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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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I clung to Mr. Cook, afraid he would leave me. I told him how unwelcome, and what a burden I was considered by those with whom he found me. He asked if I would like to go home with him. I could only answer with a flood of tears, not of grief, but of overflowing joy and thankfulness. He lifted me into the carriage, and we drove to his home. It was now the 15th day of January, and I was in my twelfth year. I had been blind three months. Late in the afternoon we arrived at our journey's end. Mr. C. conveyed me from the carriage to the door, where we were met by his wife. She took me kindly by the hand, while Mr. C. told her who I was, saying: "Fannie, I have brought this poor child home to live with us; we have seven children, but I think we have bread enough for them and her too; take her, dear Fannie, and be as a mother to her." I could feel that she was weeping tears of sympathy for me. Taking me by the hand, she led me into the warm parlor and seated me in a cushioned rocking-chair by the fire. She said I was "too thinly clad for that season of the year, and it was a wonder I had not frozen, so scantily supplied."


She told me she had five daughters and two sons, and just then they came bounding in, a band of joyous children. They were surprised to see me, but their mother informed them who the little stranger was, and that she was going to live with and be one of their family, and they must love me as a sister. They kissed me affectionately, and divided with me their toys. Benjamin, the oldest of the group, tried in everyway to amuse and entertain me. Such kindness was more than I could bear, and tears would come in defiance of all effort to restrain them.


The next morning I found a suit of new and warm clothing prepared, for me. After I had dressed, and Mrs. C. had carefully curled my hair, I was much improved in appearance; so great change had a single day with my new friends made in me.


To employ my time, it was proposed I should learn to knit; at first I thought this impossible as I could not see, but they persuaded me to try. Often when I would become impatient at my slow improvement, and almost in vexation, would toss my knitting from me, Mrs. C. would pick it up, repair my errors, and cheerfully say to me: "Mary,


"'If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try again.'"


Her sweet and encouraging tones would inspire me with a still more earnest desire to accomplish my task. In about a year I learned to knit a pair of stockings, and I assure you it was no small gratification to me, my acquired knowledge.


The children were all fond of reading; nothing gave them greater pleasure than to read aloud to me. Whenever Benjamin found a book bethought I would like, he would await so opportunity when I could listen while he afforded me so agreeable a pastime.


I became so accustomed to the house and grounds, I could walk about without a guide, even go to a neighbor's quite alone. I was never happier than when I had done any little thing to please my benefactress; she would always, most generously reward my every effort. It was part of her faith to commend a child when it had done well, thereby inducing a future endeavor to deserve a kind word or approving smile.


Mr. C. had a brother living in the village who had a blind daughter, named Almeada, a year younger than myself. We became much attached to each other, and spent a great deal of our time together. I had also another friend in the village, Elder Hobert, a Methodist minister; with him and his family I passed many happy days. On one occasion he presented me with a copy of the Bible, which I still have, and from which I often have read to me a verse he marked: "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." He has since gone to California, but is still my friend.


Being now able to knit pretty well, I felt anxious to do something towards supporting myself. I thought I would ask one of our neighbors to let me do the usual winter knitting her household required. These arrangements I had planned in my own mind; when I communicated them to Mrs. C., she rather dissuaded me from making the attempt, fearing it would be more than I would be able to accomplish. In the afternoon, however, the lady of whom I had thought, came to our house, and I asked her to let me do her knitting. She appeared pleased with my desire to do something towards making a livelihood, and said I should come to her house and knit by the week.


The next morning I entered upon my engagement. My remuneration was a dollar a week. From this time I could command as much and more than I could possibly do, and in this way supported myself for four years.


I was very sorry to be away from Mr. and Mrs. Cook, and the children, they had been so kind to me. The first week I missed them all sadly. Only an orchard lay between Mrs. Wilson's and their farm; every morning I would take my seat in the front-door just as the sun was rising, and listen for the dear familiar sounds from Mrs. Cook's yard; but the sweetest far, were the tones of her own loved voice. I longed to be with them all, yet more earnest was my desire not to be a burden to my friends. I felt an honest pride in providing for myself while I had health and strength.

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