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Title: Our Nervous Friends — Illustrating the Mastery of Nervousness
Author: Carroll, Robert S. (Robert Sproul)
Language: English
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OUR NERVOUS FRIENDS
Illustrating the Mastery of Nervousness

BY

ROBERT S. CARROLL, M.D.
Medical Director Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina

Author of "The Mastery of Nervousness," "The Soul in Suffering"

NEW YORK
1919



HEARTILY--TO THE HOST OF US



CHAPTER I

OUR FRIENDLY NERVES
Illustrating the Capacity for Nervous Adjustment

CHAPTER II

THE NEUROTIC
Illustrating Damaging Nervous Overactivity

CHAPTER III

THE PRICE OF NERVOUSNESS
Illustrating Misdirected Nervous Energy

CHAPTER IV

WRECKING A GENERATION
Illustrating "The Enemy at the Gate"

CHAPTER V

THE NERVOUSLY DAMAGED MOTHER
Illustrating the Child Wrongly Started

CHAPTER VI

THE MESS OF POTTAGE
Illustrating Nervous Inferiority Due to Eating-Errors

CHAPTER VII

THE CRIME OF INACTIVITY
Illustrating the Wreckage of the Pampered Body

CHAPTER VIII

LEARNING TO EAT
Illustrating the Potency of Diet

CHAPTER IX

THE MAN WITH THE HOE
Illustrating the Therapy of Work

CHAPTER X

THE FINE ART OF PLAY
Illustrating Re-creation Through Play

CHAPTER XI

THE TANGLED SKEIN
Illustrating a Tragedy of Thought Selection

CHAPTER XII

THE TROUBLED SEA
Illustrating Emotional Tyranny

CHAPTER XIII

WILLING ILLNESS
Illustrating Willessness and Wilfulness

CHAPTER XIV

UNTANGLING THE SNARL
Illustrating the Replacing of Fatalism by Truth

CHAPTER XV

FROM FEAR TO FAITH
Illustrating the Curative Power of Helpful Emotions

CHAPTER XVI

JUDICIOUS HARDENING
Illustrating the Compelling of Health

CHAPTER XVII

THE SICK SOUL
Illustrating the Sliding Moral Scale

CHAPTER XVIII

THE BATTLE WITH SELFIllustrating the Recklessness that Disintegrates

CHAPTER XIX

THE SUFFERING OF SELF-PITY
Illustrating a Moral Surrender

CHAPTER XX

THE SLAVE OF CONSCIENCE
Illustrating Discord with Self

CHAPTER XXI

CATASTROPHE CREATING CHARACTER
Illustrating Disciplined Freedom

CHAPTER XXII

FINDING THE VICTORIOUS SELF
Illustrating a Medical Conversion

CHAPTER XXIII

THE TRIUMPH OF HARMONY
Illustrating the Power of the Spirit



A REMARK


Vividly as abstractions may be presented, they rarely succeed in
revealing truths with the appealing intensity of living pictures. In
Our Nervous Friends will be found portrayed, often with photographic
clearness, a series of lives, with confidences protected, illustrating
chapter for chapter the more vital principles of the author's The
Mastery of Nervousness.



CHAPTER I

OUR FRIENDLY NERVES


"Hop up, Dick, love! See how glorious the sun is on the new snow. Now
isn't that more beautiful than your dreams? And see the birdies! They
can't find any breakfast. Let's hurry and have our morning wrestle and
dress and give them some breakie before Anne calls."

The mother is Ethel Baxter Lord. She is thirty-eight, and Dick-boy is
just five. The mother's face is striking, striking as an example of
fine chiseling of features, each line standing for sensitiveness, and
each change revealing refinement of thought. The eyes and hair are
richly brown. Slender, graceful, perennially neat, she represents the
mother beautiful, the wife inspiring, the friend beloved. Happily as
we have seen her start a new day for Dick, did she always add some
cheer, some fineness of touch, some joy of word, some stimulating
helpfulness to every greeting, to every occasion.

The home was not pretentious. Thoroughly cozy, with many artistic
touches within, it snuggled on the heights near Arlington, the close
neighbor to many of the Nation's best memories, looking out on a noble
sweep of the fine, old Potomac, with glimpses through the trees of the
Nation's Capitol, glimpses revealing the best of its beauties. It was
a home from which emanated an atmosphere of peace and repose which one
seemed to feel even as one approached. It was a home pervaded with the
breath of happiness, a home which none entered without benefit.

The husband, Martin Lord, was an expert chemist who had long been in
the service of the Government. Capable, worthy, manly, he was blest in
what he was, and in what he had. They had been married eight years,
and the slipping away of the first child, Margaret, was the only
sadness which had paused at their door. Mrs. Lord had been Ethel
Baxter for thirty years. Her father was an intense, high-strung
business man, an importer, who spent much time in Europe where he died
of an American-contracted typhoid-fever, when Ethel was ten. Her
mother was one of a large well-known Maryland family, fair, brown-eyed
too, and frail; also, by all the rights of inheritance, training and
development, sensitive and nervous. In her family the precedents of
blue blood were religiously maintained with so much emphasis on the
"blue" that no beginning was ever made in training her into a
protective robustness. So, in spite of elaborate preparation and noted
New York skill and the highest grade of conscientious nursing, she
recovered poorly after Ethel's birth. Strength, even such as she
formerly had, did not return. She didn't want to be an invalid. She
was devoted to her husband and eager to companion and mother her
child. The surgeons thought her recovery lay in their skill, and in
ten years one operated twice, and two others operated once each, but
for some reason the scalpel's edge did not reach the weakness. Then
Mr. Baxter died, and all of her physical discomforts seemed
intensified until, in desperation, the fifth operation was undertaken,
which was long and severe, and from which she failed to react. So
Ethel was an orphan at eleven, though not alone, for the good uncle,
her mother's brother, took her to his home and never failed to respond
to any impulse through which he felt he could fulfil the fatherhood
and motherhood which he had assumed. Absolutely devoted, affectionate,
emotional, he planned impulsively, he gave freely, but he knew not law
nor order in his own high-keyed life; so neither law nor order entered
into the training of his ward.

Ethel Baxter's childhood had been remarkably well influenced,
considering the nervous intensity of both parents. For the mother's
sake, their winters had been spent in Florida, their summers on Long
Island. Her mother, in face of the fact that she rarely knew a day of
physical comfort and for years had not felt the thrill of physical
strength, most conscientiously gave time, thought and prayer to her
child's rearing. Hours were devoted to daily lessons, and many habits
of consideration and refinement, many ideals of beauty, many niceties
of domestic duty and practically all her studies, were mother-taught.
Ethel was active, physically restless, impulsive, cheerful, fairly
intense in her eagerness for an expression of the thrilling activities
within. She was truly a high-type product of generations of fine
living, and her blue blood did show from the first in the rapid
development of keenness of mind and acuteness of feeling. Typically of
the nervous temperament, she early showed a superb capacity for
complex adjustments. Yet, with one damaging, and later threatening
idea, the mother infected the child's mind; the conception of
invalidism entered into the constructive fabric of the child-thought
all the more deeply, because there was little of offensively selfish
invalidism ever displayed by the mother. But many of the concessions
and considerations instinctively demanded by the nervous sufferer were
for years matters-of-course in the Baxter home; and these demands,
almost unconsciously made by the mother, could but modify much of the
natural expression of her child's young years.

Another damaging attitude-reaction, intense in its expression,
followed the unexpected death of Ethel's father. The mother, true to
the ancient and honorable precedents of her family, went into a month
of helplessness following the sad news. She could not attend the
funeral, and for weeks the activities of the household were muffled by
mourning; when she left her room, it was to wear the deepest crepe,
while a half-inch of deadest black bordered the hundreds of responses
which she personally sent to notes of condolence. She never spoke
again of her husband without reference to her bereavement. Then, a
year later, when the mother herself suddenly went, it seemed to
devolve on the child to fulfil the mother's teachings. Her uncle's
attitude, moreover, toward his sister's death was in many ways
unhappy, for he did not repress expressions of bitterness toward the
surgeons and condemned the fate which had so early robbed Ethel of
both parents.

Thus, early and intensely, a morbid attitude toward death, a
conviction that self-pity was reasonable, normal, wholesome, a belief
that it was her duty to publicly display intensive evidences of her
affliction, determined a lasting and potent influence in this girl's
life which was to alloy her young womanhood--disturbing factors, all,
which before twelve caused much emotional disequilibrium. She now
lived with her uncle in New York City and her summers were spent in
Canada. The sense of fitness was so strong that during the next two
vitally important, developing years she avoided any physical
expression of her natural exuberance of spirits; and habits now formed
which were, for years, to deny her any right use of her muscular self.
She read much; she read well; she read intensely. She attended a
private school and long before her time was an accredited young lady.
Mentally, she matured very early, and with the exception of the
damaging influences which have been mentioned, she represented a
superior capacity for feeling and conceiving and accomplishing, even
as she possessed an equally keen capacity for suffering.

She was most winsome at sixteen, a bit frail and fragile, often spoken
of as a rare piece of Sevres, beloved with a tenderness which would
have warped the disposition of one less unselfish; emotionally
intense, brilliancy and vivacity periodically burst through the habit
of her reserve. A perfect pupil, and in all fine things literary,
keenly alive, she had written several short sketches which showed
imaginative originality and a sympathetic sensitiveness, especially
toward human suffering. And her uncle was sure that a greater than
George Eliot had come. There was to be a year abroad, and as the
doctor and her teacher in English agreed on Italy, there she went. At
seventeen, during the year in Florence, the inevitable lover came.
Family traditions, parents, her orphanage, the protective surroundings
of her uncle's home, her instincts--all had kept her apart. Her
knowledge of young lovers was but literary, and this particular young
lover presented a side which soon laid deep hold on her confidence.
They studied Italian together. He was musical, she was poetic, and he
gracefully fitted her sonnets to melodies. Finally, it seemed that the
great Song of Life had brought them together to complete one of its
harmonies. Her confidence grew to love, the love which seemed to stand
to her for life. Then the awful suddenness, which had in the past
marked her sorrows, burst in again. In one heart-breaking, repelling
half-hour his other self was revealed, and a damaged love was left to
minister to wretchedness. Here was a hurt denied even the expression
of mourning stationery or black apparel--a hurt which must be hidden
and ever crowded back into the bursting within. Immediate catastrophe
would probably have followed had not, first, the fine pride of her
fine self, then the demands of her art for expression, stepped in to
save. She would write. She now knew human nature. She had tasted
bitterness; and with renewed seriousness she became a severely hard-
working student. But the wealth of her joy-life slipped away; the
morbid made itself apparent in every chapter she wrote, while
intensity became more and more the key-note of thought and effort.

Back at her uncle's home, the uncle who was now even more convinced
that Ethel had never outlived the shock of the loss of her parents,
she found that honest study and devotion to her self-imposed tasks,
and a life of much physical comfort and rarely artistic surroundings,
were all failing to make living worth while. In fact, things were
getting into a tangle. She was becoming noticeably restless. Repose
was so lost that it was only with increasing effort that she could
avoid attracting the attention of those near. Even in church it would
seem that some demon of unrest would never be appeased and only could
be satisfied by constant changing of position. Thoughts of father and
mother, and the affair in Florence, intensified this spirit of unrest,
and few conscious minutes passed that unseen stray locks were not
being replaced. It seemed to be a relief to take off and put on, time
and again, the ring which had been her mother's. Even her feet seemed
to rebel at the confinement of shoes, and she became obsessed with the
impulse to remove them, even in the theater or at the concert. A
sighing habit developed. It had been growing for years into an air-
hunger, and finally all physical, and much of mental, effort developed
a sense of suffocation which demanded short periods of absolute rest.
Associations were then formed between certain foods and disturbing
digestive sensations. Tea alone seemed to help, and she became
dependent upon increasingly numerous cups of this beverage. Knowing
her history as we do, we can easily see how she had become abnormally
acute in her responses to the discomforts which are always associated
with painful emotions, and that emotional distress was interpreted, or
misinterpreted, as physical disorder. Each year she became more truly
a sensitive-plant, suffering and keenly alive to every discomfort,
more and more easily fatigued by the conflicts between emotions, which
craved expression, and the will, which demanded repression.

Since the days in Florence there had been a growing antagonism to men,
certainly to all who indicated any suitor-like attitude. In her heart
she was forsworn. She had loved deeply once. Her idealism said it
could never come again. But her antagonism, and her idealism, and her
strength of will all failed to satisfy an inarticulate something which
locked her in her room for hours of repressed, unexplained sobbing.
Her writing became exhausting. Talks before her literary class were a
nightmare of anticipation--for through all, there had never been any
weakening of the beauty and intensity of her unselfish desire to give
to the world her best. The dear old uncle watched her with growing
apprehension. He persuaded her to seek health. It was first a water-
cure; then a minor, but ineffective operation; then much scientific
massage; and finally a rest-cure, and at the end no relief that
lasted, but a recurrence of symptoms which, to the uncle, spoke
ominously of a threatened mental balance. What truly was wrong? Do we
not see that this woman's nerves were crying out for help; that, as
her wisest friends, they were appealing for right ways of living; that
they were pleading for development of the body that had been only
half-trained; that they were beseeching a replacing of morbidness of
feeling by those lost joyous happiness-days? Were they not fairly
cursing the wrong which had robbed her of the hope and rights of her
womanhood?

A new life came when she was twenty-eight, with the saving helper who
heard the cry of the suffering nerves, and interpreted their message.
She had told him all. His wise kindness made it easy to tell all. He
showed her the wrong invalidism thoughts, the unhappy, depressing,
devitalizing attitude toward death. He revealed truths unthought by
her of manhood and womanhood. He pointed out the poisonous trail of
her enmity, and she put it from her. He inspired her to make friends
with her nerves, who were so devotedly striving to save her. Simple,
definite counsel he gave, for her body's sake. Her physical
development could never be what early constructive care would have
made it, but from out of her frailty grew, in less than a year of
active building-training, a reserve of strength unknown for
generations in the women of her line. Wholesome advice made her see
the undermining influence of her morbid, mental habits, and resolutely
she displaced them with the productive kind that builds character.
Finally, new wisdom and a truly womanly conception of her duty and
privilege replaced her antagonism to men, as understanding had
obliterated enmity. It would seem as though Providence had been only
waiting these changes, for they had hardly become certainties in her
life when the real lover came--a man in every way worthy her fineness
of instinct; one who could understand her literary ambitions and even
helpfully criticize her work; one who brought wholesome habits of life
and thought, and who could return cheer for cheer, and whose love
responded in kind to that which now so wonderfully welled up within
her.

Her new adjustments were to be deeply tried and their solidity and
worthiness tested to their center. Little Margaret came to make their
rare home perfect, and like a choice flower, she thrived in the glow
of its sunshine. At eighteen months, she was an ideal of babyhood.
Then the infection from an unknown source, the treacherous scarlatina,
the days of fierce, losing conflict, and sudden Death again smote
Ethel Lord. But she now knew and understood. There was deep sadness of
loss; there was greater joy in having had. There was an emptiness
where the little life had called forth loving attention; there was a
fulness of perfect mother-love which could never be taken. There were
no funeral days, no mourning black, no gruesome burial. There were
flowers, more tender love, and a beautified sorrow. Death was never
again to stand to Ethel Lord as irreparable loss, for a great faith
had made such loss impossible.

And such is the life of this woman, filled with the spirit of beauty
of soul--a woman who thrills husband and son with the uplift of her
unremitting joy in living, who inspires uncle and friends as one who
has mastered the art of a happy life, who holds the devotion of
neighbors and servants through her unselfish radiation of cheer. Ethel
Lord has learned truly the infinitely rich possibilities of our nerves
when we make them our friends.



CHAPTER II

THE NEUROTIC


For four heart-breaking years, the strife of a nation at war with
itself had spread desolation and sorrow broadcast. The fighting ceased
in April. One mid-June day following, the town folk and those from
countrysides far and near met on the ample grounds of a bride-to-be.
Had it not been for the sprinkling of blue uniforms, no thought of war
could have seemed possible that fair day. The bride's home had been
a-bustle with weeks of preparation for this hour, and nature was
rejoicing and the heavens smiling upon the occasion. Sam Clayton, the
bridegroom, was certainly a "lucky dog." A quiet, unobtrusive son of a
neighboring farmer, he and Elizabeth had been school-children
together. Probably the war had lessened her opportunity for choice but
the night before he left for the front, they were engaged--and her
family was the best and wealthiest of the county. "Lucky dog" and "war
romance," the men said. Nevertheless, six weeks ago he had returned
with his chevrons well-earned, and fifty years of square living later
proved his unquestioned worth. Elizabeth at twenty, on her bridal day,
was slender, lithe, fair-skinned; of Scotch-Irish descent, her gray
eyes bespoke her efficiency--to-day, they spoke her pride, though
neither to-day nor in years to come were they often softened by love.
But it was a great wedding, and the eating and dancing and merry-
making continued late into the night with ample hospitality through
the morrow for the many who had come far. "Perfectly suited," the
women said of the young couple.

Sam Clayton had nothing which could be discounted at the bank, but the
bride was given fifty fertile acres, and they both had industry and
thrift, ambition and pluck. The fifty acres blossomed--Sam was a good
farmer, but he proved himself a better trader, and before many years
was running a small store in town. They soon added other fifty acres--
one-hundred-and-fifty in fifteen years, and out of debt--then a
partner with money, and a thriving business. At forty-five it was: Mr.
Samuel Clayton, President of the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank, rated
at $150,000. Mrs. Clayton's ability had early been manifest. Before
her marriage she had taken prizes at the County Fair in crocheting and
plum-jell. In after years no one pretended to compete with her annual
exhibit of canned fruits, and the coveted prize to the County's best
butter-maker was awarded her many successive autumns.

Our real interest in the Claytons must begin twenty-five years after
the happy wedding. Their town, the county seat, had pushed its limits
to the skirts of the broad Clayton acres; theirs was now the leading
family in that section. Mr. Clayton, quiet, active, practical, was
capable of adjusting himself without disturbance to whatever
conditions he met. Three children had been born during the early
years--a girl and two younger boys. The daughter was of the father's
type--reserved, studious and truly worthy, for during the years that
were to come, with the man she loved waiting, she remained at home a
pillar of strength to which her mother clung. She turned from wifehood
in response to the selfish needs of this mother. She and the older
brother finished classical courses in the near-by "University," for
their mother, particularly, believed in education. The brother and
sister had much in common, were indeed much alike; he, however, soon
married and moved into the new West and deservingly prospered. Fred,
the youngest, was different. During his second summer he was very ill
with cholera infantum--the days came and went--doctors came and went--
and the wonder was how life clung to the emaciated form. The mother's
love flamed forth with intensity and the nights without sleep
multiplied until she, too, looked wan and ill. She did not know how to
pray. Her parents had been Universalists--she termed herself a
Moralist; for her, heaven held no God that can hear, no Great Heart
that cares, no Understanding that notes a mother's agony. The doctors
offered no hope. The child was starving; no food nor medicine had
agreed, and the end was near. A neighboring grandmother told how her
child had been sick the same way, and how she had given him baked
sweet potato which was the first thing he had digested for days. As
fate would have it, it was even so with Fred, and he recovered leaving
his mother devoid of faith in any one calling himself doctor, and
fanatically devoted to the child she had so nearly lost. From that
sickness she hovered over him, protecting him from the training she
gave her other children--the kind she herself had received. His wish
became her law; he was humored into weakness. He never became robust
physically, and early showed defects quite unknown in either branch of
the family. He failed in college, for which failure his mother found
adequate excuse. He entered the bank, but within a few months his
peculations would have been discovered had he not confessed to his
mother, who made the discrepancy good from her private funds. During
the next few years she found it necessary on repeated occasions to
draw cheeks on her personal account to save him from trouble--but
never a word of censure for him, always excuses. He was drinking,
those days, and gambling. In the near-by state capitol the cards went
his way one night. Hilarious with success and drink, he started for
his room. There was a mix-up with his companions. He was left in the
snow, unconscious--his winnings gone. The wealth of his father and the
devotion of his mother could not save him, and he went with pneumonia
a few days later. It was said that this caused her breakdown--let us
see.

As a girl, Elizabeth had lived in a home of plenty, in a home of local
aristocracy. She was perfectly trained in all household activities
and, for that period, had an excellent education, having spent one
year in a far-away "Female Seminary." Her mind was good, her pride in
appearance almost excessive. She said she "loved Sam Clayton," and
probably did, though with none of the devotion she gave her son, nor
with sufficient trust to share her patrimony which amounted to a small
fortune with him when it came. In fact, she ran her own business, nor
relied upon the safety of the "Farmers' and Merchants' Bank" in making
her deposits. She was a housewife of repute, devoted to every detail
of housewifery and economics. There was always plenty to eat and of
the best; perfect order and cleanliness of the immaculate type were
her pride. Excellent advice she frequently gave her husband about
finances and management, but otherwise she added no interest to his
life, and there was peace between husband and wife--because Sam was a
peaceable man. As a mother, she taught the two older children domestic
usefulness, with every care; they were always clad in good, clean
clothes, clad better than the neighbors' children, and education was
made to take first rank in their minds. Her sense of duty to them was
strong; she frequently said: "I live and save and slave for my
children." Fred, as we have seen, was her weakness. For him she broke
every rule and law of her life.

At forty-five she was thin, her face already deeply seamed with worry
lines, a veritable slave to her home, but an autocrat to servants,
agents and merchants. They said her will was strong; at least,
excepting Fred, she had never been known to give in to any one. We
have not spoken of Mary. Poor woman! She, too, was a slave--she was
the hired girl. Meek almost to automatism, a machine which never
varied from one year's end to another, faithful as the proverbial dog,
she noiselessly slipped through her unceasing round of duties for
twenty-three years--then catastrophe. "That fool hired man has
hoodwinked Mary." No wedding gift, no note of well-wishing, but a
rabid bundling out of her effects. Howbeit, Central Ohio could not
produce another Mary, and from then on a new interest was added to the
Claytons' table-talk as one servant followed another into the Mother's
bad graces. She was already worn to a feather-edge before Mary's
ingratitude. But the shock of Fred's death completed the
demoralization of wrongly lived years. For weeks she railed at a
society which did not protect its citizens, at a church which failed
to make men good, while she now recognized a God against whom she
could express resentment.

This woman endowed with an excellent physical and mental organization
had allowed her ability and capacity to become perverted. Orderliness,
at first a well planned daily routine, gradually degenerated into an
obsession for cleanliness. Each piece of furniture went through its
weekly polishing, rugs were swept and dusted, sponged and sunned--even
Mary could not do the table-linen to her taste--and Tuesday afternoon
through the years went to immaculate ironing. The obsession for
cleanliness bred a fear of uncleanliness, and for years each dish was
examined by reflected light, to be condemned by one least streak. The
milk and butter especially must receive care equaled only by surgical
asepsis. Then there were the doors. The front door was for company,
and then only for the elect--and Fred; the side door was for the
family, and woe to the neighbor's child or the green delivery boy who
tracked mud through this portal. No amount of foot-wiping could render
the hired man fit for the kitchen steps after milking time--he used a
step-ladder to bring up the milk to the back porch. Such intensity of
attention to detail could not long fail to make this degenerating
neurotic take note of her own body, which gradually became more and
more sensitive, till she was fairly distraught between her fear of
draughts and her mania for ventilation. It was windows up and windows
down, opening the dampers and closing the dampers, something for her
shoulders and more fresh air. Church, lecture-halls and theaters
gradually became impossible. Finally she was practically a prisoner in
the semiobscurity of her home--a prisoner to bodily sensation. Then
came the autos to curse. The Clayton home was within a hundred yards
of the county road, and when the wind was from the west really visible
dust from passing motors presumed to invade the sanctity of parlor and
spare rooms, and with kindling resentment windows were closed and
windows were opened, rooms were dusted and redusted until she hated
the sound of an auto-horn, until the smell of burning gasoline caused
her nausea--but each year the autos multiplied.

At last the family realized that her loss of control was becoming
serious, that she was really a sufferer; but her antagonism to
physicians was deep-set, so the osteopath was called. Had he been
given a fair chance, he might have helped, but her obsessions were
such that she resented the touch of his manipulations, fearing that
some unknown infection might exude from his palms to her undoing.
Reason finally became helpless in the grip of her phobias. Her stomach
lining was "destroyed," and into this "raw stomach" only the rarest of
foods and those of her own preparation could be taken. She had fainted
at Fred's funeral, and repeatedly became dazed, practically
unconscious, at the mention of his name. Self-interests had held her
attention from girlhood to her wreckage, and from this grew self-
study, which later degenerated into self-pity. Her converse was of
food and feelings and self. She bored all she met, for self alone was
expressed in actions and words.

Father and daughter finally, under the pretext of a trip for her
health, placed her in a Southern sanitarium. Much was done here for
her, in the face of her protest. Illustrative of the unreasoning
intensity with which fear had laid hold upon her was her mortal dread
of grape-seeds. As she was again being taught to eat rationally,
grapes were ordered for her morning meal. The nurse noticed that with
painful care she separated each seed from the pulp, and explained to
her the value of grape-seeds in her case. She wisely did not argue
with the nurse, but two mornings later she was discovered ejecting and
secreting the seeds. The physician then kindly and earnestly appealed
for her intelligent cooperation. She thereupon admitted that many
years ago a neighbor's boy had died of appendicitis, which the doctor
said was caused by a grape-seed. The fallacy of these early-day
opinions was shown her. Then was illustrated the weakness of her faith
and the strength of her fear. She produced a draft for one thousand
dollars, which she said she always carried for unforeseen emergencies,
and offered it to the doctor to use for charity or as he wished, if he
would change the order about the grapes. Suffice it to say she learned
to eat Concords, Catawbas, Tokays and Malagas. She returned home
better, but was never wholesomely well, and to-day dreads the death
for which her family wait with unconscious patience.

What is the secret of this miserable old woman's failure to adjust
herself to the richness which life offered her? A selfish self peers
out from every act. Even her generosity to Fred was the pleasing of
self. Given all that she had, what could she not have been!
Physically, with the advantages of plenty and her country life and the
promise of her fair girlhood, what attraction could not have been hers
had kindness and generosity softened her eyes, tinted her cheeks, and
love-wrinkles come instead of worry-wrinkles.

Her mind was naturally an unusual one. She lived within driving
distance of one of Ohio's largest colleges--only an hour by train to
the state capital. Fortune had truly smiled and selected her for
happiness, but from the first it was self or her family and no further
thought or plan or consideration.

Elizabeth Clayton was given a nervous system of superb quality, which
used for the good of those she touched would have hallowed her life;
misused, she drifts into unlovable old age, a selfish neurotic. She
could have been a leader in her community, a blessing in her
generation, a builder of faiths which do not die, but she failed to
choose the good part which neither loss of servant, death of child nor
advancing age can take away.



CHAPTER III

THE PRICE OF NERVOUSNESS


The price we pay for defective nerves is one of mankind's big burdens.
Humanity reaches its vaunted supremacy, it realizes the heights of
manhood and womanhood through its power to meet what the day brings,
to collect the best therefrom and to fit itself profitably to use that
best for the good of its kind. And these possibilities are all
dependent on the superb, complicated nervous system. The miracles of
right and wise living are rooted deep in the nerve-centers. Man's
nervous system is his adjusting mechanism--his indicator revealing the
proper methods of reaction. Nothing man will ever make can rival its
sensitiveness and capacity. But when it is out of order, trouble is
certain. Excessive, imperfect, inadequate reactions will occur and
disintegrating forms of response to ourselves and our surroundings
will certainly become habitual, unless wise and resolute readjustments
are made. The common failure of the many to find the best, even the
good in life, is apparent to all--so common indeed, that the search
for the perfectly adjusted man, physically, mentally, morally
adjusted, is about as fruitful as Diogenes' daylight excursions with
his lantern. The physical, mental and moral are intricately related
even as the primary colors in the rainbow. Our nerves enter intimately
into every feeling, thought, act of life, into every function of our
bodies, into every aspiration of our souls. They determine our
digestion and our destinies; they may even influence the destinies of
others. Let us turn a few pages of a life and see the cost of
defective nervous-living.

The Pullman was crowded; every berth had been sold; the train was
loaded with holiday travelers, and the ever interesting bridal couple
had the drawing-room. The aisle was cluttered with valises and
suitcases; the porter was feverishly making down a berth; while
bolstered on a pile of pillows, surrounded by a number of anxious
faces, lay the sick woman, the source of the commotion and the
anxiety. Sobs followed groans, and exclamations followed sobs--
apparently only an intense effort of self-control kept her from
screaming. She held her head. Periodically, it seemed to relieve her
to tear at her hair. She held her breath, she clutched her throat, she
covered her eyes as though she would shut out every glimpse of life.
She convulsively pressed her heart to keep it from bursting through;
she clasped and wrung her hands, and now and then would crowd her
forearm between her teeth to shut in her pent-up anguish. She would
have thrown herself from the seat but for the unobtrusive little man
who knelt in front to keep her from falling, and gently held her on as
she spasmodically writhed. His plain, unromantic face showed deep
anxiety, not unmixed with fear. He was eagerly assisted by the dear
old lady who sat in front. Hers was mother-heart clear through; her
satchel had been disturbed to the depths in her search for remedies
long faithful in alleviating ministration; her camphor bottle lay on
the floor, impulsively struck from her kind hand by the convulsed
woman. The sweet-faced college girl who sat opposite had just finished
a year in physiology and this was her first opportunity to use her new
knowledge. "Loosen her collar and lower her head and let her have more
air," she advised. "Yes," said the little man, "I'm her husband you
see, and am a doctor. I've seen her this way before and those things
don't help."

The drummer, who had the upper berth, had retreated at the first sign
of trouble to the safety of the smoking-room, and was apparently
trying more completely to hide himself in clouds of obscuring cigar
smoke. The passengers were all cowed into attentive quietude; the
sympathetic had offered their help, while the others found
satisfaction for their aloofness in agreement with the sophisticated
porter, who, after he had assisted in safely depositing the writhing
woman behind the green curtains and had been rather roughly treated by
her protesting heels, shrewdly opined to the smoking-room refugees
that "That woman sho has one case o' high-strikes." The berth,
however, proved no panacea--she was "suffocating," she must get out of
the smoke and dust, she must get away from "those people" or she would
stifle, and to the other symptoms were added paroxysms of coughing and
gasping which sent shivers through the whole car of her sympathizers.
Her husband explained that she was just out of a hospital, which they
had left unexpectedly for home, that she never could sleep in a berth,
and if they could only get the drawing-room so he could be alone with
her he thought he could get her to sleep, but he did not know what the
consequences would be if she did not get quiet. The Pullman conductor
was strong for quiet, and he and the sweet-faced college girl and the
dear old lady formed a committee who waited on the young bride and
groom. It was hard, mighty hard, even in the bliss of their happiness,
to give up the drawing-room for a lower. Had not that drawing-room
stood out as one of their precious dreams during the last year, as,
step by step, they had planned in anticipation of that short bridal
week! But the sacrifice was made, the transfers effected, and out of
the quiet which followed, emerged order and the cheer normal to
holiday travelers. A number were gratified by the sense of their well-
doing, they had gone their limit to help; others were equally
comfortable in their satisfied sense of shrewdness, they agreed with
the porter--they had sized her up and not been "taken in."

Mrs. Platt had been Lena Dalton. She was born in Galveston forty-five
years before. Her father was a cattle-buyer, rough, dissipated, always
indulgent to himself and, when mellow with drink, lavishly indulgent
to the family. He never crossed Lena; even when sober and irritable to
the rest, she had her way with him. The high point in his moral life
was reached when she was seven. For three weeks she was desperately
ill. A noted revivalist was filling a large tent twice a day; the
father attended. He promised himself to join the church if Lena did
not die--she got well, so there was no need. She remained his
favorite. "Drunk man's luck" forgot him several years later when his
pony fell and rolled on him, breaking more ribs than could be mended.
He left some insurance, two daughters, and a very efficient widow.
Mrs. Dalton had held her own with her husband, even when he was at his
worst. She was strong of body and mind, practical, probably somewhat
hard, certainly with no sympathy for folderols. Her common-school
education, in the country, had not opened many vistas in theories and
ideals, but she lived her narrow life well, doing as she would be done
by--which was not asking much, nor giving much--caring for herself
without fear or favor till she died, as she wished, at night alone,
when she was eighty. She possessed qualities which with the help of a
normal husband would have been a wholesome heritage to the children;
but it was a home of double standards, certainly so in the training of
Lena, who had never failed, when her father was home, to get the
things her mother had denied her in his absence. She was thirteen when
he died; at fifteen then followed her two most normal years. The
accident occurred which, was to prove fateful for her life, and
through hers, for others.

Lena was a good roller-skater, but was upset one night, at the rink,
by an awkward novice and fell sharply on the back of her head. She was
taken home unconscious and was afterward delirious, not being herself
until noon the next day, when she found beside her an anxious mother
who for several days continued ministering to her daughter's every
wish. Three months later she set her heart on a certain dress in a
near-by shop window; her mother said it was too old for her, and cost
too much. Day after day passed and the dress remained there, more to
be desired each time she saw it. The Sunday-school picnic was only a
week off. She made another appeal at the supper table; her sister
unwisely interjected a sympathetic "too bad." The emphasis of the
mother's "No" sounded like a "settler," but just then things went dark
for Lena. She grasped her head and apparently was about to fall--her
face twitched and her body jerked convulsively. The mother lost her
nerve, and feeling that her harshness had brought back the "brain
symptoms" which followed the skating accident, spent the night in
ministrations--and hanging at the foot of Lena's bed, when she was
herself next morning, was the coveted dress. To those who know, the
mental processes were simple; strong desire, an implacable mother,
save when touched by maternal fear, the association in the girl's mind
of a relationship between her accident and her mother's compliance, a
remoter association of her illness at seven with her father's years of
free giving. What was to restrain her jerkings and twitchings and
meanings? Many of these reactions were taking place in the semi-
mysterious laboratory of her subconscious self; but it was the
beginning of a life of periodic outbreaks through which she had
practically never failed to secure what she desired. To the end of her
good mother's life, Lena remained the only one who could change her
"no" to "yes."

The elder sister was a more normal girl. She studied stenography and
soon married a promising young man. They had two children. He made a
trip down the coast and died of yellow fever. The wife was much
depressed and spent a bad year and most of the insurance money,
getting adjusted. Then the Galveston storm with its harvest of death
and miraculous escapes--the mother was taken, the two children left.
Meanwhile Lena had finished high school, had taken a year in the
Normal and secured a community school to teach, near Houston. She was
now eighteen, her face was interesting, some of the features were
fine. Her bluish-gray eyes could be particularly appealing; there was
much mobility of expression; a wealth of slightly curling, light-
chestnut hair was always stylishly arranged; in fact, her whole make-
up caused the young fellows to speak of her as the "cityfied school-
marm." Then came the merchant's son and all was going well, so well
that they both pledged their love and plighted their troth. The
temporary distraction of her lover's attention, deflected by the
visiting brunette in silks, an inadvertently broken appointment (the
train was late and he could not help it), and the first attack of the
"jerks" among strangers is recorded. They hastily summoned old Jake
Platt's son, just fresh from medical college, who, helpless with this
suffering bit of femininity, supplied in attention and practical
nursing what he lacked in medical discernment and skill, to the end
that one engagement was broken and another formed in a fortnight. Old
Jake had some money; the young doctor was starting in well, and needed
a wife; she was still jealous, and young Dr. Platt got a wife, who
molded his future as the modeler does his clay.

Within the first month the bride had another attack. They had planned
a trip to Houston to do some shopping and to attend the theater. The
doctor-husband was delayed on a case and found his young bride in the
throes of another nervous storm when he reached home, nor did the
symptoms entirely abate until he had promised her that he would always
come at once, no matter what other duties he might have, when she
needed him. By this promise he handicapped his future success as a
physician and did all that devoted ignorance could do to make certain
a periodic repetition of the convulsive seizures. This was but the
first of a series of concessions which involved his professional,
social and financial future, which her "infirmity" exacted of him as
the years passed. Later old Jake died and the doctor's share of his
big farms was an opportune help. But Mrs. Platt had a certain far-
reaching ambition; therefore, they soon moved to Houston. He would
have done well where he started; his education, his medical equipment,
his personality were certain to limit his progress in a city. The
doctor's wife was superficially bright, capable of adapting herself
with distinct charm to those she admired. She formed intense likes and
dislikes--while often impulsively kind-hearted, she could cling to
vindictive abuse for months. Here was a woman who proved very useful
on church committees, in societies, in Sunday-school, who worked
effectively in the Civic Club. She sang fairly well naturally, of
course "adored music" and was an efficient enthusiastic worker when
interested. But Lena Platt was never able to work when not interested.
Periodically her "fearful nervous spells" would interfere with all
duties. The doctor was absolutely subsidized. Had any other
attractions appealed to him, his wife's early evidences of implacable
jealousy would have proven a sure antidote. He was an unconscious
slave. Her nervousness expressed itself toward him in other terms than
convulsively. She had a tongue which from time to time blistered the
poor man. He would never talk back, fearful as he ever was of bringing
on one of those storms which, in his inadequate medical knowledge,
were as mysterious and ominous as epileptic attacks.

For years the absence of children in the home was a sorrow from which
much affecting sentimentality evolved, being as well the pathetic
cause for days of sickness, when outside interests were less
attractive to this artful sufferer than the attentions elicited by her
illness. Then out of the great gulf surged the heroic Galveston
tragedy, and the two orphan children came to fill the idealized want.
At first they received an abundance of impulsive loving, but unhappily
one day, a few months after they came, the foster-mother overheard the
elder girl make an unfavorable comparison between her and the real
mother; and for years distinctions were made--the younger being always
favored, the unfortunate, older child living half-terrorized, never
knowing when angry, unfair words would assail her.

Lena Platt had confided to several of her bosom friends the tragedy of
her unequal marriage and that she knew she would yet find a "soul
mate." There was a Choral Society in Houston one winter, and following
a few gratuitous compliments from the dapper young director, she
decided she had found it. He left in the spring and this dream faded.
A few months later the new minister's incautious exaggeration that "he
didn't know how he could run the church without her" came near
resulting in trouble, for some of the good sisters unkindly questioned
the quality of her sudden excessive devotion and religious zeal. Mrs.
Platt was not vicious, but she craved excitement; hers was a life of
constantly forming new plans. Attention from any source was sweet and
from those of prominence it was nectar. Things were pretty bad in the
doctor's home after the preacher episode, and she was finally
persuaded to let her husband call in another physician. He was very
nice to her, and while he never pretended to understand her case, his
medicine and advice benefited her tremendously and she went nearly a
year without a bad attack. Her visits to his office and her
conscienceless use of his time were finally brought to a sudden close
when one day he deliberately called other patients in, leaving her
unnoticed in the waiting-room. Bad times again, then other new
doctors, other periods of immunity from attacks, with exaggerated
devotion to each new helper until she had made the rounds of the
desirable, professional talent of Houston.

Meanwhile, impulsive extravagance had sadly reduced the Platt
inheritance, so when an acquaintance returned from St. Louis nervously
recreated by a specialist there, the poor doctor had to borrow on his
insurance to make it possible for her to have the benefit of this
noted physician's skill. The trip North meant sacrifice for the entire
family. Apparently she wished to be cured, and the treatment began
most auspiciously. After careful, expert investigation, assurance had
been given that if she would do her part, she could be made well in
six months. Her husband told the physician that he hoped he would
"look in on her often, for she will do anything on earth for one she
likes." The treatment was thorough-going; it began at the beginning,
and during the early weeks she was enthusiastically satisfied with the
skill of her treatment and the care of her special nurse, in whom she
found another "bosom friend," to whom she confided all. Her devotion
for the new doctor grew by leaps. Mistaking his kindness and thinking
perchance she might extract more beneficent sympathy by physical
methods, she impulsively threw herself into where-his-arms-would-have-
been had he not side-stepped. Her position physically and
sentimentally was awkward; the doctor called the nurse and left her.
Later he returned and did his best to appeal to her womanhood; he
analyzed her illness and showed her some of the damage it had wrought
both in her character and to others. He showed her the demoralization
which had grown out of her wretched surrender to impulsive desire. He
revealed to her the necessity for the effacement of much of her false
self and the true spiritualizing of her mind as the only road to
wholesome living. That same day Dr. Platt received a telegram
peremptorily demanding that he come for her. Upon his arrival he had a
short talk with the specialist who succinctly told him the problem as
he saw it. For a few minutes, and for a few minutes only, was his
faith in the helpless reality of his wife's sickness shaken; but faith
and pity and indignation were united as she told of her mistreatment
and how she had been outraged and her whole character questioned by
that "brutal doctor," who talked to her as no one had ever dared
before. She was going home on the first train and going home we found
her, having another attack in the Pullman. A collapse, her husband
told himself, from over-exertion and the result of her wounded
womanhood. "A plain case o' high-strikes" was the porter's diagnosis;
a sickness sufficiently adequate to have the sweet incense of much
public attention poured upon her wounded spirit--and to secure the
coveted drawing-room!

On her way home! She had spurned her one chance to be scientifically
taught the woefully needed lessons of right living-on her way to the
home which had become more and more chaotic with the passing of the
years and the dwindling of their means.

Who can count the price this woman has paid for her nervousness? At
fifty, with a scrawny, under-nourished body, the wrinkled remnants of
beauty, she suffers actual weakness and distress. Quick prostration
follows all effort, excepting when she is fired by excitement. All
ability to reason in the face of desire is gone; she is dominated by
emotions which become each year more unattractive; even the air-
castles are tumbled into ruins. Her husband is a slave--used as a
convenience. Her waning best is for those who attract her, her growing
worst for those who offend. One child's life is maimed by indulgence,
the other's by injustice. She has reached that moral depravity which
fails to recognize and accept any truth which is opposed to her
wishes. As she looks back over the vista of years, filled with many
activities, no monument of wholesome constructiveness remains; she has
blighted what she touched. Lena Platt, a wilful, spoiled, selfish
hysteric!



CHAPTER IV

WRECKING A GENERATION


The afternoon's heat was intense; it was reflecting in shimmering
waves from everything motionless, this breathless September day in
Donaldsville, Texas. Main Street is a half-mile long, unpainted "box-
houses" fringe either end and cluster unkemptly to the west, forming
the "city's" thickly populated "darky town." Near the station stands
the new three-story brick hotel, the pride of the metropolis. Not even
the Court House at the county seat is as imposing. Main Street is
flanked by parallel rows of one and two story, brick store-buildings,
from the fronts of which, and covering the wide, board-sidewalks,
extend permanent, wooden awnings; these are bordered by long racks
used for the ponies and mules of the Saturday crowds of "bottom
niggers" and "post oak farmers." The higher ground east of Main Street
is preempted by the comfortable residences of Donaldsville proper and
culminates in Quality Hill, where the two bankers and a select group
of wealthy bottom-planters lived in aristocratic supremacy. On this
particular afternoon, the town's only business street was about
deserted. On its shady side were hitched a few Texas ponies whose
drooping heads and wilted ears bespoke the heat--so hot it was that
the flies, even, did not molest them. Scattered groups of lounging,
idle men indicated the enervating influence of the sizzling 108
degrees in the shade.

But Donaldsville was not dead--perspiring certainly, but still
possessing one lively evidence of animation. From time to time peals
of boisterous laughter, boisterous but refreshing as the breath of a
breeze, a congenial, almost contagious laughter would roll up and down
Main Street even to its box-house fringes. Each peal would call forth
from some dusky denizen of the suburbs the proud recognition: "Dar's
Doctor Jim laughin' some mo'." Doctor Jim's laughter was one of
Donaldsville's attractive features. His friends living a mile away
claimed they often heard it--and everybody was Doctor Jim's friend. No
more genial, generous gentleman of the early post-bellum Texas South
could be found. His was an unfathomed well of good nature, good humor
and good stories. He knew all comers whether he had met them before or
not. For him, it was never "Stranger," it was always "Friend."

Let us take his proffered hand and feel the heartiness of its
greeting, feel its friendly shake, even to our shoe-soles. His good
humor beams from his deep-blue eyes; his shock of gray hair, which
knows no comb but his fingers, is pushed back from a brow which might
have been a scholar's, were it not so florid. A soft, white linen
shirt rolls deeply open, exposing a grizzled expanse of powerful
chest. Roomy, baggy, spotless, linen trousers do homage to the heat,
as does his broad, palm-fiber hat, used chiefly as a fan. Doctor Jim
McDonald, six feet in his socks, weighing 180 pounds, erect and manly
in bearing in spite of his negligee, is a remarkable specimen of
physical manhood at sixty-five. Even with the Saturday afternoon
crowds of the cotton-picking season, Main Street seems deserted if his
resounding laughter is not heard; but it takes something as serious as
a funeral to keep him away from his accustomed bench in front of
Doctor Will's drug-store, centrally located on the shady side of the
street. Doctor Will is Doctor Jim's brother, and is, according to the
negroes, a "sho-nuff" doctor.

Doctor Jim's life is comfortably monotonous. He had put up the first
windmill in the region roundabout and his was the first real bath-tub
in the county, and long before Donaldsville thought of water-works,
Doctor Jim's windmill was keeping the big cistern on stilts filled
from his deep artesian well. He started each day with a stimulating
plunge in his big tub, and never tired proclaiming that with this and
enough good whiskey he would live to be a hundred--and then Main
Street would stop and listen to the generous reverberations of his
deep-chested laugh. Three good meals, the best old Aunt Sue could cook
and Aunt Sue came from Mississippi with them after the war--were eaten
with an unflagging relish by this man whose digestion had never
discovered itself. Two mornings a week Doctor Jim drove leisurely out
to his big Trinity River plantation, a two-thousand-acre plantation,
where he was the beloved overlord of sixty negro families. This rich,
river-bottom farm, when cotton was at a good price, brought in so much
that Doctor Jim, with another of his big laughs, would say he was
"mighty lucky in having those rascally twins to throw some of it
away." One night a week he could always be found at the Lodge, and
once a day he covered each way the half-mile separating his generous,
rambling home on Quality Hill and Doctor Will's office. His only real
recreation was funerals. He would desert his shady seat and drive
miles to help lay away friend or foe--if foes he had. On such
occasions only, would he pass the threshold of a church. He
contributed generously to each of the town's five denominations and
showed considerable restraint in the presence of the cloth in his
choice of reminiscences, but it was always the occasion of a good-
natured uproar for him to proclaim, "The Missus has enough religion
for us both." Still the silence of his charity could have said truly
that his donation had constructed one-fifth of each church-building in
the town; in fact, it was his pride to double the Biblical one-tenth
in his giving.

Of his open-heartedness Doctor Jim rarely spoke but another pride was
his, to which he allowed no day to pass without some hilariously
expressed reference. He was proud of his whiskey-drinking. One quart
of Kentucky's best Bourbon from sun to sun, decade after decade! "I
have drunk enough whiskey to float a ship--and some ship too. Look at
me! Where will you find a healthier man at sixty-five? I haven't known
a sick minute since the war. If you drink whiskey right, with plenty
of water and plenty of eatin', it won't hurt anybody." This was the
law and the gospel to Doctor Jim; he never failed to proclaim it to
pale-faced youths or ailing mankind; and the Book of Judgment, alone,
will reveal the harvest of destruction which Time reaped through
Doctor Jim's influence in L---County. Yet, oddly, it was Doctor Jim's
principle and practice never to treat. He claimed he had never offered
a living soul a social drink.

"Drink whiskey right and it won't hurt anybody!" Did it hurt?

Doctor Jim and his two brothers spent their early life on a plantation
in Mississippi. The father wanted the boys to be educated. Two of them
took medical courses in New Orleans. Doctor Jim wished to see more of
the world, and literally did see much of it on a two-year cruise
around the Horn to the East Indies and China. He was thirty-five years
old in '60 when he married. Then he served as surgeon--"mighty poor
surgeon" he used to say, for a Mississippi regiment throughout the
four years of the Civil War. He and his two brothers passed through
this conflict and returned home to find their father dead, the negroes
scattered and the old plantation devastated. The three with their
families journeyed to Texas--the then Land of Promise! At twenty-five
cents an acre they bought river-bottom lands which are to-day
priceless, and the losses of the past were soon forgotten in the rapid
prosperity of the following years.

Mrs. McDonald represented all that high type of character which the
dark years of the war brought out in so many instances of Southern
womanhood. Patient, hopeful, uncomplaining she lived through the four
years of war-time separation, left her own people and journeyed to the
Southwest to begin life anew. She was particularly robust of physique,
domestic in a high sense, gentle and deeply kind. She passed through
hardship, privation and prosperity practically not knowing sickness.
Her children could not have had better mother-stock, and the scant
days were in the past, so they never knew the lack of plenty. There
were eight, from Edith, born in 1870, to Frank, in 1885, including the
twins.

Did whiskey-drinking hurt?

Edith grew into a slender, retiring girl, her paleness accentuated by
her black hair. She was quiet, read much, and took little interest in
out-of-door activities, entering into the play-life of the other
children but rarely. Her father insisted, later, on her riding, and
she became a fair horsewoman. She was refined in all her relations.
Edith went to New Orleans at seventeen. The spring after, she
developed a hacking cough and had one or two slight hemorrhages, but
at twenty was better and married an excellent young merchant. The
child was born when she was twenty-two; three weeks later the mother
died, leaving a pitiable, scrofulous baby, which medical and nursing
skill kept lingering eighteen months.

The first boy was named James, Jr., as we should expect, and, as we
should not expect, was never called "Jim." But James was not right. He
developed slowly, did not walk till over three, was talking poorly at
five; he was subject to convulsions and destructive outbreaks; he was
uncertain and clumsy in his movements, so provision was made that he
might always have some one with him. But even in the face of this
care, he stumbled and fell into the laundry-pot with its boiling
family-wash, was badly scalded and seriously blinded. James mercifully
died two years later in one of his convulsions.

Mabel was the flower of the family. Through her girlhood she was
lovable in every way, and beloved. She was blond like her father,
though not as robust as either father or mother, and in ideals and
character was truly the latter's daughter. She finished in a finishing
school, had musical ability and charm, and soon married and made a
happy home--an unusual home, until the birth of the first child. Since
then it has been a fight for health, with the pall of her family's
history smothering each rekindling hope. Operations and sanatoria,
health-resorts and specialists have not restored, and she lives, a
neurasthenic mother of two neurotic children. Happiness has long fled
the home where it so loved to bide those early days, before the strain
and stress of maternity had drained the mother's poor reserve of
vitality.

The history of Will and John, named for the two uncles, would prove
racy reading through many chapters. "The Twins" were the father's text
for spicy stories galore many years before their death. From the
first, they were "two young sinners." They both had active minds--
overactive in devising deviltry. Mischievous as little fellows, never
punished, practically never corrected by their father, humored by
sisters, house-servants, and the plantation-hands, feared and admired
by other boys, they seemed proof against any helpful influence from
the earnest, pained, prayerful mother. As boys of ten, they had become
"town talk" and were held responsible for all pranks and practical
jokes perpetrated in Donaldsville or thereabout, unless other guilty
ones were captured red-handed. Multiply your conception of a "bad boy"
by two and you will have Will at twelve; repeat the process and you
will have John. They possessed one quality--dare we call it virtue?--
which kept them dear to Doctor Jim's heart through their very worst.
They never lied to him, no matter what their misdeeds. They could lie
as veritable troopers, but from him the truth in its rankest boldness
was never withheld. As the years passed, they made many and deep
excursions into the old doctor's pocket. But he paid the bills
cheerfully and sent his reverberating laugh chasing the speedy
dollars, as soon as he got with some of his Main Street cronies. The
boys planned and worked together, protecting each other most cleverly.
Still they were expelled from every school they attended after they
were thirteen. A military academy noted for its ability to handle hard
cases found them quite too mature in their wild ways, and sent them
home. They may, for reasons best known to themselves, have been
"square with the old man," but they were a pair of thoroughgoing
toughs by twenty, not only fast but cruel, even brutal, in their evil-
doing.

Will was the first to show the strain of the pace. When twenty-two,
the warning cough sobered him a bit, and in John's faithful and
congenial company, he went first to Denver, then to New Mexico.
Doctors' orders were irksome, whiskey and cards the only available
recreation for the boys, and so they tried to follow their father's
example in developing a powerful physique on Kentucky Bourbon
("best"). John suddenly quit drinking. "Acute nephritis" was on the
shipping paster. Delirium tremens was the truth. Will was too frail to
accompany his brother's remains home. He was pretty lonely and
anxious, and miserable without John, but for several weeks behaved
quite to the doctor's satisfaction. It didn't last long, and within
the year tuberculosis and Bourbon laid him beside his brother.

May was a promising girl, "almost a hoiden," the neighbors said. She
rode the ponies bareback; she played boys' games, and at twelve looked
as though the problem of health could never complicate her glad, young
life. But cough and hemorrhage, twin specters, stalked in at sixteen
and the poor child fairly melted away and was gone in a year.

Annabel, the youngest girl, was a quiet child and thoughtful. Some
called her dull, but rather, it seems, she early sensed her fate. When
but a child she was sent to "San Antone" and operated on by a throat
specialist. After May's death she went to the mountains each summer
and spent two winters in South Texas. But she grew more and more thin,
and in the end it was tuberculosis.

Frank, the last child, was different from all the others. He seemed
bright of mind and active of body. He attended school as had none of
the other boys; he even went to Sunday-school. Physically and
mentally, he gave promise of prolonging the family line--but he proved
his father's only admitted regret. He lied and he stole. The money
which his father would have given him freely he preferred to get by
cunning. Doctor Jim could not tolerate what he called dishonesty, and
from time to time they would have words and Frank would be gone for
months. His cleverness made him a fairly successful gambler; that he
played the game "crooked" is probably evidenced by his being shot in a
gambling-joint before he was thirty.

We have thus scanned the-wreckage of a generation bred in alcohol.
Children they were of unusual physical and mental parentage, parents
who never knowingly offended their consciences, children reared in
most healthful surroundings with every comfort and opportunity for
normal development. Four of them showed their physical inferiority
through the early infection and unusually poor resistance to
tuberculosis; one was born an imbecile; one died directly from the
effects of drink; the only girl who survived early maturity, the best
of them all, spent twenty years a nervous sufferer, mothering two
nervously defective children; the physically best was the morally
worst and died a criminal.

Doctor Jim lived on with his habits unchanged, his laugh, only, losing
something in volume and more in infectiousness. Still proud of his
health he preached the gospel of good whiskey well drunk, never
sensing his part in the tragedy of his own fireside. He was nearly
eighty when the stroke came which bereft him of any possibility of
understanding, or of knowing remorse. He had laid his wife away some
years previously and for months he lingered on paralyzed, demented, in
the big, empty house, cared for by an old negro couple, hardly
recognizing Mabel when she came twice a year, but never forgetting
that, "Whiskey won't hurt anybody."



CHAPTER V

THE NERVOUSLY DAMAGED MOTHER


His name is not Lawrence Adams Abbott. The surname really is that of
one of America's first families. He, himself, is among the few living
of a third generation of large wealth.

It was an early-summer afternoon and Dr. Abbott--for he was a graduate
of Cornell Medical--was standing at one of the train gates of the
Grand Central Station in New York. As he waits apart from the small
crowd assembled to welcome, he attracts observing attention. His face
appears thirty; he is thirty-six. The features are finely cut, the
chin is especially good. The eyes are blue-gray, and a slight pallor
probably adds to his apparent distinction. His attitude is languid,
the handling of his cane gracefully indolent, the almost habitual
twisting of his chestnut-brown mustache attractively self-satisfied.
His clothing is handsome, of distinctive materials, and tailored to
the day. So much for an observing estimate. The critical observer
would note more. He would detect a sluggishness in the responses of
the pupils, as the eyes listlessly travel from face to face, producing
an effect of haunting dulness. Mumbling movements of the lips, a
slightly incoordinate swaying of the body, might speak for short
periods of more than absent-mindedness.

But the gates open and after the eager, intense meetings, and the more
matter-of-fact assumption of babies and bundles, the red-capped
porters, with their lucky burdens of fashionable traveling-cases,
pilot or follow the sirs and mesdames of fortune. Among these is one
whose handsome face is mellowed by softening, early-gray hair, and
whose perfect attire and tenderness in greeting our doctor at once
associate mother and son. She has just come down the Hudson on one of
the few seriously difficult errands of her fifty-six years.

Two weeks have passed. The room is stark bare, save for two
mattresses, a heap of disheveled bed clothes, and two men. The hours
are small and the dim, guarded light, intended to soften, probably
intensifies the weirdness of the picture. The suspiciously plain
woodwork is enameled in a dull monochrome. The windows are guarded
with protecting screens. One man, an attendant, lies orderly on his
pallet; the other, a slender figure in pajamas, crouches in a corner.
His hair is bestraggled; his face is livid; his pupils, widely
dilated; his dry lips part now and then as he mutters and mumbles
inarticulately or chuckles inanely. Now starting, again abstracted, he
is capable of responding for a moment only, as the attendant offers
him his nourishment. A few seconds later he is groaning and twisting,
obviously in pain, pain which is forgotten as quickly, as he reaches
here and there for imaginary, flying, floating things. Real sleep has
not closed his eyes for now nearly three nights. He is delirious in an
artificial, merciful semi-stupor, which is saving him the untold
sufferings of morphine denial. Before this unhappy Dr. Abbott stretch
long, wearisome weeks of readjustment, weeks of physical pain and
mental discomfort, weeks, let us hope, of soul-prodding remorse. His
only chance for a future worth spending lies in months of physical
reeducation, of teaching his femininely soft body the hardness which
stands for manliness; for him must be multiplied days of mental
reorganization to change the will of a weakling into saving
masterfulness; nor will these suffice unless, in the white heat of a
moral revelation, the false tinsel woven into the fabric of his
character be consumed. For months he must deny himself the luxuries,
even many of the comforts, his mother's wealth is eager to give. Yet
these weeks and months of development may never be, for in a short
time he will again be legally accountable, and probably will resent
and refuse constructive discipline, and return to a satin-upholstered
life--his cigarettes, his wine-dinners, his liquors, and his "rotten
feeling" mornings after--then to his morphin and to his certain
degradation. And why should this be? Time must turn back the hands on
her dial thirty-three years that we may know.

The fine Abbott home was surrounded by a small suburban estate near
Philadelphia, a generation ago; we have met the then young mistress of
the mansion, at the Grand Central Station. It was a home of richness,
a home of discriminating wealth, a home of artistic beauty; it was a
home of nervous tension. This neurotic intensity was not of the cheap
helter-skelter, melodramatic sort; there was a splendid veneer of
control. But all the mother's plans and activities depended on the
moods, whims and impulses of little Lawrence, the only child, then
glorying in the hey-day of his three-year-old babyhood. It was a
household kept in dignified turmoil by this child of wealth, who
needed a poor boy's chance to be a lovable, hearty, normal chap. It
was overattention to his health, with its hundreds of impending
possibilities; to his food, with the unsolvable perplexity of what the
doctor advised and of what the young sire wanted. More of
satisfaction, perhaps, was found in clothing the youth, as he cared
less about these details; still, an unending variety of weights and
materials was provided that all hygienic and social requirements might
be adequately met. Anxious thought was daily spent that his play and
playmates might be equally pleasing and free from danger. Almost
prayerful investigation was made of the servants who ministered, and
tense, sleepless hours were spent by this nervous mother striving to
wisely decide between the dangers to her child of travel and those
other dangers of heated summers and bleak winters at home. Frequent
trips into the city and frequent visitations from the city were made,
that expert advice be obtained. Consultations were followed by counter
consultations and conferences which but added the mocking counsel of
indecision. And the marble of her beauty began to show faint marrings
chiseled by tension and anxiety--for was not Lawrence her only son!

It was a home of double standards. The father was a wholesome,
serious-minded, essentially reasonable, Cornell man. His ideas were
manly and from time to time he laid down certain principles, and when
at home, with apparently little effort, exacted and secured a ready
and certainly not unhappy, obedience from his son. But business
interests and responsibilities were large and the bracing tonic of his
association with the boy was all too passing to put much blood-
richness into the pallor of the child's developing character.
Moreover, this intermittent helpfulness was more than counteracted by
the mother's disloyal, though unconscious dishonesty. Hers was an
open, if need be a furtive, overattention and overstimulation, an
inveterate surrender to the sweet tyranny of her son's childish whims.
There was probably nothing malicious in her many little plans which
kept the father out of the nursery and ignorant of much of their boy's
tutelage. The mother was only repeating fully in principle, and
largely in detail, her own rearing; and had she not "turned out to be
one of the favored few?"

The suburban special went into a crash, and all that a fine father
might have done through future years to neutralize the unwholesome
training of a nervous mother was lost. In fact, her power for harm was
now multiplied. The large properties and business were hers through
life, and with husband gone, and so tragically, there was increased
opportunity, and unquestionably more reason, for the intensification
of her motherly care. So the fate of a fine man's son is left in the
hands of a servile mother.

It now became a home of restrained extravagance. The table was fairly
smothered with rare and rich foods. Fine wines and imported liquors
entered into sauces and seasonings. The boy's playroom was a veritable
toy-shop, with its hundreds of useless and unused playthings. Long
before any capacity for understanding enjoyment had come, this
unfortunate child had lost all love for the simple. With Mrs. Abbott,
it was always "the best that money can buy"--unwittingly, the worst
for her child's character. It was a home of formal morality. Sunday
morning services were religiously attended; charities of free giving,
the giving which did not cost personal effort, were never failing. It
was a home of selfish unselfishness. All weaknesses in the son
throughout the passing years were winked at. Never from his mother did
Lawrence know that sympathy, sometimes hard, often abrupt, never
pampering, which breeds self-help.

Lawrence went to the most painstakingly selected, private preparatory-
schools, and later, as good Abbotts had done for generations, entered
Cornell. He had no taste for business. For years he had been
associated with gifted and agreeable doctors; he liked the dignity of
the title; so, after two years of academic work, he entered the
medical department and graduated with his class. These were good
years. His was not a nature of active evil. Many of his impulses were
quite wholesome, and college fraternity camaraderie brought out much
that was worthy. In the face of maternal anxiety and protest, he went
out for track, made good, stuck to his training and in his senior year
represented the scarlet and white, getting a second in the
intercollegiate low hurdles. Another trolley crash now, and he might
have been saved!

All through his college days a morbid fear had shortened his mother's
sleep hours with its wretchedness. Her boy was everything that would
attract attractive women. Away from her influence he might marry
beneath him, so all the refinements of intrigue and diplomacy were
utilized that a certain daughter of blood and wealth might become her
daughter-in-law. The two women were clever, and woe it was that his
commencement-day was soon followed by his wedding-day. No more
sumptuous wedding-trip could have been arranged-to California, to the
Islands of the Pacific, to India, to Egypt, then a comfortable
meandering through Europe. A year of joy-living they planned that they
might learn to know each other, with all the ministers of happiness in
attendance. But the disagreements of two petted children made murky
many a day of their prolonged festal journey, and beclouded for them
both many days of the elaborate home-making after the home-coming. And
the murkiness and cloudiness were not dissipated when parenthood was
theirs. Neither had learned the first page in Life's text-book of
happiness, and as both, could not have their way at the same time,
rifts grew into chasms which widened and deepened. Then the wife
sought attentions she did not get at home in social circles and the
husband sought comforts his wife and his home did not give, in drink
and fast living, later with cocain and morphin. The ugliness of it all
could not be lessened by the divorce, which became inevitable. By
mutual agreement, the rearing of the child was intrusted to the
father's mother, who to-day shapes its destiny with the same
unwholesome solicitude which denied to her own son the heritage of
wholesome living.

We met father and grandmother as she arrived in New York to arrange
for the treatment, which even his beclouded brain recognized as
urgent; and we leave him with a darkening future, unless Fate snatches
away a great family's millions, or works the miracle of self-
revelation, or the greater miracle of late-life reformation in the son
of this nervously damaged mother.



CHAPTER VI

THE MESS OF POTTAGE


"I know Clara puts too much butter in her fudge. It always gives me a
splitting headache, but gee, isn't it good! I couldn't help eating it
if I knew it was going to kill me the next day." The Pale Girl looks
the truth of her exclamations, as she strolls down the campus-walk
arm-in-arm with the Brown Girl, between lectures the morning after.

Clara Denny had given the "Solemn Circle" another of her swell fudge-
feasts in her room the night before, and, as usual, had wrecked sleep,
breakfast, and morning recitations for the elect half-dozen, with the
very richness of her hand-brewed lusciousness. They called Clara the
Buxom Lass, and they called her well. She was, physically, a mature
young woman at sixteen, healthy, vigorous, rose-cheeked, plump, and
not uncomely, frolicsome and care-free, with ten dollars a week, "just
for fun." She was a worthy leader of the Solemn Circle of sophomores
which she had organized, each member of which was sacredly sworn to
meet every Friday night for one superb hour of savory sumptuousness--
in the vernacular, "swell feeds."

Clara was a Floridian. Her father had shrewdly monopolized the
transfer business in the state's metropolis, and from an humble one-
horse start now operated two-score moving-vans and motor-trucks, and
added substantially, each year, to his real-estate holdings. Mr. Denny
let fall an Irish syllable from time to time, regularly took his
little "nip o' spirits," and ate proverbially long and often. Year
after year passed, with the hardy man a literal cheer-leader in the
Denny household, till his gradually hardening arteries began to leak.
Then came the change which brought Clara home from college--home,
first to companion, then to nurse, and finally through ugly years, to
slave for this disintegrating remnant of humanity. Slowly,
reluctantly, this genial, old soul descended the scale of human life.
He was dear and pathetic in the early, unaccustomed awkwardness of his
painless weakness. "Only a few days, darlin', and we'll have a spin in
the car and your father'll show thim upstarts how to rustle up the
business." The rustling days did not come, but short periods of
irritability did. He wanted his "Clara-girl" near and became impatient
in her absence. He objected to her mother's nursing, and later became
suspicious that she was conspiring to keep Clara from him, and often
greeted both mother and daughter with unreasonable words. His
interests narrowed pitiably, until they did not extend beyond the
range of his senses, and the senses themselves dulled, even as did his
feelings of fineness. He grew careless in his habits, and required
increasing attention to his beard and clothing. Coarseness first
peeped in, then became a permanent guest--a coarseness which the
wife's presence seemed to inflame, and which could be stilled finally
only by the actual caress of his daughter's lips. And with the slow
melting of brain-tissue went every vestige of decency; vile thoughts
which had never crossed the threshold of John Denny's normal mind
seemed bred without restraint in the caldron of his diseased brain.
His was a vital sturdiness which, for ten years, refused death, but
during the last of these he was physically and morally repellent.
Sentiment, that too-often fear of unkind gossip, or ignorant
falsifying of consequences, stood between this family and the proper
institutional and professional care, which could have given him more
than any family's love, and protected those who had their lives to
live from memories which are mercilessly cruel.

Clara's older brother had much of his father's good cheer and less of
his father's good sense. He, too, had money to use "just for fun," and
Jacksonville was very wide open. So, after his father's misfortune had
eliminated paternal restraint, the boy's "nips o' spirits" multiplied
into full half-pints. For twelve years he drank badly, was cursed by
his father, prayed for by his mother, and wept over by Clara. The
wonderful power of a Christian revival saved him. He "got religion"
and got it right, and lives a sane, sober life.

The older sister had married while Clara was at school, and lived with
her little family in Charleston. Her "duty" was in her home, but this
duty became strikingly emphasized when things "went wrong" in
Jacksonville, and she frankly admitted that she was entirely "too
nervous to be of any use around sickness"; nor did she ever come to
help, even when Clara's cup of trouble seemed running over. And this
cup was filled with bitterness when, suddenly, the mother had a
"stroke," and the care of two invalids and the presence of her
periodically drunk brother made ruthless demands on her twenty years.
The mother had been a sensible woman, for her advantages, and most
efficient, and under her teaching Clara had become exceptionally
capable. The two invalids now lay in adjoining rooms. "Either one may
go at any time," the doctor said, and when alone in the house with
them the daughter was haunted with a morbid dread which frequently
caused her to hesitate before opening the door, with the fear that she
might find a parent gone. As it happened, she was away, taking
treatment, unable to return home, when grippe and pneumonia took the
mother, and the candle of the father's life finally flickered out.

Clara had handled the home situation with intermittent efficiency.
When she entered her father's sick-room, called suddenly from the
thoughtless hilarities of the Solemn Circle and fudge-feasts, and saw
him so altered, and, for him, so dangerously frail, in his invalid
chair, something went wrong with her breathing; the air could not get
into her lungs; there was a smothering in her throat and she toppled
over on the bed. It seemed to take smelling-salts and brandy to bring
her back. She said afterwards that she was not unconscious, that she
knew all that was happening, but felt a stifling sense of suffocation.
Later after one of her father's first unnatural outbreaks, she
suffered a series of chills and her mother thought, of course, it was
malaria; but many big doses of quinin did not break it up, and no
matter when the doctor came, his little thermometer revealed no fever.
She spent three months at Old Point Comfort and the chills were never
so bad again. Other distressing internal symptoms appeared closely
following the shock of her mother's sudden paralysis. An operation and
a month in a northern hospital were followed by comparative relief.
But her nervous symptoms finally became acute and she was spending the
spring and early summer on rest-cure in a sanitarium when her parents
died. The Jacksonville home was then closed.

Soon after, Clara was profoundly impressed at the same revival in
which her brother was converted. While she could not leave her church
to join this less formal denomination, she entered into Home
Missionary activities with much zest. At this time a friendship was
formed with a woman-physician who, as months of association passed,
attained a reasonably clear insight into her life and encouraged her
to enter a well-equipped, church training-school for deaconesses. The
spell of the religious influences of the past year's revival was still
strong; this, and the stimulation of new resolves, carried her along
well for six months. In her studies and practical work she showed
ability, efficiency and flashes of common sense. Then she became
enamored of a younger woman, a class-mate--her heart was empty and
hungry for the love which means so much to woman's life. Unhappily,
she overheard her unfaithful loved one comment to a confidante: "It
makes me sick to be kissed by Clara Denny." Another damaging shock,
followed by another series of bad attacks--the old spells, chills and
internal revolutions had returned. She rapidly became useless and a
burden. The school-doctor sent her a thousand miles to another
specialist.

We first met Clara Denny effervescent, winning, almost charming--a
sixteen-year-old minx. Let us scrutinize her at thirty-six. What a
deformation! She weighs one hundred and seventy-three--she is only
five-feet-four; her face is heavy, soggy, vapid; her eyes, abnormally
small; her complexion is sallow, almost muddy; her chin, trembling and
double; strongly penciled, black eye-brows are the only remnant
apparent of the "Buxom Lass" of twenty years ago. Her hands are pudgy;
her figure soft, mushy, sloppy; her presence is unwholesome. The
specialist found her internally as she appeared externally. While not
organically diseased, the vital organs were functionally inert. Every
physical and chemical evidence pointed to the accumulation in a
naturally robust body of the twin toxins--food poison and under
oxidation. She was haunted by a fear of paralysis. She confused
feelings with ideas and was certain her mind was going. The spells
which had first started beside her invalid father were now of daily
occurrence. She, nor any one else knew when she would topple over. She
found another reason for her belief that her brain was affected in her
increasingly frequent headaches. For years she had been unable to read
or study without her glasses, because of the pain at the base of her
brain. When these wonderful glasses were tested, they were found to
represent one of the mildest corrections made by opticians; in fact,
her eyes were above the average. Her precious glasses were practically
window-glass.

Much of each day had been spent in bed, and hot coffee and hot-water
bottles were required to keep off the nerve-racking chills which
otherwise followed each fainting spell. Her appetite never flagged.
She had been a heavy meat eater from childhood. There never was a
Denny meal without at least two kinds of meat, and one cup of coffee
always, more frequently two--no namby-pamby Postum effects, but the
genuine "black-drip." In the face of much dental work, her sweet tooth
had never been filled. She loved food, and her appetite demanded
quantity as well as quality. Of peculiar significance was the fact
that throughout the years she had never had a spell when physically
and mentally comfortable, but, as the years passed, the amount of
discomfort which could provoke a nervous disturbance became less and
less. She was a well-informed woman, quite interesting on many
subjects, outside of herself, and had done much excellent reading.
Unafflicted, she would mentally have been more than usually
interesting. When her specialist began the investigation of her moral
self, he found her impressed with the belief that she was a "saved
woman," ready and only waiting health that she might take up the
Lord's work. But as he sought her soul's deeper recesses, he uncovered
a quagmire. Resentment rankled against the sister who had left her
alone to meet the exhausting burdens of their parents' illness and
brother's drinking--a sister who had taken care of herself and her own
family, regardless. Worse than resentment smoldered against the
father, a dull, deadening enmity, born in the hateful hours of his
odious, but helpless, dementia. Burning deep was an unappeased protest
that, instead of the normal life and pleasures and opportunities of
other girls, she had been chained to his objectionable presence.

Treatment was undertaken, based upon a clear conception of her moral,
mental and physical needs. Seven months of intensive right-living were
enjoined. The greatest difficulty was found in compelling restraint
from food excesses. The love for good things to eat was theoretically
shelved, but, practically, the forces of desire and habit seemed
insurmountable. Her craving for "good eats" now and then discouraged
her resolutions and she periodically broke over the rigid hospital
regimen. But she was helped in every phase of her living. The skin
cleared; a hint of the roses returned; twenty-five pounds of more than
useless weight melted away and weeks passed with no threat of spell or
chill. She was renewing her youth. A righteous understanding of the
lessons which her years of sacrifice held, appealed to her judgment,
if not to her feelings, and, as a new being, she returned to the
church training-school.

Most fully had Miss Denny been instructed in principle and in practice
concerning the, for her, vital lessons of nutritional right-living.
Each step of the way had been made clear, and it had proven the right
way by the test of practical demonstration. The outlined schedule of
habits, including some denials and some gratuitous activity, kept her
in prime condition--in fact, in improving condition, for six highly
satisfactory months. Never had she accomplished so much; never did
life promise more, as the result of her own efforts. She had earned
comforts which had apparently deposed forever her old nervous enemies.
Victorious living seemed at her finger-tips. Then she sold her birth-
right.

She was feeling so well; why could she not be like other people?
Certainly once in a while she could have the things she "loved." It
was only a small mess of pottage--some chops, a cup of real coffee,
some after-dinner mints. The doctor had proscribed them all, but "Once
won't hurt." Her conscience did prick, but days passed; there was no
spell, no chill, no headache. "It didn't hurt me" was her triumphant
conclusion; and again she ventured and nothing happened--and again,
and again. Then the coffee every day and soon sweets and meats,
regardless; then coffee to keep her going. The message of the
returning fainting spells was unheeded, unless answered by
recklessness, for fear thoughts had come and old enmities and new ones
haunted in. Routine and regimen had gone weeks before, and now a
vacation had to be. She did not return to her work, but deluded
herself with a series of pretenses. Before the year was gone, the imps
of morbid toxins came into their own and she resorted to wines, later
to alcohol in stronger forms--and alcohol usually makes short work of
the fineness God gives woman.

We leave Clara Denny at forty, leave her on the road of license which
leads to ever-lowering levels.



CHAPTER VII

THE CRIME OF INACTIVITY


A half-century ago the Stoneleighs moved West and located in Hot
Springs. The wife had recently fallen heir to a few thousand dollars,
which, with unusual foresight, were invested in suburban property. Mr.
Stoneleigh was a large man, one generation removed from England,
active, and noticeably of a nervous type. He was industrious,
practically economical, single-minded; these qualities stood him in
the stead of shrewdness. From their small start he became rapidly
wealthy as a dealer in real estate. Mr. Stoneleigh was a generous
eater; his foods were truly simple in variety but luxurious in their
quality and richness. Prime roast-beef, fried potatoes, waffles and
griddle-cakes supplied him with heat, energy and avoirdupois. He
suddenly quit eating at fifty-eight--there was a cerebral hemorrhage
one night. His remains weighed one hundred and ninety-five.

The wife was a comfortable mixture of Irish and English. Her people
were so thrifty that she had but a common-school education. She was
the only child, her industrious mother let her go the way of least
resistance, and were we tracing responsibility of the criminality
behind our tragedy, Mrs. Stoneleigh's mother would probably be cited
as the guilty one. The way of least resistance is usually pretty easy-
going, and keeps within the valley of indulgence. Therefore, Mrs.
Stoneleigh worked none, was a true helpmate to her husband, at the
table, and like him, grew fat, and from mid-life waddled on, with her
hundred and eighty pounds. She was superstitiously very religious,
with the kind of religion that shudders at the thought of missing
Sunday morning service or failing to be a passive attendant at the
regular meetings of the Church Aid Society. Practically, the heathen
were taught American civilization, and she herself was assured
sumptuous reservations in Glory by generous donations to the various
missionary societies.

The only real ordeal which this woman ever faced was the birth of
Henry, her first child; she was very ill and suffered severely. The
mother instinct centered upon this boy the fulness of her devotion--a
devotion which never swerved nor faltered, a devotion which never
questioned, a devotion which became a self-forgetting servility. John
arrived almost unnoticed three years later, foreordained to be this
older brother's henchman as long as he remained at home. John
developed. Education was not featured in the Stoneleighs' program, so
John stopped after his first year at high school, but he was
energetic, and through serving Henry had learned to work. At twenty he
married, left the family roof, and starting life for himself in a
nearby metropolis became a successful coal-merchant.

Little Henry Stoneleigh would have thrilled any mother's heart with
pride. He had every quality a perfect baby should have, and grew into
a large handsome boy, healthy and strong; his disposition was the envy
of neighboring mothers; nor was it the sweet goodness of inertia, for
he was mentally and emotionally quick and responsive above the
average. Indulged by his mother from the beginning and always
preferred to his brother, he never recognized duty as duty. This young
life was innocent of anything which suggested routine; order for him
was a happen-so or an of-course result of his mother's or John's
efforts; the details necessary for neatness were never allowed to
ruffle his ease nor to interfere with his impulses. The Stoneleighs'
home was a generous pile, locally magnificent, but our young scion's
fine, front room was perennially a clutter. From his birth up, Henry
was never taught the rudiments of responsibility. His boyhood,
however, was not unattractive. He had inherited a large measure of
vitality and was protected from disappointments or irritations by the
many comforts which a mother's devotion and wealth can arrange and
provide. His memory was superior. The boy inherited not only an
exceptional physique, but mental ability which made his early studies
too easy to suggest any objection on his part. In fact, he was
actively interested in much of his school work and did well without
the conscious expenditure of energy. Little discrimination was shown
in the arrangements for his higher education; still he arrived at a
popular Western Boy's Academy, rather dubious in his own mind as to
just how large a place he would hold in the sun, with mother and John
back home. Rather rudely assailed were some of his easy-going habits,
and considerable ridicule from certain sources rapidly decided his
choice of companions. It was young Stoneleigh's misfortune that at
this epoch in his development he was situated where money could buy
immunities and attract apparent friendships. He was of fine
appearance, and should by all rights have made center on the Academy
football team, being the largest, heaviest, strongest boy in school.
But one day in football togs is the sum of his football history.
Academy days went in good feeds, the popularity purchased by his
freedom of purse and easy-going good fellowship, and much reading,
which he always enjoyed and which, with his good memory, made him
unusually well-informed. Finals even at this Academy demanded special
effort, which, with Henry, was not forthcoming, so he returned home
without his diploma. This incident decided him not to attempt college,
so for a year he again basked in the indulgences of home-life. His
father's business interests had no appeal for him, but the personal
influence of a young doctor, with his vivid tales of medical-college
experiences, and the struggling within of a never recognized ambition,
with some haphazard suggestions from his mother, determined him to
study medicine.

At this time a medical degree could still be obtained in a few schools
at the end of two years' attendance. Henry chose a Tennessee college
which has, for reasons, long since ceased to exist, an institution
which practically guaranteed diplomas. Here after three very
comfortable years, he was transformed into "Doc" Stoneleigh. At
twenty-five, "Doc" weighed two hundred and forty, and returned home
for another period of rest. He did not open an office, nor did he ever
begin the practice of his profession. During the next five years he
lived at home, sleeping and reading until two in the afternoon, his
mother carrying breakfast and lunch to his room. The late afternoons
and evenings he spent in hotel-lobbies and pool-rooms, where he was
always welcomed by a bunch of sports. Popular through his small
prodigalities, he, at thirty, possessed a more than local reputation
for the completeness of his assortment of salacious stories--his
memory and native social instinct were herein successfully utilized.
"Doc" now weighed two hundred and eighty-five, ate much, exercised
none, and was the silent proprietor of a pool-room, obnoxious even in
this wide-open town.

At twelve he had begun smoking cigarettes; at twenty he smoked them
day and night. The entire family drank beer, but, oddly, the desire
for alcohol never developed with him. Yet at thirty he began acting
queerly, and it was generally thought that he was drinking. Often now
he did not go home at night and was frequently found dead asleep on
one of his pool-tables. He had fixed up a den of a room where they
would move him to "sleep it off." A fad for small rifles developed
till he finally had over twenty of different makes in his den and
spent many nights wandering around the alleys, shooting rats and stray
cats. Eats became an obsession. They invaded his room and he would
frequently awaken suddenly and empty the first gun he reached at their
imaginary forms, much to the disquiet of the neighbors. One night he
burst out of his place, began shooting wildly up and down the street
and rushing about in a frenzy. No single guardian of the peace
presumed to interfere with his hilarity, and two of the six who came
in the patrol-wagon had dismissed action for deep contemplation before
he was safely locked up as "drunk." The matter was kept quiet, as
befitted the prominence of the Stoneleighs.

To his mother's devotion now was added fear, and she freely responded
to his demands for funds. There were no more outbreaks, but he was
obviously becoming irresponsible, and influences finally secured his
mother's consent to take him to a special institution in another
state. This was quietly effected through the cooperation of the family
physician, who successfully drugged poor "Doc" into pacific inertness.
He was legally committed to an institution empowered to use
constructive restraint, and for four months benefited by the only
wholesome training his wretched life had ever known. Here it was
discovered that he had been using quantities of codein and cocain,
against the sale of which there were then no restrictions. Unusual had
been his physical equipment, his indulgences unchecked by any
sentiment or restraint, the penalty of inactivity was meting a
horrible exaction--an exaction which could be dulled only by dope. In
the early prime of what should have been manhood, this unfortunate's
mind, as revealed to the institution's authorities during his days of
enforced drugless discomfort, was a filthy cess-pool; cursings and
imprecations, vile and vicious, were vomited forth in answer to every
pain. His brother, his doctors, his mother were execrated for days,
almost without ceasing. Here was a man without principle. As he became
more comfortable, physically, he became more decent, and later his
natural, social tendencies began to reappear attractively.

At the end of four months the patient was perforce much better. He
then succeeded in inducing his mother to have him released "on
probation." Many fair promises were made. For months he was to have an
attendant as a companion. His mother, believing him well, consented,
after securing his promise in writing to return for treatment should
there be a relapse into his old habits. As evidencing the decay of his
character, these fair promises were made without the slightest
intention that they would be kept. The first important city reached
after crossing the state-line saw his demeanor change. Beyond the
legal authority of the state in which he had been committed, he was
free, and he knew it. With a few words he consigned his now helpless
attendant to regions sulphurous, and alone took train in the opposite
direction from home. For several months he went the paces. With his
medical knowledge and warned by his recent experiences he was able to
so adjust his doses as to avoid falling into the hands of the
authorities. The weak mother never refused to honor his drafts. Six
months later a serious attack of pneumonia caused her to be sent for,
and when he was able to travel she took him back to the home he had
forsworn.

For over ten years "Doc" Stoneleigh has lived with his mother, a
recluse, a morphin-soaked wreck. Sometimes he may be seen in a park
near their home, sitting for hours inert, or automatically tracing
figures in the gravel with his cane, noticing no one, unkempt, almost
repellent. He is still sufficiently shrewd to secure morphin in
violation of the law. Sooner or later the revenue department will cut
off his supply. He drifts, a rotting hulk of manhood, unconsciously
nearing the horrors of a drugless reality.

The depth of this man's degradation may tempt us to feel that he was
defective, but an accurate analysis of his life fails to reveal any
deficiency save that reprehensible training which made possible his
years of physical and mental indolence.



CHAPTER VIII

LEARNING TO EAT


It was three in the early July afternoon. The large parlor, which had
been turned into a bedroom, was darkened by closely-drawn shades; a
dim, softened light coming from a half-hidden lamp deepened the dark
rings around the worn nurse's eyes--eyes which bespoke sleepless
nights and a heavy heart. A wan mother stood near the nurse, every
line of her face showing the pain of lengthened anxiety. Tensely one
hand held the other, the restraint of culture, only, keeping her from
wringing them in her anguish. Dr. Harkins, the village physician,
stood at the foot of the bed, his honest face set in strong lines in
anticipation of the worst. Many scenes of suffering had rendered him
only more sympathetic with human sorrow, sympathetic with the real,
increasingly intolerant of the false. At the bed-side stood the
expert, who had come so far, at so great an expense-long, rough miles
by auto that a few hours might be saved-who had come, they all
believed, to decide the fate of the beloved girl who lay so death-like
before them.

Ruth Rivers was the only one in the room who was not keenly alert or
distressingly tense. Even in her waxy whiteness and unnatural
emaciation, her face was good. The forehead was high and, with the
symmetrical black eyebrows and long, dark lashes, suggested at a
glance the good quality of her breeding. The aquiline nose was pinched
by suffering, the finely curving lips were now bloodless and drawn
tight from time to time, as though to repress the cry of pain; these
marks of suffering could not rob her countenance of its refinement.
Her breathing was shallow; at times it seemed irregular; and wan,
almost inert, the fragile figure seemed nearing the eternal parting
with its soul. The silence of the sick-room was fearsomely ominous.

Three weeks before, Ruth, her mother, and ever-apprehensive Aunt
Melissa had come from the heat of coastal Georgia to the invigorating
coolness of the Southern Appalachians. They had come to Point View
several weeks later than usual this year, as spring was tardy and the
hot days at home had been few. Ruth had been most miserable for weeks
before they left home, but had stood the trip well, and Judge Rivers
had received an encouraging, indeed a hopeful report from the invalid.
But a few days later a letter telling of another of Ruth's attacks was
followed immediately by an urgent, distressed telegram which caused
him to adjourn court and hasten to his family.

For many years Dr. Harkins had driven through the mountains eight
starving months, serving and saving the poorly housed and often
destitute mountaineers. The tourist flood from the burning, summer
lowlands to the mountains' refreshment gave him his living. Dr.
Harkins was as truly a missionary as though he were on the pay-roll of
a denominational society. He had always helped, or the mountains had
helped, or something had helped Ruth before, but this time nothing
helped. The doctor had already called a neighboring physician; they
were both perplexed, and each feared to say the word which, in their
minds, spelled her doom. For nearly three days Ruth had been
delirious, this gentle, sensible, reserved girl, tossing and calling
out. A few times she had even screamed, and her mother always said
that she had been "too fine a baby to even cry out loud." For five
nights there had been no sleep save an unnatural stupor produced by
medicine. Mother and nurse had taxed their strength keeping her in bed
during the paroxysms of her suffering, which, hour by hour, seemed to
grow in intensity and to defy the ever-increasing doses of quieting
drugs. She had recognized no one for days. Even her mother's voice
brought back no moment of natural response. "It must be meningitis,"
Dr. Harkins finally said, and the other doctor nodded in agreement.
And Aunt Melissa informed the neighbors that it was "meningitis" and
that her darling Ruth could last but a few days. The mother's anxiety
reiterated "meningitis," and good, levelheaded Martha King, the nurse,
knew that the three cases of meningitis which she had nursed had
suffered the same way before they died. When Judge Rivers came, he
spent but one minute in the sick-room. It was days before he dared
reenter. Ruth did not know him. For the first time in her twenty-seven
years, she had failed to respond happily to his hearty, rich-voiced
love-greeting. The Judge's small fortune had grown slowly. Only that
year had the mortgage been finally lifted on their comfortable Georgia
home. But in that minute at the sufferer's bedside all he had was
thrown into the scales. Ruth must be saved. She was the only daughter;
she was a worthily beloved daughter. "No, she cannot be moved to Johns
Hopkins; the trip is too rough and long; she is too weak," decided Dr.
Harkins, and the consultant agreed. "Our only hope for her is to get
the 'brain expert' from the next state." Five days had passed since
the patient had retained food. For twenty-four hours the tide of her
strength seemed only to ebb. They all counted the minutes. The summer-
boarders in the little town, so many of whom knew the sick girl,
counted the hours, for Ruth was much quieter--too quiet, they felt. An
hour before, Aunt Melissa had tiptoed in to see her darling; the
finger-tips seemed cold in her excited palm, the nails looked bluish
to her dreading eyes, and she retreated to the back porch-steps, threw
her apron over her head and sat weaving to and fro, inconsolate; nor
would she look up even when the big motor panted into sight out of a
cloud of dust, and stopped. "It is too late, too late," moaned Aunt
Melissa. Dr. Harkins and Judge Rivers met the neurologist. The former
reviewed the case in a few sentences. The Judge simply said: "Doctor,
my whole savings are nothing. I would give my life for hers."

In the sick-room tensity had given place to intensity, as with deft,
skillful directness the doctor made his examination. He had finished;
the light had again been dimmed, and in the added shadow the haggard
face seemed ashen. Motionless, thoughtful, interminably silent, the
expert stood, holding the sick girl's hand. The nurse first saw him
smile. It was a serious smile; it was a strangely hopeful smile--a
smile which was instantly reflected in her own face and which the
mother caught and Dr. Harkins saw. Each one of them was thrilled with
such thrills as become rare when the forties have passed, thrilled
even before they heard his words: "It is not meningitis. Your daughter
can get well."

In the conference which followed, Dr. Harkins felt that his confidence
had been well placed. It is surprising how much the expert had
discovered in forty minutes,--and how carefully considered and
relentlessly logical were his reasons for deciding that it was an
"auto-toxic meningismus, secondary to renal and pancreatic
insufficiency," which, translated, signifies a self-produced poison
due to defective action of the liver and pancreas, resulting in
circulatory disturbance in the covering of the brain. Most clearly,
too, he revealed that several of the most alarming symptoms were the
result of the added poison of the drugs which had been given for the
relief of the intolerable pain. Each step of the long road to recovery
was outlined with equal clearness, and the light of hope burst in
strong on Dr. Harkins first, then on Martha King. The crushing load
was lifted from off the Judge's heart. The promise seemed too good to
be true, to the mother, who had seen her daughter go down through the
years, step by step. It never penetrated the shadow of Aunt Melissa's
pessimism.

What forces had been at work to bring ten years of relentlessly
increasing suffering, even impending death, to Ruth Rivers at twenty-
seven, when she should have been in the glory of her young womanhood?
"Her headaches have always been a mystery," her mother had said again
and again, and this saying had been accepted by family and friends.
Let us join hands with Understanding, step behind this mystery, and
find its solution.

Judge Rivers' father had been Judge Rivers, too. The war between the
States had absorbed the family wealth; still, our Judge Rivers showed
every evidence of good living: he was always well-dressed, as befitted
his office, portly and contented, as was also befitting, fine of color
and always well. His daughter's illness had been practically the only
problem in the affairs of his life which he had not solved to his
quite reasonable satisfaction. His love for Ruth held half of his
life's sweetness.

Mrs. Rivers was tall, active, almost muscular in type. Her brow, like
her daughter's, was high. The quality of her Virginia blood had marked
her face. She had always been unduly pale, but never ill. Controlled
and reasonable, she had ministered to her home with efficiency and
pride.

Aunt Melissa, her sister, five years the senior, was tall and strong,
but her paleness had long been unhealthily tinted with sallowness. For
years she had been subject to attacks of depression when for days she
would insist upon being let alone, even as she let others alone. Ruth
was the only bright spot she recognized in her life, and her
morbidness was constantly picturing disaster for this object of her
love.

Ruth's babyhood was a joy. Plump, cooing and happy, she evinced, even
in her earliest days, evidences of her rare disposition. At eighteen
months, however, she began having spells of indigestion. She always
sat in her high-chair beside Aunt Melissa, at the table, and rarely
failed to get at least a taste of anything served which her fancy
indicated. Her wise little stomach from time to time expressed its
disapproval of such unlawful liberties, but parents and aunts and
grandmothers, and probably most of us, are very dull in interpreting
the protests of stomachs. So Ruth got what she liked, and what was an
equal misfortune, she liked what she got; and no one ever associated
the liking and the getting with the poor sick stomach's periodic
protests. As a girl Ruth was not very active. There was a certain
reserve, even in her playing, quite in keeping with family traditions.
Mother, Aunt Melissa and the servants did the work--still Ruth
developed, happy, unselfish, kindly and sensitive. There was rigid
discipline accompanying certain rules of conduct, and her deportment
was carefully molded by the silent forces of family culture. They
lived at the county-seat. The public schools which Ruth attended were
fairly good. As she grew older, while she remained thin and never
approached ruggedness, her digestive "spells" were much less frequent,
and during the two years she spent away from home in the Convent, she
was quite well, and one year played center on the second basket ball
team. Two years away at school were all that the Judge could then
afford. And so at eighteen she was home for good. That fall she began
having headaches. She was reading much, so she went to Mobile and was
carefully fitted with glasses. The correction was not a strong one,
but the oculist felt it would relieve the "abnormal sensitiveness of
her eyes, which is probably causing her trouble."

Throughout her years of suffering, Ruth had always maintained the rare
restraint which marks fineness of soul. No one ever heard her
complain. Even her mother could not be sure that another attack was
on, until she found Ruth alone in her darkened room. Acquaintances,
even friends, never heard her mention her illness.

The midsummer months in Southern Alabama drive such as are able to the
relief of the mountains of Tennessee and the Carolinas. The Judge had
always felt that he should send his family away during July and
August; they often went in June when the summers were early. And these
weeks of change proved, year after year, the most helpful influences
that came to Ruth. She always improved and would usually remain
stronger until after Thanksgiving. But with irregular periodicity the
blinding, prostrating headaches would return--a week of pain, nausea
and prostration. Yet Ruth never asked for, nor took medicine, unless
it was ordered by the doctor, and then more in consideration of the
desires of her family, for the unnatural sensations, produced by most
of the remedies she was given, seemed but the substitution of one
discomfort for another. The only exercise that counted, which this
girl ever had, was during her weeks at Point View. The stimulation of
the invigorating mountain air seemed to get into her blood, and after
a few weeks with her friendly mountains she could climb the highest
with little apparent fatigue. At home, the country was flat, the roads
sandy, and even horseback riding uninteresting. She had never been
taught any strengthening form of daily home-exercise, and so she
suffered on. While the glasses brought comfort, they lessened, for but
a short time, the number and the intensity of her attacks. Several
physicians were consulted and several varying courses of treatment
undertaken, but no betterment came which lasted, and the headaches
remained a mystery, not only to her mother, but to others who
seriously tried to help. As we are behind the scenes, we need no
longer delay the mystery's solution. It was not eyes, they were
accurately corrected; it was not stomach, as much stomach treatment
proved; it was not anaemia, or the many excellent tonics that had been
prescribed would have cured; it was not displaced vertebrae nor
improperly acting nerves, or the manipulations and vibrations and deep
kneadings of the specialists in mechanical treatment would have
rescued her years before. It was, and here is the secret--her mother's
wonderful table!

The war had brought ruinous, financial losses to most Virginia
families. As a result, Ruth's mother had been taught, in minute
detail, the high art of the best cookery of the first families of
Virginia. And how she could cook, or make the colored cook cook! The
Rivers' table had, for years, been the standard of the county-seat.
Mrs. Rivers' spiced hams, fig preserves, brandied plum-pudding,
stuffed roast-duck, fruit salads, all made by recipes handed down
through several generations, could not be excelled in richness and
toothsomeness. No simple dishes were known at the Rivers' table;
these, for those poor mortals who knew not the inner art. Double
cream, stimulating seasonings, sauces rarely spiced, the sort that
recreate worn-out appetites, were never lacking at a Rivers' meal.
Ruth had been overfed, had been wrongly fed since babyhood.

The expert said hope lay in taking her back to babyhood and feeding
her for days as though she were a four months' child. He said she must
be taught to eat; that her salvation lay in a few foods of plebeian
simplicity, foods which almost any one could get anywhere, foods which
did not involve long hours of preparation according to priceless
recipes. He said also that certain other foods were vicious, such
matter-of-course foods on the Rivers' table, foods which Mrs. Rivers
would have felt humiliated to omit from a meal of her ordering, and he
insisted that these must be lastingly denied this young woman with
prematurely exhausted, digestive glands. The process of her
reeducation, succinctly expressed as it was in a few sentences, called
for tedious months of care, of denial and of effort. It demanded that
which was more than taxing in many details. So for Ruth Rivers long
weeks were spent in a hospital-bed. She was fed on the simplest of
foods, each feeding measured with the same care as were her few
medicines, for now truly her food was medicine, and her chief medicine
was food. Massage seemed at last to bring help, for even in bed she
gained in strength.

It was several weeks before her mind was entirely clear, but she was
soon being taught the science of food; this included an understanding
outline of food chemistry, of the processes of digestion, of food
values, of the relation of food to work, of the vital importance of
muscular activity and the relation of muscle-use to nervous health.
Her beloved sweets and her strong coffee, the only friends of her
suffering days, were gradually buried even from thought in this
accumulation of new and understood truths--most reasonable and sane
truths. Forty pounds she gained in twelve weeks. She had never weighed
over one hundred and twenty-five. She has never weighed less than one
hundred and forty-five since, and, as she is five feet eight, her one
hundred and forty-five pounds brought her a new symmetry which, with
her high-bred face, transformed the waxen invalid into an attractive
beauty. She learned to do manual work. She learned to use every muscle
the Lord had given her, every day she lived. An appetite unwhipped by
condiments or unstimulated by artifice, an appetite for wholesome
food, has made eating a satisfaction she never knew in the old days.

This was ten years ago. Many changes have come in the Rivers'
household, the most far-reaching of which is probably the revolution
which shook its culinary department from center to circumference. What
saved daughter must be good for them all. Father is less portly, more
active, less ruddy. Some of the color he lost was found by the mother.
Aunt Melissa disappears into her gloom-days but rarely, and has
smiling hours unthought in the past. And Ruth has proven that the
mystery was adequately solved. She married the kind of man so
excellent a woman should have, and went through the trying weeks of
her motherhood and has cared for her boy through the demanding months
of early childhood without a complication. And all this in the face of
Aunt Melissa's reiterated forebodings!



CHAPTER IX

THE MAN WITH THE HOE


In the early years of the eighteenth century, a hardy family lived
frugally and simply on a few, fertile Norman acres. Their home was but
a hut of stone and clay and thatch. It was surrounded by a carefully
attended vineyard and fruit trees which, in the springtime, made the
spot most beautiful. On this May day the passerby would have stopped
that he might carry away this scene of perfect pastoral charm. The
blossoming vines almost hid the house, the blooming trees perfumed the
morning breeze, and it all spoke for simple peace and contentment. But
at this hour neither peace nor contentment could have been found
within. Pierre, the eldest son, was almost fiercely resenting the
quiet counsel of his father and the tearful pleadings of his mother.
Pierre loved Adrienne, their neighbor's daughter. The two had grown up
side by side, each had brought to the other all that their dreams had
wished through the years of waiting. Pierre had long worked extra
hours and they both had saved and now, nearing thirty, there was
enough, and they could marry. But the edict had gone forth that
Huguenot marriages would no longer be recognized by the state; that
the children of such a union would be without civil standing. So
Pierre and Adrienne had decided to leave France, nor did the protests
of their elders delay their going. It was a solemn little ceremony,
their marriage, a ceremony practically illegal in their land. Rarely
are weddings more solemn or bridal trips more sad, for to England they
were starting that same day, never to see their dear France again,
never to prune or to gather in the little vineyard, never again to
look into the faces of their own kin.

It was not a worldly-wise change. Wages in England were very low and
there were no vineyards in that chilly land, and Pierre worked and
died a plain English farm-hand, blessed only with health, remarkable
strength, and a wretched, but happy home. Much of their parents'
sturdiness and independence was passed on into the blood of their four
children, two boys and two girls, for in 1748, after long saving, they
all left England for America, "the promised land," and sailed for New
Amsterdam. Husbandmen they were, and for two generations painfully,
gravely, they tilled the semi-productive soil of their little farm,
west of the Hudson. Land was cheap in the New World. Their vegetables
and fruit grew, the market in the city grew, and the van der Veere
farms grew, and peace and contentment abode there.

After the War of 1812 two healthy, robust van der Veere brothers
tramped into New York City each carrying in his bundle nearly
$1000.00, his share of their father's recently divided farm. They
started a green-grocery shop. One attended the customers, the other,
through the summer months, worked their little truck garden away out
on the country road, a road which is to-day New York's Great White
Way. They prospered. One married, and his two boys founded the van der
Veere firm of importers. From the East this company's ship, later its
ships, brought rare curios, oriental tapestries and fine rugs to make
elegant the brown-stone front drawing-rooms of aristocratic,
residential New York of that generation. The sons of one of these
brothers to-day constitute the honorable van der Veere firm. The other
brother left one son, Clifford, and two daughters, Dora and Henrietta.
It is into the life-history of Clifford van der Veere that we now
intrude. He was a sturdy youth, with no illnesses, save occasional
sore throats which left him when he shed his tonsils. His father was a
reserved, kindly man, a quietly efficient man. His competitors never
understood the sure growth of his success--he was so unpretentious in
all that he did. Clifford's mother was a sensible woman, untouched by
the pride of wealth and the snobbery of station. Their home, facing
Central Park, stood for elegance and restraint. There were no other
children for ten years after the son's birth, then came the two
sisters, which domestic arrangement probably proved an important
factor in deciding the rest of our story. From early boyhood Clifford
was orderly, obedient, studious and quietly industrious. He made no
trouble for parents or teachers--other mothers always spoke of him as
"good." He was thirteen when his only sinful escapade happened. Some
of the Third Avenue boys shared the playgrounds in the park with
Clifford's crowd. They all smoked, some chewed and the more self-
important of them swore, and thereby, one day, our Fifth Avenue young
hopeful was contaminated. It was a savory-smelling wad of fine-cut. It
burned, a little went the wrong way and it strangled, but the joy of
ejecting a series of amber projectiles was Clifford's. Another
mouthful was ready for exhibition purposes when some appreciative
admirer enthusiastically clapped our boy between the shoulder-blades
and most of his mouth's contents, fluid and solid, was swallowed.
Somehow Clifford got home, but landed in a wilted heap on the big
couch, chalk-white, and sick beyond expression. The doctor was called
and, discovering the cause, made him helpfully sicker. The next
morning Clifford's father gravely offered to give him $500.00, when he
was twenty-one, if he would not taste tobacco again until that time.
Either the memory of first-chew sensations or the doctor's ipecac, or
the force of habit, or something, kept him from ever tasting it again.

Later, Clifford went to Columbia and was quietly popular with the
quieter fellows. It would seem that had any little devils not been
strained out of his blood by his long line of Huguenot ancestry, they
had followed the fate of the fine-cut, for no one who knew Clifford
van der Veere was ever anxious about the probity of his conduct. He
did not take to the importing business, while his cousins early showed
a natural capacity for the work of the big firm in all its branches.
Clifford's parents, too, seemed to feel that it was time that there be
a professional member of their honorable family. Moreover the property
was large, and the younger sisters would require a guardian, and the
estate an administrator. So Clifford finished the law-course. Nor was
it many years until the family fortune of approximately one million
dollars in real estate, securities and mortgages was left him to
administer for himself and the two sisters. Thus before thirty the
responsibility of these many thousands swept down upon him. Limited in
practical contact with the world, geographically, politically,
socially, having learned little of the play-side of life, he was by
inheritance, training and inclination a conservative. He had never
practiced law. He never tried a case, but he now opened a downtown
office where he punctually arrived at ten o'clock and methodically
spent the morning, carefully, personally managing all the details of
the entailed estate. He was essentially conscientious and, as the
years passed, there was no lessening of interest in his devotion to
each transaction, large or small. There were no losses, though his
conservatism turned him away from many golden opportunities which
knocked at the door of his wealth, the acceptance of which would have
doubled the estate in any ten-year period of these days of New York's
magnificent expansion. He was nearly forty when he married a quiet,
good woman who added little that was new, who most conscientiously
subtracted nothing of the old, from his now systematic life. They both
realized that their Fifth Avenue home was rapidly growing out of date,
so for nearly five years they spent their spare hours daily, in the,
to Clifford, vital and seemingly unending details of modernizing the
old house. It was during those days when the plans so carefully
considered were being realized in granite and marble and polished
woods, that Mrs. van der Veere felt the first distressing touch of
anxiety. Her husband seemed unduly particular. At times he would be
painfully uncertain about minute and minor details of construction and
on a few occasions unprecedentedly failed to get to the office at all,
delayed by protracted discussions of the advisability of certain
changes, long since decided upon, discussions which shook the
confidence of architect and contractor in both his sagacity and
judgment. Fortunately Mrs. van der Veere proved a wholesome counselor
and her opinions often settled details her husband, alone, apparently
could not have decided. At last the great new house was finished; it
was such a home as the van der Veeres should have. Indecision largely
disappeared for three quite normal years, office details only now and
then ruffling the smooth normality of Mr. van der Veere's life. Then
with the early spring nights came an unexplained insomnia. He would
waken at five, four, even three o 'clock, and, unable to get back to
sleep, would read until morning. The doctor found little to excite his
apprehension, but prescribed golf, so three afternoons a week all
summer and fall two hours were reserved for the links. He was better,
still the doctor insisted on three months, that winter, in Southern
California where he could keep up his play. Here he did eighteen holes
a day for weeks at a time, yet some of the nights were haunted by
scruples about neglecting his administrative duties. They returned
home in the spring, and a moderately comfortable year and a half
followed. Then things went wrong rapidly and badly. Peremptorily he
was ordered away from all "work" to Southern France, later to Italy
for the winter and to Switzerland for the next summer. And as the Alps
have given of their strength to other needing thousands, so they
ministered to him. He began climbing. His wife thought it was a new
interest. Certainly that was a factor, but he became ambitious and
went wherever he could find guides to take him. He returned home very
rugged the fall he was fifty. Still with reason, Mrs. van der Veere
was anxious, an anxiety shared by the family doctor. Between them they
planned for him a sort of model life, truly a circumscribed life, and
for five years wife and associates protected him from any possible
strain, and for five years it worked successfully. Then in less than a
month, almost like a bolt from the blue, all former symptoms returned,
aggravated in form, bringing most unwelcome new ones in their trail.
The family doctor called in a neurologist who, after examining the
nervous man, spoke seriously of serious possibilities, and advised
serious measures.

Mr. van der Veere was now fifty-five years old, short, almost stocky
in build, dark-skinned, with steel-gray hair and mustache. He was
depressed in mien though always well-bred in bearing. He was not
excitable and outwardly showed little of his suffering. Clifford van
der Veere had always taken life and his duties seriously. For years
his fear of making mistakes had been a chronic source of energy
leakage-now it was a nightmare. All he did cost an exhausting price in
the effort of decision. Duty and fear had long made a battle-ground of
his soul, and when he realized that he had broken down again from
"overwork," as they all expressed it, the depression of melancholy was
added to the weight he so quietly bore. Yet this man of many
responsibilities and interests had never truly worked. Since he left
college he had played at work. Effort had been expended never more
conscientiously. He was ever ready to give added hours of attention to
problems referred to him. His intentions were true, but he did not
know how to work. He did not know how to separate the serious from the
unimportant, and he had never added the leaven of humor to the day's
duties. An unusually well-equipped man, physically and mentally, he
should have found the responsibilities of his administratorship but
play. Had he been living right, he could have multiplied his
efficiency three-fold and been the better for the larger doing. His
wife felt he must "rest," and so did the family doctor; he himself was
practically past arguing or disagreeing.

But the rest-cure which the neurologist prescribed was certainly
unique. It may have been wrongly named. Mr. van der Veere was a man of
unusually strong physique. Nature had equipped him with a muscular
system better than nine-tenths of his fellowmen possess, but he had
never utilized it. For many generations his forbears had wrung food
and life and, unconsciously, health from the soil. He was three
generations from touch with mother earth, and back to the soil he was
sent. He was taught to work increasing hours of common, manual labor.
For weeks he did his part of the necessary drudgery of the world. He
shoveled coal, he spaded in the garden, he worked on the public roads,
he transplanted trees, he hoed common weeds with a common hoe, he
tramped, he toiled and he sweat. The need for physical labor was in
his blood. He needed his share of it, as do we all. And his blood
answered exultantly, as good blood always does, to the call of honest
toil. Within a month he realized a keenness for the work of the day.
His fine muscles took on hardness, they seemed to double in size, and
strength came, and with it not only a willingness but an eagerness
which transformed that strength into productive effort. With the
willingness to do what his hands found to do came sleep, for his
nerves--bred as they had been in good stock--rejoiced when they found
him living as they had for years begged him to live. A fifteen-year-
old appetite came to the fifty-five-year-old man, and transformation
wrought happy changes in his face and bearing. Indecision faded,
introspection disappeared, and a decision came which was to forever
put indecision out of his way. A decision which brought the peace and
contentment to the van der Veere Fifth Avenue home, which religious
intolerance had robbed from the van der Veeres in their stone-thatched
hut in far-away Normandy, a simple decision, not requiring brilliance
nor a college education, nor a professional training, nor even a
loving helpmate to accomplish: "Six days shall I labor not only with
my brain but with my hands, and the seventh day shall I rest."



CHAPTER X

THE FINE ART OF PLAY


It was her earliest recollection, and parts of it were not clear.
There were those big men carrying in her father, and her mother's face
looking so strange, and her father looking so strange with the white
cloths about his head, and the strange faces of doctors and neighbors
she had not seen before. Then the strange stillness and the strange
new fear when her father did not move and they all were so quiet.
These memories were rather blurred; she was not always sure which were
memories of the events or which had grown from what she had afterwards
heard. But of the funeral she was very sure, for she could never
forget those beautiful silvered handles on the shining wooden coffin,
or her resentment toward the women dressed in black who would not let
her touch these--the prettiest things she had ever seen. The colts had
run away, frightened, when an empty sap-barrel fell off the sled, and
her father had been thrown against a tree and brought home with a
fractured skull, to live unconscious two days, and to be buried in the
shiny coffin with the silver handles.

There had been an older child who died as a baby of eight months, and
so Widow Gilmore was left at thirty-five with her only child, Hattie,
and a hundred-and-forty-acre farm, with the house in town. Mrs.
Gilmore had good business sense. She lived alone with Hattie, ran the
farm, and soon her interests degenerated into a slavery to household
and farm details.

The widow had taught school until she was nearly thirty. She was not
handsome, and the meager sentiment of her soul easily disintegrated
into morbidness. She wore black the rest of her days, and for the rest
of her days church services were hours of public mourning. The Gilmore
"parlor" was closed after the funeral, and Hattie never got a glimpse
within its almost gruesomely sacred walls, save as she timidly peeped
in during cleaning days or, rarely, when her mother tearfully led her
in and they stood before the life-size crayon portrait of the
departed. Even in her quiet play, Hattie must keep on the other side
of the house.

Hattie Gilmore was a sober child and lived a sober childhood. She was
not strong; nothing had ever been done to make her so. Play and
playmates were always limited. She and her mother belonged to
Coopersville's "better class," most of the town children living below
the bridge where the homes of the factory people crowded. Boys were
"too rough," and the other girls were "not nice enough"; so she played
much alone--such play as it was, with her two china dolls and the tin
stove and tin dishes, which made up her toys. There was little to
stimulate her imagination and nothing to develop comradeships and
friendships. For hours of her play-time she sat inertly on the front
stoop and watched the passersby, for there had never been any thought
of training her in the art of play. Instead, she was warned to keep
her dress clean and rather sharply reprimanded if, perchance, dress or
apron was torn. So she stood and watched the school-play of the other
children, never knowing the thrills of a game of "tag," nor the
reckless adventures of "black man"; even "Pussy wants a corner"
disarranged her painfully curled curls and was rarely risked. "Hop-
scotch," when the figure was small and lady-like, was practically the
limit of Hattie's "violent exercise." So she did not develop-how could
she! She remained undersized. Moreover, her play-days were sadly
shortened, for they early merged into work-days. Housekeeping cares
were many, as her mother planned her household. According to York
State traditions Hattie was early taught domestic details, and for
over a generation seriously, slavishly followed the routine
established by her mother who doggedly, to the last, knew no shadow of
turning, and went to her honestly earned long rest within a week after
she took to her bed. Hattie finished the town high school, and had
taken her school-work so seriously that she was valedictorian--being
too good to soil your dress ought to bring some reward. Her teacher
proudly referred to her as an example of the fine work a student could
do who was not disturbed by outside influences. Commencement night,
the same summer she was seventeen, she was almost pretty. The natural
flush of success and of public recognition was heightened by the
reflected flush from the red roses she wore; and Ben Stimson, the old
doctor's son, carried the image of this, her most beautiful self, in
his big heart for many years. He was then twenty, a sophomore at
college, and a wholesome fellow to look upon. He took Hattie home that
night. It was early June, and they dallied on the way. She was so
nearly happy that her conscience became suspicious. She felt something
awful was going to happen!--and she almost did not care. They had
reached the front steps of her home. Ominously, silence fell. Suddenly
impulsive Ben crushed her to him and--must it be told?--kissed her,
kissed Hattie Gilmore's unsullied lips. For a moment her heart leaped
almost into wanton expression. A moment more--another kiss, and she
might have been compromised, she might have responded to the thrilling
love which was calling to her heart, but the goddess of her destiny
willed otherwise. The front door opened; an angular form appeared; an
acrid voice fairly curdled love-thoughts as it assailed the impetuous
lover. Within a minute he was slinking away and the rescued maiden was
safe in the indignant, resenting arms of her mother--safe, but for
years to be tempted and troubled by remorse and wishes, to be haunted
by unaccepted hopes. "Ben Stimson is a free lance. He can't help
being, for his father's a free thinker and the boy never went to
Sunday-school a dozen times in his life. Let him join the church and
show folks he wants to live right; then, if he courts you regular, I
won't mind, but he is too free and easy. I call that kind dangerous,"
her mother said.

Ben Stimson wrote Hattie a note the next day, which she did not
answer, but kept for years. Two summers later he drove up to the
house, looking mighty fine in the doctor's new runabout, driving the
high-stepping bay, natty in a "brand-new" tan harness--the first
Hattie had ever seen. He asked her to come with him for a drive, and
again her mother's nipping negative influenced her decision against
the pleadings of a yearning, lonely heart.

Mrs. Gilmore finally died an exclusive, matter-of-fact, joyless death,
even as she had lived. Ben came to the funeral. He called on Hattie
the next day. Inconstancy was not one of his weaknesses, and the veil
of her Commencement beauty had clung to her through these many years,
in her old lover's eyes. He was again impetuous and offended every
conservative propriety of Hattie's dutiful melancholy by asking her to
marry him--and this actually in the room where her mother's funeral
was held the day before! What could Hattie do but burst into tears and
leave the room--and Ben, and the secretly cherished hopes of many
years, and a real home with a cheerily happy husband and those
children which might have been hers--to leave all these and more in
homage to the sacredness of her mother's memory.

Ten gray years dragged by. Hattie kept a few boarders so as not to be
alone in the house. She would take no children. They were too noisy
and kept the place in disorder. Ben's patience had finally exhausted,
though he finished his medical course and had been practicing nearly
ten years before he married. No other one for whom she could care even
called.

The farm did well. The lone woman had over $20,000 in the bank and the
property was worth as much more. But the brightest days were gray. At
forty-five she weighed ninety-four. She ate barely enough to keep
going. Her digestion was wretched. Her pride and her will alone made
her able to sit through meals or through the occasional neighbors'
calls. She spent hours alone in her room, dumb, dark-minded, with an
unrelenting heartache and pains which racked every organ. Her sleep
was fitful and she dreamed of Ben downstairs in a casket, again and
again, until she fairly feared the night. When she took her nerve
medicine, she seemed tied, bound hand and foot in that parlor of
death, held by a sleep of terror. Then Ben would move about in the
casket and make tortured faces at her, and some horrible times he
accused, even berated her. Finally an awful dream, two caskets, her
mother in one, Ben in the other, each railing and both showering abuse
upon her. She was in bed for weeks. Another doctor came and then-
praise be! her deliverer.

Jane Andrews was the old Presbyterian minister's daughter. She had
lived in Coopersville until she was twenty-four, giving her father an
efficient, devoted daughter's care through his long, last illness. The
family means had always been limited, and when the earner was laid
away, she at once responded to the practical call. There were no
hospitals near; so she left home and went into training in a small
institution on the Hudson. This is a hospital where sickness is
recognized as more than infections and broken, mangled members. Here
she learned well the saving balm of joy in making whole wretched
bodies with their more wretched souls. For five years she had lived in
the midst of benefits brought by the inspiration of right-feeling
attitudes. She knew full well the healing potency of the play-spirit.
Her insight into life was already deep, her outlook upon life high and
heartful. Then her mother failed; she came home and for three months
had been beautifying the final weeks, This more than wise woman now
came to nurse poor Hattie, came to companion her back to health, came
as a revelation to this mistaken and wearied one, of a better way.
After forty-five years of the playless life of a serf to blighting
seriousness, the wonder is that sourness had not entered to hopelessly
curdle all chances for joyous living.

Hattie Gilmore had to be taught to play. During the weeks of her rest-
treatment the stronger woman took the weaker back to girlhood. She
brought some dolls. They made clothes for them. They dressed and
undressed them and put them to bed. They taught them to say their
prayers and prepared their little meals, teaching them "table
manners," and they made them play as children should play. A sunshine
scrapbook was made. It was a gorgeous conglomeration of colors, of
fairies and children, of birds and flowers, and of awkward, but
telling, hand-illustrations of the joys of being nursed and,
prophetically, of the greater joys of being well. They played
"Authors," "Flinch," and even "Old Maid." Splendid half-hours were
spent in reading gloriously happy lives. Stories were told--happiness
stories, and jokes and conundrums invented. One day Hattie laughed
aloud, for which heartlessness her morbid conscience at once wrung
forth a stream of tears; but that wondrously artful nurse held a
mirror before a woefully twisting face, and her tactful comments
brought back the smiles. That laugh was the first warming beam of a
summer of happiness which was to golden the autumn of a bleak life
made blest. Then Hattie Gilmore learned to play a score of out-of-door
games and to understand sports. She learned to see the beauties in the
roadside flowers-"weeds" her mother had called most of them. She
learned to read glorious stories in the ever-transforming clouds. The
neighbors' children were invited, timidly they came at first, later
they were eager to come and play at "Aunt Hattie's." Three fine,
determining events happened that fall to complete the salvation of
this woman who was so fast learning happiness-living.

They, Jane and Hattie, friends now rather than nurse and patient, made
the daintiest possible cap and cloak for Dr. Ben's last baby, and sent
it with a hearty, merry greeting. This was a peace-offering to the
past, more efficient probably than much blood which has been shed on
sacrificial altars. Then they made a trip which came near being a
solemn occasion, it was so portentously important. They went to the
church-orphanage, remained several days and brought home a lusty
three-year-old bunch of mischief, who was forever to wreck all the
gloom-sanctity of that old home. Hereafter even the parlor of mourning
was to be assailed with shouts of glee; some things planted in
Hattie's flower beds were foredoomed not to come up; no longer could
the front lawn look like a freshly swept carpet. Roy was legally
adopted by Hattie and became her proudest possession. Finally, her
eyes were opened to that rarely sighted, fair vista of the sacred
play-life, the play-life so long denied this good woman. Never again
were housekeeping worries to be mentioned. They were not recognized.
When things went wrong, they went merrily wrong. What could not be
cured was joked about. The whole business of home-making became a
gladsome game.

Life for Hattie Gilmore, for Roy, for the neighbors' children, and for
some of the mothers of dull old Coopersville came to be lived as the
Father intended His children to live, when one almost old woman found
the Fountain of Youth revealed by the fine art of play. A blessed
revelation it is to every life when the joy of play robs the working
hours of their tedium and weariness. He lives as master who makes play
of his work.



CHAPTER XI

THE TANGLED SKEIN


Warm balls of comfort, a thousand sheep feed on the hillside, turning
herb and green growing things into food and wool. After the shearing
and the washing, ten thousand soft strands are spun into a single
thread, and each length of thread is a promise of warmth and
protection for years to come. Then the wool-white yarn is dyed in
colors symbolizing the strength of the navy, the loyalty of the army
or the honor of the alma mater. Reeled into a skein, the wool is now
all but ready for the fingers of the knitter; it has but to be wound
in a ball. Yet here danger lurks. An inadvertent twist or a simple
tangle quickly knots the thread, unless thoughtful patience rescues.
Recklessness means hopeless disarray, and the soft fluff of warming
color becomes unkempt disorder, a confused mass from which the thread
broken again and again is extracted. The work of careful hands has
been reduced to lasting defect.

Francis Weston was reared in one of the prosperous, middle-Western
cities, on the northern bank of the Ohio. The family had succeeded
well and represented large manufacturing interests. All burdens which
money could lift were removed, from his shoulders. He finished college
in the East and entered business, never having felt a hand's weight of
responsibility. As vice-president and director in one of the banks
organized largely by the family's capital, he was free to follow his
impulses. No details demanded his attention; other minds in the bank
cared for these.

Across the river a southern town nestled in cozy comfort, having for
generations maintained a conscious superiority to its smoking,
northern neighbor. Several handsome daughters of Kentucky aristocracy
gave tangible evidence of the tone of the community, and Francis
Weston's impulses made his trips across the river increasingly
frequent. And, as it should have been, North and South were joined
closer by one more golden link, when an only daughter of Kentucky
wealth became Mrs. Weston. The marriage contract held but one
stipulation: their home was to be in the bride's village. It looked as
though one of Love's best plans had succeeded. The husband proved
deeply devoted to his wife and the new home. The bank continued to
take most excellent care of itself, and his trips north, across the
river, were but occasional. The Weston mansion and estate in every way
befitted the combined wealth of the two families, and the wife gave
much time to making it increasingly attractive, and to the training of
her good servants. The husband read much, exercised little, and the
only reason for gentle protest from the wife was his excessive
smoking.

A little daughter came, but as though Fate would say, "I am Master,"
she lived but a few days. The shock was cruel, and the father seemed
to suffer the more intensely. Mrs. Weston took her sorrow in a fine
way; she seemed to realize that she, of the two, must turn away the
threat of morbidness. But the touch of Fate was not to be denied.
Still, three years later, it would seem that nothing but thankfulness
and abounding joy should have filled the Weston home--a son came. They
named him Harold. The father's solicitude for the little fellow's life
was as pathetic as it was abnormal. The bank was now unvisited for
months by its first vice-president. As the boy grew the father gave
him more and more of himself. He was his companion in play, and
personally taught him, seriously taking up study after study, until at
sixteen Harold was well prepared for college--scholastically prepared,
we should amend--for unconsciously the father had kept him from the
normal comradeship with boys of his age. Much of excellent theory the
youth had, some wisdom beyond his years, but no knowledge of denials,
no spirit of give and take, no thought of the other fellow--his rights
and wrongs. In spite of their long walks and rides on gaited Kentucky
thoroughbreds, Harold was not physically robust, so it was decided to
send him to a southern college, and he went to Vanderbilt. During his
second year the father had a long siege of typhoid, and recovery was
pitiably imperfect. His mentality did not return with his body
strength--he remained a harmless, weak-minded man. Much care was
exercised to keep the details from Harold, though both families were
unwilling to have the broken man sent to an institution, and for four
years professional nurses attended him at home. In spite of the
mother's best efforts to distract and neutralize, the son could but
feel the unnaturalness of the home atmosphere and profoundly miss the
devotion of his father. Still from what little he did see of the
invalid, it was a relief when, four years later, an accident took him
away.

Harold Weston's college life held true to his training. Quietly
friendly, he mixed poorly; mentally well-equipped, he was an excellent
student--brilliant in some classes, good in all. Athletics and
fraternities, feeds and "femmies" dissipated none of his energies, nor
added aught to the fulness of his living. He continued his college
work until he had received both Bachelor's and Master's degrees. The
spring he was twenty-three, he returned home for the summer, an
attractive young man. A classmate had interested him in tennis, for
which he showed some natural aptitude. The year's work had taxed him
lightly. The skein of yarn gave promise of a perfect fabric.

Mother and son had a happy summer. She saw to it that the home was
alive with young folks, and one week-end party followed another.
Harold had decided to study law, and nothing indicated that he would
meet any obstacles during his course at Law School. All believed he
was sufficiently strong to take this at Yale. There were brilliant
minds in his classes--he was accustomed to lead. He dropped his
tennis, he studied hard. In his second year he began losing weight
after the holidays, and found difficulty in getting to sleep; his
appetite became irregular, and his smoking, which had been moderate
for some years, became a dependence. His nervous system was pretty
well "shot up"--it had never been case-hardened. A weight of
apprehension had become constantly present, and he let its burden
depress him miserably. One of his professors, noting his appearance,
talked with him earnestly, and with lay acumen decided his digestion
was "out of fix" and told him of a "fine New York doctor." The stomach
specialist worthily stood high in his profession. The examination was
painstaking and exhaustive; the diagnosis seemed ominous to the morbid
patient; the whole process was a revelation to him of organs and
functions and laws of eating and drinking unheard in his years of
study. "Chronic intestinal indigestion with food decomposition and
auto-intoxication, augmented by nicotine," the doctor said. There had
been a distinct lessening of efficiency in his law-school work. Study
for the first time in his life required wearying effort. He did not
feel himself, he was facing his first test, he was meeting his first
strain. For the first time the skein was being mussed.

Harold Weston began reading, indiscriminately, literature on food and
digestion and diets. The doctor had given him a strict regimen. He
began to note minutely the foods he ordered and to question the
wholesomeness of their quality and preparation. Caution and over
emphasis on details of food and habits of eating rapidly developed.
Later not only the food in the dish, but most unhappily the foods he
had swallowed were scrutinized by every alertness of sensation and
imagination, and most damagingly did he become a victim of the
unwholesome symptom-studying habit. Within two months his discerning
physician recognized that the self-interest which had started in the
physical damage of rapid eating of rich foods was developing into an
obsession more detrimental than the original physical disorder, and
thought it wise for him to discontinue study and return home to rest
for the summer. The thread was tangled.

The home-coming was not happy. From the first meal, the specialist's
warnings were in conflict with the home diet, and resentments were not
withheld from the good old dishes which had for a generation bedecked
the home table. The delicacy instinctive to the family and to his
earlier life was cast aside, and the subjects of food and its
digestion, of food-poisoning and its consequences, made unpleasant
every meal. Innocently and seriously the mother pointed to her good
health and to rugged ancestors who had lived long and hale,
unconsciously superior to food and drink. He brooked none of her
suggestions, and finally when she honestly could not see it all his
way, in the heat of his intensity he accused her of being to blame for
all his trouble: she had fed him wrong from the first; she had fed his
father wrong; the New York doctor had told him that certain mental
diseases could be caused by food-poisoning, and his father would not
have been a mental wreck, nor his own career cut short, had she only
known what wives and mothers of this generation should know, and set a
table which was not a laboratory of poison. These ideas, once
accepted, never left him. They formed a theme which, after finding
expression, recurred with ominously increasing frequency. A year
before, Harold Weston was a kindly fellow, almost retiring, but with a
peculiar lighting of his face in response which endeared him to
feminine hearts. On a variety of subjects he was well-informed, his
professors bespoke for him a high and honorable standing in the
judiciary, but, from the mass of this fine mind's possibilities, a
second wretched choice was now made. "Father's typhoid affected his
mind, his brain must have been defective; my heredity is imperfect; my
first illness damages my class work. I can never go on in my
profession, there is no future for me but suffering." From this
wrecking thought it was an easy step to condemnation of his father for
his fatherhood, which, with his near-enmity toward his mother for her
"criminal ignorance" in rearing him, introduced a sordidly
demoralizing element into his mind which forever viciously tinctured
memories and relations which should have been his sacred helpers. The
normal mind can select well its world--miserably his mind lived with
these dregs of his own choice. The power of normal selection will, in
the best mind, be gradually lost through habitual surrender to the
morbid.

For the next year he lived unhappily in a home which he made unhappy.
Naturally thoughtful, he daily took long walks, brooding over his
wrongs--walks which brought him little benefit physically, as he
considered himself unable to put into them sufficient effort to wring
perspiration from his brow or toxins from his muscles. False
interpretation of his own symptoms increased with the abnormal
closeness of his scrutiny of them. His superficial knowledge he
accepted as final. Ignorant of the limitations of heredity, will and
judgment became subservient to pessimism, and the days marked a
gradual, deepening depression. The skein was asnarl.

A relative physician responded to the mother's call of distress and
spent a week in the home, then took Harold under his personal care to
a series of specialists--but not stomach specialists. Serious
treatment was carried out at home with a young physician as companion.
Two institutions offered the best help of their elaborate equipments
and perfected methods. Three years of badly discounted usefulness
passed. Long since had any call of responsibility ceased to elicit
response. Toward the end of this time he seemed better, and was
spending the summer at a health-resort, living a relatively normal
life. Fate then seemed to smile--dainty fingers appeared from the
nowhere, which promised gently, patiently, surely to loosen each
tangled snarl.

Eva Worth was another only child of affluence. She, too, was
recuperating, spending the summer at the same resort as Harold.
"Overwork at college," it was said. Petite of person, pleasing in
manner, sweetly spoiled, with sympathies quickly born but usually
displaced by fresher interests, she was bright and responsive in mind,
and her attraction to Harold Weston gave promise of being the touch
needed to complete his restoration. Providence only knows the
possibilities latent in a union of these poor children of wealth. For
him there was an unquestioned awakening. The somber clouds of his
moods seemed destined to be transformed into delicate pastels by the
promises of love. It was more than an infatuation for them both, and
an understanding which was virtually an engagement left them happy
even in their parting. But happiness was not a word for Harold
Weston's conjuring. Throughout the weeks of his association with this
fair girl, the first woman for whom he had ever cared, the thought had
repeatedly come that he owed her a full and explicit explanation of
his illness and of his "defective heredity." At home where the
brooding habit had grown strong and fixed, this idea became so
insistent, within two weeks, that he relieved the tension of its
demands by a long letter of details, which even to the sympathetic ear
of love were more than disquieting. The letter ended with a question
of her willingness to indicate a final decision in her response. The
appeal of his fine eyes was not there to help--other eyes were nearer.
Eva Worth was but twenty-two. Home training, the reading of much fine
literature, a college education, her own poor little heart, all failed
to bespeak for her wisdom in this crisis. An impulsive, almost
resentful refusal was sent. Second thoughts held more wisdom, for
woman's pity was now wisdom, so another day saw another letter, one
with a few saving words of hope. The first reply was handed to Harold
after luncheon. Quietly he left the house, apparently for one of his
afternoon walks. By morning he had not returned and a general alarm
went out. Some days later two boys, fishing in the river from an old
log, saw a cap in an eddy. No more has been seen or heard of Harold
Weston. A hasty hand, a hasty touch had broken the thread.

Two women were left to suffer. The elder, haunted by the re-echoings
of an only son's condemnation, lives out her years in a loneliness
which will not break, harrowed by questions of the wisdom of her
mother-love, the best she had to give. Some mother's son she may yet
help save, for she knows the vital error which shielded and guarded
her boy till he reached his majority, never having met trial,
hopelessly untrained in coping with adversity. The younger, sobered by
the voice of self-accusation, ever feels the weight of the
consciousness of a grave duty slighted; she was made more wise in a
day of deep reality than by twenty years of conventional training.
Tested again she would give as she has never known giving, give that
she might protect.



CHAPTER XII

THE TROUBLED SEA


A young woman, of rather striking appearance attired in her street
clothing, is standing beside her dresser. She has just returned from
town. She is of medium height, trim of figure, weighing about one
hundred and forty, with skin of a soft ivory tint and cheeks showing a
faint flush of health--or of excitement. Her dark hair waves
gracefully and the scattering strands of gray quite belie her youth.
The eyes are well placed, nearly black, and can sparkle on occasion.
Her rather poorly formed hands of many restless habits, are the only
apparent defect in this, externally attractive, young woman. She has
just broken the seal of a heavy vellum envelope addressed in a strange
feminine hand. It is an engraved announcement which reads:

"Mrs. Pinkney Rogers announces the marriage of her daughter, Pearl
May, to Mr. Lee Burnham"--

She never read the rest. She never saw the--"on Tuesday, May thirtieth
nineteen hundred and one. At Home, Rome, Georgia, after July fifth."
Her sister, Addie, coming up the stairs, thought she heard a moan and
hurried in to find Stella lying in a crumpled heap. Addie's quick eye
noticed the announcement. She read it all, and destroyed it, and
through the years it was never mentioned by either of them. She,
alone, knew its relation to her sister's collapse, but with proverbial
southern pride never voiced her opinion of the tragic cause of her
older sister's years of nervous ill-health.

Mr. Beckman, Stella's father, was at this time about fifty-five. He
was the brunette parent from whom many of her more attractive physical
qualities had been inherited. He was proprietor of the best men's
furnishing store of the county's metropolis. His business was
moderately successful, built up, he felt, entirely through years of
his personal thought and attention, and it was practically his only
interest. Even his interesting family was a matter of course--though
the amount of the day's sales never became so. Mr. Beckman had a
single diversion. The store closed at ten o'clock Saturday nights;
between twelve and one its proprietor would reach home in an exalted
state, and for two hours poor Mrs. Beckman would hear his plans for
developing the biggest gent's clothing-business in the state, for
becoming a merchant-prince, emphasized with many a hearty slap on her
back. This weekly relaxation was always followed by a miserable Sunday
morning, invariably referred to by every member of the family as
"another of Papa's sick headaches." Mrs. Beckman never lisped the
details of those unhappy Saturday nights, and the loyal deception was
so well carried out, with such devoted attention and nursing, that by
early afternoon, Sunday, the invalid was quite restored and any
possible self-reproach had been melted away. Headaches of the real
kind did come later, and, as his habits changed not, the Brights which
first appeared at fifty-eight progressed without interruption to his
death at sixty.

Mrs. Beckman was a blonde, but for many years had been a badly faded
one. She was as singleminded in regard to her household as her husband
to his store. Neither had developed more than family and local
interests. She was the same age as her husband and had, without
question, worked faithfully, long hours, through the long years, in
homage to her sense of housekeeping duties. The coming of the
children, only, from time to time, kept her away from kitchen and
parlor for a few weeks. She had been to Atlanta but once during the
last ten years, not that Mr. Beckman willed it so--she could have had
vacations and attractive dresses, though for some reason, possibly the
"fading" which has been mentioned, he never urged her to go with him--
and she needed urging, for she honestly believed there was "too much
to do" at home. The habit of industry can become as inveterate as
habits of pleasure.

The two Beckman boys had the virtues of both father and mother. They
finished at the city high school, and at once went to work in the
store with such earnestness of purpose that they were quite prepared
to conduct the business, even better than the father had done, when he
became incapacitated.

We met the sister, Addie, in Stella's room and realized from her
discretion, manifested under stress, that she possessed elements of
character. She was a clear-skinned, high-strung blonde--thin-skinned
too, probably, for from childhood her hands rebelled at household
duties. The family thrift was hers, however, and from the limited
opportunities of the home town, she prepared herself for, and filled
well, for years, a position with a successful law firm. She later
married the senior member--a widower. His children and her high-strung
thin-skinnedness and lack of domestic propensities have not made her
as successful a home-builder as she was a stenographer.

Stella Beckman's early life was deeply influenced by many of the
surroundings which we have glimpsed. Hers was not a home of fine
ideals. Much that was common was always present. The table-talk was
almost competitive in nature, as, with the possible exception of the
mother, each one used "I" almost insistently, as a text for converse,
the three times a day they sat together. Even mutual interests were
largely obscured, much of the time, by personal ones, barring only the
subject of sickness. All forms of illness were themes commanding
instant and absorbing attention. Inordinate anxiety was felt by all
for the ills of the one; and for days the "I" would be forgotten if
any member of the home-circle was "sick." And the concerns of the
patient, whether suffering from a cold, sore eyes, a sprained ankle,
or "had her tonsils out," were discussed with minuteness of detail
worthy an International Conference. How the patient slept, what the
doctor said, the effect of the new medicine, how the heart was
standing the strain, what the visiting neighbors thought of the case,
in fact the whole subject of sickness held a morbid interest for each
member of the family. Sickness, no matter how slight, was with the
Beckmans ever an excuse for changing any or all plans. We might speak
of the discussion of illness as the Beckman family avocation.

Stella was a bright child, who, wisely directed and influenced, would
have taken a good education. She could have developed into a
particularly pleasing, capable, useful, possibly forceful woman. But
the emotional Stella was over-developed, until it obstructed the
growth of the reasoning Stella. Still we should call her a normal
small-town child, certainly until her last year in grammar-school. She
had some difficulty with her studies that spring because of her eyes.
Her lenses, fitted in Atlanta, seemed to make them worse. It was only
after she went to a noted specialist in Charleston that she was
relieved. It is significant that later these expensively obtained
glasses were discarded as "too much trouble."

The summer Stella was thirteen, Grandmother Beckman came to spend her
last days in her son's home. The granddaughter had been named for her,
and Grandmother was frail and old and needed attention. Grandmother
also had some means. For over a year the young girl gave much of her
time to the old lady, and for over a year she was able to lead the
Beckman table-talk with her wealth of details about Grandma's
sickness. Stella's care of her charge was excellent, entirely lacking
in any selfish element. Death hesitated, when he finally called, and
for nearly a week the dying woman lay unconscious. These "days of
strain" and the death and funeral were, always after, mentioned by
Stella and her people as her "first shock." For a time she was so
nervous and restless and her sleep so disturbed that the doctor gave
her hypnotics and advised her being sent away. She went to Atlanta for
two months, boarding in the home of a Methodist minister, who some
years before had been stationed in Rome. It was Stella's first
experience in a religious home. She had never been accustomed to
hearing the "blessing" said, and food referred to as "God-given"
seemed, at first, quite too sacred to swallow. And the effect of
morning worship--the seriously read Bible chapter, the earnest prayer,
with the entire family kneeling--affected her profoundly, and gave to
this godly home a sanctity which, at susceptible not-yet-fifteen,
awakened emotions so powerful that for days she walked as one in a
dream, one attracted by some wonderful vision which was drawing her,
unresisting, into its very self. Each day was a step closer, and at
prayer-meeting the Wednesday night before she returned home, she
announced her conversion, with an intensity of earnestness which could
but impress every hearer.

Stella Beckman went back to Rome filled with a zeal for the new
religious life which commanded the respect of even her religiously
careless father. Nor was it a flash in the pan. She joined the church.
She made her sister join the church, and to the church she gave four
years of remarkable devotion. Church interests were first, and one
Sunday the pastor publicly announced that for the twelve months past
Stella Beckman had not missed a single service in any branch of the
church's activities. She taught a Sunday-school class. She sang in the
choir. She was president of the Epworth League, and not only attended,
but always "testified" at mid-week prayer-meeting. Her church
interests took all her time. The foreign-missionary cause later laid a
gripping hold upon her, and arrangements were made, four years after
she went into the church, for her to go to a Missionary Training-
School.

Somehow things went wrong here. She had expected an almost sanctified
atmosphere. She was accustomed to being regarded as essentially
devout, but there was a sense of order in the school which she felt
was mechanical, class-room work seemed to be counted as important as
religious services, and her fervidly expressed religious experiences
appeared to reflect chill rather than the accustomed warmth of the
home prayer-meetings. Moreover, real lessons were assigned which no
amount of religious feeling or no intensity of personal praying made
easy. She hadn't studied for years; in fact, she had never learned to
do intellectual work studiously. And even these good religious
teachers did not hesitate to demand accurate recitations. She had been
accustomed for years to have preference shown, and here she was
treated only as one of many, and, humiliatingly, as one who was
failing to maintain the standards of the many. She fell behind in the
two most important studies, nor was her classwork in general good.
Whether she would have later proven capable of getting down to rock
bottom and meeting the demands of reason on a rational basis, we
cannot say, for the family hobby abruptly terminated her missionary
career. "Mother dangerously sick with inflammatory rheumatism. Come at
once," the telegram said--and she hastily returned home to be met
with, what her history records as, "my second shock." Her mother
WAS sick, and truly and genuinely suffering. The house was in
disorder. Weeks followed in which Stella's best strength was needed.
Her mother slowly mended, but never regained her old activity. The
doctor said a heart-valve was damaged, and the family thereafter were
never quite certain when the sudden end would come--an uncertainty
which was proven legitimate ten years later, when she died, almost
suddenly. Stella had met shock number two very well. The home-love and
welcome and the warmth of feeling she experienced in the home-church
were a never-admitted relief from the rigid exactions of the training-
school life, and did much to neutralize, for the time, her anxiety
about her mother and the "strain of her care." It was a family which
ever advertised home-devotion, and so this call of home illness
completely obscured all other plans for three years. But home
responsibilities quite wrecked her church-going record. In fact, it
was unkindly whispered that Stella was "backsliding." And these same
whispers found audible expression the summer she was twenty-two, when
attractive Lee Burnham, the judge's son, spent his summer vacation at
home, and "took her buggy-riding every Sunday evening for over two
months."

Lee was only twenty-one, but his was a very romantic twenty-one, and
he filled Stella's ears with so many sweet nothings that she no longer
heeded the call of duty. And why shouldn't she be in love and have a
lover? Had she not already given the best years of her youth to
others? Had she not waited without a thought of rebellion for the
coming of the right one? And Love, and Love's mysterious touch,
wrought fantastic changes in Stella Beckman's affairs. She and Lee
read poetry. She had never known how beautiful poetry was nor how much
of it there was to read. He knew the good novels and sent her all that
he himself read, and these were plenty! Then, when he was away, he
wrote and she wrote, and now and then he wrote some verses to her.
There was no real engagement. They never spoke much of the future; the
present was too full. Home duties and church interests flagged badly
during these two years, and the summer she was twenty-four, it became
town talk that this young couple would marry. The Beckmans were very
willing. But one day the judge called Lee into his office and wanted
to know what these "doings" all meant, asking him if he was "going to
marry his mother," and making some rather uncomplimentary Beckman-
Burnham comparisons. Lee rather sheepishly told his father there was
nothing to worry about. He had much respect, possibly awe, for the old
gentleman. The next week Lee left for his final year in law-school.
His letters to Stella continued, though he plead his studies as an
excuse for their diminished frequency. He did not come home that
spring, at Easter. "Work," he wrote Stella. Nor was he ever square to
this poor girl, for he never mentioned his relations with Miss Pearl
May Rogers. And "shock number three" came, as unhappy Stella read the
announcement of his marriage, addressed in the hand of his June city-
bride. A lastingly damaging shock it proved to be.

Stella was put to bed; for days she lay in deep apathy. Feeding became
a problem of nurses and doctors. She cared for nothing--nothing
"agreed" with her, and she lost weight rapidly. Chills and flushes,
sweatings and shakings came in regular disorder, and for hours she
would be apparently speechless. Somebody--not the doctors--reported
that Stella Beckman had typho-malaria. Abnormal sensitiveness to
surroundings, to sounds, sights and smells, especially a dread of
unpleasant news, were to complicate her living for years to come. For
the remainder of her life she was to confound sensations normal to
emotional reactions with sensations accompanying physical diseases;
and sensations came and went in her now tense emotional nature like
trooping clouds on a stormy day. Stella's illness was so prostrating
that her weakened mother and busy sister could not care for her
adequately, and an aunt came to help. Recovery was slow and imperfect;
she remained a semi-invalid for two and a half years. Physical
discomforts were so constant that a surgeon was finally consulted who
did an exploratory operation and removed some unnecessary anatomy.
This man's personality was strong, his desire to help, genuine, and he
had considerable insight into the emotional illness of his patient.
The influence of the operation, with the surgeon's encouragement and
the atmosphere of confidence pervading the excellent, small surgical
hospital, combined to make Stella very much better for the time. But
within less than three years, her father died. She calls this "the
fourth shock," and it resulted in another period of nervous illness.
She cried much at the time. Work was impossible--as was all exercise
--because of her rapid fatigue. One day she slipped on the front steps
and, apparently, but bruised her knee. Her doctor nor the X-ray could
discover more serious damage. Still, walking was practically
discontinued, as she could not step without pain. At last, almost in
desperation, her brother took her to a hospital noted for its success
in reconstructing nervous invalids. At this time she weighed but one
hundred and four, and the list of her symptoms seemed unending. A
desire to be helped, however, was discerned and with rest-treatment
she gained rapidly in weight, appetite returned, digestive
disturbances disappeared, and massage, or a new idea, fully restored
her walking powers. She became eager for the more important half of
her treatment--the out-of-door work-cure. During these weeks she had
certainly been given much physical and mental help. Expert and
specialized counsel and nursing had been hers.

At the end of five months Stella returned to Georgia--restored--a
health enthusiast. It now became her joy, in and out of season,
whenever she could secure hearers, to relate the details of her
illness and the miracle of her restoration. The methods of the special
hospital that wrought such wonders for her were reiterated in detail,
and for years she made herself thoroughly wearisome by her talk of
diet and exercise, special bathing, out-of-door work and prescribed
habits. She kept herself constantly conspicuous in her efforts to
reform others to her new ways of living. For over four years, she
sedulously adhered to the routine outlined by the hospital, with such
devotion to, and augmentation of, details that she had little time for
church and practically no time for household affairs. As had been her
habit in past experiences her enthusiasm was causing her to overdo,
and the business of keeping well seemed now her only object in life.
This could not go on interminably. Something had to happen, and her
mother's rather sudden death proved the shock which was to relieve her
from the overenthusiastic slavery to an impracticable routine.

Stella Beckman at forty-five is sadly less fine and worthy than the
Stella Beckman of eighteen. Religion, Love and Science have each
entered her life deeply to enrich it, but all of these built upon the
sands, the shifting sands of an emotional nature which had never laid
the granite foundation of reason. Since the mother's death, the logic
of her feelings has become more and more crippled by false valuations.
She lives at home keeping house for the boys, recounting each mealtime
the endless list of her feelings; bringing herself, her sickness, her
hospital experiences wearisomely into the conversation with each
caller. The emotional stability and the will to persevere even at
considerable cost, which marked youth, are gone. At forty-five her
life is objectlessly spasmodic, the old family-habit of talking of
self and the family-fetish of discussing sickness have honeycombed her
character and made her hopelessly tiresome. And her feeling-life is as
restless as a troubled sea.



CHAPTER XIII

WILLING ILLNESS


Mr. Harrison Orr lived till he was twenty-five in Indianapolis, the
town of his birth, excepting the years spent in Chicago pursuing his
literary and law courses. He inherited a small fortune and, after two
years spent in "seeing the world," located in Memphis, Tennessee.
Here, as an attorney and later as an investor, he was professionally,
financially and socially successful. His father had been liberal in
the use of wines and cordials, and young Orr himself always remained a
"good fellow," just the kind of a man to attract a vivacious, socially
proud daughter of the South. He was thirty-five when he married--
accounted an age of discretion. His experience with womankind was so
ample that he should have made no mistake in his final, irrevocable
choice, and, be it said to his honor, no one, not even the wife
herself, ever knew by word or act of his, to the contrary. He and his
Mississippi bride spent thirty years in apparent domestic
tranquillity, until he died at sixty-five from a heart which refused
longer to have its claims for purposeful living eternally answered by
gin rickeys and nips of "straight Scotch."

Mrs. Harrison Orr is unconsciously the unhappy "villain" of our tale.
Her girlhood home was on a large sugar-plantation where she, as an
only child, was reared to dominate her surroundings, while her parents
made particular effort that she might shine socially. Parts of many
years she lived in Washington in the home of a political relative, and
attended a select girls' school. After her debut she spent the social
winters at the Capitol where social niceties were developed with much
attention to detail, and at home and while in Washington she was
gratifyingly popular. "A brilliant conversationalist," she had heard
herself called when fifteen, and the art of conversation, hitherto far
from neglected, became by choice and practice her forte. Brilliancy in
speech ever remained her only seriously attempted accomplishment.
Clever of speech, from childhood, she had early learned to utilize
this ability to attain any desired end. And talk she could, and talk
she did, and as she grew older, by sheer talking she domineered every
situation. It was her opinion when she married that at any time, with
any listener, she could talk cleverly on any subject. As the years
passed, during which she added little to her asset of knowledge, this
art of fine speech gradually, but relentlessly, degenerated, and step
by step she slipped down the paths of delicacy and fineness, through
the selfishness of her insistent talkativeness. Harrison Orr never
intimated that his evenings at home were hours of boredom, but in
later years spent much time in the comparative quiet of his club. Few
intellects can be so amply stored as to continue brilliant through
decades of much speaking, and the sparkle of Mrs. Orr's conversation
was gradually shrouded in the weariness of what a blunt neighbor
termed her "inveterate gabble." As it must be, this woman of
exceptional opportunities early lost true sensitiveness, and, both as
guest and hostess, ignored the offense of inconsiderate and self-
seeking interruptions. She broke into the speech of others with crude
abandon. The itch to lead and preempt the conversation became
uncontrollable. Finer natures thrown with her could but tolerate her
"naive" discourtesy, while dependents had to dumbly endure. Mrs. Orr
but stands as a type illustrating far too many mortally wearisome,
social pretenders, prominent only through the tireless tiresomeness of
their much speaking.

The wreckage which may follow a single unthought crudity, in a home
otherwise exceptional, is signally illustrated in the life of Mrs.
Orr's only child, Hortense, born two years after their marriage. From
the first she was sensitive and high-strung, nervously damaged
probably in her early years by her mother's restless, unwise overcare.
When Hortense was five she was sharply ill for several weeks with
scarlatina. During these days she was isolated with Mrs. Place, her
nurse, in a wing of the home. As fortune would have it, Mrs. Place was
the daughter of a rural English clergyman. After the death of her
husband, who left her limited in means, she came to America, where she
trained. Her wholesome influence over Hortense, her general demeanor
in the home, and her many excellent qualifications as nurse and woman
attracted Mr. Orr's discerning attention, and he induced her to remain
as governess to his daughter. Mrs. Place proved a most excellent
addition to the Orr household. Always deferential, she was never
servile; always reserved, she ever faced duties large and small,
promptly, quietly and efficiently. Never, through her nearly ten years
as daily companion of Hortense, did her speech or conduct betoken
aught but refinement. More and more Hortense retreated to her
wholesome companionship in face of the assaults of her mother's trying
volubility. In many ways this most unusual nurse protected her charge
from the greater damage of poor mothering than actually occurred. The
differences between these two women were reflected in the sensitive
child's life. Unconsciously at first, later in certain details,
ultimately without reserve, she approved the standards of the one and
repudiated those of the other. In contrast to her mother she grew into
an abnormal reserve.

Hortense never attended the public schools but was regularly taught by
Mrs. Place until she was fifteen, when she went East and entered her
mother's old school, in Washington. The years of her careful tutoring
had failed to accustom her to competition of any kind, and this first
year of school work was taxing and but indifferently successful.
During the spring term she had measles which left her with a hacking
cough, and she did not regain her lost weight. The school-doctor sent
her home, "for the southern climate," where she remained for a year,
rather frail and the object of much detailed, maternal solicitude. It
was probably this same solicitude which finally became so wearying
that she returned to school for relief. Hortense was now a year
behind, but resented the rather superior airs of some of her old
classmates so effectively that she got down to business, made up her
back work, and graduated reasonably well up in her entrance class. Of
light build, and always frail in appearance, she did commendable work
in school athletics. She took private instruction in hockey, for she
was determined "to make the team," and her success in accomplishing
this is significant of her ability to do, when she willed. At one of
the later inter-scholastic games she met a handsome, manly, George
Washington University student. She was nineteen, he twenty-three, and
on his commencement day he honored her by offering his hand. Her
southern love was aglow. Her lover was practically making his own way,
but his prospects were excellent, his character superior, and they
both cared very much.

Unhappily, Mrs. Place had returned to England, or Hortense would have
confided in her and some futures might have been different. But the
warmth of the new love seemed at the time to dissipate the chilliness
toward her mother, which, unexpressed to herself, had through the
years been increasing in the daughter's heart. So she wrote a long
letter full of the beautiful story of the growing happiness, with
pages of fervid descriptions of a certain fine young fellow, and
importuned her mother to come East at once and to bring her blessing.
No such filial warmth had Mrs. Orr ever before known. No such
opportunity for a beneficent expression of the high privilege of
motherhood had ever been entrusted to her. She responded without
hesitation. She did not even wait to read their daughter's letter to
her husband. When she reached Washington she summoned the young suitor
to her hotel, and succeeded in one masterful quarter of an hour in
arousing his violent dislike and lasting contempt. Through diplomacy
she got Hortense on the Memphis-bound train. She was determined that
her "darling child" should never marry beneath her station, and she
talked and talked, drowning her daughter's protests, appeals and
objections, in her merciless flow of words. Night after night she
would stay with her till after twelve, leaving the poor girl tense,
distracted and sleepless. And the habit of sleeplessness developed and
with it a painfully abnormal sensitiveness to noises. The cruelly
disappointed girl rapidly went to pieces. She craved a woman's
sympathy, she longed for a mother's comprehending love, but she soon
came to dread even her mother's presence, and formed the habit of
burying her ears in the pillows to shut out the sound of that voice
which could have meant the sweetest music of all, yet which to her
distraught nerves had become an irritating, repelling, hated noise.
Then special nurses came; the hot months were spent in the Rockies;
several sea-trips were made; twice patient and nurse went East to
forget it all in weeks of concerts and theaters in New York. But her
inability to sleep was but temporarily relieved, while her antagonism
to noises increased. She was then in Philadelphia for six months under
the care of a noted neurologist, where she slowly gained considerably,
physically, and was sufficiently well to spend a short, social "coming
out season" with her parents. Yet the "at homes" and tea-parties and
functions in which her mother reveled, never more than superficially
interested her.

Rather strangely, father and daughter had not been as close as their
similar natures and needs would suggest. While Mrs. Orr may not have
been jealous, she preempted her husband's home hours mercilessly; but
in her father's death Hortense came to know that one of the few props
of her stability had been removed. Moreover, her mother's incessant
reiteration of her loneliness and sorrow, and the endless discussion
of the details of her depressing widow's weeds, and of her taxing,
exhausting widow's responsibilities, brought on a return of the old
symptoms, with the antipathy to noises even intensified. We may think
of Hortense Orr as inherently weak. This is not so. Save as influenced
in her girlhood by Mrs. Place, and while stimulated during her last
three years at school by personal ambition, she had known no duties
nor responsibilities. There had never been any necessity for specific
effort or sacrifice. After her great disappointment she had
surrendered to depression of spirit, and she reacted in the same way
after her father's death. And this surrender was early followed by
weakness of her disused body. She also surrendered to the weakness of
self-pity, that craven mocker of self-respect. She was not a will-less
girl, but life had brought her small chance to develop that will which
masters, while wilfulness, that will which demands selfishly for self,
grew out of the soil so largely of her mother's preparing. This
wilfulness, first asserted in small things, grew and grew.

The family doctor saw more than tongue and liver and thin blood and
bodily weakness. He realized the helplessness of Hortense in finding
her stronger self in the home atmosphere, and advised a year in
Europe--to get away from her sorrow, he said, to get away from her
mother's wearying discussion of details, he knew. For nearly a year
she was treated in Germany at different cures without benefit. It was
always the "noise" that kept her from sleeping. It was the "noise"
which she had learned to hate and to revile. To get away from noise
became her fixed determination. And to this end a small mountain-
cottage was secured, secluded from the haunts and industries of man,
in the remoteness of the Tyrolean Alps. Here with her nurse and a
servant she remained three years. For the first months she seemed
happier, and took some interest in the inspiring views and rich flora
of her surroundings. But the night did not bring the silence she
willed. She sensed the heavy breathing of her nurse, the movements of
the servant as she turned in her bed, and sometimes even snored, she
knew it! She would spend hours of strained, sleepless attention, alert
to detect another instance of the heartless repetition of this
incriminating sound. She must be alone. She feared nothing so much as
the hated sounds of human activity. So a one-room shack was built a
hundred yards away from her companions, in the deeper solitude of the
forest. Here she slept alone, month after month. But the winters, even
in the Tyrolean foot-hills, are severe at times, and the deadly
monotony of this useless life, and the improvement which she "knew"
would come with the perfection of her sleeping arrangements, combined
to decide her to return home, though still an enemy to the unbearable
sounds of the night. Twenty-eight years she had lived with no true
interest in life; neither home, attractions in New York or in Europe,
nor treatment offered by competent and kind specialists had influenced
her one thought away from her willingness to be ill. The nurse, who
had buried herself so long with this poor girl in Europe, was quite
appalled at Mrs. Orr's inconsideration of her daughter's "sensitive,
nervous state." Nurse and mother soon had words; nurse and daughter
left promptly for the East, where two hours from New York they spent
another year in semi-isolation together.

A New York broker owned the place adjoining the invalid's cottage.
Walter Douglas, then but twenty-six, was his private secretary. Walter
and Hortense met in the quiet, woodland paths. It is difficult to know
just what the mutual attractions were. She had received many
advantages which had not been his, still life was certainly a lonely
thing for her. He was her first real interest since she had left
Washington, and love reawakened and blew into life the embers she
thought were gray-cold. It was never to be the flaming love-fire of
ten years before, but it was bright enough to decide her to marry,
which she did without writing any letter of confidence to her
unsuspecting mother.

Mr. Orr had left the property in his wife's control, and she had been
unquestionably most generous in supplying her daughter with funds.
When she received the brief note telling of the little wedding and
inviting her to meet them in Washington, on their simple wedding-trip,
she found herself for the first time in her life--speechless! There
were no words to express this "outrage." The disability was short-
lived, but her letter to the bridal couple was shorter. They had taken
things into their own hands; they had ignored her who had every right
to be at least advised, and they could take care of themselves. Hardly
had this letter been mailed when she consulted her attorney as to ways
and means to annul this "crazy marriage."

The young couple had more pride than dollars, and bravely started
house-keeping in a small flat. Few had been more inadequately trained
for household duties than this self-pampered woman who pluckily at
first, then grimly, went to the limit of her poorly developed strength
in an effort to make homelike their few, plain rooms, and to prepare
their unattractive meals. Still it all might have worked out had the
noises of the street not attained an ascendancy. In less than four
months the youthful husband, through a sense of duty, wrote the mother
details of his bride's "precarious condition." Mrs. Orr promptly sent
money, and the mother in her soon brought her to them in person.
Within a few days she recognized the helpless husband's honesty and
patience, and took them both to Memphis, providing a furnished flat
and a good servant. The incompetent wife's short experience in
household responsibilities, for which she was so utterly unprepared,
made sickness a most welcome haven of refuge, and for months she did
nothing but war with the noises of the quiet suburb. Then their baby
came, but with it slight evidence of young mother love. She seemed
almost indifferent to her little one. At rare times, only, would she
respond to her first-born and to her husband. The doctor said there
was no reason why she did not regain strength, that she could if she
would, that it was not a question of physical frailty but it was
decidedly a case of willing to have the easiest way. "Something has to
be done," he said at last, and he strongly advised that she be sent to
a hospital where she would be the object of benevolent despotism. She
constantly complained of her oversensitive hearing, and had certainly
developed all the arts of the invalid. She made no objection to the
proposed plan. She did not know what was in store for her, outside of
the mentioned "rest-cure." Full authority was given the institution
officials to use any possible helpful means to stimulate her recovery.
In all this the family physician counseled wisely and with
discernment. At the hospital Hortense Douglas was told that she was to
remain until she was well, that it was not a question of duration of
treatment, but of her condition, which would determine the date of her
return to her home, husband, and little one. The relationship between
her years of illness and her unhappy disappointment, between her
antagonism to night sounds and her intolerant impatience with her
mother, was carefully explained. The ideal of making friends with
these same noises which were but the voices of human progress,
happiness, industry and personal rights, was held before her.
Following the first clash of her will with the hospital authorities,
she claimed that she was losing her mind, and was told that she would
be carefully watched and would be treated at once as irresponsible
when she proved to be so. Step by step she was forced to health, she
was compelled to live rationally. Scientific feeding produced rapid
improvement in her nutrition, she gained strength by the use of foods
which she had never liked, had never taken and could "not take." In
every way she improved in spite of herself. She often said she could
not stand the treatment. But cooperation relentlessly proved more
pleasant than rebellion. At the end of five months she was sleeping
night after night the deep sleep honestly earned by thorough physical
weariness, a sleep which nervous tire and worrying apprehension can
never know. She could get no satisfaction as to when she would be
allowed to return home.

She had no money in her possession, but she slipped away one morning,
pawned her watch for railway-fare, and arrived home announcing that
she was well.

Wealth, medical experts, years in Europe, society, the pleasures of
seasons in New York, a husband's love, motherhood had failed to find
health for this wilful woman. Not until her illness was made more
uncomfortable than the legitimate duties of health, not until she
recognized it was normal living at home or life in that "awful
hospital," did she will to be well--and well she was.



CHAPTER XIV

UNTANGLING THE SNARL


You have probably passed the mansion. It stands, prominent, on the
avenue leading from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. Three generations have
added to its beauty and appointments. A generation ago it stood,
imposing, and if fault could be found, it was its self-consciousness
of architectural excellence. Every continent had contributed to its
furnishings, and some of its servants, too, were trained importations.
In the middle eighties, this noble pile was the home of an invalid, a
twelve-year-old boy, a housekeeping aunt, and nurses, valets, maids,
butlers, cooks, and coachmen. The invalid master of the house was
forty-eight. As he leaned on the mantel looking out across the lawn,
you felt the presence of a massive, powerful physique, but as he
slowly turned to greet you, you fairly caught your breath from the
intensity of the shock. The cheeks were hollow; the lips were ever
parted to make more easy the simple act of breathing, the pallor of
the face was more than that of mere weakness--there was a yellowish
hue of both skin and eye-whites. The shrunken claw-like hands that
offered greeting, the shrunken thighs, the increased girth of body
which had so deceived your first glance, all bespoke mortal illness to
even the untrained eye--advanced cirrhosis of the liver, to the
professional scrutiny. And he was to be the fourth, in a line of
financially successful Kents, to die untimely from mere eating and
drinking. You would not have stayed long with this sick man. Only a
large love or a large salary could have made the atmosphere of his
presence endurable, for he was the essence of impatience, the
quintessence of wilfulness. The sumptuousness of his surroundings, the
punctilious devotion of his servants, the deferential respect shown
him in high financial circles, books, people, memories, all failed
ever to soften that drawn, hard face, for he was a miserably wretched,
unhappy sufferer. Now and then his eyes would light up when Francis,
his son and heir, was brought in. But Francis had a governess and an
aunt who were respectively paid and commanded to keep him entertained
and contented, and to see that he did not long disturb the invalid.
That last year was one of most disorderly invalidism--not disorder of
a boisterous, riotous kind, but an unmitigated rebellion to doctors'
orders and advice, to the suggestions of friends, to the urgings and
pleadings of nurses and "Aunt Emma." There were no voluble explosions;
the impatience was not of the noisy kind--he had too much character
for that, but the stream of thought was turgid and sulphurous. Jan,
the valet, never argued, urged, suggested--by no little foreign shrug
of his shoulders did he even hint that the master's way was not
entirely right--and politic, faithful Jan stood next to Francis in his
good graces; in fact, he was more acceptable as a companion. The only
reason the sick man gave for his indifference to professional advice
was that he was the third generation to go this way--and this way he
went. A giant he was in the forest of men, felled in his prime.

Francis did not know his mother. She had been beautiful, a gentle,
lovable daughter of generations of social refinement. Her father and
grandfather had lived "pretty high." In truth, had the doctors dared,
"alcoholic," as an adjective, would have appeared in both their death
certificates; and the worm must have been in the bud, for she died
suddenly at twenty-five, following a short, apparently inadequate
illness. Thus, three-year-old Francis was left to a busy father's
care, a maiden aunt's theoretical incompetence, and to the
ministrations of a series of governesses who remained so long as they
pleased their youthful lord. The undisciplined father's idea of good
times, for both himself and his son, was based upon having what you
want right now, and why not?--with unlimited gold, with its seemingly
unlimited buying power. Dear Auntie, poor thing! knew no force higher
than "Now, Francis, I wouldn't," or "Please don't," or on very extreme
occasions, "I shall certainly tell your father"--as utterly
ineffective in introducing one slightest gleam of the desirability and
potency of unselfishness into this boy's mind, as was the gracious
servility of the servants.

Francis was large for his age, unusually active and remarkably direct
mentally, therefore little adjustment was needed as he entered that
usually leveling community--boy-school-life. He was generous and good-
hearted to a lovable degree and with such qualities and advantages he
early became, and remained, leader in his crowd. After his father died,
the boy, not unnaturally, placed him--the only one whose will he had
ever had to respect--high in his reverence. The father had been a
powerful young man, a boxer to be feared, oar one in the Varsity Crew;
a man who, through the force and brilliancy of his business life, had
won more than state-wide prominence, and had left many influential
friends who spoke of him in highest respect. It was to be expected that
the father's strong character would have deeply influenced his only son,
and like father like son, only more so, he grew. But the "more so" is
our tale.

"Rare, juicy tenderloin steaks go to muscle. You don't need much
else, and we didn't get much else at the training-table," the father
used to say, and they unquestionably formed the bulk of the boy's
naturally fine physique, for he developed in spite of much physical
misuse into a two-hundred-pound six-footer. Francis began smoking at
twelve. On his tenth birthday a small wine glass had been filled for
him and thereafter he always had wine at dinner, and he liked it--not
only the effects but the taste. The desire was in his blood--Before
he was eighteen he was brought home intoxicated and unconscious. No
law had ever entered into his training which suggested any form of
self-control. The principles of self-mastery were unthought; they had
been untaught. "Eat, drink and be merry" might express the sum of his
ideals. And so, physically or mentally, no thought of restraint
entered his youthful philosophy. There was nothing vicious, no strain
of meanness, much generosity; naturally kindly and practically devoid
of any spirit of contention, and peculiarly free from any touch of
the disagreeable, he was blessed with a spirit of good fellowship. He
never questioned the rights of his friends to do as they pleased, and
they quite wisely avoided questioning his right to do likewise; so,
desire was untrammeled and grew apace. It was in Francis Kent's
failure to bridle this power that the threads were first snarled.

The boy's fine body was trained in a haphazard way. Had his father
lived, it might have been different. Mentally, he was naturally
industrious and next to the joys of the flesh came his studies. It
was as toastmaster at his "prep-school" commencement-banquet that he
first drank to intoxication. The next fall he entered Yale, and there
is no question but those days this revered university had a "fast
set" that was emphatically rapid. But Francis Kent could go the
paces; in fact, none of the football huskies could put in a night out
and bring as snappy an exterior and as clear a wit to first class
next morning as young Kent. His heredity, his beefsteaks, the gods,
or something, certainly made it possible for him to be a "bang-up
rounder" and at the same time an acceptable student through four
college years.

He was almost gifted in a capacity for the romance literatures, and,
anomalous though it may seem, he majored and excelled in philosophy.
He was truly a popular fellow when he took his degree at twenty-two.
High living had given him high color; his eye was active and his face,
though somewhat heavy, was mobile with the sympathy of intelligence;
his physique was good; he dressed with a negligee art which was
picturesque. Big of heart, he had a wealth of scholarly ideas, and not
a few ideals; many thought he faced life a certain winner.

Practically every door was open to him, and he chose--Europe. Those
were two hectic years. Every gait was traveled; for weeks he would go
at top-speed, go until nerve and blood could brook no more. No
conception of the duty of self-restraint ever reached him till, at
last, the nervous system, often slow to anger, began to express its
objection to the abuse it was suffering. He was not rebounding as in
the past from his excesses. For a day or so following a prolonged
drinking bout he would be apprehensive and depressed, unable to find
an interest to take him away from the indefinite dread which haunted
him. Not till he could again stand a few, stiff glasses of brandy
could he find his nerve. A friend found him thus "shot up" one day and
suggested that he was "going the pace that kills," and hinted that
another path might be trod with wisdom. "What's the use?" Kent flung
back, "I'm fated to go with an alcoholic liver; it's in the family
strong--both sides. I saw my father go out with it. I know Mendel's
theory by heart, two black pigeons never parent a white one." And on
he went. His creed now might well have been: "For to-morrow I die."

It may have been the impulsion of an unrecognized fear--he said it was
philosophic interest--which had attracted him to study the various
theories of heredity. He had been particularly impressed by Mendel's
"Principles of Inheritance," and its graphic elucidation of the
mathematical recurrence of the dominant characteristics had grasped
him as a fetish. With such forebears as his, there was no hope. The
die had been cast before he was born. Why struggle against the laws of
determinism? He was what he was because forces beyond his control had
made him so. Scientific certainty now seemed to add its weight of
evidence to his accepted fatalism, when, at twenty-eight, instead of
the accustomed days of depression, a period of particularly heavy
drinking was followed by a serious attack of delirium tremens. For
several days he was cared for as one dangerously insane. After reason
had been restored, the doctor, in his earnest desire to help, warned
him that he must live differently and, knowing the father's ending,
thought to frighten him into a change of habits by stating that his
drinking would kill him in a few years if he kept it up. "You are
already in the first stages of cirrhosis," he told him. As it turned
out, no warning could have been less wise; it simply assured Kent the
certainty of the fate which pursued, and soon he was at it again.
Before thirty he had suffered two attacks of alcoholic delirium, had
been a periodic drinker for fifteen years, a regular drinker for five
years, often averaging for weeks two quarts of whiskey a day, and
always smoking from forty to fifty cigarettes. Life had become more
and more unlivable when he was not narcotized by alcohol or nicotine,
and he was fast becoming a pitiful slave to his intoxicated and
damaged nervous system.

He was living at home now, nominally secretary of a strong
corporation--practically eating, smoking, drinking, theater-going,
lounging at the Varsity Club, and playing with his speedy motorboat.
He enjoyed music and, when in condition, occasionally attended
concerts. Barely he went to the Episcopal service, then only when
special music was given. The faithful will discern the hand of
Providence in his first seeing Martha Fullington in one of these rare
hours at church. She was truly a fine, wholesome woman. The daughter
of a small town Congregational minister of the best New England stock,
she had always been healthy in body and mind. She possessed an unusual
contralto voice, and came to Buffalo at twenty-two for special
training. Helpful letters of introduction, with her pleasing self and
good voice, rapidly secured her friends and a position in a
fashionable church-choir. Here Kent heard her in a short but
effectively rendered solo. Unsusceptible as he had been in the past,
the sacredness of her religiously inspired face appealed to him
strangely. Within a fortnight a new and profound element was to
complicate his life, for he met Miss Fullington and took her out to
dinner at the home of a classmate, whose mother was befriending the
young singer. The spell of her charm wakened the power of his desire.
Whether it was from the stimulation of her inherent difference to
other women he had known, or whether deep within, and as yet
untouched, there was a fineness which instinctively recognized and
responded to fineness, we may not say with certainty. He was remote
from her every standard, she thought, and her seeming indifference was
a conscious self-defense. But she inspired him with a sincerity of
purpose he had not known before. He was frank; he was potently
insistent and "hopeless," he told her, "unless you save me." Thus
unwittingly he appealed to the mother sympathy, the strongest a good
woman can feel.

They were engaged and the wedding was all that any bride could have
desired. Then ten weeks abroad, beautiful, revealing weeks, for
Francis Kent, sober and in love, was much of a man. Still it was only
ten weeks before the formal social function, with its inevitable array
of wines, turned this kindly, genial lover, in an hour, into a coarse,
inconsiderate drunkard. Confined for a week in their state-room on the
steamer home with her husband, now a beast in drink, this poor, pure,
uninitiated wife realized purgatory. Dark days were those next three
years for them both. When sober, he was self-abased by the knowledge
of the suffering of this woman he so truly loved, or was restlessly
striving against desires which only alcohol could sate; while she was
alternately fearing the debauch or fighting to keep her respect and
love intact through the debauchery. For him, the battle waged on
between love and desire, his love for her--his one inspiration, while
desire was constantly reenforced by the taunts of his godless fatalism
and the dead weight of his hopelessness.

Then came the day which is hallowed in the lives of even the ignorant
and coarse, the day in which the young wife gladly suffers through the
lengthening hours and goes down to the verge of the Dark River, that
in her nearness to death she may find that other life, the everlasting
seal of her marriage. In all the beauty of eagerly desired motherhood,
Martha Kent bore her baby-boy. The father was not there. She did not
then know all. They shielded her. He had been taken the night before
to a private asylum, entering his third attack of delirium tremens,
and while his wife in pain and prayer made life more sacred, he,
struggling and uncontrolled, beast-like, was making life more
repulsive. The pain of her motherhood never approached the agony of
her wifehood, when she knew, while the pride of fatherhood was utterly
submerged in the poignancy of his self-abasement, when he realized.

Another physician had treated him during this attack. He, too, wished
to help. He talked with the humiliated man most earnestly, insisting
that he had never truly tried, that in the past he had depended on his
weak will and the inspiration of his devotion. He had not had
scientific help. He assured him that he did not have incurable
hardening of the liver and expressed, as his earnest belief, that
there were places where the help he needed could be given--that there
was hope. Plans were made and Francis Kent gave his pledge, expressed
in a voluntary commitment, to carry out a six months' system of
treatment. "Not," as he assured the physician-in-charge, "that I can
be saved from the effects of what has gone before. I know my heredity
is too strong for that. But by every obligation of manhood I owe my
wife and boy five years of decent living. If you can make that
possible, I shall be satisfied." The professional help Kent received,
physically, was deep-reaching. It accurately adjusted food to energy
expended. Forty self-indulgent cigarettes were transformed into three
manly cigars, and he was put to work with his hands--those patrician
hands which had not made a brow to sweat, for serious purpose, in
three generations. His physical response in six weeks completely
altered his appearance. The snap of healthy living reappeared; the
pessimism of his fatalism was displaced by much of quiet cheer. Life
was again becoming a good thing. But the professional help he received
mentally was what untangled the snarl. His advisor was fortunately
able to go the whole way with him as he discussed his hereditary
"inevitables"--the whole way and then, savingly, some steps beyond--
and for the first time Kent's understanding, now reaching for higher
truths than would satisfy the fatalist, was wisely, personally
conducted through a wholesome interpretation of the distinction
between the heritage of germinal and of somatic attributes, that vital
distinction: that it takes but two ancestors to determine the species
of the offspring, but that the individual's personal heritage is the
result of, and may be influenced by, a thousand forerunners; that
dominant characteristics, compelling though they seem, may be
neutralized by obscure, recessive characteristics. More than this, his
new counselor was able to convince him that the real damage he had to
overcome was not a foreordained physical fate, for that was in a
peculiar way largely in his own hands, now that he was properly
started, but was the mental tangle of his unholy fatalism which
absolutely did not represent truth; that he and all rational, normal
men have been given wills and are as free as gods to choose, within
certain large limitations. Francis Kent's mind had been well trained.
Selfish desire had made of him a fatalist. A more beautiful desire led
him into a constructive optimism. He thought deeply for a week,
perchance he prayed, for he knew that she was praying from the depths
of her soul. He outlined for himself a new, thoroughly wholesome mode
of life, and in half an hour's heart-to-heart conference convinced his
doctor-friend that more had been accomplished in two months than could
have been promised at the end of the six months planned. So the new
Francis Kent was told to go back and make a new home for his wife and
the new baby. Years have passed--blessed years in the old mansion.
There is no hint of cirrhosis of the liver. There has never been a
drop of anything alcoholic served in that house since his return.
There are two healthy chaps of boys; there is a wonderfully happy
woman; there is a fine, manly man, the respected and efficient
president of an influential bank. Patient, wise hands carefully
untangled the knotted snarl. The thread was unbroken.



CHAPTER XV

FROM FEAR TO FAITH


Thirty some years ago a baby girl came into a Virginia home. Her birth
was a matter of family indifference; not specially needed, she was not
particularly wanted. Her father, reared in a small town, having
attained only moderate success as combination bookkeeper, cashier and
clerk in a general store, could not enthuse over an arrival which
would increase the burden of family expense. He was a man of good
Virginia stock, not fired by large ambitions. An ubiquitous cud of
fine-cut, flattening his cheek and saturating his veins, possibly
explains his life of semicontent--for tobacco is a sedative. The
mother was a washed-out, frail-looking reminder of youthful
attractions, essentially of the nervous type. She was not without
pride in her Cavalier stock and the dash of Cavalier blood it brought.
The elder sister had none of her mother. Aspiring socially, she was
reserved, pedantic, platitudinizing, thoroughly self-sufficient. She
finished well up in her class in a small, woman's so-called "college"
and lived with such prudence and exercised such foresight that, in
spite of her Methodist rearing, she wedded the young, local, Episcopal
rector, and, childless but still self-sufficient, "lived happy ever
after."

Our little Virginia's home surroundings gave her all material
necessities, many comforts and occasional luxuries, but it was a home
of narrow interests. Its own immediate affairs, including big sister's
successes; critically, the doings of the neighborhood, and
unquestioningly, the happenings of the church circle, comprised the
themes of home discourse. Markedly lacking in beauty was that home--no
music, a few perfunctory pictures, a parlor furnished to suit the
local dealer's taste and stock, a few sets of books--the successful
contribution of unctuous book agents. All converse was lacking in
ideals save the haphazard ones brought home by the children from
school. There was no pretense of unselfishness, the conception was
foreign to that home's atmosphere. The religious teaching was of
formalism and fear. The services of the church were regularly
attended, and from time to time the children's discipline was
augmented by references to the certain wrath of God. Into this home
came Virginia to be reared under most irregular training, dependent on
a combination of her mother's feelings and her sister's conventions--
the father's influence was negative, his was a well-bred nicotine
indifference. In the little girl's life, every home appeal was
emotional. During the mother's more rare, comfortable days, she
exacted few restrictions, but much more often fear methods marked her
use of authority: fear of punishment, fear of the Invisible, and, from
her sister, fear of "what folks will say" were the chief home
influences molding this young life. Such appeals found in her
sensitive nature a rich soil. No single consistent effort was ever
made to substitute reason for emotional supremacy, as she developed.
At times her feelings would run rampant--what was to keep them in
order but disorganizing fear?--while too often her mother weakly
rewarded Virginia's most stormy outbreaks by acceding to her erratic
desires.

In one element did this home take pride. As true Virginians, the good
things of the table were procured at any cost. Good eating was a
pride--and rapid eating became the child's habit. Yet with all the
sacrifices of time and effort, the richness of their table cost, and
in spite of the fact that eating was ever in the forefront of family
plans and efforts, no conception of the true art of dining was ever
theirs.

At sixteen Virginia was attractive, with remarkably clear, olive skin,
with hair, eyes and eyebrows a peculiarly soft chestnut. Fun-loving,
thoughtless, vivacious, spasmodically aggressive, naturally athletic,
capable of many fine intuitions, she finished the local high school
with a good record, for she was mentally alert. Still most of her
thinking was of the emotional type, and smiles were quick and tears
were quick, and upon a feeling-basis rested her decisions. The tender-
heartedness of a child never left her, and when trusted and encouraged
she had always shown an excellent capacity for good work. She was
essentially capable of intense friendships, under the sway of which no
sacrifice was questioned, but her stormy nature made friendships
precarious. Pervading her life was a large conscientiousness. Her
fear-conscience was acute--never an unwholesome impulse but fear-
conscience rebuked and tortured. Few bedtimes were peaceful to her,
because at that quiet hour remorse, entirely disproportionate to the
wrong, lashed her miserably. Her love-conscience, too, was richly
developed, and for love's sake she would have become a martyr. Her
duty-conscience was yet in its infancy and held weak council in her
plans and rarely swayed her from desire.

After a year of normal-school training, she secured a primary grade in
a near town school, and at nineteen, when she became an earner, there
were two Virginias; the beautiful Virginia was a woman of appealing
tenderness--body, heart and soul yearned for some adequate return of
the richness of devotion which she felt herself capable of giving.
Sentiment and capacity for love were unconsciously reaching out for
satisfying expression, and the beauty of this tenderness shone forth
to make appealing even her weaknesses. The other Virginia was a
conglomerate of unhappy and harmful emotions--impatient in the face of
small irregularities, frequently irritable to unpleasantness, and
dominated by the false sensitiveness of unmerited pride. Under
provocation, anger, quick-flaming, unreasonable and unreasoning,
burned itself out in poorly restrained explosions--a quarter-hour of
wrath, a half-hour of tears and a half-day of almost incapacitating
headache. She was ambitious and had rebelled at her limitations,
especially as she grew to realize the smallness and emptiness of the
home-life. She resented her sister's superior attitude, her officious
poise, her college-education authority. But the damning defect was the
remorseless grip of fear on mind, body and spirit. Through ignorant
training, she was afraid in the dark, even afraid of the dark; a
morbid, cringing terror possessed her when she was alone in the night.
Even the protecting safety of her own bed could not save her from the
jangle of false alarms with which her imagination peopled the shadows.
A second gripping dread--one all too common with harmfully taught,
southern girls--was fear of negroes; a horrible, indefinite, haunting
apprehension chilled her veins, not only when associated with them,
but even more viciously when she was alone with her thoughts. And when
added to these was her superstitious fear of the Lord, magnifying the
evil of her ways, threatening, pervading, bringing no hint of Divine
love, the preparation was ample for the forthcoming emotional chaos.

At twenty-eight she was a sick woman. Through devotion to the kindly
principal of her school, a devotion not unmixed with sentiment, she
had worked intensely; quick, interested, almost capable, she had
worked and worried. School-discipline early loomed large as a rock
threatening disaster, dragging into her consciousness a sinister fear
of failure. Thirty little ones, from almost as many different homes,
representing a motley variety of home-training, looked to her to mold
them into an orderly, happy unit. Some of her little tots were as
thorns in her flesh--she couldn't keep her arms from around others;
while some afternoons the natural restlessness of them all set her
head to throbbing wretchedly. Her own emotional life not having found
order or calm, she from the first failed to develop either in her
charges. Visitors became a dread. Her only solace was the short
conferences she had with the principal after school. But to hear his
step approaching during class-time frightened her cruelly. Her order
was poor. He knew it. The visitors saw it. And the more she struggled
to master the problem of school-discipline, the greater grew the
menace of her own unorderly training. Within a few months she was
translating her emotional exhaustion into terms of overwork. The
penalty of unmerited food had produced an autotoxic anaemia, and she
was pale and weepy, easily fatigued, sleeping poorly, with the boggy
thyroid and overactive tendon reflexes so common in subacidosis. She
had to give up her school. After six months' ineffectual resting at
home, she entered a special hospital where, after some weeks of
intensive treatment, her physical restoration was remarkable. The
marriage of her sister and death of her mother closed the home, and
she went to live with a widowed aunt, the aunt who had managed her
household and her ministerial spouse to perfection. It was probably
Paul's injunction alone which kept her from taking her complacent
husband's place in the pulpit and delivering the sermons she had so
literally inspired. Here was an atmosphere of sanctity, but still no
hint of true, personal giving, no expression of willing sacrifice, and
Virginia felt keenly this lack, for in the hospital she had had a
vision. There she had seen suffering softened by gentleness, there
empty lives were filled from generous hearts, and men and women
inspired to make new and better starts. She had visioned the nobleness
of giving--and the unanswered call of her mother-nature had responded.
She was not fully well, she was not deeply living, she had never
fulfilled the best of self, and she hungered for the hospital. Her
aunt's conventional pride was echoed by the laws and the in-laws, and
positive, later peremptory objections were urged against her entering
nursing. Again the headaches returned, the physical expression of her
emotional unhappiness, and finally, almost in recklessness, certainly
in desperation, she cast her lot in the self-effacing demands of a
student-nurse's life in a city hospital, far from family and friends.

How shall we tell of the next three years? Training, reeducation,
evolution?--some of all perhaps. They were years of much travail.
Physical wholeness was won promptly through the wholesome habits of
active, daily effort, routine, regularity and rational diet. There was
suffering--months of suffering, under correction, for rebellion had
long been a habit, and hospital discipline is military in character.
But she had given her pledge, and fear-conscience and love-conscience
were later augmented by duty-conscience, and she never seriously
thought of deserting. Cheer expression is demanded in the nurse's
relations with her patients, and irritability and impatience slowly
faded through hourly touch with greater suffering; and the cheer habit
grew into cheer feeling. The old storms of anger seemed incongruous in
the imperturbable atmosphere of the hospital, moreover her dignity as
a nurse could not be risked. Thus was she helped till the solidity of
self-control made her safe. Her truly formidable battle was with fear
--no one can know what she faced alone on night duty. Her dread of the
dark was overcome painfully when through helpful counsel she gained an
intelligent insight into her defect, and was inspired to apply for
night duty in excess of her regular schedule. Later, at her own
request, she performed alone the last duties for the dead, that she
might put fear under her feet. Her dread of negroes gradually gave
place to a better understanding of the race through the daily
association of ministration on the ward, reenforced by personal
confidence in her own strength and skill, growing out of a wholesome
training in self-defense--a training her love for athletics and her
growing understanding of her fear-weakness moved her to take on her
off-duty time. She became competent; anxious to help, her fineness of
intuition and her capacity for devotion with her vision of service
made her in every way worthy. And finally her fear of the Lord was
lost in a wholesome faith in His "Well-done!"

To-day, hers is a life of peace. Emotional instability and
wretchedness have been displaced by habitual right feeling.
Stabilizing her emotions has not impoverished, but enriched her
nature. She has mastered the art of enjoying, for self-interests have
expanded into love for service. To-day she is a capable, efficient,
cheerful, wholesome, self-forgetting woman, filled with a faith in an
able, worthy self--a God-given faith.



CHAPTER XVI

JUDICIOUS HARDENING


In the softened light of a richly furnished office two physicians were
seated. It was the elder who spoke. Drawn and sad was his cleanly
featured, tense face; his clear skin and slightly whitened, dark hair
belied his nearly seventy years. He was the anxious, unhappy father of
a sick, unhappy daughter, whom the nurse was preparing in an adjoining
room for examination by Dr. Franklin, the younger physician. "I mean
no discourtesy, Doctor, when I say that I don't believe any one
understands my girl's case. Her brother and sister are healthy
youngsters and have always been so. I may have taken a few drinks too
many now and then, but few men of my age can stand more night-work or
do more practice than I can, and I've about rounded my three-score and
ten. Wanda was a perfect child. She is my oldest. Her mother did pet
and spoil her, always humored her from the first, but she was a
cheerful, bright little thing. She finished high school at fifteen and
did a good year's study at Monticello. All her trouble seemed to start
that spring when she was vaccinated. She had never had worse than the
measles before. She didn't seem to know how to take sickness, though
the Lord knows she's had plenty of chances to learn since her sore
arm; and the school-doctor had to lance a small place, and this kept
her away from Commencement where they had some part for her to do. She
didn't get well in time to spend the month in Michigan with her room-
mate, and she always said that if she could have had this trip she
would never have been so bad. It was a mighty hard summer with me,
too, that year, and probably I didn't notice her enough--anyway she's
been a half-invalid these eighteen years. It's pain and tenderness in
this nerve and then in that one, and she hasn't walked a whole mile in
fifteen years because of her sciatica. I have sent her to Hot Springs,
one summer she spent at Saratoga, and she has taken two courses of
mud-baths. When she was twenty-six, she lived for four months in Dr.
Moore's home. He and I were college-mates and he had been mighty good
in treating rheumatic troubles. After awhile he decided it was her
diet and she lived a whole year in B--- Sanitarium and she gained
weight too, there, and hasn't eaten any meat to speak of nor drunk any
coffee since. She often complains of her eyes but the specialists say
they are all right, that that isn't the trouble. Two of the best
surgeons in our part of the country have refused to operate on her
even when I begged one of them to open her and see if he couldn't find
out what was the matter. Three of her doctors have said it was her
nerves, but I don't think any of them know. You know I don't mean to
say anything that will reflect on your specialty, but you never did
see a case of only nerves put a healthy young girl in bed and keep her
there suffering so that I've had to give her aspirin a hundred times
and even morphin by hypodermic to get her quiet, and off and on for
five years she's had ten, and sometimes fifteen grains of veronal at
midnight, nights when she couldn't get to sleep. If it's only nerves,
then I've got a mighty heap to learn about nerves. I think in forty-
five years practicing medicine a man ought to know enough about them
to recognize them in his own family. But something's got to be done.
Wanda's making a hospital of our home. We daren't slam a door, or her
sister mustn't play the piano but her headaches start; and if Rosie
boils turnips or even brings an onion into the house, it goes to
Wanda's stomach and it takes a hypodermic to quiet her vomiting and a
week to get over the trouble.

"That child of mine is just like a different creature from the fine
little girl she was at twelve when my buggy turned over one night and
broke my leg. Why, she nursed me better than her mother. She just
couldn't do enough for me. That little thing would come down just as
quiet as she could--sometimes every night--to see that that leg was
all right and hadn't got twisted; while now she expects attention from
everybody in the house and from some of the neighbors. She will even
send for Rosie just when she is trying to get dinner started and keep
her a half-hour telling just what she wants and how it's got to be
fixed, then more often she'll just nibble at it just enough to spoil
it for everybody else, after Rosie's spent an hour getting it ready
for her. Tonics don't help her a bit. I've given her iron, arsenic and
strychnin enough to cure a dozen weak women. She's always too weak to
exercise, lies in bed two days out of three, reads and sometimes
writes a letter or two. But before Christmas comes (you know she is
mighty cunning with her fingers; she can sew and embroider and make
all sorts of pretty, womanish things) she works so hard making
presents that she's just clear done out for the next two months and
won't leave her room for weeks. That's about all she does from one
year's end to another, but complain of her sickness, and of late years
criticize the rest of us and dictate to the whole household what they
must do for themselves, and just out-and-out demand what she wants
them to do for her. She really treats her stepmother like a dog, and
often she is so disrespectful to me that I certainly would thrash her
if she wasn't so sick. She was a fine child but her suffering has
wrecked her disposition. She and the rest of us would be better off if
she'd die. You see, Doctor, I haven't much faith left, but she's been
bent so long a time on coming to you, and is willing to spend the
little money her mother left her, to have her own way. Now, I am
doctor enough to stand by you in what you decide if you say you can
cure her, and if she gets well, I'll pay every cent of the bill, but
if she don't, the Lord will just have to help us all, though I suppose
I'll have to take care of her as long as she lives for she won't have
a cent after she gets through with this."

Wanda Fairchild lay expectant on the examination table, pale, almost
wan; her blue eyes, fair skin and even her attractive, curling, blonde
hair seemed lusterless, save when her face lighted with momentary
anticipation at some sound suggesting Dr. Franklin's coming. Much
indeed of her feeling life had grown false through the blighting touch
of her useless years of useless sickness. But genuine was her
greeting. "Oh, Doctor, I am so glad to be here! You remember Mrs.
Melton. You cured her and she has been well ever since, and for over
two years I've been begging papa to bring me here, but he hasn't any
hope. He's tried so hard and spent so much. Now you've got to get me
well. They all say this is my last chance. I certainly can't endure
these awful pains much longer. I know they're going to drive me crazy
some day if something isn't done to stop them. Just look at my arms.
That's where I bit them last night to keep from screaming out in the
sleeper, for I wouldn't take any medicine. I wanted you to see me
without any of that awful stuff to make me different than I truly am.
You will surely cure me, won't you, Doctor, so I can go back home
soon, as strong as Mrs. Melton is, and live like other girls, and have
company and go to parties and dance and take auto-rides and have a
good time before I get too old--or die? Oh, Doctor, you don't know
what a horrible life I live! Every day is just torture. I suppose they
do as well as they know at home, but not one of them, not even papa,
has any conception of how I suffer or they would show more
consideration. It is terrible enough to be sick when you are
understood and when everybody is doing the right thing to help you. I
know my trip has made me worse, for my spine is throbbing now like a
raw nerve. It would be a relief if some one would put burning coals on
my back. You know there's nothing worse than nerve-pains."

Dr. Franklin smiled quietly. How often he had heard poor sufferers
hyperbolize their suffering! How keenly he could see the distinction
between the real and the false in illness! How certainly he knew that
such exaggerated rantings and wailings stood for illness of mind or
soul, but not of body! The physical examination, nevertheless, was
extremely thorough. Nothing can be guessed at in the intricate war
with disease.

"Yes, I was happy as a child. Mother understood me; no one else ever
has. She knew when I needed petting. I did well at school and really
loved Myrtle Covington, my room-mate at the Sem. Just think, she
married--married a poor preacher, but I know she is happy, for she is
well and has a home of her own and three children. I don't see how
they make ends meet on eighteen-hundred and no parsonage. You know we
had a smallpox scare at the Sem. that spring and all had to be
vaccinated. I scratched mine, or something, and for weeks nearly died
of blood-poisoning. That is where my neuritis started. They had to
lance my arm to save my life, and when you examined me I had to grit
my teeth to keep from screaming out when you took hold of that cut
place. You believe I am brave, don't you, Doctor? It hurts there yet,
but I didn't want to disturb you in the examination. Do you think
there is any chance for me, Doctor?"

At this point the physician nodded to the nurse, who left the room.

"And what else happened that summer?" he asked her kindly.

"Well, I was in bed over three months with my vaccination and my
lanced arm, and I had a special nurse, and couldn't eat any solid food
for days. They never would tell me how high my fever was; they were
afraid of frightening me, but I wouldn't have cared. I used to wish I
could die."

"Why, child, what could have happened to make a young, happy girl of
sixteen wish to die? Was there something really serious that you
haven't told?"

"Oh, Doctor, didn't papa tell you? No, I know he wouldn't. He probably
don't know--he can't know what it cost me. Oh! must I tell you? Don't
make me, Doctor! Oh, my poor head! Doctor, it will burst, please do
something for it. Oh, my poor mamma! She loved me so much and she
understood me, too." And tears came and sobs, and for a time neither
spoke.

"Tell me of your mother," the doctor said.

Then the story, the unhappy story, whined out in that self-pitying
voice which ever bespeaks the loss of pride--that characteristic of
wholesome normal womanhood. Her parents had probably never been happy
together. The spring she was in the Seminary, ill, her mother left
home. There was a separation. That fall her father re-married, as did
the mother later, who lived in her new home but a few months, dying
that same winter. From the first, Wanda had hated her stepmother. "I
despise her. I can never trust Father again. I can never trust any one
and I loathe home, and I want to die. Please, Doctor, don't make me
live. I have nothing to live for!"

Here was the woman's sickness--the handiwork of an indulgent mother
who had never taught her daughter the sterling ideals of unselfish
living. This mother had gone. A better trained woman had entered the
home, but her every effort to develop character in the stepdaughter
was resented. Illness, that favorite retreat of thousands, became this
undeveloped woman's refuge. Year after year, sickness proved her
defense for all assaults of importuning duty. Sickness, weakly
accepted at first, later grew, and as an octopus, entwined its
incapacitating tentacles about and slowly strangled a life into
worthlessness.

"Your daughter will have to leave Alton for nine months. Six of these
she will spend on a Western ranch; for three months she will work in
the city slums. Miss Leighton will be her nurse and companion. Life
was deliberately planned to develop wills. Miss Fairchild has lost the
ability to will until, at thirty-four, she is absolutely lacking in
the power to willingly will the effort which is essential to rational,
healthy living. She is but a whimpering weakling, a coward who for
years has run from misfortune. Your daughter must be turned from
discomfort to duty, from pain to productive effort; her margin of
resistance must be pushed beyond the suggestive power of the average
headache, periodic discomfort, or desire for ease; she must learn to
transform a thousand draining dislikes into a thousand constructive
likes. Finally, we hope to teach her the hidden challenge which is
brought us all by the inevitable. To-day she is more sensitive than a
normal three-months-old baby. She must be judiciously hardened into
womanhood."

We cannot say that the troubled father gathered hope from this, to
him, unique exposition of the invalid's case, but sufficient
confidence came to induce him to promise his loyal support to the
"experiment" for the planned period of nine months. The patient
rebelled. She had come "to be Dr. Franklin's patient." She couldn't
"stand the trip." She wouldn't "go a step."

Yes, it seemed cruel. Three days and nights they were on the sleeper;
forty miles they drove over increasingly poor roads to the big ranch
in the Montana foot-hills where everybody else seemed so well, so
coarsely well, she thought. After the first week the aspirin and the
veronal gave out and there was no "earthly chance" of getting more.
Then when she refused to exercise, she got nothing to eat but a glass
of warm milk with a slice of miserably coarse bread crumbed in, and
the mountain air did make her hungry; and when she was ugly, she was
left alone, absolutely alone in that dreary room, and even Lee, the
Chinese cook, wouldn't look in the window when she begged him for
something else to eat. How she did love Rosie those "weary days of
abuse"! Miss Leighton was always polite, though she would not stay
with her a minute when she got "fussy," but would be gone for an hour,
visiting and laughing and carrying on with the men-folks in the big-
room. She had seemed so kind before they left the East and she was
kind now, at times when she had her own way, but she was being paid to
nurse a sick girl, and she had no right to leave her alone for hours
simply because she whined or refused to do her bidding on the instant.
There was a young doctor there who could have helped her if he would,
but he had no more heart than the rest, and when the nurse called him
in to make an examination, he was as noncommittal as a sphinx and gave
her no speck of satisfaction, only telling her to do what the nurse
said. Bitter letters she sent home, but somehow they all were answered
by Dr. Franklin, who wrote her little notes in reply which made her
angry--then ashamed. Verbal outbreaks there were, and physical ones,
too, a few times, which the nurse calmly and humiliatingly credited to
her exercise-account and brought her more to eat, saying that
scrapping was as healthful as work in making strength. But somehow,
she couldn't hate Miss Leighton long, as behind all her "cruelty"
Wanda realized that a thoughtful friendship was ever waiting. One day
they took a drive; when four miles from the ranch-house something
happened, and they were asked to get out. They stood looking off over
the ever-climbing hills to those remote, granite castles of the far
Rockies.

The team started, and as they turned, the driver waved his apparent
regrets. They walked back--four miles. Wanda had not performed such a
feat in nearly twenty years. She walked off her resentment, in truth
she was a bit proud, and the nurse certainly did bring her a fine
supper, the first square meal she had been given in Montana. This was
the turning point.

Walking, riding, working, camping in the open, sleeping in smoke and
drafts after long hikes, carrying her own blanket and pack--all became
matters-of-course. From 96 to l30--nearly thirty-five fine pounds--she
put on. She even learned bare-back riding, and wove a rug from wool
she had sheared, cleaned, dyed and spun. Long since, she had realized
that Miss Leighton had only been carrying out Dr. Franklin's orders.
That fall they came East to Baltimore. She worked with Miss Leighton
in the tenement districts. She saw Dr. Franklin weekly. He now
explained the principles underlying her ruthless, physical
restoration. She learned to recognize her years of deficient will-
living. The doctor revealed to her, as well, her great debt to her
home, explained to her now cleared mind the poverty of the love she
had borne, and wakened her to the stepmother's true excellence of
character. Her opened eyes saw the great tragedy of defective living
as reflected in the lives of want and evil in those to whom she was
daily ministering. Her life had been blest in comparison.

A message came that her stepmother was ill--could she come home and
help? That day this girl put off childhood and took on womanhood. She
returned to her family a new woman, a thoughtful, considerate woman,
an almost silent woman--save when speech is golden; a woman who makes
friends and who remembers them in a hundred beautiful ways, a working
woman, a home-maker for a happier father, for an almost dependent
stepmother; a woman who was scientifically compelled to exchange self-
condoling weakness for strength, who, when strengthened against her
will, chose and lives the worthy life of self-giving. We wish her
well, this new woman, who is repaying to her home a debt of years.



CHAPTER XVII

THE SICK SOUL


"Oh, 'War,' you just must win! I know you will!" "Keep a stiff upper
lip, Old Fellow, and give them the best you've got." "Watch your
knees, Buddie dear, and don't let them shake. Just think of us before
you start, and remember we're pulling for you."--"Yes! and praying for
you," whispered Eva Martin, who was shaking his hand just as the
conductor called, "All aboard." And as Warren Waring gracefully swung
aboard the last Pullman, the entire senior class of Beloit High gave
the school-yell, with three cheers and a tiger for "War Waring."

What occasion could be more thrilling to a susceptible, imaginative
sixteen-year-old boy than this demonstration of the aristocratic
peerage of youth? For a half-hour he had been the center of--
admiration and encouraging attention, the recipient of a rapid fire of
well-wishing, of advice serious and humorous, and unquestionably the
subject of not a few unspoken messages directed heavenward. The kindly
eyes of the old Beloit station have looked out upon many a scene of
enthusiastic greeting and hearty well-wishing, but rarely has it seen
these good offices extended to one of more apparent merit than
handsome Warren E. Waring. One of the National Temperance societies
had been utilizing the promising declamatory powers of the high school
students of the country, through a series of county, district and
state competitions, to influence the public. The contest in Wisconsin
had finally eliminated all but the select few who were to contest for
the temperance-oratorical supremacy of the state, and for a gold
medal, as large as a double eagle, which was to be awarded by judges
from the University faculty. The good wishes and cheers, stimulating
advice, and silent prayers at the Beloit station had all been inspired
by enthusiasm and confidence and love for the unusually gifted comrade
now leaving for the competition.

For nearly a generation Squire Waring had struggled manfully, kindly,
quietly, on his little farm up Bock River, adding a little now and
then to the farm-income by the all-too-infrequent fees derived from
his office as justice-of-the-peace. If the Squire had been a better
farmer and less interested in books, especially in his yellow-backed
law-books, the eking might not have been so continuous; and if his
good wife had not been snatched away, at untimely thirty-five, by one
of those accidents which we call providential, leaving a forty-year-
old father alone with a five-year-old boy, her good sense would
undoubtedly have made times easier with the Squire. As it was, his
sister came to be mother in this little home. Good, steadfast Aunt
Fannie she was, a woman without a vision, who accepted what the day
brought with religiously unquestioning thanks. But as the only son
grew and his charms multiplied, as the evidence of his gifts became
manifest, the impracticable father let slip all personal ambition. The
dreams he had dreamed for himself were to be fulfilled in his son, who
would increase, even as he decreased. So it was that on his boy's
tenth birthday the father turned from his ambition of years, to
represent his county in the state legislature, and after forty-five
doubled the time and strength devoted to his less than a hundred
acres. "There must be money for the boy's education," he told his
sister Fannie, "even if you and I have to skimp for the rest of our
days. He's got the making of a state senator." The father was mistaken
only in that he so limited his boy's possibilities.

The Squire helped the little fellow in his studies, and he entered the
second grade of the near-by Beloit High School the fall before he was
fourteen. The train-schedule was so arranged that he could return home
every night; though, whenever the Squire felt that the farm-work
justified it, and there was no occasion for his honorable court, they
would drive to town together. This was the Squire's one joy. And proud
he was to share in acknowledging the greetings which came from all
sides, even when they drove through the best part of town in the old
buggy--to feel the universal popularity in which his boy was held.
Then there was the added satisfaction of a minute's chat with some one
of the teachers, for they all had praise, and never a word of censure.
Enjoyment enough this dear man got from these irregular trips to town
to lighten for weeks the, to him, unnatural farm-labor; while petty
offenders appearing before his tribunal were dealt with almost gently
after one of these adventures in happiness.

Many a wealth-sated father would have exchanged his flesh and blood
and thrown in his bank-balance to boot, could he have looked forward
to so worthy an heir as promised to bless Squire Waring. The boy
seemed to have been born to meet life successfully, whatever its
challenge. Strong almost to sturdiness, yet agile and accurate in
movement, he had "covered all sorts of territory around 'short,' and
could hit the ball on the nose when it counted," and to him went the
unprecedented glory of a forty-yard run for a touch-down and goal in a
High School vs. Varsity Freshmen game. His were muscles which seemed
to have been molded by a sculptor's hand. His face was manly. His
waving dark-brown hair, deep-blue eyes, strong nose and rarely turned
chin, his unfailing good-nature, his unquestioned nerve, his mental
keenness and clearness, his remarkable power of expression, whether in
recitation, school-theatricals or at young people's meetings; his
instinctive courtesy of greeting, his apparent openness and honesty of
dealing, his fairness to antagonist on field and platform, above all,
his devotion to his unquestionably rural father, had made Warren
Waring a school hero, even a model, in a church college-town.

What other boy in Wisconsin was so well equipped to win the gold
medal? Sixteen years and some months! A rather youthful lad to stand
before a thousand strange faces, to be the object of professorial
scrutiny, to listen to the exultant plaudits of local partisanship;
not to be, not to seem brazen, yet to face it all without a quake of
knee or, and what is more rare, a tremor of voice; not to forget a
syllable; and, in ten minutes, to so cast the spell of a winning
personality over his hearers as to evoke a spontaneous outburst of
applause, generous from his antagonists, enthusiastic from the
nonpartisan. And the medal!

The Professor of English honored our boy by having him at his home to
breakfast the following morning, for the double purpose of expressing
a genuine appreciation of merit, and of making an impressive bid for
his State University attendance next fall.

Aunt Fannie's asthma, with feminine perversity, was at its worst these
March nights, and the Squire--fine man that he was--never let his
nonimaginative sister know what it cost not to go to Madison with his
son--not to "hear him win the medal." "The trip would cost $10.00;
that would get him a fine gold chain to wear his medal on," he
ingeniously told her, and thus helped her enjoy her asthma a bit that
night, for it was getting a chain for Warren's medal.

The chain and the medal! Was it they that were fated to charm away
manhood and nobility and the rich earnest of success? Was it they that
were to entice, into this fine promise of fine living, crookedness of
thought, unwholesomeness of feeling--dishonorable years?

It was an exuberantly happy victor who returned from the Capitol City
with the elaborate gold medal, his name in full conspicuously engraved
upon its face--and the youthful society of his school-town was at his
feet. Every door was open. So almost without fault was he that few
mothers objected to his companionship with their daughters. Yes, here
was to be the flaw!--he was soon to find that it was easy for him to
have his way with a maid, a dangerous knowledge for a seventeen-year-
old boy who had already reached higher social levels than his own home
had known, who was much quicker of wit than his almost worshipful
father.

It was Eva Martin who had whispered the little prayer-message into his
ear that expectant afternoon at the station, and Eva Martin's ear was
destined to hear, in turn, whispered pledges of unending devotion, to
hear the relentless verdict of unquestioned dishonor.

High school was finished. A successful Freshman year--a Sophomore year
that was disappointing to his professors was passed. The fire of his
heart was heating many social irons. His earnings, so far, consisted
of one gold medal. The savings from the denials at home were about
exhausted. The boy had spent as much in the last two years as had been
hoped would carry him through college. Fifteen hundred dollars could
be raised by remortgaging the farm--it would take this to get him
through Law-school, and he was eager to go to Chicago. So a second
mortgage was placed. A good deal happened in Chicago which was not
written to the Squire nor to Eva. Waring craved being a popular "Hail
fellow," and with men, and especially with women, he knew no "No"
which would be displeasing. He corresponded with Eva regularly; they
would be married some day. He could not have chosen a more superior
woman. She lived simply, with her widowed mother, and continued for
years to conduct a private kindergarten. She was to save a thousand
dollars and he four thousand, then the wedding!

The gray-eyed girl from St. Louis came near saving Eva. Her steel-
gray-eyed father's knowledge of human nature alone intervened. It was
a chance introduction. She was pretty; she was wealthy. She ran up to
Chicago often. Finally the business-like father ran up to Chicago. He
invited young Waring to his club for dinner. There were tickets to the
"Follies." The younger man let no feature on the stage pass unnoted;
the elder remarked every change in the young man's face. There were
polite farewells, and a very positive twenty minutes which left the
daughter without a question in her mind that further relations with
young Waring held most threatening possibilities. Her eyes were not
gray without reason, as she proved discreet. There was a bundle of
uncomfortably fervid letters which he refused to return.

Warren was shifty with Eva about this affair, and others. He was
crooked, too, as the years passed, about his savings. It was
impossible to account for certain expenditures, to her. At twenty-
eight, she had her thousand dollars in the bank; his supposed four
thousand was a bare five hundred, most of which was spent on the
gorgeous wedding-trip which he said they both deserved. And shortly
after their return to the home, which, instead of being paid for in
full, was heavily mortgaged, explanations began which could not
explain. Clever as Waring was, his affairs were so involved that Eva
could not avoid the suspicion and, soon after, the revelation that her
wonderful husband's soul was without honor. It cannot be told, those
details of her devoted efforts to "put him right." To forgive
anything, everything, she was eager, but he never could come across
square, and as the years passed the horror of the uncertain "What
next?" enshrouded even her happiest days. Still the husband had
ability, and the wife's efforts helped immensely, and there were
profitable years. It was odd that, with his declamatory skill, he
rarely had a case in court, but proved unusually efficient in
developing a collection agency, and gradually represented the Bad
Accounts Department of more and more important concerns. At thirty-
five he was out of debt. They were living well--too well it proved,
for his nervous health. There must have been a neurotic taint, as
expressed in Aunt Fannie's asthma. Early that fall he had his first
attack of hay-fever. For years he had been self-indulgent; he always
drank when drinks were offered; he used much tobacco and rich food.
Athletic he had been; and, advocate of exercise as he was when he gave
talks to the boys, he took none himself. So toxins accumulated. He
stood this illness poorly. It was the first physical discomfort he had
ever known. The family doctor did not help much; patent medicines
brought relief. He was pretty hard to live with, these weeks. For a
number of years he used the threat of this disorder for a six weeks'
trip to Mackinac Island. "Finances" made it possible for the wife and
the little boy to spend only two of these weeks with him. During the
last four he always managed to keep pace with the fast set. The summer
he was forty, the combination of vacation, Mackinac, and fast set did
not ward off, in fact did not mitigate, his attacks. Waring returned
home "desperate," as he expressed it, and the family doctor succeeded
in getting him to a competent Chicago specialist who did some needed
nose and throat operations thoroughly and, in spite of careless
living, three years of immunity passed. He had become unquestionably a
clever handler of bad accounts, and could have made good, had he only
been good. A dry, dusty summer, his old enemy, hay-fever-and this time
a Chicago "specialist," the kind that advertises in the daily papers,
proved his undoing. He gave Waring a spray, potent to relieve and
potent to exalt him for hours beyond all touch of lurking
apprehension. Bottle after bottle he used; he would not be without it.
In a few weeks he realized that he could not be without it. And after
the hay-fever days were over he kept using it, furtively now, not only
for the exaltation it brought, but as protection from the hellish
depression it wrought.

For years Waring's office assistant had been an efficient, devoted,
weak woman who had managed well much of the office detail. She now
realized that things were not "going straight," that collections made
were not being turned over to her, that she was being asked to falsify
records. She never could resist his personality, and soon became more
adroit than he in juggling figures. Everything went wrong fast. No one
suspected cocain--they thought it was whiskey till Eva was forced to
tell much to the good old doctor-details revealing her husband's
uncouth carelessness of habits, his outbreaks of cruelty to her and
the boy, his obvious and shameless lying, his unnatural coarseness of
speech. This friend in need spent a bad hour, a hard hour with Waring.
Calmness was ineffective, clear reasoning impossible. The accusation
of drug-using was vehemently denied, and it was only the doctor's
courageous threat to have him arrested and tried on a lunacy charge
that broke down the false man's defiance.

Two months of rigid treatment in a sanitarium did much to restore this
broken man, and during these weeks the clever office assistant kept
his over four-thousand dollar embezzlements from becoming known.
Physically and mentally, Waring was restored. The moral sickness was
only palliated. When he returned he did not clean house; he swept the
dirt into the corners. Frank-facedly he lied to his wife. He met the
most pressing of his creditors with a certificate of his illness, and
they accepted his notes and promises. He almost crawled out. In so
many ways, he was the winning, old "War" Waring again. Gradually, his
regime of diet and routine of exercise were replaced by periodic "big
eats," little drinks, and many smokes. Then came the warning sneezes
and the charlatan's bottle. Irregular living grew apace; the accounts
were again manipulated. A Chicago house, which had shown him clemency,
became suspicious, and sent a representative who found many
collections not reported. A warrant was sworn out, followed by a dozen
others after his arrest.

The dear old Squire, now eighty-six, sat beside the brave little wife
at the trial. Neither of them thought of forsaking him. As the
testimony was given, the old father bowed, mute--as one stricken. The
verdict, "Guilty," was returned, and Judge Jefferson had evidently
considered carefully his duty. In passing sentence he addressed the
criminal: "Warren Waring, the law leaves it with the trial Judge to
determine the sentence which shall be passed on you; it may be from
five to fifteen years of hard labor in the State Penitentiary. You
deserve the full extent of the law's punishment. I have known you from
boyhood. Father, wife, God himself, have given you the best they have:
an honorable name, a lifetime of devotion, the full ten talents. For
these, you have returned dishonor, unchastity and self-indulgent
hypocrisy. You have begged extenuation on the basis of nervous ill-
health and temporary irresponsibility, both of which you have brought
upon yourself by violating the laws of right-living. It is your soul
that is sick. You are not fit to live free and equal with righteous
men and women. You have had love and mercy-they have failed. Justice
will now be given a chance to save you. For the sake of your wife
whose noble heart, crushed, pleads for you, I reduce your deserved
sentence five years. In respect for your disgraced but honorable
father, five additional years are deducted. I pray he may live to see
you a free man, chastened. Warren Waring, I sentence you to five years
hard labor within the walls of the State Penitentiary."



CHAPTER XVIII

THE BATTLE WITH SELF


The room was bare of furnishings save a cot; no dresser, table, stand,
even chair, was there. The windows were of wire glass and guarded by
metal screens, the lights were in shielded recesses, the floor was
polished but without covering. No pictures, flowers, nor the dainty
things which normal women crave were to be seen. On the cot sat a
woman, Marie Wentworth, sullen and defiant, a worse than failure,
locked in this protected room of a special hospital. Isolated with her
caretaker, she was watched day and night-watched to save her from
successfully carrying out her determination of self-destruction, a
determination which had found expression in more than words, for only
the day before-the day of her admission--she had swallowed some
cleverly hidden, antiseptic tablets. The trained habits of observation
of the skilful nurse had saved her from death. Crafty, vindictive,
malicious, reckless, heartless! Her care demanded tireless watching--
hence this room, void of anything by which she could possibly injure
herself or others. Nor was she more attractive than her surroundings.
Her skin was sallow and unwholesome; yellow-gray rings added dulness
to her black eyes. Scrawny of figure, hard and repelling of features,
an atmosphere of malevolence seemed to emanate from her presence. She
took little note of what was happening, though occasional, furtive
glances gave intimation of her knowledge of the nurse's presence. When
stimulated to expression there were explosions of violent abuse,
directed chiefly against her older sister, explosions punctuated by
vicious flashes of profanity which left doubt in no mind of the hatred
which rankled-hatred of family, hatred of order and authority, hatred
of goodness however expressed, hatred of life and damnations of the
hereafter. An unholy picture she was of a demoralized soul in which
smoldered and from which flared forth a peace-destroying fire--the
rebellion of a depraved body and mind against the moral self. She had
been placed in this institution under legal restraint to be treated
for morphinism, and, according to her brother, "pure cussedness."

How did it happen? The Wentworths lived well, very well indeed, in a
bluegrass county-seat of fair Kentucky. The father was an attorney by
profession, a horse-fancier by choice, and for years before Marie's
birth relieved the monotony of office duties and race-track pleasures
by vivid, gentlemanly "sprees." Marie was only six when his last
artery essential to the business of living became properly hardened,
and Marie's mother was a widow.

Mrs. Wentworth was to the manor born. She took pride in her home and
thoroughly admired the brilliant qualities of her husband. Adorned
with old jewels and old lace, she regularly graced her table at the
periodic big dinners it was her pride to give. In fact, her pride
extended to the planning of three fine meals a day. An unsentimental
science suggests that her husband's arteries, as well as her fatal
cancer, might have been avoided had chronic proteid intoxication not
been the result of her menus. She also took pride in her family and
trained the two older children as well as she knew, instilling in them
both a loyalty to certain ideals which evolved into morality. But her
failing health left Marie much to the care of her sister, and more to
the tutelage of her own desires. Unhappily, there was little of beauty
in the mother's last months which made any appeal to her child's love,
or left much to inspire a twelve-year-old girl's devotion when but
memory was left.

When the insurance was collected and all settlements made, the
comfortable old home and the jewels sold, each of the three children
had five thousand dollars. The brother's success was limited. He
invested his all, together with many notes of promise payable to his
senior partner, in a dry-goods business, and while he carried most of
the details of the establishment, the everlasting interest on his
notes, and his wife's love of and demand for fine feathers, kept ends
from ever successfully meeting.

The sister, the eldest, was fine. The illness and death of her parents
laid grave responsibilities on her young life, and she met them
seriously, wholesomely, constructively. She early proved herself
capable of large sacrifices. She had finished her college course
before her mother's death, and after the home was sold she secured a
position in the local woman's college, where she continued to teach
and to merit a growing respect for many years. She was not perfect;
the Wentworth temper flashed out most inopportunely, and work and pray
and sacrifice and resolve as she would, her rule of Marie was
unfortunate-flint and steel strike fire. Probably she "school-manned"
rather than mothered the child.

But with all environment favorable, Marie would have proven a
"proposition." The sporting blood and Bourbon high-balls of the father
and the mother's love of the good things of life more than neutralized
the latter's Methodism. Marie was a healthy, well-built, lithe lassie,
with raven-black hair and eyes which snapped equally with pleasure or
with wrath. Impulsive, intense, wilful, tempestuous, bright and
possessing capacity, pleasure-loving and ever impatient of restraint,
we see in her the highly developed nervous temperament. She feared
nothing save the "horrible nightmares" which frequently followed the
big dinners-a child who could have been led to Parnassus, but who was
driven nearly to Hell! She went through the public schools without
conscious effort, but her buxom figure, the rich flush of health, her
vivacity, her bearing, were irresistible to the youth of the
community, and a series of escapades culminated in her dismissal from
college; her indiscretions cost her the respect of the one man she
loved. At twenty she had spent two thousand of the five thousand left
her, while she and the sister failed to find harmony together. She had
little sympathy with her sister's plodding life, but realized the need
of preparing herself to earn, so entered a Cincinnati hospital. She
had many qualities which made her a valuable student-nurse, with
propensities which kept her in hot water. She had completed her second
year of training when she was dismissed. The interns could not resist
her, nor she them, and only so many midnight lunches on duty can be
winked at, even in a hospital needing nurses. For nearly a year she
was spasmodically occupied as an experienced nurse. The end of this
year found her one thousand dollars poorer, while her heritage was
becoming more manifest. In the place of her father's periodic
alcoholism, it was periodic headaches. She was thoroughly impatient of
personal suffering, or of any hygienic restraint, and so took heavy
doses of headache-powders and, if these did not relieve, opiates. By
falsifying her record, she succeeded in entering another training-
school, a smaller one, in her own state. For a year she was careful-
she was anxious to graduate-and developed real cunning in the use of
drugs; but dependence upon these steadily undermined her reserve until
she was almost daily using something for the "tired feeling" which was
now so chronic. Nearly two years had passed before her drug-taking
habit was discovered. Prompt dismissal necessarily followed. Her
sister was informed, and insisted upon her going to an institution to
be cured. Five hundred dollars were spent, and three months of
treatment, directed to the withdrawal of her drug, gave no insight
into her need for seriously altering her habits of life and feeling,
brought no least conception of her defects of character without change
of which there could be, for her, no safe living.

During the next ten years her physical and mental deterioration
increased apace. Other courses of treatment were taken with no lasting
benefit. Her misfortunes seemed to culminate when she voluntarily
entered a "drug-cure" institute which was practically a resort for
drug-users. There are in every country unworthy places of this kind,
where no real effort to cure patients is made. Sufferers with means
are kept comfortable by being given drugs whenever they demand them,
thus satisfying their consciences that they are being "treated," while
vainly waiting till they are sufficiently strong to get entirely off
"dope." In such a house of quackery Marie stayed two years. Her
remaining fifteen hundred dollars and a thousand of her sister's went
for fake treatment. She learned to smoke cigarettes with the young
doctor; she played cards, gossiped, ate, slept and was never refused a
comforting dose whenever she couldn't "stand it a minute longer."
Worse than wasted years these, for even the remnants of her pride
faded, and she lived a sordid life of the flesh. The sister, when she
finally realized the gravity of the situation, lost all hope whatever
for any restoration and, acting under the advice of the old family
physician, had her committed to the State Hospital for the Insane as
an incurable narco-maniac. Here she was rudely but promptly deprived
of all narcotics, nor by any hook nor crook, cunning though she was,
could she secure a quieting, solacing grain. The wise superintendent,
believing that there was little chance for her true regeneration in
the surroundings of even his best wards, advised that she be sent to a
hospital where she would receive special care. The sister's funds
alone could make this possible, and her genuine worth is shown in her
willingness to spend a quarter of her entire savings that Marie might
have this chance. Here, thirty-three years old, we found her the day
after she had been transferred, the day after she had vainly tried to
carry out her vow to end things if she were ever "forced into another
treatment."

Throughout the years the primitive self had been pitted against her
own soul. She had always rebelled at her misfortunes, though they were
largely of her own making. She blamed others for her hardships, and
through the intensity of her resentment but made things harder. Not
the least expression of her depravity was her hatred for all who had
interfered with her wilful desires, particularly the sister, whose
sacrifice she ignored, but whom she took a malicious delight in
proclaiming to be the one who had forever ruined her chances in life
by committing her to an insane asylum. But her delight was malicious,
and all that she got out of her hate and maligning was deeper misery.
The bitter dregs of twenty years of soulless living were all the cup
of life now held for her--all the more bitter because of the finer
qualities of her nature. There were possibilities in this highly
organized girl which could have led her into an unusual wholeness of
living.

Six months passed, months of sullen, dogged resistance-resistance to
the returning health which was again rounding her form and glowing her
cheeks, resistance to proffered kindnesses of fellow-patients and
nurses, resistance to any appeal to pride, honor, ambition, right.
Sick of soul, she abjured the interest of the hospital workers, the
love of her sister whose weekly letters she left unopened, the
wholesome atmosphere of her surroundings, the personal appeal of those
whose hearts were heavy with desire to help.

Then the miracle!-for one came who cast out devils. She was not only a
nurse, she was one of those divinely human beings who, with a nurse's
knowledge and training, attain practical sainthood. She, too, had
frequently been repelled in her hours of contact with this unhappy
creature, but she believed that under all this unholiness there was a
soul. She was a busy, hard-worked nurse, but in time Marie became
aware that she was spending part of her limited off-duty hours to
minister to her, that she had requested a special assignment of duty
which would throw them together. Marie's four years of training made
her recognize the rareness of this giving. Curiosity at least was
aroused, and she began asking personal questions. An unconscious self-
pity impelled her to discuss the grievances of the life of nursing,
the unfairness common in training-schools, the injustices of long
hours and inadequate appreciation, with scores of other quarrels which
she had with life. Each of these was met squarely by her nurse-friend,
who, free from platitudes and cant, ever saw the ideal above it all,
who, loving her profession and loving humanity and promised to a life
of service, gently, beautifully, firmly stood by her principles. For
three months they were in daily contact--three thankless months for
the nurse, three months of cunning, evil-minded, suspicious testing by
the patient. Finally the very goodness of her friend seemed
intolerable, and a paroxysm of rage and resentment broke loose, in
which she cursed and abused her helper beyond sufferance. The nurse
suddenly grasped the unhappy woman's arms to shake some sense of
decency into her warped nature, one would have thought, but in truth
that eye might meet eye, and in this look the rare love, which can
persist through such provocation, awakened a soul. That look was at
once the revelation of the worth of the one and the worthlessness of
the other. A flood of tears drowned, it would seem forever, the evil
which was cursing. In a day, in an hour, the change was wrought, that
miraculous change which enters every life when the soul comes into its
own.

There were months in which the battle of self ebbed and flowed, but
never did defeat seem again imminent, and the final victory was found
in a high resolve which took her back home a quiet, subdued woman,
forgetful of self in her sense of debt to the sister whose goodness
she had never before admitted. For years they lived together, she
keeping the simple home and keeping it well, saving, industrious,
devoted, even loving. She has largely avoided publicity, though always
ready to nurse in emergencies. Nobly she is expiating the past, and
has long since worthily won the "well-done" of her moral self.



CHAPTER XIX

THE SUFFERING OF SELF-PITY


Alac MacReady was not much of an oarsman. Big and strong, and
heretofore so successful that his large self-confidence had never been
badly jolted, he was quite at a disadvantage, this June afternoon, as
he attempted to row pretty Annette Neil across the head of the lake to
where she said the fishing was good. Twice already he had splashed her
dainty, starched frock, ironed, he knew, in the highest perfection of
the art, by her own active, shapely, brown hands. And each awkward
splashing had been followed by flashing glances which shriveled self-
esteem even as they fascinated. They had planned to spend the sunset
hour fishing, then land in time to meet the crowd and be driven on to
Border City to a neighboring dance, and all come back to Geneva
together.

Alac's rural North-England training had developed in him many
qualifications of worth but, among these, boating was not one. Had he
told the truth when this little trip was planned, he would have
admitted that he had never rowed a boat a half-mile in his life.
Annette could do it tip-top; why not he? But things were
unquestionably perverse. The boat wouldn't go in a straight line-in
fact, it didn't go very fast anyway. The black eyes before him framed
by that impudently beautiful face, so pert, so naive, so
understandingly aware--so "damned handsome" he said to himself,
prodded him to redoubled effort. He was swinging his two hundred
pounds lustily, unevenly--an unusually vicious jerk, and snap went the
old oar! Off the seat he tumbled, and, with land-lubber's luck,
unshipped the other oar and away it floated, and a mile from land,
they drifted.

Alac MacReady was Scotch-English. The family had executed a number of
important contracts for the British government; one of these had
brought two of the boys to Canada. With their family backing, they had
undertaken some constructive work in northern New York, and, at this
time, were building a railroad which passed through Geneva. Alac had
been in the neighborhood for two months supervising operations. He was
striking in appearance--a florid-faced' blonde, brusque in business,
quite jovial socially, and cracking--full of the conceit of youth,
wealth and station. So far, life had, in practically nothing, refused
his bidding.

Annette Neil's father kept a small store, Annette did much of the
clerking. She was unquestionably the prettiest girl in Geneva; indeed
she was as pretty as girls are made. With all her small-town
limitations she was bright as a pin, and as sharp; fine of instinct
and, withal, coy as a coquette. The first time Alac addressed her it
was as a shop-keeper. Something she said kept turning over in his
brain and he realized next morning, as he was shaving, that her reply
had been impertinent. Piqued, he returned the day after to make
another purchase, and made the greater mistake of being patronizing.
Mr. Alac MacReady discovered, without any prolonged period of
rumination, that he had a bee in his bonnet, and left the little shop
semispeechless and irate. He was not satisfied to leave the honors
with this "snip of an American girl," and evolved a plan of verbal
assault which was to bring the provincial upstart to her senses, only
to discover that she had a dozen defenses for each attack, and to find
himself, for two consecutive, disconcerting minutes, wondering if
perchance he might be a "boob." With each visit--and they were almost
daily and many of them made in the face of strong, contrary
resolution--he felt the distinction in their stations disappearing. He
later found himself calling on Annette's mother, and, stiffly at
first, later humbly asking for the company of the bewitching girl,
who, coy witch that she was, steadfastly refused to be "company" even
when her mother said she might. This trip across the lake was the
first real concession the little minx had made-and how "bloomingly" he
"messed it up"! He was not used to the water, and, oarless, became
"panicky." A pair of ridiculing eyes caused him to break off his
second bellow for help, in its midst.

The little boat drifted slowly. The June breeze was not strong. The
sun slipped behind radiant clouds, clouds which shifted and softened,
and tinted and toned through the pastels into the neutrals. Gently
they were nearing the shore when the great, golden moon rose in the
east, and soon brightening, shimmered the lake with countless, dancing
splotches of silver. The water lapped with ceaseless, dainty caresses
the sides of the boat. Some mother-bird nestling near the water's edge
crooned her good-night message to her mate. A halo surrounded and
softened the white face so near and, as part of the evening symphony,
two dark eyes rested upon his face, deeply luminous. There are
different stories of what he said. He admitted he was never so
awkward. But they missed their companions, and the dance, and walked
all the way 'round the head of the lake, home, this proud son of near-
nobility doing obeisance to his untutored queen. So Alac and Annette
married. They traveled far, first to Canada, then to England.
Annette's sheer beauty and remarkable taste in the use of Alac's
prodigal gifts of clothing and jewels carried the badly disturbed and
certainly unfavorably prejudiced MacReady family by assault. Ten years
they lived in the big Northumberland home. A boy and a girl came, both
blondes like their father. The MacReady boys were not meeting the same
success in their contracting ventures for which two former generations
had been noted. And, after their father's death, one particularly
disastrous contract quite reduced the family's financial standing and
consequent importance. The three brothers could not agree as to which
was to blame, so Alac and his family returned to America and located
in Rochester. Their few thousands Alac invested in a small
manufacturing concern which never prospered sufficiently to maintain
him in his life-long habits of good living. Unhappily, too, strong as
Alac was in many ways, his one weakness grew. Three or four times a
year he would make trips to Toronto or New York, drink gloriously,
spend hundreds of dollars, and return home meek and dutiful, almost
praying Annette not to say what he knew was in her mind. Of the two
children, little Alac multiplied his father's weaknesses by an
unhappily large factor. He never amounted to much, developing little
but small bombast. Charlotte was the child, dutiful, studious, rather
serious perhaps, but very conscientious. Her features were those of
neither father nor mother, but peculiarly delicate, strikingly
refined. When she was fifteen her father was found dead, one morning,
in an obscure hotel in the Middle West. He had neglected his insurance
premiums. The resourceful little widow went to work at once. The
products of her needle were exquisite. She sold some of the handsome
old furniture and, during the next five years, most of her jewels went
to keep the children in school. She had given absolutely to her
husband and to her home, and through the years to come her cheer was
never bedimmed save when the husband was mentioned. Charlotte became
more attractive. She was slender, fair--the English type was apparent;
she was a distinct contrast to her highly colored, brunette mother,
who, however, might have been but an older sister, she had so
preserved her youth. Charlotte was periodically morbid, a transmuted
heritage. The financial need directed her training into practical
lines; she studied stenography and was fortunate in securing a
position in the office of John Evanson, the energetic senior member of
a growing leather-manufacturing firm. There was something poetically
appealing to this busy man in the quiet, sometimes sad-faced, fine-
faced, competent woman, which gradually created in him a hungering
sense of need-and he called one night. He afterwards said if he hadn't
married Charlotte, he would have married her mother, who, to tell the
truth, put what sparkle there was into the courtship.

Charlotte's cup of happiness should have been overflowing when she
moved into the handsome, big house. Her mother was to live with them,
and such a mother-in-law would be a welcome asset to any home. Mr.
Evanson gave Alac Junior the only good position he ever had--a
position which he never filled to any one's satisfaction but his own.
For two years Charlotte's virtues were expressed in quiet, almost
thoughtful home-devotion, entertainment of poor relatives, and church-
work. John Evanson was simple and rational in his tastes. In business
he was enterprising and a keen fighter of competition. He cleverly
managed his interests, which had grown through years of steadfast
attention. He was nearly forty when he married, and his new home was
to him a haven. The mother adapted herself superbly and was a real joy
in the household through her wit and daintiness and ingenious
thoughtfulness.

Charlotte was not well for several months before the birth of the
much-wished-for baby, which unhappily never breathed. A sharp illness
which lingered was followed by eight miserable months, then an
operation, and the surgeon pronounced her well-but she could not
believe she was. Two years of rather unassuming semi-invalidism
passed. She made few complaints; she was evidently repressing
expression of the recurring symptoms of her discomfort. But since her
baby's death she had recovered little ability for effort. She tired
quickly. She was living a life of quiet, sheltered, almost luxurious
inadequacy. Dr. Corning was puzzled. Mrs. Evanson had appealed to his
professional pride and sympathetic nature strongly. Was there
something obscure, a lurking condition which he had overlooked? He
would have his work reviewed by the celebrated New York internist.
Nothing was found which resulted helpfully. Mrs. MacReady was patient.
Her innate good judgment withheld discussion of details with her
unhappy daughter. She believed Charlotte to be secretly mourning for
the little one who had not lived. She spent hours with her son-in-law
in anxious conference. What could get her poor child out of this
almost apathy? She looked so well; she had never weighed so much; but
twice she had been found looking over the baby's things. Was her
sorrow eating away at her heart? Hadn't he noticed that for months she
left the room when her father or the baby was mentioned! And hadn't he
noticed the marks of tears when she came back? The husband had never
loved his wife more; he pitied her; he yearned to share the burden
which she did not mention. He watched the change in her moods and
brought something new each day to please, divert, to interest-books
and flowers, periodicals, clothing, jewelry. Pets proved tiresome. She
wearied soon on every attempted trip. Concerts and the theater, and
music in the home, all made her "nervous."

Mrs. MacReady firmly believed the trouble was a haunting spirit of
unsatisfied mother-love, and suggested bringing a child into the home.
This plan did arouse new interest. Months were spent in making the
selection. Scores of points must be satisfactorily fulfilled, or the
plan would prove but a bitter disappointment. At last, a nine-months-
old girl-baby was discovered who promised to resemble her foster-
mother, and who had a "respectable heritage 'way back on both sides."
It seemed most fortunate for both the little orphan and the hungering
woman-this adoption. Charlotte spent much time in getting the little
one outfitted and settled. The child brought new problems, such as
worthy nursemaids, sleep-hours and safe feeding-and Charlotte was
better.

Mrs. MacReady had not been looking well. For months she had been
slowly losing weight, although there had been not a syllable of
complaint. Mr. Evanson finally insisted-the examination revealed an
incurable condition--presto! Charlotte was prostrated. The trained
nurse, secured for the mother, spent most of her time attending the
multiplying needs of the daughter, whose apprehension grew until she
began sending for her husband during his office-hours, fearing that
her mother was worse; or because she looked as if she might have one
of the hemorrhages the doctor feared, or to discuss what they would do
when her mother died. The months dragged on. The splendid mother
radiated cheer to the last. Then began the reign of terror. Stimulants
and sedatives seemed necessary to protect Charlotte from "collapse."
For a month, Mr. Evanson did not go near the office; for years, he was
subject to calls by day, was disturbed mercilessly at night. No nurse
could fill his place. It seemed chiefly the sick woman's "heart." Dr.
Corning was too frank-Charlotte insisted he did not "understand." Dr.
Winton was "sympathetic." He was physician for many society women. He
was an adept in providing understanding and comfort. He never advised
"dangerous operations or nasty mixtures," and was no fanatic on diet
and exercise.

When Charlotte married, she was "lily-fair," and weighed one hundred
and sixteen. Five years after her mother's death she was florid,
vapid, and weighed one hundred and sixty-eight miserable pounds. She
ran the gamut of nervous ailments: disturbances of circulation,
digestion, breathing, eating, sleeping, antagonism to draughts and
noises, and a special antipathy to the odor from the exhaust of motor-
cars. This last made her faint, and of her fainting attacks pages
might be written. The home of John Evanson was now a dreary place. It
was a household subsidized to the whims of a self-pitying woman. Her
loss of father, baby and mother had "wrecked her life." Husband,
child, nurse, servants, were all under the blight of her enslaving
self-commiseration. For years all church and social activities were
unattempted. Relatives and friends could not be entertained, for every
one's attention was demanded to meet the varying possible emergencies
of symptoms and to keep her mind from dwelling on her losses and the
wretchedness of her fate.

Mr. Evanson's business interests were neglected. His devotion to his
morbid, now thoroughly selfish wife lost him big opportunities. His
nerves, too, suffered from the unceasing strain. Serious-minded,
nonimaginative, honest, it never occurred to him that the illness of
his "poor afflicted wife" was an illness of the soul only. The adopted
daughter was surrounded by an atmosphere of unnatural repression, an
atmosphere charged with false sympathy and unwholesome concessions to
the selfish weaknesses of her foster-mother. Dr. Winton advised many
comfortable and diverting variations in treatment, but life in the
Evanson home became increasingly distorted. At last John realized he
was losing out badly-he must have a change. Through some subconscious
inspiration he took Dr. Winton with him. They spent two weeks hunting
and fishing in the Maine woods. John sought to get in touch with the
man behind the doctor. The doctor soon realized the manliness of his
companion. They were resting after a taxing portage, both feeling the
fine exhilaration of perfect physical relaxation after productive
physical weariness. The two men were pretty close. Shop had not been
mentioned during the two weeks.

"Doctor, tell me about my wife, just as though she were a sister."

The doctor mused several minutes. "It is not pleasant... it is not
easy to tell... you won't want to hear it. You probably will not
accept what I have to say... you may resent it."

"Tell me straight; you know how vitally I and my household need to
understand the truth."

Gravely the physician spoke--as friend to friend: "Your wife has
leprosy!--not the physical form, but the kind that anesthetizes,
ulcerates, deforms the soul--the leprosy of self-pity. It began with
her father's death. It has eaten deeper and deeper, fed by the
unselfishness of her mother and of yourself, unchecked by the soothing
salves applied by doctors like me. I early recognized that she would
not pay the price of radical cure--the price of effortful living. Her
understanding soul has degenerated--something vital to Christ-like
living is, I believe, lost. She believes her undiseased body to be
ill. Her reason is distorted by her disease-obsessions; her will has
been pampered into a selfish caricature. She has accepted the false
counsel of her selfishness so long that she is attracted by error, and
repelled by truth. I see relief for her only through the culminating
self-deception that disease does not exist. If this error is accepted
by her, she will become as fanatically superior to her wretched
sensations as she is now subservient to them. In other words, she is a
worse than useless woman whom Christian Science may transform. She is
emotionally sick. Christian Science appeals to the emotional life; it
is not concerned with reason-no more is she. It negates physical
illness and thus might replace her morbid, hopeless, selfish
sufferings with years of applied, wholesome cheer and faith."

Some details were discussed. A fine personality, a woman who devoutly
accepted the teachings of Mrs. Eddy, who would have been an example of
selfless living, regardless of details of religious faith, was
interested in poor Charlotte. Progress was slow at first. Then the
leaven began to work. One day the expressman moved a big box from the
Evanson home to a local hospital. It contained the paraphernalia of a
one-time invalid. One plastic nurse lost a chronic case. To-day in the
Evanson household, all discussions of illness are under the ban. The
home is no longer a private infirmary, but breathes a bit of the
after-glow of cheer which should linger long after the passing of one
so worthy and radiant as Annette--the mother beautiful in body and
spirit.



CHAPTER XX

THE SLAVE OF CONSCIENCE


In the following life-story, our sympathies are strongly drawn to the
conscientious woman who gave so many years of uncomplaining service--a
giving which should have brought its daily reward of satisfaction; yet
she sorrowed through her youth because she lacked the charity that
"suffereth long and is kind," finding which, her problem was met.

The never too attractive Yarnell home was in a mess. Irene, the eight-
year-old child, seemed seriously ill. The doctor had said, the night
before, that they might have to operate if the pain in her side didn't
get better; and the little girl prayed that they would, and prayed
specially that she would die while they were doing it. She didn't want
to live. She wanted to go rather than to stay forever with the new
mother her father had brought home last month. Big Sister wouldn't
stay; she ran away the second week and married Tim Shelby, and had a
good home now with Tim's people--even though her father hadn't spoken
to the Shelbys for years. Aunt Erne had gone too, dear Aunt Erne, her
mother's sister, who had been mother to her ever since her real mother
died--just after she was born--that precious mother, who, Aunt Effie
used to tell her, had died happy that her little girl might live. Aunt
Effie had always taught her a beautiful love, and every night she said
a beautiful prayer for the mother she had never seen. Aunt Effie tried
to stay, too, but couldn't. She left the same day the new mother asked
father, before them all, how he was ever going to keep up with all the
expenses of so many and give a tenth of his salary to the church.

The very night her aunt went away, the step-mother had told Irene that
it was wicked to "do up" her hair in curl-papers, and when she begged
her, "Just this once," because she had a "piece to speak" in school
next day, and cried in her disappointment, her stepmother had shaken
her so hard that something seemed to tear loose in her side. Irene had
never hated any one before--and it was wicked to hate; and so she was
praying her real mother to come and take her before she became a
sinner. But in spite of her prayers, she shrank when her stepmother
came near and chilled whenever touched by her. She couldn't eat the
food she brought, and every time she thought of her, the pain was
worse. Both her father and his new wife seemed so strange. She felt
like some stray, hurt animal, not loved by any one.

The new Mrs. Yarnell had been a maiden-lady many years. During her
spinstership she had given herself without stint to the activities of
her small church, a church belonging to an obscure denomination which
teaches that holiness is nigh upon us; that if we but supplement
conversion by a second act of grace, sanctification here and
forevermore is ours. Hers was not an easy disposition to live with.
She had ably held her own through years of bickerings and wordy
contentions with an overworked, irritable mother. She gave little
love. She received little. But her underdeveloped, souring heart
instinctively craved some drops of sweetness. So, when she listened to
the fervid exhorter, revealing the new highway to heaven, that
glorious way where the good Lord carries all our burdens, if we will
just cast them upon Him, a great light illumined her soul. Why a weary
life of strife and misunderstanding? She would give herself without
reserve, and even in the giving she could feel her burden roll away.
In a flash it seemed, life had changed. She was now the Lord's--mind,
soul and body. He directed; she followed. He could not lead her wrong,
and, as all her impulses and desires were now divine, she could do no
wrong. She could think no wrong. Having given all, she was now saved
to the uttermost. Misunderstood she must be, of course, by those who
knew not the holy leadings of her sanctified soul. Serenely,
supremely, she lived. Her old biting temper was now righteous
indignation. Her dislike for household work was only an evidence that,
like beautiful Mary, she had chosen the better part. What her mother
had always called obstinacy and perversity were now stead-fastness in
the Lord. Oddly, her tart, sarcastic, even flaying tongue was not
softened by any gentleness of divine inspiration. Incidentally, the
Lord had given her a plump figure, and a knack of apparel which had
long appealed to Widower Yarnell's eye. And the Lord approved; in
truth He said "Yes!" so audibly that Miss Spinster hesitated hut one
maidenly minute.

Mrs. Yarnell's sanctification washed dishes, kept house, and nursed
lonely, sick, little children most inefficiently. So, after Aunt Effie
and Big Sister, both willing workers, left, the new bride found
unforeseen difficulties in following the Lord's leadings, which seemed
to call to real back-and-muscle taxing effort for other people--such
was for the world of Marthas. So things in the Yarnell household got
in a mess.

It seemed hard for Irene to recover. But her returning strength found
early tonic in the house-work which was left for her to do. The new
mother's church activities occupied so much of her time that little
was left for any but unavoidable essentials. Irene became a fine
little worker, and should have had all the honors and happiness due
the model child. Neat, rapid, effective, an excellent student, she
developed physically strong, the possessor of that rare and attractive
glow of health, into a thoroughly wholesome looking young woman. Deep
within, however, she had not known peace since the day Aunt Effie
left. For years she had fought smoldering resentment and an
embittering sense of injustice, until at fourteen the deeper depths
were stirred by a slow but irresistible religious awakening. Her
stepmother's church was on the opposite side of town, too far for them
both to attend. Her own mother's church was in the neighborhood, and
throughout the years she had usually been able to attend Sunday-school
there and be home again in time to get dinner. Her young understanding
had long been in a turmoil as to what religion and right are. Aunt
Effie had taught gentleness of conduct and charity of speech, and
forgetfulness of self in service. Mrs. Yarnell constantly proclaimed
that, until the Lord entered her heart to absolutely sanctify it, she
was certain to be miserable, unless she became a hopelessly hardened
sinner.

Unhappy the child surely was. Her conscience was a sensitive one; it
seemed ever to chide, and often to condemn. No matter how faithfully
she followed duty, her failure to receive that wonder-working "second
blessing" left her feeling as an unworthy one outside of the fold.
Then, when she neglected, even for an hour, her household duties or
school-work for church-socials or class-picnics, her conscience, and
usually her step-mother, pounced upon her mercilessly. At early
fourteen, she was feeling the chilling shadows of a morbid conscience.
Her stepmother was away for two weeks attending a denominational
conference, and it seemed to Irene that she had more time than usual;
so she talked her perplexities over with the pastor of her mother's
church. A good man he was, but far from being an expert physician of
the soul. He did not seem to sense her deeper problem-the one daily
hurting her sensitive spirit, but asked a number of questions, her
answers to which convinced him that she was entirely ready to join the
church, which he definitely advised her to do, believing thereby she
would find the peace she sought. So without delay, even before her
stepmother's return, and without consulting her, she followed the
minister's advice. Unhappily, her business-burdened father had no
special interest in the welfare of any one's soul. Mrs. Yarnell
henceforth treated Irene as a religious inferior. High school brought
more work and little play. The unsuccessful father died with bad
arteries when Irene was eighteen. He left little beside the mortgaged
place; so Irene took up bookkeeping, and before she was twenty had a
bank-position which, through her ability and merit and trustworthy
conscientiousness, she has held through the years and the
vicissitudes, supporting herself and her stepmother. Irene's play days
had been rare. Her conscience was a grim-visaged angel whose flaming
sword she ever saw barring each path to pleasure.

The president of her bank was also an elder in her church. His mind
was pretty well filled with business, still he took occasional thought
for his employees, and the summer Irene was twenty-three, he asked her
how she would spend her two vacation weeks. "No," she was not going to
leave Wheeling. "Yes," it was hot, but she had much sewing to do, and
if she could save for two years more, the mortgage would be paid. The
banker noticed, even as they talked, the slight tremor of fingers and
lips which bespeaks tension; and that not a little of her appearance
of reserve and strength had slipped away through the grind of the
years.

Three delegates were to be sent to the Chautauqua Assembly for a two
weeks' special conference, and somehow it turned out that, with those
of Mrs. Crumb, the pastor's wife, and Matthew Reynolds, a theologic
student the church was helping educate, Irene Tarnell's name was read.
Two weeks at Chautauqua, her railway-fare paid both ways!-a score of
the best people of the church assuring her that it was her duty-and an
envelope with the banker's personal check for twenty dollars, endorsed
"for incidentals as delegate"! Thus Irene set forth on her first
foreign mission, her first trip out into this big, busy world, about
which she had, wrongfully, of course, wasted a few minutes now and
then in dreaming. Who could have been more companionable than Matthew,
or who more thoughtful and self-eliminating than Mrs. Crumb whose
thrifty, matronly heart early sensed the promise and wisdom-and
excitement, too, of a romance en route. And dear Mrs. Crumb was deft,
and Matthew supremely susceptible, and Irene-she was in the clouds!
How like a story-book, the kind that ends happily, it would have
worked out, if alas! Matthew had not been quite so susceptible. There
was a Pittsburgh girl who had the advantage of prior association and,
unfortunately, the young student's pledge of eternal devotion. Still,
Irene was a mighty good-looking girl; in fact, Matthew admitted, the
third day of their trip, when her fine color began to flash back, that
she was better looking than his promised, and so refreshingly free
from worldly-mindedness. Mrs. Crumb did not know of Matthew's
entanglements, while the devotion of his attentions, a certain
lighting of his eyes, and gentleness of speech and demeanor convinced
her that all she wished was going very well. So convinced was she that
she made bold, early the second week, to express her belief in Irene's
almost unequaled qualifications for a minister's wife, to which
dutiful Matthew gave unreserved assent.

Nothing of importance was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and Mrs.
Crumb showed that she was not lacking in an understanding of young
folks' human nature when she planned the little excursion which was to
offer ample opportunity for the consummation she believed so
impending. They had all taken some tramps together. She was not quite
equal, she said, to the walk around to Mayfield, but it would make a
fine afternoon trip for the young folks. She would go down on the
steamer, and they could all come back and enjoy the refreshing,
evening water-trip together.

Matthew had certainly been attentive, giving an attention which Irene
had never before received. For days she had been happy, the first joy-
days she had known since she was eight. The very near future loomed
large with intoxicating promise. Mrs. Crumb had talked to her, also,
of Matthew, and of his fine record at college, and of his gentle
nature. The early afternoon was hot; they walked slowly; they loitered
when they came to shade. Then out of the west came booming black
clouds, and they were caught in a mid-summer thunderstorm. He helped
her as they ran for shelter, but, almost blinded by the pelting rain,
she tripped and fell awkwardly, twisting her ankle cruelly. She
probably fainted. Matthew was frightened, and in his helplessness lost
his head. She was roused by him chafing her hands, and his importunate
"Dear Irene," bundled stunned senses, soaked, chilling apparel and
stabbing ankle into one unutterable confusion of unspeakable joy. And
"devil-inspired fool" that she was, she reached up, drew his tense
face, so near, against hers, and "hateful bliss," it stayed there a
full minute. Then life went black, for he tore himself away, almost
savagely putting her arm aside. "It is wrong; you have made me sin!"

"It is wrong; you have made me sin!" were burned in loathsome black
across the face of her conscience, accusing cruelly, unendingly
accusing. Tears passed-those years that drag, and she never knew of
the girl in Pittsburgh. She did not know other than that she had
transgressed and tempted a fine, good man; that she had tempted him
from the sanctity of great religious purpose-and her branded, sick
conscience proved itself a poison to mind and body.

Dazed, the hurt woman returned to the loveless home. Mechanically, for
months, her hands made that home comfortable and toiled on at the
bank. We wonder how the break could have been held back so long, in
one so sensitive. The staunch body and well-trained mind must have
carried her on through mere momentum. But it had to come. Self-
condemnation and self-depreciation gave birth to false self-
accusation. She began to question the worth of all she did. Repeatedly
she must add and re-add a column of figures; even the evidence of the
adding-machine had to be proven. She wakened at night questioning the
correctness of her entries, and her work became slow and inaccurate.
All she did, physically and mentally, became a dread. The very act of
walking to and from the bank seemed to drain her waning strength. She
refused a vacation suggested by her employer, who gradually became
genuinely concerned about her health. He knew but little of the affair
at Chautauqua. Mrs. Crumb was too good a woman to let drop any hint of
what she may have surmised; she actually knew only of the storm and
sprained ankle.

One morning Mrs. Yarnell called a neighboring doctor. She couldn't
waken Irene. It was found that her sleep had become so poor that she
had bought some powders from the druggist. Never having taken
medicine, she was easily influenced, and the ordinary dose left her
confused for twenty-four hours. Two weeks' rest at home, if one could
rest in Mrs. Yarnell's company, found the girl no stronger. The banker
and the doctor had a conference. She must be gotten away from home.
The banker had a doctor-friend, a man whose means made it unnecessary
for him to give his years of strength to the unceasing demands of a
general practice. He had long been keenly interested in the
complicated and growing problem of nervousness. He owned a beautiful
place down the Ohio River where, for years, he had been taking into
his home a few deserving, nervous invalids. He had learned to enter
into their lives with a specialist's skill-with a father's
understanding. Thus he gave largely--to some it would seem, of his
substance, but the true giving was his discerning, constructive
comprehension of human problems. Into this atmosphere, God and the
banker sent Irene.

For nearly twenty years this oversensitive girl had known few hours of
understanding and sympathy. For a week or two she merely rested; then
one evening, it seemed precipitate, but some way it was as easy as
anything she had ever done, she told the story we have heard. There,
revealed, was the defect of a life, a problem to be worked out by the
analytic student of mankind. Was it to introduce a little saving
recklessness, the redeeming truth of honesty and justice to self, or
the neutralizing of self-negation by the acceptance of merited worth!
Even through our weaknesses are we sometimes healed. If any reason
existed which could merit one self-accusing thought, the doctor found
it when he uncovered the resentment which had never healed toward the
usurping stepmother--"a woman who had proved her limitations and
should be mercifully judged thereby," he told Irene.

"Yes," the doctor said, "you have missed the 'second blessing'; you
have missed a thousand blessings because the generosity of your years
of fine doing were lacking in the gentleness of feeling which Aunt
Effie taught you, and which made your mother so beloved. Lacking this,
even in the fulness of your much giving, you have failed. You have
been seeking the true religion. Your mother had it-the kind that
lightens the dead heaviness and puts heaven's color into the dull,
dark hours at home. Herein, only, have you fallen short."

The doctor knew men, and he was able to show her how utterly innocent
she was of the slightest hint of wrong in her relations with Matthew,
how impossible that her spontaneous act could have wrought a second's
harm to any good man. There was much more said helpfully, but the most
good, unquestionably, came from the unspoken influence of the
thoughtful personal consideration and discerning kindness of this
scientific lover of his kind. Three months Irene spent with them, the
doctor and his equally good wife; she returned home radiant.

The years pass. During the Great War, when trained men were scarce,
our restituted woman acted as cashier and drew almost a cashier's
salary. The mortgage is paid. Two women live in the little house. The
older is very religious. She still attends many church services; she
dutifully gives her tenth to the cause, and, in and out of season,
proclaims her way as the perfect road to the heights beyond. Old and
practically unchangeable, she is not lovable and she never has been,
but near-by tenderness has softened some of her self-satisfied
asperities. Still radiant is the younger woman-the righteous woman
whose righteousness has put unfailing cheer in service most of us
would call "fierce," a righteousness which has learned to be
charitably blind where most of us would see and resent, a
righteousness which has brought abiding happiness to a life that had
long suffered, a slave to its conscience. Cleverness and wealth-having
not charity-have sought such happiness in vain through the ages.



CHAPTER XXI

CATASTROPHE CREATING CHARACTER


Grandfather Scott was a blacksmith. He was much more-a natural amateur
mechanic-the only man in those early days in the little town of
Warren, who could successfully tinker sewing-machines, repair clocks,
or make a new casting for a broken Franklin heater. He was a hale,
ruddy man who lived, worked and died with much peace. There were
girls, but David was the only boy, and a lusty youth he was. The
absence of brothers, or possibly an excess of sisters, gave him, both
as youth and young man, much more liberty of action and right of way
than was good for his soul. At any rate, he early developed a
steadfastness which, throughout his life, stood for both strength of
purpose and hard-headed, sometimes hard-hearted wilfulness. His father
had dreamed a dream: his smithy was to grow into a shop, and later the
shop was to become a factory where a hundred men would do his bidding
and supply the country with products of his inventive genius. But so
far as his own life was to realize, it remained a dream. The shop was
never built; the genius failed to invent. But his son, David! Yes, he
would have the schooling and advantages that the father had not known.
And so it was: at thirty, David Scott had been well educated in
mechanics; at forty, he had made improvements on the sewing-machine,
which gave him valuable patents; at fifty, his factory employed ten
times the number his father had visioned. Thus was fulfilled the dream
of the ancestor.

Business success was large for Mr. David Scott. But what of his
success as a father? He married at twenty-eight, a handsome woman
whose pride in appearance stood out through the years and influenced
the training given her three children. Little David, or "Dave," as he
was early called in distinction to his father, was petted by his
mother and, in spite of evidences to the contrary, was his father's
pride. The family moved to Cleveland when Dave was a little fellow.
His father would not be cramped, so, with what proved to be rare
foresight, bought part of an old farm on Mayfield Heights. Both here
and at Granddad's, where Dave was sent each summer, there was ample
out-of-doors, and the lad grew sturdy of limb. With a flaming shock of
curling, copper hair, his eyes deepest blue, and skin as fair as a
girl's, he was a boy for mother, teachers and later for maidens to
spoil. But an attractive personality, an inherent fineness never left
him while he was conscious, and seldom when he was irresponsible.

Dave's mother was proud, proud of her successful husband, of the
mansion and estate of which she was the envied mistress, proud of her
handsome self and handsome daughters, and specially proud of Dave, the
brightest and handsomest of them all. It is a pity that she who so
fully enjoyed the pleasures of wealth, and of wealth-shielded
motherhood, might not have lived to drink to her full of the joys she
loved. Pride, insufficient clothing, wealth, inadequate exercise,
exposure in a raw, March bluster, defective personal resistance,
pneumonia!--and in a week, the life was gone.

Dave was only fourteen, but, in face of his spoiling, was ready for
St. Paul's, where he was sent the next fall. He was bright-even
brilliant in his prep school work. Mathematics, the sciences and
history seemed almost play for him, while in languages, and especially
in English, he did an unusual amount of "not required" work.

Dave made his father his hero, and for many years was instant in doing
his will. Had the older man taken serious thought of his son's
personality and entered into the boy's developmental needs with his
wonted intelligence and thoroughness, the two could have grown into a
closeness which would have made the Scott name one to be reckoned with
in the manufacturing world.

The father's business was growing even beyond his own dreams, and he
found little time to give his boy, whom, in fact, he saw but rarely,
save at Christmas holidays. So it happened that Dave was more deeply
influenced by his mother's love for the beautiful than by machine-shop
realities; and the aesthetic developed in him to the exclusion of the
father's practical life.

For many years wine had been served at the family dinners. Mr. Scott
drank only at home, and then never more than two small glasses. He had
no respect for the man who overindulged any weakness. He little
thought his own blood could be different than he. This father was a
man of exceptional energy who had wrought miracles financially, and
was, without question, master in his thoroughly organized factory. He
dominated his surroundings. Where he willed to lead--whether in
business circles, in the vestry, in his own home--the strength of his
intellect, the force of his purpose and his quiet but tangible
assertiveness were felt. He had never been balked in any determined
course of action.

When Dave went East to school, he possessed physique and health which
should have made athletics a desire and a joy. But on both the
baseball and football squads were a few fellows not choice in their
use of English. In fact, even at this excellent church-school, these
exceptions did considerable "cussing." Dave's mother and sisters were
fastidious, and Dave found himself, even at fourteen, resenting
coarseness. He, therefore, chose the "nice fellows" as associates, and
made friends to his liking in books. We must not think of him as
"prissy" or snobbish, but he distinctly disliked crudity however
expressed, and this dislike grew and was strengthened by his
increasing devotion to the aesthetic. Otherwise, Dave's prep school
years were those of an unusually fine fellow, whose mind promised both
brilliance and strength. Sadly, during these vital years, Dave had no
mature counselor; no strong character was sufficiently close to sense
his needs and court his confidence. So some of the proclivities of his
early home influence persisted and developed, which normally should
have been displaced by others standing for oncoming manhood.

College life, unfortunately, but increased his opportunities to
indulge his weaknesses, and his three years at Yale found him a
dependable member of a refined fast-set. With his unusual mind--giving
no time to athletics--there were many idle hours at his disposal. He
now discovered that he liked cigarettes which his father held in
supreme contempt, while, from time to time, a quiet wine-supper with a
select few, where spirits blended so finely when mellowed by
champagne, stood for the acme of social pleasure. Dave could not carry
much liquor and mellowed early, and rather soon slipped quietly under
the table, to be told the next day most of the snappy toasts and
stories the other fellows had contributed to the occasion. These
entertainments soon forced Dave to overdraw his allowance. A business-
like letter asking explanations came from his father, and this was
followed by a peremptory command that he live within his already
"ample remittance." Father and son had never been companions, and here
the boy's devotion deserted, and a growing estrangement began. Dave,
knowing his father's wealth, resented his lack of liberality, and he
knew him too well to protest. For three months he heeded parental
injunction; then a trip to New York to grand opera. Entertainment
accepted must be returned. Another wine-supper, paid for by a draft on
his father-and family warfare was on! The draft was paid-the family
credit must not be questioned, but a house was divided against itself,
and the letter David sent Dave left a trail of blue smoke. It left
also a reckless, rebellious son.

Adelaide Foster's grandfather was wealthy. Her mother had suited her
own taste-not her parents'-when she married attractive Fred Foster.
The grandfather dallied too often with the "bucket-shop" before he
forgave his foolish child, and when he came to his better paternal
self, he hadn't much to leave his little granddaughter. But Adelaide
made much of her little, and spent two very developing years at
Barnard.

Dave and Adelaide met on terms artistic which were most satisfying to
them both. Dave had made good junior marks in spite of his inoffensive
sprees and conflicts with his father. He was in many ways Adelaide's
superior, but she gave him a large companionship in things beautiful,
and worshiped at his feet in questions profound. His father had
ignored, or failed to notice, Dave's references to the young lady-so
there was a little wedding-ceremony with four witnesses, an almost
impulsive wedding. The elder Scott was not expecting this flank-
movement, but family pride again helped Dave out, and a liberal check
followed the stiff telegram of "best wishes."

Six months the young folks spent abroad. The beautiful in nature and
art which Europe offered blended into their honeymoon. The last
wedding-gift dollar had been spent when they returned to East Best,
the paternal mansion in Cleveland. Two evenings later Mr. Scott called
his son into the library. It was time to reassert his sovereignty.
This, too, was business; so it was curt and direct. "Well, sir, I
trust you have sown your wild oats. You have married. It is high time
you settled down. I shall give you and Adelaide a home with us, or, if
you prefer to live elsewhere, one hundred dollars a month for living
expenses. This, mark you, is my gift to her. You don't earn a cent of
it. You will have to start in the business at the bottom. You may
choose the shops or the office. You will be paid what you earn. I hope
you will make good. You are capable. Good-night."

Dave chose the office. The shops were "ugly." Unhappily, much of the
good, the useful and the necessary was being classed as "ugly" in this
young aesthete's mind, and worse, he was finding himself uncomfortable
in the presence of an increasing number of normal, even practically
essential conditions. This gifted and promising young man was at odds
with reality. He refused to accept reality as real. For him in beauty
of line and color and sound, in beauty of thought and expression,
only, was the truth. He suffered in other surroundings. He had become
aesthetically hypersensitive. And of all reality's ruthlessness, what
was less tolerable than monotony? What less capable of leading a man
to the heights than the eternal grind of the office?

Even Adelaide and the baby bored him at times. Young Scott could do
anything well to which he gave effort. And his father was considering
giving him a raise, when at the end of six months he disappeared. The
second day after, the distraught wife received a message from New
York. He was all right, and would be home next week. The father,
however, had to honor another draft before his son could square
accounts and purchase a return ticket. This was the first of his
retreats from the grim battle-front of reality. Six months seemed the
limit of his capacity to face a work-a-day life. He read much, and of
the best. He took up Italian alone and soon read it easily. When at
home his chief excesses were books-but the Scott table was amply
supplied, and in view of his inactive physical habits we realize that
Dave was a high liver.

Adelaide had proven a most dutiful daughter-in-law, and with the baby
long kept the headsman's ax from descending. But even their
restraining power had its limitations. The irk of that "godless"
office was being more and more poorly met by Dave. Five times during
the fourth year he took ungranted periods of relaxation. The last time
the usual draft was not paid. He unwisely signed a check, badly
overdrawing his private account. His father seemed waiting for such an
opportunity, and took drastic action. Under an old law, he had his son
apprehended as a spend thrift, and so adjudged, deprived of his rights
and made ward of a guardian. A young physician was made deputy in
charge of his person--a man chosen, apparently, with much care. It was
to be his business to teach this wealthy man's son to work with his
hands and to live on a stipulated sum. There is no question that
immediate good followed these aggressive tactics, and in the
personality of his companion-guardian he found much that was
wholesome. A sturdy character was the doctor, who had fought his way
through poverty to a liberal education, and was entering a special
study of nervous disorders. His good theoretical training was planted
in a rich soil of common-sense. For three months they worked on a
farm, shoulder to shoulder. The two men became friends, a most helpful
friendship for Dave, whose admiration for the young doctor had proven
a path which led him, for the first time, to a realization of the
hidden beauties in a life of overcoming, and this lies close to the
nobility of the love of work.

Dave was accepting his need for the bitter medicine which was being
administered. He had forgiven Adelaide who sided with his father and,
for the first time, had written, acknowledging some of his past
failures. He wanted some books. He needed clothes. The orders given
the doctor had been rigid as to spending-money and diversions. The
determined father disapproved the expense account. Another man was
sent to relieve the doctor-companion-a man who could be depended upon
to carry out the letter of the father's law. Rebellion, fierce--and it
seemed, righteous--flamed forth in Dave Scott's soul. He was doing his
best. He was working as he never had worked before. He had seen his
need--he had the vision of self-mastery. All this, and more he had
seriously confided to the man his father, through the court, had
placed over him. Without a word of explanation he was again to be
turned over to the custody of a stranger. Was he a child or a chattel?
Was he mentally irresponsible that he should be thus transferred from
one hand to another without a hearing? He wired his protests, and
received in return an assurance that he would accept his new custodian
or be cut off without a cent. In that hour the real character of David
Scott was born. He consulted an attorney and learned the limited power
of his guardians. Outside of Ohio he was legally free. He pawned some
of his few belongings. Adelaide and the child were financially cared
for. Over night he left the State. He would be a man, penniless,
rather than the chattel-son of a millionaire!

The United States had just entered the Great War. The Marines were
being recruited everywhere for "early over-seas service," and Dave
Scott, the aesthetic, volunteered as a "buck-private." Few got over as
fast as they wished. It was six months for Dave at Paris Island. There
were few in the ranks of his mental ability, and physically he became
as hard as the toughest. He was soon a corporal and later a sergeant.
And he worked. He met the roughest of camp duties, at first with set
jaw and revolting senses, later with a grim smile; finally, and then
the emancipation, with a sense of the closeness of man to man in
mankind's work. And the men began turning to him, and as he sweated
with them he learned to discern the manliness in the crudest of them.
He went across at the end of six months, to France. He was a
replacement in the Sixth.

The French line had been beaten thin as gold-foil. If it broke, Paris
was at the mercy of the Hun. Then eight thousand of Uncle Sam's
Marines were thrown in where the line was thinnest and the pressure
heaviest. Sharp-shooters, expert marksmen, were most of them. The
enemy was now in the open. They had not before met riflemen who boldly
stood up and coolly killed at one thousand yards. Crested German
helmets made superb targets, and the officers bit the dust
disastrously. At the end of three days, six thousand of these eight
thousand Marines were dead or casuals. But the tide of the Great War
was turned-and Dave Scott was one of the immortals who forced the
flood back upon the Rhine. What miracle was it that shielded that
ever-smiling white face, crowned with its flaming shock, from the
storm of lead and death? With the fate of nations trembling in the
balance, who can know the part his blue eyes, now true as steel,
played in the great decision as, hour after hour with deadly
precision, he turned his hand to slaughter? Five times the gun he was
using became too hot and was replaced by that of a dead comrade. After
those three days at Chateau-Thierry, no mortal could question that
Dave Scott had forsworn aesthetics; that he was a demon of reality.
Later he saw service on the Champagne front, and then was invalided
home.

It was a chastened father, a magnificently proud father, who was the
first to greet him. For the time he was unable to put into words the
honor he had for the son whom, so few months before, he considered
worthless. "It's all past now, Dave. That past we won't speak of
again. I've arranged for your discharge. You'll be home to stay,
inside of a month."

Dave's answer, probably more than any act in battle, proved that his
character had been remade: "No, Father, I have enlisted for four
years. I belong to the Marines till my time is up. I owe it to you, to
Adelaide, to the boy, to myself, to prove that I can be the man in
peace that I have tried to be in training-camp and in France. I know I
can face reality when spurred by excitement. I have yet to prove that
I can face the monotony of two years and a half of routine service."



CHAPTER XXII

FINDING THE VICTORIOUS SELF


The victorious soul counts life as a gift which, far from growing
darker and more dreary as the sun falls into the west, may daily
become more rich and beautiful and worthy. To the soul victorious our
span of years is not menaced by misfortune and misery, is not degraded
by bitterness, discord and hatred, but hourly thrills with the
realization that the worst which life may bring but challenges the
divine within to masterful assertion. And the soul victorious has
risen unscathed--glorified--above every attack of fate.

Mrs. Herman Judson was a sight to make the gods weep. With features
more than usually attractive, softened by a halo of waving, silvery
hair, she was but a mushy bog of misery. It was three P. M.; she had
just been carried downstairs, and in spite of the usual host of
apprehension, with some added new ones for to-day, no slightest
accident had marred the perilous trip from her front bedroom to the
living-room below; still everything and everybody, save old Dr. Bond,
was in a flutter. Tension and apprehension marked the faces and
actions of all. Not till the last of six propping, easing, supporting
pillows had been adjusted; till hot-water bottles were in near contact
with two "freezing" ankles; till her shoulder-shawl had been taken
off--a twist straightened out--and accurately replaced; till the room,
already ventilated to a preordered nicety of temperature, had a door
opened and both windows closed; not till the screen had been moved
twice to modify the "glare" of the lights, and to protect from
possible "draughts"; not until the "Sunset Scene from Venice" had been
turned face to the wall so the reflection from its glass wouldn't make
her "eyes run cold water"; and finally, not until ten drops from the
bottle labeled "For spinal pain" had been taken, and five minutes
spent by her niece, fanning so very gently, "so as not to smother my
breath"--not till this formidable contribution to the pitiful slavery
of petted sensations had been slavishly offered, could the invalid
find strength to greet her childhood playmate, quiet, observing,
charitable Dr. Willard Bond.

Twice a day for many months the household held its breath while this
moving-down, and later moving-back (and to-day's was an uncomplicated,
unusually peaceable one), was being accomplished. "Held its breath,"
is really not quite accurate, for Ben, the colored butler, and
'Lissie, the colored cook, found much reason for strenuous
respiration, as Mrs. Judson and her rocker, with pillows, blankets and
the ever present afghan, weighed two hundred and eight pounds-one
hundred and eighty pounds of woman, twenty-eight pounds of
accessories! And Ben and 'Lissie were the ones who logically deserved
fanning and attention to ventilation, especially after the seven P. M.
trip back.

And they were always so solemn, so tensifyingly solemn, these risky
journeys up and down. The niece, Irma, carried the hot-water bottles,
the extra blankets and the fan. The nurse had the medicine-box and a
small tray with water-glasses--for when things went wrong, the
cavalcade must stop and some of the "Heart-weakness drops" be given,
or some whiffs taken from the pungent "For tightness of breath"
bottle, before further progress was safe.

Mrs. Judson knew her symptoms so well. There were eighteen of special
importance; and Dr. Cummings, the successful young surgeon, a far-away
relative-by-marriage, had, in all seriousness, prescribed eighteen
lotions, elixirs, powders, pills and potions, to meet each of the
eighteen varied symptoms. Nine months ago this progressively
developing invalidism of twenty years had culminated in what Dr.
Cummings suspected to be a severe gall-stone attack. A few days later,
when his sensitive patient was measurably relieved, he had told her
his fears and suggested a possible operation. Within two minutes Mrs.
Judson was faint and chilling. Since then the doctor, the nurse, the
niece, not to forget Ben and 'Lissie, had labored without ceasing to
prevent a return of the "awful gall-stone attacks," and, with the
Lord's help, to get Mrs. Judson "strong enough for an operation." But
progress was dishearteningly slow. Every mention of "operation" seemed
to make their patient worse. And now for over eight months she had not
walked a step and had been an hourly care.

For the first time since the beginning of the gall-stone trouble, Dr.
Cummings was going to be away for two weeks, and he, with Dr. Bond,
had witnessed the downstairs trip in anticipation of a conference. Dr.
Bond lived but two doors away, and as he had retired from active
practice, could always respond to a call if needed. Moreover, it had
been discovered that he was a neighbor-playmate of Mrs. Judson during
her girlhood. He had but recently come to Detroit from their old home
in Charlestown, under the shadow of Bunker Hill monument, about which
they had often played as children. Dr. Bond had lived there alone for
many years following his wife's death, and had now come to make a home
with his successful son. He was giving his time, and he felt the best
year of his life, writing a series of chapters on "Our Nerves and Our
Morals." He had never been a specialist, claiming only to be a family-
doctor. But for over thirty years he had been ministering most wisely
to the ills of the soul as well as of the body. A large, compelling
sympathy he gave his patients. He saw their ills. He felt their fears.
He sensed their sorrows. He understood their weaknesses. He looked
beyond the manifest ailments of flesh and blood. His fine discernment
revealed the obscure sicknesses which affect hearts and souls. And his
rational sympathies penetrated with the deftness and beneficence of
the surgeon's scalpel. He stood for that type of man whom God has
raised up to help frail and needing human-kind in body, mind and
spirit.

"Sixty years is a long time to pass between meetings, isn't it?" said
Dr. Bond after Mrs. Judson's needs had severally and successfully been
humored, and she was able to note and recognize the old-new doctor's
presence and offer a plump, tremulous hand in greeting.

"You don't know how nearly you have missed seeing me," she replied. "I
have been on the verge for months, but Dr. Cummings has been able to
pull me through. You see, he knows all my dangers, and has given me
the best medicines that medical science knows for each of them. Have
him tell you about it, Dr. Bond. I do hope nothing will happen while
he's gone." Dr. Bond replied that he was sure, with Dr. Cummings'
advice and the nurse's and the niece's help and understanding, there
would be no danger; that he was so near he would come in each
afternoon and they could talk about the old days and the old childhood
friends around Boston. "I hope so," Mrs. Judson replied, "but you know
I can't talk long. But do come every day. I'll feel safer, I'm sure.
And promise me that you won't delay a minute if I send for you for my
gall-stones. If they get started, I die a thousand deaths."

"I shall come at once, you may be sure, but tell the nurse to put
those gall-stones to bed at ten p. m., because you and I are too old
to be spreeing around during sleeping hours."

But Mrs. Judson couldn't find a ghost of a smile for this pleasantry.
In fact, her look of alarm caused Dr. Bond to add, "Don't fear, Mrs.
Judson, I can still dress in five minutes and will promise faithfully
to come at any hour."

The two physicians left the room together. Thirty-five and sixty-five
they were, both earnest, capable, honest men, one a master of modern
medical science, the elder a thoroughly equipped physician, and a deep
student of humanity.

"I am very glad you are going to see my aunt. For months I have wished
to call in a consultant, but she has always refused. I know much of
her trouble is nervous, and you know how little time most of us have
to study nervousness, and I am sure you will see clearly much which
has been rather hazy to me. I think you were concealing a laugh when
they gave her the 'Spinal-pain drops,' and frankly, there is very
little that has much strength in all those pills and powders I've
given her. I have learned that she gets along very well much of the
time when she can anticipate her symptoms and prescribe for herself.
In fact, it's about all that the poor old lady has to do these days. I
am not absolutely sure, either, about those gall-stones. The symptoms
are not classic, but she certainly does suffer, and I have had to give
her pretty heavy doses of morphine several times, and then she's
wretchedly sick for some days. Believe me, Doctor, I do not feel
competent in her case. It's not my line. Find out all you can. Do
whatever you feel is best, and you may depend upon my endorsement of
any changes you may see fit to make. It will be a God's mercy if you
can win her confidence and share the burden of her treatment with me.
Of course, she's too old to get well, and I'm afraid if we ever have
to operate, there will be a funeral."

Dr. Bond thanked the younger man heartily. He felt his earnestness and
honesty, and saw that he had done all he knew to help his patient.

That evening the old doctor's mind spanned the gulf of nearly two
generations. He was again a little fellow, and Rhoda Burrows lived
across the street. Their mothers were friends; they were playmates.
And through the years he had treasured her happy, sunny, beautiful
face as an ideal of girlhood perfection. She was older than he, and
how she had "big sistered" and "mothered" him! How his little hurts
and sorrows had fled before her laughter and caresses! Hundreds and
thousands had touched his inner life since Rhoda moved West with her
parents, but that gleam of girlhood had remained etched with the
clearness of a miniature upon his mind, undimmed by the crowding,
jostling throng. Rhoda Burrows, the fairy-child of his boyish dreams,
and Mrs. Herman Judson, the acme of self-pitying and self-petting
selfishness, the same! It seemed impossible--yet--and here his big
charity spoke--all of the choice spirit of the girl cannot have been
swallowed up in the sordidness of a selfish, old age. And that same
charity breathed upon the physician's soul till his helpful and
hopeful interest for this pitiful wreck of wretchedness was aglow. He
would give her his best, and he knew that best sometimes wrought
wonders.

Dr. Bond first had a conference with the niece, who was pure gold, and
who accepted each of her aunt's complaints as a warning which could
but disastrously be ignored. But, and this was good to know, he
learned that when Aunt Rhoda was better, she was kind and good-
hearted. From the nurse, the doctor learned other details, and what
was of special significance, that the invalid's appetite rarely
flagged-then he saw a reason for her one hundred and eighty pounds;
and when he learned that rare broiled beef, or rare roast beef was
served the physically inert patient and bountifully eaten twice each
day, his understanding became active.

Mrs. Judson's presiding fates were good to her the next week. She
would have denied it with the sum total of her vehemence, which
incidentally was some sum, but Dr. Bond says it is true. It was after
eleven, one night. He was just finishing his day's writing. It was the
nurse 'phoning. "I am truly sorry to call you, Doctor, but I've given
three doses of the gall-stone medicine, and it always relieves unless
a real attack is on. I am sure she is suffering." The old doctor was
not surprised. The patient had been doing unusually well for two or
three days and had spoken particularly of her better appetite. The
doctor's first query, upon reaching the house, related to the details
of the evening meal. "No, there was no steak to-night. We had chicken-
salad. 'Lissie had tried herself; Mrs. Judson was hungry and asked for
a second portion."

Gently, carefully, thoroughly, the suffering woman was examined. There
was no doubt that her pain was severe, but in conclusion, the old
doctor did doubt decidedly the presence of gall-stones. He believed it
to be duodenal colic. "I don't wish to give you a hypodermic," he told
her. "I know it will relieve you quickly to-night, but it will set you
back several days. I am going to ask you to be patient, and to take an
unpleasant dose, and I think the nurse and I can relieve you
completely within two hours, and you will be little the worse; in
fact, you may be better, to-morrow."

"She won't take it," the nurse said, as the doctor called her from the
room. "Dr. Cummings suggested it once, and she held it against him for
weeks. She said her mother whipped her when she was a child and then
couldn't make her swallow it."

"You will fix it as I tell you, then bring it in to me," the Doctor
replied. Dubiously the nurse carried out the order. She thanked her
stars that the Doctor, not she, was to give it. Yet it looked very
nice when she brought it into the sick-room, redolent with lemon and
peppermint.

"Think of this, Mrs. Judson, as your best friend to-night in all the
realm of medicine. Take it with my belief that it is to prove the cure
of your gall-stones. It is not nice. It's not easy to swallow. Don't
sip it. Take it all at a gulp."

But she sipped it. And she screamed, not a scream of pain, but of
rage, of violated dignity-insulted-outraged. "Castor oil! I'll die
first. Why, that stuff isn't fit to give an animal. Are you trying to
kill me I Oh, you old fogy! I knew something would happen when I let
Dr. Cummings go. I wouldn't give such stuff to a sick cat."

All symptoms of pain seemed gone for the time. Generous as he was, the
old Doctor stiffened in the face of her tirade, yet with dignity,
replied: "You are refusing a real help. I speak from long experience.
I can give you nothing else till you have taken this."

"Then go!" she snapped out. But the "o-o-o" was prolonged into a wail
as a particularly pernicious jab in the midst of her duodenum-"a
providential thrust," Dr. Bond said--doubled her up, if rotundity can
be said to double. The Doctor was obdurate. Colic was trumps--and won!

The first dose did not meet a hospitable reception, but another was
promptly given. Then other nicer things were done and the Doctor was
home and the patient comfortably asleep soon after one. The next day's
conference between the two was strictly professional, nor was there
much thawing till the third day after. Mrs. Judson's ire must have
been of Celtic origin, for it was not long-lived.

The following Sunday afternoon seemed propitious for the beneficent
work of the soul-doctor. The whole family had told Mrs. Judson how
much better she was looking-the Doctor had kept her on soft diet since
her attack. "You have told me so little of yourself," said Dr. Bond.
"I only know that sorrow came." He then told her of herself as she had
lived in his memory. She had forgotten the beauty of her childhood.
The Doctor brought back the picture in tones which could stand only
for high reverence. She felt he wanted to know, and she knew she
wanted to tell. So for two hours they sat, hand in hand, as in their
childhood, and he heard of her father's moderate success as an
editorial writer after he came West when she was nine, of their
comfortable home in Detroit, how well she had done in school, of her
early ability as a teacher, of her election as super-intendent of the
St. Claire Academy for Girls when she was twenty-five, of her marriage
to Herman Judson, a childless widower fifteen years her senior, before
she was thirty, of their very happy home, of her own little girl and
how she grew into womanhood, of her daughter's marriage, and then of
tier little girl, and how wonderful it was to be a grandmother before
she was fifty!

Then it was "Nurse, the bottle for 'Tightness of breath'... I don't
see how I can tell it. You can't know. Nobody can. It was never the
same for any one else. The train went through a bridge, and they were
all three killed, my husband, my only girl, the darling grandchild.
God turned His face away that night they brought them home. I've never
seen Him since. I've never looked for Him since. I don't see how I
kept my mind. Something snapped inside. I couldn't go to the funeral,
and while I brought my sister home to live with me, and after she
died, have done the best I could to raise Irma, her child, and Irma's
tried, I know, to be a daughter to me, yet I've always been so lonely,
so wretched and miserable and sick. I haven't anything to live for-but
I'm afraid to die."

Then began the cheapening catalog of the nearly twenty years of
illness, her weak and sensitive spine, her constant difficulty in
breathing, and the eternal thumping of her heart. And on and on, the
list so old to Dr. Bond's ears, so commonly heard in the experience of
helpers of the nervous sick-as usual to the nerve-specialist as the
inflamed appendix to the modern surgeon--yet in the mind of every
nerve-sufferer so unique, so individual, so different. But of all the
long, two-hour story, one short sentence stood out, eloquent in the
doctor's mind, "I haven't anything to live for, yet I'm afraid to
die." He gently thanked her. He had felt with her in the recital of
her great sorrow, and she knew he had suffered in her suffering. "You
can get well. You can find something worth living for, and you can
lose your fear of death, if you will pay the price." For the moment
she misunderstood.

"Why, Doctor, I would gladly give thousands for health."

Again, gently, "Your dollars are worthless. You are poor in the gold
which will buy your restoration. I shall tell you about it Wednesday
if you want to know."

On both Monday and Tuesday visits her curiosity prompted her to refer
to the great cure Dr. Bond mentioned. But it was Wednesday afternoon
before he spoke seriously.

"You were very ill last week--such illnesses have frequently proved
fatal to life, when ignorantly managed. But as I see you to-day,
knowing your radiant childhood, and the good fortune which was yours
for years, and the heart-tearing shock which came so cruelly, I see a
sickness more dire and fatal than any for which you have ever yet been
treated. The beauty and youth and charity of your spirit are mortally
ill. I see your soul an emaciated remnant, a skeleton of its possible
self. It threatens to die before your body. Selfish sorrow has
infected and permeated your once lovely, better self, and to-day you
have no true goodness left. You are good to others that they may be
better to you. You are generous with your means-a generosity which
costs you no sacrifice, that you may buy back the generosity without
which you could not live. Four useful lives are emptying the best of
their strength, ability and love into years of service that you may
know a poor, low-grade, selfish, physical comfort. You are taking from
them and others consideration, self-sacrifice, loyalty, unstinted
devotion, and giving in return only ungrateful dollars. You are rich
in these, but poorer than Lazarus in the least of the qualities which
make life worth living a day, which keep Death from being a haunting
terror. You have not one physical symptom of your endless catalog
which cannot be removed if you meet the blessings half-way which
discomforts offer."

It couldn't have been what Dr. Bond said--it must have been what he
was himself that made those unwelcome, humiliating truths carry
conviction, win confidence, and waken hope. Possibly his last sentence
helped her decision--his serious confidence in his ability to remove
those terrifying, ever impending threats of physical anguish. At any
rate, she gave her promise-for six months she would implicitly follow
his instruction, with the understanding that if she did not see
herself better at the end of four months, she was to be released from
further treatment.

It would be a long story, a story of remarkable medical finesse; it
would be describing the work of an artist--for such was Dr. Bond as he
turned bodies from sickness to health and souls from perdition to
salvation. But victory came! In six weeks, the invalid was walking. In
six months she was walking three miles a day. She was eating, bathing,
sleeping and working more like a woman under sixty than one nearing
seventy. She spent the summer with the doctor's people in their
bungalow on Lake Huron. She now gave of her means thoughtfully, with
growing unselfishness, and soon after she began to look up and out
there came the peace within, so long a stranger. And she told Dr.
Bond, simply, one day, that God had come back to her, and he as simply
replied: "You have come back to God."

That winter, Dr. Bond spent in the East. One day the expressman
brought a package--some books he had always loved, in remarkable
bindings, and this note:

"My best Friend:

"To-day I am seventy. I haven't been so young since sorrow was sent to
prove me, nor more happy since I nursed your hurt arm when we were
children. I walked down town, two miles you know, and back, and a mile
in the stores, I am sure, to find these books you love, in bindings
worthy your better enjoyment of them. All that you have promised has
come to me. God bless you!"



CHAPTER XXIII

THE TRIUMPH OF HARMONY


When man "conceives his superpower, his miraculous power to meet
disaster, and in it to find profit; to face defeat after defeat and
therein acquire faith in his own permanence; to live for years within
a frail, defective body, with a mind unable to respond to the
promptings of ambition and inspiration, and thereby take on the
greatness of gentleness-the conviction comes clear, a conviction which
will not comfortably stay put aside, that life is intended to develop
a noble self."

What could be more beautiful to senses that thrill with love than this
pink-cheeked, azure-eyed babe, whose golden ringlets promise the
glorious crown, the unfading beauty of her womanhood? She was hardly a
month old, yet she seemed to understand--Mammy Lou said she did-that
she must look her "beau'fulest"; so when her father came and bent over
her little crib, she smiled, then coyly ducked her wobbly head, to
smile again at Mother, the dear mother who only to-day had been
allowed by the doctor to sit up for an hour. Mammy Lou must have been
right, for there Baby lay playing with her fingers and the
disappointed pink ribbons of her booties, while, now and then, when
the discussion was specially serious, she would look soberly at her
earnest-faced parents till they both would notice, and laugh. Then her
little understanding smile-and some more play. It was an important
conference. Considerations affecting Baby's future were in the
balance, and, as she gave such perfect attention and never
interrupted, and insisted on every one keeping good-natured, Mammy
Lou's assertion that "Dat lil' sweetness' stood every word her pa an'
ma said. She knew dey's findin' her a name," cannot be successfully
disputed.

The Southards had been married twelve years. Georgia was eight, and
Etta five. It must be a boy--one who would pass on the Southard name
and traditions. The first Earl of Minto had contributed some nobleness
of blood to the Southard stock, and the father had set his heart on a
boy who should feel the double inspiration of "Minto Southard," to
help make him fine and great.

A "girl"! And business took the father away for a fortnight. It was
rumored that he drowned his disappointment in Charleston-but not in
the Bay. He did not fully realize that the brave wife was gravely ill,
until his return. Then he was devoted and tender. They had made no
plans for a little girl; so she was nearly a month old and was still
being called "Sweetness" by Mammy Lou, and "The Baby" by others, and
to-day, while Mother first sat up, her name was to be decided.

"Why, Father, dear, no girl was ever called that. I think it would be
all right for a boy, but she's such a dainty little thing, and I'm
sure it will always seem odd to her."

"What would you like better, Mater? I don't wish to contend or to be
unduly insistent, but you know I have looked forward to having the
Earl's name in the family, and, personally, I think it has the
attraction of uniqueness, as well as the flavor of distinction. Then,
you remember, you suggested the names for the other girls. I know you
are thinking of her future and fear an odd name may make her unhappy,
some time. But we can, we should, teach her to be proud of so
distinguished an association. My personal desire is very strong, and I
can't think of any other name which will satisfy me nearly as well."

Just then Baby looked at her mother, smiled and gurgled something
which was intelligible to mother-ears, and the wife's hand slipped
into the husband's, and the baby was named Minta Southard.

Where could a new baby have found a more perfect setting for her
childhood and girlhood? The plantation lay on both sides of the
Catawba River-fresh and crystal clear those days, as it sped down from
mountains to sea-fertile, fruitful acres there were, which never
failed to bring forth manyfold. Three times in as many generations,
the Manor House, as the rambling southern home had always been called,
had been enlarged, but nothing was ever done which lessened the
dignity lent by its fine colonial portico, the artistic columns of
which could be seen miles down the river-road. The Manor House was
good to see in its rare setting of stately water-oaks, now in their
full maturity.

For four years little Minta thrived and gave promise of bringing many
joys to this home which knew no shadow but the father's periodic
"business trips" to Charleston. Mammy Lou was her slave, and even
Georgia, who had her own way so much that she was far from unselfish,
asked, at times, to "take care" of her dainty sister, and would let
her play with some of her things without protest. Then the fever!
"Typhoid," the doctor said, "affecting her brain." Father, Mother and
Mammy Lou took turns being with her those long, hot weeks, when it
forgot to rain and the refreshing sea-breeze was cruelly withheld.
Doctors from Charlotte, doctors from Charleston and doctors from
Atlanta came, to look grave, to shake their learned heads, and to
sadly leave, offering no hopeful change in treatment. The fever was
prolonged over five weeks, and the child seemed more lifeless each day
as it left her drained and damaged-drained and damaged for life it
proved. So slowly her shadowy form gained, that a single week was too
short to evidence improvement. Six months, and she was not yet
walking. One year, and she was still fragile. Then, in a month, normal
childhood apparently slipped back, and she began to play and be merry.

Of course "Sweetness" was spoiled--and an autocrat she was, her
mother, only, denying herself the indulgence of being her subject.
Mother, however, was lovingly tactful, and exercised the discipline
she believed necessary for her child's good most wisely. And Mother's
memory has ever remained a hallowed one. Mammy Lou did much to
discredit all of the mother's conscientious care. For so long the poor
child "couldn't eat no thin'," and when at last Minta's appetite
returned, her loving black nurse would give her anything she wanted,
and if the fever hadn't hopelessly damaged the little one's digestive
glands, Mammy Lou's unfailing "l'il snacks for her honey-chile" would
have completed the wreckage. At first the trouble was not noticed.
Minta rarely spoke of suffering. She would be found lying with her
face from the light, and would always reply that she was "tired
playing," sometimes only, "my head hurts." The parents thought she did
play too hard, for she was developing into an intense little miss, who
entered into whatever she was doing with more than blue-eyed zest,
those blue eyes which snapped blue-black when her will was crossed.

The girls all had their early teaching at home, so when Minta was
thirteen, Miss Allison came from Washington to spend a year, as tutor,
to prepare her for school the next fall. That was the year Georgia ran
away. She had been visiting in Savannah several weeks, when she
disappeared, leaving a hurried note to her friends, stating that she
would write her people from New York, and begging them not to worry
about her. The note from New York was thoughtlessly written. She was
probably frightened by what she had done. She was safe in New York
with Randolph, where they would be for ten days. She was sorry. Would
they forgive her? She knew she had done wrong. Write her at --- East
Fourteenth Street, where they were boarding.

The outraged father called the two girls and their mother into his
office, and read them Georgia's letter, then tore it into bits. "Your
sister's name is never to be mentioned again in this house. She has
brought the first dishonor to the Southard name in America. She is
disowned, and may she be swallowed up in her own disgrace."

Nothing had ever so impressed Minta as her father's face that day. A
primitive savagery spoke, intensified by the refinements of Cavalier
blood. No one dared utter a word of protest. He was implacable as
adamant, they all knew. Mr. Southard was never the same. Some of his
genial tenderness was lost forever, and the family lived on with the
unmentionable name ever before them, like a grave which was never to
be filled. The father was away much more the following year. He never
drank at home. And, after his death, it was found that he had gambled
away many thousands-all of Georgia's part. Thus a father's pride of
family met a daughter's impulse.

The little mother, never strong, always patient and devoted and
lovable, seemed unable to rise above the shame and the sorrow of it
all, and could give less and less to Minta, who now found in Miss
Allison and Mammy Lou her most potent influences. Miss Allison was
worthy the responsibility and probably did much to decide the girl's
future. She had studied art, and had hoped to spend years abroad.
Financial disappointments had made this impossible. But her
imaginative pupil loved the art of which she spoke so often, and
begged to be taught to sketch. She early showed unusual skill and the
promise of talent; still the father would not consider her going North
with Miss Allison to school. Yet the seeds had been sown and an artist
she was to be. But the cost!

Two years she spent at Converse College. During the second summer-
vacation her father died, and as her mother's heart was gradually
weakening, Minta stayed at home the following year. A few weeks before
the dear mother slipped away, she talked with Minta about the older
sister, dutifully avoiding the mention of her name. "I have never felt
right about the way we treated her," she said. "Some time when you are
older, won't you try to find her and help her?"

The Cavalier was in the younger daughter too. "I certainly think she
has caused unhappiness enough. She made our home a different place,
and she shortened Father's life. I can't forgive her."

"But, Daughter, we don't know. There may have been some mistake."

Minta was decided. "She no longer belongs to the Southard family.
Father was right."

The mother did not insist, and only said, "She, too, is my child. She
is of your blood. We should forgive."

Her mother was with her but a few weeks after this conversation. And,
within two months after her funeral, an attack of pneumonia robbed
Minta's already frail body of strength which might have come at that
developing age. Much of the next eighteen months she spent in bed. It
was then decided that she consult a friend of her father's, a city
physician. Unfortunately, this ambitious surgeon had been but a
convivial friend. His professional development had reached only the
"operation" stage. Surgery to him was a panacea, and the operation,
which he promised to be her saving, was to be her tragedy. She did not
know till two years later that she had been robbed of her birthright.
Her headaches, far from being helped, were even worse, now blinding
and exhausting. She at last went East to a world-renowned specialist
who undid, as far as his great skill could, the damage of the first
operation, and who, great man that he was, had time not only to
operate but to comprehend. His cultivated instincts led him directly
to an intimacy with his patient's idealisms, and he was one to whom
every right-souled sufferer could trust his deepest confidence without
reserve.

"I fear, little girl, your ambitions are only for those of
unquestioned strength. You are but a pigmy. Certain organs, essential
to the conversion of food into energy, were injured beyond all repair
in your first illness. Other damage which neither time nor skill can
make good was inflicted by your first operation. Your eyes are
entirely inadequate for the merciless exactions of a life of art. You
are at best but a delicate hot-house plant-beyond human power to
develop into sufficient hardiness to be transplanted into the world of
Bohemia, or into much of any world save a sheltered one. You can never
be more than a semi-invalid."

This sentence the great doctor pronounced only after his own opinion
had been re-enforced by a conference of experts. And every word was
true, as far as he and the experts had investigated.

But there was the spirit of a Cavalier with which they had not
reckoned. "I'll not have it so. Life, the life that you give me, isn't
worth living. I shall have my two years in Europe with my art, if it
takes all those other years you say I can have by saving myself."

And she had them! One year first in New York in preparation, then two
years in Rome. Three weeks she worked; one week she suffered. And how
wonderfully she did suffer! She had been warned of the danger of drug-
relief. And when doctors came and began filling their hypodermic
syringes, her indignation blazed up. "If that's all you have for me,
you needn't come. I could give that to myself." She learned that quiet
and darkness, and, it seemed, fasting, dulled the edge of the pain and
shortened its duration, and that nothing else did as much.

There was another art student in Rome-a fine, poor American who, too,
was studying art because he loved it. How they could have helped each
other! They both knew it. It was as natural as life, after they had
worked together a few months, for him to ask if she could wait while
he earned, and made a name. She knew that waiting was not necessary;
that she had plenty for them both and that she could help him, as few
others, to more quickly win the fame which he was sure to attain. And
she knew, too, that she could not so love another-there was never a
doubt of that. But this time love was bitterly cruel. It came in all
its affection and beauty only to sear and rend. She "must not marry,"
the great surgeon had told her. So gently and fatherly he had said it,
that she did not realize its full import till now. Husbandless,
childless, a chronic, incurable sufferer, she must tread the wine-
press alone!

The man had gone. She could give him no reason. She could not remember
what she said to him. The world went black, and consciousness fled.
For weeks she lay in an Italian hospital. Etta and her husband came,
and the only rational words they could hear were her pleadings to be
taken back to Dr. Kingsley.

Somehow the trip was made. But it was a desperately sick girl, the
mere shell of a life, that they returned to America. It was weeks
before she realized where she was and other weeks before she was able
to tell Dr. Kingsley so that he could understand it all--not only of
sorrow's final revelation, but this time, what she had not mentioned
before, of Georgia--the family disgrace. She did not know the
wonderful power of Christian counsel and ideals to save from the so-
often misinterpreted sufferings of wrong spiritual adjustments. She
had not realized the healing power of the love of God expressed in the
lives of good men and women, and how it can sweeten the bitterness and
dissipate even the paralyzing loneliness of an impossible human love.

Dr. Kingsley's eyes had welled with tears when she told the story of
Georgia. How impellingly gentle was his voice when he said, "You'll
forgive her now, I know." Forgive her! What else to do, when he made
it so noble and beautiful and right. So when she was strong enough,
she began looking for the sister who had so complicated the years,
and, through an old school-friend, traced her to a little flat. And it
was even as her mother had thought. Georgia had married, "beneath the
family," she told Minta, the Georgia who was too proud to ever write
again. She was living in Brooklyn, the wife of Randolph, an assistant
engineer on an ocean steamship. And Etta came to visit Georgia, and a
great load, a load of which she had, through the years, been
unconscious, slipped away as Minta let go her enmity. "In all things,"
she said to Dr. Kingsley, "I am your obedient patient-all things but
one. I will work, and I shall work."

And she does work. No one understands how. Seventy-odd pounds of
frailty, with eyes which are ever resentful of the use to which she
puts them; with the recurrence of suffering which wrings every ounce
of physical strength, which for days holds her mind writhing as on the
rack, which tortures her to physical and mental surrender, but which,
through the lengthening years, has been impotent to daunt her regal
spirit.

And she gives, gives on through the days of relative comfort, gives of
her cheer which comes from, no one knows where; gives, spontaneously,
kindness which has multiplied her lovers, both men and women; and
gives of her ability which is unquestioned. There are a few publishers
who know her skill. There is a touch of pathos in all she draws,
pathos-never bitterness, never ugliness-always the breath of beauty.

Minta Southard, hopelessly defective in what we call health, has
triumphed through the harmony of a brave adjustment to her pitiless
limitations-a harmony realized by few, even though rich, in resource
of mind, powerful, in reserve of body.

Can we ignore the omnipotence of the spiritual?





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