Society at Amherst, Folder 3: Watching the Sick - 1

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11.

Watching with the sick as I look back upon it, was considered too natural a duty to even

speak of, much less question as a suitable dis?ipation?diversion. Young and old took the place of night watchers in all
emergencies.. Quite early in life I showed a knack with the sick, and tried my powers
somehat [sic] enthusiastically. A night of length and stillness, passed in the sick room
of Mrs Moore, the widow of the first President of the college, is cut upon my memory
like a steel engraving. She lived in what came to be known later as the Bently house
but then the President's house standing where now the Alpha Huse [sic] displays its lawn --. In the manner of the time, four square rooms and a wide
long hall unwarmed and uncarpeted was the plan of it. As my vigil began at eight
o-clock and the "hired girl" was entirely banished at that early hour, the solitude
of that lonely May night, within and without, began to tell on my nerves before mid-
night. My patient was comfortably convalescing so that I was not braced by anxiety
for her case. I will own I was called, "a fraid cat" by g my own family! Who sharply
chid my "for my good, -- doubt as the Puritan recipe, -- urging, "what are you afraid of?. To which
in disdain, I shot back like any mystic -- "O I dont know! If I did I would nt care!"
Such being my temperament, I was chilled to the marrow to find I must go down to the
kitchen for hot broth for my patient. With a sickly oil lamp in my hand, I made my
journey down the long black hall and stairway, which, together with the lower halls were
carpeted -- furnished with a narrow width of striped carpeting, the stairs being painted
in wild grey scrawls and the walls papered in landscape design and strange animals
so that the shadows cast by my half dying lamp ditorted [sic] everything frightfully. I
somehow lived through this, and reached the sick woman's bed with the broth. As
she sat propped up in bed to take it, her shadow on the wall would have entranced an
impressionist's brush, -- out-mastered Hogarth! A much beruffled night cap set off a
a quite masculine head with large solemn features and all unsoftened to by any least
tendency toward French lingerie. A narrow waspish figure, bent and cracked, -- she did not
to my sixteen-year-old-soul radiate any atmosphere that I loved. But I softened in
my every feeling, when she spoke of her possible demise. As I heard her say -- "My dear
girl, the habiliaments of of [sic] the graye [sic] assume an aspect of terror to me" -- I rallied out
of sheer girlish pity and talked glibly of the joys of and certainty of heaven