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  Sister Henrietta
Community of St. Michael and All Angels

Edited by the Dowager Lady Loch and Miss Stockdale

London: Longmans, 1914. 

The Account of her Death.
By F. Stockdale.


October 9th, 1911.

. . . We had a great many visitors last week, and though she enjoyed having them, she was glad when the last one left on St. Michael's Day, and we had the house to ourselves. She had been a good deal worried too about some business, and was looking very ill last Monday and Tuesday. However, when I said good-night on Tuesday, she said she felt better and thought she should sleep, and she had quite a good night.

She was going to church the next morning, and was quite bright and cheerful, but when she was dressing she felt a queer tingling sensation down her left side, and a few minutes later she found she was slipping off the box on which she sat, and so tried to reach the bell. In doing so she fell down and could not get up.

The parlourmaid heard something which she did not think natural and ran in, when she saw Sister H. on the floor; she put a pillow under her head and fetched me. We got her into bed with great difficulty, for her left arm was quite helpless and her sight was dim. She knew what had happened, and said: "I have had a slight stroke, send for Dr. Jones."

He came down in a few minutes, and said she was right and that she must be quite quiet, not talk, and see no one but one of the nurses and me.

Fortunately Miss Jones Evans was in and could look after her: she is a nurse who has been here years, and of whom Sister Henrietta was very fond.

She was wonderfully clear for about two hours, gave directions about a case, and kept on talking about all sorts of things, in spite of all we could do to keep her quiet. The last thing she troubled about was what had become of a poor, wretched girl she had been trying to get into the Salvation Army Refuge; she kept talking about her even when she was hardly conscious. She said to Miss Evans: "I am so glad I'm at peace with everyone," and to me she kept saying: "I shall be such a trouble to you if I am like this."

Dr. Jones brought Dr. Fuller to see her, and they told me it was cerebral haemorrhage, slight, but made serious by the condition of her heart, and that if she recovered, she would be bed-ridden and partly paralysed. At first it was trying to look after her, for she wanted to do all sorts of things the doctors strictly forbid, and was vexed that we would not let her.

She became gradually less and less coherent, and at 3.30 p.m. could hardly speak. She kept holding out her hand as if she wanted to feel we were near though she could not see or hear us, but after 5 o'clock when we put our hands in hers, there was no response, and she could not even swallow.

After that there was nothing to do for her but keep the ice-bag on her head filled, and the bed comfortable.

We sent up in the afternoon to Mr. Cross (Canon Robson is away) and asked for the prayers of the Church for her, and after evensong, Mr. Cross came to see what he could do. He let the other Sisters know, riding two miles at 9 p.m. to do so, and then put a small notice in the paper, so that all her friends might know she was ill.

Of course we had telegraphed to Father and the Mother, and they came the next afternoon. She remained the same all Thursday, but when the doctor came at n p.m., he told me she could not last the night.

She passed away much more peacefully than we had dared to hope, just after 5.30.

All Friday she lay on her bed, in her Sister's dress, with Miss Watkins' little crucifix in her hands and our white Pall with the purple cross over her instead of a sheet. At the foot of the bed we put a little altar with candles, flowers and a crucifix. She looked so beautiful and peaceful and stately, and all her friends came and said good-bye to her as she lay there.

She was put in her coffin that night; the altar stood at the head, and I saw that the candles burned all night. I put her own little Dante with her notes in at her feet, as she asked me. She looked just asleep and happy, and when I went to say goodnight and put my hands on hers, they felt so cool and soft, not cold and dead at all. I went in very early next morning as I had so often done before, and after that the men came, so I did not see her again.

We took her to church at 6.30 a.m., and all the members of the Churchwomen's Guild, all of us, many old nurses and many friends were at the 7.20 celebration. We had special epistle and gospel, and sang hymns 221, 230, 553, and 499. It was a beautiful service.

The funeral was at 9.45.

We had then the Community Pall which the Warden brought from Bloemfontein; it is white with a crimson cross, and an angel at either end; that was over the coffin, and on it a large cross of white roses from all of us.

Everything was beautiful and stately as she would have liked it to be, and the cemetery looked so peaceful and sunny, with all the syringa trees in blossom, and the sun shining. She rests between my mother and Miss Watkins.

We are trying to go on here, but it is not easy in this empty-feeling house!

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