The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 929 pages of information about The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss.

“Oh, go bring me news from my poor dying baby!” I almost screamed, as she approached me.  “And see, here are her grave-clothes.”  “Oh, Lizzy, have you gone crazy?” cried she, with a fresh burst of tears.  I besought her to go, told her how my promise bound me, made her listen to those terrible sounds which two doors could not shut out.  As she left the room she met Dr. B. and they went to the nursery together.  She soon came back, quiet and composed, but very sorrowful.  “Yes, she is dying,” said she, “the doctor says so; she will not live an hour.” ...  At last we heard the sound of George’s key.  Louise ran to call him.  I crawled once more to the nursery, and snatched my baby in fierce triumph from the nurse.  At least once I would hold my child, and nobody should prevent me.  George, pale as death, baptized her as I held her in my trembling arms; there were a few more of those terrible, never-to-be-forgotten sounds, and at seven o’clock we were once more left with only one child.  A short, sharp conflict, and our baby was gone.

Dr. B. came in later and said the whole thing was to him like a thunderclap—­as it was to her poor father.  To me it followed closely on the presentiment that in some measure prepared me for it.  Here I sit with empty hands.  I have had the little coffin in my arms, but my baby’s face could not be seen, so rudely had death marred it.  Empty hands, empty hands, a worn-out, exhausted body, and unutterable longings to flee from a world that has had for me so many sharp experiences.  God help me, my baby, my baby!  God help me, my little lost Eddy!

But although the death of these two children tore with anguish the mother’s heart, she made no show of grief, and to the eye of the world her life soon appeared to move on as aforetime.  Never again, however, was it exactly the same life.  She had entered into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, and the new experience wrought a great change in her whole being.

A part of the summer and the early autumn of 1852 were passed among kind friends at Newport, in Portland, and at the Ocean House on Cape Elizabeth.  She returned much refreshed, and gave herself up cheerfully to her accustomed duties.  But a cloud rested still upon her home, and at times the old grief came back again with renewed poignancy.  Here are a few lines expressive of her feelings.  They were written in pencil on a little scrap of paper: 

  MY NURSERY. 1852.

  I thought that prattling boys and girls
  Would fill this empty room;
  That my rich heart would gather flowers
  From childhood’s opening bloom.

  One child and two green graves are mine,
  This is God’s gift to me;
  A bleeding, fainting, broken heart—­
  This is my gift to Thee.

* * * * *

III.

Summer at White Lake.  Sudden Death of her Cousin, Miss Shipman.  Quarantined. Little Susy’s Six Birthdays. How she wrote it. The Flower of the Family. Her Motive in writing it.  Letter of Sympathy to a bereaved Mother.  A Summer at the Seaside. Henry and Bessie.

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The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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