Through the Eyes of an Antique Doll - 1842

Antique Doll

The first years of my life were passed in a toy-shop, wholly, enveloped in paper, with the exception of my curly flaxen head. Long wearisome years too, I am sure they were. At the return of Christmas and New Years' days, my heart would beat high with hope that some little customer might take a fancy to me. As they came in in troops on these days, I scrutinized their faces very eagerly, to read what was passing in their minds, and if a stray glance was directed toward me, I tried to look as fascinating as possible. At last a very smiling young matron came in, and enquired for a doll of my complexion.  My heart was in my mouth, as my master approached the shelf where I stood, and handed me to her. Taking me in her hand, she surveyed me intently from head to foot, as if to discover a blemish. But fault there was none. So paying the price of my freedom, she carefully placed me within an immense muff, and proceeded on her way.

 

After what appeared to me a very, long journey, we at length reached her house. Upon entering, the sound of happy voices reached my ears. I was soon drawn from my hiding place, and held at arms length by the loveliest little girl I had ever seen—her eyes blue as the sky above, masses of curling auburn locks around her temples — a mouth expressive of the most perfect sweetness and good nature — who can say I had not a sweet little mistress. But I soon found there was another to share in her caresses; a younger sister of about two years made her appearance in the parlor, and with the graceful gestures and broken lisping of infancy testified the delight afforded her. Beautiful as this little stranger was to my eyes, I began to fear that it might not be so pleasant to have two mistresses, but the experience of a day convinced me that the Golden Rule was not unknown to my little friends. Blest with the best of parents, angry words were seldom if ever heard, and my life bade fair to pass like a fairy dream. Never had a doll such a gorgeous wardrobe — robes of every rainbow hue, a baby house completely furnished with the tiniest of chairs and tables, love and admiration meeting me at every step, what more could I want.

 

One lovely spring morning, they took us into the country for a ride. The little ones were gay with delight. Not a flower blossomed unnoticed beneath their feet — not a bird on the wing that called not forth expressions of rapturous delight.  After a day spent in riding and rambling about, their parents as happy as themselves, they started for home, garlanded with flowers. Soon their little fair heads were bowed in slumber, and I lay listening to the outpouring of the mother's affection, as she gazed upon their innocent faces.  It was late when they arrived home, and I was carefully laid away by the mother in my appropriate place.

Morning dawned, and I lay watching for the sound of their little pattering feet, till I was weary with hope deferred. Strange voices that day saluted my ears—and I had a dismal foreboding of evil. Toward evening of the next day I heard the father's voice say, as if in conversation, "Pray God to spare my children!"  I listened again, and learned that they were both wasting away with that terrific disease the scarlet fever.

Who can tell my anxiety as I lay there from hour to hour, dreading to hear the worst. But day after day passed by, and I was still ignorant of their fate. An unnatural stillness seemed to pervade the whole house, and I grew sick at heart with my loneliness. At length someone entered the room with a light step and approached the drawer where I lay. I looked up and beheld the mother clad in robes of mourning. At sight of me she covered her face with her hands, burst into a flood of tears, and saying, "My babes! My poor babes! I shall go to them; but they shall not return to me." She bowed her head in uncontrollable agony.

 

Sorrowful as this visit was, I wished for a repetition; but in vain.  I did not see her face again till the end of two years, when she again approached, and taking me in her hand showed me to a little infant she held in her arms.  I gazed eagerly in its face as its tiny hands embraced me, for something to remind me of the dead. Nor was I disappointed. There was the same deep blue eyes with their long lashes; the same sweetness of expression I had so often remarked in them. I saw the mother smile sadly, and with eyes swimming in tears, clasp the child closer to her breast, as if a voice whispered in her ear, “This too is mortal! Love it if thou wilt; but love thy God more!" [From "The Youths Companion," 1842]