From girlhood to womanhood.
The old adage of a poor beginning makes a good ending, may have been true in my case; certain it is that my sorest mishaps, or those I had least strength to bear, came between my fifth and sixteenth birthdays. After this came the happy period in which I was helpmeet to my mother, and the gaining of an almost complete victory over my temper, even when teased by Hal, who at that time was developing rapidly into manhood and was growing very handsome.
I was not changed outwardly, unless my smile was more bright and frequent, as became my feelings, and my eyes, I know, shot fewer dark glances at those around me when mishaps, although less frequent, came sometimes to me. My good angel was with me oftener then, I thought, and as I often told mother, it seemed to me I had daily a two-fold growth, meaning that there was the growing consciousness of a nature pulsating as a life within my heart that seemed like a strong full tide constantly bearing me up. I scarcely understood it then, but now I know I had, as every one has, a dual nature, one side of which had never been allowed to appear above its earthly covering.
My daily trials, coming always from luckless mistakes of my own, were equal in their effect to the killing of my blossoms, for if any dared to show their heads an untimely word or deed would bring a reproach—if only in the three words, “Emily did it”—and this reproach was like the stamping of feet on violet buds, breaking, crushing and robbing them of their sweet promise. The life then must go back into the roots and a long time elapse ere they could again burst forth; so all my better nature, with its higher thoughts longing to develop, was forced down and back, and now, in the enjoyment of more favorable environment, I was beginning to realize the fruitful life which daily grew upon me, and with it came strength of mind and purpose and an imagery of thought that filled my soul to a delicious fullness.
What a power those conditions were to me! I drank joy in everything. My mother’s step was as music, and her teachings even in household affairs a blessing to my spirit. I remember how one day in September I was dishing soup for dinner, the thought—suppose that she dies—came rushing over me like a cold wave, and I screamed aloud; dropping my soup-dish and all, and frightening poor mother almost out of her senses.