do is to show your gratitude for this infinite
favor by consecrating yourself entirely to Him, body, soul, and
spirit. This is the least you can do. He has bought you with a price,
and you are no longer, your own. 'But,' you may reply, this is
contrary to my nature. I love my own way. I desire ease and pleasure;
I desire to go to heaven, to be carried thither on a bed of flowers.
Can I not give myself so far to God as to feel a sweet sense of peace
with Him, and be sure of final salvation, and yet, to a certain
extent, indulge and gratify myself? If I give myself entirely away in
Him and lose all ownership in myself, He may deny me many things I
greatly desire. He may make my life hard and wearisome, depriving me
of all that now makes it agreeable.' But, I reply, this is no matter
of parley and discussion; it is not optional with God's children
whether they will pay Him a part of the price they owe Him, and keep
back the rest. He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have
and all you are. And if you shrink from what is involved in such a
surrender, you should fly to Him at once and never rest till He has
conquered this secret disinclination to give to Him as freely and as
fully as He has given to you It is true that such an act of
consecration on your part may involve no little future discipline and
correction. As soon as you become the Lord's by your own deliberate
and conscious act, He will begin that process of sanctification which
is to make you holy as He is holy, perfect as He is perfect. He
becomes at once ,your physician as well as your dearest and best
Friend, but He will use no painful remedy that can be avoided.
Remember that it is His will that you should be sanctified, and that
the work of making you holy is His, not yours. At the same time you
are not to sit with folded hands, waiting for this blessing. You are
to avoid laying hindrances in His way, and you are to exercise faith
in Him as just as able and just as willing to give you sanctification
as He was to give you redemption. And now if you ask how you may know
that you have truly consecrated yourself to Him, I reply, observe
every in indication of His will concerning you, no matter how
trivial, and see whether you at once close in with that will. Lay
down this principle as a law- God does nothing arbitrary. If He takes
away your health, for instance, it is because He has some reason for
doing so; and this is true of everything you value; and if you have
real faith in Him you will not insist on knowing this reason. If you
find, in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was
not perfect-that is, that your will revolts at His will-do not be
discouraged, but fly to your Saviour and stay in His presence till
you obtain the spirit in which He cried in His hour of anguish,
'Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless,
not my will but Thine be done.' Every time you do this it will be
easier to do it; every such consent to suffer will bring you nearer
and nearer to Him; and in this nearness to Him you will find such
peace, such blessed, sweet peace, as will make your life infinitely
happy, no matter what may be its mere outside conditions. Just think,
my dear Katy, of the honor and the joy of having your will one with
the Divine will, and so becoming changed into Christ's image from
glory to glory!
"But I cannot say, in a letter, the tithe of what I want to say.
Listen to my sermons from week to week and glean from them all the
instruction you can, remembering that they are preached to you.
"In reading the Bible I advise you to choose detached passages, or
even one verse a day, rather whole chapters. Study every word, ponder
and pray over it till you have got out of it all the truth it
"As to the other devotional reading, it is better to settle down on a
few favorite authors, and read their works over and over and over
until you have digested their thoughts and made them your own.
"It has been said 'that a fixed, inflexible will is a great
assistance in a holy life.'
"You can will to choose for your associates those who are most devout
"You can will to read books that will stimulate you in your Christian
life, rather than those that merely amuse.
"You can will to use every means of grace appointed by God.
"You can' will to spend much time in prayer, without regard to your
frame at the moment.
"You can will to prefer a religion of principle to one of mere
feeling; in other, words, to obey the will of God when no comfortable
glow of emotion accompanies your obedience.
"You cannot will to possess the spirit of Christ; that must come as
His gift; but you can choose to study His life, and to imitate it.
This will infallibly lead to such self-denying work as visiting the
poor, nursing the sick, giving of your time and money to the needy,
and the like.
"If the thought of such self-denial is repugnant to you, remember
that it is enough for the disciple to be as his Lord. And let me
assure you that as you penetrate the labyrinth of life in pursuit of
Christian duty, you will often be surprised and charmed by meeting
your Master Himself amid its windings and turnings, and receive His
soul-inspiring smile. Or, I should rather say, you will always meet
Him wherever you go."
I have read this letter again and again. It has taken such hold of me
that I can think of nothing else. The idea of seeking holiness had
never so much as crossed my mind. And even now it seems like
presumption for such a one as I to utter so sacred a word. And I
shrink from committing myself to such a pursuit, lest after a time I
should fall back into the old routine. And I have an undefined,
wicked dread of being singular, as well as a certain terror of
self-denial and loss of all liberty. But no choice seems left to me.
Now that my duty has been clearly pointed out to me, I do not stand
where I did before. And I feel, mingled with my indolence and love of
ease and pleasure, some drawings towards a higher and better life.
There is one thing I can do, and that is to pray that Jesus would do
for me what He did for the blind man-put His hands yet again upon my
eyes and make me to see clearly. And I will.
MARCH, 30.-Yes, I have prayed, and He has heard me. I see that I have
no right to live for myself, and that I must live for. Him. I have
given myself to Him as I never did before, and have entered, as it
were, a new world. I was very happy when I began to believe in His
love for me, and that He had redeemed me. But this new happiness is
deeper; it involves something higher than getting to heaven at last,
which has, hitherto, been my great aim.
March 31.-The more I pray, and the more I read the Bible, the more I
feel my ignorance. And the more earnestly I desire holiness, the more
utterly unholy I see myself to be. But I have pledged myself to the
Lord, and I must pay my vows, cost what in may.
I have begun to read Taylor's "Holy Living and Dying." A month ago I
should have found it a tedious, dry book. But I am reading it with a
sort of avidity, like one seeking after hid treasure. Mother,
observing what I was doing, advised me to read it straight through,
but to mingle a passage now and then with chapters from other books.
She suggested my beginning on Baxter's "Saints' Rest," and of that I
have read every word. I shall read it over, as Dr. Cabot advised,
till I have fully caught its spirit. Even this one reading has taken
away my lingering fear of death, and made heaven awfully attractive.
I never mean to read worldly books again, and my music and drawing I
have given up forever.
Mother asked me last evening to sing and play to her. I was
embarrassed to know how to excuse myself without telling her my real
reason for declining. But somehow she got it out of me.
"One need not be fanatical in order to be religious," she said.
"Is it fanatical to give up all for God?" I asked.
"What is it to give up all?" she asked, in reply.
"Why, to deny one's self every gratification and indulgence in order
to mortify one's natural inclinations, and to live entirely for Him."
"God is then a hard Master, who allows his children no liberty," she
replied. "Now let us see where this theory will lead you. In. the
first place you must shut your eyes to all the beautiful things He
has made. You must shut your eyes to all the harmonies He has
ordained. You must shut your heart against all sweet human
affections. You have a body, it is true, and it may revolt at such
We are told to keep under the body," I interrupted.
"Oh, mother, don't hinder me! You know my love for music is. a
passion and that it is my snare and temptation. And how can I spend
my whole time in reading the Bible and praying, if I go on with my
drawing? It may do for other people to serve both God and Mammon, but
not for me. I must belong wholly to the world or wholly to Christ."
Mother said no more, and I went on with my reading. But somehow my
book seemed to have lost its flavor. Besides, it was time to retire
for my evening devotions which I never put off now till the last
thing at night, as I used to do. When I came down, Mother was lying
on the sofa, by which I knew she was not well. I felt troubled that I
had refused to sing to her. Think of the money she had spent on that
part of my education! I went to her and kissed her with a pang of
terror. What if she were going to be very sick, and to die?
"It is nothing, darling," she said, "nothing at all. I am tired, and
felt a little faint."
I looked at her anxiously, and the bare thought that she might die
and leave me alone was so terrible that I could hardly help crying
out. And I saw, as by a flash of lightning, that if God took her from
me, I could not, should not say: Thy will be done.
But she was better after taking a few drops of lavender, and what
color she has came back to her dear sweet face.
APRIL 12.-Dr. Cabot's letter has lost all its power over me. A stone
has more feeling than I. I don't love to pray. I am sick and tired of
this dreadful struggle after holiness; good books are all alike, flat
and meaningless. But I must have something to absorb and carry me
away, and I have come back to my music and my drawing with new zest.
Mother was right in warning me against giving them up. Maria Kelley
is teaching me to paint in oil-colors, and says I have a natural gift
APRIL 13.Mother asked me to go to church with her last evening, and I
said I did not want to go. She looked surprised and troubled.
"Are you not well, dear?" she asked.
"I don't know. Yes. I suppose I am. But I could not be still at
church five minutes. I am nervous that I feel as if I should fly."
"I see how it is," she said; "you have forgotten that body of yours,
of which I reminded you, and have been trying to live as if you were
all soul and spirit. You have been straining every nerve to acquire
perfection, whereas this is God's gift, and one that He is willing to
give you, fully and freely."
"I have done seeking for that or anything else that is good," I said,
despondently. "And so I have gone back to my music and everything
"'Here is just the rock upon which you split," she returned. "You
speak of going back to your music as if that implied going away from
God. You rush from one extreme to another. The only true way to live
in this world, constituted just as we are, is to make all our
employments subserve the one great end and aim of existence, namely,
to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. But in order to do this we
must be wise task-masters, and not require of ourselves what we
cannot possibly perform. Recreation we must have. Otherwise the
strings of our soul, wound up to an unnatural tension, will break."
"Oh, I do wish," I cried, "that God had given us plain rules, about
which we could make no mistake!"
"I think His rules are plain," she replied. "And some liberty of
action He must leave us, or we should become mere machines. I think
that those who love Him, and wait upon Him day by day, learn His will
almost imperceptibly, and need not go astray.
"But, mother, music and drawing are sharp-edged tools in such hands
as mine. I cannot be moderate in my use of them. And the more I
delight in them, the less I delight in God."
"Yes, this is human nature. But God's divine nature will supplant it,
if we only consent to let Him work in us of His own good pleasure."
New York, April 16.-After all, mother has come off conqueror, and
here I am at Aunty's. After our quiet, plain little home, in our
quiet little town, this seems like a new world. The house is large,
but is as full as it can hold. Aunty has six children her own, and
has adopted two. She says she ways meant to imitate the old woman who
lived in a shoe. She reminds me of mother, and yet she is very
different; full of fun and energy; flying about the house as on
wings, with a kind, bright word for everybody. All her household
affairs go on like clock-work; the children are always nicely
dressed; nobody ever seems out of humor; nobody is ever sick. Aunty
is the central object round which every body revolves; you can't
forget her a moment, she is always doing something for you, and then
her unflagging good humor and cheerfulness keep you good-humored and
cheerful. I don't wonder Uncle Alfred loves her so.
I hope I shall have just such a home. I mean this is the sort of home
I should like if I ever married, which I never mean to do. I should
like to be just such a bright, loving wife as Aunty is; to have my
husband lean on me as Uncle leans on her; to have just as many
children, and to train them as wisely and kindly us she does hers.
Then, I should feel that I had not been born in vain, but had a high
and sacred mission on earth. But as it is, I must just pick up what
scraps of usefulness I can, and let the rest go.
APRIL 18.-Aunty says I sit writing and reading and thinking too much,
and wants me to go out more. I tell her I don't feel strong enough to
go out much. She says that is all nonsense, and drags me out. I get
tired, and hungry, and sleep like a baby a month old. I see now
mother's wisdom and kindness in making me leave home when I did. I
had veered about from point to point till I was nearly ill. Now Aunty
keeps me well by making me go out, and dear Dr. Cabot's precious
letter can work a true and not a morbid work in my soul. I am very
happy. I have delightful talks with Aunty, who sets me right at this
point and at that; and it is beautiful to watch her home-life and to
see with what sweet unconsciousness she carries her religion into
every detail. I am sure it must do me good to be here; and yet, if I
am growing better how slowly, how slowly, it is! Somebody has said
that 'our course heavenward is like the plan of the zealous pilgrims
of old, who for every three steps forward, took one backward."
APRIL 30.-Aunty's baby, my dear father's namesake, and hitherto the
merriest little fellow I ever saw, was taken sick last night, very
suddenly. She sent for the doctor at once, who would not say
positively what was the matter, but this morning pronounced it
scarlet fever. The three youngest have all come down with it to-day.
If they were my children, I should be in a perfect worry and flurry.
Indeed, I am as it is. But Aunty is as bright and cheerful as ever.
She flies from one to another, and .keeps up their spirits with her
own gayety. I am mortified to find that at such a time as this I can
think of myself, and that I find it irksome to be shut up in
sick-rooms, instead of walking, driving, visiting, and the like. But,
as Dr. Cabot says, I can now choose to imitate my Master, who spent
His whole life in doing good, and I do hope, too, to be of some
little use to Aunty, after her kindness to me.
MAY 1.- The doctor says the children are doing as well as, could be
expected. He made a short visit this .morning, as it is Sunday. If I
had ever seen him before I should say I had some unpleasant
association with him. I wonder Aunty employs such a great clumsy man.
But she says he is good, and very skillful. I wish I did not take
such violent likes and dislikes to people. I want my religion to
change me in every respect.
MAY 2.-Oh, I know now! This is the very who was so rude at
Sunday-school, and afterwards made such a nice address to the
children. Well he may know how to speak in public, but I am sure he
doesn't in private. I never knew such a shut-up man.
MAY 4.-I have my hands as full as they can hold. The children have
got so fond of me, and one or the other is in my lap nearly all the
time. I sing to them, tell them stories, build block-houses, and
relieve Aunty all I can. Dull and poky as the doctor is, I am not
afraid of him, for he never notices anything I say or do, so while he
is holding solemn consultations with Aunty in one corner, I can sing
and .talk all sorts of nonsense to my little pets in mine. What
fearful black eyes he has, and what masses of black hair!
This busy life quite suits me, now I have got used to it. And it
sweetens every bit of work to think that I am doing it in humble,
far-off, yet real imitation of Jesus. I am indeed really and truly
MAY 14-It is now two weeks since little Raymond was taken sick, and I
have lived in the nursery all the time, though Aunty has tried to
make me go out. Little Emma was taken down to-day, though she has
been kept on the third floor all the time I feel dreadfully myself.
But this hard, cold doctor of Aunty's is so taken up with the
children that he never so much as looks at me. I have been in a
perfect shiver all day, but these merciless little folks call for
stories as eagerly as ever. Well, let me be a comfort to them if I
can! I hate selfishness more and more, and am shocked to see how
selfish I have been.
MAY 15.-I was in a burning fever all night, and my head ached, and my
throat was and is very sore. If knew I was going to die I would burn
up this journal first. I would not have any one see it for the world.
MAY 24.-Dr. Elliott asked me on Sunday morning a week ago if I still
felt well. For answer I behaved like a goose, and burst out crying.
Aunty; looked more anxious than I have seen her look yet, and
reproached herself for having allowed me to be with the children. She
took me by one elbow, and the doctor by the other, and they marched
me off to my own room, where I was put through the usual routine on
such occasions, and then ordered to bed. I fell asleep immediately
and slept all day. The doctor came to see me in the evening, and made
a short, stiff little visit, gave me a powder, and said thought I
should soon be better.
I had two such visits from him the next day, when I began to feel
quite like myself again, and in spite of his grave; staid deportment,
could not help letting my good spirits run away with me in a style
that evidently shocked him. He says persons nursing 'scarlet fever
often have such little attacks as mine; indeed every one of the
servants have had a sore throat and headache.
MAY 25.-This morning, just as the doctor shuffled in on his big feet,
it came over me how ridiculously I must have looked the day I was
taken sick, being walked off between Aunty and himself, crying like a
baby. I burst out laughing, and no consideration I could make to
myself would stop me. I pinched myself, asked myself how I should
feel if one of the children should die, and used other kindred
devices all to no purpose. At last the doctor, gravity personified as
he is, joined in, though not knowing in the least what he was
laughing at. Then he said,
"After this, I suppose, I shall have to pronounce you convalescent."
"Oh, no!" I cried. "I am very-sick indeed."
"This looks like it, to be sure!" said Aunty.
"I suppose this will be your last visit, Dr. Elliott," I went on,
"and I am glad of it. After the way I behaved the day I was taken
sick, I have been ashamed to look you in the face. But I really felt
He made no answer whatever. I don't suppose he would speak a little
flattering word by way of putting one in good humor with one's self
for the whole world!
JUNE 1.-We are all as well as ever, but the doctor keeps some of the
children still confined to the house for fear of bad consequences
following the fever. He visits them twice a day for the same reason,
or at least under that pretense, but I really believe he comes
because he has got the habit of coming, and because he admires Aunty
so much. She has a real affection for him, and is continually asking
me if I don't like this and that quality in him which I can't see at
all. We be gin to drive out again. The weather is, very warm, but I
feel perfectly well.
JUNE 2.-After the children's dinner to-day I took care of them while
their nurse got hers and Aunty went to lie down, as she is all tired
out. We were all full of life and fun, and some of the little ones
wanted me to play a play of their own invention, which was to lie
down on the floor, cover my face with a handkerchief, and make
believe I was dead. They were to gather about me, and I was suddenly
to come to life and jump up and try to catch them as they all ran
scampering and screaming about. We had played in this interesting way
for some time, and my hair, which I keep in nice order nowadays, was
pulled down and flying every way; when in marched the doctor. I
started up and came to life quickly enough when I heard his step,
looking red and angry, no doubt.
I should think you might have knocked, Dr. Elliott," I said, with
"I ask your pardon; I knocked several times," he returned. "I need
hardly ask how my little patients are."
"No," I replied, still ruffled, arid making desperate efforts to get
my hair into some sort of order. "They are as well as possible."
"I came a little earlier than usual to-day," he went on, "because I
am called to visit my uncle, Dr. Cabot, who is in a very critical
state of health."
"Dr. Cabot!" I repeated, bursting into tears.
"Compose yourself, I entreat," he said; "I hope that I may be able
to relieve him. At all events--"
"At all events, if you let him die it will break my heart," I cried
passionately. "Don't wait another moment; go this instant."
"I cannot go this instant," he replied. "The boat does not leave
until four o'clock. And if I may be allowed, as a physician, to say
one word, that my brief acquaintance hardly justifies, I do wish to
warn you that unless you acquire more self-control-"
"Oh, I know that I have a quick temper, and that I spoke very rudely
to you just now," I interrupted, not a little startled by the
seriousness of his manner.
"I did not refer to your temper," he said. "I meant your whole
passionate nature. Your vehement loves and hates, your ecstasies and
your despondencies; your disposition to throw yourself headlong into
whatever interests you."
"I would rather have too little self-control," I retorted,
resentfully, "than to be as cold as a stone, and as hard as a rock,
and as silent as the grave, like some people I know."
His countenance fell; he looked disappointed, even pained.
"I shall probably see your mother," he said, turning to go; "your
aunt wishes me to call on her; have you any message?"
"No," I said.
Another pained, disappointed look made me begin to recollect myself.
I was sorry, oh! so sorry, for my anger and rudeness. I ran after
him, into the hall, my eyes full of tears, holding out both hands,
which he took in both his.
"Don't go until you have forgiven me for being so angry!" I cried.
"Indeed, Dr. Elliott, though you not be able to believe it, I am
trying to do right all the time!"
"1 do believe it," he said earnestly.
"Then tell me that you forgive me!"
"If I once begin, I shall be tempted to tell something else," he
said, looking me through and through with those great dusky eyes.
"And I will tell it," he went on, his grasp on my hands growing
firmer-"'It is easy to forgive when one loves." I pulled my hands
away, and burst out crying again.
"Oh, Dr. Elliott this is dreadful!" I said. "You do not, you cannot
love me! You are so much older than I am! So grave and silent! You
are not in earnest?"
"I am only too much so," he said, and went quietly out.
I went back to the nursery. The children rushed upon me, and insisted
that I should "play die." I let them pull me about as they pleased. I
only wished I could play it in earnest.
MOTHER writes me that Dr. Cabot is out of danger, Dr. Elliott having
thrown new light on his case, and performed some sort of an operation
that relieved him at once. I am going home. Nothing would tempt me to
encounter those black eyes again. Besides, the weather is growing
warm, and Aunty is getting ready to go out of town with the children.
JUNE 29.-Aunty insisted on knowing why I was hurrying home so
suddenly, and at last got it out of me inch by inch. On the whole it
was a relief to have some one to speak to.
"Well!" she said, and leaned back in her chair in a fit of musing.
"Is that all you are going to say, Aunty?" I ventured to ask at last.
"No, I have one more remark to add," she said, "and it is this: I
don't know which of you has behaved most ridiculously. It would
relieve me to give you each a good shaking."
"I think Dr. Elliot has behaved ridiculously," I said, "and he has
made me most unhappy."
"Unhappy!" she repeated. "I don't wonder you are unhappy. You have
pained and wounded one of the noblest men that walks the earth."
"It is not my fault. I never tried to make him like me."
"Yes, you did. You were perfectly bewitching whenever he came here.
No mortal man could help being fascinated."
I knew this was not true, and bitterly resented Aunty's injustice.
"If I wanted to 'fascinate' or 'bewitch' a man," I cried, "I should
not choose one old enough to be my father, nor one who was as
uninteresting, awkward and stiff as Dr. Elliott. Besides, how should
I know he was not married? If I thought anything about it at all, I
certainly thought of him as a middle-aged man, settled down with a
wife, long ago.
"In the first place he is not old, or even middle aged. He is not
more than twenty-seven or eight. As to his being uninteresting,
perhaps he is to you, who don't know him. And if he were a married
man, what business had he to come here to see as he has done?"
"I did not know he came to see me; he never spoke to me. And I always
said I would never marry a doctor."
"We all say scores of things we live to repent," she replied. "But I
must own that the doctor acted quite out of character when he
expected you to take a fancy to him on such short notice, you
romantic little thing. Of course knowing him as little as you do, and
only seeing him in sick-rooms, you could not have done otherwise than
as you did."
"Thank you, Aunty," I said, running and throwing my arms around her;
"thank you with all my heart. And now won't you take back what you
said about my trying to fascinate him?"
"I suppose I must, you dear child," she said. "I was not half in
earnest. The truth is I am so fond of you both that the idea of your
misunderstanding each other annoys me extremely. Why, you were made
for each other. He would tone you down and keep you straight, and you
would stimulate him and keep him awake."
"I don't want to be toned down or kept straight," I remonstrated. "I
hate prigs who keep their wives in leading-strings. I do not mean to
marry any one, but if I should be left to such a piece of folly, it
must be to one who will take me for better for worse; just as I am,
and not as a wild plant for him to prune till he has got it into a
shape to suit him. now, Aunty, promise me one thing. Never mention
Dr. Elliott's name to me again."
"I shall make no such promise," she replied, laughing. "I like him,
and I like to talk about him and the more you hate and despise him
the more I shall love and admire him. I only wish my Lucy were old
enough to be his wife, and that he could fancy her; but he never
"On the contrary I should think that little model of propriety would
just suit him," I exclaimed.
"Don't make fun of Lucy," Aunty said, shaking her head. "She is a
dear good child, after all."
"After all" means this (for what with my own observation, and what
Aunty has told me, Lucy's portrait is easy to paint) The child is the
daughter of a man who died from a lingering illness caused by an
accident. She entered the family at a most inauspicious moment, two
days after this accident. From the outset she comprehended the
situation and took the ground that a character of irreproachable
dignity and propriety became an infant coming at such a time. She
never cried, never put improper objects into her mouth, never bumped
her head, or scratched herself. Once put to bed at night, you knew
nothing more of her till such time next day as you found it
convenient to attend to her. If you forgot her existence, as was not
seldom the case under the circumstances, she vegetated on, unmoved.
It is possible that pangs of hunger sometimes assailed her, and it is
a fact that she teethed, had the measles and the whooping-cough. But
these minute ripples on her infant life only showed the more clearly
what a waveless, placid little sea it was. She got her teeth in the
order laid down in "Dewees on Children"; her measles came out on the
appointed day like well-behaved measles as they were and retired
decently and in order, as measles should. Her whooping-cough had a
well-bred, methodical air, and left her conqueror of the field. As
the child passed out of her babyhood, she remained still her mother's
appendage and glory; a monument of pure white marble, displaying to
the human race one instance at least of perfect parental training.
Those smooth, round hands were always magically clean; the dress
immaculate and uncrumpled; the hair dutifully shining and tidy. She
was a model child, as she had been a model baby. No slamming of
doors, no litter of carpets, no pattering of noisy feet on the
stairs, no headless dolls, no soiled or torn books indicated her
presence. Her dolls were subject to a methodical training, not unlike
her own. They rose, they were dressed, they took the air, they
retired for the night, with clock-like regularity. At the advanced
age of eight, she ceased occupying herself with such trifles, and
began a course of instructive reading. Her lessons were received in
mute submission, like medicine; so many doses, so many times a day.
An agreeable interlude of needlework was afforded, and Dorcas-like,
many were the garments that resulted for the poor. Give her the very
eyes out of your head, cut off your right hand for her if you choose,
but don't expect a gush of enthusiasm that would crumple you collar;
she would as soon strangle herself as run headlong to embrace you. If
she has any passions or emotions, they are kept under; but who asks
for passion in blanc-mange, or seeks emotion in a comfortable
When her father had been dead a year, her mother married a man with a
large family of children and a very small purse. Lucy had a hard time
of it, especially as her step-father, a quick, impulsive man, took a
dislike to her. Aunty had no difficulty persuading them to give the
child to her. She took from the purest motives, and it does seem as
if she ought to have more reward than she gets. She declares,
however, that she has all the reward she could ask in the conviction
that God accepts this attempt to please Him.
Lucy is now nearly fourteen; very large of her age, with a dead white
skin, pale blue eyes, and a little light hair. To hear her talk is
most edifying. Her babies are all "babes"; she never begins anything
but "commences" it; she never cries, she "weeps"; never gets up in
the morning, but "rises." But what am I writing all this for? Why, to
escape my own thoughts, which are anything but agreeable companions,
and to put off answering the question which must be answered, "Have I
really made a mistake in refusing Dr. Elliott? Could I not, in time,
have come to love a man who has so honored me?"
JULY 5.-Here I am again, safely at home, and very pleasant it seems
to be with dear mother again. I have told her about Dr. E. She says
very little about it one way or the other.
JULY 10.-Mother sees that I am restless and out of sorts. "What is
it, dear?" she asked, this morning. "Has Dr. Elliott anything to do
with the unsettled state you are in?"
"Why, no, mother," I answered. "My going away has broken up all my
habits; that's all. Still if I knew Dr. Elliott did not care much,
and was beginning to forget it, I dare say I should feel better."
If you were perfectly sure that you could never return his
affection," she said, "you were quite right in telling him so at
once; But if you had any misgivings on the subject, it would have
been better to wait, and to ask God to direct you."
Yes, it would. But at the moment I had no misgivings. In my usual
headlong style I settled one of the most weighty questions of my
life, without reflection, without so much as one silent appeal to
God, to tell me how to act. And now I have forever repelled, and
thrown away a heart that truly loved me. He will go his way and I
shall go mine. He never will know, what I am only just. beginning to
know myself, that I yearn after his love with unutterable yearning.
I am not going to sit down in sentimental despondency to weep over
this irreparable past. No human being could forgive such folly as
mine; but God can. In my sorrowfulness and loneliness I fly to Him,
and find, what is better than earthly felicity, the sweetest peace.
He allowed me to bring upon myself, in one hasty moment, a shadow out
of which I shall not soon pass, but He pities and He forgives me, and
I have had many precious moments when I could say sincerely and
joyfully, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon
earth that I desire besides Thee."
With a character still so undisciplined as mine, I seriously doubt
whether I could have made him who has honored me with his unmerited
affection. Sometimes I think I am as impetuous and as quick-tempered
as ever; I get angry with dear mother, and with James even, if they
oppose me; how unfit, then, I am to become the mistress of a
household and the wife of a good a man!
How came he to love me? I cannot, cannot imagine!
August 31.-The last day of the very happiest summer I ever spent. If
I had only been willing to believe the testimony of others I might
have been just as happy long ago. But I wanted to have all there was
in God and all there was in the world, at once, and there was a
constant, painful struggle between the two. I hope that struggle is
now over. I deliberately choose and prefer God. I have found a sweet
peace in trying to please Him such as I never conceived of. I would
not change it for all the best things this world can give.
But I have a great deal to learn. I am like a little child who cannot
run to get what he wants, but approaches it step by step, slowly,
timidly-and yet approaches it. I am amazed at the patience of my
blessed Master and Teacher, but how I love His school!
September.-This, too, has been a delightful month in a certain sense.
Amelia's marriage, at which I had to be present, upset me a little,
but it was but a little ruffle on a deep sea of peace.
I saw Dr. Cabot to-day. He is quite well again, ,and speaks of Dr.
Elliott's skill with rapture. He asked about my Sunday scholars and
my poor folks, etc., and I could not help letting out a little of the
new joy that has taken possession of me.
"This is as it should be," he said. I should be sorry to see a person
of your temperament enthusiastic in everything save religion. Do not
be discouraged if you still have some ups and downs. 'He that is down
need fear no fall'; but you are away up on the heights, and may have
one, now and then."
This made me a little uncomfortable. I don't want any falls. I want
to go on to perfection.
OCT. 1.-Laura Cabot came to see me today, and seemed very
"I hope we may see more of each other than we have done," she began.
"My father wishes it, and so do I."
Katy, mentally.-"Ah! He sees how unworldly, how devoted I am, and so
wants Laura under my influence."
Katy, aloud.-" I am sure that is very kind."
Laura.-" Not at all. He knows it will be profitable to me to be with
you. I get a good deal discouraged at times, and want a friend to
strengthen and help me."
Katy, to herself.-" Yes, yes, he thinks me quite experienced and
Katy, aloud.-" I shall never dare to try to help you.
Laura.-" Oh, yes, you must. I am so far behind you in Christian
But I am ashamed to write down any more. After she had gone I felt
delightfully puffed up for a while. But when I came up to my room
this evening, and knelt down to pray, everything looked dark and
chaotic. God seemed far away, and I took no pleasure in speaking to
Him. I felt sure that I had done something or felt something wrong,
and asked Him to show me what it was. There then flashed into my mind
the remembrance of the vain, conceited thoughts I had had during
Laura's visit and ever since.
How perfectly contemptible! I have had a fall indeed!
I think now my first mistake was in telling Dr. Cabot my secret,
sacred joys, as if some merit of mine had earned them for me. That
gave Satan a fine chance to triumph over me! After this I am
determined to maintain the utmost reserve in respect to my religious
experiences. Nothing is gained by running to tell them, and much is
I feel depressed and comfortless.
WE have very sad news from Aunty. She says my Uncle is quite broken
down with some obscure disease that has been creeping stealthily
along for months. All his physicians agree that he must give up his
business and try the effect of a year's rest. Dr. Elliott proposes
his going to Europe, which seems to me about as formidable as going
to the next world. Aunty makes the best she can of it, but she says
the thought of being separated from Uncle a whole year is dreadful I
pray for her day and night, that this wild project may be given up.
Why, he would be on the ocean ever so many weeks, exposed to all the
discomforts of narrow quarters and poor food, and that just as winter
is drawing nigh!
OCT. 12.~Aunty writes that the voyage to Europe has been decided on,
and that Dr. Elliott is to accompany Uncle, travel with him, amuse
him, and bring him home a well man. I hope Dr. E.'s power to amuse
may exist somewhere, but must own it was in a most latent form when I
had the pleasure of knowing him. Poor Aunty! How much better it would
be for her to go with Uncle! There are the children, to be sure.
Well, I hope Uncle may be the better for this great undertaking, but
I don't like the idea of it.
OCT. 15.-Another letter from Aunty, and new plans! The Dr. is to stay
at home, Aunty is to go with Uncle, and we-mother and myself-are to
take possession of the house and children during their absence! In
other words, all this is to be if we say amen. Could anything be more
frightful? To refuse would be selfish and cruel. If we consent I
thrust myself under Dr. Elliott's very nose.
OCT. 16.-Mother is surprised that I can hesitate one instant. She
seems to have forgotten all about Dr. E. She says we can easily find
a family to take this house for a year, and that she is delighted to
do anything for Aunty that can be done.
Nov. 4.-Here we are, the whole thing settled. Uncle and Aunty started
a week ago, and we are monarchs of all we survey, and this is a great
deal. I am determined that mother shall not be worn out with these
children, although of course I could not them without her advice and
help. It is to be hoped they won't all have the measles in a body, or
anything of that sort; I am sure it would be annoying to Dr. E. to
come here now.
Nov. 25.-Of course the baby must go on teething if only to have the
doctor sent for to lance his gums. I told mother I was sure I could
not be present when this was being done, so, though she looked
surprised, and said people should accustom themselves to such things,
she volunteered to hold baby herself.
Nov. 26.-The baby was afraid of mother, not being used to her, so she
sent for me. As I entered the room she gave him to me with an apology
for doing so, since I shrank from witnessing the operation. What must
Dr. E. think I am made of if I can't bear to see a child's gums
lanced? However, it is my own fault that he thinks me such a coward,
for I made mother think me one. It was very embarrassing to hold baby
and have the doctor's face so close to mine. I really wonder mother
should not see how awkwardly I am situated here.
Nov. 27.-We have a good many visitors, friends of Uncle and Aunty.
How uninteresting most people are! They all say the same thing,
namely, how strange that Aunty had courage to undertake such a
voyage, and to leave her children, etc., etc., etc., and what was Dr.
Elliott thinking of to let them go, etc, etc., etc.
Dr. Embury called to-day, with a pretty little fresh creature, his
new wife, who hangs on his arm like a work-bag. He is Dr. Elliott's
intimate friend, and spoke of him very warmly, and so did his wife,
who says she has known him always, as they were born and brought up
in the same village. I wonder he did not marry her himself, instead
of leaving her for Dr. Embury!
She says he, Dr. Elliott, I mean, was the most devoted son she ever
saw, and that he deserves his present success because he has made
such sacrifices for his parents. I never met any one whom I liked so
well on so short acquaintance-I mean Mrs. Embury, though you might
fancy, you poor deluded journal you, that I meant somebody else.
Nov. 30.-I have so much to do that I have little time for writing.
The way the children wear out their shoes and stockings, the speed
with which their hair grows, the way they bump their heads and pinch
their fingers, and the insatiable demand for stories, is something
next to miraculous. Not a day passes that somebody doesn't need
something bought; that somebody else doesn't choke itself, and that I
don't have to tell stories till I feel my intellect reduced to the
size of a pea. If ever I was alive and wide awake, however, it is
just now, and in spite of some vague shadows of, I don't know what, I
am very happy indeed. So is dear mother. She and the doctor have
become bosom friends He keeps her making beef-tea, scraping lint, and
boiling calves feet for jelly, till the house smells like an
I suppose he thinks me a poor, selfish, frivolous girl, whom nothing
would tempt to raise a finger for his invalids. But, of course, I do
not care what he thinks.
Dec. 4.-Dr. Elliott came this morning to ask mother to go with him to
see a child who had met with a horrible accident. She turned pale,
and pressed her lips together, but went at once to get ready. Then my
long-suppressed wrath burst out.
"How can you ask poor mother to go and see such sights?" I cried.
"You must think her nothing but a stone, if you suppose that after
the way in which my father died-"
"It was indeed most thoughtless in me," he interrupted; "but your
mother is such a rare woman, so decided and self-controlled, yet so
gentle, so full of tender sympathy, that I hardly know where to look
for just the help I need to-day. If you could see this poor child,
even you would justify me."
"Even you!" you monster of selfishness, heart of stone, floating
bubble, "even you would justify it!"
How cruel, how unjust, how unforgiving he is!
I rushed out of the room, and cried until I was tired.
DEC. 6.-Mother says she feels really grateful to Dr. E. for taking
her to see that child, and to help soothe and comfort it while he
went through with a severe, painful operation which she would not
describe, because she fancied I looked pale. I said I should think
the child's mother the most proper person to soothe it on such an
"The poor thing has no mother," she said, reproachfully. "What has
got into you, Kate? You do not seem at all like yourself."
"I should think you had enough to do with this great house to keep in
order, so many mouths to fill, and so many servants to oversee,
without wearing yourself out with nursing all Dr. Elliott's poor
folks," I said, gloomily.
"The more I have to do the happier I am," she replied. "Dear Katy,
the old wound isn't healed yet, and I like to be with those who have
wounds and bruises of their own. And Dr. Elliott seems to have
divined this by instinct."
I ran and kissed her dear, pale face, which grows more beautiful
every day. No wonder she misses father so! He loved and honored her
beyond description, and never forgot one of those little courtesies
which must have a great deal to do with a wife's happiness. People
said of him that he was a gentleman of the old school, and that race
is dying out.
I feel a good deal out of sorts myself. Oh, I do so wish to get above
myself and all my childish, petty ways, and to live in a region where
there is no temptation and no sin!
DEC. 22.-I have been to see Mrs. Embury to-day. She did not receive
me as cordially as usual, and I very soon resolved to come away. She
detained me, however.
"Would you mind my speaking to you on a certain subject?" she asked,
with some embarrassment.
I felt myself flush up.
"I do not want to meddle with affairs that don't concern me," she
went on, "but Dr. Elliott and I have been intimate friends all our
lives. And his disappointment has really distressed me."
One of my moods came on, and I couldn't speak a word.
"You are not at all the sort of a girl I supposed he would fancy,"
she continued. "He always has said he was waiting to find some one
just like his mother, and she is one of the gentlest, meekest,
sweetest, and fairest among women."
"You ought to rejoice then that he has escaped the snare," I said, in
a husky voice, "and is free to marry his ideal, when he finds her."
"But that is just what troubles me. He is not free. He does not
attach himself readily, and I am afraid that it will be a long, long
time before he gets over this unlucky passion for you."
"Passion!" I cried, contemptuously.
She looked at me with some surprise, and then went on.
"Most girls would jump at the chance of getting such a husband."
"I don't know that I particularly care to be classed with 'most
girls,'" I replied, loftily.
"But if you only knew him as well as I do. He is so noble, so
disinterested, and is so beloved by his patients. I could tell you
scores of anecdotes about him that would show just what he is."
"Thank you," I said, "I think we have discussed Dr. Elliott quite
enough already. I cannot say that he has elevated himself in my
opinion by making you take up the cudgels in his defence."
"You do him injustice, when you say that," she cried. "His sister,
the only person to whom he confided the state of things, begged me to
find out, if I could, whether you had any other attachment, and if
her brother's case was quite hopeless. But I am sorry I undertook the
task as it has annoyed you so much."
I came away a good deal ruffled. When I got home mother said she was
glad I had been out at last for a little recreation, and that she
wished I did not confine myself so to the children. I said that I did
not confine myself more than Aunty did.
"But that is different," mother objected. "She is their own mother,
and love helps her to bear her burden."
"So it does me," I returned. "I love the children exactly as if they
were my own."
That," she said, "is impossible."
"I certainly do," I persisted.
Mother would not dispute with me, though I wished she would.
A mother," she went on, "receives her children one at a time, and
gradually adjusts herself to gradually increasing burdens. But you
take a whole houseful upon you at once, and I am sure it is too much
for you. You do not look or act like yourself."
"It isn't the children," I said.
"What is it, then?"
"Why, it's nothing," I said, pettishly.
'"I must say, dear," said mother, not noticing my manner, "that your
wonderful devotion to the children, aside from its effect on your
health and temper, has given me great delight."
"I don't see why," I said.
"Very few girls of your age would give up their whole time as you do
to such work."
"That is because very few girls are as fond of children as I am.
There is no virtue in doing exactly what one likes best to do."
"There, go away, you contrary child," said mother, laughing. "If you
won't be praised, you won't."
So I came up here and moped a little. I don't see what ails me.
But there is an under-current of peace that is not entirely disturbed
by any outside event. In spite of my follies and my shortcomings, I
do believe that God loves and pities me, and will yet perfect that
which concerneth me. It is a great mystery. But so is everything.
Dr. Elliott to Mrs. Crofton:
And now, my dear friend, having issued my usual bulletin of health,
you may feel quite at ease about your dear children, and I come to a
point in your letter which I would gladly pass over in silence. But
this would be but a poor return for the interest you express in my
Both ladies are devoted to your little flock, and Miss Mortimer seems
not to have a thought but for them. The high opinion I formed of her
at the outset is more than justified by all I see of her daily,
household life. I know what her faults are, for she seems to take
delight in revealing them. But I also know her rare virtues, and what
a wealth of affection she has to bestow on the man who is so happy as
to win her heart. But I shall never be that man. Her growing aversion
to me makes me dread a summons to your house, and I have hardly
manliness enough to conceal the pain this gives me. I entreat you,
therefore, never again to press this subject upon me. After all, I
would not, if I could, dispense with the ministry of disappointment
Mrs. Crofton, in reply:
. . . . So she hates you, does she? I am charmed to hear it.
Indifference would be an alarming symptom, but good, cordial hatred,
or what looks like it, is a most hopeful sign. The next chance you
get to see her alone, assure her that you never shall repeat your
first offence. If nothing comes of it I am not a woman, and never was
one; nor is she.
MARCH 25, 1836.-The New Year and my birthday have come and gone, and
this is the first moment I could find for writing down all that has
The day after my last date I was full of serious, earnest thoughts,
of new desires to live, without one reserve, for God. I was smarting
under the remembrance of my folly at Mrs. Embury's, and with a sense
of vague disappointment and discomfort, and had to fly closer than
ever to Him. In the evening I thought I would go to the usual weekly
service. It is true I don't like prayer-meetings, and that is a bad
sign, I am afraid. But I am determined to go where good people go,
and see if I can't learn to like what they like.
Mother went with me, of course.
What was my surprise to find that Dr. E. was to preside! I had no
idea that he was that sort of a man.
The hymns they sang were beautiful, and did me good. So was his
prayer. If all prayers were like that, I am sure I should like
evening meetings as much as I now dislike them. He so evidently spoke
to God in it, and as if he were used to such speaking.
He then made a little address on the ministry of disappointments, as
he called it. He spoke so cheerfully and hopefully that I began to
see almost for the first time God's reason for the petty trials and
crosses that help to make up every day of one's life. He said there
were few who were not constantly disappointed with themselves, with
their slow progress, their childishness and weakness; disappointed
with their friends who, strangely enough, were never quite perfect
enough, and disappointed with the world, which was always promising
so much and giving so little. Then he urged to a wise and patient
consent to this discipline, which, if rightly used, would help to
temper and strengthen the soul against the day of sorrow and
bereavement. But I am not doing him justice in this meagre report;
there was something almost heavenly in his expression which words
Coming out I heard some one ask, "Who was that young clergyman?" and
the answer, "Oh, that is only a doctor!"
Well! the next week I went again, with mother. We had hardly taken
our seats when Dr. E. marched in with the sweetest looking little
creature I ever saw. He was so taken up with her that he did not
observe either mother or myself. As she sat by my side I could not
see her full face, but her profile was nearly perfect. Her eyes were
of that lovely blue one sees in violets and the skies, with long,
soft eye-lashes, and her complexion was as pure as a baby's. Yet she
was not one of your doll beauties; her face expressed both feeling
and character. They sang together from the same book, though I
offered her a share of mine. Of course, when people do that it can
mean but one thing.
So it seems he has forgotten me, and consoled himself with this
pretty little thing. No doubt she is like his mother, that "gentlest,
meekest, sweetest and fairest among women!"
Now if anybody should be sick, and he should come here, I thought,
what would become of me? I certainly could not help showing that a
love that can so soon take up with a new object could not have been a
sentiment of much depth.
It is not pleasant to lose even a portion of one's respect and esteem
The next day mother went to visit an old friend of hers, who has a
beautiful place outside of the city. The baby's nurse had ironing to
do, so I promised to sit in the nursery till it was finished. Lucy
came, with her books, to sit with me. She always follows like my
shadow. After a while Mrs. Embury called. I hesitated a little about
trusting the child to Lucy's care, for though her prim ways have
given her the reputation of being wise beyond her years, I observe
that she is apt to get into trouble which a quick-witted child would
either avoid or jump out of in a twinkling. However, children are
often left to much younger girls, so, with many cautions, I went
down, resolving to stay only a few moments.
But I wanted so much to know all about that pretty little friend of
Dr. E.'s that I let Mrs. Embury stay on and on, though not a ray of
light did I get for my pains At last I heard Lucy's step coming
"Cousin Katy," she said, entering the room with her usual propriety,
"I was seated by the window, engaged with my studies. and the
children were playing about, as usual, when suddenly I heard a
shriek, and one of them ran past me, all in a blaze and-"
I believe I pushed her out of my way as I rushed upstairs, for I took
it for granted I should meet the little figure all in a blaze, coming
to meet me. But I found it wrapped in a blanket, the flames
extinguished. Meanwhile, Mrs. Embury had roused the whole house, and
everybody came running upstairs.
"Get the doctor, some of you," I cried, clasping the poor little
writhing form in my arms.
And then I looked to see which of them it was, and found it was
Aunty's pet lamb, everybody's pet lamb, our little loving, gentle
Dr. Elliott must have come on wings, for I had not time to be
impatient for his arrival. He was as tender as a woman with Emma; we
cut off and tore off her clothes wherever the fire had touched her,
and he dressed the burns with his own hands. He did not speak a word
to me, or I to him. This time he did not find it necessary to advise
me to control my-self. I was as cold and hard as a stone.
But when poor little Emma's piercing shrieks began to subside, and
she came a little under the influence of some soothing drops he had
given her at the outset, I began to feel that sensation in the back
of my neck that leads to conquest over the most stubborn and the most
heroic. I had just time to get Emma into the doctor's arms, and then
down I went. I got over it in a minute, and was up again before any
one had time to come to the rescue. But Dr. E. gave Emma to Mrs.
Embury, who had taken off her things and been crying all the time,
and said in a low voice,
"I beg you will now leave the room, and lie down. And do not feel
obliged to see me when I visit the child. That annoyance, at least,
you should spare yourself."
"No consideration shall make me neglect little Emma," I replied,
By this time Mrs. Embury had rocked her to sleep, and she lay, pale
and with an air of complete exhaustion, in her arms.
"You must lie down now, Miss Mortimer," Dr. Elliott said, as he rose
to go. "I will return in a few hours to see how you both do."
He stood looking at, Emma, but did not go. Then Mrs. Embury asked the
question I had not dared to ask.
"Is the poor child in danger?"
"I cannot say; I trust not. Miss Mortimer's presence of mind in
extinguishing the flames at once, has, I hope, saved its life."
"It was not my presence of mind, it was Lucy's!" I cried, eagerly.
Oh, how I envied her for being the heroine, and for the surprised,
delighted smile with which he went and took her hand, saying, "I
congratulate you, Lucy! How your mother will rejoice at this!"
I tried to think of nothing but poor little Emma, and of the reward
Aunty had had for her kindness to Lucy. But I thought of myself, and
how likely it was that under the same circumstances I should have
been beside myself, and done nothing. This, and many other emotions,
made me burst out crying.
"Yes, cry, cry, with all your heart," said Mrs. Embury, laying Emma
gently down, and coming to get me into her arms. "It will do you
good, poor child!"
She cried with me, till at last I could lie down and try to sleep.
Well, the days and the weeks were very long after that.
Dear mother had a hard time, what with her anxiety about Emma, and my
crossness and unreasonableness.
Dr. Elliott came and went, came and went. At last he said all danger
was over, and that our patient little darling would get well. But his
visits did not diminish; he came twice and three times every day.
Sometimes I hoped he would tell us about his new flame, and sometimes
I felt that I could not hear her mentioned. One day mother was so
unwell that I had to help him dress Emma's burns, and I could not
"Even a mother's gentlest touch, full of love as it is, is almost
rough compared with that of one trained to such careful handling as
He looked gratified, but said:
"I am glad you begin to find that even stones feel, sometimes."
Another time something was said about the fickleness of women. Mrs.
Embury began it. I fired up, of course.
He seemed astonished at my attack.
"I said nothing," he declared.
"No, but you looked a good many things. Now the fact is, women are
not fickle. When they lose what they value most, they find it
impossible to re place it. But men console themselves with the first
good thing that comes along."
I dare say I spoke bitterly, for I was thinking how soon Ch----, I
mean somebody, replaced me in his shallow heart, and how, with equal
speed, Dr. Elliott had helped himself to a new love.
"I do not like these sweeping assertions," said Dr. Elliott, looking
a good deal annoyed.
"I have to say what I think," I persisted.
"It is well to think rightly, then," he said, gravely.
"By the bye, have you heard from Helen?" Mrs. Embury most
"Yes, I, heard yesterday."
"I suppose you will be writing her, then? Will you enclose a little
note from me? Or rather let me have the least corner of your sheet?"
I was shocked at her want of delicacy. Of course this Helen must be
the new love, and how could a woman with two grains of sense imagine
he would want to spare her a part of his sheet!
I felt tired and irritated. As soon as Dr. Elliott had gone, I began
to give her a good setting down.
"I could hardly believe my ears," I said, "when I heard you ask leave
to write on Dr. Elliott's sheet."
"No wonder," she said, laughing. "I suppose you never knew what it
was to have to count every shilling, and to deny yourself the
pleasure of writing to a friend because of what it would cost. I'm
sure I never did till I was married."
"But to ask him to let you help write his love-letters," I objected.
"Ah! is that the way the wind blows?" she cried, nodding her pretty
little head. "Well, then, let me relieve your mind, my dear, by
informing you that this 'love-letter' is to his sister, my dearest
friend, and the sweetest little thing you ever saw."
"Oh!" I said, and immediately felt quite rested, and quite like
Like myself! And who is she, pray!
Two souls dwell in my poor little body, and which of them is me, and
which of them isn't, it would be hard to tell. This is the way they
Katy, to the other creature, whom I will call Kate.-Your mother looks
tired, and you have been very cross. Run and put your arms around
her, and tell her how you love her.
Kate. -Oh, I can't; it would look queer. I don't like palaver.
Besides, who would not be cross who felt as I do?
Katy.-Little Emma has nothing to do, and ought to be amused. Tell her
a story, do.
Kate.-I am tired, and need to be amused myself.
Katy.-But the dear little thing is so patient and has suffered so
Kate.-Well, I have suffered, too. If she had not climbed up on the
fender she would not have got burned.
Kate.-You are very irritable to-day. You had better go upstairs to
your room and pray for patience.
Katy.-One can't be always praying. I don't feel like it.
Katy.-You treat Dr. Elliott shamefully. I should think he would
really avoid you as you avoid him.
Kate-Don't let me hear his name. I don't avoid him.
Katy.-You do not deserve his good opinion.
Kate.-Yes, I do.
Just awake in the morning.
Katy.-Oh, dear! how hateful I am! I am cross and selfish, and
domineering, and vain. I think of myself the whole time; I behave
like a heroine when Dr. Elliott is present, and like a naughty,
spoiled child when he is not. Poor mother! how can she endure me? As
to my piety, it is worse than none.
Kate, a few hours later.-Well, nobody can deny that I have a real
gift in managing children! And I am very lovable, or mother wouldn't
be so fond of me. I am always pleasant unless I am sick, or worried,
and my temper is not half so hasty as it used to be. I never think of
myself, but am all the time doing something for others. As to Dr. E.,
I am thankful to say that I have never stooped to attract him by
putting on airs and graces. He sees me just as I am. And I am very
devout. I love to read good books and to be with good people. I pray
a great deal. The bare thought of doing wrong makes me shudder.
Mother is proud of me, and I don't wonder. Very few girls would have
behaved as I did when Emma was burned. Perhaps I am not as sweet as
some people. I am glad of it. I hate sweet people. I have great
strength of character, which is much better, and am certainly very
But, my poor journal, you can't stand any more such stuff, can you?
But tell me one thing, am I Katy or am I Kate?
YESTERDAY I felt better than I have done since the accident. I ran
about the house quite cheerily, for me. I wanted to see mother for
something, and flew singing into the parlor, where I had left her
shortly before. But she was not there, and Dr. Elliott was. I started
back, and was about to leave the room, but he detained me.
"Come in, I beg of you," he said, his voice grow mg hoarser and
hoarser. "Let us put a stop to this."
"To what?" I asked, going nearer and nearer, and looking up into his
face, which was quite pale.
"To your evident terror of being alone with me, of hearing me speak.
Let me assure you, once for all, that nothing would tempt me to annoy
you by urging myself upon you, as you seem to fear I may be tempted
to do. I cannot force you to love me, nor would I if I could. If you
ever want a friend you will find one in me. But do not think of me as
your lover, or treat me as if I were always lying in wait for a
chance to remind you of it. That I shall never do, never."
"Oh, no, of course not!" I broke forth, my face all in a glow, and
tears of mortification raining down my cheeks. "I knew you did not
care for me I! knew you had got over it!"
I don't know which of us began it, I don't think he did, and I am
sure I did not, but the next moment I was folded all up in his great
long arms, and a new life had begun!
Mother opened the door not long after, and seeing what was going on,
trotted away on her dear feet as fast as she could.
APRIL 21.-I am too happy to write journals. To think how we love each
Mother behaves beautifully.
APRIL 25.-One does not feel like saying much about it, when one is as
happy as I am. I walk the streets as one treading on air. I fly about
the house as on wings. I kiss everybody I see.
Now that I look at Ernest (for he makes me call him so) with
unprejudiced eyes, I wonder I ever thought him clumsy. And how
ridiculous it was in me to confound his dignity and manliness with
It is very odd, however, that such a cautious, well-balanced man
should have fallen in love with me that day at Sunday-school. And
still stranger that with my headlong, impulsive nature, I
deliberately walked into love with him!
I believe we shall never get through with what we have to say to each
other. I am afraid we are rather selfish to leave mother to herself
SEPT. 5.-This has been a delightful summer. To be sure, we had to
take the children to the country for a couple of months, but Ernest's
letters are almost better than Ernest himself. I have written enough
to him to fill a dozen books. We are going back to the city now. In
his last letter Ernest says he has been home, and that his mother is
delighted to hear of his engagement. He says, too, that he went to
see an old lady, one of the friends of. his boyhood, to tell the news
"When I told her," he goes on, "that I had found the most beautiful,
the noblest, the most loving of human beings, she only said, 'Of
course, of course!'
"Now you know, dear, that it is not at all of course, but the very
strangest, most wonderful event in the history of the world."
And then he described a scene he had just witnessed at the deathbed
of a young girl of my own age, who left this world and every possible
earthly joy, with a delight in the going to be with Christ, that made
him really eloquent. Oh, how glad I am that God has cast in my lot
with a man whose whole business is to minister to others! I am sure
this will, of itself, keep him unworldly and unselfish. How delicious
it is to love such a character, and how happy I shall be to go with
him to sick-rooms and to dying-beds! He has already taught me that
lessons learned in such scenes far outweigh in value what books and
sermons, even, can teach.
And now, my dear old journal, let me tell you a secret that has to do
with life, and not with death.
I am going to be married!
To think that I am always to be with Ernest! To sit at the table with
him every day, to pray with him, to go to church with him, to have
him all mine! I am sure that there is not another man on earth whom I
could love as I love him. The thought of marrying Ch---, I mean of
having that silly, school-girl engagement end in marriage, was always
repugnant to me. But I give myself to Ernest joyfully and with all my
How good God has been to me! I do hope and pray that this new, this
absorbing love, has not detached my. soul from Him, will not detach
it. If I knew it would, could I, should I have courage to cut it off
and cast it from me?
JAN.16, 1837.-Yesterday was my birthday, and to-day is my
wedding-day. We meant to celebrate the one with the other, but Sunday
would come this year on the fifteenth.
I am dressed, and have turned everybody out of this room, where I
have suffered so much mortification, and experienced so much joy,
that before I give myself to Ernest, and before I leave home forever,
I may once more give myself away to God. I have been too much
absorbed in my earthly love, and am shocked to find how it fills my
thoughts. But I will belong to God. I will begin my married life in
His fear, depending on Him to make me an unselfish, devoted wife.
JAN. 25.-We had a delightful trip after the wedding was over. Ernest
proposed to take me to his own home that I might see his mother and
sister. He never has said that he wanted them to see me. But his
mother is not well. I am heartily glad of it.
I mean I was glad to escape going there to be examined and
criticised. Every one of them would pick at me, I am sure, and I
don't like to be picked at.
We have a home of our own, and I am trying to take kindly to
housekeeping. Ernest is away a great deal more than I expected he
would be. I am fearfully lonely. Aunty comes to see me as often as
she can, and I go there almost every day, but that doesn't amount to
much. As soon as I can venture to it, I shall ask Ernest to let me
invite mother to come and live with us. It is not right for her to be
left all alone so I hoped he would do that himself. But men are not
like women. We think of everything.
FEB. 15.-Our honeymoon ends to-day. There hasn't been quite as much
honey in it as I expected. I supposed that Ernest would be at home
every evening, at least, and that he would read aloud, and have me
play and sing, and that we should have delightful times together. But
now he has got me he seems satisfied, and goes about his business as
if he had been married a hundred years. In the morning he goes off to
see his list of patients; he is going in and out all day; after
dinner we sit down to have a nice talk together; the door-bell
invariably rings, and he is called away. Then in the evening he goes
and sits in his office and studies; I don't mean every minute, but he
certainly spends hours there. To-day he brought me such a precious
letter from dear mother! I could not help crying when I read it, it
was so kind and so loving. Ernest looked amazed; he threw down his
paper, came and took me in his arms and asked, "What is the matter,
darling?" Then it all came out. I said I was lonely, and hadn't been
used to spending my evenings all by myself.
"You must get some of your friends to come and see you, poor child,"
"I don't want friends," I sobbed out. "I want you."
"Yes, darling; why didn't you tell me so sooner? Of course I will
stay with you if you wish it."
"If that is your only reason, I am sure I don't want you," I pouted.
He looked puzzled.
"I really don't know what to do," he said, with a most comical look
of perplexity. But he went to his office, and brought up a pile of
fusty old books.
"Now, dear," he said, "we understand each other I think. I can read
here just as well as down stairs. Get your book and we shall be as
cosy as possible."
My heart felt sore and dissatisfied. Am I unreasonable and childish?
What is married life? An occasional meeting, a kiss here and a caress
there? or is it the sacred union of the twain who 'walk together side
by side, knowing each other's joys and sorrows, and going Heavenward
hand in hand?
FEB. 17.-Mrs. Embury has been here to-day. I longed to compare notes
with her, and find out whether it really is my fault that I am not
quite happy. But I could not bear to open my heart to her on so
sacred a subject. We had some general conversation, however, which
did me good for the time, at least.
She said she thought one of the first lessons a wife should learn is
self-forgetfulness. I wondered if she had seen anything in me to call
forth this remark. We meet pretty often; partly because our husbands
are such good friends, partly because she is as fond of music as I
am, and we like to sing and play together, and I never see her that
she does not do or say something elevating; something that
strengthens my own best purposes and desires. But she knows nothing
of my conflict and dismay, and never will. Her gentle nature responds
at once to holy influences. I feel truly grateful to her for loving
me, for she really does love me, and yet she must see my faults.
I should like to know if there is any reason on earth why a woman
should learn self-forgetfulness that does not apply to a man?
FEB. 18. -Uncle says he has no doubt he owes his 1ife to Ernest, who,
in the face of opposition to other physicians, insisted on his giving
up his business and going off to Europe at just the right moment. For
his partner, whose symptoms were very like his own, has been stricken
down with paralysis, and will not recover.
It Is very pleasant to hear Ernest praised, and it is a pleasure I
have very often, for his friends come to see me, and speak of him
with rapture. A lady told me that through the long illness of a sweet
young daughter of hers, he prayed with her every day, ministering so
skillfully to her soul, that all fear of death was taken away, and
she just longed to go, and did go at last, with perfect delight. I
think he spoke of her to me once; but he did not tell me that her
preparations for death was his work. I could not conceive of him as
FEB. 24.-Ernest has been gone a week. His mother is worse and he had
to go. I wanted to go too, but he said it was not worth while, as he
should have to return directly. Dr. Embury takes charge of his
patients during his absence, and Mrs. E. and Aunty and the children
come to see me very often. I like Mrs. Embury more and more. She is
not so audacious as I am, but I believe she agrees with me more than
she will own.
FEB. 25.-Ernest writes that his mother is dangerously ill, and seems
in great distress. I am mean enough to want all his love myself,
while I should hate him if he gave none to her. Poor Ernest! If she
should die he would be sadly afflicted!
FEB. 27.-She died the very day he wrote. How I long to fly to him and
to comfort him! I can think of nothing else. I pray day and night
that God would make me a better wife.
A letter came from mother at the same time with Ernest's. She
evidently misses me more than she will own. Just as soon as Ernest
returns home I will ask him to let her come and live with us. I am
sure he will; he loves her already, and now that his mother has gone
he will find her a real comfort. I am sure she will only make our
home the happier.
FEB. 28-Such a dreadful thing is going to happen! I have cried and
called myself names by turns all day. Ernest writes that it has been
decided to give up the old homestead, and scatter the family about
among the married sons and daughters. Our share is to be his father
and his sister Martha, and he desires me to have two rooms got ready
for them at once.
So all the glory and the beauty is snatched out of my married life at
one swoop! And it is done by the hand I love best, and that I would
not have believed could be so unkind.
I am rent in pieces by conflicting emotions and passions. One moment
I am all tenderness and sympathy for poor Ernest, and ready to
sacrifice everything for his pleasure. The next I am bitterly angry
with him for disposing of all my happiness in this arbitrary way. If
he had let me make common cause with him and share his interests with
him, I know I am not so abominably selfish as to feel as I do now.
But he forces two perfect strangers upon me and forever shuts our
doors against my darling mother. For, of course, she cannot live with
us if they do.
And who knows what sort of people they are? It is not everybody I can
get along with, nor is it everybody can get along with me. Now, if
Helen were coming instead of Martha, that would be some relief. I
could love her, I am sure, and she would put up with my ways. But
your Marthas I am afraid of. Oh, dear, dear, what a nest of scorpions
this affair has stirred up within me! Who would believe I could be
thinking of my own misery while Ernest's mother, whom he loved so
dearly, is hardly in her grave! But I have no heart, I am stony and
cold. It is well to have found out just what I am!
Since I wrote that I have been trying to tell God all about it. But I
could not speak for crying. And I have been getting the rooms ready.
How many little things I had planned to put in the best one, which I
intended for mother I have made myself arrange them just the same for
Ernest's father. The stuffed chair I have had in my room, and enjoyed
so much, has been rolled in, and the Bible with large print placed on
the little table near which I had pictured mother with her sweet,
pale face, as sitting year after year. The only thing I have taken
away is the copy of father's portrait. He won't want that!
When I had finished this business I went and shook my fist at the
creature I saw in the glass.
"You're beaten I" I cried. "You didn't want to give up the chair, nor
your writing-table, nor the Bible in which you expect to record the
names of your ten children I But you've had to do it, so there!"
MARCH 3.-They all got here at 7 o'clock last night, just in time for
tea. I was so glad to get hold of Ernest once more that I was
gracious to my guests, too. The very first thing, however, Ernest
annoyed me by calling me Katherine, though he knows I hate that name,
and want to be called Katy as if I were a lovable person, as I
certainly am (sometimes). Of course his father and Martha called me
His father is even taller, darker, blacker eyed, blacker haired than
Martha is a spinster.
I had got up a nice little supper for them, thinking they would need
something substantial after their journey. And perhaps there was some
vanity in the display of dainties that needed the mortification I
felt at seeing my guests both push away their plates in apparent
disgust. Ernest, too, looked annoyed, and expressed some regret that
they could find nothing to tempt their appetites.
Martha said something about not expecting much from young
housekeepers, which I inwardly resented, for the light, delicious
bread had been sent by Aunty, together with other luxuries from her
own table, and I knew they were not the handiwork of a young
housekeeper, but of old Chloe, who had lived in her own and her
mother's family twenty years.
Ernest went out as soon as this unlucky repast was over to hear Dr.
Embury's report of his patients, and we passed a dreary evening, as
my mind was preoccupied with longing for his return. The more I tried
to think. of something to say the more I couldn't.
At last Martha asked at what time we breakfasted.
"At half-past seven, precisely," I answered. "Ernest is very punctual
about breakfast. The other meals are more irregular."
"That is very late," she returned. "Father rises early and needs his
breakfast at once."
I said I would see that he had it as early as he liked, while I
foresaw that this would cost me a battle with the divinity who
reigned in the kitchen.
"You need not trouble yourself. I will speak to my brother about it,"
"Ernest has nothing to do with it," I said, quickly.
She looked at me in a speechless way, and then there was a long
silence, during which she shook her head a number of times. At last
she inquired: "Did you make the bread we had on the table to-night?"
"No, I do not know how to make bread," I said, smiling at her look of
"Not know how to make bread?" she cried. The very spirit of mischief
got into me, and made me ask:
"Why, can you?"
Now I know there is but one other question I could have asked her,
less insulting than this, and that is:
"Do you know the Ten Commandments?"
A spinster fresh from a farm not know how make bread, to be sure!
But in a moment I was ashamed and sorry that I had yielded to myself
so far as to forget the courtesy due to her as my guest, and one just
home from a scene of sorrow, so I rushed across the room, seized her
hand, and said, eagerly:
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