LIFE PICTURES AND LIFE WORK.
The pictures Louis painted were not on canvas, but living, breathing entities, and my heart rejoiced as the years rolled over us that the brush he wielded with such consummate skill was touched also by my hand; that it had been able to verify Clara’s “Emily will do it,” and that now in the days that came I heard her say “Louis and Emily are doing great good.” I think nothing is really pleasure as compared with the blessedness of benefitting others.
My experience in my earliest years had taught me to believe gold could buy all we desired, but after Clara came to us and one by one the burden of daily planning to do much with very little fell out of our lives, and the feeling came to us that we had before us a wider path, with more privileges than we had ever before known, I found the truth under it all, that the want of a dollar is not the greatest one in life, neither the work and struggle “to make both ends meet,” as we said, the hardest to enforce.
It was good to know my parents were now free from petty anxieties, that no unsettled bills hung over my father’s head like threatening clouds, and that my mother could, if she would, take more time; to herself. Indeed she was forced to be less busy with hard work, for Aunt Hildy worked with power and reigned supreme here, and I helped her in every way. It was the help that came in these ways, I firmly believed, that saved mother’s life and kept her with us. This was a great comfort, but none of us could say our desires ended here.
No, as soon as the vexed question of how to live had settled itself, then within our minds rose the great need of enlarged understanding. Millions of dollars could not have rendered me happy when my mind was clouded, and now it seemed to me, while strength lasted, no work, however hard it might be, could deprive me of the happiness and love that filled my heart. I loved to read and think, and I loved to work also.
Sometimes when my hands were filled with work and I could not stop to write, beautiful couplets would come to me, and after a time stanzas which I thought enough of to copy. In this way I “wrote myself down,” as Louis termed it, and occasionally he handed me a paper with my verses printed, saying always:
“Another piece of my Emily.”
May, 1853, brought Southern Mary and her husband to us. We met them with our own carriage, and within her arms there nestled a dainty parcel called “our baby,” of whose coming we had not been apprised. What a beautiful picture she was, this little lady, nine months old, the perfect image of her mother, with little flaxen rings that covered her head like a crown. I heeded not the introduction to her father, but, reaching my hands to her, said:
“Let me have her, Mary, let me take her. I cannot wait a minute.”
Louis gently reminded me that Mr. Waterman was speaking to me, and I apologized hastily, as I gathered the blossom to my heart, where she sat just as quiet as a kitten all the way home. Clara was delighted with the “little bud,” as she called her.