Friday, August 25, 2006

Eva's Death -- From Uncle Tom's Cabin

Eva, after this, declined rapidly; there was no more any doubt of the event; the fondest hope could not be blinded. Her beautiful room was avowedly a sickroom, and Miss Ophelia, day and night, performed the duties of a nurse, and never did her friends appreciate her value more than in that capacity. With so well trained a hand and eye, such perfect adroitness and practice in every art which could promote neatness and comfort and keep out of sight every disagreeable incident of sickness – with such a perfect sense of time, such a clear, untroubled head, such exact accuracy in remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors – she was everything to St. Clare. They who had shrugged their shoulders at the little peculiarities and setnesses --- so unlike the careless freedom of Southern manners – acknowledged that now she was the exact person that was wanted.
Uncle Tom was much in Eva’s room. The child suffered much from nervous restlessness, and it was a relief to her to be carried; and it was Tom’s greatest delight to carry her little frail form in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now out into the veranda; and when the fresh sea-breezes blew from the lake – and the child felt freshest in the morning – he would sometimes walk with her under the orange-trees in the garden, or sitting down in some of their old seat, sing to her their favorite old hymns.
Her father often did the same thing; but his frame was slighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him –
“Oh, papa, let Tom take me. Poor fellow! It pleases him; and you know it’s all he can do for me now, and he wants to do something!”
“So do I, Eva!” said her father.
“Well, papa, you can do everything, and are everything to me. You read to me –
you sit up nights; and Tom has only this one thing, and his singing; and I know, too, he does it easier than you can. He carries me so strong!”
Harriet Beecher Stowe -- Sister to Henry Ward Beecher, Father Lyman Beecher.

This piece touches me at so many levels. Of course with six granddaughters, I sense the pathos and imagine the grief of the parents. But the character that makes me well up is Tom.
I picture him and his limitations, but what he can do, he does with such love. "He carries me so strong." That line just strikes such a chord in me. I had an Uncle that also had many limitations, but he too, 'carried me strong'.

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