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Incidents In The Life Of A Blind Girl

Creator: Mary L. Day (author)
Date: 1859
Publisher: James Young, Baltimore
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 2

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As soon as we had taken off our bonnets, the old lady made me lie down while she bathed my head and temples with cold water, and placed a soothing poultice on my eyes. I can not portray the agony of dependence I experienced that night; my friends were kind, very kind, but I had no claim upon them. Their acts of tenderness and consideration caused my tears to flow and my heart to ache with a keen sense of desolation. But though


"The reed in storms may bow and quiver,
'Twill rise again;"


while the oak of a century may be riven by a single blast.


We were one mile from Mrs. Weller's father's, and on the morrow we went there to remain for a while. Arrived at this second destination, we found Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. W.'s mother, quite ill. Mr. C. was a Quaker; he took me by the hand and said, "I am sorry for thee, my dear," but his wife said: "She did not know what they brought me with them for." I did not mind her saying this, she was quite an invalid, and I thought when she was better she would feel less annoyed at my being there. Mr. C. was extremely kind, and tried in every way to prevent my feeling uncomfortable or dependent. He said he thought he could cure my eyes, and after he had consulted the physician of the place, he would do what he could. The next day the doctor came; he directed me to be kept in a dark room for four weeks, with bread and molasses as diet; besides this, I had every second day to undergo an operation upon my eyes giving me the most intense and excruciating pain.


Just at this time another physician hearing of my blindness, called to examine my eyes; upon inspection he gave it as his opinion they could be cured, and my sight restored in three weeks. I was willing to endure any amount of suffering to be able once again to see. They were so sensitive, I could not bear to touch them with the softest handkerchief.


The doctor prepared a compound of dissolved alum and rum, and raising the eyelid applied to the eyeball a linen cloth saturated in the wash; this was so painful, I fainted while submitting to it. After I recovered I would not let him touch the other eye, which made him very angry, and he cursed me bitterly. Upon leaving the house I heard him say: "I hope she will never see! " He has had his wish! I have never seen aught above or around me since that time.


"With the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-daring dark
Surrounds me."




'I STRIVE to sing and smile, but ah! there presses
A gloomy pall upon me -- I am blind."


'A BEAM of comfort, like the moon through clouds,
Gilds the black horror, and directs my way."


"BE strong to hope, O Heart!
Though day is bright,
The stars can only shine
In the dark night."


"And whispers are heard full of Nature and Truth,
Saying: 'Don't you remember?'"


As I have before stated, Mr. Clarke had said he could work a cure for me; the efforts of the two doctors having failed, he thought he would at least try and allay the inflammation.


He went to the woods and dug some roots; of them he made tea, which I was to drink, also to apply externally as a wash. In two weeks I was greatly relieved, the inflammation had disappeared, yet I could not see. So great blessing was denied me, and it became my duty to bow to His will who, had it been best for me, could, have decreed: "Receive thy sight." Life would indeed, have known less of trial, had my vision been restored, but His ways, though inscrutable, are wise, and I fain would with an unmurmuring heart submit to that which he has seen fit should befall me -- praying:


"--- Wisdom at one entrance, quite shut out,
So much the rather, thou Celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all must from thence,
Purge and disperse."


Mr. Weller finding there were no hopes of me regaining my sight, grew very weary of me. He and Mrs. Clarke were constantly telling me how dependent I was, sometimes treating me with the greatest unkindness, and threatening to send me to the poor-house. This terrified me greatly, as I had always imagined it a dark, dismal prison. In this part of the country there were officers appointed to look after the sick and the friendless, and if a certain amount would cover their necessities and the services of a physician, these were rendered; if not, they were sent to the almshouse. To one of these officers Mr. Weller applied in my behalf. A few days after, while lying upon the sofa, two gentlemen came in and inquired for me. The truth flashed upon my mind. I begged and entreated them not to take me to the poor-house. Mr. Cook, one of the gentlemen, lifted me from the sofa and held me caressingly and tenderly in his arms, quieting my fears by telling me "he was not going to take me there, but that he had brought a doctor to examine my eyes." This was done, but the result was futile -- he could but decide they were incurable.

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