Guests in Eden

hospitals to see the soldiers. So impressed was she by the boys' condition that her account of them was very moving. Previously, at home, she had been one of the two head workers in Red Cross work.

As to Madame Bianchi's friends each one can speak for her­self or himself, and yet I cannot refrain from speaking of one or two distinctive examples. I happened the other day to come upon an old letter written by my mother to me while my sister Anne was still suffering from a broken leg. In it she said: "Mattie runs in almost every day, which is a great comfort to Anne." Her interest in what a friend was doing or accomplish­ing was very marked. For instance, when my sister Anne was carrying on a private school for children, often a new comer to the town would preface her inquiries about the school by saying, "I met Madame Bianchi the other day, and she told me about your work." At the end of each school year my sis­ter had the customary closing exercises, to which the parents and other guests were invited. I do think Martha never missed one, if she was in town. She was not especially interested in children, and the program was practically the same each year, but she knew how much of Anne's life had been put into her work, and wanted to show admiration for this success.

Her interest was especially aroused in the work of her friends, along the same lines which appealed to her. I have never heard her talk about her own work, except on a rare occasion, but the accomplishment of others was a different matter. This attitude is very seldom found in writers.

As for her family, there was nothing she would not do for them. She was loyal to them while they were here, and always loyal to them in spirit thereafter. She had great admiration for her father, especially for his wit and his bearing. To Gil­bert, the little brother who died young, she had been a slave, for she adored him; but the relationship with her older brother, Edmond, was very markedly close.

My friendship with Martha did not begin until she and her mother were the only two left in her family. She once told me that the greatest help in carrying on after her father’s death

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Transcription and commentary copyright 2000 by
Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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