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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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SOMEWHAT rested and refreshed from my respite from travel, I started at three in the afternoon to complete my journey. As Mr. Chase helped me into the carriage he said: "It really made his heart ache to have me go alone." But I assured him I could get along very well, for I was not easily discouraged. Dr. Chase accompanied me to the cars; upon leaving me he also expressed concern lest I should meet with some unpleasantness. I assured him I was not apprehensive but some one would send me on from any other stopping-place I might have; no one would desire to detain me very long. He bade me good-by, saying he should expect to see me back soon.


At six o'clock we reached Lyons, where we changed cars. The conductor took me to the hotel, telling me not to leave with any one else, as he would return for me -- we were to start in half an hour. The time expired, and I heard one train after another, move off -- all the passengers had quitted the parlor except one gentleman. I inquired of him if the Pittsburgh train had gone; he said they had started fifteen minutes before, and he thought there would be no other until morning. Shortly after, he took the cars for Cleveland, and I was left entirely alone. Just as I was thinking what I should do next, a gentleman came in. He asked me if I had been forgotten; I told him I was in care of the conductor, and that he had left me, bidding me wait till he returned for me; that I had placed perfect confidence in what he had said, and through having done so, the Pittsburgh train had started without my knowledge. He said the conductor had told him of the circumstance, and was very much troubled about it, but that another train would arrive in about three hours, and he would remain with me until it came. I thanked him, but plainly signified I preferred being alone. Upon this intimation he went out and was gone two hours; they seemed the longest I had ever known. The intense heat of the atmosphere and the innumerable musquetoes were almost beyond endurance. When the gentleman returned, I laughingly, though in a decided manner, informed him he and the conductor were one and the same person, (his voice had discovered him to me the moment he had spoken,) also remarking that doubtless he was surprised I should know him again: "Oh! do you forgive me?" he exclaimed. "I never had any thing so to worry me in my life. There were some Germans who detained me so long paying their fare, the cars moved off, and I only had time to jump from them, which I did in order to repair my apparent neglect of you."


The remaining hour he entertained me by reading the daily news. At last the train came, and I was introduced to and placed in charge of Mr. Higgins -- again at the mercy of a busy, bustling conductor. He appeared a kind and fatherly old gentleman. When conductor number one was about to leave me, he asked if I expected ever to come that way again. I told him, if I should, certainly not in care of any of his forgetful fraternity.


Mr. Higgins arranged me quite a comfortable couch, appropriating his coat and my carpet-sack, then spreading a large shawl over me, said I could sleep all the way to Pittsburgh. Every time he would pass by, he would hold the lantern close to my face and say, "Poor child, poor child," thinking me asleep.


At one o'clock we reached Pittsburgh. I regretted parting with Mr. H.; he kindly offered to place me in care of the conductor of the next train. The following morning I was scarcely able to rise; an old lady who had roomed with me, observing my weakness assisted me to dress, and was as tender and solicitous as if she had been my own mother.


After paying my fare I found I had exhausted my means, for I had not prepared a sum adequate to the expense occasioned by the various delays I had been subjected to. I resolved not to allow this to trouble me; I had a through-ticket to Baltimore, and would make directly for that point, hoping to reach my friends the next day. But in this I was doomed to sad disappointment; my troubles were not yet over. The old lady travelled with me seventy miles, when, bidding me good by, she hoped the rest of my journey would be free from accident, or any untoward circumstance.


Soon after her departure, a person took the vacant seat behind me, so perfumed with musk, his close proximity nearly took my breath. Being very thirsty, I turned and asked the fragrant, highly-scented gentleman if he would be so obliging as to procure me a glass of water? To which request he made answer: "There's the water, can't you help yourself?" On my informing him I was blind, he said: "He was not in the habit of encumbering himself unnecessarily when he travelled." A gentleman sitting near, overhearing the colloquy, brought me a glass of water. When I thanked him he said: "He had done no more than any gentleman ought to do for a lady."


The conductor coming into the car, brought the unwelcome intelligence that we would be compelled to remain in Harrisburgh all night, as there was no train leaving for Baltimore before morning. Oh! I can not describe my feelings on receiving this information. I had no money and knew no one living in Harrisburgh. What to do or how to act, I did not know. My head began to ache violently, and I felt as if my strength were leaving me. I would have relinquished all the hopes to realize which I had travelled so far, endured so much, to have been once again by my sister's side, at home. At this moment the train stopped and about twenty happy school-girls entered the car in which I was sitting, feeling so lonely and desolate. Their gayety and mirth but increased my sense of misery. I could not decide how it would be best to act on reaching Harrisburgh. A single beam of hope bid me fancy I should meet some one as generous and kind as Mr. Chase had been, but in this I was disappointed.

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