A Noble-hearted Daughter

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter X (9) | Start of Chapter

The evening introduced me to a family, where I was invited by the father to see a daughter of seventeen years of age, who had three weeks before had a leg amputated. She was sitting upon the bed, and looked to me uncommonly interesting. She was handsome, becomingly dressed, and received me with a dignified cheerfulness that would have suited maturer age and higher education. She was mistress of the tidy Cabin; her mother was dead, and she was the eldest of a pretty group of cleanly dressed children, who looked to her as their guide. When I spoke of her misfortunes, she cheerfully answered, "I must submit to what the Almighty puts upon me." I went away, and was told more fully the cause of this sad misfortune, of which no mention was made by the family.

The father had a mill of some kind, and was in the habit of taking his dinner in it. This daughter had prepared it, and carried it to the mill; but it was later than the usual hour. The father was angry at the delay, and lifted his hand to strike the faithful child. She, to avoid the blow, stepped aside; her dress caught in the wheel, and her leg was torn nearly off. This family discipline needs no comment. The cheerful girl, it is said, has never been heard to reproach the father.

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.