The following is the letter from England:
To The Author of Little Suzy,
I feel as if I had a perfect right to call you “My dear friend,” so much have I thought of you this last year and a half. Bear with me while I tell you why. A year ago last Christmas we were a large family–father, mother, and eight children, of whom I, who address you, am the eldest.
The youngest was of course the pet, our bright little darling, rather more than five. That Christmas morning, of course, there were gifts for all; and among the treasures in the smallest stocking was a copy of “Little Susy’s Six Teachers,” for which I desire to thank you now. Many times I have tried to do so, but I could not; the trouble which came upon us was too great and awful in its suddenness. Little Pearl, so first called in the days of a fragile babyhood–Dora Margaret was her real name–taught herself to read from her “Little Susy,” during the first fortnight she had it. And she would sit for hours, literally, amusing and interesting herself by it. She talked constantly of the Six Teachers, and a word about them was enough to quell any rising naughtiness. “Pearlie, what would Mr. Ought say?” or “Don’t grieve Mrs. Love,” was always sufficient. Do you know what it is to have one the youngest in a large family? My darling was seventeen years younger than I. I left school when she was born to take the oversight of the nursery, which dear mamma’s illness and always delicate health prevented her from doing. I had nursed her in her illnesses, dressed her, made the little frocks–now laid so sadly by–and to all the rest of us she had been more like a child than a sister. Friends used to say, “It is a wonder that child is not spoiled”; but they could never say she was. Merry, full of life and fun she always was, quick and intelligent, full of droll sayings which recur to us now with such a pain. From Christmas to the end of February we often remarked to one another how good that child was! laughing and playing from morning to night, yet never unruly or wild. That February we had illness in the house. Jessie, the next youngest, had diphtheria, but she recovered, and we trusted all danger was passed, when one Monday evening–the last in the month–our darling seemed ill. The next day we recognized the symptoms we had seen in Jessie, and the doctor was called in. Tuesday and Wednesday he came and gave no hint of danger, but on Wednesday night we perceived a change and on Thursday came the sentence: No hope. Oh friend, dear friend! How can I tell you of the long hours when we could not help our darling–of the dark night when, forbidden to go in the room from the malignity of the case, we went to bed to coax mamma to do so–of the grey February dawn when there came the words, “Our darling is quite well now”–quite well, forever taken from the evil to come.
The Sunday night before, she came into the parlor with “Susy” under her arm and petitioned for some one to read the “Teachers’ meeting.” “Why, you read it twice this afternoon,” said one. “Yes, I know–but it’s so nice,” was the reply. “Pearlie will be six in September,” said the gentle mother; “we must have a Teachers’ meeting for her, I think.” “But perhaps I sha’n’t ever be six,” said the little one. “Oh Pearlie, why do you say so?” “Well, people don’t all be six, you know,” affirmed our darling with solemn eyes and two dimples in the rosy cheeks, that were hid forever from us before the next Sabbath day.
On the Wednesday we borrowed from a little friend the other books of the series, thinking they might afford some amusement for the weary hours of illness, and Annie, my next sister, read four of the birthdays to her and then wished to stop, fearing she might be too fatigued. “No, read one more,” was the request, and “That will do–I’m five, read the last to-morrow,” she said, when it was complied with. Ah me! with how many tears we took up that book again. That Wednesday she sat up in bed, a glass of medicine in her hand. “Mamma,” she said, “Miss Joy has gone quite away and only left Mr. Pain. She can’t come back till my throat is well.” “But Mrs. Love is here, is she not?” “Oh, yes,” and the dear heavy eyes turned from one to another. In the night, when she lay dying, came intervals of consciousness; in one of these she took her handkerchief and gave it to papa, who watched by her, asking him to wet it and put it on her head. When he told us, we recollected the incident when Susy in the favorite book was ill. And can you understand how our hearts felt very tender toward you and we said you must be thanked. I should weary you if I told you all the incidents that presented themselves of how sweet and good she was in her illness; how in the agony of those last hours, when no fear of infection could restrain the passionate kisses papa was showering on her, the dear voice said with a stop and an effort between each word, “Don’t kiss me on my mouth, papa; you may catch it”; how everything she asked for was prefaced by “please,” how self was always last in her thoughts. “I’m keeping you awake, you darling.” “Don’t stand there–you’ll be so tired–sit down or go down-stairs, if you like.”
I will send you a photograph of little Pearlie; it is the best we have, but was taken when she was only two years old. She was very small for her age and had been very delicate until the last year of her life.
In writing thus to thank you I am not only doing an act of justice to yourself, but fulfilling wishes now rendered binding. Often and often my dear mamma said, “How I wish we knew the lady who wrote Little Susy!” Her health, always delicate, never recovered from the shock of Pearlie’s death, and suddenly, on the morning of the first of May, the Angel of Death darkened our dwelling with the shadow of his wings. Not long did he linger–only two hours–and our mother had left us. She was with her treasure and the Saviour, who said so lovingly on earth, “Come unto Me.” But words can not express such trouble as that. We have not realized it yet. Forgive me if my letter is abrupt and confused. I have only desired to tell you simply the simple tale–if by any chance it should make you thank God more earnestly for the great gift He has given you–a holy gift indeed; for can you think the lessons from “Susy,” so useful and so loved on earth, could be suddenly forgotten when the glories of heavens opened on our darling’s view? I can not myself. I think, perhaps, our Father’s home may be more like our human ones, where His love reigns, than our wild hearts allow themselves to imagine; and I think the two, on whose behalf I thank you now, may one day know you and thank you themselves.
Dear “Aunt Susan,” believe me to be, your unknown yet grateful friend,
Lizzie Wraith L—
Mrs. Prentiss at once answered this letter, and not long after received another from Miss L—-, dated January 9, 1870, breathing the same grateful feeling and full of interesting details. The following is an extract from it:
I was so surprised, dear unknown friend, to receive your kind letter so soon. Indeed, I hardly expected a reply at all. When I wrote to you, I did not know that I was addressing a daughter of the “Edward Payson” whose name is fragrant even on this side of the Atlantic. Had I known it I think I should not have ventured to write–so I am glad I did not. If you should be able to write again, and have a carte-de-visite to spare, may I beg it, that I may form some idea of the friend, “old enough to be my mother”? Are you little and slight, like my real mother, I wonder, or stately and tall? I will send you a photograph of the monument which the ladies of papa’s church and congregation have erected to dear mamma, in our beautiful cemetery, where the snowdrops will be already peeping, and where roses bloom for ten months out of the twelve.