Mrs. E. Prentiss
Part 3 out of 6
"Do forgive me! It slipped out before I thought!"
She looked at me in blank amazement, unconscious that there was
anything to forgive.
'How you startled me!" she said. "I thought you had suddenly gone
I went back to my seat crestfallen enough. All this time Ernest's
father had sat grim and grave in his corner, without a word. But now
"At what hour does my son have family worship? I should like to
retire. I feel very weary."
Now family worship at night consists in our kneeling down together
hand in hand, the last thing before going to bed, and in our own
room. The awful thought of changing this sweet, informal habit into a
formal one made me reply quickly:
"Oh, Ernest is very irregular about it. He is often out in the
evening, and sometimes we are quite late. I hope you never will feel
obliged to wait for him."
I trust I shall do my duty, whatever it costs," was the answer.
Oh, how I wished they would go to bed!
It was now ten o'clock, and I felt tired and restless. When Ernest is
out late I usually lie on the sofa and wait for him, and so am bright
and fresh when he comes in. But now I had to sit up, and there was no
knowing for how long. I poked at the fire and knocked down the shovel
and tongs, now I leaned back in my chair, and now I leaned forward,
and then I listened for his step. At last he came.
"What, are you not all gone to bed?" he asked.
As if I could go to bed when I had scarcely seen him a moment since
I explained why we waited, and then we had prayer and escorted our
guests to their rooms. When we got back to the parlor I was thankful
to rest my tired soul in Ernest's arms, and to hear what little he
had to tell about his mother's last hours.
"You must love me more than ever, now," he said, "for I have lost my
"Yes," I said, "I will." As if that were possible! All the time we
were talking I heard the greatest racket overhead, but he did not
seem to notice it. I found, this morning, that Martha, or her father,
or both together, had changed the positions of article of furniture
in the room making it look a fright.
THINGS are even worse than I expected. Ernest evidently looked at me
with his father's eyes (and this father has got the jaundice, or
something), and certainly is cooler towards me than he was before he
went home. Martha still declines eating more than enough to keep body
and soul together, and sits at the table with the air of a martyr.
Her father lives on crackers and stewed prunes, and when he has eaten
them, fixes his melancholy eyes on me, watching every mouthful with
an air of plaintive regret that I will consume so much unwholesome
Then Ernest positively spends less time with me than ever, and sits
in his office reading and writing nearly every evening.
Yesterday I came home from an exhilarating walk, and a charming call
at Aunty's, and at the dinner-table gave a lively account of some of
the children's exploits. Nobody laughed, and nobody made any
response, and after dinner Ernest took me aside, and said, kindly
enough, but still said it,
"My little wife must be careful how she runs on in my father's
presence. He has a great deal of every thing that might be thought
Then all the vials of my wrath exploded and went off.
"Yes, I see how it is," I cried, passionately. "You and your father
and your sister have got a box about a foot square that you want to
squeeze me into. I have seen it ever since they came. And I can tell
you it will take more than three of you to do it. There was no harm
in what I said-none, whatever. If you only married me for the sake of
screwing me down and freezing me up, why didn't you tell me so before
it was too late?"
Ernest stood looking at me like one staring at a problem he had got
to solve, and didn't know where to begin.
"I am very sorry," he said. "I thought you would be glad to have me
give you this little hint. Of course I want you to appear your very
best before my father and sister."
"My very best is my real self," I cried. "To talk like a woman of
forty is unnatural to a girl of my age. If your father doesn't like
me I wish he would go away, and not come here putting notions into
your head, and making you as cold and hard as a stone. Mother liked
to have me 'run on,' as you call it, and I wish I had stayed with her
all my life."
"Do you mean," he asked, very gravely," that you really wish that?"
"No," I said, "I don't mean it," for his husky, troubled voice
brought me to my senses. "All I mean is, that I love you so dearly,
and you keep my heart feeling so hungry and restless; and then you
went and brought your father and sister here and never asked me if I
should like it; and you crowded mother out, and she lives all alone,
and it isn't right! I always said that whoever married me had got to
marry mother, and I never dreamed that you would disappoint me so!"
"Will you stop crying, and listen to me?" he said.
But I could not stop. The floods of the great deep were broken up at
last, and I had to cry. If I could have told my troubles to some one
I could thus have found vent for them, but there was no one to whom I
had a right to speak of my husband.
Ernest walked up and down in silence. Oh, if I could have cried on
his breast, and felt that he loved and pitied me!
At last, as I grew quieter, he came and sat by me.
"This has come upon me like a thunderclap," he said. "I did not know
I kept your heart hungry. I did not know you wished your mother to
live with us. And I took it for granted that my wife, with her
high-toned, heroic character, would sustain me in every duty, and
welcome my father and sister to our home. I do not know what I can do
now. Shall I send them away?"
No, no!" I cried. "Only be good to me, Ernest, only love me, only
look at me with your own eyes, and not with other people's. You knew
I had faults when you married me; I never tried to conceal them."
And did you fancy I had none myself?" he asked.
"No," I replied. "I saw no faults in you. Everybody said you were
such a noble, good man and you spoke so beautifully one night at an
"Speaking beautifully is little to the purpose less one lives
beautifully," he said, sadly. "And now is it possible that you and I,
a Christian man and a Christian woman, are going on and on with
scenes as this? Are you to wear your very life out because I have not
your frantic way of loving, and am I to be made weary of mine because
I cannot satisfy you?"
"But, Ernest," I said, "you used to satisfy me. Oh, how happy I was
in those first days when we were always together; and you seemed so
fond me!" I was down on the floor by this time, and looking up into
his pale, anxious face.
"Dear child," he said, "I do love you, and that more than you know.
But you would not have me leave my work and spend my whole time
telling you so?"
"You know I am not so silly," I cried.. "It is not fair, it is not
right to talk as if I were. I ask for nothing unreasonable. I only
want those little daily assurances of your affection which I should
suppose would be spontaneous if you felt at all towards me as I do to
"The fact is," he returned, "I am absorbed in my work. It brings many
grave cares and anxieties. I spend most of my time amid scenes of
suffering and at dying beds. This makes me seem abstracted and cold,
but it does not make you less dear. On the contrary, the sense it
gives me of the brevity and sorrowfulness of life makes you doubly
precious, since it constantly reminds me that sick beds and dying
beds must sooner or later come to our home as to those of others."
I clung to him as he uttered these terrible words In an agony of
"Oh, Ernest, promise me, promise me that you will not die first," I
Foolish little thing!" he said, and was as silly, for a while, as the
silliest heart could ask. Then he became serious again.
"Katy," he said, "if you can once make up your mind to the fact that
I am an undemonstrative man, not all fire and fury and ecstasy as you
are, yet loving you with all my heart, however it may seem, I think
you will spare yourself much needless pain--and spare me, also."
"But I want, you to be demonstrative," I persisted.
"Then you must teach me. And about my father and sister, perhaps, we
may find some way of relieving you by and by. Meanwhile, try to bear
with the trouble they make, for my sake."
"But I don't mind the trouble! Oh, Ernest, how you do misunderstand
me! What I mind is their coming between you and me and making you
love me less."
"By this time there was a call for Ernest-it is a wonder there had
not been forty-and he went.
"I feel as heart-sore as ever. What has been gained by this tempest ?
Nothing at all! Poor Ernest! How can I worry him so when he is
already full of care?
MARCH 20.-I have had such a truly beautiful letter to-day from dear
mother! She gives up the hope of coming to spend her last years with
us with a sweet patience that makes me cry whenever I think of it.
What is the secret of this instant and cheerful consent to whatever
God wills! Oh, that I had it, too! She begs me to be considerate
and kind to Ernest's father and sister, and constantly to remind
myself that my Heavenly Father has chosen to give me this care and
trial on the very threshold of my married life. I am afraid I have
quite lost sight of that in my indignation with Ernest for bringing
APRIL 3.-Martha is closeted with Ernest in his office day and night.
They never give me the least hint of what is going on in these secret
meetings. Then this morning Sarah, my good, faithful cook, bounced
into my room to give warning. She said she could not live where there
were, two mistresses giving contrary directions.
"But, really, there is but one mistress," I urged. Then it came out
that Martha went down every morning to look after the soap-fat, and
to scrimp in the house-keeping, and see that there was no food
wasted. I remembered then that she had inquired whether I attended to
these details, evidently ranking such duties with saying one's
prayers and reading one's Bible.
I flew to Ernest the moment he was at leisure and poured my
grievances into his ear.
"Well, dear," he said, "suppose you give up the house-keeping to
Martha! She will be far happier and you will be freed from much
annoying, petty care."
I bit my tongue lest it should say something, and went back to Sarah.
"Suppose Miss Elliott takes charge of the housekeeping, and I have
nothing to do with it, will you stay?"
"Indeed, and I won't then. I can't bear her, and I won't put up with
her nasty, scrimping, pinching ways!"
"Very well. Then you will have to go," I said, with great dignity,
though just ready to cry. Ernest, on being applied to for wages,
undertook to argue the question himself.
"My sister will take the whole charge," he began.
"And may and welcome for all me!" quoth Sarah. "I don't like her and
"Your liking or disliking her is of no consequence whatever," said
Ernest. "You may dislike her as much as you please. But you must not
"Indeed, and I'm not going to stay and be put upon by her," persisted
Sarah. So she has gone. We had to get dinner ourselves; that is to
say, Martha did, for she said I got in her way, and put her out with
my awkwardness. I have been running hither and thither to find some
angel who will consent to live in this ill-assorted household. Oh,
how different everything is from what I had planned! I wanted a
cheerful home, where I should be the centre of every joy; a home like
Aunty's, without a cloud. But Ernest's father sits, the
personification of silent gloom, like a nightmare on my spirits;
Martha holds me in disfavor and contempt; Ernest is absorbed in his
profession, and I hardly see him. If he wants advice he asks it of
Martha, while I sit, humbled, degraded and ashamed, wondering why he
ever married me at all. And then come interludes of wild joy when he
appears just as he did in the happy days of our bridal trip, and I
forget every grievance and hang on his words and looks like one
intoxicated with bliss.
OCT. 2.-There has been another explosion. I held in as long as I
could, and then flew into ten thousand pieces. Ernest had got into
the habit of helping his father and sister at the table, and
apparently forgetting me. It seems a little thing, but it chafed and
fretted my already irritated soul till at last I was almost beside
Yesterday they all three sat eating their breakfast and I, with empty
plate, sat boiling over and, looking on, when Ernest brought things
to a crisis by saying to Martha,
"If you can find time to-day I wish you would go out with me for half
an hour or so. I want to consult you about-"
"Oh!" I said, rising, with my face all in a flame, do not trouble
yourself to go out in order to escape me. I can leave the room and
you can have your secrets to yourselves as you do your breakfast!"
I don't know which struck me, most, Ernest's appalled, grieved look
or the glance exchanged between Martha and her father.
He did not hinder my leaving the room, and I went upstairs, as
pitiable an object as could be seen. I heard him go to his office,
then take his hat and set forth on his rounds. What wretched hours I
passed, thus left alone! One moment I reproached myself, the next I
was indignant at the long series of offences that had led to this
At last Ernest came.
He looked concerned, and a little pale.
"Oh, Ernest!" I cried, running to him, "I am so sorry I spoke to you
as I did! But, indeed, I cannot stand the way things are going on; I
am wearing all out. Everybody speaks of my growing thin. Feel of my
hands. They burn like fire."
"I knew you would be sorry, dear," he said. "Yes, your hands are
hot, poor child."
There was a long, dreadful silence. And yet I was speaking, and
perhaps he was. I was begging and beseeching God not to let us drift
apart, not to let us lose one jot or tittle of our love to each
other, to enable me to understand my dear, dear husband and make him
Then Ernest began.
"What was it vexed you, dear? What is it you can't stand? Tell me. I
am your husband, I love you, I want to make you happy."
"Why, you are having so many secrets that you keep from me; and you
treat me as if I were only a child, consulting Martha about
everything. And of late you seem to have forgotten that I am at the
table and never help me to anything!"
"Secrets!" he re-echoed. "What possible secrets can I have?"
"I don't know," I said, sinking wearily back on the sofa. "Indeed,
Ernest, I don't want to be selfish or exacting, but I am very
"Yes, I see it, poor child. And if I have neglected you at the table
I do not wonder you are out of patience. I know how it has happened.
While you were pouring out the coffee I busied myself in caring for
my father and Martha, and so forgot you. I do not give this as an
excuse, but as a reason. I have really no excuse, and am ashamed of
"Don't say that, darling," I cried, "it is I who ought to be ashamed
for making such an ado about a trifle."
"It is not a trifle," he said; "and now to the other points. I dare
say I have been careless about consulting Martha. But she has always
been a sort of oracle in our family, and we all look up to her, and
she is so much older than you. Then as to the secrets. Martha comes
to my office to help me look over my books. I have been careless
about my accounts, and she has kindly undertaken to attend to them
"Could not I have done that?"
"No; why should your little head be troubled about money matters? But
to go on. I see that it was thoughtless in me not to tell you what we
were about. But I am greatly perplexed and harassed in many ways.
Perhaps you would feel better to know all about it. I have only kept
it from you to spare you all the anxiety I could."
"Oh, Ernest," I said, "ought not a wife to share in all her husband's
"'No," he returned; "but I will tell you all that is annoying me now.
My father was in business in our native town, and went on
prosperously for many years. Then the tide turned-he met with loss
after loss, till nothing remained but the old homestead, and on that
there was a mortgage. We concealed the state of things from my
mother; her health was delicate, and we never let her know a trouble
we could spare her. Now she has gone, and we have found it necessary
to sell our old home and to divide and scatter the family My father's
mental distress when he found others suffering from his own losses
threw him into the state in which you see him now. I have therefore
assumed his debts, and with God's help hope in time to pay them to
the uttermost farthing. It will be necessary for us to live
economically until this is done. There are two pressing cases that I
am trying to meet at once. This has given me a preoccupied air, I
have no doubt, and made you suspect and misunderstand me. But now you
know the whole, my darling."
I felt my injustice and childish folly very keenly, and told him so.
"But I think, dear Ernest," I added, "if you will not be hurt at my
saying so, that you have led me to it by not letting me share at once
in your cares. If you had at the outset just told me the whole story,
you would have enlisted my sympathies in your father's behalf, and in
your own. I should have seen the reasonableness of your breaking up
the old home and bringing him here, and it would have taken the edge
of my bitter, bitter disappointment about my mother."
"I feel very sorry about that," he said. "It would be a real pleasure
to have her here. But as things are now, she could not be happy with
"There is no room," I put in.
"I am truly sorry. And now my dear little wife must have patience
with her stupid blundering old husband, and we'll start together once
more fair and square. Don't wait, next time, till you are so full
that you boil over; the moment I annoy you by my inconsiderate ways,
come right and tell me."
I called myself all the horrid names I could think of.
"May I ask one thing more, now we are upon the subject?" I said at
last. "Why couldn't your sister Helen have come here instead of
He smiled a little.
"In the first place, Helen would be perfectly if she had the care of
father in his present She is too young to have such responsibility.
In the second place, my brother John, with whom she has gone to live,
has a wife who would be quite crushed by my father and Martha. She is
one of those little tender, soft souls one could crush fingers. Now,
you are not of that sort; you have force of character enough to
enable you to live with them, while maintaining your own dignity and
remaining yourself in spite of circum stances."
"I thought you admired Martha above all thing and wanted me to be
exactly like her."
"I do admire her, but I do not want you to be like anybody but
"But you nearly killed me by suggesting that I should take heed how I
talked in your father's presence."
"Yes, dear; it was very stupid of me, but my father has a standard of
excellence in his mind by which he tests every woman; this standard
is my mother. She had none of your life and fun in her, and perhaps
would not have appreciated your droll way of putting things any
better than he and Martha do."
I could not help sighing a little when I thought what sort of people
were watching my every word.
"There is nothing amiss to my mind," Ernest continued, "in your gay
talk; but my father has his own views as to what constitutes a
religious character and cannot understand that real earnestness and
real, genuine mirthfulness are consistent with each other."
He had to go now, and we parted as if for a week's separation, this
one talk had brought us so near to each other. I understand him now
as I never have done, and feel that he has given me as real a proof
of his affection by unlocking the door of his heart and letting me
see its cares, as I give him in my wild pranks and caresses and
foolish speeches. How truly noble it is in him to take up his
father's burden in this way! I must contrive to help to lighten it.
AUNTY has put me in the way of doing that. I could not tell her the
whole story, of course, but I made her understand that Ernest needed
money for a generous purpose, and that I wanted to help him in it.
She said the children needed both music and drawing lessons, and that
she should be delighted if I would take them in hand. Aunty does not
care a fig for accomplishments, but I think I am right in accepting
her offer, as the children ought to learn to sing and to play and to
draw. Of course I cannot have them come here, as Ernest's father
could not bear the noise they would make; besides, I want to take him
by surprise, and keep the whole thing a secret.
Nov. 14.-I have seen by the way Martha draws down the corners of her
mouth of late, that I am unusually out of favor with her. This
evening, Ernest, coming home quite late, found me lolling back in my
chair, idling, after a hard day's work with my little cousins, and
Martha sewing nervously away at the rate of ten knots an hour, which
is the first pun I ever made.
"Why will you sit up and sew at such a rate, Martha?" he asked.
She twitched at her thread, broke it, and began with a new one before
"I suppose you find it convenient to have a whole shirt to your
I saw then that she was making his shirts! It made me both hot and
cold at once. What must Ernest think of me?
It is plain enough what he thinks of her, for he said, quite warmly,
"This is really too kind."
What right has she to prowl round among Ernest's things and pry into
the state of his wardrobe? If I had not had my time so broken up with
giving lessons, I should have found out that he needed new shirts and
set to work on them. Though I must own I hate shirt-making. I could
not help showing that I felt aggrieved. Martha defended herself by
saying that she knew young people would be young people, and would
gad about, shirts or no shirts. Now it is not her fault that she
thinks I waste my time gadding about, but I am just as angry with her
as if she did. Oh, why couldn't I have had Helen, to be a pleasant
companion and friend to me, instead of this old-well I won't say
And really, with so much to make me happy, what would become of me if
I had no trials?
Nov. 15.-To-day Martha has a house-cleaning mania, and has dragged me
into it by representing the sin and misery of those deluded mortals
who think servants know how to sweep and to scrub. In spite of my
resolution not to get under her thumb, I have somehow let her rule
and reign over me to such an extent that I can hardly sit up long
enough to write this. Does the whole duty of woman consist in keeping
her house distressingly clean and prim; in making and baking and
preserving and pickling; in climbing to the top shelves of closets
lest haply a little dust should lodge there, and getting down on her
hands and knees to inspect the carpet? The truth is there is not one
point of sympathy between Martha and myself, not one. One would think
that our love to Ernest would furnish it. But her love aims at the
abasement of his character and mine at its elevation. She thinks I
should bow down to and worship him, jump up and offer him my chair
when he comes in, feed him with every unwholesome dainty he fancies,
and feel myself honored by his acceptance of these services. I think
it is for him to rise and offer me a seat, because I am a woman and
his wife; and that a silly subservience on my part is degrading to
him and to myself. And I am afraid I make known these sentiments to
her in a most unpalatable way.
Nov. 18.-Oh, I am so happy that I sing for joy! Dear Ernest has
given me such a delightful surprise! He says he has persuaded James
to come and spend his college days here, and finally study medicine
with him. Dear, darling old James! He is to be here to-morrow. He is
to have the little hall bedroom fitted up for him, and he will be
here several years. Next to having mother, this is the nicest thing
that could happen. We love each other so dearly, and get along so
beautifully together I wonder how he'll like Martha with her grim
ways, and Ernest's father with his melancholy ones.
Nov. 30.-James has come, and the house already seems lighter and
cheerier. He is not in the least annoyed by Martha or her father, and
though he is as jovial as the day is long, they actually seem to like
him. True to her theory on the subject, Martha invariably rises at
his entrance, and offers him her seat! He pretends not to see it, and
runs to get one for her! Then she takes comfort in seeing him consume
her good things, since his gobbling them down is a sort of tacit
tribute to their merits.
Mrs. Embury was here to-day. She says there is not much the matter
with Ernest's father, that he has only got the hypo. I don't know
exactly what this is, but I believe it is thinking something is the
matter with you when there isn't. At any rate I put it to you, my
dear old journal, whether it is pleasant to live with people who
behave in this way?
In the first place all he talks about is his fancied disease. He gets
book after book from the office and studies and ponders his case till
he grows quite yellow. One day he says he has found out the seat of
his disease to be the liver, and changes his diet to meet that view
of the case. Martha has to do him up in mustard, and he takes kindly
to blue pills. In a day or two he finds his liver is all right, but
that his brain is all wrong. The mustard goes now to the back of his
neck, and he takes solemn leave of us all, with the assurance that
his last hour has come. Finding that he survives the night, however,
he transfers the seat of his disease to the heart, spends hours in
counting his pulse, refuses to take exercise lest he should bring on
palpitations, and warns us all to prepare to follow him. Everybody
who comes in has to hear the whole story, every one prescribes
something, and he tries each remedy in turn. These all failing to
reach his case, he is s plunged into ten-fold gloom. He complains
that God has cast him off forever, and that his sins are like the
sands of the sea for number. I am such a goose that I listen to all
these varying moods and symptoms with the solemn conviction that he
is going to die immediately; I bathe his head, and count his pulse,
and fan him, and take down his dying depositions for Ernest's solace
after he has gone. And I talk theology to him by the hour, while
Martha bakes and brews in the kitchen, or makes mince pies, after
eating which one might give him the whole Bible at one dose, without
the smallest effect.
To-day I stood by his chair, holding his head and whispering such
consoling passages as I thought might comfort him, when James burst
in, singing and tossing his cap in the air.
"Come here, young man, and hear my last testimony. I am about to die.
The end draws near," were the sepulchral words that made him bring
his song to an abrupt close.
"I shall take it very ill of you, sir," quoth James, "if you go and
die before giving me that cane you promised me."
Who could die decently under such circumstances? The poor old man
revived immediately, but looked a good deal injured. After James had
gone out, he said:
"It is very painful to one who stands on the very verge of the
eternal world to see the young so thoughtless."
"But James is not thoughtless," I said. "It is only his merry way."
"Daughter Katherine," he went on, "you are very kind to the old man,
and you will have your reward. But I wish I could feel sure of your
state before God. I greatly fear you deceive yourself, and that the
ground of your hope is delusive."
I felt the blood rush to my face. At first I was staggered a good
deal. But is a mortal man who cannot judge of his own state to decide
mine? It is true he sees my faults; anybody can, who looks. But he
does not see my prayers, or my tears of shame and sorrow; he does not
know how many hasty words I repress; how earnestly I am aiming, all
the day long, to do right in all the little details of life. He does
not know that it costs my fastidious nature an appeal to God every
time I kiss his poor old face, and that what would be an act of
worship in him is an act of self-denial in me. How should he? The
Christian life is a hidden known only by the eye that seeth in
secret. And I do believe this life is mine.
Up to this time I have contrived to get along without calling
Ernest's father by any name. I mean now to make myself turn over a
DECEMBER 7.-James is my perpetual joy and pride. We read and sing
together, just as we used to do in our old school days. Martha sits
by, with her work, grimly approving; for is he not a man? And, as if
my cup of felicity were not full enough, I am to have my dear old
pastor come here to settle over this church, and I shall once more
hear his beloved voice in the pulpit. Ernest has managed the whole
thing. He says the state of Dr. C.'s health makes the change quite
necessary, and that he can avail himself of the best surgical advice
this city affords, in case his old difficulties recur. I rejoice for
myself and for this church, but mother will miss him sadly.
I am leading a very busy, happy life, only I am, perhaps, working a
little too hard. What with my scholars, the extra amount of housework
Martha contrives to get out of me, the practicing I must keep up if I
am to teach, and the many steps I have to take, I have not only no
idle moments, but none too many for recreation. Ernest is so busy
himself that he fortunately does not see what a race I am running.
JANUARY 16, 1838.-The first anniversary of our wedding-day, and like
all days, has had its lights and its shades. I thought I would
celebrate it in such a way as to give pleasure to everybody, and
spent a good deal of time in getting up a little gift for each, from
Ernest and myself. And I took special pains to have a good dinner,
particularly for father. Yes, I had made up my mind to call him by
that sacred name for the first time to-day, cost what it may. But he
shut himself up in his room directly after breakfast, and when dinner
was ready refused to come down. This cast a gloom over us all Then
Martha was nearly distracted because a valuable dish had been broken
in the kitchen, and could not recover her equanimity at all. Worst of
all Ernest, who is not in the least sentimental, never said a word
about our wedding-day, and. didn't give me a thing! I have kept
hoping all day that he would make me some little present, no matter
how small, but now it is too late; he has gone out to be gone all
night, probably, and thus ends the day, an utter failure.
I feel a good deal disappointed. Besides, when I look back over this
my first year of married life, I do not feel satisfied with myself at
all. I can't help feeling that I have been selfish and unreasonable
towards Ernest in a great many ways, and as contrary towards Martha
as if I enjoyed a state of warfare between us. And I have felt a good
deal of secret contempt for her father, with his moods and tenses,
his pill-boxes and his plasters, his feastings and his fastings. I do
not understand how a Christian can make such slow progress as I do,
and how old faults can hang on so.
If I had made any real progress, should I not be sensible of it?
I have been reading over the early part of this journal, and when I
came to the conversation I had with Mrs. Cabot, in which I made a
list of my wants, I was astonished that I could ever have had such
contemptible ones. Let me think what I really and truly most want
First of all, then, if God should speak to me at this moment and
offer to give just one thing, and that alone, I should say without
Love to Thee, O my Master!
Next to that, if I could have one thing more, I would choose to be a
thoroughly unselfish, devoted wife. Down in my secret heart I know
there lurks another wish, which I am ashamed of. It is that in some
way or other, some right way, I could be delivered from Martha and
her father. I shall never be any better while they are here to tempt
FEBRUARY 1.-Ernest spoke to-day of one of his patients, a Mrs.
Campbell, who is a great sufferer, but whom he describes as the
happiest, most cheerful person he ever met. He rarely speaks of his
patients. Indeed, he rarely speaks of anything. I felt strangely
attracted by what he said of her, and asked so many questions that at
last he proposed to take me to see her. I caught at the idea very
eagerly, and have just come home from the visit greatly moved and
touched. She is confined to her bed, and is quite helpless, and at
times her sufferings are terrible. She received me with a sweet
smile, however, and led me on to talk more of myself than I ought to
have done. I wish Ernest had not left me alone with her, so that I
should have had the restraint of his presence.
FEB. 14.-I am so fascinated with Mrs. Campbell that I cannot help
going to see her again and again. She seems to me like one whose
conflict and dismay are all over, and who looks on other human beings
with an almost divine love and pity. To look at life as she does, to
feel as she does, to have such a personal love to Christ as she has,
I would willingly go through every trial and sorrow. When I told her
so, she smiled, a little sadly.
"Much as you envy me," she said, "my faith is not yet so strong that
I do not shudder at the thought of a young enthusiastic girl like
you, going through all I have done in order to learn a few simple
lessons which God was willing to teach me sooner and without the use
of a rod, if I had been ready for them."
"But you are so happy now," I said.
"Yes, I am happy," she replied, "and such happiness is worth all it
costs. If my flesh shudders at the remembrance of what I have
endured, my faith sustains God through the whole. But tell me a
little more about yourself, my dear. I should so love to give you a
helping hand, if I might."
"You know," I began, "dear Mrs. Campbell, that there are some trials
that cannot do us any good. They only call out all there is in us
that is unlovely and severe."
"I don't know of any such trials," she replied.
"Suppose you had to live with people who were perfectly uncongenial;
who misunderstood you, and who were always getting into your way as
"If I were living with them and they made me unhappy, I would ask God
to relieve me of this trial if He thought it best. If He did not
think it best, I would then try to find out the reason. He might have
two reasons. One would be the good they might do me. The other the
good I might do them."
"But in the case I was supposing, neither party can be of the least
use to the other."
"You forget perhaps the indirect good one may in by living with
uncongenial, tempting persons. First such people do good by the very
self-denial and self-control their mere presence demands. Then, their
making one's home less home-like and perfect than it would be in
their absence, may help to render our real home in heaven more
"But suppose one cannot exercise self-control, and is always flying
out and flaring up ?" I objected.
"I should say that a Christian who was always doing that," she
replied, gravely, "was in pressing need of just the trial God sent
when He shut him up to such a life of hourly temptation. We only know
ourselves and what we really are, when the force of circumstances
bring us out."
"It is very mortifying and painful to find how weak one is."
"That is true. But our mortifications are some of God's best
physicians, and do much toward healing our pride and self-conceit."
"Do you really think, then, that God deliberately appoints to some of
His children a lot where their worst passions are excited, with a
desire to bring good out of this seeming evil? Why I have always
supposed the best thing that could happen to me, instance, would be
to have a home exactly to my mind; a home where all were forbearing,
loving and good-tempered, a sort of little heaven below."
"If you have not such a home, my dear, are you sure it is not partly
your own fault?"
"Of course it is my own fault. Because I am very quick-tempered I
want to live with good-tempered people."
"That is very benevolent in you," she said, archly.
I colored, but went on.
"Oh, I know I am selfish. And therefore I want live with those who
are not so. I want to live with persons to whom I can look for an
example, and who will constantly stimulate me to something higher."
"But if God chooses quite another lot for you, you may be sure that
He sees that you need something totally different from what you want.
You just now that you would gladly go through any trial in order to
attain a personal love to Christ that should become the ruling
principle of your life. Now as soon as God sees this desire in you,
is He not kind, is He not wise, in appointing such trials as He knows
will lead to this end?"
I meditated long before I answered. Was God really asking me not
merely to let Martha and her father live with me on sufferance, but
to rejoice that He had seen fit to let them harass and embitter my
"I thank you for the suggestion," I said, at last.
"1 want to say one thing more," Mrs. Campbell resumed, after another
pause. "We look at our fellow-men too much from the standpoint of our
own prejudices. They may be wrong, they may have their faults and
foibles, they may call out all that is meanest and most hateful in
us. But they are not all wrong; they have their virtues, and when
they excite our bad passions by their own, they may be as ashamed and
sorry as we are irritated. And I think some of the best, most
contrite, most useful of men and women, whose prayers prevail with
God, and bring down blessings into the homes in which they dwell
often possess unlovely traits that furnish them with their best
discipline. The very fact that they are ashamed of themselves drives
them to God; they feel safe in His presence, and while they lie in
the very dust of self-confusion at His feet they are dear to Him and
have power with Him."
"That is a comforting word, and I thank you for it," I said. My heart
was full, and I longed to stay and hear her talk on. But I had
already exhausted her strength. On the way home I felt as I suppose
people do when they have caught a basketful of fish. I always am
delighted to catch a new idea; I thought I would get all the benefit
out of Martha and her father, and as I went down to tea, after taking
off my things, felt like a holy martyr who had as good as won a
I found, however, that the butter was horrible. Martha had insisted
that she alone was capable of selecting that article, and had ordered
a quantity from her own village which I could not eat myself and was
ashamed to have on my table. I pushed back my plate in disgust.
"I hope, Martha, that you have not ordered much of this odious
stuff!" I cried.
Martha replied that it was of the very first quality, and appealed to
her father and Ernest, who both agreed with her, which I thought very
unkind and unjust. I rushed into a hot debate on the subject, during
which Ernest maintained that ominous silence that indicates his not
being pleased, and it irritated and led me on. I would far rather he
should say, "Katy, you are behaving like a child and I wish you would
"Martha," I said, "you will persist that the butter is good, because
you ordered it. If you will only own that, I won't say another word."
"I can't say it," she returned. "Mrs. Jones' butter is invariably
good. I never heard it found fault with before. The trouble is you
are so hard to please."
"No, I am not. And you can't convince me that if the buttermilk is
not perfectly worked out, the butter could be fit to eat."
This speech I felt to be a masterpiece. It was time to let her know
how learned I was on the subject of butter, though I wasn't brought
up to make it or see it made.
But here Ernest put in a little oil.
"I think you are both right," he said. "Mrs. Jones makes good butter,
but just this once she failed. I dare say it won't happen again, and
mean while this can be used for making seed-cakes, and we can get a
This was his masterpiece. A whole firkin of butter made up into
Martha turned to encounter him on that head, and I slipped off to my
room to look, with a miserable sense of disappointment, at my folly
and weakness in making so much ado about nothing. I find it hard to
believe that it can do me good to have people live with me who like
rancid butter, and who disagree with me in everything else.
AUNTY sent for us all to dine with her to-day to celebrate Lucy's
fifteenth birthday. Ever since Lucy behaved so heroically in regard
to little Emma, really saving her life, Ernest says Aunty seems to
feel that she cannot do enough for her. The child has taken the most
unaccountable fancy to me, strangely enough, and when we got there
she came to meet me with something like cordiality.
"Mamma permits me to be the bearer of agreeable news," she said,
"because this is my birthday. A friend, of whom you are very fond,
has just arrived, and is impatient to embrace you.
"To embrace me?" I cried. "You foolish child!" And the next moment I
found myself in my mother's arms!
The despised Lucy had been the means of giving me this pleasure. It
seems that Aunty had told her she should choose her own birthday
treat, and that, after solemn meditation, she had decided that to see
dear mother again would be the most agreeable thing she could think
of. I have never told you, dear journal, why I did not go home last
summer, and never shall. If you choose to fancy that I couldn't
afford it you can!
Well! wasn't it nice to see mother, and to read in her dear, loving
face that she was satisfied with her poor, wayward Katy, and fond of
her as ever! I only longed for Ernest's coming, that she might see us
together, and see how he loved me.
He came; I rushed out to meet him and dragged him in. But it seemed
as if he had grown stupid and awkward. All through the dinner I
watched for one of those loving glances which should proclaim to
mother the good understanding between us, but watched in vain.
"It will come by and by," I thought. "When we get by ourselves mother
will see how fond of me he is." But "by and by" it was just the same.
I was preoccupied, and mother asked me if I were well. It was all
very foolish I dare say, and yet I did want to have her know that
with all my faults he still loves me. Then, besides this
disappointment, I have to reproach myself for misunderstanding poor
Lucy as I have done. Because she was not all fire and fury like
myself, I need not have assumed that she had no heart. It is just
like me; I hope I shall never be so severe in my judgment again.
APRIL 30.-Mother has just gone. Her visit has done me a world of
good. She found out something to like in father at once, and then
something good in Martha. She says father's sufferings are real, not
fancied; that his error is not knowing where to locate his disease,
and is starving one week and over-eating the next. She charged me not
to lay up future misery for myself by misjudging him now, and to
treat him as a daughter ought without the smallest regard to his
appreciation of it. Then as to Martha, she declares that I have no
idea how much she does to reduce our expenses, to keep the house in
order and to relieve us from care. "But, mother," I said, "did you
notice what horrid butter we have? And it is all her doing."
"But the butter won't last forever," she replied. "Don't make
yourself miserable about such a trifle. For my part, it is a great
relief to me to know that with your delicate health you have this
tower of strength to lean on."
"But my health is not delicate, mother."
"You certainly look pale and thin."
"Oh, well," I said, whereupon she fell to giving me all sorts of
advice about getting up on step-ladders, and climbing on chairs, and
sewing too much and all that.
JUNE 15.-The weather, or something, makes me rather languid and
stupid. I begin to think that Martha is not an entire nuisance in the
house. I have just been to see Mrs. Campbell. In answer to my routine
of lamentations, she took up a book and read me what was called, as
nearly as I can remember, "Four steps that lead to peace."
"Be desirous of doing the will of another rather than thine own."
"Choose always to have less, rather than more."
"Seek always the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one."
"Wish always, and pray, that the will of God may be wholly fulfilled
I was much struck with these directions; but I said, despondently:
"If peace can only be found at the end of such hard roads, I am sure
I shall always be miserable."
"Are you miserable now?" she asked.
"Yes, just now I am. I do not mean that I have no happiness; I mean
that I am in a disheartened mood, weary of going round and round in
circles, committing the same sins, uttering the same confessions, and
making no advance."
"My dear," she said, after a time, "have you a perfectly distinct,
settled view of what Christ is to the human soul ?"
"I do not know. I understand, of course, more or less perfectly, that
my salvation depends on. Him alone; it is His gift."
"But do you see, with equal clearness, that your sanctification must
be as fully His gift, as your salvation is?"
"No," I said, after a little thought. "I have had a feeling that He
has done His part, and now I must do mine."
"My dear," she said, with much tenderness and feeling, "then the
first thing you have to do is to learn Christ."
"But how ?"
"On your knees, my child, on your knees!" She was tired, and I came
away; and I have indeed been on my knees.
JULY 1.-I think that I do begin, dimly it is true, but really, to
understand that this terrible work which I was trying to do myself,
is Christ's work, and must be done and will be done by Him. I take
some pleasure in the thought, and wonder why it has all this time
been hidden from me, especially after what Dr. C. said in his letter.
But I get hold of this idea in a misty, unsatisfactory way. If Christ
is to do all, what am I to do? And have I not been told, over and
over again, that the Christian life is one of conflict, and that I am
to fight like a good soldier?
AUGUST 5.-Dr. Cabot has come just as I need him most. I long for one
of those good talks with him which always used to strengthen me so. I
feel a perfect weight of depression that makes me a burden to myself
and to poor Ernest, who, after visiting sick people all day, needs to
come home to a cheerful wife. But he comforts me with the assurance
that this is merely physical despondency, and that I shall get over
it by and by. How kind, how even tender he is! My heart is getting
all it wants from him, only I am too stupid to enjoy him as I ought.
Father, too, talks far less about his own bad feelings, and seems
greatly concerned at mine. As to Martha I have done trying to get
sympathy or love from her. She cannot help it, I suppose, but she is
very hard and dry towards me, and I feel such a longing to throw
myself on her mercy, and to have one little smile to assure me that
she has forgiven me for being Ernest's wife, and so different from
what she would have chosen for him.
Dr. Elliott to Mrs. Mortimer:
OCTOBER 4, 1838.
My dear Katy's Mother-You will rejoice with us when I tell you that
we are the happy parents of a very fine little boy. My dearest wife
sends "an ocean of love" to you, and says she will write her self
to-morrow. That I shall not be very likely to allow, as you will
imagine. She is doing extremely well, and we have everything to be
grateful for. Your affectionate Son, J. E. ELLIOTT.
Mrs. Crofton to Mrs. Mortimer:
I am sure, my dear sister, that the doctor has riot written you more
than five lines about the great event which has made such a stir in
our domestic circle. So I must try to supply the details you will
want to hear.... .1 need not add that our darling Katy behaved nobly.
Her self-forgetfulness and consideration for others were really
beautiful throughout the whole scene. The doctor may well be proud of
her, and I took care to tell him so ill presence of that dreadful
sister of his. I never met so angular, so uncompromising a person as
she is in all my life. She does not understand Katy, and never can,
and I find it hard to realize that living with such a person can
furnish a wholesome discipline, which is even more desirable than the
most delightful home. And yet I not only know that is true in the
abstract, but I see that it is so in the fact. Katy is acquiring both
self-control and patience and her Christian character is developing
in a way that amazes me. I cannot but hope that God will, in time,
deliver her from this trial; indeed, feel sure that when it has done
its beneficent work He will do so. Martha Elliott is a good woman,
but her goodness is without grace or beauty. She takes excellent care
of Katy, keeps her looking as if she had just come out of a band-box,
as the saying and always has her room in perfect order. But one
misses the loving word, the re-assuring smile, the delicate,
thoughtful little forbearance, that ought to adorn every sick-room,
and light it up with genuine sunshine. There is one comfort about it,
how-ever, and that is that I can spoil dear Katy to my heart's
As to the baby, he is a fine little fellow, and his mother is so
happy in him that she can afford to do without some other pleasures.
I shall write again in a few days. Meanwhile, you may rest assured
that I love your Katy almost as well as you do, and shall be with her
most of the time till she is quite herself again.
to his mother:
Of course there never was such a baby before on the face of the
earth. Katy is so nearly wild with joy, that you can't get her to eat
or sleep or do any of the proper things that her charming
sister-in-law thinks becoming under the circumstances. You never saw
anything so pretty in your life, as she is now. I hope the doctor is
as much in love with her as I am. He is the best fellow in the world,
and Katy is just the wife for him.
Nov. 4.-My darling baby is a month old to-day. I never saw such a
splendid child. I love him so that I lie awake nights to watch him.
Martha says, in her dry way, that I had better show my love by
sleeping and eating for him, and Ernest says I shall, as soon as I
get stronger. But I don't get strong, and that discourages me.
Nov. 26.-I begin to feel rather more like myself, and as if I could
write with less labor. I have had in these few past weeks such a
revelation of suffering, and such a revelation of joy, as mortal mind
can hardly conceive of. The world I live in now is a new world; a
world full of suffering that leads to unutterable felicity. Oh, this
precious, precious baby! How can I thank God enough for giving him to
I see now why He has put some thorns into my domestic life; but for
them I should be too happy to live. It does not seem just the moment
to com plain, and yet, as I can speak to no one, it is a relief, a
great relief, to write about my trials. During my whole sickness,
Martha has been so hard, so cold, so unsympathizing that sometimes it
has seemed as if my cup of trial could not hold another drop. She
routed me out of bed when I was so languid that everything seemed a
burden, and when sitting up made me faint away. I heard her say to
herself, that I had no constitution and had no business to get
married. The worst of all is that during that dreadful night before
baby came, she kept asking Ernest to lie down and rest, and was sure
he would kill himself, and all that, while she had not one word of
pity for me. But, oh, why need I let this rankle in my heart! Why
cannot I turn my thoughts entirely to my darling baby, my dear
husband, and all the other sources of joy that make my home a happy
one in spite of this one discomfort! I hope I am learning some useful
lessons from my joys and from my trials, and that both will serve to
make me in earnest, and to keep me so.
DEC. 4.-We have had a great time about poor baby's name. I expected
to call him Raymond, for my own dear father, as a matter of course.
It seemed a small gratification for mother in her loneliness. Dear
mother! How little I have known all these years what I cost her! But
it seems there has been a Jotham in the family ever since the memory
of man, each eldest son handing down his father's name to the next in
descent, and Ernest's real name is Jotham Ernest--of all the
extraordinary combinations! His mother would add the latter name in
spite of everything. Ernest behaved very well through the whole
affair, and said he had no feeling about it all. But he was so
gratified when I decided to keep up the family custom that I feel
rewarded for the sacrifice.
Father is in one of his gloomiest moods. As I sat caressing baby
to-day he said to me:
"Daughter Katherine, I trust you make it a subject of prayer to God
that you may be kept from idolatry."
"No, father," I returned, "I never do. An idol is something one puts
in God's place, and I don't put baby there."
He shook his head and said the heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked.
"I have heard mother say that we might love an earthly object as much
as we pleased, if we only love God better." I might have added, but
of course I didn't; that I prayed every day that I might love Ernest
and baby better and better. Poor father seemed puzzled and troubled
by what I did say, and after musing a while, went on thus:
'The Almighty is a great and terrible Being. He cannot bear a rival;
He will have the whole heart or none of it. When I see a young woman
so absorbed in a created being as you are in that infant, and in your
other friends, I tremble for you, I tremble for you!"
'But, father," I persisted, "God gave me this child, and He gave me
my heart, just as it is."
'Yes; and that heart needs renewing."
"I hope it is renewed," I replied. "But I know there is a great work
still to be done in it. And the more effectually it is done the more
loving I shall grow. Don't you see, father? Don't you see that the
more Christ-like I become the more I shall be filled with love for
every living thing?"
He shook his head, but pondered long, as he always does, on whatever
he considers audacious. As for me, I am vexed with my presumption in
disputing with him, and am sure, too, that I was trying to show off
what little wisdom I have picked up. Besides, my mountain does not
stand so strong as it did. Perhaps I am making idols out of Ernest
and the baby.
JANUARY 16, 1839.-This is our second wedding day. I did not expect
much from it, after last year's failure. Father was very gloomy at
breakfast, and retired to his room directly after it. No one could
get in to make his bed, and he would not come down to dinner. I
wonder Ernest lets him go on so. But his rule seems to be to let
everybody have their own way. He certainly lets me have mine. After
dinner he gave me a book I have been wanting for some time, and had
asked him for-"The Imitation of Christ." Ever since that day at Mrs.
Campbell's I have felt that I should like it, though I did think, in
old times, that it preached too hard a doctrine. I read aloud to him
the "Four Steps to Peace"; he said they were admirable, and then took
it from me and began reading to himself, here and there. I felt the
precious moments when I had got him all to myself were passing away,
and was becoming quite out of patience with him when the words
"Constantly seek to have less, rather than more," flashed into my
mind. I suppose this direction had reference to worldly good, but I
despise money, and despise people who love it, The riches I crave are
not silver and gold, but my husband's love and esteem. And of these
must I desire to have less rather than more? I puzzled myself over
this question in vain, but when I silently prayed to be satisfied
with just what God chose to give me of the wealth I crave, yes,
hunger and thirst for, I certainly felt a sweet content, for the
time, at least, that was quite resting and quieting. And just as I
had reached that acquiescent mood Ernest threw down his book, and
came and caught me in his arms.
"I thank God," he said, "my precious wife, that I married you this
day. The wisest thing I ever did was when I fell in love with you and
made a fool of myself!"
What a speech for my silent old darling to make! Whenever he says and
does a thing out of character, and takes me all by surprise, how
delightful he is! Now the world is a beautiful world, and so is
everybody in it. I met Martha on the stairs after Ernest had gone,
and caught her and kissed her. She looked perfectly astonished.
"What spirits the child has!" I heard her whisper to herself; "no
sooner down than up again."
And she sighed. Can it be that under that stern and hard crust there
lie hidden affections and perhaps hidden sorrows?
I ran back and asked, as kindly as I could, "What makes you sigh,
Martha? Is anything troubling you? Have I done anything to annoy
"You do the best you can," she said, and pushed past me to her own
WHO would have thought I would have anything more to do with poor old
Susan Green? Dr. Cabot came to see me to-day, and told me the
strangest thing! It seems that the nurse who performed the last
offices for her was taken sick about six months ago, and that Dr.
Cabot visited her from time to time. Her physician said she needed
nothing but rest and good, nourishing food to restore her strength,
yet she did not improve at all, and at last it came out that she was
not taking the food the doctor ordered, because she could not afford
to do so, having lost what little money she had contrived to save.
Dr. Cabot, on learning this, gave her enough out of Susan's legacy to
meet her case, and in doing so told her about that extraordinary
will. The nurse then assured him that when she reached Susan's room
and found the state that she was in, and that I was praying with her,
she had remained waiting in silence, fearing to interrupt me. She saw
me faint, and sprang forward just in time to catch me and keep me
"I take great pleasure, therefore," Dr. Cabot continued, "in making
over Susan's little property to you, to whom it belongs; and I cannot
help congratulating you that you have had the honor and the privilege
of perhaps leading that poor, benighted soul to Christ, even at the
"Oh, Dr. Cabot '." I cried, "what a relief it is to hear you say
that! For I have always reproached myself for the cowardice that made
me afraid to speak to her of her Saviour. It takes less courage to
speak to God than to man."
"It is my belief," replied Dr. Cabot, "that every prayer offered in
the name of Jesus is sure to have its answer. Every such prayer is
dictated by the Holy Spirit, and therefore finds acceptance with God;
and if your cry for mercy on poor Susan's soul did not prevail with
Him in her behalf, as we may hope it did, then He has answered it in
some other way."
These words impressed me very much. To think that every one of my
poor prayers is answered! Every one!
Dr. Cabot then returned to the subject of Susan's will, and in spite
of all I could say to the contrary, insisted that he had no legal
right to this money, and that I had. He said he hoped that it would
help to relieve us from some of the petty economies now rendered
necessary by Ernest's struggle to meet his father's liabilities.
Instantly my idol was rudely thrown down from his pedestal. How could
he reveal to Dr. Cabot a secret he had pretended it cost him so much
to confide to me, his wife? I could hardly restrain tears of shame
and vexation, but did control myself so far as to say that I would
sooner die than appropriate Susan's hard earnings to such a purpose,
and that I should use it for the poor, as I was sure he would have
done. He then advised me to invest the principal, and use the
interest from year to year, as occasions presented themselves. So, I
shall have more than a hundred dollars to give away each year, as
long as I live! How perfectly delightful! I can hardly conceive of
anything that give me so much pleasure! Poor old Susan! How many
hearts she shall cause to sing for joy!
Feb. 25.-Things have not gone on well of late. Dearly as I love
Ernest, he has lowered himself in my eye by telling that to Dr.
Cabot. It would have bee far nobler to be silent concerning his
sacrifices; and he certainly grows harder, graver, sterner every day.
He is all shut up within himself, and I am growing afraid of him. It
must be that he is bitterly disappointed in me, and takes refuge in
this awful silence. Oh, if I could only please him, and know that I
pleased him, how different my life would be!
Baby does not .seem well. I have often plumed myself on the thought
that having a doctor for his father would be such an advantage to
him, as he would be ready 'to attack the first symptoms of disease.
But Ernest hardly listens to me when I express anxiety. about this or
that, and if I ask a question he replies, "Oh, you know better than I
do. Mothers know' by instinct how to manage babies." But I do not
know by instinct, or in any other way, and I often wish that the time
I spent over my music had been spent learning how to meet all the
little emergencies that are constantly arising since baby came. How I
used to laugh in my sleeve at those anxious mothers who lived near us
and always seemed to be in hot water. Martha will take baby when I
have other things to attend to, and she keeps him every Sunday
afternoon that I may go to church, but she knows no more about his
physical training than I do. If my dear mother were only here! I feel
a good deal worn out. What with the care of baby, who is restless at
night, and with whom I walk about lest he should keep Ernest awake,
the depressing influence of father's presence, Martha's disdain, and
Ernest keeping so aloof from me, life seems to me little better than
a burden that I have not strength to carry and would gladly lay down.
MARCH 3.-If it were not for James I believe I should sink. He is so
kind and affectionate, so ready to fill up the gaps Ernest leaves
empty, and is so sunshiny and gay that I cannot be entirely sad.
Baby, too, is a precious treasure; it would be wicked to cloud his
little life with my depression. I try to look at him always with a
smiling face, for he already distinguishes between a cheerful and a
I am sure that there is something in Christ's gospel that would
soothe and sustain me amid these varied trials, if I only knew what
it is, and how to put forth my hand and take it. But as it is I feel
very desolate. Ernest often congratulates me on having had such a
good night's rest, when I have been up and down every hour with baby,
half asleep frozen and exhausted. But he shall sleep at any rate.
April 5.-The first rays of spring make me more languid than ever
Martha cannot be made to understand that nursing such a large,
voracious baby, losing sleep, and confinement within doors, are
enough to account for this. She is constantly speaking in terms of
praise of those who keep up even when they do feel a little out of
sorts, and says she always does. In the evening, after baby gets to
sleep, I feel fit for nothing but to lie on the sofa, dozing; but she
sees in this only a lazy habit, which ought not to be tolerated, and
is constantly devising ways to rouse and set me at work. If I had
more leisure for reading, meditation and prayer, I might still be
happy. But all the morning, I must have baby till he takes his nap,
and as soon as he gets to sleep I must put my room in order, and by
that time all the best part of the day is gone. And at night I am so
tired that I can hardly feel anything but my weariness. That, too, is
.my only chance of seeing Ernest and if I lock my door and fall upon
my knees, I keep listening for his step, ready to spring to welcome
should he come. This is wrong, I know, but how can I live without one
loving word from him, and every day I am hoping it will come.
MAY 2-Aunty was here to-day. I had not seen her for some weeks. She
exclaimed at my looks in a tone that seemed to upbraid Ernest and
Martha though of course she did not mean to do that.
"You are not fit to have the whole care of that great boy at night,"
said she, "and you ought to begin to feed him, both for his sake and
"I am willing to take the child at night," Martha said, a little
stiffly. "But I supposed his mother preferred to keep him herself."
"And so I do," I cried. "I should be perfectly miserable if I had to
give him up just as he is getting teeth, and so wakeful."
"What are you taking to keep up. your strength, dear?" asked Aunty.
"Nothing in particular," I said.
"Very well, it is time the doctor looked after that," she cried. "It
really never will do to let you run down in this way. Let me look at
baby. Why, my child, his gums need lancing."
"So I have told Ernest half a dozen times," I declared. "But he is
always in a hurry, and says another time will do."
"I hope baby won't have convulsions while he is waiting for that
other time," said Aunty, looking almost savagely at Martha. I never
saw Aunty so nearly out of humor.
At dinner Martha began.
"I think, brother, the baby needs attention. Mrs. Crofton has been
here and says so. And she seems to find Katherine run down. I am sure
if I had known it I should have taken her in hand and built her up.
But she did not complain."
"She never complains," father here put in, calling all the blood I
had into my face, my heart so leaped for joy at his kind word.
Ernest looked at me and caught the illumination of my face.
"You look well, dear," he said. "But if you do not feel so you ought
to tell us. As to baby, I will attend to him directly."
So Martha's one word prevailed where my twenty fell to the ground.
Baby is much relieved, and has fallen into a sweet sleep. And I have
had time to carry my tired, oppressed heart to my compassionate
Saviour, and to tell Him what I cannot utter to any human ear. How
strange it is that when, through many years of leisure and strength,
prayer was only a task, it is now my chief solace if I can only
snatch time for it.
Mrs. Embury has a little daughter. How glad I am for her! She is
going to give it my name That is a real pleasure.
JULY 4.-Baby is ten months old to-day, and in spite of everything is
bright and well. I have come home to mother. Ernest waked up at last
to see that something must be done, and when he is awake he is very
wide awake. So he brought me home. Dear mother is perfectly
delighted, only she will make an ado about my health. But I feel a
good deal better, and think I shall get nicely rested here. How
pleasant it is to feel myself watched by friendly eyes, my faults
excused and forgiven, and what is best in me called out. I have been
writing to Ernest, and have told him honestly how annoyed and pained
I was at learning that he had told his secret to Dr. Cabot.
JULY 12.-Ernest writes that he has had no communication with Dr.
Cabot or any one else on subject that, touching his father's honor as
it does, he regards as a sacred one.
"You say, dear," be said, "you often say, that I do not understand
you. Are you sure that you understand me ?"
Of course I don't. How can I? How can I reconcile his marrying me and
professing to do it with delight, with his indifference to my
society, his reserve, his carelessness about my health?
But his letters are very kind, and really warmer than he is. I can
hardly wait for them, and then, though my pride bids me to be
reticent as he is, my heart runs away with me, and I pour out upon
him such floods of affection that I am sure he is half drowned.
Mother says baby is splendid.
AUGUST 1.-When I took leave of Ernest I was glad to get away. I
thought he would perhaps find after I was gone that he missed
something out of his life and would welcome me home with a little of
the old love. But I did not dream that he would not find it easy to
do without me till summer was over, and when, this morning, he came
suddenly upon us, carpet-bag in hand, I could do nothing but cry in
his arms like a tired child.
And now I had the silly triumph of having mother see that he loved
"How could you get away?" I asked at last. "And what made you come?
And how long can you stay?"
"I could get away because I would," he replied. "And I came because I
wanted to come. And I can stay three days."
Three days of Ernest all to myself!
AUGUST 5.-He has gone, but he has left behind him a happy wife and
the memory of three happy days.
After the first joy of our meeting was over, we had time for just
such nice long talks as I delight in. Ernest began by upbraiding me a
little for my injustice in fancying he had betrayed his father to Dr.
"That is not all," I interrupted, "I even thought you had made a
boast of the sacrifices you were making."
"That explains your coldness," he returned.
"My coldness! Of all the ridiculous things in the world!" I cried.
"You were cold, for you and I felt it. Don't you know that we
undemonstrative men prefer loving winsome little women like you, just
because you are our own opposites? And when the pet kitten turns into
a cat with claws-"
"Now, Ernest, that is really too bad! To compare me to a cat!"
"You certainly did say some sharp things to me about that time."
"Did I, really? Oh, Ernest, how could I?"
"And it was at a moment when I particularly needed your help. But do
not let us dwell upon it. We love each other; we are both trying to
do right in all the details of life. I do not think we shall ever get
very far apart."
"But, Ernest-tell me-are you very, very much disappointed in me?"
"Disappointed? Why, Katy!"
"Then what did make you seem so indifferent? What made you so slow to
observe how miserably I was, as to health?"
"Did I seem indifferent? I am sure I never loved you better. As to
your health, I am ashamed of myself. I ought to have seen how feeble
you were. But the truth is, I was deceived by your bright ways with
baby. For him you were all smiles and gayety."
"That was from principle," I said, and felt a good deal elated as I
made the announcement.
"He fell into a fit of musing, and none of my usual devices for
arousing him had any effect. I pulled his hair and his ears, and
shook him, but he remained unmoved.
At last he began again.
"Perhaps I owe it to you, dear, to tell you that when I brought my
father and sister home to live with us, I did not dream how trying a
thing it would be to you. I did not know that he was a confirmed
invalid, or that she would prove to possess a nature so entirely
antagonistic to yours. I thought my father would interest himself in
reading, visiting, etc, as he used to do. And I thought Martha's
judgment would be of service to you, while her household skill would
relieve you of some care. But the whole thing has proved a failure. I
am harassed by the sight of my father, sitting there in his corner so
penetrated with gloom; I reproach myself for it, but I almost dread
coming home. When a man has been all day encompassed with sounds and
sights of suffering, he naturally longs for cheerful faces and
cheerful voices in his own house. Then Martha's pertinacious-I won't
say hostility to my little wife-what shall I call it?"
"It is only want of sympathy. She is too really good to be hostile to
"Thank you, my darling," he said, "I believe you do her justice."
"I am afraid I have not been as forbearing with her as I ought," I
said. "But, oh, Ernest, it is because I have been jealous of her all
"That is really too absurd."
"You certainly have treated her with more deference than you have me.
You looked up to her and looked down upon me. At least it seemed so."
"My dear child, you have misunderstood the whole thing. I gave Martha
just what she wanted most; she likes to be looked up to. And I gave
you what I thought you wanted most, my tenderest love. And I expected
that I should have your sympathy amid the trials with which I am
burdened, and that with your strong nature I might look to you to
help me bear them. I know you have the worst of it, dear child, but
then you have twice my strength. I believe women almost always have
more than men."
"I have, indeed, misunderstood you. I thought you liked to have them
here, and that Martha's not fancying me influenced you against me.
But now I know just what you want of me, and I can give it, darling."
After this all our cloud melted away. I only long to go home and show
Ernest that he shall have one cheerful face about him, and have one
AUGUST 12.-I have had a long letter from Ernest to day. He says he
hopes he has not been selfish and unkind in speaking of his father
and sister as he has done, because he truly loves and honors them
both, and wants me to do so, if I can. His father had called them up
twice to see him die and to receive his last messages. This always
happens when Ernest has been up all the previous night; there seems a
fatality about it.
HOME again, and with my dear Ernest delighted to see me. Baby is a
year old to-day, and, as usual, father, who seems to abhor anything
like a merry-making, took himself off to his room. To-morrow he will
be all the worse for it, and will be sure to have a theological
battle with somebody.
OCTOBER 5.-The somebody was his daughter Katherine, as usual. Baby
was asleep in my lap and I reached out for a book which proved to be
a volume of Shakespeare which had done long service as an ornament to
the table, but which nobody ever read on account of the small print.
The battle then began thus:
Father.-" I regret to see that worldly author in your hands, my
Daughter-a little mischievously.-"Why, were you wanting to talk,
"No, I am too feeble to talk to-day. My pulse is very weak."
"Let me read aloud to you, then."
"Not from that profane book."
"It would do you good. You never take any recreation. Do let me read
Father gets nervous.
"Recreation is a snare. I must keep my soul ever fixed on divine
"But can you?"
"No, alas, no. It is my grief and shame that I do not."
"But if you would indulge yourself in a little harmless mirth now and
then, your mind would get rested and you would return to divine
things with fresh zeal. Why should not the mind have its seasons of
rest as well as the body?"
"We shall have time to rest in heaven. Our business here on earth is
to be sober and vigilant because of our adversary; not to be reading
"I don't make reading plays my business, dear father. I make it my
rest and amusement."
"Christians do not need amusement; they find rest, refreshment, all
they want, in God."
"Do you, father?"
"'Alas, no. He seems a great way off."
"To me He seems very near. So near that He can see every thought of
my heart Dear father, it is your disease that makes everything so
unreal to you. God is really so near, really loves us so; is so sorry
for us! And it seems hard, when you are so good, and so intent on
pleasing Him, that you get no comfort out of Him."
"I am not good, my daughter I am a vile worm of the dust."
"Well, God is good, at any rate, and He would never have sent His Son
to die for you if He did not love you." So then I began to sing.
Father likes to hear me sing, and the sweet sense I had that all I
had been saying was true and more than true, made me sing with joyful
I hope it is not a mere miserable presumption that makes me dare to
talk so to poor father. Of course, he is ten times better than I am,
and knows ten times as much, but his disease, whatever it is, keeps
his mind befogged. I mean to begin now to pray that light may shine
into his soul. It would be delightful to see the peace of God shining
in that pale, stern face.
MARCH 28.-It is almost six months since I wrote that. About the
middle of October father had one of his ill turns one night, and we
were all called up. He asked for me particularly, and Ernest came for
me at last. He was a good deal agitated, and would not stop to half
dress myself, and as I had a slight cold already, I suppose I added
to it then. At any rate I was taken very sick, and the worst cough
ever had has racked my poor frame almost to pieces. Nearly six months
confinement to my room; six months of uselessness during which I have
been a mere cumberer of the ground. Poor Ernest! What a hard time he
has had! Instead of the cheerful welcome home I was to give him
whenever he entered the house, here I have lain exhausted, woe-
begone and good for nothing. It is the bitterest disappointment I
ever had. My ambition is to be the sweetest, brightest, best of
wives; and what with my childish follies, and my sickness, what a
weary life my dear husband has had! But how often I have prayed that
God would do His will in defiance, if need be, of mine! I have tried
to remind myself of that every day. But I am too tired to write any
MARCH 30.-This experience of suffering has filled my mind with new
thoughts. At one time I was so sick that Ernest sent for mother. Poor
mother, she had to sleep with Martha. It was a great comfort to have
her here, but I knew by her coming how sick I was, and then I began
to ponder the question whether I was ready to die. Death looked to me
as a most solemn, momentous event-but there was something very
pleasant in the thought of being no longer a sinner, but a redeemed
saint, and of dwelling forever in Christ's presence. Father came to
see me when I had just reached this point.
"My dear daughter," he asked, "are you prepared to face the Judge of
all the earth?"
"No, dear father," I said, "Christ will do that for me."
"Have you no misgivings?"
I could only smile; I had no strength to talk.
Then I heard Ernest--my dear, calm, self-controlled Ernest--burst out
crying and rush out of the room. I looked after him, and how I loved
him! But I felt that I loved my Saviour infinitely more,and that if
He now let me come home to be with Him I could trust Him to be a
thousand-fold more to Ernest than I could ever be, and to take care
of my darling baby and my precious mother far better than I could.
The very gates of heaven seemed open to let me in. And then they were
suddenly shut in my face, and I found myself a poor, weak, tempted
creature here upon earth. I, who fancied myself an heir of glory, was
nothing but a peevish, human creature-very human indeed, overcome if
Martha shook the bed, as she always did, irritated if my food did not
come at the right moment, or was not of the right sort, hurt and
offended if Ernest put on at one less anxious and tender than he had
used when I was very ill, and-in short, my own poor faulty self once
more. Oh, what fearful battles I fought for patience, forbearance and
unselfishness! What sorrowful tears of shame I shed over hasty,
impatient words and fretful tones! No wonder I longed to be gone
where weakness should be swallowed up in strength, and sin give place
to eternal perfection!
But here I am, and suffering and work lie before me, for which I feel
little physical or mental courage. But "blessed be the will of God."
APRIL 5.-I was alone with father last evening, Ernest and Martha both
being out, and soon saw by the way he fidgeted in his chair that he
had something on his mind. So I laid down the book I was reading, and
asked him what it was.
"My daughter," he began, "can you bear a plain word from an old man?"
I felt frightened, for I knew I had been impatient to Martha of late,
in spite of all my efforts to the contrary. I am still so miserably
"I have seen many death-beds," he went on; "but I never saw one where
there was not some dread of the King of Terrors exhibited; nor one
where there was such absolute certainty of having found favor with
God to make the hour of departure entirely free from such doubts and
such humility as becomes a guilty sinner about to face his Judge."
"I never saw such a one, either," I replied; "but ere have been many
such deaths, and I hardly know of any scene that so honors and
magnifies the Lord."
"Yes," he said, slowly; "but they were old, mature, ripened
"Not always old, dear father. Let me describe to you a scene Ernest
described to me only yesterday."
He waved his hand in token that this would delay his coming to the
point he was aiming at.
"To speak plainly," he said, "I feel uneasy about you, my daughter.
You are young and in the bloom of life, but when death seemed staring
you in the face, you expressed no anxiety, asked for no counsel,
showed no alarm. It must be pleasant to possess so comfortable a
persuasion of our acceptance with God; but is it safe to rest on such
an assurance while we know that the human heart is deceitful above
all things and desperately wicked ?"
I thank you for the suggestion;" I said; "and, dear father, do not be
afraid to speak still more plainly. You live in the house with me,
see all my shortcomings and my faults, and I cannot wonder that you
think me a poor, weak Christian. But do you really fear that I am
deceived in believing that notwithstanding this I do really love my
God and Saviour and am His Child?"
"No," he said, hesitating a little, "I can't say that, exactly--I
can't say that."
This hesitation distressed me. At first it seemed to me that my life
must have uttered a very uncertain sound if those who saw it could
misunderstand its language. But then I reflected that it was, at
best, a very faulty life, and that its springs of action were not
necessarily seen by lookers-on.
Father saw my distress and perplexity, and seemed touched by them.
Just then Ernest came in with Martha, but seeing that something was
amiss, the latter took herself off to her room, which I thought
really kind of her.
"What is it, father? What is it, Katy?" asked Ernest; looking from
one troubled face to the other.
I tried to explain.
"I think, father, you may safely trust my wife's spiritual interests
to me," Ernest said, with warmth. "You do not understand her. I do.
Because there is nothing morbid about her, because she has a sweet,
cheerful confidence in Christ; you doubt and misjudge her. You may
depend upon it that people are individual in their piety as in other
things, and cannot all be run in one mould. Katy has a playful way of
speaking, I know, and often expresses her strongest feelings with
what seems like levity, and is, perhaps, a little reckless about
being misunderstood in consequence."
He smiled on me, as he thus took up the cudgels in my defence, and I
never felt so grateful to him in my life. The truth is, I hate
sentimentalism so cordially, and have besides such an instinct to
conceal my deepest, most sacred emotions, that I do not wonder people
misunderstand and misjudge me.
"I did not refer to her playfulness," father returned. "Old people
must make allowances for the young; they must make allowances. What
pains me is that this child, full of life and gayety as she is, sees
death approach without that becoming awe and terror which befits
Ernest was going to reply, but I broke in eagerly upon his answer:
"It is true that I expressed no anxiety when I believed death to be
at hand. I felt none. I had given myself away to Christ, and He had
received me and why should I be afraid to take His hand and go where
He led me? And it is true that I asked for no counsel. I was too weak
to ask questions or to like to have questions asked;, but my mind was
bright and wide awake while my body was so feeble, and I took counsel
of God. Oh, let me read to you two passages from the life of Caroline
Fry which will make you understand how a poor sinner looks upon
death. The first is an extract from a letter written after learning
that her days on earth were numbered.
"'As many will hear and will not understand, why I want no time of,
preparation, often desired by far holier ones than I, I tell you why,
and shall tell others, and so shall you. It is not because I am so
holy but because I am so sinful. The peculiar character of my
religious experience has always been a deep, an agonizing sense of
sin; the sin of yesterday, of to-day, confessed with anguish hard to
be endured, and cried for pardon that could not be unheard; each day
cleansed anew in Jesus' blood, and each day more and more hateful in
my own sight; what can I do in death I have not done in life? What,
do in this week, when I am told I cannot live, other than I did last
week, when knew it not? Alas, there is but one thing undone, to serve
Him better; and the death-bed is no place for that. Therefore I say,
if I am not ready now, I shall not be by delay, so far as I have to
do with it. If He has more to do in me that is His part. I need not
ask Him not to spoil His work by too much haste.'
"And these were her dying words, a few days later:
"'This is my bridal-day, the beginning of my life. I wish there
should be no mistake about the reason of my desire to depart and to
be with Christ. I confess myself the vilest, chiefest of sinners, and
I desire to go to Him that I may be rid of the burden of sin-the sin
of my nature-not the past, repented of every day, but the present,
hourly, momentary sin, which I do commit, or may commit -the sense of
which at times drives me half mad with grief!"'
I shall never forget the expression of father's face, as I finished
reading these remarkable words. He rose slowly from his seat, and
came and kissed me on the forehead. Then he left the room, but
returned with a large volume, and pointing to a blank page, requested
me to copy them there. He com plains that I do not write legibly, so
I printed them as plainly as I could, with my pen.
JUNE 20.-On the first of May, there came to us, with other spring
flowers, our little fair-haired, blue-eyed daughter. How rich I felt
when I heard Ernest's voice, as he replied to a question asked at the
door, proclaim, "Mother and children all well." To think that we, who
thought ourselves rich before are made so much richer now!
But she is not large and vigorous, as little Ernest was, and we
cannot rejoice in her without some misgiving. Yet her very frailty
makes her precious to us. Little Ernest hangs over her with an almost
lover-like pride and devotion, and should she live I can imagine what
a protector he will be for her. I have had to give up the care of him
to Martha. During my illness I do not know what would have become of
him but for her. One of the pleasant events of every day at that
time, was her bringing him to me in such exquisite order, his face
shining with health and happiness, his hair and dress so beautifully
neat and clean. Now that she has the care of him, she has become very
fond of him, and he certainly forms one bond of union between us, for
we both agree that he is the handsomest, best, most remarkable child
that ever lived, or ever will live.
JULY 6.-I have come home to dear mother with both my children. Ernest
says our only hope for baby is to keep her out of the city during the
What a petite wee maiden she is! Where does all the love come from?
If I had had her always I do not see how I could be more fond of her.
And do people call it living who never had any children?
JULY 10.-lf this darling baby lives, I shall always believe it is
owing to my mother's prayers.
I find little Ernest has a passionate temper, and a good deal of
self-will. But he has fine qualities. I wish he had a better mother.
I am so impatient with him when he is wayward and perverse! What he
needs is a firm, gentle hand, moved by no caprice, and controlled by
the constant fear of God. He never ought to hear an irritable word,
or a sharp tone; but he does hear them, I must own with grief and
shame. The truth is, it is so long since I really felt strong and
well that I am not myself, and can not do him justice, poor child.
Next to being a perfect wife I want to be a perfect mother. How
mortifying, how dreadful in all things to come short of even one's
own standard What approach, then, does one make to God's standard?
Mother seems very happy to have us here, though we make so much
trouble. She encourages me in all my attempts to control myself and
to control my dear little boy, and the chapters she gives me out of
her own experience are as interesting as a novel, and a good deal
AUGUST.-Dear Ernest has come to spend a week with us. He is all tired
out, as there has been a great deal of sickness in the city, and
father has had quite a serious attack. He brought with him a nurse
for baby, as one more desperate effort to strengthen her
I reproached him for doing it without consulting me, but he said
mother bad written to tell him that I was all worn out and not in a
state to have the care of the children. It has been a terrible blow
to me One by one I am giving up the sweetest maternal duties. God
means that I shall be nothing and do nothing; a mere useless
sufferer. But when I tell Ernest so, he says I am everything to him,
and that God's children please him just as well when they sit
patiently with folded hands, if that is His will, as when they are
hard at work. But to be at work, to be useful, to be necessary to my
husband and children, is just what I want, and I. do find it hard to
be set against the wall, as it were, like an old piece of furniture
no longer of any service I see now that my first desire has not been
to please God, but to please myself, for I am restless under His
restraining hand, and find my prison a very narrow one. I would be
willing to bear any other trial, if I could only have health and
strength for my beloved ones. I pray for patience with bitter tears.
WE are all at home together once more. The parting with mother was
very painful. Every year that she lives now increases her loneliness,
and makes me long to give her the shelter of my home. But in the
midst of these anxieties, how much I have to make me happy! Little
Ernest is the life and soul of the house; the sound of his feet
pattering about, and all his prattle, are the sweetest music to my
ear; and his heart is brimful of love and joy, so that he shines on
us all like a sunbeam. Baby is improving every day, and is one of
those tender, clinging little things that appeal to everybody's love
and sympathy. I never saw a more angelic face than hers. Father sits
by the hour looking at her. To-day he said:
"Daughter Katherine, this lovely little one is not meant for this
"This world needs to be adorned with lovely little ones," I said.
"And baby was never so well as she is now."
"Do not set your heart too fondly upon her," he returned. "I feel
that she is far too dear to me."
"But, father, we could give her to God if He should ask for her
Surely, we love Him better than we love her."
But as I spoke a sharp pang shot through and through my soul, and I
held my little fair daughter closely in my arms, as if I could always
keep her there It may be my conceit, but it really does seem as if
poor father was getting a little fond of me. Ever since my own
sickness I have felt great sympathy for him, and he feels, no doubt,
that I give him something that neither Ernest nor Martha can do,
since they were never sick one day in their lives. I do wish he could
look more at Christ and at what He has done and is doing for us. The
way of salvation is to me a wide path, absolutely radiant with the
glory of Him who shines upon it; I see my shortcomings; I see my
sins, but I feel myself bathed, as it were, in the effulgent glow
that proceeds directly from the throne of God and the Lamb. It seems
as if I ought to have some misgivings about my salvation, but I can
hardly say that I have one. How strange, how mysterious that is! And
here is father, so much older, so much better than I am, creeping
along in the dark! I spoke to Ernest about it. He says I owe it to my
training, in a great measure, and that my mother is fifty years in
advance of her age. But it can't be all that. It was only after years
of struggle and prayer that God gave me this joy.
NOVEMBER 24.-Ernest asked me yesterday if I knew that Amelia and her
husband had come here to live, and that she was very ill.
"I wish you would go to see her, dear," he added. "She is a stranger
here, and in great need of a friend." I felt extremely disturbed. I
have lost my old affection for her, and the idea of meeting her
husband was unpleasant.
"Is she very sick?" I asked.
"Yes. She is completely broken down. I promised her that you should
go to see her."
"Are you attending her?"
"Yes; her husband came for me himself."
"I don't want to go," I said. "It will be very disagreeable."
"Yes, dear, I know it. But she needs a friend, as I said before."
I put on my things very reluctantly, and went. I found Amelia in a
richly-furnished house, but looking untidy and ill-cared-for. She was
lying on a couch in her bedroom; three delicate-looking children were
playing about, and their nurse sat sewing at the window.
A terrible fit of coughing made it impossible for her to speak for
some moments. At last she recovered herself sufficiently to welcome
me, by throwing her arms around me and bursting into tears.
"Oh, Katy!" she cried, "should you have known me if we had met in
the street? Don't you find me sadly altered ?"
"You are changed," I said, "but so am I."
"Yes, you do not look strong. But then you never did. And you are as
pretty as ever, while I-- oh, Kate! do you remember what round, white
arms I used to have? Look at them now!"
And she drew up her sleeve, poor child. Just then I heard a step in
the passage,. and her husband sauntered into the room, smoking.
"Do go away, Charles,". she said impatiently. "You know how your
cigar sets me coughing."
He held out his hand to me with the easy, nonchalant air of one who
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