“It’s a nice house, don’t you think, Virginia? The property is a decent size. And the fresh air! Just what the doctor ordered.” Finding the perfect house for his ailing wife was first and foremost on Edgar’s mind.
Encouragingly, he continued: “It’s very affordable at $5 a month! One bedroom and a writing niche upstairs and downstairs another bedroom, parlor and a nice kitchen which your mother will put to good use.”
From their carriage Virginia smiled at her husband, covering her mouth with a handkerchief as the deep cough began again. Edgar hurried to her side and she stared lovingly into his eyes. “Yes, my dear. I think we will be very happy here.”
“Then it’s settled! I’ll finalize the rental while you rest here.” Before returning to the cottage Edgar covered Virginia with a blanket to protect her from the cool April breeze.
Sitting in the carriage with her mother, Virginia gazed at the cottage. “A lovely little home for the three of us, Mother.” Closing her eyes, Virginia pictured their caged songbirds on the porch, a rocking chair nearby where she could rest in the sun and an etched signpost near the door which read “POE COTTAGE”.
**Virginia, I’ve been waiting for you**. Opening her eyes, Virginia asked her mother to repeat what she just said, but Maria assured her she had said nothing. Again Virginia closed her eyes and again she heard the gentle voice in her ear – **Virginia, welcome home**. A strange peace came over Virginia as she realized it was the cottage whispering to her. “My lovely forever home”, she thought.
They moved in on a beautiful day in May of 1846 and they were happy there. In the evenings after eating a modest meal prepared by Maria, Edgar worked on his poem “Annabel Lee” while the family cat sprawled across his shoulders and Virginia dozed by the fireplace. But even with constant care, sunshine and fresh air, Virginia’s consumption became worse, her waif-like body wracked with fits of coughing.
In January Virginia’s health began to fail rapidly. Edgar stayed by her side day and night, reading to her, until at last on January 30, Virginia heard the whispering cottage beckoning her.
She died peacefully that night in Edgar’s warm embrace as he softly recited
“But our love it was stronger by far
than the love of those who were older than we.”
NAR © 2017