Mrs. E. Prentiss
Part 4 out of 6
is accustomed to success and popularity.
I looked at him with an aversion I could not conceal. The few years
since we met has changed him so completely that I almost shuddered at
the sight of his already bloated face, and at the air that told of a
life worse than wasted.
"Do go away, Charles," Amelia repeated.
He threw himself into a chair without paying the least attention to
her, and still addressing himself to me again, said:
"Upon my word, you are prettier than ever,
"I will come to see you at another time, Amelia," I said, putting on
all the dignity I could condense in my small frame, and rising to
"Don't go, Katy!" he cried, starting up, "don't go. I want to have a
good talk about old times."
Katy, indeed! How dared he? I came away burning with anger and
mortification. Is it possible that I ever loved such a man? That to
gratify that love I defied and grieved my dear mother through a whole
year! Oh, from what hopeless misery God saved me, when He snatched me
out of the depth of my folly!
DECEMBER 1.-Ernest says I can go to see Amelia with safety now, as
her. husband has sprained his ankle, and keeps to his own room. So I
am going. But, I am sure,. I shall say something imprudent or unwise,
and wish I could think it right to stay away. I hope God will go with
me and teach me what words to speak.
DEC. 2.-I found Amelia more unwell than on my first visit, and she
received me again with tears.
"How good you are to come so soon," she began. "I did not blame you
for running off the other day; Charley's impertinence was shameful.
He said, after you left, that he perceived you had not yet lost your
quickness to take offence, but I know he felt that you showed a just
displeasure, and nothing more."
"No, I was really angry," I replied. "I find the road to perfection
lies up-hill, and I slip back so often that sometimes I despair of
ever reaching the top."
"What does the doctor say about me?" she asked. "Does he think me
"I dare say he will tell you exactly what he thinks," I returned, "if
you ask him. This is his rule with all his patients."
"If I could get rid of this cough I should soon be myself again," she
said. "Some days I feel quite bright and well. But if it were not for
my poor little children, I should not care much how the thing ended.
With the life Charley leads me, I haven't much to look forward to."
"'You forget that the children's nurse is in the room," I whispered.
"Oh, I don't mind Charlotte. Charlotte knows he neglects me, don't
you, Charlotte ?"
Charlotte was discreet enough to pretend not to hear this question,
and Amelia went on:
"It began very soon after we were married. He would go round with
other girls exactly as he did before; then when I spoke about it he
would just laugh in his easy, good-natured way, but pay no attention
to my wishes. Then when I grew more in earnest he would say, that as
long as he let me alone I ought to let him alone. I thought that when
our first baby came that would sober him a little, but be wanted a
boy and it turned out to be a girl. And my being unhappy and crying
so much, made the poor thing fretful; it kept him awake at night, so
he took another room. After that I saw him less than ever, though now
and then he would have a little love-fit, when he would promise to be
at home more and treat me with more consideration. We had two more
little girls-twins; and then a boy. Charley seemed quite fond of him,
and did certainly seem improved, though he was still out a great deal
with a set of idle young men, smoking, drinking wine, and, I don't
know what else. His uncle gave him too much money, and he had nothing
to do but to spend it."
"You must not tell me any more now," I said. "'Wait till you are
The nurse rose and gave her something which seemed to refresh her. I
went to look at the little girls, who were all pretty, pale-faced
creatures, very quiet and mature in their ways.
"I am rested now," said Amelia, "and it does me good to talk to you,
because I can see that you are sorry for me."
"I am, indeed!" I cried.
"When our little boy was three months old I took this terrible cold
and began to cough. Charley at first remonstrated with me for
coughing so much; he said it was a habit I had got, and that I ought
to cure myself of it. Then the baby began to pine and pine, and the
more it wasted the more I wasted. And at last it died."
Here the poor child burst out again, and I wiped away her tears as
fast as they fell, thankful that she could cry.
"After that," she went on, after awhile, "Charley seemed to lose his
last particle of affection for me; he kept away more than ever, and
once when I besought him not to neglect me and my children so, he
said he was well paid for not keeping up his engagement with you,
that you had some strength of character, and-"
"Amelia," I interrupted, "do not repeat such things. They only pain
and mortify me."
"Well," she sighed, wearily, "this is what he has at last brought me
to. I am sick and broken-hearted, and care very little what becomes
There was a long silence. I wanted to ask her if, when earthly refuge
failed her, she could not find shelter in the love of Christ. But I
have what is, I fear, a morbid terror of seeking the confidence of
others. I knelt down at last, and kissed the poor faded face.
"Yes, I knew you would feel for me," she said. "The only pleasant
thought I had when Charley insisted on coming here to live was, that
I should see you."
"Does your uncle live here, too?" I asked.
"Yes, he came first, and it was that that put it into Charley's head
to come. He is very kind to me."
"Yes," I said, "and God is kind, too, isn't He ?"
"Kind to let me get sick and disgust Charley? Now, Katy, how can you
talk so?" I replied by repeating two lines from a hymn of which I am
O Saviour, whose mercy severe in its kindness,
Hath chastened my wanderings, and guided my way."'
"I don't much care for hymns," she said. "When one is well, and
everything goes quite to one's mind, it is nice to go to church and
sing with the rest of them. But, sick as I am, it isn't so easy to be
"But isn't this the very time to look to Christ for comfort?"
"What's the use of looking anywhere for comfort?" she said,
peevishly. "Wait till you are sick and heart-broken yourself, and
you'll see that you won't feel much like doing anything but just
groan and cry your life out."
"I have been sick, and I know what sorrow means, I said. "And I am
glad that I do. For I have learned Christ in that school, and I know
that He can comfort when no one else can."
"You always were an odd creature," she replied. "I never pretended to
understand half you said."
I saw that she was tired, and came away. Oh, how I wished that I had
been able to make Christ look to her as He did to me all the way
DEC. 24.-Father says he does not like Dr. Cabot's preaching. He
thinks that it is not doctrinal enough, and that he does not preach
enough to sinners. But I can see that it has influenced him already,
and that he is beginning to think of God, as manifested in Christ,
far more than he used to do. With me he has endless discussions on
his and my favorite subjects, and though I can never tell along what
path I walked to reach a certain conclusion, the earnestness of my
convictions does impress him strangely. I am sure there is a great
deal of conceit mixed up with all I say, and then when I compare my
life with my own standard of duty, I wonder I ever dare to open my
mouth and undertake to help others.
Baby is not at all well. To see a little frail, tender thing really
suffering, tears my soul to pieces. I think it would distress me less
to give her to God just as she is now, a vital part of my very heart,
than to see her live a mere invalid life. But I try to feel, as I
know I say, Thy will be done! Little Ernest is the very picture of
health and beauty. He has vitality enough for two children He and his
little sister will make very interesting contrasts as they grow
older. His ardor and vivacity will rouse her, and her gentleness will
JAN. 1, 1841.-Every day brings its own duty and its own discipline.
How is it that I make such slow progress while this is the case? It
is a marvel to me why God allows characters like mine to defile His
church. I can only account for it with the thought that if I ever am
perfected, I shall be a great honor to His name, for surely worse
material for building up a temple of the Holy Ghost was never
gathered together before. The time may come when those who know me
now, crude, childish, incomplete, will look upon me with amazement,
saying, "What hath God wrought!" If I knew such a time would never
come, I should want to flee into the holes and caves of the earth.
I have everything to inspire me to devotion. My dear mother's
influence is always upon me. To her I owe the habit of flying to God
in every emergency, and of believing in prayer. Then I am in close
fellowship with a true man and a true Christian. Ernest has none of
my fluctuations; he is always calm and self-possessed. This is partly
his natural character; but he has studied the Bible more than any
other book, his convictions of duty are fixed because they are drawn
thence, and his constant contact with the sick and the suffering has
revealed life to him just as it is. How he has helped me on! God
bless him for it!
Then I have James. To be with him one half hour is an inspiration. He
lives in such blessed communion with Christ that he is in perpetual
sunshine, and his happiness fertilizes even this disordered household
; there is not a soul in it that does not catch somewhat of his
And there are my children! My darling, precious children! For their
sakes I am continually constrained to seek after an amended, a
sanctified life; what I want them to become I must become myself.
So I enter on a new year, not knowing what it will bring forth, but
surely with a thousand reasons for thanksgiving, for joy, and for
JAN. 16.-One more desperate effort to make harmony out of the
discords of my house, and one more failure. Ernest forgot that it was
our wedding-day, which mortified and pained me, especially as he had
made an engagement to dine out. I am always expecting something from
life that I never get. Is it so with everybody? I am very uneasy,
too, about James. He seems to be growing fond of Lucy's society. I am
perfectly sure that she could not make him happy. Is it possible that
he does not know what a brilliant young man he is, and that he can
have whom he pleases? It is easy, in theory, to let God plan our own
destiny, and that of our friends. But when it comes to a specific
case we fancy we can help His judgments with our poor reason. Well, I
must go to Him with this new anxiety, and trust my darling brother's
future to Him, if I can.
I shall try to win James' confidence. If it is not Lucy, who or what
is it that is making him so thoughtful and serious, yet so wondrously
JAN. 17.-I have been trying to find out whether this is a mere notion
of mine about Lucy. James laughs, and evades my questions. But he
owns that a very serious matter is occupying his thoughts, of which
he does not wish to speak at present. May God bless him in it,
whatever it is.
MAY 1.-My delicate little Una's first birthday. Thank God for sparing
her to us a year. If He should take her away I should still rejoice
that this life was mingled with ours, and has influenced them. Yes,
even an unconscious infant is an ever-felt influence in the
household; what an amazing thought!
I have given this precious little one away to her Saviour and to
mine; living or dying, she is His.
DEC. 13.-Writing journals does not seem to be my mission on earth of
late. My busy hands find so much else to do And sometimes when I have
been particularly exasperated and tried by the jarring elements that
form my home, I have not dared to indulge myself with recording
things that ought to be forgotten.
How I long to live in peace with all men, and how I resent
interference in the management of my children! If the time ever comes
that I live, a spinster of a certain age, in the family of an elder
brother, what a model of forbearance, charity, and sisterly
loving-kindness I shall be!
JANUARY 1, 1842
I MEAN to resume my journal, and be more faithful to it this year.
How many precious things, said by dear Mrs. Campbell and others, are
lost forever, because I did not record them at the time!
I have seen her to-day. At Ernest's suggestion I have let Susan Green
provide her with a comfortable chair which enables her to sit up
during a part of each day. I found her in it, full of gratitude, her
sweet, tranquil face shining, as it always is, with a light reflected
from heaven itself. She looks like one who has had her struggle with
life and conquered it. During last year I visited her often and
gradually learned much of her past history, though she does not love
to talk of herself. She has outlived her husband, a houseful of girls
and her ill-health is chiefly the result of years of watching by
their sick-beds, and grief at their loss.
For she does not pretend not to grieve, but always says, "It is
repining that dishonors God, not grief."
I said to her to-day:
"Doesn't it seem hard when you think of the many happy homes there
are in the world, that you should be singled out for such bereavement
She replied, with a smile:
"I am not singled out, dear. There are thousands of God's own dear
children, scattered over the world, suffering far more than I do. And
I do not think there are many persons in it who are happier than I
am. I was bound to my God and Saviour before I knew a sorrow, it is
true. But it was by a chain of many links; and every link that
dropped away, brought me to Him, till at last, having nothing left, I
was shut up to Him, and learned fully, what I had only learned
partially, how soul-satisfying He is."
"You think, then," I said, while my heart died within me, "that
husband and children are obstacles in our way, and hinder our getting
near to Christ."
"Oh, no!" she cried. "God never gives us hindrances. On the contrary,
He means, in making us wives and mothers, to put us into the very
conditions of holy living. But if we abuse His gifts by letting them
take His place in our hearts, it is an act of love on His part to
take them away, or to destroy our pleasure in them. It is
delightful," she added, after a pause, "to know that there are some
generous souls on earth, who love their dear ones with all their
hearts, yet give those hearts unreservedly to Christ. Mine was not
one of them."
I had some little service to render her which interrupted our
conversation. The offices I have had to have rendered me in my own
long days of sickness have taught me to be less fastidious about
waiting upon others. I am thankful that God has at last made me
willing to do anything in a sickroom that must be done. She thanked
me, as she always does, and then I said:
"I have a great many little trials, but they don't do me a bit of
good. Or, at least, I don't see that they do."
"No, we never see plants growing," she said.
"And do you really think then, that perhaps I am growing, though
"I know you are, dear child. There can't be life without growth."
This comforted me. I came home, praying all the way, and striving to
commit myself entirely to Him in whose school I sit as learner. Oh,
that I were a better scholar But I do not half learn my lessons, I am
heedless and inattentive, and I forget what is taught. Perhaps this
is the reason that weighty truths float before my mind's eye at
times, but do not fix themselves there.
MARCH 20.-I have been much impressed by Dr. Cabot's sermons to-day.
while I am listening to his voice and hear him speak of the beauty
and desirableness of the Christian life, I feel as he feels, that I
am waiting to count all things but dross that I may win Christ. But
when I come home to my worldly cares, I get completely absorbed in
them, it is only by a painful wrench that I force my soul back to
God. Sometimes I almost envy Lucy her calm nature, which gives her so
little trouble. Why need I throw my whole soul into whatever I do?
Why can't I make so much as an apron for little Ernest without the
ardor and eagerness of a soldier marching to battle? I wonder if
people of my temperament ever get toned down, and learn to take life
JUNE 10.-My dear little Una has had a long and very severe illness.
It seems wonderful that she could survive such sufferings. And it is
almost as wonderful that I could look upon them, week after week,
without losing my senses.
At first Ernest paid little attention to my repeated entreaties that
he would prescribe for her, and some precious time was thus lost. But
the moment he was fully aroused to see her danger, there was
something beautiful in his devotion. He often walked the room with
her by the hour together, and it was touching to see her lying like a
pale; crushed lily in his strong arms. One morning she seemed almost
gone, and we knelt around her with bursting hearts, to commend her
parting soul to Him in whose arms we were about to place her. But it
seemed as if all He asked of us was to come to that point, for then
He gave her back to us, and she is still ours, only seven-fold
dearer. I was so thankful to see dear Ernest's faith triumphing over
his heart, and making him so ready to give up even this little lamb
without a word. Yes, we will give our children to Him if he asks for
them. He shall never have to snatch them from us by force.
OCT. 4.-We have had a quiet summer in the country, that is, I have
with my darling little ones. This is the fourth birthday of our son
and heir, and he has been full of health and vivacity, enjoying
everything with all his heart. How he lights up our sombre household
! Father has been fasting to-day, and is so worn out and so nervous
in consequence, that he could not bear the sound of the children's
voices. I wish, if he must fast, he would do it moderately, and do it
all the time. Now he goes without food until he is ready to sink, and
now he eats quantities of improper food. If Martha could only see how
mischievous all this is for him. After the children had been hustled
out of the way, and I~ had got them both off to bed, he said in his
most doleful manner, "I hope, my daughter, that you are faithful to
your son. He has now reached the age of four years, and is a
remarkably intelligent child. I hope you teach him that he is a
sinner, and that he is in a state of condemnation."
"Now, father, don't," I said. "You are all tired out, and do not know
what you are saying. I would not have little Ernest hear you for the
Poor father! He fairly groaned.
"You are responsible for that child's soul;" he said; "you have more
influence over him than all the world beside."
"I know it," I said, "and sometimes I feel ready to sink when I think
of the great work God has intrusted to me. But my poor child will
learn that he is a sinner only too soon, and before that dreadful day
arrives I want to fortify his soul with the only antidote against the
misery that knowledge will give him. I want him to see his Redeemer
in all His love, and all His beauty, and to love Him with all his
heart and soul, and mind and strength. Dear father, pray for him, and
pray for me, too."
"I do, I will," he said, solemnly. And then followed the inevitable
long fit of silent musing, when I often wonder what is passing in
that suffering soul. For a sufferer he certainly is who sees a great
and good and terrible God who cannot look upon iniquity, and does not
see His risen Son, who has paid the debt we owe, and lives to
intercede for us before the throne of the Father.
JAN. I, 1842.-James came to me yesterday with a letter he had been
writing to mother.
"I want you to read this before it goes," he said, "for you ought to
know my plans as soon as mother does."
I did not get time to read it till after tea. Then I came up here to
my room, and sat down curious to know what. was coming.
Well, I thought I loved him as much as one human being could love
another, already, but now my heart embraced him with a fervor and
delight that made me so happy that I could not speak a word when I
knelt down to tell my Saviour all about it.
He said that he had been led, within a few months,. to make a new
consecration of himself to Christ and to Christ's cause on earth, and
that this had resulted in his choosing the life of a missionary,
instead of settling down, as he had intended to do, as a city
physician. Such expressions of personal love to Christ, and delight
in the thought of serving Him, I never read. I could only marvel at
what God had wrought in his soul. For me to live to Christ seems
natural enough, for I have been driven to Him not only by sorrow but
by sin. Every outbreak of my hasty temper sends me weeping and
penitent to the foot of the cross, and I love much because I have
been forgiven much. But James, as far as I know, has never had a
sorrow, except my father's death, and that had no apparent religious
effect And his natural character is perfectly beautiful. He is as
warm-hearted and loving and simple and guileless as a child, and has
nothing of my intemperance, hastiness and quick temper. I have often
thought that she would be a rare woman who could win and wear such a
heart as his. Life has done little but smile upon him; he is handsome
and talented and attractive; everybody is fascinated by him,
everybody caresses him; and yet he has turned his back on the world
that has dealt so kindly with him, and given himself, as Edwards
says, "clean away to Christ!" Oh, how thankful I am! And yet to let
him go! My only brother-mother's Son! But I know what she will say;
she will him God-speed!
Ernest came upstairs, looking tired and jaded. I read the letter to
him. It impressed him strangely: but he only said;
"This is what we m might expect, who knew James, dear fellow!"
But when we knelt down to pray together, I saw how he was touched,
and how his soul kindled within him in harmony with that consecrated,
devoted. spirit. Dear James! it must be mother's prayers that have
done for him this wondrous work that is usually the slow growth of
years; and this is the mother who prays for you, Katy! So take
JAN. 2.~James means to study theology as well as medicine, it seems.
That will keep him with us for some years. Oh, is it selfish to take
this view of it? Alas, the spirit is willing to have him go, but the
flesh is weak, and cries out.
OCT. 22.-Amelia came to see me to-day. She has been traveling, for
her health, and certainly looks much improved.
"Charley and I are quite good friends again," she began. "We have
jaunted about everywhere, and have a delightful time. What a snug
little box of a house you have!"
It is inconveniently small," I said, "for our family is large and the
doctor needs more office room."
"Does he receive patients here? How horrid! Don't you hate to have
people with all sorts of ills and aches in the house? It must depress
"I dare say it would if I saw them; but I never do."
"I should like to see your children. Your husband says you are
perfectly devoted to them."
"As I suppose all mothers are," I replied, laughing.
"As to that," she returned, "people differ."
The children were brought down. She admired little Ernest, as
everybody does, but only glanced at the baby.
"What a sickly-looking little thing!" she said. "But this boy is a
splendid fellow! Ah, if mine had lived he would have been just such a
child! But some people have all the trouble and others all the
comfort. I am, sure I don't know what I have done that I should have
to lose my only boy, and have nothing left but girls. To be sure, I
can afford to dress them elegantly, and as soon as they get old
enough I mean to have them taught all sorts of accomplishments. You
can't imagine what a relief it is to have plenty of money!"
"Indeed I can't!" I said; "it is quite beyond the reach of my
"My uncle--that is to say Charley's uncle-has just given me a
carriage and horses for my own use. In fact, he heaps everything upon
me. Where do you go to church?"
I told her, reminding her that Dr. Cabot was its pastor.
"Oh, I forgot! Poor Dr. Cabot! Is he as old-fashioned as ever?"
"I don't know what you mean," I cried. "He is as good as ever, if not
better. His health is very delicate, and that one thing seems to be a
blessing to him."
"A blessing! Why, Kate Mortimer! Kate Elliott, I mean. It is a
blessing I, for one, am very willing to dispense with. But you always
did say queer things. Well, I dare say Dr. Cabot is very good and all
that, but his church is not a fashionable one, and Charley and I go
to Dr. Bellamy's. That is, I go once a day, pretty regularly, and
Charley goes when he feels like it. Good-by. I must go now; I have
all my fall shopping to do. Have you done yours? Suppose you jump
into the carriage and go with me? You can't imagine how it passes
away the morning to drive from shop to shop looking over the new
"There seem to be a number of things I can't imagine," I replied,
dryly. "You must excuse me this morning."
She took her leave.. I looked at her rich dress as she gathered it
about her and swept away, and recalled all her empty, frivolous talk
She and Ch---, her husband, I mean, are well matched. They need their
money, and their palaces and their fine clothes and handsome
equipages, for they have nothing else. How thankful I am that I am as
unlike them as ex---
OCTOBER 30.-I'm sure I don't know what I was going to say when I was
interrupted just then. Something in the way of self-glorification,
most likely. I remember the contempt with which I looked after Amelia
as she left our house, and the pinnacle on which I sat perched for
some days, when I compared my life with hers. Alas, it was my view of
life of which I was lost in admiration, for I am. sure that if I ever
come under the complete dominion of Christ's gospel I shall not know
the Sentiment of disdain. I feel truly ashamed and sorry that I am
still so far from being penetrated with that spirit.
My pride has had a terrible fall. As I sat on my throne, looking down
on all the Amelias in the world, I felt a profound pity at their
delight in petty trifles, their love of position, of mere worldly
show and passing vanities.
"They are all alike," I said to myself. "They are incapable of
understanding a character like mine, or the exalted, ennobling
principles that govern me. They crave the applause of this world,
they are satisfied with fine clothes, fine houses, fine equipages.
They think and talk of nothing else; I have not one idea in common
with them. I see the emptiness and hollowness of these things. I am
absolutely unworldly; my ambition is to attain whatever they, in
their blind folly and ignorance, absolutely despise."
Thus communing with myself, I was not a little pleased to hear Dr.
Cabot and his wife announced. I hastened to meet them and to display
to them the virtues I so admired in myself. They had hardly a chance
to utter a word. I spoke eloquently of my contempt for worldly
vanities, and of my enthusiastic longings for a higher life. I even
went into particulars about the foibles of some of my acquaintances,
though faint misgivings as to the propriety of. such remarks on the
absent made me half repent the words I still kept uttering. When they
took leave I rushed to my room with my heart beating, my cheeks all
in a glow, and caught up and caressed the children in a way that
seemed to astonish them. Then I took my work and sat down to sew.
What a horrible reaction now took place! I saw my refined, subtle,
disgusting pride, just as I suppose Dr. and Mrs. Cabot saw it! I sat
covered with confusion, shocked at myself, shocked at the weakness of
human nature. Oh, to get back the good opinion of my friends! To
recover my own self-respect! But this was impossible. I threw down my
work and walked about my room. There was a terrible struggle in my
soul. I saw that instead of brooding over the display I had made of
myself to Dr. Cabot I ought to be thinking solely of my appearance in
the sight of God, who could see far more plainly than any earthly eye
could all my miserable pride and self-conceit. But I could not do
that, and chafed about till I was worn out, body and soul. At last I
sent the children away, and knelt down and told the whole story to
Him who knew what I was when He had compassion on me, called me by my
name, and made me His own child. And here, I found a certain peace.
Christian, on his way to the celestial city, met and fought his
Apollyons and his giants, too; but he got there at last!
THIS morning Ernest received an early summons to Amelia. I got out of
all manner of patience with him because he would take his bath and
eat his breakfast before he went, and should have driven any one else
distracted by my hurry and flurry.
"She has had a hemorrhage!" I cried. "Do, Ernest, make haste."
"Of course," he returned, "that would come, sooner or later."
"You don't mean," I said, "that she has been in danger of this all
"I certainly do."
"Then it was very unkind in you not to tell me so."
"I told you at the outset that her lungs were diseased."
"No, you told me no such thing. Oh, Ernest, is she going to die?"
"I did not know you were so fond of her," he said, apologetically.
It is not that," I cried. "I am distressed at the thought of the
worldly life she has been living-at my never trying to influence her
for her good. If she is in danger, you will tell her so? Promise me
"I must see her before I make such a promise," he said, and went out.
I flew up to my room and threw myself on my knees, sorrowful,
self-condemned. I had thrown away my last opportunity of speaking a
word to her in season, though I had seen how much she needed one, and
now she was going to die! Oh, I hope God will forgive me, and hear
the prayers I have offered her!
EVENING.-Ernest says he had a most distressing scene at Amelia's this
morning. She insisted on knowing what he thought of her, and then
burst out bitter complaints and lamentations, charging it to husband
that she had this disease, declaring that she could not, and would
not die, and insisting that he must prevent it. Her uncle urged for a
consultation of physicians, to which Ernest consented, of course,
though he says no mortal power can save her now. I asked him how her
husband appeared, to which he made the evasive answer that he
appeared just as one would expect him to do.
DECEMBER.-Amelia was so determined to see me that Ernest thought it
best for me to go. I found her looking very feeble.
"Oh, Katy," she began at once," do make the doctor say that I shall
"I wish he could say so with truth," I answered. "Dear Amelia, try
to think how happy God's own children are when they are with Him."
"I can't think," she replied. "I do not want to think. I want to
forget all about it. If it were not for this terrible cough I could
forget it, for I am really a great deal better than I was a month
I did not know what to say or what to do.
"May I read a hymn or a few verses from the Bible?" I asked, at last.
"Just as you like," she said, indifferently.
I read a verse now and then, but she looked tired, and I prepared to
"Don't go," she cried. "I do not dare to be alone. Oh, what a
terrible, terrible thing it is to die! To leave this bright,
beautiful world, and be nailed in a coffin and buried up in a cold,
"Nay," I said, "to leave this poor sick body there, and to fly to a
world ten thousand times brighter, more beautiful than this."
"I had just got to feeling nearly well," she said, "and I had
everything I wanted, and Charley was quite good to me, and I kept my
little girls looking like fairies, just from fairy-land. Everybody
said they wore the most picturesque costumes when they were dressed
according to my taste. And I have got to go and leave them, and
Charley will be marrying somebody else, and saying to her all the
nice things he has said to me.
"I really must go now," I said. "You are wearing yourself all out."
"I declare you are crying," she exclaimed. "You do pity me after
"Indeed I do," I said, and came away, heartsick.
Ernest says there is nothing I can do for her now but to pray for
her, since she does not really believe herself in danger, and has a
vague feeling that if she can once convince him how much she wants to
live, he will use some vigorous measures to restore her Martha is to
watch with her to-night. Ernest will not let me.
JAN. 18, 1843.-Our wedding-day has passed unobserved. Amelia's
suffering condition absorbs us all. Martha spends much time with her,
and prepares almost all the food she eats.
JAN. 20.-I have seen poor Amelia once more, and perhaps for the last
time. She has failed rapidly of late, and Ernest says may drop away
at almost any time.
When I went in she took me by the hand, and with great difficulty,
and at intervals said something like this:
"I have made up my mind to it, and I know it must come. I want to see
Dr. Cabot. Do you think he would be willing to visit me after my
neglecting him so?"
"I am sure he would," I cried.
"I want to ask him if he thinks I was a Christian at that time-you
know when. If I was, then I need not be so afraid to die."
"But, dear Amelia, what he thinks is very little to the purpose. The
question is not whether you ever gave yourself to God, but whether
you are His now. But I ought not to talk to you. Dr. Cabot will know
just what to say."
"No, but I want to know what you thought about it."
I felt distressed, as I looked at her wasted dying figure, to be
called on to help decide such a question. But I knew what I ought to
say, and said it:
"Don't look back to the past; it is useless. Give yourself to Christ
She shook her head.
"I don't know how," she said. "Oh, Katy, pray to God to let me live
long enough to get ready to die. I have led a worldly life. I shudder
at the bare thought of dying; I must have time."
"Don't wait for time," I said, with tears, "get ready now, this
minute. A thousand years would not make you more fit to die."
So I came away, weary and heavy- laden, and on the way home stopped
to tell Dr. Cabot all about it, and by this time he is with her.
"MARCH 1.-Poor Amelia's short race on earth is over. Dr. Cabot saw
her every few days and says he hopes she did depart in Christian
faith, though without Christian joy. I have not seen her since that
last interview. That excited me so that Ernest would not let me go
Martha has been there nearly the whole time for three or four weeks,
and I really think it has done her good. She seems less absorbed in
mere outside things, and more lenient toward me and my failings.
I do not know what is to become of those mother little girls. I wish
I could take them into my own home, but, of course, that is not even
to be thought at this juncture. Ernest says their father seemed
nearly distracted when Amelia died, and that his uncle is going to
send him off to Europe immediately.
I have been talking with Ernest about Amelia.
"What do you think," I asked, "about her last days on earth? Was
there really any preparation for death?
"These scenes are very painful," he returned. "Of course there is but
one real preparation for Christian dying, and that is Christian
"But the sick-room often does what a prosperous life never did!"
"Not often. Sick persons delude themselves, or are deluded by their
friends; they do not believe they are really about to die. Besides,
they are bewildered and exhausted by disease, and what mental
strength they have is occupied with studying symptoms, watching for
the doctor, and the like. I do not now recall a single instance where
a worldly Christian died a happy, joyful death, in all my practice."
"Well, in one sense it makes no difference whether they die happily
or not. The question is do they die in the Lord?"
"It may make no vital difference to them, but we must not forget that
God is honored or dishonored by the way a Christian dies, as well as
by the way in which he lives. There is great significance in the
description given in the Bible of the death by which John should
'Glorify God'; to my mind it that to die well is to live well."
"But how many thousands die suddenly, or of such exhausting disease
that they cannot honor God by even one feeble word."
"Of course, I do not, refer to such cases. All I ask is that those
whose minds are clear, who are able to attend to all other final
details, should let it be seen what the gospel of Christ can do for
poor sinners in the great exigency of life, giving Him the glory. I
can tell you, my darling, that standing, as I so often do, by dying
beds, this whole subject has become one of great magnitude to my mind
And it gives me positive personal pain to see heirs of the eternal
kingdom, made such by the ignominious death of their Lord, go
shrinking and weeping to the full possession of their inheritance."
Ernest is right, I am sure, but how shall the world, even the
Christian world, be convinced that it may have blessed fortastes of
heaven while yet plodding upon earth, and faith to go thither
joyfully, for the simple asking?
Poor Amelia! But she understands it all now. It is a blessed thing to
have this great faith, and it is a blessed thing to have a Saviour
who accepts it when it is but a mere grain of mustard-seed!
MAY 24.-I celebrated my little Una's third birthday by presenting her
with a new brother. Both the children welcomed him with delight that
was itself compensation enough for all it cost me to get up such a
celebration. Martha takes a most prosaic view of this proceeding, in
which she detects malice prepense on my part. She says I shall now
have one mouth the more to fill, and two feet the more to shoe; more
disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure for visiting,
reading, music, and drawing.
Well! this is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the
other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more
feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a
soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worthy all
it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see
less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom,
while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what
little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me.
Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart,
welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares,
to her life- long prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how
JUNE 5.-We begin to be woefully crowded. We need a larger house, or a
smaller household. I am afraid I secretly, down at the bottom of my
heart, wish Martha and her father could give place to my little ones.
May God forgive me if this is so It is a poor time for such emotions
when He has just given me another darling child, for whom I have as
rich and ample a love as if I had spent no affection on the other
twain. I have made myself especially kind to poor father and to
Martha lest they should perceive how inconvenient it is to have them
here, and be pained by it. I would not for the world despoil them of
what little satisfaction they may derive from living with us. But,
oh! I am so selfish, and it is so hard to practice the very law of
love I preach to my children! Yet I want this law to rule and reign
in my home, that it may be a little heaven below, and I will not, no,
I will not, cease praying that it may be such, no matter what it
costs me. Poor father! poor old man! I will try to make your home so
sweet and home-like to you that when you change it for heaven it
shall be but a transition from one bliss to a higher!
EVENING.-Soon after writing that I went down to see father, whom I
have had to neglect of late, baby has so used up both time and
strength.. I found him and Martha engaged in what seemed to be an
exciting debate, as Martha had a fiery little red spot on each cheek,
and was knitting furiously. I was about to retreat, when she got up
in a flurried way and went off, saying, as she went:
"You tell her, father; I can't."
I went up to him tenderly and took his hand. Ah, how gentle and
loving we are when we have just been speaking to God!
"What is it, dear father?" I asked; "is anything troubling you?"
"She is going to be married," he replied.
"Oh, father!" I cried, "how n-" nice, I was going to say, but stopped
just in time.
All my abominable selfishness that I thought I had left at my
Master's feet ten minutes before now came trooping back in full
"She's going to be married; she'll go away, and will take her father
to live with her! I can have room for my children, and room for
mother! Every element of discord will now leave my home, and Ernest
will see what I really am!"
These were the thoughts that rushed through my mind, and that
illuminated my face.
"Does Ernest know?" I asked.
"Yes, Ernest has known it for some weeks."
Then I felt injured and inwardly accused Ernest of unkindness in
keeping so important a fact a secret. But when I went back to my
children, vexation with him took flight at once. The coming of each
new child strengthens and deepens my desire to be what I would have
it become; makes my faults more odious in my eyes, and elevates my
whole character. What a blessed discipline of joy and of pain my
married life has been; how thankful I am to reap its fruits even
while pricked by its thorns!
JUNE 21.-It seems that the happy man who has wooed Martha and won her
is no less a personage than old Mr. Underhill. His ideal of a woman
is one who has no nerves, no sentiment, no backaches, no headaches,
who will see that the wheels of his household machinery are kept well
oiled, so that he need never hear them creak, and who, in addition to
her other accomplishments, believes in him and will be kind enough to
live forever for his private accommodation. This expose of his
sentiments he has made to me in a loud, cheerful, pompous way, and he
has also favored me with a description of his first wife, who lacked
all these qualifications, and was obliging enough to depart in peace
at an early stage of their married life, meekly preferring thus to
make way for a worthier successor. Mr. Underhill with all his
foibles, however, is on the whole a good man. He intends to take
Amelia's little girls into his own home, and be a father, as Martha
will be a mother, to them. For this reason he hurries on the
marriage, after which they will all go at once to his country-seat,
which is easy of access, and which he says he is sure father will
enjoy. Poor old father I hope he will, but when the subject is
alluded to he maintains a sombre silence, and it seems to me he never
spent so many days alone in his room, brooding over his misery, as he
has of late. Oh, that I could comfort him.
JULY 12.-The marriage was appointed for the first of the month, as
old Mr. Underhill wanted to get out of town before the Fourth. As the
time drew near, Martha began to pack father's trunk as well as her
own, and brush in and out of his room till he had no rest for the
sole of his foot, and seemed as forlorn as a pelican in the
I know no more striking picture of desolation than that presented by
one of these quaint birds, standing upon a single leg, feeling as the
story has it, "den Jammer und das Elend der Welt."
On the last evening in June we all sat together on the piazza,
enjoying, each in our own way, a refreshing breeze that had sprung up
after a sultry day Father was quieter than usual, and seemed very
languid. Ernest who, out of regard to Martha's last evening at home,
had joined our little circle, ob served this, and said, cheerfully:
"You will feel better as soon as you are once more out of the city,
Father made no reply for some minutes, and when he did speak we were
all startled to find that his voice trembled as if he were shedding
tears. We could not understand what he said. I went to him and made
him lean his head upon me as he often did when it ached. He took my
hand in both his.
"You do love the old man a little?" he asked, in the same tremulous
"Indeed, I do!" I cried, greatly touched by his helpless appeal, "I
love you dearly, father. And I shall miss you sadly."
"Must I go away then?" he whispered. "Cannot I stay here till my
summons hence? It will not be long, it will not be long, my child."
With the cry of a hurt animal, Martha sprang up and rushed past us
into the house. Ernest followed her, and we heard them talking
together a long time. At last Ernest joined us.
"Father," he said, "Martha is a good deal wounded and disappointed,
at your reluctance to, go with her She threatened to break off her
engagement rather than to be separated from you. I really think you
would be better off with her than with us. You would enjoy country
life, because it is what you have been accustomed to; you could spend
hours of every day in driving about; just what your health requires."
Father did not reply. He took Ernest's arm and tottered into the
house. Then we had a most painful scene. Martha reminded him with
bitter tears that her mother had committed him to her with her last
breath and set before him all the advantages he would have in her
house over ours. Father sat pale and inflexible; tear after tear
rolling down his cheeks. Ernest looked distressed and ready to sink.
As for me I cried with Martha, and with her father by turns, and
clung to Ernest with a feeling that all the foundations of the earth
were giving way. It came time for evening prayers, and Ernest prayed
as he rarely does, for he is rarely so moved. He quieted us all by a
few simple words of appeal to Him who loved us, and father then
consented to spend the summer with Martha if he might call our home
his home, and be with us through the winter. But this was not till
long after the rest of us went to bed, and a hard battle with Ernest.
He says Ernest is his favorite child, and that I am his favorite
daughter, and our children inexpressibly dear to him. I am ashamed to
write down what he said of me. Besides, I am sure there is a wicked,
wicked triumph over Martha in my secret heart. I am too elated with
his extraordinary preference for us, to sympathize with her
mortification and grief as ought. Something whispered that she who
has never pitied me deserves no pity now. But I do not like this mean
and narrow spirit in myself; nay more, I hate and abhor it.
The marriage took place and they all went off together, father's
rigid, white face, whiter, more rigid than ever. I am to go to
mother's with the children at once. I feel that a great stone has
been rolled away from before the door of my heart; the one human
being who refused me a kindly smile, a sympathizing word, has gone,
never to return. May God go with her and give her a happy home, and
make her true and loving to those motherless little ones!
I Have had a charming summer with dear mother; and now I have the
great joy, so long deferred, of having her in my own home. Ernest has
been very cordial about it, and James has settled up all her worldly
affairs, so that she has nothing to do now but to love us and let us
love her. It is a pleasant picture to see her with my little darlings
about her, telling the old sweet story she told me so often, and
making God and Heaven and Christ such blissful realities. As I
listen, I realize that it is to her I owe that early, deeply-seated
longing to please the Lord Jesus, which I never remember as having a
beginning, or an ending, though it did have its fluctuations. And it
is another pleasant picture to see her sit in her own old chair,
which Ernest was thoughtful enough to have brought for her, pondering
cheerfully over her Bible and her Thomas a Kempis just as I have seen
her do ever since I can remember. And there is still a third pleasant
picture, only that it is a new one; it is as she sits at my right
hand at the table, the living personification of the blessed gospel
of good tidings, with father, opposite, the fading image of the law
given by Moses. For father has come back; father and all his
ailments, his pill-boxes, his fits of despair and his fits of dying.
But he is quiet and gentle, and even loving, and as he sits in his
corner, his Bible on his knees, I see how much more he reads the New
Testament than he used to do, and that the fourteenth chapter of St.
John almost opens to him of itself.
I must do Martha the justice to say that her absence, while it
increases my domestic peace and happiness, increases my cares also.
What with the children, the housekeeping, the thought for mother's
little comforts and the concern for father's, I am like a bit of
chaff driven before the wind, and always in a hurry. There are so
many stitches to be taken, so many things to pass through one's brain
! Mother says no mortal woman ought to undertake so much, but what
can I do? While Ernest is straining every nerve to pay off those
debts, I must do all the needlework, and we must get along with
servants whose want of skill makes them willing to put up with low
wages. Of course I cannot tell mother this, and I really believe she
thinks I scrimp and pinch and overdo out of mere stinginess.
DECEMBER 30.-Ernest came to me to-day with our accounts for the last
three months. He looked quite worried, for him, and asked me if there
were any expenses we could cut down.
My heart jumped up into my mouth, and I said in an irritated way:
"I am killing myself with over-work now. Mother says so. I sew every
night till twelve o'clock, and I feel all jaded out,"
"I did not mean that I wanted you to do anymore than you are doing
now, dear," he said, kindly. "I know you are all jaded out, and I
look on this state of feverish activity with great anxiety. Are all
these stitches absolutely necessary?"
"You men know nothing about such things," I said, while my conscience
pricked me as I went on hurrying to finish the fifth tuck in one of
Una's little dresses. "Of course I want my children to look decent."
"I really don't know what to do," he said, in a hopeless way.
"Father's persisting in living with us is throwing a burden on you,
that with all your other cares is quite too much for you. I see and
feel it every day. Don't you think I had better explain this to him
and let him go to Martha's?"
"No, indeed!" I said. "He shall stay here if it kills me, poor old
Ernest began once more to look over the bills.
"I don't know how it is," he said, "but since Martha left us our
expenses have increased a good deal."
Now the truth is that when Aunty paid me most generously for teaching
her children, I did not dare to offer my earnings to Ernest, lest he
should be annoyed. So I had quietly used it for household expenses,
and it had held out till about the time of Martha's marriage.
Ernest's injustice was just as painful, just as insufferable as if he
had known this, and I now burst out with whatever my rasped,
over-taxed nerves impelled me to say, like one possessed.
Ernest was annoyed and surprised.
"I thought we had done with these things," he said, and gathering up
the papers he went off.
I rose and locked my door and threw myself down upon the floor in an
agony of shame, anger, and physical exhaustion. I did not know how
large a part of what seemed mere childish ill-temper was really the
cry of exasperated nerves, that had been on too strained a tension,
and silent too long, and Ernest did not know it either. How could he?
His profession kept him for hours every day in the open air; there
were times when his work was done and he could take entire rest; and
his health is absolutely perfect. But I did not make any excuse for
myself at the moment. I was overwhelmed with the sense of my utter
unfitness to be a wife and a mother.
Then I heard Ernest try to open the door; and finding it locked, he
knocked, calling pleasantly:
"It is I, darling; let me in."
I opened it reluctantly enough.
"Come," he said, "put on your things and drive about with me on my
rounds. I have no long visits to make, and while I am seeing my
patients you will be getting the air, which you need."
"I do not want to go," I said. "I do not feel well enough. Besides,
there's my work." "You can't see to sew with these red eyes," he
declared. "Come! I prescribe a drive, as your physician."
"Oh, Ernest, how kind, how forgiving you are?", I cried, running into
the arms he held out to me, "If you knew how ashamed, how sorry, I
"And if you only knew how ashamed and sorry I am!" he returned. "I
ought to have seen how you taxing and over-taxing yourself, doing
your work and Martha's too. It must not go on so."
By this time, with a veil over my face, he had got me downstairs and
out into the air, which fanned my fiery cheeks and cooled my heated
brain. It seemed to me that I have had all this tempest about nothing
at all, and that with a character still so undisciplined, I was
utterly unworthy to be either a wife or a mother. But when I tried to
say so in broken words, Ernest comforted me with the gentleness and
tenderness of a woman.
"Your character is not undisciplined, my darling," he said. "Your
nervous organization is very peculiar, and you have had unusual cares
and trials from the beginning of our married life. I ought not to
have confronted you with my father's debts at a moment when you had
every reason to look forward to freedom from most petty economies and
"Don't say so," I interrupted. "If you had not told me you had this
draft on your resources I should have always suspected you of
meanness. For you know, dear, you have kept me-that is to say-you
'could not help it, but I suppose men can't understand how many
demands are made upon a mother for money almost every day. I got
along very well till the children came, but since then it has been
"Yes," he said, "I am sure it has. But let me finish what I was going
to say. I want you to make a distinction for yourself, which I make
for you, between mere ill-temper, and the irritability that is the
result of a goaded state of the nerves. Until you do that, nothing
can be done to relieve you from what I am sure, distresses and
grieves you exceedingly. Now, I suppose that whenever you speak to me
or the children in this irritated way you lose your own self-respect,
for the time, at least, and feel degraded in the sight of God also."
"Oh, Ernest! there are no words in any language that mean enough to
express the anguish I feel when I speak quick, impatient words to
you, the one human being in the universe whom I love with all my
heart and soul, and to my darling little children who are almost as
dear! I pray and mourn over it day and night. God only knows how I
hate myself on account of this one horrible sin!"
"It is a sin only as you deliberately and wilfully fulfill the
conditions that lead to such results. Now I am sure if you could once
make up your mind in the fear of God, never to undertake more work of
any sort than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or
flurry, and the instant you find yourself growing nervous and like
one out of breath, would stop and take breath, you would find this
simple, common-sense rule doing for you what no prayers or tears
could ever accomplish. Will you try it for one month, my darling?"
"But we can't afford it," I cried, with almost a groan. "Why, you
have told me this very day that our expenses must be cut down, and
now you want me to add to them by doing less work. But the work must
be done. The children must be clothed, there is no end to the
stitches to be taken for them, and your stockings must be mended-you
make enormous holes in them! and you don't like it if you ever find a
button wanting to a shirt or your supply of shirts getting low."
"All you say may be very true," he returned, "but I am determined
that you shall not be driven to desperation as you have been of
By this time we had reached the house where his visit was to be made,
and I had nothing to do but lean back and revolve all he had been
saying, over and over again, and to see its reasonableness while I
could not see what was so be done for my relief. Ah, I have often
felt in moments of bitter grief at my impatience with my children,
that perhaps God pitied more than He blamed me for it! And now my
dear husband was doing the same!
When Ernest had finished his visit we drove on again in silence.
At last, I asked:
"Do tell me, Ernest, if you worked out this problem all by yourself?"
He smiled a little.
"No, I did not. But I have had a patient for two or three years whose
case has interested me a good deal, and for whom I finally prescribed
just as I have done for you. The thing worked like a charm, and she
is now physically and morally quite well.
"I dare say her husband is a rich man," I said.
"He is not as poor as your husband, at any rate," Ernest replied.
"But rich or poor I am determined not to sit looking on while you
exert yourself so far beyond your strength. Just think, dear, suppose
for fifty or a hundred or two hundred dollars a year you could buy a
sweet, cheerful, quiet tone of mind, would you hesitate one moment to
do so? And you can do it if you will. You are not ill-tempered but
quick-tempered; the irritability which annoys you so is a physical
infirmity which will disappear the moment you cease to be goaded into
it by that exacting mistress you have hitherto been to yourself."
All this sounded very plausible while Ernest was talking, but the
moment I got home I snatched up my work from mere force of habit.
"I may as well finish this as it is begun," I said to myself, arid
the stitches flew from my needle like sparks of fire. Little Ernest
came and begged for a story, but I put him off. Then Una wanted to
sit in my lap, but I told her I was too busy. In the course of an
hour the influence of the fresh air and Ernest's talk had nearly lost
their power over me; my thread kept breaking, the children leaned on
and tired me, the baby woke up and cried, and I got all out of
"Do go away, Ernest," I said, "and let mamma have a little peace.
Don't you see how busy I am? Go and play with Una like a good boy."
But he would not go, and kept teasing Una till she too, began to cry,
and she and baby made a regular concert of it.
"Oh, ,dear!" I! sighed, "this work will never be done!" and threw it
down impatiently, and took the baby impatiently, and began to walk up
and down with him impatiently. I was not willing that this little
darling, whom I love so dearly, should get through with his nap and
interrupt my work; yet I was displeased with myself, and tried by
kissing him to make some amends for the hasty, un pleasant tones with
which I had grieved him and frightened the other children. This
evening Ernest came to me with a larger sum of money than he had ever
given me at one time.
"Now every cent of this is to be spent," he said, "in having work
done. I know any number of poor women who will be thankful to have
all you can give them."
Dear me I it is easy to talk, and I do feel grateful to Ernest for
his thoughtfulness and kindness. But I am almost in rags, and need
every cent of this money to make myself decent. I am positively
ashamed to go anywhere, my clothes are so shabby. Besides, supposing
I leave off sewing and all sorts of over-doing of a kindred nature, I
must nurse baby, I suppose, and be up with him nights and others will
have their cross days and their sick and father will have his. Alas,
there can be for no royal road to a "sweet, cheerful, quiet tone of
JANUARY I, 1844.-Mother says Ernest is entirely right in forbidding
my working so hard. I own that I already feel better. I have all the
time I need to read my Bible and to pray now, and the children do not
irritate and annoy me as they did. Who knows but I shall yet become
Ernest made his father very happy to-day by telling him that ,the
last of those wretched debts is paid. I think that he might have told
me that this deliverance was at hand. I did not know but we had years
of these struggles with poverty before us. What with the relief from
this anxiety, my improved state of health, and father's pleasure, I
am in splendid spirits to-day. Ernest, too, seems wonderfully
cheerful, and we both feel that we may now look forward to a quiet
happiness we have never known. With such a husband and such children
as mine, I ought to be the most grateful creature on earth. And I
have dear mother and James besides. I don't quite know what to think
about James' relation to Lucy. He is so brimful running over with
happiness that he is also full of fun and of love, and after all he
may only like her as a cousin.
FEB. 14.-Father has not been so well of late. It seems as if he kept
up until he was relieved about those debts, and then sunk down. I
read to him a good deal, and so does mother, but his mind is still
dark, and he looks forward to the hour of death with painful
misgivings. He is getting a little childish about my leaving him, and
clings to me exactly as if I were his own child. Martha spends a good
deal of time with him, and fusses over him in a way that I wonder she
does not see is annoying to him. He wants to be read to, to hear a
hymn sung or a verse repeated, and to be left otherwise in perfect
quiet. But she is continually pulling out and shaking up his pillows,
bathing his head in hot vinegar and soaking his feet. It looks so odd
to see her in one of the elegant silk dresses old .Mr. Underhill
makes her wear, with her sleeves rolled up, the skirt hid away under
a large apron, rubbing away at poor father till it seems as if his
tired soul would fly out of him.
FEB. 20.-Father grows weaker every day. Ernest has sent for his other
children, John and Helen. Martha is no longer able to come here; her
husband is very sick with a fever, and cannot be left alone. No doubt
he enjoys her bustling way of nursing, and likes to have his pillows
pushed from under him every five minutes. I am afraid I feel glad
that she is kept away, and that I have father all to myself. Ernest
never was so fond of me as he is now. I don't know what to make of
FEB 22.-John and his wife and Helen have come. They stay at Martha's,
where there is plenty of room. John's wife is a little soft dumpling
thing, and looks up to him as a mouse would up at a steeple. He
strikes me as a very selfish man. He steers straight for the best
seat, leaving her standing, if need be, accepts her humble attentions
with the air of one collecting his just debt and is continually
snubbing and setting her right. Yet in some things he is very like
Ernest, and perhaps a wife destitute of self-assertion and without
much individuality would have spoiled him as Harriet has spoiled
John. For I think it must be partly her fault that he dares to be so
egotistical. Helen, is the dearest, prettiest creature I ever saw.
Oh, why would James take a fancy to Lucy! I feel the new delight of
having a sister to love and to admire. And she will love me in time;
I feel sure of it.
MARCH 1.-Father is very feeble and in great mental distress. He
gropes about in the dark, and shudders at the approach of death. We
can do nothing but pray for him. And the cloud will be lifted when he
leaves this world, if not before. For I know he is a good, yes, a
saintly man, dear to and dear to Christ.
MARCH 4.-Dear father has gone. We were all kneeling and praying and
weeping around him, when suddenly he called me to come to him. I went
and let him lean his head on my breast, as he loved to do. Sometimes
I have stood so by the hour together ready to sink with fatigue, and
only kept up with the thought that if this were my own precious
father's bruised head I could stand and hold it forever.
"Daughter Katherine," he said, in his faint, tremulous way, "you have
come with me to the very brink of the river. I thank God for all your
cheering words and ways. I thank God for giving you to be a helpmeet
to my son. Farewell, now," he added, in a low, firm voice, "I feel
the bottom, and it is good!"
He lay back on his pillow looking upward with an expression of
seraphic peace and joy on his worn, meagre face, and so his life
passed gently away.
Oh, the affluence of God's payments! What a recompense for the poor
love I had given my husband's father, and the poor little services I
had rendered him! Oh, that I had never been impatient with him, never
smiled at his peculiarities, never in my secret heart felt him
unwelcome to my home! And how wholly I overlooked, in my blind
selfishness, what he must have suffered in feeling himself, homeless,
dwelling with us on sufferance, but master and head nowhere on earth!
May God carry the lessons home to my heart of hearts, and make the
cloud of mingled remorse and shame which now envelops me to descend
in showers of love and benediction on every human soul that mine can
I HAVE had a new lesson which has almost broken my heart. In looking
over his father's papers, Ernest found a little journal, brief in its
records indeed, but we learn from it that on all those wedding and
birthdays, when I fancied his austere religion made him hold aloof
from our merry-making, he was spending the time in fasting and
praying for us and for our children! Oh, shall I ever learn the sweet
charity that thinketh no evil, and believeth all things? What
blessings may not have descended upon us and our children through
those prayers! What evils may they not have warded off! Dear old
father! Oh, that I could once more put my loving arms about him and
bid him welcome to our home! And how gladly would I now confess to
him all my unjust judgments concerning him and entreat his
forgiveness! Must life always go on thus? Must I always be erring,
ignorant and blind? How I hate this arrogant sweeping past my brother
man; this utter ignoring of his hidden life?
I see now that it is well for mother that she did not come to live
with me at the beginning of my married life. I should not have borne
with her little peculiarities, nor have made her half so happy as I
can now. I thank God that my varied disappointments and discomforts,
my feeble health, my poverty, my mortifications have done me some
little good, and driven me to Him a thousand times because I could
not get along without His help. But I am not satisfied with my state
in His sight. I am sure something is lacking, though I know not what
MAY Helen is going to stay here and live with Martha How glad how
enchanted I am! Old Mr. Underhill is getting well; I saw him to-day.
He can talk of nothing but his illness, of Martha's wonderful skill
in nursing him declaring that he owes his life to her. I felt a
little piqued at this speech, because Ernest was very attentive to
him, and no doubt did his share towards the cure. We have fitted up
father's room for a nursery. Hitherto all the children have had to
sleep in our room which has been bad for them and bad for us. I have
been so afraid they would keep Ernest awake if they were unwell and
restless. I have secured an excellent nurse, who is as fresh and
blooming as the flower whose name she bears. The children are already
attached to her, and I feel that the worst of my life is now over.
JUNE.-Little Ernest was taken sick on the day I wrote that. The
attack was fearfully sudden and violent. He is still very, very ill.
I have not forgotten that I said once that I would give my children
to God should He ask for them. but oh, this agony of suspense! It
eats into my soul and eats it away. Oh, my little Ernest! My
first-born son! My pride, my joy, my hope! And I thought the worst of
my life was over!
AUGUST.-We have come into the country with what God has left us, our
two youngest children. Yes, I have tasted the bitter cup of
bereavement, and drunk it down to its dregs. I gave my darling to
God, I gave him, I gave him! But, oh, with what anguish I saw those
round, dimpled limbs wither and waste away, the glad smile fade
forever from that beautiful face! What a fearful thing it is to be a
mother! But I have given my child to God. I would not recall him if I
could. I am thankful He has counted me worthy to present Him so
costly a gift.
I cannot shed a tear, and I must find relief in writing, or I shall
lose my senses. My noble, beautiful boy! My first-born son! And to
think that my delicate little Una still lives, and that death has
claimed that bright, glad creature who was the sunshine of our home!
But let me not forget my mercies. Let me not forget that I have a
precious husband and two darling children, and my kind, sympathizing
mother left to me. Let me not forget how many kind friends gathered
about us in our sorrow. Above all let me remember God's
loving-kindness and tender mercy. He has not left us to the
bitterness of a grief that refuses and disdains to be comforted. We
believe in Him, we love Him, we worship as we never did before. My
dear Ernest has felt this sorrow to his heart's core. But he has not
for one moment questioned the goodness or the love of our Father in
thus taking from us the child who promised to be our greatest earthly
joy Our consent to God's will has drawn us together very closely,
together we bear the yoke in our youth, together we pray and sing
praises in the very midst of our tears "I was dumb with silence
because Thou didst it."
SEPT. The old pain and cough have come back with the first cool
nights of this month Perhaps I am going to my darling- I do not know
I am certainly very feeble Consenting to suffer does not annul the
suffering Such a child could not go hence without rending and tearing
its way out of the heart that loved it. This world is wholly changed
to me and I walk in it like one in a dream. And dear Ernest is
changed, too. He says little, and is all kindness and goodness to me,
but I can see here is a wound that will never be healed. I am
confined to my room now with nothing do but to think, think, think. I
do not believe God has taken our child in mere displeasure, but
cannot but feel that this affliction might not have been necessary if
I had not so chafed and writhed and secretly repined at the way in
which my home was invaded, and at our galling poverty. God has
exchanged the one discipline for the other; and oh, how far more
bitter is this cup!
Oct. 4.- My darling boy would have been six years old to-day. Ernest
still keeps me shut up, but he rather urges my seeing a friend now
and. People say very strange things in the way of consolation. I
begin to think that a tender clasp of the hand is about all one can
give to the afflicted. One says I must not grieve, because my child
is better off in heaven. Yes, he is better off; I know it, I .feel
it; but I miss him none the less. Others say he might have grown up
to be a bad man and broken my heart. Perhaps he might, but I cannot
make myself believe that likely. One lady asked me if this affliction
was not a rebuke of my idolatry of my darling; and another, if I had
not been in a cold, worldly state, needing this severe blow on that
But I find no consolation or support in the remarks. My comfort is in
my perfect faith in the goodness and love of my Father, my certainty
that He had a reason in thus afflicting me that I should admire and
adore if I knew what it was. And in the midst of my sorrow I have had
and do have a delight in Him hitherto unknown, so that sometimes this
room in which I am a prisoner seems like the very gate of heaven.
MAY.-A long winter in my room, and all sorts of painful remedies and
appliances and deprivations. And now I am getting well, and drive out
every day. Martha sends her carriage, and mother goes with me. Dear
mother! How nearly perfect she is! I never saw a sweeter face, nor.
ever heard sweeter expressions of faith in God, and love to all about
her than hers. She has been my tower strength all through these weary
months; and she has shared my sorrow and made it her own.
I can see that dear Ernest's affliction and this prolonged anxiety
about me have been a heavenly benediction to him I am sure that every
mother whose sick child he visits will have a sympathy he could not
have given while all our own little ones were alive and well. I thank
God that He has thus increased my dear husband's usefulness as I
think that He has mine also How tenderly I already feel towards all
suffering children, and how easy it will be now to be patient with
KEENE N H JULY 12 It is a year ago this day that the brightest
sunshine faded out of our lives, and our beautiful boy was taken from
us. I have been tempted to spend this anniversary in bitter tears and
lamentations For oh, this sorrow is not healed by time! I feel it
more and more But I begged God when I first awoke this morning not to
let me so dishonor and grieve Him. I may suffer, I must suffer, He
means it, He wills it, but let it be without repining, without gloomy
despondency. The world is full of sorrow; it is not I alone who taste
its bitter draughts, nor have I the only right to a sad countenance.
Oh, for patience to bear on, cost what it may!
"Cheerfully and gratefully I lay. myself and all that I am or own at
the feet of Him who redeemed me with His precious blood, engaging to
follow Him, bearing the cross He lays upon me." This is the least I
can do, and I do it while my heart lies broken and bleeding at His
My dear little Una has improved somewhat in health, but I am never
free from anxiety about her. She is my milk-white lamb, my dove, my
fragrant flower. One cannot look in her pure face without a sense of
peace and rest. She is the sentinel who voluntarily guards my door
when I am engaged at my devotions; she is my little comforter when I
am sad, my companion and friend at all times. I talk to her of
Christ, and always have done, just as I think of Him, and as if I
expected sympathy from her in my love to Him. It was the same with my
darling Ernest. If I required a little self-denial, I said
cheerfully, "This is hard, but doing it for our best Friend sweetens
it," and their alacrity was pleasant to see. Ernest threw his whole
soul into whatever he did, and sometimes when engaged in play would
hesitate a little when directed to do something else, such as
carrying a message for me, and the like. But if I said, "If you do
this cheerfully and pleasantly, my darling, you do it for Jesus, and
that will make Him smile upon you," he would invariably yield at
Is not this the true, the natural way of linking every little daily
act of a child's life with that Divine Love, that Divine Life which
gives meaning to all things?
But what do I mean by the vain boast that I have always trained my
children thus? Alas! I have done it only at times; for while my
theory was sound, my temper of mind was but too often unsound. I was
often and often impatient with my dear little boy; often my tone was
a worldly one; I often full of eager interest in mere outside things,
and forgot that I was living or that my children were living save for
the present moment.
It seems now that I have a child in heaven, and am bound to the
invisible world by such a tie that I can never again be entirely
absorbed by this.
I fancy my ardent, eager little boy as having some such employments
in his new and happy home as he had here. I see him loving Him who
took children in His arms and blessed them, with all the warmth of
which his nature is capable, and as perhaps employed as one of those
messengers whom God sends forth as His ministers. For I cannot think
of those active feet, those busy hands as always quiet. Ah, my
darling, that I could look in upon you for a moment, a single moment,
and catch one of your radiant smiles; just one!
AUGUST 4.-How full are David's Psalms of the cry of the sufferer! He
must have experienced every kind of bodily and mental torture. He
gives most vivid illustrations of the wasting, wearing process of
disease-for instance, what a contrast is the picture we have of him
when he was "ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly
to look to," and the one he paints of himself in after years, when he
says, "I may tell all my bones. they look and stare upon me; my days
are like a, shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass. I am
weary with groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my
couch with my tears. For my soul is full of troubles; and my life
draweth near unto the grave,"
And then what wails of anguish are these!
"I am afflicted, and ready to die from my youth up, while I suffer
thy terrors I am distracted. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me and thou
hast afflicted me with all thy waves. All thy waves and thy billows
have gone over me. Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and
mine acquaintance into utter dark ness."
Yet through it all what grateful joy in God, what expressions of
living faith and devotion! During my long illness and confinement to
my room, the Bible has been almost a new book to me, and I see that
God has always dealt with His children as He deals with them now, and
that no new thing has befallen me. All these weary days so full of
languor, these nights so full of unrest, have had their appointed
mission to my soul. And perhaps I have had no discipline so salutary
as this forced inaction and uselessness, at a time when youth and
natural energy continually cried out for room and work.
AUGUST 15.-I dragged out my drawing materials in a listless way this
morning, and began to sketch the beautiful scene from my window. At
first I could not feel interested. It seemed as if my hand was
crippled and lost its cunning when it unloosed its grasp of little
Ernest, and let him go. But I prayed, as I worked, that I might not
yield to the inclination to despise and throw away the gift with
which God has Himself endowed me. Mother was gratified, and said it
rested her to see me act like myself once more. Ah, I have been very
selfish, and have been far too much absorbed with my sorrow and my
illness and my own petty struggles.
AUGUST 19.-I met to-day an old friend, Maria Kelly, who is married,
it seems, and settled down in this pretty village. She asked so many
questions about my little Ernest that I had to tell her the whole
story of his precious life, sickness and death. I forced myself to do
this quietly, and without any great demand on her sympathies. My
reward for the constraint I thus put upon myself was the abrupt
"Haven't you grown stoical?"
I felt the angry blood rush' through my veins as it has not done in a
long time. My pride was wounded to the quick, and those cruel, unjust
words still rankle in my heart. This is not as it should be. I am
constantly praying that my pride may be humbled, and then when it is
attacked, I shrink from the pain the blow causes, and am angry with
the hand that inflicts it. It is just so with two or three unkind
things Martha has said to me. I can't help brooding over them and
feeling stung with their injustice, even while making the most
desperate struggle to rise above and forget them. It is well for our
fellow-creatures that God forgives and excuses them, when we fail to
do it, and I can easily fancy that poor Maria Kelly is at this moment
dearer in His sight than I am who have taken fire at a chance word
And I can see now, what I wonder I did not see at the time, that God
was dealing very kindly and wisely with me when He made Martha
overlook my good qualities, of which I suppose I have some, as
everybody else has, and call out all my bad ones, since the axe was
thus laid at the root of self-love. And it is plain that self-love
cannot die without a fearful struggle.
MAY 26, 1846.-How long it is since I have written in my journal! We
have had a winter full of cares, perplexities and sicknesses. Mother
began it by such a severe attack of inflammatory rheumatism as I
could not have supposed she could live through. Her sufferings were
dreadful, and I might almost say her patience was, for I often
thought it would be less painful to hear her groan and complain, than
to witness such heroic fortitude, such sweet docility under God's
hand. I hope I shall never forget the lessons I have learned in her
sick-room. Ernest says he never shall cease to rejoice that she lives
with us, and that he can watch over her health. He, has indeed been
like a son to her, and this has been a great solace amid all her
sufferings. Before she was able to leave the room, poor little Una
was prostrated by one of her ill turns, and is still very feeble. The
only way in which she can be diverted is by reading to her, and I
have done little else these two months but hold her in my arms,
singing little songs and hymns, telling stories and reading what few
books I can find that are unexciting, simple, yet entertaining. My
precious little darling! She bears the yoke in her youth without a
frown, but it is agonizing to see her suffer so. How much easier it
would be to bear all her physical infirmities myself! I suppose to
those who look on from the outside, we must appear like a most
unhappy family, since we hardly get free from one trouble before
another steps in. But I see more and more that happiness is not
dependent on health or any other outside prosperity. We are at peace
with each other and at peace with God; His dealings with us do not
perplex or puzzle us, though we do not pretend to understand them. On
the other hand, Martha with absolutely perfect health, with a husband
entirely devoted to her, and with every wish gratified, yet seems
always careworn and dissatisfied. Her servants worry her very life
out; she misses the homely household duties to which she has been
accustomed; and her conscience stumbles at little things, and
overlooks greater ones. It is very interesting, I think, to study
different homes, as well as the different characters that form them.
Amelia's little girls are quiet, good children, to whom their father
writes what Mr. Underhill and Martha pronounce "beautiful" letters,
wherein he always styles himself their "broken-hearted but devoted
father." "Devotion," to my mind, involves self-sacrifice, and I
cannot reconcile its use, in this case, with the life of ease he
leads, while all the care of his children is thrown upon others. But
some people, by means of a few such phrases, not only impose upon
themselves but upon their friends, and pass for persons of great
As I have been confined to the house nearly the whole winter, I have
had to derive my spiritual support from books, and as mother
gradually recovered, she enjoyed Leighton with me, as I knew she
would. Dr. Cabot comes to see us very often, but, I do not now find
it possible to get the instruction from him I used to do. I see that
the Christian life must be individual, as the natural character
is-and that I cannot be exactly like Dr. Cabot, or exactly like Mrs.
Campbell, or exactly like mother, though they all three stimulate and
re an inspiration to me. But I see, too, that the great points of
similarity in Christ's disciples have always been the same. This is
the testimony of all the good books, sermons, hymns, and, memoirs I
read-that God's ways are infinitely perfect; that we are to love Him
for what He is, and therefore equally as much when He afflicts as
when He prospers us; that there is no real happiness but in doing and
suffering His will, and that this life is but a scene of probation
through which we pass to the real life above.
ERNEST asked me to go with him to see one of his patients, as he
often does when there is a lull in the tempest at home. We both feel
that as we have so little money of our own to give away, it is a
privilege to give what services and what cheering words we can. As I
took it for granted that we were going to see some poor old woman, I
put up several little packages of tea and sugar, with which Susan
Green always keeps me supplied, and added a bottle of my own
raspberry vinegar, which never comes amiss, I find, to old people.
Ernest drove to the door of an aristocratic-looking house, and helped
me to alight in his usual silence.
"It is probably one of the servants we are going to visit," I
thought, within myself; "but I am surprised at his bringing me. The
family may not approve it."
The next thing I knew I found myself being introduced to a beautiful,
brilliant young lady, who sat in a wheel-chair like a queen on a
throne in a room full of tasteful ornaments, flowers and birds. Now,
I had come away just as I was, when Ernest called me, and that "was"
means a very plain gingham dress wherein I had been darning stockings
all the morning. I suppose a saint wouldn't have cared for that, but
I did, and for a moment stood the picture of confusion, my hands full
of oddly shaped parcels and my face all in a flame.
My wife, Miss Clifford," I heard Ernest say, and then I caught the
curious, puzzled look in her eyes, which said as plainly as words
"What has the creature brought me?"
I ask your pardon, Miss Clifford," I said, thinking it best to speak
out just the honest truth, "but I supposed the doctor was taking me
to see some of his old women, and so I have brought you a 1ittle tea,
and a little sugar, and a bottle of raspberry vinegar!"
"How delicious!'. cried she. "It really rests me to meet with a
genuine human being at last! Why didn't you make some stiff, prim
speech, instead of telling the truth out and out? I declare I mean to
keep all you have brought me, just for the fun of the thing."
This put me at ease, and I forgot all about my dress in a moment.
"I see you are just what the doctor boasted you were," she went on.
"But he never would bring you to see me before. I suppose he has told
you why I could not go to see you?"
"To tell the truth, he never speaks to me of his patients unless he
thinks I can be of use to them."
"I dare say I do not look much like an invalid," said she; "but here
I am, tied to this chair. It is six months since I could bear my own
weight upon my feet."
I saw then that though her face was so bright and full of color, her
hand was thin and transparent. But what a picture she made as she sat
there in magnificent beauty, relieved by such a back-ground of
foliage, flowers, and artistic objects!
"I told the doctor the other day that life was nothing but a humbug,
and he said he should bring me a remedy against that false notion the
next time he came, and you, I suppose, are that remedy," she
continued. "Come, begin; I am ready to take any number of doses."
I could only laugh and try to look daggers at Ernest, who sat looking
over a magazine, apparently absorbed in its contents.
"Ah!" she cried, nodding her head sagaciously, "I knew you would
agree with me."
"Agree with you in calling life a humbug!" I cried, now fairly
aroused. "Death itself is not more a reality!"
"I have not tried death yet," she said, more seriously; "but I have
tried life twenty-five years and I know all about it. It is eat,
drink, sleep yawn and be bored. It is what shall I wear, where shall
I go, how shall I get rid of the time; it says, 'How do you do? how
is your husband? How are your children? '-it means, 'Now I have asked
all the conventional questions, and I don't care a fig what their
answer may be.'"
"This may be its meaning to some persons," I replied, "for instance,
to mere pleasure-seekers. But of course it is interpreted quite
differently by others. To some it means nothing but a dull, hopeless
struggle with poverty and hardship- and its whole aspect might be
changed to them, should those who do not know what to do to get rid
of the time, spend their surplus leisure in making this struggle less
"Yes, I have heard such doctrine, and at one time I tried charity
myself. I picked up a dozen or so of dirty little wretches out of the
streets, and undertook to clothe and teach them. I might as well have
tried to instruct the chairs in my room. Besides the whole house had
to be aired after they had gone, and mamma missed two teaspoons and a
fork and was perfectly disgusted with the whole thing. Then I fell to
knitting socks for babies, but they only occupied my hands, and my
head felt as empty as ever. Mamma took me off on a journey, as she
always did when I took to moping, and that diverted me for a while.
But after that everything went on in the old way. I got rid of part
of the day by changing my dress, and putting on my pretty things-it
is a great thing to have a habit of wearing one's ornaments, for
instance; and then in the evening one could go to the opera or the
theater, or some other place of amusement, after which one could
sleep all through the next morning, and so get rid of that. But I had
been used to such things all my life, and they had got to be about as
flat as flat can be. If I had been born a little earlier in the
history of the world, I would have gone into a convent; but that sort
of thing is out of fashion now."
"The best convent," I said, "for a woman is the seclusion of her own
home. There she may find vocation and fight her battles, and there
she may learn the reality and the earnestness of life."
"Pshaw!"' cried she. "Excuse me, however, saying that; but some of
the most brilliant girls I know have settled down into mere married
women and spend their whole time in nursing babies! Think how
"Is it more so than spending it in dressing, driving, dancing, and
"Of course it is. I had a friend once who shone like a star in
society. She married, and children as fast as she could. Well! what
consequence? She lost her beauty, lost her spirit and animation, lost
her youth, and lost her health. The only earthly things she can talk
about are teething, dieting, and the measles!"
I laughed at this exaggeration, and looked round to see what Ernest
thought of such talk. But he had disappeared.
"As you have spoken plainly to me, knowing, me, to be a wife and a
mother, you must allow me to 'speak plainly in return," I began.
"Oh, speak plainly, by all means! I am quite sick and tired of having
truth served up in pink cotton, and scented with lavender."
"Then you will permit me to say that when you speak contemptuously of
the vocation of maternity, you dishonor, not only the mother who bore
you, but the Lord Jesus Himself, who chose to be born of woman, and
to be ministered unto by her through a helpless infancy."
Miss Clifford was a little startled.
'How terribly in earnest you are! she said. It is plain that to you,
at any rate, life is indeed no humbug."
I thought of my dear ones, of Ernest, of my children, of mother, and
of James, and I thought of my love to them and of theirs to me. And I
thought of Him who alone gives reality to even such joys as these. My
face must have been illuminated by the thought, for she dropped the
bantering tone she had used hitherto, and asked, with real
"What is it you know, and that I do not know, that makes you so
satisfied, while I am so dissatisfied?"
I hesitated before I answered, feeling as I never felt before how
ignorant, how unfit to lead others, I really am. Then I said:
"Perhaps you need to know God, to know Christ?"
She looked disappointed and tired. So I came away, first promising,
at her request, to go to see her again. I found Ernest just driving
up, and told him what had passed. He listened in his usual silence,
and I longed to have him say whether I had spoken wisely and well.
JUNE 1.-I have been to see Miss Clifford again and made mother go
with me. Miss Clifford took a fancy to her at once.
"Ah!" she said, after one glance at the dear, loving face, "nobody
need tell me that you are good and kind. But I am a little afraid of
good people. I fancy they are always criticising me and expecting me
to imitate their perfection."
"Perfection does not exact perfection," was mother's answer. "I would
rather be judged by an angel than by a man." And then mother led her
on, little by little, and most adroitly, to talk of herself and of
her state of health. She is an orphan and lives in this great,
stately house alone with her servants. Until she was laid aside by
the state pf her health, she lived in the world and of it. Now she is
a prisoner, and prisoners have time to think.
"Here I sit," she said, "all day .long. I never was fond of staying
at home, or of reading, and needlework I absolutely hate. In fact, I
do not know how to sew."
"Some such pretty, feminine work might beguile you of a few of the
long hours of these long days," said mother. "One can't be always
"But a lady came to see me, a Mrs. Goodhue, one of your good sort, I
suppose, and she preached me quite a sermon on the employment of
time. She said I had a solemn admonition of Providence, and ought to
devote myself entirely to religion. I had just begun to he interested
in a bit of embroidery, but she frightened me out of it. But I can't
bear such dreadfully good people, with faces a mile long."
Mother made her produce the collar, or whatever it was, showed her
how to hold her needle and arrange her pattern, and they both got so
absorbed in it that I had leisure to look at some of the beautiful
things with which the room was full.
"Make the object of your life right," I heard mother say, at last,
"and these little details will take care of themselves."
"But I haven't any object," Miss Clifford objected, "unless it is to
get through these tedious days somehow. Before I was taken ill my
chief object was to make myself attractive to the people I met And
the easiest way to do that was to dress becomingly and make myself
look as well as I could."
"I suppose," said mother, "that most girls could say the same. They
have an instinctive desire to please, and they take what they
conceive to be the shortest and easiest road to that end. It requires
no talent, no education, no thought to dress tastefully; the most
empty-hearted frivolous young person can do it, provided she has
money enough. Those who can't get the money make up for it by fearful
expenditure of precious time. They plan, they cut, they fit, they
rip, they trim till they can appear in society looking exactly like
everybody else. They think of nothing, talk of nothing but how this
shall be fashioned and that be trimmed; and as to their hair, Satan
uses it as his favorite net, and catches them in it every day of
"But I never cut or trimmed," said Miss Clifford.
"No, because you could afford to have it done for you. But you
acknowledge that you spent a great deal of time in dressing because
you thought that the easiest way of making yourself attractive. But
it does not follow that the easiest way is the best way, and
sometimes the longest way round is the shortest way home."
"Well, let us imagine a young lady, living in the world as you say
you lived. She has never seriously reflected on any subject one half
hour in her life. She has been borne on by the current and let it
take her where it would. But at last some influence is brought to
bear upon her which leads her to stop to look about her and to think.
She finds herself in a world of serious, momentous events. She see
she cannot live in it, was not meant to live in it forever, and that
her whole unknown future depends on what she is, not on how she
looks. She begins to cast about for some plan of life, and this
"A plan of life?" Miss Clifford interrupted. "I never heard of such a
"Yet you would smile at an architect, who having a noble structure to
build, should begin to work on it in a haphazard way, putting in a
brick here and a stone there, weaving in straws and sticks if they
come to hand, and when asked on what work he was engaged, and what
manner of building he intended to erect, should reply he had no plan,
but thought something would come of it."
Miss Clifford made no reply. She sat with her head resting on her
band, looking dreamily before her, a truly beautiful, but unconscious
picture.. I too, began to reflect, that while I had really aimed to
make the most out of life, I had not done it methodically or
We are going to try to stay in town this summer. Hitherto Ernest
would not listen to my suggestion of what an economy this would be.
He always said this would turn out anything but an economy in the
end. But now we have no teething baby; little Raymond is a strong,
healthy child, and Una remarkably well for her, and money is so slow
to come in and so fast to go out. What discomforts we suffer in the
country it would take a book to write down, and here we shall have
our own home, as usual. I shall not have to be separated from Ernest,
and shall have leisure to devote to two very interesting people who
must stay in town all the year round, no matter who goes out of it. I
mean dear Mrs. Campbell and Miss Clifford, who both attract me,
though in such different ways.
WELL, I had my own way, and I am afraid it has been an unwise one,
for though I have enjoyed the leisure afforded by everybody being out
of town, and the opportunity it has given me to devote myself to the
very sweetest work on earth, the care of my darling little ones, the
heat and the stifling atmosphere have been trying for me and for
them. My pretty Rose went last May, to bloom in a home of her own, so
I thought I would not look for a nurse, but take the whole care of
them myself. This would not be much of a task to a strong person, but
I am not strong, and a great deal of the time just dressing them and
taking them out to walk has exhausted me. Then all the mending and
other sewing must be done, and with the over-exertion creeps in the
fretful tone, the impatient word. Yet I never can be as impatient
with little children as I should be but for the remembrance that I
should count it only a joy to minister once more to my darling boy,
cost what weariness it might.
But now new cares are at hand, and I have been searching for a person
to whom I can safely trust my children when I am laid aside. Thus far
I have had, in this capacity, three different Temptations in human
The first, a smart, tidy-looking woman, informed me at the outset
that she was perfectly competent to take the whole charge of the
children, and should prefer my attending to my own affairs while she
attended to hers.
I replied that my affairs lay chiefly in caring for and being with my
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