Effie Somers” explores the importance of Christianity to a character who literally has no other joy in life; the early Youth’s Companion often was sentimental and always emphasized religion, but rarely did it present a character whose life was this bleak.

“Effie Somers,” by W. (from The Youth’s Companion, May 30, 1850; pp. 17-18)

Winding her way through the crooked paths of a grave-yard, bordered by mounds of earth on every side, which pointed out the precise places where slept in the repose of death, those who had once lived here on earth, Effie Somers stopped on reaching the tomb which was the object of her search. This was the tomb of her mother. Years had elapsed since that parent had been called away from her, and had lain in silence beneath the spot, on which Effie stood now gazing. Effie was then but eight years of age; now she was eighteen. Yet how forcibly came to her mind, the recollections of her mother. Time had served to blot from her memory, neither her love nor teaching, and now both were recalled, amid the tears with which the place itself, so full of melancholy interest to her, caused her cheeks to be moistened. The last time that Elfie Somers looked on the sad scene, was on the occasion of her mother’s funeral. Since then, though her mind had often pictured this spot, as one most precious to her, because it contained the mouldering dust of a good parent, the only one too, whom she had ever known, yet she was unable to visit it, till now. Can we wonder then that she felt sad, when her mind reverted to former scenes and days, in connection with which the first few years of her life time had been passed? But let us revive her history, and note its sorrows, as well as her patient endurance of the latter, that we also, in the day of adversity, may be able to put our trust in the same power which sustained her and gave her happiness, amid her sorest trials.

Effie Somers was the only child of her parents. Ere she had attained one year, her father died just after immigrating from England to America. Thus in a strange land, her mother found herself alone with her tender charge. The pecuniary resources of the latter were extremely small. She removed however to the country, where she succeeded in securing a comfortable livelihood for herself and daughter, until a short time before her death, when her health began to fail, and increased expenses absorbed almost wholly her now lessened income. A few weeks saw her the tenant of a tomb, and Efie standing over it, weeping bitterly. The latter was then left entirely to the care of strangers. She had no money, but she had what is infinitely better, an education which was to last through life. This was not an education on things pertaining to this world and its greatness, its men of renown and their actions—such might indeed be prized, but it is not the one which is all essential. The education which Effie had derived from her mother, told her of a more enduring world than this, and pointed out to her the manner by which alone she might reach it. It unveiled to her a Saviour, who, it taught her, loved her and watched over her every moment of her being. It revealed to her a future home, and pointed her to that, whenever sorrow pressed most heavily, as a means of solace and of comfort. It told her to, fear no evil here, for she had a protector ever at hand, if she trusted in that protector and loved him in sincerity. It spread before her the Christian’s hope in this life, so cheering and so full of comfort. It made her realize by faith, that that hope became reality, when such an one yielded up his spirit to the God who gave it.

Such, then, was the education which was imparted, to Effie by her mother. Young as she was, her teachings were engraven already upon her mind too deeply to be effaced. When therefore that mother was taken from her, and she was left alone, she thought daily more and more on her holy admonition. These arose constantly before her, and she determined to adhere to them, come what might, through life.

Scarcely had the grave been fairly closed over the remains of the widow Somers, before Effie was domiciled in the family of a comparative stranger. It was the house of Mr. Platt that was henceforth to be her home. This person had known her moth-

p. 18

er in England, and, while the latter was wearing gradually away, in her last illness, he had promised to be a father to her child, if left to his care. He resided at the time but a few miles from the place where Mrs. Somers lived, but was on the point of moving elsewhere, to the distance of three hundred miles, and his intentions were forthwith carried into effect early on the morning after the decease of Effie’s mother. There Effie was taken at once from the place containing every association of her youthful mind, and found herself transferred to another in which she knew not a solitary individual, with the exception of the one family, with whom she was now to be connected. But very different was the treatment which she received to that which had been promised. Instead of being a father to her, Mr. Platt assumed the position at once of master. He compelled her to do the drudgery of his house-hold, not as far as she was able only, but much beyond this, so that her health became impaired, though her constitution was naturally robust. Every task imposed upon her, Effie strived to accomplish. She felt that she had fallen into cruel hands—she did not murmur, however, but rested in hope for better things, on that unseen friend to whom her thoughts had been so steadfastly directed, while her mother yet lived. From him, she received strength to bear, in patience, every burden and every insult which were cast upon her. She was for many years the inmate of Mr. Platt’s family. Her goodness of heart, her meekness and her patience exercised but little influence in subduing the unjust disposition which was manifested towards her. Mr. Platt and his family knew nothing of trials of goodness. They were selfish, exacting and tyrannical to those who were placed in their power. Controlling Effie, therefore, she experienced in her present home, no single earthly pleasure. Oh! how she sighed when she thought of the deception which had been practiced on her mother. There was not a cottage within ten miles of her former abode, the occupants of which would have bestowed upon her a like treatment. But time passed on, and as it went, the period came when Effie was to seek another home. For ten years she had derived for her sorrows the consolations which are found in looking forward to that life on which we shall enter, when this is over. She well knew that the things of earth must perish, that all its trials must end, and, doing as best she could, she walked steadily onward to attain the prize to which her mother had directed her years and years before.

What a sad life she would have passed in Mr. Platt’s family, if she had had nothing to cheer up her drooping spirit! Alone in the world, left with one unjustly exacting, her limbs at night weary from the labors of the day, nor scare refreshed at morn by the short slumbers of the night, she must have sunk down in wretchedness and despair. But instead of this, she saw a light gleaming in the distance, which shut out darkness from her soul. She seemed happy whatever were her hardships, and she was happy, for she leaned on One who was able to share her burdens, and could give her peace.

When Effie arrived at the age of 18, she determined to visit once more her mother’s grave. Here we beheld her when this narrative opened. To that parent, she was indebted for the knowledge which she had of the life to come. As she looked upon her tomb therefore, as said before, many were the reflections which rushed across her mind. She reviewed her days of childhood, and the days in which she had merged into womanhood—the delights which she had known while under the guidance of her fond parent, and the grievances which she had suffered, since she had passed away. In her heart she thanked her God, for having given her in early life, so good an instructer, by which she had been trained for heaven. Now she was pressing forward for a better land than this, whereas she might have been otherwise groping in darkness here.

Effie turned from her mother’s grave, and sought some of her early companions. The meeting between them was marked with much affection and kindness. She narrated to them her manner of life, since she had been taken from the place, which was very different from what they had anticipated. She remained several years in the same locality, when disease fastened itself upon her, and made her too low in death. She was buried by the side of her mother, where both wait the Resurrection morn to receive the rewards which that day shall disclose to their view, and which will be theirs forever.

New York, May 2, 1850.

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