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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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But a greater and more serious trouble than this was in store for us. The times becoming harder, my father's employer discharged several of his journeymen, him among the number. At this juncture of our affairs my mother tried to contrive how she could assist in the support of our family. She could make very pretty bonnets, therefore decided to go to the village and seek employment. The next morning she made the proposed effort, and in the evening returned, having met with excellent success. About a week following, father heard he could secure work in Jonesville, nearly forty miles from home. After his departure our only dependence was upon the feeble exertions our mother was able to make. We got along pretty well for three weeks, when she was laid upon a sick bed. It was now the middle of a Michigan winter; we had no wood to burn, save the limbs of trees my two little brothers could drag from the woods, and our provisions were getting very low. A week passed, yet mother grew no better; sister Jinnie, the eldest of us five, was now in her eleventh year. It was astonishing to note the womanly character exhibited in one so young. She was our mother's nurse, as well as housekeeper. There was no kind neighbor to come in and assist us, the nearest one being two miles distant, and the snow so deep, the weather so extremely cold, it was impossible to reach those who probably would have assisted us; it was utterly out of our power to seek their aid, willingly as it might have been rendered.


At last our provisions gave out entirely, with the exception of a portion we had saved for our mother. Of this we did not inform her, notwithstanding her repeated inquiries.


"What are we to do for dinner?" said my sister one day; this was whispered in a low tone, so that it should not reach our mother's ear in the adjoining room. Brother William remembering that we had had potatoes in the cellar in the fall, replied: "Perhaps they had not all been eaten." We opened the trap-door and descended to the cellar, where, to our great joy, "we found nearly a bushel of small potatoes, that had been thrown aside. We soon placed part of them over the fire to boil; when they were cooked we all sat down and ate them with salt. I have never eaten a potato since that tasted as deliciously as did those.


We now had another trouble: the provision we had reserved for our mother was all consumed; it distressed us to think we should be compelled to inform her how destitute we were, and she so ill; a plan, however, occurred to us by which we could spare her this afflicting intelligence a few days longer; each of us had a pet chicken, which we decided should be killed for mother; sister's was the first appropriated, and in succession the others followed till all were gone.


The bushel of potatoes had quickly disappeared; alas! what were we to do! Oh! how anxiously we awaited our absent father's return. How often during that day did we go to the door to watch for him, eagerly hoping and longing to see his form in the dim distance! But alas! all that met our earnest gaze were the huge banks of snow, and the dreary waste of desolation!


That day and night passed, never to be forgotten by me.


The next morning when my sister went up stairs to perform her household duties, before she had been there many minutes, we heard a scream of delight. We all rushed up, that we might ascertain what had taken place. There stood Jinnie with something in her hands.


"What is it?" "What is it?" we all exclaimed in a breath. Gentle reader, what do you. suppose it was? It was nothing more nor less than a bag of garden beans, my mother had carefully dried during the summer for seed. Little did she dream they were to save the lives of her children. They were cooked, but lasted only a few days. Our pet chickens had all been killed. The pain it cost me to part with mine is indelibly impressed upon my memory; but I had only to be reminded 'twas for my dear mother, and my childish sorrow at parting with my pet vanished, giving place to real delight, that I was able to contribute aught to her necessity or her comfort.


It now became absolutely imperative our mother should be informed of the fact that all our provision had been consumed; after laying various plans by which this sad intelligence should be conveyed to her, as we sat grouped around the fire, it was finally decided Jinnie should tell her. Our dear mother was not surprised at the information, but bore it with that Christian resignation and patience which had charcterized -sic- her throughout her sufferings.


She said if the road were sufficiently broken, Jinnie and Willie should go to the village and collect some money owing her by several ladies. Early next morning they started; on their way they called at old Mrs. Smith's, a Quaker lady, and told her of our mother s illness. She said she would go right over and see if she could do any thing to relieve her. After getting well warmed, and having another comforter wrapped about their necks by kind Mrs. Smith, they again started for the village, which they reached safely. They called on the ladies, as directed, and each paid the amount due, and one filled two baskets with provisions and groceries. It was nine o'clock in the evening ere they reached home again. Mrs. Smith was there, as she had promised. During their absence another brother had been added to our number.

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