Society at Amherst - Folder Two - Page 14

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within and without, began to tell upon my nerves before midnight. My patient was
comfortably convalescent so that I was not braced by anxiety for her case. I will
own I was habitually called a "Fraid cat" by my own family. Who sharply chid
me, "for my good" doubtless, after the Puritan recipie [sic], urging -- "What are you afraid
of?" -- To which, in disdain, I shot back, as any mystic, "O I dont know! If I did I
would not care!"

Such being my temperament, I was chilled to the marrow to find
I must go down to the kitchen for 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 furnished with a narrow width of striped carpeting,
the stairs being painted in wild grey scrawls and the walls papered in landscape
designs and with strange animals, so that the shadows cast by my half dying lamp dis-
torted everything frightfully. I somehow lived through this, and reached my 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 quite masculine head with large solemn feat-
ures, and all unsoftened 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 every emotion when she spoke of her
possible demise. As I heard her say --- "My dear girl, the habiliaments of the grave
assume an aspect of terror to me" -- I rallied, out of sheer girlish pity, and talked
glibly of the joys and certainty of heaven, and her own personal crown; quoting the
scriptures to the point, until I was so fascinated with my theme, I felt ready to
fly away to the better world myself! When morning had come, and my patient had
fallen into a gentle sleep, I softly made my escape out into the dawn. What a sight
was mine for a life time! Not a person, not a sound was abroad. The sun was not yet
visible, but the whole circuit of Pelham hills was suffused with a deep wine color
hardly transparent, yet hardly a mist. I forgot sick old women and every bogy [sic], -- even
the heaven