I FIND LIFE.
Those soft pink circles which fell upon my face and hands, caught in my hair, danced around my feet, and frolicked over the billowy waves of bright, green grass—did I know they were apple blossoms? Did I know it was an apple tree through which I looked up to the blue sky, over which white clouds scudded away toward the great hills? Had I slept and been awakened by the wind to find myself in the world?
It is probable that I had for some time been familiar with that tree, and all my surroundings, for I had been breathing two and a half years, and had made some progress in the art of reading and sewing, saying catechism and prayers. I knew the gray kitten which walked away; knew that the girl who brought it back and reproved me for not holding it was Adaline, my nurse; knew that the young lady who stood near was cousin Sarah Alexander, and that the girl to whom she gave directions about putting bread into a brick oven was Big Jane; that I was Little Jane, and that the white house across the common was Squire Horner’s.
There was no surprise in anything save the loveliness of blossom and tree; of the grass beneath and the sky above; and this first indelible imprint on my memory seems to have found this inner something I call me, as capable of reasoning as it has ever been.
While I sat and wondered, father came, took me in his loving arms and carried me to mother’s room, where she lay in a tent-bed, with blue foliage and blue birds outlined on the white ground of the curtains, like the apple-boughs on the blue and white sky. The cover was turned down, and I was permitted to kiss a baby-sister, and warned to be good, lest Mrs. Dampster, who had brought the baby, should come and take it away. This autocrat was pointed out, as she sat in a gray dress, white ’kerchief and cap, and no other potentate has ever inspired me with such reverential awe.
My second memory is of a “great awakening” to a sense of sin, and of my lost and undone condition. On a warm summer day, while walking alone on the common which lay between home and Squire Horner’s house, I was struck motionless by the thought that I had forgotten God. It seemed probable, considering the total depravity of my nature, that I had been thinking bad thoughts, and these I labored to recall, that I might repent and plead with Divine mercy for forgiveness. But alas! I could remember nothing save the crowning crime—forgetfulness of God.
I seemed to stand outside, and see myself a mere mite, in a pink sun-bonnet and white bib, the very chief of sinners, for the probability was I had been thinking of that bonnet and bib. It was quite certain that God knew my sin; and ah, the crushing horror that I could, by no possibility conceal aught from the All-seeing Eye, while it was equally impossible to win its approval. The Divine Law was so perfect that I could not hope to meet its requirements—the Divine Law-giver so alert that no sin could escape detection.