Writings by Susan Dickinson

image | previous page | next page | note | other drafts | essay index | search | main index

  and her own and her onn [sic] personal crown, quoting scriptures to the point, until I
was so fascinated with my theme, I felt ready to fly away to the better world myself!
When morning had come, and my patient had fallen into a gentle sleep I softly made
my escape into the dawn. What a sight was mine for a life time! Not a person, not a
sound was abroad. The sun was not yet visible but the whole circuit of Pelham hills
was suffused with a deep wine color, hardly transparent, yet hardly a mist, -- I forgot
sick old women and every bogy [sic], -- even the heaven I had conjured up, -- and just adored! --
Saying over to my self Mri Bronning's [sic] lines from Sunrise at sea, -- "I of't had seen
the dawn light run like red wine through the hills!"

Only once more I watched and was
so scared I I [sic] withdrew from the ministering angels of that day forever. It was a
dreary setting, that last night of watching! A large old fashioned kitlhen [sic], wiht an [sic] enormous
fire place; with and two small bed rooms opening out, was my arena. My charge was a very
old woman slowly recovering; whom I had never seen before who was comfortably fixed in one of the bed rooms. If one
X wants to make a sensitive computation of time, let them only try my position, from
eight to twelve on a still Summer night in the country fifty years ago, -- when all
human life, gradually withdraws and dies utterly away and the tricks of darkness begin
their antics.. The steady talk of the old clock, -- of time and eternity! The wild
scramble racket? of the rats in the wall! Tae [sic] cracking and snapping of the old house
itself, -- the soft scramble in the grass outside the open window, -- of things I could
not name but worse did imagine! And in between such stillneis [sic]! Suddenly a series of
curdling shrieks pierced the darkness, filled the house. It was murder of course. And
frozen with terror, I stiffened. But the sick woman faitly [sic] whispered, "It is my daughter
. She is subject to nightmare. You must wake her quickly". Only a thin partition be-
tween me and those hellish yells! I could not do it, -- but I must! My reputation as a
watcher was at stake. Shaking with fright, I grasped the iron candlestick, the tallow
dripping over my hands, and clutching fingers & bled, to clutch the poor woman who with wide wide staring eyes
was fast in the grips ? of her of her horror. She blessed me for delivering her, -- but
alas! Nobody saved me from the most awful night of my life!

[written in margin:
whom shed never seen]

H bMS Am 1118.95, Box 9

image | previous page | next page | note | other drafts | essay index | search | main index

Writings by Susan Dickinson Main Page
Image reproduced by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.
Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith,
Laura Elyn Lauth, and Lara Vetter, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on January 25, 2008

Dickinson Electronic Archives