Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

A Sad Loss

Susan and I believed, on the night our fathers came back from their journey, that we would set off in the ship to this village of Charlestown without delay, and so we might have done but for my Lady Arabella, who was taken suddenly worse of her sickness; therefore it was decided to wait until she had gained her health.

But alas! the poor lady had come to this New World only to die, and it was a sad time indeed for Susan and me when the word was brought aboard ship that she had gone out from among us forever.

We had learned during the voyage to love her very dearly, and it seemed even more of a blow for God to take her from us in this wilderness, than if she had been at her home in England.

Although it is not right for me to say so, because, of course, our fathers know best, yet would my heart have been less sore if some word of farewell could have been said when we laid my Lady Arabella in the grave amid the thicket of fir trees.

Mother says, that she is but repeating the words of Governor Winthrop, that it is wrong to say prayers over the dead, or to utter words of grief or faith. Therefore it was in silence we followed my lady in the coffin made by the ship's carpenter, up the gentle slope to the thicket of firs, the bell of the Arabella tolling all the while; and in silence we stood, while the body was being covered with earth, little thinking how soon should we be doing a like service for another who had come to aid in building up a new nation.

On the day after we left my Lady Arabella on the hillside, the ship Talbot, which was one of the vessels that should have sailed in company with the Arabella, arrived at Salem, and the grief which filled our hearts for the dead, was lightened somewhat by the joy in greeting the living who were come to join us.


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