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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    Chapter 2—(1836-1843) Abrupt Changes in Ellen's Life

    It was midafternoon and school was out. The 9-year-old twins, Ellen and Elizabeth, were on their way home, along with a classmate. As the three girls crossed the park they noticed that an older girl who also attended the Brackett Street School was following them. She shouted some angry words and was closing the gap between them. The Harmon children had been taught never to retaliate, never to engage in a fight with anyone, but rather if there was trouble to hurry home. This the girls were intent on doing. Ellen later wrote of what happened next:1BIO 28.1

    We were doing this, running towards home, but the girl was following us with a stone in her hand. I turned to see how far she was behind me, and as I turned, the stone hit me on my nose. I fell senseless. When I revived, I found myself in a merchant's store, the blood streaming from my nose, my garments covered with blood, and a large stream of blood on the floor.—Spiritual Gifts, 2:7.1BIO 28.2

    A customer in the store, a total stranger to the Harmon girls, offered to take Ellen home in his carriage, but the little girl, fearing that she would soil his carriage with her blood, refused the offer. Little did she realize the severity of her injury or how weak she was. With her two companions she started on foot for home, but soon grew faint. Dizziness overtook her, and then she collapsed to the ground. Her twin sister and her schoolmate carried her the block or two to her home. She later recounted:1BIO 28.3

    I have no recollection of anything for some time after the accident. My mother says that I noticed nothing, but lay in a stupid state [a coma] for three weeks. No one thought I would live except my mother. For some reason she felt that I would not die.—Ibid., 2:8.1BIO 28.4

    The description of her symptoms would lead to the opinion that she suffered a concussion. The physician who was called offered no hope of her making a recovery, nor had he any treatment to recommend. These were times of great ignorance in the medical world. One of the neighbors, certain that Ellen could not live, asked if she might buy a burial robe for her. “Not yet” was Eunice Harmon's reply, for something told her that Ellen would live.1BIO 29.1

    As the little girl regained consciousness she was totally ignorant of the cause of her illness. It seemed to her she had been in a long sleep. She had no memory of the accident; all she knew was that she lay on her cot in great weakness. Then one day on hearing a visiting neighbor say, “What a pity! I should not know her,” her curiosity was aroused. She asked for a mirror, only to be shocked at what the glass reflected. Of this she wrote:1BIO 29.2

    Every feature of my face seemed changed. The sight was more than I could bear. The bone of my nose proved to be broken. The idea of carrying my misfortune through life was insupportable. I could see no pleasure in my life. I did not wish to live, and I dared not die, for I was not prepared.—Ibid., 2:9.1BIO 29.3

    As Ellen's father was in Georgia on business, the mother carried the burden created by the accident. Friends who visited advised Ellen's mother to prosecute the father of the girl who, as they said, “ruined” her. But her mother was for peace, and she replied that if such a course could bring Ellen back to health and natural looks, there would be something gained, but as that was impossible, it was best not to make enemies (Ibid., 2:8).1BIO 29.4

    Physicians were consulted. One thought that a silver wire might be put in her nose to hold it in shape, but doing so would have been excruciatingly painful, for anesthetics were not known in those days, and the doctor thought it would be of little use. Since she had lost so much blood it was considered doubtful that she could sustain the shock of surgery.1BIO 29.5

    This was followed by a crushing experience of which she wrote:1BIO 29.6

    At the time of my misfortune my father was absent in Georgia. When he returned, he spoke to my brother and sisters, and inquired for me.... It was hard to make him believe that I was his Ellen. This cut me to the heart; yet I tried to put on an appearance of cheerfulness, when my heart ached.—Ibid., 2:10.

    By sad experience she soon learned the difference one's personal appearance makes in the treatment received from others, especially among children. Slowly she gained her strength, but as she was able to join in play with young friends, she found that they spurned her. She was almost crushed by this experience. She wrote:1BIO 30.1

    My life was often miserable, for my feelings were keenly sensitive. I could not, like my twin sister, weep out my feelings. My heart seemed so heavy, and ached as though it would break, yet I could not shed a tear.... Others would pity and sympathize with me, and that weight, like a stone upon my heart, would be gone.1BIO 30.2

    How vain and empty the pleasures of earth looked to me. How changeable the friendship of my young companions. A pretty face, dress, or good looks, are thought much of. But let misfortune take some of these away, and the friendship is broken.1BIO 30.3

    But I began to turn to my Saviour where I found comfort. I sought the Lord earnestly, and received consolation. I believed that Jesus did love even me.—Ibid., 2:10, 11.1BIO 30.4

    Some fifty years later, on a visit to Portland, Maine, she had an opportunity to ponder in retrospect:1BIO 30.5

    I visited ... the spot where I met with the accident.... this misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never have known Jesus, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in Him.1BIO 30.6

    She added:1BIO 30.7

    I have read of a little bird that while his cage is full of light never sings the songs his master would teach him. He will listen, and learn a snatch of this, a trill of that, but never a separate and entire melody.

    But the master covers his cage, and then, in the dark, he listens to the one song he is to sing. He tries and tries again to sing that song, until it is learned, and he breaks forth in perfect melody; and then the cage is uncovered, and ever after he can sing it in the light.1BIO 31.1

    Thus God deals with His creatures. He has a song to teach us, and when we have learned it amid the deep shadows of affliction, we can sing it ever afterward.—The Review and Herald, November 25, 1884.1BIO 31.2

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