I did not really care for reading; I preferred sewing
as you do, but I accepted the doctor’s offer
and went to his house. His wife was very kind
and gave me a book at once, bidding me come as soon
as I had finished it and get another. I began
to read the very next Sunday, and I became so deeply
interested that I scarcely laid the book down all day,
and even during the week I took it up as often as I
could find a spare moment. It was an account
of foreign countries and nations; how they lived,
and their manners and customs. I was particularly
interested to read about how the women were treated
in different places; how in some countries they are
sold and bartered for cattle or wool or cloth, and
how they belong to their husbands just as if they
were furniture, and their husbands can treat them
just as they please, as we do cats or dogs. And
in some places, it said, a wife has to be burned when
her husband dies, because she is only a part of him
and has no value of her own after his death.
Oh! how many strange things there are in the world,
to be sure! I became hungry and thirsty for knowledge.
The doctor’s wife lent me one book after another,
and in each there was something new and wonderful.
I learned how terrible the condition of women had
been everywhere until our own Lord Jesus Christ came
into the world, and taught that one soul was as much
worth as another, all equal, man and woman, lord and
servant; that every individual must be free, one as
well as another; and that two people should be joined
together only by love, and not as a matter of ownership.
But even now-a-days there are still countries and islands
where men make nothing of killing and eating each
other, and the women are bought and sold like goods.
It is only where the influence of Christianity has
penetrated, that there is true equality of womanhood.
You can imagine the flood of new ideas that crowded
in upon me as I read, and I assure you that I was
able to forget sometimes for many days that I was a
hunchback, and when I did remember it, the thought
had lost its sting. I dwelt upon the many privations
and sufferings of others, till they seemed to outweigh
my own trouble so that it dwindled in my estimation;
and gradually I began to see the good side of my lot.
How independently I could live supporting myself;
what a wealth of interest was opened to me through
my reading, and in fact how fortunate I was, and blessed
beyond many another! Yes, Veronica, I can assure
you that I am now a happy woman, with a heart filled
with gratitude to the good God for the blessings he
has sent me. And so I say to you, my child, from
the fulness of my own experience, that you have no
right to go about looking like a thunder-cloud; you
with all the freshness and beauty of your young life!
Tell me do you owe our Lord God something or is He
in debt to you? Have you nothing to thank him
for? Others can see how much you have to look
forward to. Get yourself together, girl, and try
to give your thoughts another direction.”