Abby's journal

 

 

December 18, 2017

.

Today, we are going to bring back my Christmas Story, and let it run, here, until Christmas Day. I hope some of you will be picking up your present!

Steve is running late this morning, having incorporated, into his book, one of his early pieces, written when Mathew was only 17 years old for the "New-England Galaxy." It had significant information about Mathew's history, which Steve was likely to overlook unless I pressed him about it, so I kept giving him the impression that he really, really needed to examine it. It shows, first of all, that he was working for the editor's other paper, the "Courier," there in Boston, and that he was living there. It also has that editor calling him a young genius--which he was. Further, it shows that already, he was on the horns of a dilemma--whether to write unpopular truth, or to temper it so as to get published. And, it makes a reference to him having a sweetie--could it have been me, that early? (I'll never tell).

Because it is starting to look like the memories (visiting a lighthouse, rowing on a lake, and going on a picnic) that I prompted for Steve, years ago, may have been memories of this period, when I was only 12, and he, 16...

This story of Christmas was something I wrote before Mathew and I collaborated on what Charles Dickens would later turn into "A Christmas Carol." You can see that I bring in the occult; but that I explain it away at the end. This was necessary to prevent public censure, and also to get it published, at all. Mathew published this for me about nine years after I passed in 1841. The drawings were added by an artist at the time of publication. Later, he got this story published in a little booklet--the very last edition, as a miniature, of the Boston newspaper, the "Carpet-Bag."

This is not the only story I wrote which has the main character running away to sea as a boy. Steve has concluded, from this and from other clues in Mathew's own stories, that he must, in fact, have actually run away to sea at about age 14 or 15. Thus, he would be working and living in Boston at age 16, after having returned. The instigating argument appears to have been that Mathew wanted to go to the local college along with his older brother, and was prevented (because they needed at least one son to work the farm, and his brother was considered the "man of letters"). So Mathew struck out on his own, creating a career in journalism, and obtaining his education privately. This is why I was tutoring him (and, from my perspective, because I was in training to be a teacher, as a compromise to avoid being married off to one of my father's recommended suitors, or to being sent away to a young ladies' boarding school--both of which prospects terrified me!). This is what Steve has gradually gleaned from his studies, and I am not, now, giving him any contrary impressions (which is all he has to go on, usually, from me, as we write these entries, together).

I hope you enjoy my story (or enjoy it again, if you read it last year). I wrote very literally, meaning, I didn't change very much from real life--not as much as Mathew did--because I had no thought of ever publishing my stories. They were for myself, family and friends. Did I have friends, other than Mathew? I was isolated, because I was different--either envied, hated or feared. Once, Mathew felt prompted by me to buy three old spoons, from our native town of Haverhill, Mass. Steve felt, through thought-burst communication, that I had once used one of them. How? My mother visited a friend, upon the occasion of her daughter's eighth birthday, and we had cake. Cake, at that time, especially for children, was always eaten with a spoon (the forks of that day were truly terrifying, and one would never let a child use them). I, myself (as I told Steve), used one of these spoons. But the friendship--which I had high hopes for--was short-lived, because my mother, being quite liberal in her thinking, offended the lady. So I never got to be friends with her daughter, though I think she was amenable.

All Steve's imagination? He has the three spoons sitting on a shelf above where he is now sitting at his computer. This is the maddening thing, for him--he desperately wants something I touched, and I would fain give it to him--but it is not so easy to give him something I can prove I touched, you see. I have given him a song-book which I may have played from; I have given him that spoon, which, if our communication is accurate, I may have eaten with. And now, I gave him a book of the fables with which I used to teach him French, and which he and I translated, together--and which he then had his friend, Elizur Wright, publish under Wright's name, the year after I died. But I can't prove any of these things to him.

Rest assured I am trying. I always try to fulfill Steve's innocent whims, in love. This one, I have told him, may take awhile--and he must be satisfied with these "maybes" until I can obtain, for him, the one with definite proof. He can't get from me, now, whether there is such a thing still in existence--but he is not feeling that there isn't, so perhaps that is a good indication ;-).

Merry Christmas to you all, and remember that your loved one, if he or she has passed over, is very much with you during this time.

Love to each and all,
Abby