At the age of nine years an accident happened to me which was to affect my whole life. In company with my twin sister, and one of our schoolmates, I was crossing a common in the city of Portland, Maine, when a girl about thirteen years old followed us, threatening to strike us. My parents had taught me never to contend with any one, but if we were in danger of being injured, to hasten away and return home. We were doing this, running towards home, but the girl was following us with a stone in her hand. I turned to see how far she was behind me, and as I turned, the stone hit me on my nose. I fell senseless. When I revived, I found myself in a merchant's store, the blood streaming from my nose, my garments covered with blood, and a large stream of blood on the floor.
A kind stranger offered to take me home in his carriage. I knew not how weak I was, and told him I should greatly soil his carriage with
blood, and that I could walk home. Those present were not aware that I was so seriously injured. I had walked but a few rods when I grew dizzy and faint. My twin sister and my schoolmate carried me home. I have no recollection of anything for some time after the accident. My mother says that I noticed nothing, but lay in a stupid state for three weeks. No one thought I would live except my mother. For some reason she felt that I would not die. A kind neighbor, who had interested herself much in my behalf, at one time thought me to be dying, and wished to purchase a robe for me. Mother said to her, "Not yet;" for something told her that I would not die.
As I aroused to consciousness, it seemed to me that I had been asleep. I was not aware of the accident, and knew not the cause of my sickness. Friends often visited my parents, and looked upon me with pity, and advised them to prosecute the parents of the child who had, as they said, ruined me. But mother was for peace. She said that if it could bring me back health and natural looks again, then there would be something gained, but as it was, she would only make herself enemies by following their advice.
As I began to gain a little strength, my curiosity was aroused by hearing those who came to see me, say, "What a pity! I should not know her," &c. I asked for a looking-glass,
and as I looked into it, I was shocked at the change in my appearance. Every feature of my face seemed changed. The sight was more than I could bear. The bone of my nose proved to be broken. The idea of carrying my misfortune through life was insupportable. I could see no pleasure in my life. I did not wish to live, and I dared not die, for I was not prepared.
It was a long time before I gained much strength. Physicians thought that a silver wire could be put in my nose to hold it in shape, but said that it would be of little use; that I had lost so much blood my recovery was doubtful; that if I should get better, I could not live long. I was reduced almost to a skeleton.
At this time I began to pray to the Lord to prepare me to die. When christian friends visited the family, they would ask my mother if she had talked with me about dying. This I overheard which aroused me. I desired to be a christian, and prayed for the forgiveness of my sins as well as I could, and felt peace of mind. Especially at one time, I loved every one, and felt an interest that all should have their sins forgiven and love Jesus.
I well remember one night in winter when the snow was upon the ground, the heavens were lighted up, the sky looked red and angry, and seemed to open and shut. The snow looked like blood. The neighbors were much frightened. Mother took me out of bed in her arms,
and carried me to the window. I was happy. I thought Jesus was coming, and I longed to see him. My heart was full. I clapped my hands for joy, and thought my sufferings were ended. But I was disappointed. The next morning the sun arose as usual, and the singular appearance of the heavens had disappeared.
It was some time before I became strong. As I was able to unite in play with my young friends, I was forced to learn this bitter lesson, that looks make a difference in the feelings of many. At the time of my misfortune my father was absent in Georgia. When he returned, he spoke to my brother and sisters, and inquired for me. I was pointed out by my mother; but my father did not know me. It was hard to make him believe that I was his Ellen. This cut me to the heart; yet I tried to put on an appearance of cheerfulness, when my heart ached. Many times I was made to deeply feel my misfortune. With wounded pride, mortified at myself, I have found a lonely spot to think over the trials I was doomed to bear daily. My life was often miserable, for my feelings were keenly sensitive. I could not, like my twin sister, weep out my feelings. My heart seemed so heavy, and ached as though it would break, yet I could not shed a tear. I often thought that if I could weep out my feelings, then I should find relief. Others would pity and sympathize with me, and that weight,
like a stone upon my heart, would be gone How vain and empty the pleasures of earth looked to me. How changeable the friendship of my young companions. A pretty face, dress, or good looks, are thought much of. But let misfortune take some of these away, and the friendship is broken.
But I began to turn to my Saviour where I found comfort. I sought the Lord earnestly, and received consolation. I believed that Jesus did love even me. For two years I could not breathe through my nose. My health was so poor that I could attend school but little. It was almost impossible for me to study, and retain what I learned.
The same girl who was the cause of my misfortune, was appointed by our teacher as a monitor to assist me in writing, and to aid me in getting my lessons. She always seemed sorry for what she had done, and I was careful not to remind her of the great injury she had done me. She was tender and patient with me, and much of her time seemed sad and thoughtful, as she saw me laboring to get an education. My hand trembled so that I made no progress in writing, and could get no further than the first examples, which are called coarse-hand. As I labored to bend my mind to my studies, the letters of my book would run together, large drops of perspiration would stand upon my brow, and I would become dizzy
and faint. I had a bad cough, which prevented me from attending school steadily. My teacher thought it would be too much for me to study, unless my health should be better, and advised me to leave school.