Friday [?] May 24th 1872.
My very dearest dear Lucy & Sarah--
"so near and yet so far;" I have always been following you in spirit, and wishing that my inner light was great and clear enough to make me clairvoyant in regard to your sweet selves--So, it was with a bound of the heart, that I saw Sarah's handwriting before me on the envelope--and you should have seen how we gathered at once to hear the tidings; Father sat in his armchair, Mrs. Chace, lay on the couch and read the letters to us--I could not trust myself to read them aloud--they gave me such tender joy; when she reached the end--there were tears in all our eyes--and the first words were--"Isn't it a rest to think of them with harriet!" Father called you "blessed women--"and said he felt most happy, that you three were together.
I know you will have delightful talks together--and that you'll see everything that's to be seen--as I think of you going hither and thither--the time is recalled, those last days of one season in Norfolk when you and Ellen Haven, and I, went out in the evenings, and the moonlight--visiting"the people"--one visit, to a family on Queen, or Boush Street is very distinct to my remembrance.
I too have spells when a longing for the work--as well as the unique life there at the south, seizes me like a strong spell, and if so much did not constantly present itself to be done, closer at hand--I should have long ago folded my tent and stolen away to Angie at Camden SC Angie is there for the third year--she is educating "Eugene" fitting him for Howard University; he is, she says, a most promising boy, of seventeen--Angie says she is well, which I hope is the truth! Lizzie Ball, is still taking care of her mother, a helpless and hopeless, paralytic, no doubt Lizzie is the gentle, self-e devoted woman, she always was, at the south--but aside from faith, I've no means of knowing what her life is. From Ellen Haven I hear very often--she is at home--and has been quit well for her until this spring, when she writes that she is not strong; she was delighted to hear from you two-; I wrote her of your letters--she came home herself from Europe, soon after you went; she sent me a lovely photograph of herself taken in Parks--and curiously enough, Flora Titlton did the same, they were both taken at "La Jeune." Flora has been to Providence several times--you know she is travelling agent for Mr. Heyward's books--though not very lately--she is the same dear, simple-hearted, true child, as ever but this out-of-doors life tells somewhat on her personal appearance, the first blush of beauty of which she had more than usual share, has passed. Isn't it too bad that some persons have been so poor--I can never be reconciled to Flora's having such a hard time in the world--she deserves so many good things.
Mrs. Gordon was here last fall, and called to see me, but I was not at home--and then I returned her call, and she was not at home. I was very sorry it happened so. Perhaps you know that she is keeping house for some one in Brattleboro, Vt. and likes her situation much better than at Mrs. Peters. Lizzie Foster is in Stuttgart, Wurtenberg, Germany--with Mr. Alexander's children--who are being educated. Katie Banfield wrote me, jubilantly of her letter from Sarah--and has no doubt, ere this! told you of her new home in which she seems so happy.
Dear Sarah, of our old colored friends in Norfolk I know nothing, still less of any individual farther south. I've written to Norfolk a number of times to try to hear from some of the old darlings--but my letters are never answered.
Do you remember Emmanuel McClellan, my pet? he is at Howard University and doing finely--graduates this summer he writes to me often, and improves wonderfully in his style. There are still ever and anon, some Ku-Klux atrocities but they do grow less, as the years go by--"God be praised!" It is one of the desires of my heart to join some day in some "good work," and when I showed Sarah your letters, she said; "The time will certainly come, when we can form one household, with sympathetic work, with the Balls & these friends, and one or two others who have the same loves and homes, and! will for work!" There seems to be obstacles in the way now--but we'll hope that they will arrange themselves to a more favorable view--some day. There seems to be nothing so desirable in this world, as to be of use, and a comfort to others--and every new straying away from this point, makes me* (*as the reaction comes) desire more to line up to my light in this matter;
Will you give my love to Hatty, and tell her, I shall answer her letter very soon--and that the little picture is most lovely--and a daily delight to Mrs. Chace & myself, thanks her for it.
Mrs. Chace has been sick for five or six weeks--confined to her bed and the couch--I thought at one time she would never be any better--for altho, she has been as sick before--she doesn't go out at all--even to the dressing room--she sends her best love to you both--and wishes me to tell you, how very glad she was to hear from you--she enjoyed your letters almost as much as myself. She is going to write a few lines--to Hatty by this opportunity if she feels able--
Father is pretty well--has grown a good deal older than when you saw him; he gets tired more easily than ever before--but he is as lonely as ever--and between ourselves, I don't think, "take him for all in all," I ever saw his equal, he loves you both very much--and still remembers, the Sunday morning when Sarah met him at Fortress Monroe. I shall gladly give your messages, and feel honored by the commission. I have been unable to do so before--but now, can and will. The friends you speak of--are as far as I know, in their usual health and habits of life. It is a great delight to have you write to me--but it isn't right for you to, with all the rest you are doing--so I shant expect it, unless--you do! Lydia is at home and quite well, she is in town today, otherwise she would have a message for you.
With warm love, and thankfulness for such friendship, from such friends--Yours Martha
Hatty's letter of May 9th has just arrived--and father says he will write very soon.