|Home -> Other California History Books -> California Sketches - Second Series -> Camilla Cain|
She was from Baltimore, and had the fair face and gentle voice peculiar to most Baltimore women. Her organization was delicate but elastic - one of the sort that bends easily, but is hard to break. In her eyes was that look of wistful sadness so often seen in holy women of her type. Timid as a fawn, in the class-meeting she spoke of her love to Jesus and delight in his service in a voice low and a little hesitating, but with strangely thrilling effect. The meetings were sometimes held in her own little parlor in the cottage on Dupont street, and then we always felt that we had met where the Master himself was a constant and welcome guest. She was put into the crucible. For more than fifteen years she suffered unceasing and intense bodily pain. Imprisoned in her sick chamber, she fought her long, hard battle. The pain-distorted limbs lost their use, the patient face waxed more wan, and the traces of agony were on it always; the soft, loving eyes were often tear washed. The fires were hot, and they burned on through the long, long years without respite. The mystery of it all was too deep for me; it was too deep for her. But somehow it does seem that the highest suffer most:
The sign of rank in Nature
Is capacity for pain,
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetness of the strain.
The victory of her faith was complete. If the inevitable why? sometimes was in her thought, no shadow of distrust ever fell upon her heart. Her sick-room was the quietest, brightest spot in all the city. How often did I go thither weary and faint with the roughness of the way, and leave feeling that I had heard the voices and inhaled the odors of paradise! A little talk, a psalm, and then a prayer, during which the room seemed to be filled with angel-presences; after which the thin, pale face was radiant with the light reflected from our Immanuel's face. I often went to see her, not so much to convey as to get a blessing. Her heart was kept fresh as a rose of Sharon in the dew of the morning. The children loved to be near her; and the pathetic face of the dear crippled boy, the pet of the family, was always brighter in her presence. Thrice death came into the home-circle with its shock and mighty wrenchings of the heart, but the victory was not his, but hers. Neither death nor life could separate her from the love of her Lord. She was one of the elect. The elect are those who know, having the witness in themselves. She was conqueror of both - life with its pain and its weariness, death with its terror and its tragedy. She did not endure merely, she triumphed. Borne on the wings of a mighty faith, her soul was at times lifted above all sin, and temptation, and pain, and the sweet, abiding peace swelled into an ecstasy of sacred joy. Her swimming eyes and rapt look told the unutterable secret. She has crossed over the narrow stream on whose margin she lingered so long; and there was joy on the other side when the gentle, patient, holy Camilla Cain joined the glorified throng.
O though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!