Society at Amherst - Folder Two - Page 15

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I had conjured up, for a [?] -- and just adored! Saying over to myself Mrs Browning's lines
from Sunrise at Sea,
                                                 "I oft had seen the dawn light run like red wine
                                                                                    through the hills"
Only once more I watched and was so scared I withdren [sic] from the ministering
angels of that day, forever. It was a dreary setting, that last night of watch-
ing. A large old fashioned kitchen with an enormous fireplace, and two small
bed rooms opening off, was my arena. My charge was a very old woman slowly re-
covering from a long illness, whom I had never seen before, who was comfortably
fixed in one of the bed rooms. If one wants to make a sensitive computation of
time, let him try my position only, from eight to twelve on a still Summer night
in the country fifty years ago, -- when all human life gradually withdraws, and
dies utterly away, and the tricks of darkness begin their antics. The steady
talk of the [?] clock of time and eternity, -- the wild scramble of the rats in the
X wall, -- the cracking and snapping of thee old house itself, the soft scurry in the
grass outside the open window, of things I could not name but worse did imag-
ine. And, in between, such stillness! Suddenly a series of curdling shrieks
pierced the darkness and filled the house. It was murder of course, and frozen
with terror I stiffened. But the sick woman faintly whispered -- "It is my daugh-
ter. She is subject to nightmare. You must wake her quickly". -- There was only
a thin partition between me and those hellish yells. I could not do it --- but
I must! My reputation as a watcher was at stake. Shaking with fright, I grasped
the iron candlestick, the tallow dripping over my fingers, -- and fled, to clutch
the poor victim, who with wide staring eyes was fast in the grip of her horror.
She blessed me for delivering her, -- but alas! nobody saved me from the most
awful night of my life! I never watched again. What a far day from then to
this present day, when men, women and children are at cards and
dancingand all manner of monstrous duties [?] to pro-