Louisa May Alcott’s second story from the St. Nicolas magazine invoked a powerful memory

More and more I am amazed at the storytelling power of Louisa May Alcott. I just finished reading two polar opposite stories of hers: “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment,” found in the book edited by Madeleine Stern called Behind A Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott and “The Eaglet in the Dove’s Nest” in the St. Nicholas Magazine I mentioned in my last post, this section dated January of 1903.

I will write on “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment” tomorrow – it was an awesome read! But first I want to write briefly about “The Eaglet in the Dove’s Nest” (if you want to read it, it’s on page 308 in the PDF download of the St. Nicholas Magazine).

The story charmed me immediately because I am a bird lover, something that I learned from my mother. As a family we went on many expeditions together, watching and identifying birds. Every spring we’d make the trek to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA where many famous people are interred. Mount Auburn Cemetery is breathtakingly beautiful in the spring with flowers and exotic trees from all over the world. It’s a haven, an oasis in the middle of the bustling city and the spring migration of birds settles in this idyllic place for a brief period in the month of May, and then move up north to nest. While we’d observe beautiful and unusual birds, we’d take in the flowers and trees, and look at the historic grave sites. It was a trip we eagerly looked forward to every spring.

My parents are gone now and although my sister and I have revisited Mount Auburn since my mother’s passing in April, it wasn’t the same. Still, it made us feel closer to her.

“The Eaglet in the Dove’s Nest” was meaningful for that memory, but for also for another, even more powerful one. One of my mother’s most wonderful traits was in how she would take care of us when we were sick.  Besides having a lifelong interest in all things medical (she worked as a lab assistant in Boston area hospitals before she married my dad), she was caring and compassionate. She often would bring home books from the store with stories like “The Eaglet in the Dove’s Nest” to comfort us when we were sick. Reading this story evoked such a strong memory of that care. I shed a few tears and felt my mother’s love so close to me.

What a wonderful gift I just received this Christmas from my favorite author! Louisa’s storytelling never feels to strike me emotionally, whether it be fond nostalgia or excitement and surprise at an awesome ending to a suspenseful story (more on that tomorrow with “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment”).

Louisa’s writing is a gift to me and to so many of us.


One Reply to “Louisa May Alcott’s second story from the St. Nicolas magazine invoked a powerful memory”

  1. As an addendum, I sent the story to my sister because I thought she’d enjoy it for the same reasons I did and she did. In fact, she is sending the story to her brother-in-law as a Christmas gift to bolster his spirits. He has been very ill and she thought the story was so beautiful that it would give him hope. My in-laws are very much into the out-of-doors. What a wonderful thing that a story printed in 1903 could still have such an impact.

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