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Last Visit from Mrs. Stearns. Visits to old Friends at Newport and Rochester. Letters. Goes to Dorset. Fred and Maria and Me. Letters.
The life of a pastor’s wife is passed in the midst of mingled gladness and sorrow. While somebody is always rejoicing, somebody, too, is always sick or dying, or else weeping. How often she goes with her husband from the wedding to the funeral, or hurries with him from the funeral to the wedding. And then, perhaps, in her own family circle the same process is repeated. The year 1868 was marked for Mrs. Prentiss in an unusual degree by the sorrowful experience. The latter part of May Mrs. Stearns, then suffering from an exhausting disease, came to New York and spent several weeks in hopes of finding some relief from change of scene. But her case grew more alarming; she passed the summer at Cornwall on the Hudson in great pain and feebleness, and was then carried home to lie down on her dying bed.
To Mrs. Stearns, Newport, July 7, 1868.
We had a dreadful time getting here; I did not sleep a wink; there were 1,250 passengers on board, almost piled on each other, and such screaming of babies it would be hard to equal. There are lots of people here we know; ever so many stopped to speak to us after church. We are in the midst of a perfect world of show and glitter. But how many empty hearts drive up and down in this gay procession of wealth and fashion!
I shall think of you a good deal to-day, as setting forth on your journey and reaching your new home. I do hope you will find it refreshing to go up the river, and that your rooms will be pleasant and airy. We shall be anxious to hear all about it.
It is a constant lesson to be with Mrs. McCurdy. I think she is a true Christian in all her views of life and death. Her sweet patience, cheerfulness and contentment are a continual reproof to me. Here she is so lame that she can go nowhere—a lameness of over twenty years—restricted to the plainest food, liable to die at any moment, yet the very happiest, sunniest creature I ever saw. She says, with tears, that God has been too good to her and given her too much; that she sometimes fears He does not love her because He gives her such prosperity. I reminded her of the four lovely children she had lost. “Yes,” she says, “but how many lovely ones I have left!” She says that the long hours she has to spend alone, on account of her physical infirmities, are never lonely or sad; she sings hymns and thinks over to herself all the pleasures she has enjoyed in the past, in her husband and children and devoted servants. She goes up to bed singing, and I hear her singing while she dresses. She said, the other day, that at her funeral she hoped the only services would be prayers and hymns of praise. I think this very remarkable from one who enjoys life as she does.