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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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Uncle engaged board for me. My room was adjoining the parlor, most pleasantly situated. He then took leave of me, promising to call the next day. The doctor accompanied him, and Mrs. S., excusing herself, followed them, which left me, as I supposed, entirely alone. While musing over the events of the day, I heard a slight movement near me. I spoke but received no answer; this frightened me very much, but I arose to ascertain if possible what occasioned the sound I had heard as of some one moving, also a soft breathing I could distinguish. Now, gentle reader, what do you suppose had produced my alarm? Something very terrible, no doubt! say you. Well, it was a dear little girl about three years old; Nellie, she told me, was her name, and she had long curls which mamma said were pretty, very pretty, and that her eyes were blue like the sky. Sweet little prattler! how earnest was the prayer that went up from my heart that they might never be veiled by a misty shadow, shutting out forever the bright blue sky, whose cerulean hue had tinged them with beauty.


I twined my arms about her, and held her caressingly to me, when with tenderness beyond her years she asked: "Are you blind?" From Mrs. Sherwood, who had now returned, I learned Nellie's mamma was one of the boarders.


Mrs. S. conversed with me about many things, giving me stray snatches of her personal history. Her husband had died two years previous, and had left her with eight children, seven of which were sons. The tea-bell interrupted the continuance of our conversation. At the table I was introduced to the boarders, and to her two eldest sons, William and George Sherwood. George was quite talkative and agreeable, and we became pretty well acquainted. Tea over, he waited upon me to parlor, and spent the evening chatting with me. I felt I had gained another friend, for sincerity and kindness marked his every word.


The next week had been decided upon as the time when an operation upon my eyes should be performed. The day previous to the one of so great moment to me, Mrs. Sherwood came into the parlor accompanied by a very handsome lady and a little blind boy. Taking a seat near me, and appearing much affected, my hand held in hers, she said to me in earnest, sympathetic tones: "Are you blind?" On my assenting, she said: "So is my dear little boy!" Little Willie sprang into my lap, and throwing his arms caressingly around me, said in plaintive simplicity: "Did you stick a knife in your eye, too?"


Dr. Stephenson, entering at this time, examined my little friend's eyes, and pronounced the case a doubtful one as to relief. The distress of his mother at this intelligence was truly heartrending. She had travelled from Minnesota, a distance of more than a thousand miles, alone, in order to avail herself of Dr. Stephenson's acknowledged skill; and to learn there in all probability could be but little done, was indeed a severe trial. The doctor, however, suggested she should remain awhile, and he would do all in his power. She said she would remain, provided I would allow her to share my apartment, to which I readily assented, thinking she would prove an agreeable companion.


The day following, Aunt and Uncle came over to be with me while my eyes were being operated upon. Dr. S. came in, accompanied by a number of other doctors. Their arrival so unnerved me that they thought best not to attempt the operation. Dr. S. suggested I should consult Dr. Wilkes before any thing further was done; accordingly the next morning, accompanied by Mrs. Biglow and little Willie, I called on this physician. He received us with great civility, but told me it would ruin my eyes to undergo an operation, that Nature was the best doctor. He asked if there was an institution for the blind in Baltimore, and said he would advise me to return home and enter it as a pupil if there were one. He then examined Willie's eyes, but with the same hopeless result, of which he apprised Mrs. Biglow as kindly and delicately as he could. We then bade him good morning; Mrs. B. soon after left for Minnesota, for she was anxious to meet her husband and communicate to him how sadly fruitless had been her embassy. Ere we parted she gave me much good advice, and kneeling down offered up a prayer that the cup it had fallen to our lot to drink, might with resignation be quaffed, and that strength be awarded sufficient to endure our severe affliction.


At one o'clock we bade adieu to each other, promising to recollect kindly the intercourse we had held together, and cherish that friendship which had been formed under such mournful circumstances.


Contrary to Dr. W.'s advice, I determined again to make an effort to undergo an operation. I did not feel that I could return to Baltimore satisfied without having done so. Saturday was appointed, and on that day Uncle was with me to sustain me as much as possible by his presence. One doctor after another came quietly into the room, thinking to do so without my knowledge. I told them they could not frighten me to-day, so they need not be so very quiet and cautious. Seated upon an ottoman, they all surrounded me, Dr. Stephenson in front, as he was to perform the operation, and tried to cheer me by talking gayly. He said: "I was right good-looking, and all I wanted was my sight." I told him "not to flatter me, or I should lose all confidence in him." This conversation occasioned great laughter. Then all were very silent, for Dr. S. commenced the exercise of his skill. It lasted about twenty minutes, during which period I fainted four times. After he had finished he laid aside the instrument, saying: "My dear child, I have done all in my power, we must leave the rest to God." He also said: "I had borne up wonderfully, and would make a good soldier." Uncle was much affected. I was placed in a dark room to remain until the bandage over my eyes could be removed. "When the time had expired, I found to my great joy I could see distinctly. How unutterable was my delight at this discovery; but I was doomed to disappointment. As my eyes healed, vision departed again; and the world, the faces of those I loved, was henceforth to be to me a universal blank.

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