A Mighty Change: Chapter Six
After my father’s death, my mother and myself were left quite alone and found it hard to get along on the farm. So we sold it, and after paying all the debts contracted during his long sickness, there was little left for ourselves, and we moved to Jackson, where we endeavored to obtain sewing or any kind of work that would enable us to get an honest living. We lived in that city three years and during that time found several good, true friends who did all they could to aid us. Here I formed the acquaintance of a young lady also deaf and dumb, who had been educated at an Asylum in Ohio. She was the first mute I ever saw and the mysterious ties of sympathy immediately established a friendly feeling between us. I was surprised and delighted at her superior attainments.
She could write a beautiful hand on her slate to those who knew not the use of signs, and in a little while taught me the sign language by which we conversed very easily together. We enjoyed many pleasant seasons together, and I shall always count among my dearest friends, Miss Almena Knight, the name of this young lady. . . .
After I saw Miss Knight I grew very anxious to become a pupil at Flint. Some friends who felt interested in my welfare, obtained my mother’s consent and assisted me to go. Thanks for the instructions received of Miss Knight, I succeeded in making myself understood, and from being an entire stranger, soon became as a member of one large family. My instructors found me an “apt scholar,” and when I had been there ten weeks, I sent home a written article of my own composition. My friends were surprised and pleased at the rapid progress I had made.
Elsie Fairbairn was my especial friend among the pupils; we became warmly attached and seldom separated. The parents of friend “Eppy,” as I called her, were also true friends to me, and did many things to show their kindness to myself and mother. . . .
During my stay at Flint I was taken with inflammation in my eyes, causing me great suffering and destroying the sight of one. My health became poor, and I was obliged to withdraw from the school. I resigned my place with much regret, as I still felt greatly deficient in useful knowledge. The loss of my sight is a great loss to me, still I am thankful for the blessings I do enjoy; for though poor and with slender means of support, I have laid up my treasures in Heaven; looking forward to that glorious time when the mute tongue shall burst forth in strains of love and praise to its Creator in a world of peace and joy. When the lame can walk, the blind shall see, the deaf hear, and the dumb shall speak. All will be right there—no aching heart, no saddened countenance. What a comfort it is for me to believe thus!