Friday, August 6, 2010

Quote from A Lantern In Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

When I first heard about Bess Streeter Aldrich through Lanier's Books, I quickly went over to PaperBackSwap and ordered a copy of A Lantern in Her Hand. It is the story of Abbie Deal who moved with her husband Will to the Nebraska territory in the 1860's. In this passage her daughter is chiding her mother for the smallness of her life.

"Your life has been so narrow, mother. You ought to get out and see things."

Unwittingly, as she often did, Grace had hurt her mother's feelings. For a moment Abbie nursed her little hurt, and then said quietly, "You know, Grace, it's queer, but I don't feel narrow. I feel broad. How can I explain it to you, so you would understand? I've seen everything and I've hardly been away from the yard. I've seen the snow on the Lombardy poplars. I've seen the clouds piled upon the edge of the prairie. I've seen the ocean billows in the rise and fall of the prairie grass. I've seen history in the making... three ugly wars flare up and die down. I've sent a lover and two brothers to one, a son and son-in-laws to another, and two grandsons to the other. I've seen the feeble beginning of a raw state and the civilization that has developed there, and I've been part of the beginning of the growth.

I've married... and borne children and looked into the face of death. Is childbirth narrow, Grace? Or marriage? Or death? When you've experienced all those things, Grace, the spirit has traveled although the body has been confined. I think travel is a rare privilege and I'm glad you can have it. But not everyone who stays home is narrow and not everyone who travels is broad." (p. 198)


7 comments:

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you for this reminder. It took me a long time to get around to reading A Lantern in Her Hand, even though many people encouraged me, but when I did, it was at just the right time, and a huge blessing.

GretchenJoanna said...

I may have already asked you this, but have you read Letters of Woman Homesteader? It is a collection of actual letters written by a feisty and loving woman in the early 20th century. She is the model of a good letter writer, and her stories and attitude are so uplifting.

Go quickly and tell said...

worthy of the copy book...

thanks for sharing :-)

Dana in GA

hopeinbrazil said...

No, Gretchen, I don't think you mentioned the book of letters before. I'll keep my eyes open for it. Thanks!

JoAnna said...

Oh I love that - a lot. Seems like it would be something perfect for me to read right now. I will be on the lookout!

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing this quote, which is so very deep and true. This sounds like a book that would give one a lot to think and ponder on. I appreciate the recommendation.

bekahcubed said...

I loved reading A Lantern in Her Hand. It was a nice, quick read--but rich and worthwhile. This quote is definitely a favorite.