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A Mighty Change: Chapter Six

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When about twelve years of age I was sent to a common school. I tried as hard as I could to learn, but it was a dry, tedious process, as my teacher was not qualified to instruct the dumb, and I gave it up in despair; feeling, oh how bitterly, that I was not like the rest and could never hope to acquire much knowledge.

I had an uncle who wished to take me to the Deaf and Dumb Asylum in New York; but my father’s health was fast failing, and as I am an only child, my mother could not endure the thought of separation and that project was also relinquished. And I, much as I longed for a more enlarged and cultivated sphere, much as I hungered and thirsted for a high knowledge of the world in which I lived, was brought up wild and wayward, with no definite understanding of my relation to the world, or the duties required of me. . . .

About this time it became evident to all—all but me—that my father’s days on earth were numbered. I had never seen a person die, and death to me was a subject upon which I had never thought. To die! what was it? I saw the change upon his face. I saw the last dying glance of his eyes as the film gathered o’er them. I felt the last grasp of his icy fingers—then he lay cold and motionless. It was a sight so terrible that I clung frightened to my mother. And yet I could not believe that I must give him up. I believed that change only temporary. It seemed to me that he would rise up again, and speak to us, and live as before. But long hours and days passed away and the change came not. Then they placed his rigid body in a long box, and screwed the lid down tightly, and buried him up in the earth.

What did it all mean?. . . They tried to explain to me that some part of him was still alive and gone to God. But I shook my head. No, God lives up in the sky, and I saw him buried in the ground, I said. . . . That was my first sorrow. But after a little while my dearest friend, Polly Ann, sickened and died also. She was taken away and buried, and I became so hopeless and disconsolate that I hardly cared to live myself. I was sullen, gloomy and resentful. I refused to look upon the lovely face of nature and take heart for the future. All things had ceased to charm me—“what are they all good for if we must die and leave them?” I thought. It seemed to me that if God could do as he pleased with all the world, he could not be good to deprive the poor little mute of some of her dearest friends, rendering her life so dark and cheerless. . . .

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