R.A. Lafferty Devotional Page


Only once, though, in those early days did Dotty meet a beneficiary of her mystical offerings. It happened the night that Dotty went to bed with a high fever. She told no one that she had it She believed it to be no ordinary fever; she believed it to be an answer to her prayer that she be allowed to suffer extraordinarily. She was delirious and she knew it; but she believed that some great thing would come to her in her delirium. She prayed earnestly that she be allowed to suffer for a period the fires of Purgatory; and that for that period the most forgotten soul there might be spared the suffering that she took on herself.

"For only a few minutes, for only a few minutes, for as long as You will allow. Only You can know how weary they must be of it For a while, for a little while let me bear it for the most forgotten one. Let her (it must be her) rest for a little and maybe have a drink of water which l will not take."

Then in the intensity of her fever, she knew that it was happening to her, for this was fire, Purgatory fire, kindred of Hell fire save that it is not eternal. Suddenly an old Irishwoman, the most forgotten soul in Purgatory was sitting there in the room watching her, and smiling at the favor.

"I want to thank you, Dotty. This is very kind of you, even if it is only for a little while. I tell you it gets pretty tiresome. A person appreciates a little respite."

"I am told," said Dotty in her agony, "that there are false as well as true revelations. If you assure me that you are a true one, I will believe you" "No, I am neither, Dotty. I am only a dream you are having " The old woman had been suffering for a long time. She appeared kindness itself, and it seemed a shame that she was the most forgotten soul of all "I know you're a dream, in a manner of speaking. Yet you're as real as anything else is. I am glad that I can help you. Now I want you to give a sign for when I wake up so I will remember this."
"I cannot give you a sign. I am nothing. Only a dream of yours."
"You can give me a sign if you want to. I have done what I could to help you. If this fire is real it must leave a sign on me."
"You are right. I can give you a sign. In the morning you will have a sign on you."
"Will it be red like the fire?"
"Yes, Dotty, red like the fire."
"Will it be the stigmata? But I am not worthy of that."
"Nor is anyone. But it will not be the stigmata. It will be the measles."

And the sign was on her in the morning--the worst case of measles ever seen in the house on Elm Road. What amazed both her mother and her grandmother was that a girl as sick as Dotty should be so amused over the whole thing.