“Splendor! Immensity! Eternity! Grand word! Great thing! A little definite happiness would be more to the purpose.”Madame de Gasparin.
To my father, whose life, like a perfume from beyond the Gates, penetrates every life which approaches it, the readers of this little book will owe whatever pleasant thing they may find within its pages.E. S. P. Andover, October 22, 1868.
Frontispiece, Aunt Winifred, Mary and Faith (The Gates Ajar, Illustrated Edition, Boston: Fields, Osgood & Co., 1870).
ONE WEEK; only one week to-day, this twenty-first of February.
I had been sitting here in the dark and thinking about it, till it seems so horribly long and so horribly short; it has been such a week to live through, and it is such a small part of the weeks that must be lived through, that I could think no longer, but lighted my lamp and opened my desk to find something to do.
I was tossing my paper about,— only my own: the packages in the yellow envelopes I have not been quite brave enough to open yet,— when I came across this poor little book in which I used to keep memoranda of the weather, and my lovers, when I was a school- girl. I turned the leaves, smiling to see how many blank pages were left, and took up my pen, and now I am not smiling any more.
If it had not come exactly as it did, it seems to me as if I could bear it better. They tell me that it should not have been such a shock. “Your brother had been in the army so long that you should have been prepared for anything. Everybody knows by what a hair a soldier's life is always hanging,” and a great deal more that I am afraid I have not listened to. I suppose it is all true; but that never makes it any easier.
The house feels like a prison. I walk up and down and wonder that I ever called it home. Something is the matter with the sunsets; they come and go, and I do not notice them. Something ails the voices of the children, snowballing down the street;…