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Title: A Mortal Antipathy
Author: Holmes, Oliver Wendell
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A MORTAL ANTIPATHY

By Oliver Wendell Holmes



 CONTENTS


 PREFACE.

 INTRODUCTION.

 THE NEW PORTFOLIO: FIRST OPENING.

 A MORTAL ANTIPATHY.



 I. GETTING READY.

 II. THE BOAT-RACE.

 III. THE WHITE CANOE.

 IV. THE YOUNG SOLITARY

 V. THE ENIGMA STUDIED.

 VI. STILL AT FAULT.

 VII. A RECORD OF ANTIPATHIES

 VIII. THE PANSOPHIAN SOCIETY.

 IX. THE SOCIETY AND ITS NEW SECRETARY.

 X. A NEW ARRIVAL.

 XI. THE INTERVIEWER ATTACKS THE SPHINX.

 XII. MISS VINCENT AS A MEDICAL STUDENT.

 XIII. DR. BUTTS READS A PAPER.

 XIV. MISS VINCENT’S STARTLING DISCOVERY.

 XV. DR. BUTTS CALLS ON EUTHYMIA.

 XVI. MISS VINCENT WRITES A LETTER.

 XVII. Dr. BUTTS’S PATIENT.

 XVIII. MAURICE KIRKWOOD’S STORY OF HIS LIFE.

 XIX. THE REPORT OF THE BIOLOGICAL COMMITTEE.

 XX. DR. BUTTS REFLECTS.

 XXI. AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION.

 XXII. EUTHYMIA.

 XXIII.    THE MEETING OF MAURICE AND EUTHYMIA.

 XXIV. THE INEVITABLE.

 POSTSCRIPT: AFTER-GLIMPSES.

 MISS LURIDA VINCENT TO MRS. EUTHYMIA KIRKWOOD.

 DR. BUTTS TO MRS. EUTHYMIA KIRKWOOD.

 DR. BUTTS TO MRS. BUTTS.



PREFACE.

“A MORTAL ANTIPATHY” was a truly hazardous experiment. A very wise and
very distinguished physician who is as much at home in literature as he
is in science and the practice of medicine, wrote to me in referring
to this story: “I should have been afraid of my subject.” He did
not explain himself, but I can easily understand that he felt the
improbability of the physiological or pathological occurrence on which
the story is founded to be so great that the narrative could hardly be
rendered plausible. I felt the difficulty for myself as well as for my
readers, and it was only by recalling for our consideration a series of
extraordinary but well-authenticated facts of somewhat similar character
that I could hope to gain any serious attention to so strange a
narrative.

I need not recur to these wonderful stories. There is, however, one, not
to be found on record elsewhere, to which I would especially call the
reader’s attention. It is that of the middle-aged man, who assured
me that he could never pass a tall hall clock without an indefinable
terror. While an infant in arms the heavy weight of one of these tall
clocks had fallen with a loud crash and produced an impression on his
nervous system which he had never got over.

The lasting effect of a shock received by the sense of sight or that of
hearing is conceivable enough.

But there is another sense, the nerves of which are in close
relation with the higher organs of consciousness. The strength of the
associations connected with the function of the first pair of nerves,
the olfactory, is familiar to most persons in their own experience and
as related by others. Now we know that every human being, as well as
every other living organism, carries its own distinguishing atmosphere.
If a man’s friend does not know it, his dog does, and can track him
anywhere by it. This personal peculiarity varies with the age and
conditions of the individual. It may be agreeable or otherwise, a source
of attraction or repulsion, but its influence is not less real, though
far less obvious and less dominant, than in the lower animals. It was
an atmospheric impression of this nature which associated itself with
a terrible shock experienced by the infant which became the subject of
this story. The impression could not be outgrown, but it might possibly
be broken up by some sudden change in the nervous system effected by a
cause as potent as the one which had produced the disordered condition.

This is the best key that I can furnish to a story which must have
puzzled some, repelled others, and failed to interest many who did not
suspect the true cause of the mysterious antipathy.

BEVERLY FARMS, MASS., August, 1891. O. W. H.



A MORTAL ANTIPATHY.

FIRST OPENING OF THE NEW PORTFOLIO.



INTRODUCTION.

“And why the New Portfolio, I would ask?”

Pray, do you remember, when there was an accession to the nursery in
which you have a special interest, whether the new-comer was commonly
spoken of as a baby? Was it not, on the contrary, invariably, under all
conditions, in all companies, by the whole household, spoken of as the
baby? And was the small receptacle provided for it commonly spoken of
as a cradle; or was it not always called the cradle, as if there were no
other in existence?

Now this New Portfolio is the cradle in which I am to rock my new-born
thoughts, and from which I am to lift them carefully and show them to
callers, namely, to the whole family of readers belonging to my list of
intimates, and such other friends as may drop in by accident. And so
it shall have the definite article, and not be lost in the mob of its
fellows as a portfolio.

There are a few personal and incidental matters of which I wish to say
something before reaching the contents of the Portfolio, whatever these
may be. I have had other portfolios before this,--two, more especially,
and the first thing I beg leave to introduce relates to these.

Do not throw this volume down, or turn to another page, when I tell you
that the earliest of them, that of which I now am about to speak, was
opened more than fifty years ago. This is a very dangerous confession,
for fifty years make everything hopelessly old-fashioned, without giving
it the charm of real antiquity. If I could say a hundred years, now, my
readers would accept all I had to tell them with a curious interest; but
fifty years ago,--there are too many talkative old people who know all
about that time, and at best half a century is a half-baked bit of ware.
A coin-fancier would say that your fifty-year-old facts have just enough
of antiquity to spot them with rust, and not enough to give them--the
delicate and durable patina which is time’s exquisite enamel.

When the first Portfolio was opened the coin of the realm bore for its
legend,--or might have borne if the more devout hero-worshippers could
have had their way,--Andreas Jackson, Populi Gratia, Imp. Caesar. Aug.
Div., Max., etc., etc. I never happened to see any gold or silver with
that legend, but the truth is I was not very familiarly acquainted with
the precious metals at that period of my career, and, there might have
been a good deal of such coin in circulation without my handling it, or
knowing much about it.

Permit me to indulge in a few reminiscences of that far-off time.

In those days the Athenaeum Picture Gallery was a principal centre of
attraction to young Boston people and their visitors. Many of us got
our first ideas of art, to say nothing of our first lessons in the
comparatively innocent flirtations of our city’s primitive period, in
that agreeable resort of amateurs and artists.

How the pictures on those walls in Pearl Street do keep their places in
the mind’s gallery! Trumbull’s Sortie of Gibraltar, with red enough in
it for one of our sunset after-glows; and Neagle’s full-length portrait
of the blacksmith in his shirt-sleeves; and Copley’s long-waistcoated
gentlemen and satin-clad ladies,--they looked like gentlemen and
ladies, too; and Stuart’s florid merchants and high-waisted matrons; and
Allston’s lovely Italian scenery and dreamy, unimpassioned women,
not forgetting Florimel in full flight on her interminable
rocking-horse,--you may still see her at the Art Museum; and the rival
landscapes of Doughty and Fisher, much talked of and largely praised in
those days; and the Murillo,--not from Marshal Soup’s collection; and
the portrait of Annibale Caracci by himself, which cost the Athenaeum
a hundred dollars; and Cole’s allegorical pictures, and his immense
and dreary canvas, in which the prostrate shepherds and the angel in
Joseph’s coat of many colors look as if they must have been thrown in
for nothing; and West’s brawny Lear tearing his clothes to pieces. But
why go on with the catalogue, when most of these pictures can be seen
either at the Athenaeum building in Beacon Street or at the Art Gallery,
and admired or criticised perhaps more justly, certainly not more
generously, than in those earlier years when we looked at them through
the japanned fish-horns?

If one happened to pass through Atkinson Street on his way to the
Athenaeum, he would notice a large, square, painted, brick house, in
which lived a leading representative of old-fashioned coleopterous
Calvinism, and from which emerged one of the liveliest of literary
butterflies. The father was editor of the “Boston Recorder,” a very
respectable, but very far from amusing paper, most largely patronized by
that class of the community which spoke habitually of the first day of
the week as “the Sahbuth.” The son was the editor of several different
periodicals in succession, none of them over severe or serious, and of
many pleasant books, filled with lively descriptions of society, which
he studied on the outside with a quick eye for form and color, and with
a certain amount of sentiment, not very deep, but real, though somewhat
frothed over by his worldly experiences.

Nathaniel Parker Willis was in full bloom when I opened my first
Portfolio. He had made himself known by his religious poetry, published
in his father’s paper, I think, and signed “Roy.” He had started the
“American Magazine,” afterwards merged in the “New York Mirror.” He had
then left off writing scripture pieces, and taken to lighter forms of
verse. He had just written


     “I’m twenty-two, I’m twenty-two,
        They idly give me joy,
     As if I should be glad to know
        That I was less a boy.”

He was young, therefore, and already famous. He came very near being
very handsome. He was tall; his hair, of light brown color, waved in
luxuriant abundance; his cheek was as rosy as if it had been painted to
show behind the footlights; he dressed with artistic elegance. He was
something between a remembrance of Count D’Orsay and an anticipation of
Oscar Wilde. There used to be in the gallery of the Luxembourg a picture
of Hippolytus and Phxdra, in which the beautiful young man, who had
kindled a passion in the heart of his wicked step-mother, always
reminded me of Willis, in spite of the shortcomings of the living face
as compared with the ideal. The painted youth is still blooming on the
canvas, but the fresh-cheeked, jaunty young author of the year 1830 has
long faded out of human sight. I took the leaves which lie before me
at this moment, as I write, from his coffin, as it lay just outside the
door of Saint Paul’s Church, on a sad, overclouded winter’s day, in the
year 1867. At that earlier time, Willis was by far the most prominent
young American author. Cooper, Irving, Bryant, Dana, Halleck, Drake, had
all done their best work. Longfellow was not yet conspicuous. Lowell was
a school-boy. Emerson was unheard of. Whittier was beginning to make his
way against the writers with better educational advantages whom he was
destined to outdo and to outlive. Not one of the great histories,
which have done honor to our literature, had appeared. Our school-books
depended, so far as American authors were concerned, on extracts
from the orations and speeches of Webster and Everett; on Bryant’s
Thanatopsis, his lines To a Waterfowl, and the Death of the Flowers,
Halleck’s Marco Bozzaris, Red Jacket, and Burns; on Drake’s American
Flag, and Percival’s Coral Grove, and his Genius Sleeping and Genius
Waking,--and not getting very wide awake, either. These could be
depended upon. A few other copies of verses might be found, but Dwight’s
“Columbia, Columbia,” and Pierpont’s Airs of Palestine, were already
effaced, as many of the favorites of our own day and generation must
soon be, by the great wave which the near future will pour over the
sands in which they still are legible.

About this time, in the year 1832, came out a small volume entitled
“Truth, a Gift for Scribblers,” which made some talk for a while, and
is now chiefly valuable as a kind of literary tombstone on which may be
read the names of many whose renown has been buried with their bones.
The “London Athenaeum” spoke of it as having been described as a
“tomahawk sort of satire.” As the author had been a trapper in Missouri,
he was familiarly acquainted with that weapon and the warfare of its
owners. Born in Boston, in 1804, the son of an army officer, educated
at West Point, he came back to his native city about the year 1830. He
wrote an article on Bryant’s Poems for the “North American Review,” and
another on the famous Indian chief, Black Hawk. In this last-mentioned
article he tells this story as the great warrior told it himself. It was
an incident of a fight with the Osages.

“Standing by my father’s side, I saw him kill his antagonist and
tear the scalp from his head. Fired with valor and ambition, I rushed
furiously upon another, smote him to the earth with my tomahawk, ran my
lance through his body, took off his scalp, and returned in triumph to
my father. He said nothing, but looked pleased.”

This little red story describes very well Spelling’s style of literary
warfare. His handling of his most conspicuous victim, Willis, was very
much like Black Hawk’s way of dealing with the Osage. He tomahawked
him in heroics, ran him through in prose, and scalped him in barbarous
epigrams. Bryant and Halleck were abundantly praised; hardly any one
else escaped.

If the reader wishes to see the bubbles of reputation that were
floating, some of them gay with prismatic colors, half a century ago,
he will find in the pages of “Truth” a long catalogue of celebrities he
never heard of. I recognize only three names, of all which are mentioned
in the little book, as belonging to persons still living; but as I have
not read the obituaries of all the others, some of them may be still
flourishing in spite of Mr. Spelling’s exterminating onslaught. Time
dealt as hardly with poor Spelling, who was not without talent and
instruction, as he had dealt with our authors. I think he found shelter
at last under a roof which held numerous inmates, some of whom had seen
better and many of whom had known worse days than those which they were
passing within its friendly and not exclusive precincts. Such, at least,
was the story I heard after he disappeared from general observation.

That was the day of Souvenirs, Tokens, Forget-me-nots, Bijous, and
all that class of showy annuals. Short stories, slender poems, steel
engravings, on a level with the common fashion-plates of advertising
establishments, gilt edges, resplendent binding,--to manifestations of
this sort our lighter literature had very largely run for some years.
The “Scarlet Letter” was an unhinted possibility. The “Voices of the
Night” had not stirred the brooding silence; the Concord seer was still
in the lonely desert; most of the contributors to those yearly volumes,
which took up such pretentious positions on the centre table, have
shrunk into entire oblivion, or, at best, hold their place in literature
by a scrap or two in some omnivorous collection.

What dreadful work Spelling made among those slight reputations,
floating in swollen tenuity on the surface of the stream, and mirroring
each other in reciprocal reflections! Violent, abusive as he was, unjust
to any against whom he happened to have a prejudice, his castigation of
the small litterateurs of that day was not harmful, but rather of use.
His attack on Willis very probably did him good; he needed a little
discipline, and though he got it too unsparingly, some cautions came
with it which were worth the stripes he had to smart under. One noble
writer Spelling treated with rudeness, probably from some accidental
pique, or equally insignificant reason. I myself, one of the three
survivors before referred to, escaped with a love-pat, as the youngest
son of the Muse. Longfellow gets a brief nod of acknowledgment. Bailey,
an American writer, “who made long since a happy snatch at fame,” which
must have been snatched away from him by envious time, for I cannot
identify him; Thatcher, who died early, leaving one poem, The Last
Request, not wholly unremembered; Miss Hannah F. Gould, a very bright
and agreeable writer of light verse,--all these are commended to the
keeping of that venerable public carrier, who finds his scythe and
hour-glass such a load that he generally drops the burdens committed to
his charge, after making a show of paying every possible attention to
them so long as he is kept in sight.

It was a good time to open a portfolio. But my old one had boyhood
written on every page. A single passionate outcry when the old warship
I had read about in the broadsides that were a part of our kitchen
literature, and in the “Naval Monument,” was threatened with demolition;
a few verses suggested by the sight of old Major Melville in his cocked
hat and breeches, were the best scraps that came out of that first
Portfolio, which was soon closed that it should not interfere with the
duties of a profession authorized to claim all the time and thought
which would have been otherwise expended in filling it.

During a quarter of a century the first Portfolio remained closed for
the greater part of the time. Only now and then it would be taken up
and opened, and something drawn from it for a special occasion, more
particularly for the annual reunions of a certain class of which I was a
member.

In the year 1857, towards its close, the “Atlantic Monthly,” which I had
the honor of naming, was started by the enterprising firm of Phillips
& Sampson, under the editorship of Mr. James Russell Lowell. He thought
that I might bring something out of my old Portfolio which would be not
unacceptable in the new magazine. I looked at the poor old receptacle,
which, partly from use and partly from neglect, had lost its freshness,
and seemed hardly presentable to the new company expected to welcome
the new-comer in the literary world of Boston, the least provincial of
American centres of learning and letters. The gilded covering where
the emblems of hope and aspiration had looked so bright had faded; not
wholly, perhaps, but how was the gold become dim!---how was the most
fine gold changed! Long devotion to other pursuits had left little time
for literature, and the waifs and strays gathered from the old Portfolio
had done little more than keep alive the memory that such a source of
supply was still in existence. I looked at the old Portfolio, and said
to myself, “Too late! too late. This tarnished gold will never brighten,
these battered covers will stand no more wear and tear; close them, and
leave them to the spider and the book-worm.”

In the mean time the nebula of the first quarter of the century had
condensed into the constellation of the middle of the same period.
When, a little while after the establishment of the new magazine, the
“Saturday Club” gathered about the long table at “Parker’s,” such a
representation of all that was best in American literature had never
been collected within so small a compass. Most of the Americans whom
educated foreigners cared to see-leaving out of consideration
official dignitaries, whose temporary importance makes them objects of
curiosity--were seated at that board. But the club did not yet exist,
and the “Atlantic Monthly” was an experiment. There had already been
several monthly periodicals, more or less successful and permanent,
among which “Putnam’s Magazine” was conspicuous, owing its success
largely to the contributions of that very accomplished and delightful
writer, Mr. George William Curtis. That magazine, after a somewhat
prolonged and very honorable existence, had gone where all periodicals
go when they die, into the archives of the deaf, dumb, and blind
recording angel whose name is Oblivion. It had so well deserved to live
that its death was a surprise and a source of regret. Could another
monthly take its place and keep it when that, with all its attractions
and excellences, had died out, and left a blank in our periodical
literature which it would be very hard to fill as well as that had
filled it?

This was the experiment which the enterprising publishers ventured upon,
and I, who felt myself outside of the charmed circle drawn around the
scholars and poets of Cambridge and Concord, having given myself to
other studies and duties, wondered somewhat when Mr. Lowell insisted
upon my becoming a contributor. And so, yielding to a pressure which I
could not understand, and yet found myself unable to resist, I promised
to take a part in the new venture, as an occasional writer in the
columns of the new magazine.

That was the way in which the second Portfolio found its way to my
table, and was there opened in the autumn of the year 1857. I was
already at least


     ‘Nel mezzo del cammin di mia, vita,’

when I risked myself, with many misgivings, in little-tried paths of
what looked at first like a wilderness, a selva oscura, where, if I did
not meet the lion or the wolf, I should be sure to find the critic, the
most dangerous of the carnivores, waiting to welcome me after his own
fashion.

The second Portfolio is closed and laid away. Perhaps it was hardly
worth while to provide and open a new one; but here it lies before me,
and I hope I may find something between its covers which will justify me
in coming once more before my old friends. But before I open it I want
to claim a little further indulgence.

There is a subject of profound interest to almost every writer, I
might say to almost every human being. No matter what his culture or
ignorance, no matter what his pursuit, no matter what his character, the
subject I refer to is one of which he rarely ceases to think, and, if
opportunity is offered, to talk. On this he is eloquent, if on nothing
else. The slow of speech becomes fluent; the torpid listener becomes
electric with vivacity, and alive all over with interest.

The sagacious reader knows well what is coming after this prelude. He
is accustomed to the phrases with which the plausible visitor, who has a
subscription book in his pocket, prepares his victim for the depressing
disclosure of his real errand. He is not unacquainted with the
conversational amenities of the cordial and interesting stranger, who,
having had the misfortune of leaving his carpet-bag in the cars, or of
having his pocket picked at the station, finds himself without the means
of reaching that distant home where affluence waits for him with its
luxurious welcome, but to whom for the moment the loan of some five and
twenty dollars would be a convenience and a favor for which his heart
would ache with gratitude during the brief interval between the loan and
its repayment.

I wish to say a few words in my own person relating to some passages in
my own history, and more especially to some of the recent experiences
through which I have been passing.

What can justify one in addressing himself to the general public as if
it were his private correspondent? There are at least three sufficient
reasons: first, if he has a story to tell that everybody wants to
hear,--if he has been shipwrecked, or has been in a battle, or has
witnessed any interesting event, and can tell anything new about it;
secondly, if he can put in fitting words any common experiences not
already well told, so that readers will say, “Why, yes! I have had
that sensation, thought, emotion, a hundred times, but I never heard
it spoken of before, and I never saw any mention of it in print;” and
thirdly, anything one likes, provided he can so tell it as to make it
interesting.

I have no story to tell in this Introduction which can of itself claim
any general attention. My first pages relate the effect of a certain
literary experience upon myself,--a series of partial metempsychoses
of which I have been the subject. Next follows a brief tribute to the
memory of a very dear and renowned friend from whom I have recently been
parted. The rest of the Introduction will be consecrated to the memory
of my birthplace.

I have just finished a Memoir, which will appear soon after this page is
written, and will have been the subject of criticism long before it is
in the reader’s hands. The experience of thinking another man’s thoughts
continuously for a long time; of living one’s self into another man’s
life for a month, or a year, or more, is a very curious one. No matter
how much superior to the biographer his subject may be, the man who
writes the life feels himself, in a certain sense, on the level of the
person whose life he is writing. One cannot fight over the battles of
Marengo or Austerlitz with Napoleon without feeling as if he himself
had a fractional claim to the victory, so real seems the transfer of his
personality into that of the conqueror while he reads. Still more must
this identification of “subject” and “object” take place when one is
writing of a person whose studies or occupations are not unlike his own.

Here are some of my metempsychoses: Ten years ago I wrote what I called
A Memorial Outline of a remarkable student of nature. He was a born
observer, and such are far from common. He was also a man of great
enthusiasm and unwearying industry. His quick eye detected what others
passed by without notice: the Indian relic, where another would see only
pebbles and fragments; the rare mollusk, or reptile, which his companion
would poke with his cane, never suspecting that there was a prize at the
end of it. Getting his single facts together with marvellous sagacity
and long-breathed patience, he arranged them, classified them, described
them, studied them in their relations, and before those around him were
aware of it the collector was an accomplished naturalist. When--he died
his collections remained, and they still remain, as his record in the
hieratic language of science. In writing this memoir the spirit of his
quiet pursuits, the even temper they bred in him, gained possession of
my own mind, so that I seemed to look at nature through his gold-bowed
spectacles, and to move about his beautifully ordered museum as if I had
myself prepared and arranged its specimens. I felt wise with his wisdom,
fair-minded with his calm impartiality; it seemed as if for the time his
placid, observant, inquiring, keen-sighted nature “slid into my soul,”
 and if I had looked at myself in the glass I should almost have expected
to see the image of the Hersey professor whose life and character I was
sketching.

A few years hater I lived over the life of another friend in writing
a Memoir of which he was the subject. I saw him, the beautiful,
bright-eyed boy, with dark, waving hair; the youthful scholar, first
at Harvard, then at Gottingen and Berlin, the friend and companion of
Bismarck; the young author, making a dash for renown as a novelist, and
showing the elements which made his failures the promise of success in a
larger field of literary labor; the delving historian, burying his fresh
young manhood in the dusty alcoves of silent libraries, to come forth in
the face of Europe and America as one of the leading historians of
the time; the diplomatist, accomplished, of captivating presence and
manners, an ardent American, and in the time of trial an impassioned and
eloquent advocate of the cause of freedom; reaching at last the summit
of his ambition as minister at the Court of Saint James. All this I
seemed to share with him as I tracked his career from his birthplace in
Dorchester, and the house in Walnut Street where he passed his boyhood,
to the palaces of Vienna and London. And then the cruel blow which
struck him from the place he adorned; the great sorrow that darkened his
later years; the invasion of illness, a threat that warned of danger,
and after a period of invalidism, during a part of which I shared his
most intimate daily life, the sudden, hardly unwelcome, final summons.
Did not my own consciousness migrate, or seem, at least, to transfer
itself into this brilliant life history, as I traced its glowing record?
I, too, seemed to feel the delight of carrying with me, as if they were
my own, the charms of a presence which made its own welcome everywhere.
I shared his heroic toils, I partook of his literary and social
triumphs, I was honored by the marks of distinction which gathered about
him, I was wronged by the indignity from which he suffered, mourned with
him in his sorrow, and thus, after I had been living for months with his
memory, I felt as if I should carry a part of his being with me so
long as my self-consciousness might remain imprisoned in the ponderable
elements.

The years passed away, and the influences derived from the
companionships I have spoken of had blended intimately with my own
current of being. Then there came to me a new experience in my relations
with an eminent member of the medical profession, whom I met habitually
for a long period, and to whose memory I consecrated a few pages as a
prelude to a work of his own, written under very peculiar circumstances.
He was the subject of a slow, torturing, malignant, and almost
necessarily fatal disease. Knowing well that the mind would feed upon
itself if it were not supplied with food from without, he determined
to write a treatise on a subject which had greatly interested him, and
which would oblige him to bestow much of his time and thought upon it,
if indeed he could hold out to finish the work. During the period
while he was engaged in writing it, his wife, who had seemed in perfect
health, died suddenly of pneumonia. Physical suffering, mental distress,
the prospect of death at a near, if uncertain, time always before him,
it was hard to conceive a more terrible strain than that which he had to
endure. When, in the hour of his greatest need, his faithful companion,
the wife of many years of happy union, whose hand had smoothed his
pillow, whose voice had consoled and cheered him, was torn from him
after a few days of illness, I felt that my friend’s trial was such that
the cry of the man of many afflictions and temptations might well have
escaped from his lips: “I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder; he
hath also taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces, and set me up
for his mark. His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins
asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.”

I had dreaded meeting him for the first time after this crushing blow.
What a lesson he gave me of patience under sufferings which the fearful
description of the Eastern poet does not picture too vividly! We have
been taught to admire the calm philosophy of Haller, watching his
faltering pulse as he lay dying; we have heard the words of pious
resignation said to have been uttered with his last breath by Addison:
but here was a trial, not of hours, or days, or weeks, but of months,
even years, of cruel pain, and in the midst of its thick darkness the
light of love, which had burned steadily at his bedside, was suddenly
extinguished.

There were times in which the thought would force itself upon my
consciousness, How long is the universe to look upon this dreadful
experiment of a malarious planet, with its unmeasurable freight of
suffering, its poisonous atmosphere, so sweet to breathe, so sure to
kill in a few scores of years at farthest, and its heart-breaking woes
which make even that brief space of time an eternity? There can be but
one answer that will meet this terrible question, which must arise in
every thinking nature that would fain “justify the ways of God to men.”
 So must it be until that


     “one far-off divine event
     To which the whole creation moves”

has become a reality, and the anthem in which there is no discordant
note shall be joined by a voice from every life made “perfect through
sufferings.”

Such was the lesson into which I lived in those sad yet placid years of
companionship with my suffering and sorrowing friend, in retracing which
I seemed to find another existence mingled with my own.

And now for many months I have been living in daily relations of
intimacy with one who seems nearer to me since he has left us than while
he was here in living form and feature. I did not know how difficult a
task I had undertaken in venturing upon a memoir of a man whom all, or
almost all, agree upon as one of the great lights of the New World, and
whom very many regard as an unpredicted Messiah. Never before was I so
forcibly reminded of Carlyle’s description of the work of a newspaper
editor,--that threshing of straw already thrice beaten by the flails of
other laborers in the same field. What could be said that had not been
said of “transcendentalism” and of him who was regarded as its prophet;
of the poet whom some admired without understanding, a few understood,
or thought they did, without admiring, and many both understood and
admired,--among these there being not a small number who went far beyond
admiration, and lost themselves in devout worship? While one exalted him
as “the greatest man that ever lived,” another, a friend, famous in the
world of letters, wrote expressly to caution me against the danger
of overrating a writer whom he is content to recognize as an American
Montaigne, and nothing more.

After finishing this Memoir, which has but just left my hands, I would
gladly have let my brain rest for a while. The wide range of thought
which belonged to the subject of the Memoir, the occasional mysticism
and the frequent tendency toward it, the sweep of imagination and the
sparkle of wit which kept his reader’s mind on the stretch, the union
of prevailing good sense with exceptional extravagances, the modest
audacity of a nature that showed itself in its naked truthfulness and
was not ashamed, the feeling that I was in the company of a sibylline
intelligence which was discounting the promises of the remote future
long before they were due,--all this made the task a grave one. But when
I found myself amidst the vortices of uncounted, various, bewildering
judgments, Catholic and Protestant, orthodox and liberal, scholarly from
under the tree of knowledge and instinctive from over the potato-hill;
the passionate enthusiasm of young adorers and the cool, if not cynical,
estimate of hardened critics, all intersecting each other as they
whirled, each around its own centre, I felt that it was indeed very
difficult to keep the faculties clear and the judgment unbiassed.

It is a great privilege to have lived so long in the society of such a
man. “He nothing common” said, “or mean.” He was always the same pure
and high-souled companion. After being with him virtue seemed as natural
to man as its opposite did according to the old theologies. But how to
let one’s self down from the high level of such a character to one’s own
poor standard? I trust that the influence of this long intellectual and
spiritual companionship never absolutely leaves one who has lived in
it. It may come to him in the form of self-reproach that he falls so
far short of the superior being who has been so long the object of
his contemplation. But it also carries him at times into the other’s
personality, so that he finds himself thinking thoughts that are not his
own, using phrases which he has unconsciously borrowed, writing, it may
be, as nearly like his long-studied original as Julio Romano’s painting
was like Raphael’s; and all this with the unquestioning conviction that
he is talking from his own consciousness in his own natural way. So far
as tones and expressions and habits which belonged to the idiosyncrasy
of the original are borrowed by the student of his life, it is a
misfortune for the borrower. But to share the inmost consciousness of
a noble thinker, to scan one’s self in the white light of a pure
and radiant soul,--this is indeed the highest form of teaching and
discipline.

I have written these few memoirs, and I am grateful for all that they
have taught me. But let me write no more. There are but two biographers
who can tell the story of a man’s or a woman’s life. One is the person
himself or herself; the other is the Recording Angel. The autobiographer
cannot be trusted to tell the whole truth, though he may tell nothing
but the truth, and the Recording Angel never lets his book go out of
his own hands. As for myself, I would say to my friends, in the Oriental
phrase, “Live forever!” Yes, live forever, and I, at least, shall not
have to wrong your memories by my imperfect record and unsatisfying
commentary.

In connection with these biographies, or memoirs, more properly, in
which I have written of my departed friends, I hope my readers will
indulge me in another personal reminiscence. I have just lost my dear
and honored contemporary of the last century. A hundred years ago this
day, December 13, 1784, died the admirable and ever to be remembered
Dr. Samuel Johnson. The year 1709 was made ponderous and illustrious
in English biography by his birth. My own humble advent to the world of
protoplasm was in the year 1809 of the present century. Summer was just
ending when those four letters, “son b.” were written under the date
of my birth, August 29th. Autumn had just begun when my great
pre-contemporary entered this un-Christian universe and was made a
member of the Christian church on the same day, for he was born and
baptized on the 18th of September.

Thus there was established a close bond of relationship between the
great English scholar and writer and myself. Year by year, and almost
month by month, my life has kept pace in this century with his life in
the last century. I had only to open my Boswell at any time, and I knew
just what Johnson at my age, twenty or fifty or seventy, was thinking
and doing; what were his feelings about life; what changes the years
had wrought in his body, his mind, his feelings, his companionships, his
reputation. It was for me a kind of unison between two instruments, both
playing that old familiar air, “Life,”--one a bassoon, if you will, and
the other an oaten pipe, if you care to find an image for it, but still
keeping pace with each other until the players both grew old and gray.
At last the thinner thread of sound is heard by itself, and its deep
accompaniment rolls out its thunder no more.

I feel lonely now that my great companion and friend of so many years
has left me. I felt more intimately acquainted with him than I do with
many of my living friends. I can hardly remember when I did not know
him. I can see him in his bushy wig, exactly like that of the Reverend
Dr. Samuel Cooper (who died in December, 1783) as Copley painted
him,--he hangs there on my wall, over the revolving bookcase. His ample
coat, too, I see, with its broad flaps and many buttons and generous
cuffs, and beneath it the long, still more copiously buttoned waistcoat,
arching in front of the fine crescentic, almost semi-lunar Falstaffian
prominence, involving no less than a dozen of the above-mentioned
buttons, and the strong legs with their sturdy calves, fitting columns
of support to the massive body and solid, capacious brain enthroned over
it. I can hear him with his heavy tread as he comes in to the Club, and
a gap is widened to make room for his portly figure. “A fine day,” says
Sir Joshua. “Sir,” he answers, “it seems propitious, but the atmosphere
is humid and the skies are nebulous,” at which the great painter smiles,
shifts his trumpet, and takes a pinch of snuff.

Dear old massive, deep-voiced dogmatist and hypochondriac of the
eighteenth century, how one would like to sit at some ghastly Club,
between you and the bony, “mighty-mouthed,” harsh-toned termagant and
dyspeptic of the nineteenth! The growl of the English mastiff and the
snarl of the Scotch terrier would make a duet which would enliven the
shores of Lethe. I wish I could find our “spiritualist’s” paper in the
Portfolio, in which the two are brought together, but I hardly know what
I shall find when it is opened.

Yes, my life is a little less precious to me since I have lost that dear
old friend; and when the funeral train moves to Westminster Abbey next
Saturday, for I feel as if this were 1784, and not 1884,--I seem to find
myself following the hearse, one of the silent mourners.

Among the events which have rendered the past year memorable to me
has been the demolition of that venerable and interesting old
dwelling-house, precious for its intimate association with the earliest
stages of the war of the Revolution, and sacred to me as my birthplace
and the home of my boyhood.

The “Old Gambrel-roofed House” exists no longer. I remember saying
something, in one of a series of papers published long ago, about the
experience of dying out of a house,--of leaving it forever, as the
soul dies out of the body. We may die out of many houses, but the house
itself can die but once; and so real is the life of a house to one who
has dwelt in it, more especially the life of the house which held him
in dreamy infancy, in restless boyhood, in passionate youth,--so real,
I say, is its life, that it seems as if something like a soul of it must
outlast its perishing frame.

The slaughter of the Old Gambrel-roofed House was, I am ready to admit,
a case of justifiable domicide. Not the less was it to be deplored
by all who love the memories of the past. With its destruction are
obliterated some of the footprints of the heroes and martyrs who took
the first steps in the long and bloody march which led us through the
wilderness to the promised land of independent nationality. Personally,
I have a right to mourn for it as a part of my life gone from me. My
private grief for its loss would be a matter for my solitary digestion,
were it not that the experience through which I have just passed is one
so familiar to my fellow-countrymen that, in telling my own reflections
and feelings, I am repeating those of great numbers of men and women who
have had the misfortune to outlive their birthplace.

It is a great blessing to be born surrounded by a natural horizon. The
Old Gambrel-roofed House could not boast an unbroken ring of natural
objects encircling it. Northerly it looked upon its own outbuildings and
some unpretending two-story houses which had been its neighbors for a
century and more. To the south of it the square brick dormitories and
the bellfried hall of the university helped to shut out the distant
view. But the west windows gave a broad outlook across the common,
beyond which the historical “Washington elm” and two companions in line
with it, spread their leaves in summer and their networks in winter. And
far away rose the hills that bounded the view, with the glimmer here and
there of the white walls or the illuminated casements of some embowered,
half-hidden villa. Eastwardly also, the prospect was, in my earlier
remembrance, widely open, and I have frequently seen the sunlit sails
gliding along as if through the level fields, for no water was visible.
So there were broad expanses on two sides at least, for my imagination
to wander over.

I cannot help thinking that we carry our childhood’s horizon with us
all our days. Among these western wooded hills my day-dreams built their
fairy palaces, and even now, as I look at them from my library window,
across the estuary of the Charles, I find myself in the familiar home of
my early visions. The “clouds of glory” which we trail with us in after
life need not be traced to a pre-natal state. There is enough to account
for them in that unconsciously remembered period of existence before we
have learned the hard limitations of real life. Those earliest months
in which we lived in sensations without words, and ideas not fettered in
sentences, have all the freshness of proofs of an engraving “before
the letter.” I am very thankful that the first part of my life was not
passed shut in between high walls and treading the unimpressible and
unsympathetic pavement.

Our university town was very much like the real country, in those
days of which I am thinking. There were plenty of huckleberries and
blueberries within half a mile of the house. Blackberries ripened in the
fields, acorns and shagbarks dropped from the trees, squirrels ran among
the branches, and not rarely the hen-hawk might be seen circling over
the barnyard. Still another rural element was not wanting, in the form
of that far-diffused, infragrant effluvium, which, diluted by a good
half mile of pure atmosphere, is no longer odious, nay is positively
agreeable, to many who have long known it, though its source and centre
has an unenviable reputation. I need not name the animal whose Parthian
warfare terrifies and puts to flight the mightiest hunter that ever
roused the tiger from his jungle or faced the lion of the desert.
Strange as it may seem, an aerial hint of his personality in the far
distance always awakens in my mind pleasant remembrances and tender
reflections. A whole neighborhood rises up before me: the barn, with
its haymow, where the hens laid their eggs to hatch, and we boys hid our
apples to ripen, both occasionally illustrating the sic vos non vobis;
the shed, where the annual Tragedy of the Pig was acted with a realism
that made Salvini’s Othello seem but a pale counterfeit; the rickety old
outhouse, with the “corn-chamber” which the mice knew so well; the paved
yard, with its open gutter,--these and how much else come up at the
hint of my far-off friend, who is my very near enemy. Nothing is more
familiar than the power of smell in reviving old memories. There was
that quite different fragrance of the wood-house, the smell of fresh
sawdust. It comes back to me now, and with it the hiss of the saw; the
tumble of the divorced logs which God put together and man has just put
asunder; the coming down of the axe and the hah! that helped it,--the
straight-grained stick opening at the first appeal of the implement as
if it were a pleasure, and the stick with a knot in the middle of it
that mocked the blows and the hahs! until the beetle and wedge made it
listen to reason,--there are just such straight-grained and just such
knotty men and women. All this passes through my mind while Biddy, whose
parlor-name is Angela, contents herself with exclaiming “egh!*******!”

How different distances were in those young days of which I am thinking!
From the old house to the old yellow meeting-house, where the head of
the family preached and the limbs of the family listened, was not much
more than two or three times the width of Commonwealth Avenue. But of
a hot summer’s afternoon, after having already heard one sermon,
which could not in the nature of things have the charm of novelty of
presentation to the members of the home circle, and the theology of
which was not too clear to tender apprehensions; with three hymns more
or less lugubrious, rendered by a village-choir, got into voice by many
preliminary snuffles and other expiratory efforts, and accompanied by
the snort of a huge bassviol which wallowed through the tune like a
hippopotamus, with other exercises of the customary character,--after
all this in the forenoon, the afternoon walk to the meeting-house in the
hot sun counted for as much, in my childish dead-reckoning, as from old
Israel Porter’s in Cambridge to the Exchange Coffeehouse in Boston
did in after years. It takes a good while to measure the radius of the
circle that is about us, for the moon seems at first as near as the
watchface. Who knows but that, after a certain number of ages, the
planet we live on may seem to us no bigger than our neighbor Venus
appeared when she passed before the sun a few months ago, looking as
if we could take her between our thumb and finger, like a bullet or a
marble? And time, too; how long was it from the serious sunrise to the
joyous “sun-down” of an old-fashioned, puritanical, judaical first day
of the week, which a pious fraud christened “the Sabbath”? Was it a
fortnight, as we now reckon duration, or only a week? Curious entities,
or non-entities, space and tithe? When you see a metaphysician trying to
wash his hands of them and get rid of these accidents, so as to lay his
dry, clean palm on the absolute, does it not remind you of the hopeless
task of changing the color of the blackamoor by a similar proceeding?
For space is the fluid in which he is washing, and time is the soap
which he is using up in the process, and he cannot get free from them
until he can wash himself in a mental vacuum.

In my reference to the old house in a former paper, published years ago,
I said,

“By and by the stony foot of the great University will plant itself
on this whole territory, and the private recollections which clung so
tenaciously to the place and its habitations will have died with those
who cherished them.”

What strides the great University has taken since those words were
written! During all my early years our old Harvard Alma Mater sat still
and lifeless as the colossi in the Egyptian desert. Then all at once,
like the statue in Don Giovanni, she moved from her pedestal. The fall
of that “stony foot” has effected a miracle like the harp that Orpheus
played, like the teeth which Cadmus sowed. The plain where the moose and
the bear were wandering while Shakespeare was writing Hamlet, where a
few plain dormitories and other needed buildings were scattered about
in my school-boy days, groans under the weight of the massive edifices
which have sprung up all around them, crowned by the tower of that noble
structure which stands in full view before me as I lift my eyes from the
portfolio on the back of which I am now writing.

For I must be permitted to remind you that I have not yet opened it. I
have told you that I have just finished a long memoir, and that it has
cost me no little labor to overcome some of its difficulties,--if I have
overcome them, which others must decide. And I feel exactly as honest
Dobbin feels when his harness is slipped off after a long journey with
a good deal of up-hill work. He wants to rest a little, then to feed
a little; then, if you will turn him loose in the pasture, he wants to
roll. I have left my starry and ethereal companionship,--not for a
long time, I hope, for it has lifted me above my common self, but for a
while. And now I want, so to speak, to roll in the grass and among the
dandelions with the other pachyderms. So I have kept to the outside of
the portfolio as yet, and am disporting myself in reminiscences, and
fancies, and vagaries, and parentheses.

How well I understand the feeling which led the Pisans to load their
vessels with earth from the Holy Land, and fill the area of the Campo
Santo with that sacred soil! The old house stood upon about as perverse
a little patch of the planet as ever harbored a half-starved earth-worm.
It was as sandy as Sahara and as thirsty as Tantalus. The rustic
aid-de-camps of the household used to aver that all fertilizing matters
“leached” through it. I tried to disprove their assertion by gorging it
with the best of terrestrial nourishment, until I became convinced that
I was feeding the tea-plants of China, and then I gave over the attempt.
And yet I did love, and do love, that arid patch of ground. I wonder if
a single flower could not be made to grow in a pot of earth from that
Campo Santo of my childhood! One noble product of nature did not
refuse to flourish there,--the tall, stately, beautiful, soft-haired,
many-jointed, generous maize or Indian corn, which thrives on sand and
defies the blaze of our shrivelling summer. What child but loves to
wander in its forest-like depths, amidst the rustling leaves and with
the lofty tassels tossing their heads high above him! There are two
aspects of the cornfield which always impress my imagination: the first
when it has reached its full growth, and its ordered ranks look like an
army on the march with its plumed and bannered battalions; the second
when, after the battle of the harvest, the girdled stacks stand on the
field of slaughter like so many ragged Niobes,--say rather like the
crazy widows and daughters of the dead soldiery.

Once more let us come back to the old house. It was far along in its
second century when the edict went forth that it must stand no longer.

The natural death of a house is very much like that of one of its human
tenants. The roof is the first part to show the distinct signs of age.
Slates and tiles loosen and at last slide off, and leave bald the boards
that supported them; shingles darken and decay, and soon the garret or
the attic lets in the rain and the snow; by and by the beams sag, the
floors warp, the walls crack, the paper peels away, the ceilings scale
off and fall, the windows are crusted with clinging dust, the doors drop
from their rusted hinges, the winds come in without knocking and howl
their cruel death-songs through the empty rooms and passages, and at
last there comes a crash, a great cloud of dust rises, and the home that
had been the shelter of generation after generation finds its grave in
its own cellar. Only the chimney remains as its monument. Slowly, little
by little, the patient solvents that find nothing too hard for their
chemistry pick out the mortar from between the bricks; at last a mighty
wind roars around it and rushes against it, and the monumental relic
crashes down among the wrecks it has long survived. So dies a human
habitation left to natural decay, all that was seen above the surface of
the soil sinking gradually below it,


   Till naught remains the saddening tale to tell
   Save home’s last wrecks, the cellar and the well.

But if this sight is saddening, what is it to see a human dwelling fall
by the hand of violence! The ripping off of the shelter that has kept
out a thousand storms, the tearing off of the once ornamental woodwork,
the wrench of the inexorable crowbar, the murderous blows of the axe,
the progressive ruin, which ends by rending all the joints asunder and
flinging the tenoned and mortised timbers into heaps that will be sawed
and split to warm some new habitation as firewood,--what a brutal act of
destruction it seems!

Why should I go over the old house again, having already described it
more than ten years ago? Alas! how many remember anything they read but
once, and so long ago as that? How many would find it out if one should
say over in the same words that which he said in the last decade? But
there is really no need of telling the story a second time, for it can
be found by those who are curious enough to look it up in a volume of
which it occupies the opening chapter.

In order, however, to save any inquisitive reader that trouble, let me
remind him that the old house was General Ward’s headquarters at the
breaking out of the Revolution; that the plan for fortifying Bunker’s
Hill was laid, as commonly believed, in the southeast lower room, the
floor of which was covered with dents, made, it was alleged, by the
butts of the soldiers’ muskets. In that house, too, General Warren
probably passed the night before the Bunker Hill battle, and over its
threshold must the stately figure of Washington have often cast its
shadow.

But the house in which one drew his first breath, and where he one day
came into the consciousness that he was a personality, an ego, a little
universe with a sky over him all his own, with a persistent identity,
with the terrible responsibility of a separate, independent, inalienable
existence,--that house does not ask for any historical associations to
make it the centre of the earth for him.

If there is any person in the world to be envied, it is the one who is
born to an ancient estate, with a long line of family traditions and
the means in his hands of shaping his mansion and his domain to his own
taste, without losing sight of all the characteristic features which
surrounded his earliest years. The American is, for the most part, a
nomad, who pulls down his house as the Tartar pulls up his tent-poles.
If I had an ideal life to plan for him it would be something like this:

His grandfather should be a wise, scholarly, large-brained,
large-hearted country minister, from whom he should inherit the
temperament that predisposes to cheerfulness and enjoyment, with the
finer instincts which direct life to noble aims and make it rich with
the gratification of pure and elevated tastes and the carrying out of
plans for the good of his neighbors and his fellow-creatures. He should,
if possible, have been born, at any rate have passed some of his early
years, or a large part of them, under the roof of the good old minister.
His father should be, we will say, a business man in one of our great
cities,--a generous manipulator of millions, some of which have adhered
to his private fortunes, in spite of his liberal use of his means. His
heir, our ideally placed American, shall take possession of the old
house, the home of his earliest memories, and preserve it sacredly,
not exactly like the Santa Casa, but, as nearly as may be, just as
he remembers it. He can add as many acres as he will to the narrow
house-lot. He can build a grand mansion for himself, if he chooses, in
the not distant neighborhood. But the old house, and all immediately
round it, shall be as he recollects it when he had to stretch his little
arm up to reach the door-handles. Then, having well provided for his
own household, himself included, let him become the providence of the
village or the town where he finds himself during at least a portion
of every year. Its schools, its library, its poor,--and perhaps the new
clergyman who has succeeded his grandfather’s successor may be one of
them,--all its interests, he shall make his own. And from this centre
his beneficence shall radiate so far that all who hear of his wealth
shall also hear of him as a friend to his race.

Is not this a pleasing programme? Wealth is a steep hill, which the
father climbs slowly and the son often tumbles down precipitately; but
there is a table-land on a level with it, which may be found by those
who do not lose their head in looking down from its sharply cloven
summit.---Our dangerously rich men can make themselves hated, held as
enemies of the race, or beloved and recognized as its benefactors.
The clouds of discontent are threatening, but if the gold-pointed
lightning-rods are rightly distributed the destructive element may be
drawn off silently and harmlessly. For it cannot be repeated too often
that the safety of great wealth with us lies in obedience to the new
version of the Old World axiom, RICHESS oblige.



THE NEW PORTFOLIO: FIRST OPENING.



A MORTAL ANTIPATHY.



I. GETTING READY.

It is impossible to begin a story which must of necessity tax the powers
of belief of readers unacquainted with the class of facts to which its
central point of interest belongs without some words in the nature of
preparation. Readers of Charles Lamb remember that Sarah Battle insisted
on a clean-swept hearth before sitting down to her favorite game of
whist.

The narrator wishes to sweep the hearth, as it were, in these opening
pages, before sitting down to tell his story. He does not intend to
frighten the reader away by prolix explanation, but he does mean to warn
him against hasty judgments when facts are related which are not within
the range of every-day experience. Did he ever see the Siamese twins, or
any pair like them? Probably not, yet he feels sure that Chang and
Eng really existed; and if he has taken the trouble to inquire, he has
satisfied himself that similar cases have been recorded by credible
witnesses, though at long intervals and in countries far apart from each
other.

This is the first sweep of the brush, to clear the hearth of the
skepticism and incredulity which must be got out of the way before we
can begin to tell and to listen in peace with ourselves and each other.

One more stroke of the brush is needed before the stage will be ready
for the chief characters and the leading circumstances to which the
reader’s attention is invited. If the principal personages made their
entrance at once, the reader would have to create for himself the whole
scenery of their surrounding conditions. In point of fact, no matter
how a story is begun, many of its readers have already shaped its chief
actors out of any hint the author may have dropped, and provided from
their own resources a locality and a set of outward conditions to
environ these imagined personalities. These are all to be brushed away,
and the actual surroundings of the subject of the narrative represented
as they were, at the risk of detaining the reader a little while from
the events most likely to interest him. The choicest egg that ever
was laid was not so big as the nest that held it. If a story were so
interesting that a maiden would rather hear it than listen to the praise
of her own beauty, or a poet would rather read it than recite his
own verses, still it would have to be wrapped in some tissue of
circumstance, or it would lose half its effectiveness.

It may not be easy to find the exact locality referred to in this
narrative by looking into the first gazetteer that is at hand. Recent
experiences have shown that it is unsafe to be too exact in designating
places and the people who live in them. There are, it may be added,
so many advertisements disguised under the form of stories and other
literary productions that one naturally desires to avoid the suspicion
of being employed by the enterprising proprietors of this or that
celebrated resort to use his gifts for their especial benefit. There are
no doubt many persons who remember the old sign and the old tavern and
its four chief personages presently to be mentioned. It is to be hoped
that they will not furnish the public with a key to this narrative,
and perhaps bring trouble to the writer of it, as has happened to other
authors. If the real names are a little altered, it need not interfere
with the important facts relating to those who bear them. It might not
be safe to tell a damaging story about John or James Smythe; but if
the slight change is made of spelling the name Smith, the Smythes would
never think of bringing an action, as if the allusion related to any of
them. The same gulf of family distinction separates the Thompsons with a
p from the Thomsons without that letter.

There are few pleasanter places in the Northern States for a summer
residence than that known from the first period of its settlement by the
name of Arrowhead Village. The Indians had found it out, as the relics
they left behind them abundantly testified. The commonest of these were
those chipped stones which are the medals of barbarism, and from
which the place took its name,--the heads of arrows, of various sizes,
material, and patterns: some small enough for killing fish and little
birds, some large enough for such game as the moose and the bear, to say
nothing of the hostile Indian and the white settler; some of flint, now
and then one of white quartz, and others of variously colored jasper.
The Indians must have lived here for many generations, and it must have
been a kind of factory village of the stone age,--which lasted up to
near the present time, if we may judge from the fact that many of these
relics are met with close to the surface of the ground.

No wonder they found this a pleasant residence, for it is to-day one
of the most attractive of all summer resorts; so inviting, indeed, that
those who know it do not like to say too much about it, lest the swarms
of tourists should make it unendurable to those who love it for itself,
and not as a centre of fashionable display and extramural cockneyism.

There is the lake, in the first place,--Cedar Lake,--about five miles
long, and from half a mile to a mile and a half wide, stretching
from north to south. Near the northern extremity are the buildings of
Stoughton University, a flourishing young college with an ambitious
name, but well equipped and promising, the grounds of which reach the
water. At the southern end of the lake are the edifices of the Corinna
Institute, a favorite school for young ladies, where large numbers of
the daughters of America are fitted, so far as education can do it, for
all stations in life, from camping out with a husband at the mines in
Nevada to acting the part of chief lady of the land in the White House
at Washington.

Midway between the two extremities, on the eastern shore of the lake,
is a valley between two hills, which come down to the very edge of the
lake, leaving only room enough for a road between their base and the
water. This valley, half a mile in width, has been long settled, and
here for a century or more has stood the old Anchor Tavern. A famous
place it was so long as its sign swung at the side of the road: famous
for its landlord, portly, paternal, whose welcome to a guest that
looked worthy of the attention was like that of a parent to a returning
prodigal, and whose parting words were almost as good as a marriage
benediction; famous for its landlady, ample in person, motherly, seeing
to the whole household with her own eyes, mistress of all culinary
secrets that Northern kitchens are most proud of; famous also for its
ancient servant, as city people would call her,--help, as she was called
in the tavern and would have called herself,--the unchanging, seemingly
immortal Miranda, who cared for the guests as if she were their nursing
mother, and pressed the specially favorite delicacies on their attention
as a connoisseur calls the wandering eyes of an amateur to the beauties
of a picture. Who that has ever been at the old Anchor Tavern forgets
Miranda’s


   “A little of this fricassee?-it is ver-y nice;”

or


   “Some of these cakes? You will find them ver-y good.”

Nor would it be just to memory to forget that other notable and noted
member of the household,--the unsleeping, unresting, omnipresent Pushee,
ready for everybody and everything, everywhere within the limits of the
establishment at all hours of the day and night. He fed, nobody could
say accurately when or where. There were rumors of a “bunk,” in which he
lay down with his clothes on, but he seemed to be always wide awake,
and at the service of as many guest, at once as if there had been half a
dozen of him.

So much for old reminiscences.

The landlord of the Anchor Tavern had taken down his sign. He had had
the house thoroughly renovated and furnished it anew, and kept it open
in summer for a few boarders. It happened more than once that the summer
boarders were so much pleased with the place that they stayed on through
the autumn, and some of them through the winter. The attractions of
the village were really remarkable. Boating in summer, and skating in
winter; ice-boats, too, which the wild ducks could hardly keep up with;
fishing, for which the lake was renowned; varied and beautiful walks
through the valley and up the hillsides; houses sheltered from the north
and northeasterly winds, and refreshed in the hot summer days by
the breeze which came over the water,--all this made the frame for a
pleasing picture of rest and happiness. But there was a great deal more
than this. There was a fine library in the little village, presented
and richly endowed by a wealthy native of the place. There was a small
permanent population of a superior character to that of an everyday
country town; there was a pretty little Episcopal church, with a
good-hearted rector, broad enough for the Bishop of the diocese to be
a little afraid of, and hospitable to all outsiders, of whom, in the
summer season, there were always some who wanted a place of worship to
keep their religion from dying out during the heathen months, while
the shepherds of the flocks to which they belonged were away from their
empty folds.

What most helped to keep the place alive all through the year was
the frequent coming together of the members of a certain literary
association. Some time before the tavern took down its sign the landlord
had built a hall, where many a ball had been held, to which the young
folks of all the country round had resorted. It was still sometimes used
for similar occasions, but it was especially notable as being the place
of meeting of the famous PANSOPHIAN SOCIETY.

This association, the name of which might be invidiously interpreted as
signifying that its members knew everything, had no such pretensions,
but, as its Constitution said very plainly and modestly, held itself
open to accept knowledge on any and all subjects from such as had
knowledge to impart. Its President was the rector of the little chapel,
a man who, in spite of the Thirty-Nine Articles, could stand fire from
the widest-mouthed heretical blunderbuss without flinching or losing
his temper. The hall of the old Anchor Tavern was a convenient place
of meeting for the students and instructors of the University and
the Institute. Sometimes in boat-loads, sometimes in carriage-loads,
sometimes in processions of skaters, they came to the meetings in
Pansophian Hall, as it was now commonly called.

These meetings had grown to be occasions of great interest. It was
customary to have papers written by members of the Society, for the
most part, but now and then by friends of the members, sometimes by
the students of the College or the Institute, and in rarer instances
by anonymous personages, whose papers, having been looked over and
discussed by the Committee appointed for that purpose, were thought
worth listening to. The variety of topics considered was very great.
The young ladies of the village and the Institute had their favorite
subjects, the young gentlemen a different set of topics, and the
occasional outside contributors their own; so that one who happened
to be admitted to a meeting never knew whether he was going to hear an
account of recent arctic discoveries, or an essay on the freedom of the
will, or a psychological experience, or a story, or even a poem.

Of late there had been a tendency to discuss the questions relating to
the true status and the legitimate social functions of woman. The most
conflicting views were held on the subject. Many of the young ladies
and some of the University students were strong in defence of all the
“woman’s rights” doctrines. Some of these young people were extreme
in their views. They had read about Semiramis and Boadicea and Queen
Elizabeth, until they were ready, if they could get the chance, to
vote for a woman as President of the United States or as General of
the United States Army. They were even disposed to assert the physical
equality of woman to man, on the strength of the rather questionable
history of the Amazons, and especially of the story, believed to be
authentic, of the female body-guard of the King of Dahomey,--females
frightful enough to need no other weapon than their looks to scare off
an army of Cossacks.

Miss Lurida Vincent, gold medallist of her year at the Corinna
Institute, was the leader of these advocates of virile womanhood. It was
rather singular that she should have elected to be the apostle of this
extreme doctrine, for she was herself far better equipped with
brain than muscles. In fact, she was a large-headed, large-eyed,
long-eyelashed, slender-necked, slightly developed young woman; looking
almost like a child at an age when many of the girls had reached their
full stature and proportions. In her studies she was so far in advance
of her different classes that there was always a wide gap between her
and the second scholar. So fatal to all rivalry had she proved herself
that she passed under the school name of The Terror. She learned so
easily that she undervalued her own extraordinary gifts, and felt the
deepest admiration for those of her friends endowed with faculties of an
entirely different and almost opposite nature. After sitting at her desk
until her head was hot and her feet were like ice, she would go and look
at the blooming young girls exercising in the gymnasium of the school,
and feel as if she would give all her knowledge, all her mathematics and
strange tongues and history, all those accomplishments that made her the
encyclopaedia of every class she belonged to, if she could go through
the series of difficult and graceful exercises in which she saw her
schoolmates delighting.

One among them, especially, was the object of her admiration, as she was
of all who knew her exceptional powers in the line for which nature had
specially organized her. All the physical perfections which Miss Lurida
had missed had been united in Miss Euthymia Tower, whose school name was
The Wonder. Though of full womanly stature, there were several taller
girls of her age. While all her contours and all her movements betrayed
a fine muscular development, there was no lack of proportion, and her
finely shaped hands and feet showed that her organization was one of
those carefully finished masterpieces of nature which sculptors are
always in search of, and find it hard to detect among the imperfect
products of the living laboratory.

This girl of eighteen was more famous than she cared to be for her
performances in the gymnasium. She commonly contented herself with
the same exercises that her companions were accustomed to. Only her
dumb-bells, with which she exercised easily and gracefully, were too
heavy for most of the girls to do more with than lift them from the
floor. She was fond of daring feats on the trapeze, and had to be
checked in her indulgence in them. The Professor of gymnastics at the
University came over to the Institute now and then, and it was a source
of great excitement to watch some of the athletic exercises in which the
young lady showed her remarkable muscular strength and skill in managing
herself in the accomplishment of feats which looked impossible at first
sight. How often The Terror had thought to herself that she would gladly
give up all her knowledge of Greek and the differential and integral
calculus if she could only perform the least of those feats which were
mere play to The Wonder! Miss Euthymia was not behind the rest in her
attainments in classical or mathematical knowledge, and she was one of
the very best students in the out-door branches,--botany, mineralogy,
sketching from nature,--to be found among the scholars of the Institute.

There was an eight-oared boat rowed by a crew of the young ladies, of
which Miss Euthymia was the captain and pulled the bow oar. Poor little
Lurida could not pull an oar, but on great occasions, when there were
many boats out, she was wanted as coxswain, being a mere feather-weight,
and quick-witted enough to serve well in the important office where
brains are more needed than muscle.

There was also an eight-oared boat belonging to the University, and
rowed by a picked crew of stalwart young fellows. The bow oar and
captain of the University crew was a powerful young man, who, like the
captain of the girls’ boat, was a noted gymnast. He had had one or two
quiet trials with Miss Euthymia, in which, according to the ultras of
the woman’s rights party, he had not vindicated the superiority of his
sex in the way which might have been expected. Indeed, it was claimed
that he let a cannon-ball drop when he ought to have caught it, and
it was not disputed that he had been ingloriously knocked over by a
sand-bag projected by the strong arms of the young maiden. This was of
course a story that was widely told and laughingly listened to, and
the captain of the University crew had become a little sensitive on
the subject. When there was a talk, therefore, about a race between the
champion boats of the two institutions there was immense excitement in
both of them, as well as among the members of the Pansophian Society and
all the good people of the village.

There were many objections to be overcome. Some thought it unladylike
for the young maidens to take part in a competition which must attract
many lookers-on, and which it seemed to them very hoidenish to venture
upon. Some said it was a shame to let a crew of girls try their strength
against an equal number of powerful young men. These objections were
offset by the advocates of the race by the following arguments. They
maintained that it was no more hoidenish to row a boat than it was to
take a part in the calisthenic exercises, and that the girls had nothing
to do with the young men’s boat, except to keep as much ahead of it as
possible. As to strength, the woman’s righters believed that, weight
for weight, their crew was as strong as the other, and of course due
allowance would be made for the difference of weight and all other
accidental hindrances. It was time to test the boasted superiority
of masculine muscle. Here was a chance. If the girls beat, the whole
country would know it, and after that female suffrage would be only
a question of time. Such was the conclusion, from rather insufficient
premises, it must be confessed; but if nature does nothing per
saltum,--by jumps,--as the old adage has it, youth is very apt to take
long leaps from a fact to a possible sequel or consequence. So it had
come about that a contest between the two boat-crews was looked forward
to with an interest almost equal to that with which the combat between
the Horatii and Curiatii was regarded.

The terms had been at last arranged between the two crews, after
cautious protocols and many diplomatic discussions. It was so novel in
its character that it naturally took a good deal of time to adjust it
in such a way as to be fair to both parties. The course must not be too
long for the lighter and weaker crew, for the staying power of the young
persons who made it up could not be safely reckoned upon. A certain
advantage must be allowed them at the start, and this was a delicate
matter to settle. The weather was another important consideration. June
would be early enough, in all probability, and if the lake should be
tolerably smooth the grand affair might come off some time in that
month. Any roughness of the water would be unfavorable to the weaker
crew. The rowing-course was on the eastern side of the lake, the
starting-point being opposite the Anchor Tavern; from that three
quarters of a mile to the south, where the turning-stake was fixed, so
that the whole course of one mile and a half would bring the boats back
to their starting-point.

The race was to be between the Algonquin, eight-oared boat with
outriggers, rowed by young men, students of Stoughton University, and
the Atalanta, also eight-oared and outrigger boat, by young ladies from
the Corinna Institute. Their boat was three inches wider than the other,
for various sufficient reasons, one of which was to make it a little
less likely to go over and throw its crew into the water, which was a
sound precaution, though all the girls could swim, and one at least, the
bow oar, was a famous swimmer, who had pulled a drowning man out of the
water after a hard struggle to keep him from carrying her down with him.

Though the coming trial had not been advertised in the papers, so as to
draw together a rabble of betting men and ill-conditioned lookers-on,
there was a considerable gathering, made up chiefly of the villagers
and the students of the two institutions. Among them were a few who were
disposed to add to their interest in the trial by small wagers. The bets
were rather in favor of the “Quins,” as the University boat was commonly
called, except where the natural sympathy of the young ladies or the
gallantry of some of the young men led them to risk their gloves or
cigars, or whatever it might be, on the Atalantas. The elements of
judgment were these: average weight of the Algonquins one hundred and
sixty-five pounds; average weight of the Atalantas, one hundred and
forty-eight pounds; skill in practice about equal; advantage of the
narrow boat equal to three lengths; whole distance allowed the Atalantas
eight lengths,--a long stretch to be made up in a mile and a half. And
so both crews began practising for the grand trial.



II. THE BOAT-RACE.

The 10th of June was a delicious summer day, rather warm, but still and
bright. The water was smooth, and the crews were in the best possible
condition. All was expectation, and for some time nothing but
expectation. No boat-race or regatta ever began at the time appointed
for the start. Somebody breaks an oar, or somebody fails to appear in
season, or something is the matter with a seat or an outrigger; or if
there is no such excuse, the crew of one or both or all the boats to
take part in the race must paddle about to get themselves ready for
work, to the infinite weariness of all the spectators, who naturally ask
why all this getting ready is not attended to beforehand. The Algonquins
wore plain gray flannel suits and white caps. The young ladies were all
in dark blue dresses, touched up with a red ribbon here and there, and
wore light straw hats. The little coxswain of the Atalanta was the last
to step on board. As she took her place she carefully deposited at her
feet a white handkerchief wrapped about something or other, perhaps a
sponge, in case the boat should take in water.

At last the Algonquin shot out from the little nook where she lay,
--long, narrow, shining, swift as a pickerel when he darts from the
reedy shore. It was a beautiful sight to see the eight young fellows in
their close-fitting suits, their brown muscular arms bare, bending their
backs for the stroke and recovering, as if they were parts of a single
machine.

“The gals can’t stan’ it agin them fellers,” said the old blacksmith
from the village.

“You wait till the gals get a-goin’,” said the carpenter, who had often
worked in the gymnasium of the Corinna Institute, and knew something of
their muscular accomplishments. “Y’ ought to see ‘em climb ropes, and
swing dumb-bells, and pull in them rowin’-machines. Ask Jake there
whether they can’t row a mild in double-quick time,--he knows all abaout
it.”

Jake was by profession a fisherman, and a freshwater fisherman in a
country village is inspector-general of all that goes on out-of-doors,
being a lazy, wandering sort of fellow, whose study of the habits and
habitats of fishes gives him a kind of shrewdness of observation, just
as dealing in horses is an education of certain faculties, and breeds a
race of men peculiarly cunning, suspicious, wary, and wide awake, with a
rhetoric of appreciation and depreciation all its own.

Jake made his usual preliminary signal, and delivered himself to the
following effect:

“Wahl, I don’ know jest what to say. I’ve seed ‘em both often enough
when they was practisin’, an’ I tell ye the’ wa’n’t no slouch abaout
neither on ‘em. But them bats is all-fired long, ‘n’ eight on ‘em
stretched in a straight line eendways makes a consid’able piece aout ‘f
a mile ‘n’ a haaf. I’d bate on them gals if it wa’n’t that them fellers
is naterally longer winded, as the gals ‘ll find aout by the time they
git raound the stake ‘n’ over agin the big ellum. I’ll go ye a quarter
on the pahnts agin the petticoats.”

The fresh-water fisherman had expressed the prevailing belief that the
young ladies were overmatched. Still there were not wanting those who
thought the advantage allowed the “Lantas,” as they called the Corinna
boatcrew, was too great, and that it would be impossible for the “Quins”
 to make it up and go by them.

The Algonquins rowed up and down a few times before the spectators. They
appeared in perfect training, neither too fat nor too fine, mettlesome
as colts, steady as draught-horses, deep-breathed as oxen, disciplined
to work together as symmetrically as a single sculler pulls his pair of
oars. The fisherman offered to make his quarter fifty cents. No takers.

Five minutes passed, and all eyes were strained to the south, looking
for the Atalanta. A clump of trees hid the edge of the lake along which
the Corinna’s boat was stealing towards the starting-point. Presently
the long shell swept into view, with its blooming rowers, who, with
their ample dresses, seemed to fill it almost as full as Raphael fills
his skiff on the edge of the Lake of Galilee. But how steadily the
Atalanta came on!---no rocking, no splashing, no apparent strain; the
bow oar turning to look ahead every now and then, and watching her
course, which seemed to be straight as an arrow, the beat of the strokes
as true and regular as the pulse of the healthiest rower among them
all. And if the sight of the other boat and its crew was beautiful, how
lovely was the look of this! Eight young girls,--young ladies, for those
who prefer that more dignified and less attractive expression,--all
in the flush of youth, all in vigorous health; every muscle taught its
duty; each rower alert, not to be a tenth of a second out of time,
or let her oar dally with the water so as to lose an ounce of its
propelling virtue; every eye kindling with the hope of victory. Each
of the boats was cheered as it came in sight, but the cheers for the
Atalanta were naturally the loudest, as the gallantry of one sex and the
clear, high voices of the other gave it life and vigor.

“Take your places!” shouted the umpire, five minutes before the half
hour. The two boats felt their way slowly and cautiously to their
positions, which had been determined by careful measurement. After a
little backing and filling they got into line, at the proper distance
from each other, and sat motionless, their bodies bent forward, their
arms outstretched, their oars in the water, waiting for the word.

“Go!” shouted the umpire.

Away sprang the Atalanta, and far behind her leaped the Algonquin,
her oars bending like so many long Indian bows as their blades flashed
through the water.

“A stern chase is a long chase,” especially when one craft is a great
distance behind the other. It looked as if it would be impossible for
the rear boat to overcome the odds against it. Of course the Algonquin
kept gaining, but could it possibly gain enough? That was the question.
As the boats got farther and farther away, it became more and more
difficult to determine what change there was in the interval between
them. But when they came to rounding the stake it was easier to guess at
the amount of space which had been gained. It was clear that something
like half the distance, four lengths, as nearly as could be estimated,
had been made up in rowing the first three quarters of a mile. Could
the Algonquins do a little better than this in the second half of the
race-course, they would be sure of winning.

The boats had turned the stake, and were coming in rapidly. Every minute
the University boat was getting nearer the other.

“Go it, Quins!” shouted the students.

“Pull away, Lantas!” screamed the girls, who were crowding down to the
edge of the water.

Nearer,--nearer,--the rear boat is pressing the other more and more
closely,--a few more strokes, and they will be even, for there is but
one length between them, and thirty rods will carry them to the line.
It looks desperate for the Atalantas. The bow oar of the Algonquin turns
his head. He sees the little coxswain leaning forward at every stroke,
as if her trivial weight were of such mighty consequence,--but a few
ounces might turn the scale of victory. As he turned he got a glimpse of
the stroke oar of the Atalanta. What a flash of loveliness it was! Her
face was like the reddest of June roses, with the heat and the
strain and the passion of expected triumph. The upper button of her
close-fitting flannel suit had strangled her as her bosom heaved with
exertion, and it had given way before the fierce clutch she made at it.
The bow oar was a staunch and steady rower, but he was human. The blade
of his oar lingered in the water; a little more and he would have caught
a crab, and perhaps lost the race by his momentary bewilderment.

The boat, which seemed as if it had all the life and nervousness of a
Derby three-year-old, felt the slight check, and all her men bent more
vigorously to their oars. The Atalantas saw the movement, and made a
spurt to keep their lead and gain upon it if they could. It was of
no use. The strong arms of the young men were too much for the young
maidens; only a few lengths remained to be rowed, and they would
certainly pass the Atalanta before she could reach the line.

The little coxswain saw that it was all up with the girls’ crew if she
could not save them by some strategic device.


   “Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat?”

she whispered to herself,--for The Terror remembered her Virgil as she
did everything else she ever studied. As she stooped, she lifted the
handkerchief at her feet, and took from it a flaming bouquet. “Look!”
 she cried, and flung it just forward of the track of the Algonquin. The
captain of the University boat turned his head, and there was the lovely
vision which had a moment before bewitched him. The owner of all that
loveliness must, he thought, have flung the bouquet. It was a challenge:
how could he be such a coward as to decline accepting it.

He was sure he could win the race now, and he would sweep past the line
in triumph with the great bunch of flowers at the stem of his boat,
proud as Van Tromp in the British channel with the broom at his
mast-head.

He turned the boat’s head a little by backing water. He came up with the
floating flowers, and near enough to reach them. He stooped and snatched
them up, with the loss perhaps of a second in all,--no more. He felt
sure of his victory.

How can one tell the story of the finish in cold-blooded preterites?
Are we not there ourselves? Are not our muscles straining with those of
these sixteen young creatures, full of hot, fresh blood, their nerves
all tingling like so many tight-strained harp-strings, all their life
concentrating itself in this passionate moment of supreme effort? No! We
are seeing, not telling about what somebody else once saw!

--The bow of the Algonquin passes the stern of the Atalanta!

--The bow of the Algonquin is on a level with the middle of the
Atalanta!

--Three more lengths’ rowing and the college crew will pass the girls!

--“Hurrah for the Quins!” The Algonquin ranges up alongside of the
Atalanta!

“Through with her!” shouts the captain of the Algonquin.

“Now, girls!” shrieks the captain of the Atalanta.

They near the line, every rower straining desperately, almost madly.

--Crack goes the oar of the Atalanta’s captain, and up flash its
splintered fragments, as the stem of her boat springs past the line,
eighteen inches at least ahead of the Algonquin.

Hooraw for the Lantas! Hooraw for the Girls! Hooraw for the Institoot!
shout a hundred voices.

“Hurrah for woman’s rights and female suffrage!” pipes the small voice
of The Terror, and there is loud laughing and cheering all round.

She had not studied her classical dictionary and her mythology for
nothing. “I have paid off one old score,” she said. “Set down my damask
roses against the golden apples of Hippomenes!”

It was that one second lost in snatching up the bouquet which gave the
race to the Atalantas.



III. THE WHITE CANOE.

While the two boats were racing, other boats with lookers-on in them
were rowing or sailing in the neighborhood of the race-course. The scene
on the water was a gay one, for the young people in the boats were, many
of them, acquainted with each other. There was a good deal of lively
talk until the race became too exciting. Then many fell silent, until,
as the boats neared the line, and still more as they crossed it, the
shouts burst forth which showed how a cramp of attention finds its
natural relief in a fit of convulsive exclamation.

But far away, on the other side of the lake, a birchbark canoe was to be
seen, in which sat a young man, who paddled it skillfully and swiftly.
It was evident enough that he was watching the race intently, but the
spectators could see little more than that. One of them, however, who
sat upon the stand, had a powerful spy-glass, and could distinguish his
motions very minutely and exactly. It was seen by this curious observer
that the young man had an opera-glass with him, which he used a good
deal at intervals. The spectator thought he kept it directed to the
girls’ boat, chiefly, if not exclusively. He thought also that the
opera-glass was more particularly pointed towards the bow of the boat,
and came to the natural conclusion that the bow oar, Miss Euthymia
Tower, captain of the Atalantas, “The Wonder” of the Corinna Institute,
was the attraction which determined the direction of the instrument.

“Who is that in the canoe over there?” asked the owner of the spy-glass.

“That’s just what we should like to know,” answered the old landlord’s
wife. “He and his man boarded with us when they first came, but we could
never find out anything about him only just his name and his ways of
living. His name is Kirkwood, Maurice Kirkwood, Esq., it used to come
on his letters. As for his ways of living, he was the solitariest human
being that I ever came across. His man carried his meals up to him. He
used to stay in his room pretty much all day, but at night he would be
off, walking, or riding on horseback, or paddling about in the lake,
sometimes till nigh morning. There’s something very strange about that
Mr. Kirkwood. But there don’t seem to be any harm in him. Only nobody
can guess what his business is. They got up a story about him at one
time. What do you think? They said he was a counterfeiter! And so they
went one night to his room, when he was out, and that man of his was
away too, and they carried keys, and opened pretty much everything; and
they found--well, they found just nothing at all except writings and
letters,--letters from places in America and in England, and some with
Italian postmarks: that was all. Since that time the sheriff and
his folks have let him alone and minded their own business. He was a
gentleman,--anybody ought to have known that; and anybody that knew
about his nice ways of living and behaving, and knew the kind of wear he
had for his underclothing, might have known it. I could have told those
officers that they had better not bother him. I know the ways of real
gentlemen and real ladies, and I know those fellows in store clothes
that look a little too fine,--outside. Wait till washing-day comes!”

The good lady had her own standards for testing humanity, and they were
not wholly unworthy of consideration; they were quite as much to be
relied on as the judgments of the travelling phrenologist, who sent his
accomplice on before him to study out the principal personages in the
village, and in the light of these revelations interpreted the bumps,
with very little regard to Gall and Spurzheim, or any other authorities.

Even with the small amount of information obtained by the search among
his papers and effects, the gossips of the village had constructed
several distinct histories for the mysterious stranger. He was an agent
of a great publishing house; a leading contributor to several important
periodicals; the author of that anonymously published novel which had
made so much talk; the poet of a large clothing establishment; a spy of
the Italian, some said the Russian, some said the British, Government;
a proscribed refugee from some country where he had been plotting; a
school-master without a school, a minister without a pulpit, an actor
without an engagement; in short, there was no end to the perfectly
senseless stories that were told about him, from that which made him out
an escaped convict to the whispered suggestion that he was the eccentric
heir to a great English title and estate.

The one unquestionable fact was that of his extraordinary seclusion.
Nobody in the village, no student in the University, knew his history.
No young lady in the Corinna Institute had ever had a word from
him. Sometimes, as the boats of the University or the Institute were
returning at dusk, their rowers would see the canoe stealing into the
shadows as they drew near it. Sometimes on a moonlight night, when a
party of the young ladies were out upon the lake, they would see the
white canoe gliding ghost-like in the distance. And it had happened more
than once that when a boat’s crew had been out with singers among them,
while they were in the midst of a song, the white canoe would suddenly
appear and rest upon the water,--not very near them, but within hearing
distance,--and so remain until the singing was over, when it would steal
away and be lost sight of in some inlet or behind some jutting rock.

Naturally enough, there was intense curiosity about this young man. The
landlady had told her story, which explained nothing. There was nobody
to be questioned about him except his servant, an Italian, whose name
was Paolo, but who to the village was known as Mr. Paul.

Mr. Paul would have seemed the easiest person in the world to worm a
secret out of. He was good-natured, child-like as a Heathen Chinee,
talked freely with everybody in such English as he had at command, knew
all the little people of the village, and was followed round by them
partly from his personal attraction for them, and partly because he was
apt to have a stick of candy or a handful of peanuts or other desirable
luxury in his pocket for any of his little friends he met with. He had
that wholesome, happy look, so uncommon in our arid countrymen,--a look
hardly to be found except where figs and oranges ripen in the open air.
A kindly climate to grow up in, a religion which takes your money and
gives you a stamped ticket good at Saint Peter’s box office, a roomy
chest and a good pair of lungs in it, an honest digestive apparatus, a
lively temperament, a cheerful acceptance of the place in life assigned
to one by nature and circumstance,--these are conditions under which
life may be quite comfortable to endure, and certainly is very pleasant
to contemplate. All these conditions were united in Paolo. He was the
easiest; pleasantest creature to talk with that one could ask for a
companion. His southern vivacity, his amusing English, his simplicity
and openness, made him friends everywhere.

It seemed as if it would be a very simple matter to get the history of
his master out of this guileless and unsophisticated being. He had
been tried by all the village experts. The rector had put a number of
well-studied careless questions, which failed of their purpose. The old
librarian of the town library had taken note of all the books he carried
to his master, and asked about his studies and pursuits. Paolo found
it hard to understand his English, apparently, and answered in the most
irrelevant way. The leading gossip of the village tried her skill in
pumping him for information. It was all in vain.

His master’s way of life was peculiar,--in fact, eccentric. He had hired
rooms in an old-fashioned three-story house. He had two rooms in the
second and third stories of this old wooden building: his study in
the second, his sleeping-room in the one above it. Paolo lived in the
basement, where he had all the conveniences for cooking, and played the
part of chef for his master and himself. This was only a part of his
duty, for he was a man-of-all-work, purveyor, steward, chambermaid,--as
universal in his services for one man as Pushee at the Anchor Tavern
used to be for everybody.

It so happened that Paolo took a severe cold one winter’s day, and had
such threatening symptoms that he asked the baker, when he called, to
send the village physician to see him. In the course of his visit the
doctor naturally inquired about the health of Paolo’s master.

“Signor Kirkwood well,--molto bene,” said Paolo. “Why does he keep out
of sight as he does?” asked the doctor.

“He always so,” replied Paolo. “Una antipatia.”

Whether Paolo was off his guard with the doctor, whether he revealed it
to him as to a father confessor, or whether he thought it time that the
reason of his master’s seclusion should be known, the doctor did not
feel sure. At any rate, Paolo was not disposed to make any further
revelations. Una antipatia,--an antipathy,--that was all the doctor
learned. He thought the matter over, and the more he reflected the
more he was puzzled. What could an antipathy be that made a young man
a recluse! Was it a dread of blue sky and open air, of the smell of
flowers, or some electrical impression to which he was unnaturally
sensitive?

Dr. Butts carried these questions home with him. His wife was a
sensible, discreet woman, whom he could trust with many professional
secrets. He told her of Paolo’s revelation, and talked it over with
her in the light of his experience and her own; for she had known some
curious cases of constitutional likes and aversions.

Mrs. Butts buried the information in the grave of her memory, where
it lay for nearly a week. At the end of that time it emerged in a
confidential whisper to her favorite sister-in-law, a perfectly safe
person. Twenty-four hours later the story was all over the village that
Maurice Kirkwood was the subject of a strange, mysterious, unheard-of
antipathy to something, nobody knew what; and the whole neighborhood
naturally resolved itself into an unorganized committee of
investigation.



IV. THE YOUNG SOLITARY

What is a country village without its mysterious personage? Few are now
living who can remember the advent of the handsome young man who was the
mystery of our great university town “sixty years since,”--long enough
ago for a romance to grow out of a narrative, as Waverley may remind us.
The writer of this narrative remembers him well, and is not sure that
he has not told the strange story in some form or other to the last
generation, or to the one before the last. No matter: if he has told it
they have forgotten it,--that is, if they have ever read it; and whether
they have or have not, the story is singular enough to justify running
the risk of repetition.

This young man, with a curious name of Scandinavian origin, appeared
unheralded in the town, as it was then, of Cantabridge. He wanted
employment, and soon found it in the shape of manual labor, which he
undertook and performed cheerfully. But his whole appearance showed
plainly enough that he was bred to occupations of a very different
nature, if, in deed, he had been accustomed to any kind of toil for his
living. His aspect was that of one of gentle birth. His hands were not
those of a laborer, and his features were delicate and refined, as well
as of remarkable beauty. Who he was, where he came from, why he had
come to Cantabridge, was never clearly explained. He was alone,
without friends, except among the acquaintances he had made in his new
residence. If he had any correspondents, they were not known to the
neighborhood where he was living. But if he had neither friends nor
correspondents, there was some reason for believing that he had enemies.
Strange circumstances occurred which connected themselves with him in
an ominous and unaccountable way. A threatening letter was slipped under
the door of a house where he was visiting. He had a sudden attack of
illness, which was thought to look very much like the effect of poison.
At one time he disappeared, and was found wandering, bewildered, in a
town many miles from that where he was residing. When questioned how he
came there; he told a coherent story that he had been got, under some
pretext, or in some not incredible way, into a boat, from which, at a
certain landing-place, he had escaped and fled for his life, which he
believed was in danger from his kidnappers.

Whoever his enemies may have been,--if they really existed,--he did not
fall a victim to their plots, so far as known to or remembered by this
witness.

Various interpretations were put upon his story. Conjectures were as
abundant as they were in the case of Kaspar Hauser. That he was of
good family seemed probable; that he was of distinguished birth, not
impossible; that he was the dangerous rival of a candidate for a greatly
coveted position in one of the northern states of Europe was a favorite
speculation of some of the more romantic young persons. There was no
dramatic ending to this story,--at least none is remembered by the
present writer.

“He left a name,” like the royal Swede, of whose lineage he may have
been for aught that the village people knew, but not a name at which
anybody “grew pale;” for he had swindled no one, and broken no woman’s
heart with false vows. Possibly some withered cheeks may flush faintly
as they recall the handsome young man who came before the Cantabridge
maidens fully equipped for a hero of romance when the century was in its
first quarter.

The writer has been reminded of the handsome Swede by the incidents
attending the advent of the unknown and interesting stranger who had
made his appearance at Arrowhead Village.

It was a very insufficient and unsatisfactory reason to assign for the
young man’s solitary habits that he was the subject of an antipathy.
For what do we understand by that word? When a young lady screams at
the sight of a spider, we accept her explanation that she has a natural
antipathy to the creature. When a person expresses a repugnance to some
wholesome article of food, agreeable to most people, we are satisfied if
he gives the same reason. And so of various odors, which are pleasing to
some persons and repulsive to others. We do not pretend to go behind
the fact. It is an individual, and it may be a family, peculiarity. Even
between different personalities there is an instinctive elective dislike
as well as an elective affinity. We are not bound to give a reason why
Dr. Fell is odious to us any more than the prisoner who peremptorily
challenges a juryman is bound to say why he does it; it is enough that
he “does not like his looks.”

There was nothing strange, then, that Maurice Kirkwood should have
his special antipathy; a great many other people have odd likes and
dislikes. But it was a very curious thing that this antipathy should
be alleged as the reason for his singular mode of life. All sorts of
explanations were suggested, not one of them in the least satisfactory,
but serving to keep the curiosity of inquirers active until they were
superseded by a new theory. One story was that Maurice had a great fear
of dogs. It grew at last to a connected narrative, in which a fright
in childhood from a rabid mongrel was said to have given him such
a sensitiveness to the near presence of dogs that he was liable to
convulsions if one came close to him.

This hypothesis had some plausibility. No other creature would be so
likely to trouble a person who had an antipathy to it. Dogs are very apt
to make the acquaintance of strangers, in a free and easy way. They
are met with everywhere,--in one’s daily walk, at the thresholds of the
doors one enters, in the gentleman’s library, on the rug of my lady’s
sitting-room and on the cushion of her carriage. It is true that there
are few persons who have an instinctive repugnance to this “friend of
man.” But what if this so-called antipathy were only a fear, a terror,
which borrowed the less unmanly name? It was a fair question, if,
indeed, the curiosity of the public had a right to ask any questions at
all about a harmless individual who gave no offence, and seemed entitled
to the right of choosing his way of living to suit himself, without
being submitted to espionage.

There was no positive evidence bearing on the point as yet. But one
of the village people had a large Newfoundland dog, of a very sociable
disposition, with which he determined to test the question. He watched
for the time when Maurice should leave his house for the woods or the
lake, and started with his dog to meet him. The animal walked up to the
stranger in a very sociable fashion, and began making his acquaintance,
after the usual manner of well-bred dogs; that is, with the courtesies
and blandishments by which the canine Chesterfield is distinguished from
the ill-conditioned cur. Maurice patted him in a friendly way, and spoke
to him as one who was used to the fellowship of such companions. That
idle question and foolish story were disposed of, therefore, and some
other solution must be found, if possible.

A much more common antipathy is that which is entertained with regard to
cats. This has never been explained. It is not mere aversion to the
look of the creature, or to any sensible quality known to the common
observer. The cat is pleasing in aspect, graceful in movement, nice
in personal habits, and of amiable disposition. No cause of offence is
obvious, and yet there are many persons who cannot abide the presence of
the most innocent little kitten. They can tell, in some mysterious way,
that there is a cat in the room when they can neither see nor hear the
creature. Whether it is an electrical or quasi-magnetic phenomenon, or
whatever it may be, of the fact of this strange influence there are too
many well-authenticated instances to allow its being questioned. But
suppose Maurice Kirkwood to be the subject of this antipathy in its
extremest degree, it would in no manner account for the isolation to
which he had condemned himself. He might shun the firesides of the old
women whose tabbies were purring by their footstools, but these worthy
dames do not make up the whole population.

These two antipathies having been disposed of, a new suggestion was
started, and was talked over with a curious sort of half belief, very
much as ghost stories are told in a circle of moderately instructed and
inquiring persons. This was that Maurice was endowed with the unenviable
gift of the evil eye. He was in frequent communication with Italy, as
his letters showed, and had recently been residing in that country, as
was learned from Paolo. Now everybody knows that the evil eye is not
rarely met with in Italy. Everybody who has ever read Mr. Story’s “Roba
di Roma” knows what a terrible power it is which the owner of the evil
eye exercises. It can blight and destroy whatever it falls upon. No
person’s life or limb is safe if the jettatura, the withering glance of
the deadly organ, falls upon him. It must be observed that this malign
effect may follow a look from the holiest personages, that is, if we may
assume that a monk is such as a matter of course. Certainly we have
a right to take it for granted that the late Pope, Pius Ninth, was an
eminently holy man, and yet he had the name of dispensing the mystic and
dreaded jettatura as well as his blessing. If Maurice Kirkwood carried
that destructive influence, so that his clear blue eyes were more to be
feared than the fascinations of the deadliest serpent, it could easily
be understood why he kept his look away from all around him whom he
feared he might harm.

No sensible person in Arrowhead Village really believed in the evil
eye, but it served the purpose of a temporary hypothesis, as do many
suppositions which we take as a nucleus for our observations without
putting any real confidence in them. It was just suited to the romantic
notions of the more flighty persons in the village, who had meddled more
or less with Spiritualism, and were ready for any new fancy, if it were
only wild enough.

The riddle of the young stranger’s peculiarity did not seem likely to
find any very speedy solution. Every new suggestion furnished talk for
the gossips of the village and the babble of the many tongues in the two
educational institutions. Naturally, the discussion was liveliest among
the young ladies. Here is an extract from a letter of one of these young
ladies, who, having received at her birth the ever-pleasing name of
Mary, saw fit to have herself called Mollie in the catalogue and in her
letters. The old postmaster of the town to which her letter was directed
took it up to stamp, and read on the envelope the direction to “Miss
Lulu Pinrow.” He brought the stamp down with a vicious emphasis, coming
very near blotting out the nursery name, instead of cancelling the
postage-stamp. “Lulu!” he exclaimed. “I should like to know if that
great strapping girl isn’t out of her cradle yet! I suppose Miss Louisa
will think that belongs to her, but I saw her christened and I heard
the name the minister gave her, and it was n’t ‘Lulu,’ or any such baby
nonsense.” And so saying, he gave it a fling to the box marked P, as if
it burned his fingers. Why a grown-up young woman allowed herself to be
cheapened in the way so many of them do by the use of names which become
them as well as the frock of a ten-year-old schoolgirl would become a
graduate of the Corinna Institute, the old postmaster could not guess.
He was a queer old man.

The letter thus scornfully treated runs over with a young girl’s written
loquacity:

“Oh, Lulu, there is such a sensation as you never saw or heard of ‘in
all your born days,’ as mamma used to say. He has been at the village
for some time, but lately we have had--oh, the weirdest stories about
him! ‘The Mysterious Stranger is the name some give him, but we girls
call him the Sachem, because he paddles about in an Indian canoe. If I
should tell you all the things that are said about him I should use up
all my paper ten times over. He has never made a visit to the Institute,
and none of the girls have ever spoken to him, but the people at the
village say he is very, very handsome. We are dying to get a look at
him, of course--though there is a horrid story about him--that he has
the evil eye did you ever hear about the evil eye? If a person who is
born with it looks at you, you die, or something happens--awful--is n’t
it?

“The rector says he never goes to church, but then you know a good many
of the people that pass the summer at the village never do--they
think their religion must have vacations--that’s what I’ve heard they
say--vacations, just like other hard work--it ought not to be hard work,
I’m sure, but I suppose they feel so about it. Should you feel afraid to
have him look at you? Some of the girls say they would n’t have him
for the whole world, but I shouldn’t mind it--especially if I had on my
eyeglasses. Do you suppose if there is anything in the evil eye it would
go through glass? I don’t believe it. Do you think blue eye-glasses
would be better than common ones? Don’t laugh at me--they tell such
weird stories! The Terror--Lurida Vincent, you know-makes fun of all
they say about it, but then she ‘knows everything and doesn’t believe
anything,’ the girls say--Well, I should be awfully scared, I know,
if anybody that had the evil eye should look at me--but--oh, I
don’t know--but if it was a young man--and if he was very--very
good-looking--I think--perhaps I would run the risk--but don’t tell
anybody I said any such horrid thing--and burn this letter right
up--there ‘s a dear good girl.”

It is to be hoped that no reader will doubt the genuineness of this
letter. There are not quite so many “awfuls” and “awfullys” as one
expects to find in young ladies’ letters, but there are two “weirds,”
 which may be considered a fair allowance. How it happened that “jolly”
 did not show itself can hardly be accounted for; no doubt it turns up
two or three times at least in the postscript.

Here is an extract from another letter. This was from one of the
students of Stoughton University to a friend whose name as it was
written on the envelope was Mr. Frank Mayfield. The old postmaster
who found fault with Miss “Lulu’s” designation would probably have
quarrelled with this address, if it had come under his eye. “Frank” is
a very pretty, pleasant-sounding name, and it is not strange that many
persons use it in common conversation all their days when speaking of a
friend. Were they really christened by that name, any of these numerous
Franks? Perhaps they were, and if so there is nothing to be said. But
if not, was the baptismal name Francis or Franklin? The mind is apt to
fasten in a very perverse and unpleasant way upon this question, which
too often there is no possible way of settling. One might hope, if he
outlived the bearer of the appellation, to get at the fact; but since
even gravestones have learned to use the names belonging to childhood
and infancy in their solemn record, the generation which docks its
Christian names in such an un-Christian way will bequeath whole
churchyards full of riddles to posterity. How it will puzzle and
distress the historians and antiquarians of a coming generation to
settle what was the real name of Dan and Bert and Billy, which last is
legible on a white marble slab, raised in memory of a grown person, in a
certain burial-ground in a town in Essex County, Massachusetts!

But in the mean time we are forgetting the letter directed to Mr. Frank
Mayfield.

“DEAR FRANK,--Hooray! Hurrah! Rah!

“I have made the acquaintance of ‘The Mysterious Stranger’! It happened
by a queer sort of accident, which came pretty near relieving you of
the duty of replying to this letter. I was out in my little boat, which
carries a sail too big for her, as I know and ought to have remembered.
One of those fitful flaws of wind to which the lake is so liable struck
the sail suddenly, and over went my boat. My feet got tangled in the
sheet somehow, and I could not get free. I had hard work to keep my head
above water, and I struggled desperately to escape from my toils; for if
the boat were to go down I should be dragged down with her. I thought
of a good many things in the course of some four or five minutes, I can
tell you, and I got a lesson about time better than anything Kant and
all the rest of them have to say of it. After I had been there about an
ordinary lifetime, I saw a white canoe making toward me, and I knew that
our shy young gentleman was coming to help me, and that we should become
acquainted without an introduction. So it was, sure enough. He saw what
the trouble was, managed to disentangle my feet without drowning me in
the process or upsetting his little flimsy craft, and, as I was somewhat
tired with my struggle, took me in tow and carried me to the landing
where he kept his canoe. I can’t say that there is anything odd about
his manners or his way of talk. I judge him to be a native of one of our
Northern States,--perhaps a New Englander. He has lived abroad during
some parts of his life. He is not an artist, as it was at one time
thought he might be. He is a good-looking fellow, well developed, manly
in appearance, with nothing to excite special remark unless it be a
certain look of anxiety or apprehension which comes over him from time
to time. You remember our old friend Squire B., whose companion was
killed by lightning when he was standing close to him. You know the look
he had whenever anything like a thundercloud came up in the sky. Well, I
should say there was a look like that came over this Maurice Kirkwood’s
face every now and then. I noticed that he looked round once or twice as
if to see whether some object or other was in sight. There was a little
rustling in the grass as if of footsteps, and this look came over his
features. A rabbit ran by us, and I watched to see if he showed any sign
of that antipathy we have heard so much of, but he seemed to be pleased
watching the creature.

“If you ask me what my opinion is about this Maurice Kirkwood, I think
he is eccentric in his habit of life, but not what they call a ‘crank’
exactly. He talked well enough about such matters as we spoke of,--the
lake, the scenery in general, the climate. I asked him to come over
and take a look at the college. He did n’t promise, but I should not be
surprised if I should get him over there some day. I asked him why he
did n’t go to the Pansophian meetings. He did n’t give any reason, but
he shook his head in a very peculiar way, as much as to say that it was
impossible.

“On the whole, I think it is nothing more than the same feeling of dread
of human society, or dislike for it, which under the name of religion
used to drive men into caves and deserts. What a pity that Protestantism
does not make special provision for all the freaks of individual
character! If we had a little more faith and a few more caverns, or
convenient places for making them, we should have hermits in these holes
as thick as woodchucks or prairie dogs. I should like to know if you
never had the feeling,


   “‘Oh, that the desert were my dwelling-place!’

“I know what your answer will be, of course. You will say, ‘Certainly,


   “‘With one fair spirit for my minister;’”

“but I mean alone,--all alone. Don’t you ever feel as if you should like
to have been a pillar-saint in the days when faith was as strong as
lye (spelt with a y), instead of being as weak as dish-water? (Jerry is
looking over my shoulder, and says this pun is too bad to send, and a
disgrace to the University--but never mind.) I often feel as if I should
like to roost on a pillar a hundred feet high,--yes, and have it soaped
from top to bottom. Wouldn’t it be fun to look down at the bores and
the duns? Let us get up a pillar-roosters’ association. (Jerry--still
looking over says there is an absurd contradiction in the idea.)

“What a matter-of-fact idiot Jerry is!

“How do you like looking over, Mr. Inspector general?”

The reader will not get much information out of this lively young
fellow’s letter, but he may get a little. It is something to know that
the mysterious resident of Arrowhead Village did not look nor talk like
a crazy person; that he was of agreeable aspect and address, helpful
when occasion offered, and had nothing about him, so far as yet
appeared, to prevent his being an acceptable member of society.

Of course the people in the village could never be contented without
learning everything there was to be learned about their visitor. All
the city papers were examined for advertisements. If a cashier had
absconded, if a broker had disappeared, if a railroad president was
missing, some of the old stories would wake up and get a fresh currency,
until some new circumstance gave rise to a new hypothesis. Unconscious
of all these inquiries and fictions, Maurice Kirkwood lived on in his
inoffensive and unexplained solitude, and seemed likely to remain an
unsolved enigma. The “Sachem” of the boating girls became the “Sphinx”
 of the village ramblers, and it was agreed on all hands that Egypt did
not hold any hieroglyphics harder to make out than the meaning of this
young man’s odd way of living.



V. THE ENIGMA STUDIED.

It was a curious, if it was not a suspicious, circumstance that a young
man, seemingly in good health, of comely aspect, looking as if made for
companionship, should keep himself apart from all the world around him
in a place where there was a general feeling of good neighborhood and a
pleasant social atmosphere. The Public Library was a central point which
brought people together. The Pansophian Society did a great deal to make
them acquainted with each other for many of the meetings were open to
outside visitors, and the subjects discussed in the meetings furnished
the material for conversation in their intervals. A card of invitation
had been sent by the Secretary to Maurice, in answer to which Paolo
carried back a polite note of regret. The paper had a narrow rim of
black, implying apparently some loss of relative or friend, but not
any very recent and crushing bereavement. This refusal to come to the
meetings of the society was only what was expected. It was proper to ask
him, but his declining the invitation showed that he did not wish for
attentions or courtesies. There was nothing further to be done to bring
him out of his shell, and seemingly nothing more to be learned about him
at present.

In this state of things it was natural that all which had been
previously gathered by the few who had seen or known anything of him
should be worked over again. When there is no new ore to be dug, the old
refuse heaps are looked over for what may still be found in them. The
landlord of the Anchor Tavern, now the head of the boarding-house,
talked about Maurice, as everybody in the village did at one time or
another. He had not much to say, but he added a fact or two.

The young gentleman was good pay,--so they all said. Sometimes he paid
in gold; sometimes in fresh bills, just out of the bank. He trusted his
man, Mr. Paul, with the money to pay his bills. He knew something about
horses; he showed that by the way he handled that colt,--the one that
threw the hostler and broke his collar-bone. “Mr. Paul come down to the
stable. ‘Let me see that cult you all ‘fraid of,’ says he. ‘My master,
he ride any hoss,’ says Paul. ‘You saddle him,’ says he; and so they
did, and Paul, he led that colt--the kickinest and ugliest young beast
you ever see in your life--up to the place where his master, as he calls
him, and he lives. What does that Kirkwood do but clap on a couple of
long spurs and jump on to that colt’s back, and off the beast goes, tail
up, heels flying, standing up on end, trying all sorts of capers, and at
last going it full run for a couple of miles, till he’d got about enough
of it. That colt went off as ferce as a wild-cat, and come back as quiet
as a cosset lamb. A man that pays his bills reg’lar, in good money, and
knows how to handle a hoss is three quarters of a gentleman, if he is
n’t a whole one,--and most likely he is a whole one.”

So spake the patriarch of the Anchor Tavern. His wife had already given
her favorable opinion of her former guest. She now added something to
her description as a sequel to her husband’s remarks.

“I call him,” she said, “about as likely a young gentleman as ever I
clapped my eyes on. He is rather slighter than I like to see a young
man of his age; if he was my son, I should like to see him a little
more fleshy. I don’t believe he weighs more than a hundred and thirty
or forty pounds. Did y’ ever look at those eyes of his, M’randy? Just as
blue as succory flowers. I do like those light-complected young fellows,
with their fresh cheeks and their curly hair; somehow, curly hair doos
set off anybody’s face. He is n’t any foreigner, for all that he talks
Italian with that Mr. Paul that’s his help. He looks just like our
kind of folks, the college kind, that’s brought up among books, and is
handling ‘em, and reading of ‘em, and making of ‘em, as like as not, all
their lives. All that you say about his riding the mad colt is just what
I should think he was up to, for he’s as spry as a squirrel; you ought
to see him go over that fence, as I did once. I don’t believe there’s
any harm in that young gentleman,--I don’t care what people say. I
suppose he likes this place just as other people like it, and cares more
for walking in the woods and paddling about in the water than he doos
for company; and if he doos, whose business is it, I should like to
know?”

The third of the speakers was Miranda, who had her own way of judging
people.

“I never see him but two or three times,” Miranda said. “I should like
to have waited on him, and got a chance to look stiddy at him when he
was eatin’ his vittles. That ‘s the time to watch folks, when their jaws
get a-goin’ and their eyes are on what’s afore ‘em. Do you remember that
chap the sheriff come and took away when we kep’ tahvern? Eleven year
ago it was, come nex’ Thanksgivin’ time. A mighty grand gentleman from
the City he set up for. I watched him, and I watched him. Says I, I
don’t believe you’re no gentleman, says I. He eat with his knife, and
that ain’t the way city folks eats. Every time I handed him anything
I looked closeter and closeter. Them whiskers never grooved on them
cheeks, says I to myself. Them ‘s paper collars, says I. That dimun in
your shirt-front hain’t got no life to it, says I. I don’t believe it’s
nothin’ more ‘n a bit o’ winderglass. So says I to Pushee, ‘You jes’
step out and get the sheriff to come in and take a look at that chap.’
I knowed he was after a fellah. He come right in, an’ he goes up to the
chap. ‘Why, Bill,’ says he, ‘I’m mighty glad to see yer. We’ve had the
hole in the wall you got out of mended, and I want your company to
come and look at the old place,’ says he, and he pulls out a couple of
handcuffs and has ‘em on his wrists in less than no time, an’ off
they goes together! I know one thing about that young gentleman,
anyhow,--there ain’t no better judge of what’s good eatin’ than he is.
I cooked him some maccaroni myself one day, and he sends word to me by
that Mr. Paul, ‘Tell Miss Miranda,’ says he, I that the Pope o’ Rome
don’t have no better cooked maccaroni than what she sent up to me
yesterday,’ says he. I don’ know much about the Pope o’ Rome except that
he’s a Roman Catholic, and I don’ know who cooks for him, whether it’s a
man or a woman; but when it comes to a dish o’ maccaroni, I ain’t afeard
of their shefs, as they call ‘em,--them he-cooks that can’t serve up a
cold potater without callin’ it by some name nobody can say after ‘em.
But this gentleman knows good cookin’, and that’s as good a sign of a
gentleman as I want to tell ‘em by.”



VI. STILL AT FAULT.

The house in which Maurice Kirkwood had taken up his abode was not
a very inviting one. It was old, and had been left in a somewhat
dilapidated and disorderly condition by the tenants who had lived in the
part which Maurice now occupied. They had piled their packing-boxes
in the cellar, with broken chairs, broken china, and other household
wrecks. A cracked mirror lay on an old straw mattress, the contents
of which were airing themselves through wide rips and rents. A lame
clothes-horse was saddled with an old rug fringed with a ragged border,
out of which all the colors had been completely trodden. No woman would
have gone into a house in such a condition. But the young man did not
trouble himself much about such matters, and was satisfied when the
rooms which were to be occupied by himself and his servant were made
decent and tolerably comfortable. During the fine season all this was
not of much consequence, and if Maurice made up his mind to stay through
the winter he would have his choice among many more eligible places.

The summer vacation of the Corinna Institute had now arrived, and the
young ladies had scattered to their homes. Among the graduates of the
year were Miss Euthymia Tower and Miss Lurida Vincent, who had now
returned to their homes in Arrowhead Village. They were both glad to
rest after the long final examinations and the exercises of the closing
day, in which each of them had borne a conspicuous part. It was a
pleasant life they led in the village, which was lively enough at
this season. Walking, riding, driving, boating, visits to the Library,
meetings of the Pansophian Society, hops, and picnics made the time
pass very cheerfully, and soon showed their restoring influences. The
Terror’s large eyes did not wear the dull, glazed look by which they had
too often betrayed the after effects of over-excitement of the strong
and active brain behind them. The Wonder gained a fresher bloom, and
looked full enough of life to radiate vitality into a statue of ice.
They had a boat of their own, in which they passed many delightful
hours on the lake, rowing, drifting, reading, telling of what had been,
dreaming of what might be.

The Library was one of the chief centres of the fixed population, and
visited often by strangers. The old Librarian was a peculiar character,
as these officials are apt to be. They have a curious kind of knowledge,
sometimes immense in its way. They know the backs of books, their
title-pages, their popularity or want of it, the class of readers who
call for particular works, the value of different editions, and a good
deal besides. Their minds catch up hints from all manner of works on all
kinds of subjects. They will give a visitor a fact and a reference which
they are surprised to find they remember and which the visitor might
have hunted for a year. Every good librarian, every private book-owner,
who has grown into his library, finds he has a bunch of nerves going to
every bookcase, a branch to every shelf, and a twig to every book. These
nerves get very sensitive in old librarians, sometimes, and they do not
like to have a volume meddled with any more than they would like to have
their naked eyes handled. They come to feel at last that the books of
a great collection are a part, not merely of their own property, though
they are only the agents for their distribution, but that they are, as
it were, outlying portions of their own organization. The old Librarian
was getting a miserly feeling about his books, as he called them.
Fortunately, he had a young lady for his assistant, who was never so
happy as when she could find the work any visitor wanted and put it in
his hands,--or her hands, for there were more readers among the wives
and--daughters, and especially among the aunts, than there were among
their male relatives. The old Librarian knew the books, but the books
seemed to know the young assistant; so it looked, at least, to the
impatient young people who wanted their services.

Maurice had a good many volumes of his own,--a great many, according to
Paolo’s account; but Paolo’s ideas were limited, and a few well-filled
shelves seemed a very large collection to him. His master frequently
sent him to the Public Library for books, which somewhat enlarged his
notions; still, the Signor was a very learned man, he was certain, and
some of his white books (bound in vellum and richly gilt) were more
splendid, according to Paolo, than anything in the Library.

There was no little curiosity to know what were the books that Maurice
was in the habit of taking out, and the Librarian’s record was carefully
searched by some of the more inquisitive investigators. The list proved
to be a long and varied one. It would imply a considerable knowledge
of modern languages and of the classics; a liking for mathematics and
physics, especially all that related to electricity and magnetism; a
fancy for the occult sciences, if there is any propriety in coupling
these words; and a whim for odd and obsolete literature, like
the Parthenologia of Fortunius Licetus, the quaint treatise ‘De
Sternutatione,’ books about alchemy, and witchcraft, apparitions, and
modern works relating to Spiritualism. With these were the titles of
novels and now and then of books of poems; but it may be taken for
granted that his own shelves held the works he was most frequently in
the habit of reading or consulting. Not much was to be made out of this
beyond the fact of wide scholarship,--more or less deep it might be, but
at any rate implying no small mental activity; for he appeared to read
very rapidly, at any rate exchanged the books he had taken out for new
ones very frequently. To judge by his reading, he was a man of letters.
But so wide-reading a man of letters must have an object, a literary
purpose in all probability. Why should not he be writing a novel? Not
a novel of society, assuredly, for a hermit is not the person to
report the talk and manners of a world which he has nothing to do with.
Novelists and lawyers understand the art of “cramming” better than any
other persons in the world. Why should not this young man be working
up the picturesque in this romantic region to serve as a background for
some story with magic, perhaps, and mysticism, and hints borrowed from
science, and all sorts of out-of-the-way knowledge which his odd and
miscellaneous selection of books furnished him? That might be, or
possibly he was only reading for amusement. Who could say?

The funds of the Public Library of Arrowhead Village allowed the
managers to purchase many books out of the common range of reading. The
two learned people of the village were the rector and the doctor. These
two worthies kept up the old controversy between the professions, which
grows out of the fact that one studies nature from below upwards, and
the other from above downwards. The rector maintained that physicians
contracted a squint which turns their eyes inwardly, while the muscles
which roll their eyes upward become palsied. The doctor retorted
that theological students developed a third eyelid,--the nictitating
membrane, which is so well known in birds, and which serves to shut
out, not all light, but all the light they do not want. Their little
skirmishes did not prevent their being very good friends, who had
a common interest in many things and many persons. Both were on the
committee which had the care of the Library and attended to the purchase
of books. Each was scholar enough to know the wants of scholars, and
disposed to trust the judgment of the other as to what books should
be purchased. Consequently, the clergyman secured the addition to the
Library of a good many old theological works which the physician would
have called brimstone divinity, and held to be just the thing to kindle
fires with,--good books still for those who know how to use them,
oftentimes as awful examples of the extreme of disorganization the
whole moral system may undergo when a barbarous belief has strangled the
natural human instincts. The physician, in the mean time, acquired for
the collection some of those medical works where one may find recorded
various rare and almost incredible cases, which may not have their like
for a whole century, and then repeat themselves, so as to give a new
lease of credibility to stories which had come to be looked upon as
fables.

Both the clergyman and the physician took a very natural interest in the
young man who had come to reside in their neighborhood for the present,
perhaps for a long period. The rector would have been glad to see him
at church. He would have liked more especially to have had him hear his
sermon on the Duties of Young Men to Society. The doctor, meanwhile, was
meditating on the duties of society to young men, and wishing that he
could gain the young man’s confidence, so as to help him out of any
false habit of mind or any delusion to which he might be subject, if he
had the power of being useful to him.

Dr. Butts was the leading medical practitioner, not only of Arrowhead
Village, but of all the surrounding region. He was an excellent specimen
of the country doctor, self-reliant, self-sacrificing, working a great
deal harder for his living than most of those who call themselves the
laboring classes,--as if none but those whose hands were hardened by the
use of farming or mechanical implements had any work to do. He had that
sagacity without which learning is a mere incumbrance, and he had also
a fair share of that learning without which sagacity is like a
traveller with a good horse, but who cannot read the directions on the
guideboards. He was not a man to be taken in by names. He well knew that
oftentimes very innocent-sounding words mean very grave disorders; that
all, degrees of disease and disorder are frequently confounded under the
same term; that “run down” may stand for a fatigue of mind or body from
which a week or a month of rest will completely restore the over-worked
patient, or an advanced stage of a mortal illness; that “seedy”
 may signify the morning’s state of feeling, after an evening’s
over-indulgence, which calls for a glass of soda-water and a cup of
coffee, or a dangerous malady which will pack off the subject of it, at
the shortest notice, to the south of France. He knew too well that what
is spoken lightly of as a “nervous disturbance” may imply that the whole
machinery of life is in a deranged condition, and that every individual
organ would groan aloud if it had any other language than the terrible
inarticulate one of pain by which to communicate with the consciousness.

When, therefore, Dr. Butts heard the word antipatia he did not smile,
and say to himself that this was an idle whim, a foolish fancy, which
the young man had got into his head. Neither was he satisfied to
set down everything to the account of insanity, plausible as that
supposition might seem. He was prepared to believe in some exceptional,
perhaps anomalous, form of exaggerated sensibility, relating to what
class of objects he could not at present conjecture, but which was as
vital to the subject of it as the insulating arrangement to a piece
of electrical machinery. With this feeling he began to look into the
history of antipathies as recorded in all the books and journals on
which he could lay his hands.


       ------------------------------

The holder of the Portfolio asks leave to close it for a brief interval.
He wishes to say a few words to his readers, before offering them some
verses which have no connection with the narrative now in progress.

If one could have before him a set of photographs taken annually,
representing the same person as he or she appeared for thirty or forty
or fifty years, it would be interesting to watch the gradual changes of
aspect from the age of twenty, or even of thirty or forty, to that of
threescore and ten. The face might be an uninteresting one; still,
as sharing the inevitable changes wrought by time, it would be worth
looking at as it passed through the curve of life,--the vital parabola,
which betrays itself in the symbolic changes of the features. An
inscription is the same thing, whether we read it on slate-stone, or
granite, or marble. To watch the lights and shades, the reliefs and
hollows, of a countenance through a lifetime, or a large part of it, by
the aid of a continuous series of photographs would not only be curious;
it would teach us much more about the laws of physiognomy than we could
get from casual and unconnected observations.

The same kind of interest, without any assumption of merit to be found
in them, I would claim for a series of annual poems, beginning in middle
life and continued to what many of my correspondents are pleased to
remind me--as if I required to have the fact brought to my knowledge--is
no longer youth. Here is the latest of a series of annual poems
read during the last thirty-four years. There seems to have been one
interruption, but there may have been other poems not recorded or
remembered. This, the latest poem of the series, was listened to by the
scanty remnant of what was a large and brilliant circle of classmates
and friends when the first of the long series was read before them, then
in the flush of ardent manhood:--


     THE OLD SONG.

   The minstrel of the classic lay
   Of love and wine who sings
   Still found the fingers run astray
   That touched the rebel strings.

   Of Cadmus he would fair have sung,
   Of Atreus and his line;
   But all the jocund echoes rung
   With songs of love and wine.

   Ah, brothers! I would fair have caught
   Some fresher fancy’s gleam;
   My truant accents find, unsought,
   The old familiar theme.

   Love, Love! but not the sportive child
   With shaft and twanging bow,
   Whose random arrows drove us wild
   Some threescore years ago;

   Not Eros, with his joyous laugh,
   The urchin blind and bare,
   But Love, with spectacles and staff,
   And scanty, silvered hair.

   Our heads with frosted locks are white,
   Our roofs are thatched with snow,
   But red, in chilling winter’s spite,
   Our hearts and hearthstones glow.

   Our old acquaintance, Time, drops in,
   And while the running sands
   Their golden thread unheeded spin,
   He warms his frozen hands.

   Stay, winged hours, too swift, too sweet,
   And waft this message o’er
   To all we miss, from all we meet
   On life’s fast-crumbling shore:

   Say that to old affection true
   We hug the narrowing chain
   That binds our hearts,--alas, how few
   The links that yet remain!

   The fatal touch awaits them all
   That turns the rocks to dust;
   From year to year they break and fall,
   They break, but never rust.

   Say if one note of happier strain
   This worn-out harp afford,
   --One throb that trembles, not in vain,
   Their memory lent its chord.

   Say that when Fancy closed her wings
   And Passion quenched his fire,
   Love, Love, still echoed from the strings
   As from Anacreon’s lyre!

   January 8, 1885.



VII. A RECORD OF ANTIPATHIES

In thinking the whole matter over, Dr. Butts felt convinced that, with
care and patience and watching his opportunity, he should get at the
secret, which so far had yielded nothing but a single word. It might
be asked why he was so anxious to learn what, from all appearances, the
young stranger was unwilling to explain. He may have been to some extent
infected by the general curiosity of the persons around him, in which
good Mrs. Butts shared, and which she had helped to intensify by
revealing the word dropped by Paolo. But this was not really his
chief motive. He could not look upon this young man, living a life
of unwholesome solitude, without a natural desire to do all that his
science and his knowledge of human nature could help him to do towards
bringing him into healthy relations with the world about him. Still,
he would not intrude upon him in any way. He would only make certain
general investigations, which might prove serviceable in case
circumstances should give him the right to counsel the young man as
to his course of life. The first thing to be done was to study
systematically the whole subject of antipathies. Then, if any further
occasion offered itself, he would be ready to take advantage of it.
The resources of the Public Library of the place and his own private
collection were put in requisition to furnish him the singular and
widely scattered facts of which he was in search.

It is not every reader who will care to follow Dr. Butts in his study
of the natural history of antipathies. The stories told about them are,
however, very curious; and if some of them may be questioned, there is
no doubt that many of the strangest are true, and consequently take away
from the improbability of others which we are disposed to doubt.

But in the first place, what do we mean by an antipathy? It is an
aversion to some object, which may vary in degree from mere dislike to
mortal horror. What the cause of this aversion is we cannot say. It
acts sometimes through the senses, sometimes through the imagination,
sometimes through an unknown channel. The relations which exist between
the human being and all that surrounds him vary in consequence of some
adjustment peculiar to each individual. The brute fact is expressed in
the phrase “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

In studying the history of antipathies the doctor began with those
referable to the sense of taste, which are among the most common. In
any collection of a hundred persons there will be found those who cannot
make use of certain articles of food generally acceptable. This may be
from the disgust they occasion or the effects they have been found to
produce. Every one knows individuals who cannot venture on honey, or
cheese, or veal, with impunity. Carlyle, for example, complains of
having veal set before him,--a meat he could not endure. There is a
whole family connection in New England, and that a very famous one, to
many of whose members, in different generations, all the products of the
dairy are the subjects of a congenital antipathy. Montaigne says there
are persons who dread the smell of apples more than they would dread
being exposed to a fire of musketry. The readers of the charming story
“A Week in a French Country-House” will remember poor Monsieur Jacque’s
piteous cry in the night: “Ursula, art thou asleep? Oh, Ursula, thou
sleepest, but I cannot close my eyes. Dearest Ursula, there is such
a dreadful smell! Oh, Ursula, it is such a smell! I do so wish thou
couldst smell it! Good-night, my angel!----Dearest! I have found them!
They are apples!” The smell of roses, of peonies, of lilies, has been
known to cause faintness. The sight of various objects has had singular
effects on some persons. A boar’s head was a favorite dish at the table
of great people in Marshal d’Albret’s time; yet he used to faint at the
sight of one. It is not uncommon to meet with persons who faint at the
sight of blood. One of the most inveterately pugnacious of Dr. Butts’s
college-mates confessed that he had this infirmity. Stranger and far
more awkward than this is the case mentioned in an ancient collection,
where the subject of the antipathy fainted at the sight of any object of
a red color. There are sounds, also, which have strange effects on
some individuals. Among the obnoxious noises are the crumpling of silk
stuffs, the sound of sweeping, the croaking of frogs. The effects
in different cases have been spasms, a sense of strangling, profuse
sweating,--all showing a profound disturbance of the nervous system.

All these effects were produced by impressions on the organs of sense,
seemingly by direct agency on certain nerve centres. But there is
another series of cases in which the imagination plays a larger part
in the phenomena. Two notable examples are afforded in the lives of two
very distinguished personages.

Peter the Great was frightened, when an infant, by falling from a bridge
into the water. Long afterward, when he had reached manhood, this hardy
and resolute man was so affected by the sound of wheels rattling over a
bridge that he had to discipline himself by listening to the sound, in
spite of his dread of it, in order to overcome his antipathy. The story
told by Abbe Boileau of Pascal is very similar to that related of Peter.
As he was driving in his coach and four over the bridge at Neuilly,
his horses took fright and ran away, and the leaders broke from their
harness and sprang into the river, leaving the wheel-horses and the
carriage on the bridge. Ever after this fright it is said that Pascal
had the terrifying sense that he was just on the edge of an abyss, ready
to fall over.

What strange early impression was it which led a certain lady always to
shriek aloud if she ventured to enter a church, as it is recorded? The
old and simple way of accounting for it would be the scriptural one,
that it was an unclean spirit who dwelt in her, and who, when she
entered the holy place and brought her spiritual tenant into the
presence of the sacred symbols, “cried with a loud voice, and came out
of” her. A very singular case, the doctor himself had recorded, and
which the reader may accept as authentic, is the following: At the head
of the doctor’s front stairs stood, and still stands, a tall clock, of
early date and stately presence. A middle-aged visitor, noticing it
as he entered the front door, remarked that he should feel a great
unwillingness to pass that clock. He could not go near one of those tall
timepieces without a profound agitation, which he dreaded to undergo.
This very singular idiosyncrasy he attributed to a fright when he was an
infant in the arms of his nurse.

She was standing near one of those tall clocks, when the cord which
supported one of its heavy leaden weights broke, and the weight came
crashing down to the bottom of the case. Some effect must have been
produced upon the pulpy nerve centres from which they never recovered.
Why should not this happen, when we know that a sudden mental shock
may be the cause of insanity? The doctor remembered the verse of “The
Ancient Mariner:”


  “I moved my lips; the pilot shrieked
   And fell down in a fit;
   The holy hermit raised his eyes
   And prayed where he did sit.
   I took the oars; the pilot’s boy,
   Who now doth crazy go,
   Laughed loud and long, and all the while
   His eyes went to and fro.”

This is only poetry, it is true, but the poet borrowed the description
from nature, and the records of our asylums could furnish many cases
where insanity was caused by a sudden fright.

More than this, hardly a year passes that we do not read of some
person, a child commonly, killed outright by terror,--scared to death,
literally. Sad cases they often are, in which, nothing but a surprise
being intended, the shock has instantly arrested the movements on which
life depends. If a mere instantaneous impression can produce effects
like these, such an impression might of course be followed by
consequences less fatal or formidable, but yet serious in their nature.
If here and there a person is killed, as if by lightning, by a sudden
startling sight or sound, there must be more numerous cases in which
a terrible shock is produced by similar apparently insignificant
causes,--a shock which falls short of overthrowing the reason and does
not destroy life, yet leaves a lasting effect upon the subject of it.

This point, then, was settled in the mind of Dr. Butts, namely, that,
as a violent emotion caused by a sudden shock can kill or craze a human
being, there is no perversion of the faculties, no prejudice, no change
of taste or temper, no eccentricity, no antipathy, which such a cause
may not rationally account for. He would not be surprised, he said to
himself, to find that some early alarm, like that which was experienced
by Peter the Great or that which happened to Pascal, had broken some
spring in this young man’s nature, or so changed its mode of action as
to account for the exceptional remoteness of his way of life. But how
could any conceivable antipathy be so comprehensive as to keep a young
man aloof from all the world, and make a hermit of him? He did not
hate the human race; that was clear enough. He treated Paolo with great
kindness, and the Italian was evidently much attached to him. He had
talked naturally and pleasantly with the young man he had helped out of
his dangerous situation when his boat was upset. Dr. Butts heard that
he had once made a short visit to this young man, at his rooms in the
University. It was not misanthropy, therefore, which kept him solitary.
What could be broad enough to cover the facts of the case? Nothing that
the doctor could think of, unless it were some color, the sight of which
acted on him as it did on the individual before mentioned, who could not
look at anything red without fainting. Suppose this were a case of the
same antipathy. How very careful it would make the subject of it as to
where he went and with whom he consorted! Time and patience would be
pretty sure to bring out new developments, and physicians, of all men in
the world, know how to wait as well as how to labor.

Such were some of the crude facts as Dr. Butts found them in books or
gathered them from his own experience. He soon discovered that the story
had got about the village that Maurice Kirkwood was the victim of an
“antipathy,” whatever that word might mean in the vocabulary of the
people of the place. If he suspected the channel through which it had
reached the little community, and, spreading from that centre, the
country round, he did not see fit to make out of his suspicions a
domestic casus belli. Paolo might have mentioned it to others as well
as to himself. Maurice might have told some friend, who had divulged it.
But to accuse Mrs. Butts, good Mrs. Butts, of petit treason in telling
one of her husband’s professional secrets was too serious a matter to be
thought of. He would be a little more careful, he promised himself, the
next time, at any rate; for he had to concede, in spite of every wish to
be charitable in his judgment, that it was among the possibilities that
the worthy lady had forgotten the rule that a doctor’s patients must put
their tongues out, and a doctor’s wife must keep her tongue in.



VIII. THE PANSOPHIAN SOCIETY.

The Secretary of this association was getting somewhat tired of the
office, and the office was getting somewhat tired of him. It occurred
to the members of the Society that a little fresh blood infused into
it might stir up the general vitality of the organization. The woman
suffragists saw no reason why the place of Secretary need as a matter of
course be filled by a person of the male sex. They agitated, they
made domiciliary visits, they wrote notes to influential citizens, and
finally announced as their candidate the young lady who had won and
worn the school name of “The Terror,” who was elected. She was just the
person for the place: wide awake, with all her wits about her, full of
every kind of knowledge, and, above all, strong on points of order and
details of management, so that she could prompt the presiding officer,
to do which is often the most essential duty of a Secretary. The
President, the worthy rector, was good at plain sailing in the track of
the common moralities and proprieties, but was liable to get muddled
if anything came up requiring swift decision and off-hand speech. The
Terror had schooled herself in the debating societies of the Institute,
and would set up the President, when he was floored by an awkward
question, as easily as if he were a ninepin which had been bowled over.

It has been already mentioned that the Pansophian Society received
communications from time to time from writers outside of its own
organization. Of late these had been becoming more frequent. Many of
them were sent in anonymously, and as there were numerous visitors to
the village, and two institutions not far removed from it, both full
of ambitious and intelligent young persons, it was often impossible
to trace the papers to their authors. The new Secretary was alive with
curiosity, and as sagacious a little body as one might find if in want
of a detective. She could make a pretty shrewd guess whether a paper was
written by a young or old person, by one of her own sex or the other, by
an experienced hand or a novice.

Among the anonymous papers she received was one which exercised her
curiosity to an extraordinary degree. She felt a strong suspicion that
“the Sachem,” as the boat-crews used to call him, “the Recluse,” “the
Night-Hawk,” “the Sphinx,” as others named him, must be the author of
it. It appeared to her the production of a young person of a reflective,
poetical turn of mind. It was not a woman’s way of writing; at least,
so thought the Secretary. The writer had travelled much; had resided in
Italy, among other places. But so had many of the summer visitors and
residents of Arrowhead Village. The handwriting was not decisive; it
had some points of resemblance with the pencilled orders for books
which Maurice sent to the Library, but there were certain differences,
intentional or accidental, which weakened this evidence. There was an
undertone in the essay which was in keeping with the mode of life of the
solitary stranger. It might be disappointment, melancholy, or only the
dreamy sadness of a young person who sees the future he is to climb, not
as a smooth ascent, but as overhanging him like a cliff, ready to crush
him, with all his hopes and prospects. This interpretation may have been
too imaginative, but here is the paper, and the reader can form his own
opinion:


          MY THREE COMPANIONS.

“I have been from my youth upwards a wanderer. I do not mean constantly
flitting from one place to another, for my residence has often been
fixed for considerable periods. From time to time I have put down in a
notebook the impressions made upon me by the scenes through which I
have passed. I have long hesitated whether to let any of my notes appear
before the public. My fear has been that they were too subjective, to
use the metaphysician’s term,--that I have seen myself reflected in
Nature, and not the true aspects of Nature as she was meant to be
understood. One who should visit the Harz Mountains would see--might
see, rather his own colossal image shape itself on the morning mist. But
if in every mist that rises from the meadows, in every cloud that hangs
upon the mountain, he always finds his own reflection, we cannot accept
him as an interpreter of the landscape.

“There must be many persons present at the meetings of the Society to
which this paper is offered who have had experiences like that of its
author. They have visited the same localities, they have had many of
the same thoughts and feelings. Many, I have no doubt. Not all,--no, not
all. Others have sought the companionship of Nature; I have been driven
to it. Much of my life has been passed in that communion. These pages
record some of the intimacies I have formed with her under some of her
various manifestations.

“I have lived on the shore of the great ocean, where its waves broke
wildest and its voice rose loudest.

“I have passed whole seasons on the banks of mighty and famous rivers.

“I have dwelt on the margin of a tranquil lake, and floated through many
a long, long summer day on its clear waters.

“I have learned the ‘various language’ of Nature, of which poetry has
spoken,--at least, I have learned some words and phrases of it. I will
translate some of these as I best may into common speech.

“The OCEAN says to the dweller on its shores:--

“You are neither welcome nor unwelcome. I do not trouble myself with the
living tribes that come down to my waters. I have my own people, of
an older race than yours, that grow to mightier dimensions than your
mastodons and elephants; more numerous than all the swarms that fill
the air or move over the thin crust of the earth. Who are you that build
your palaces on my margin? I see your white faces as I saw the dark
faces of the tribes that came before you, as I shall look upon the
unknown family of mankind that will come after you. And what is your
whole human family but a parenthesis in a single page of my history? The
raindrops stereotyped themselves on my beaches before a living creature
left his footprints there. This horseshoe-crab I fling at your feet is
of older lineage than your Adam,--perhaps, indeed, you count your Adam
as one of his descendants. What feeling have I for you? Not scorn,
not hatred,--not love,--not loathing. No!---indifference,--blank
indifference to you and your affairs that is my feeling, say rather
absence of feeling, as regards you.---Oh yes, I will lap your feet, I
will cool you in the hot summer days, I will bear you up in my strong
arms, I will rock you on my rolling undulations, like a babe in his
cradle. Am I not gentle? Am I not kind? Am I not harmless? But hark! The
wind is rising, and the wind and I are rough playmates! What do you
say to my voice now? Do you see my foaming lips? Do you feel the rocks
tremble as my huge billows crash against them? Is not my anger terrible
as I dash your argosy, your thunder-bearing frigate, into fragments,
as you would crack an eggshell?--No, not anger; deaf, blind, unheeding
indifference,--that is all. Out of me all things arose; sooner or later,
into me all things subside. All changes around me; I change not. I
look not at you, vain man, and your frail transitory concerns, save in
momentary glimpses: I look on the white face of my dead mistress, whom
I follow as the bridegroom follows the bier of her who has changed her
nuptial raiment for the shroud.

“Ye whose thoughts are of eternity, come dwell at my side. Continents
and islands grow old, and waste and disappear. The hardest rock
crumbles; vegetable and animal kingdoms come into being, wax great,
decline, and perish, to give way to others, even as human dynasties and
nations and races come and go. Look on me! ‘Time writes no wrinkle’ on
my forehead. Listen to me! All tongues are spoken on my shores, but I
have only one language: the winds taught me their vowels the crags and
the sands schooled me in my rough or smooth consonants. Few words are
mine but I have whispered them and sung them and shouted them to men of
all tribes from the time when the first wild wanderer strayed into my
awful presence. Have you a grief that gnaws at your heart-strings? Come
with it to my shore, as of old the priest of far-darting Apollo carried
his rage and anguish to the margin of the loud-roaring sea. There, if
anywhere you will forget your private and short-lived woe, for my voice
speaks to the infinite and the eternal in your consciousness.

“To him who loves the pages of human history, who listens to the voices
of the world about him, who frequents the market and the thoroughfare,
who lives in the study of time and its accidents rather than in the
deeper emotions, in abstract speculation and spiritual contemplation,
the RIVER addresses itself as his natural companion.

“Come live with me. I am active, cheerful, communicative, a natural
talker and story-teller. I am not noisy, like the ocean, except
occasionally when I am rudely interrupted, or when I stumble and get
a fall. When I am silent you can still have pleasure in watching my
changing features. My idlest babble, when I am toying with the trifles
that fall in my way, if not very full of meaning, is at least musical.
I am not a dangerous friend, like the ocean; no highway is absolutely
safe, but my nature is harmless, and the storms that strew the beaches
with wrecks cast no ruins upon my flowery borders. Abide with me, and
you shall not die of thirst, like the forlorn wretches left to the
mercies of the pitiless salt waves. Trust yourself to me, and I will
carry you far on your journey, if we are travelling to the same point of
the compass. If I sometimes run riot and overflow your meadows, I leave
fertility behind me when I withdraw to my natural channel. Walk by my
side toward the place of my destination. I will keep pace with you, and
you shall feel my presence with you as that of a self-conscious being
like yourself. You will find it hard to be miserable in my company; I
drain you of ill-conditioned thoughts as I carry away the refuse of your
dwelling and its grounds.”

But to him whom the ocean chills and crushes with its sullen
indifference, and the river disturbs with its never-pausing and
never-ending story, the silent LAKE shall be a refuge and a place of
rest for his soul.

“‘Vex not yourself with thoughts too vast for your limited faculties,’
it says; ‘yield not yourself to the babble of the running stream. Leave
the ocean, which cares nothing for you or any living thing that walks
the solid earth; leave the river, too busy with its own errand, too
talkative about its own affairs, and find peace with me, whose smile
will cheer you, whose whisper will soothe you. Come to me when the
morning sun blazes across my bosom like a golden baldric; come to me
in the still midnight, when I hold the inverted firmament like a cup
brimming with jewels, nor spill one star of all the constellations that
float in my ebon goblet. Do you know the charm of melancholy? Where will
you find a sympathy like mine in your hours of sadness? Does the ocean
share your grief? Does the river listen to your sighs? The salt wave,
that called to you from under last month’s full moon, to-day is
dashing on the rocks of Labrador; the stream, that ran by you pure and
sparkling, has swallowed the poisonous refuse of a great city, and is
creeping to its grave in the wide cemetery that buries all things in its
tomb of liquid crystal. It is true that my waters exhale and are renewed
from one season to another; but are your features the same, absolutely
the same, from year to year? We both change, but we know each other
through all changes. Am I not mirrored in those eyes of yours? And
does not Nature plant me as an eye to behold her beauties while she is
dressed in the glories of leaf and flower, and draw the icy lid over
my shining surface when she stands naked and ashamed in the poverty of
winter?’

“I have had strange experiences and sad thoughts in the course of a life
not very long, but with a record which much longer lives could not match
in incident. Oftentimes the temptation has come over me with dangerous
urgency to try a change of existence, if such change is a part of human
destiny,--to seek rest, if that is what we gain by laying down the
burden of life. I have asked who would be the friend to whom I should
appeal for the last service I should have need of. Ocean was there,
all ready, asking no questions, answering none. What strange voyages,
downward through its glaucous depths, upwards to its boiling and
frothing surface, wafted by tides, driven by tempests, disparted by rude
agencies; one remnant whitening on the sands of a northern beach,
one perhaps built into the circle of a coral reef in the Pacific, one
settling to the floor of the vast laboratory where continents are built,
to emerge in far-off ages! What strange companions for my pall-bearers!
Unwieldy sea-monsters, the stories of which are counted fables by the
spectacled collectors who think their catalogues have exhausted nature;
naked-eyed creatures, staring, glaring, nightmare-like spectres of
the ghastly-green abysses; pulpy islands, with life in gelatinous
immensity,--what a company of hungry heirs at every ocean funeral! No!
No! Ocean claims great multitudes, but does not invite the solitary who
would fain be rid of himself.

“Shall I seek a deeper slumber at the bottom of the lake I love than I
have ever found when drifting idly over its surface? No, again. I do not
want the sweet, clear waters to know me in the disgrace of nature, when
life, the faithful body-servant, has ceased caring for me. That must not
be. The mirror which has pictured me so often shall never know me as an
unwelcome object.

“If I must ask the all-subduing element to be my last friend, and lead
me out of my prison, it shall be the busy, whispering, not unfriendly,
pleasantly companionable river.

“But Ocean and River and Lake have certain relations to the periods
of human life which they who are choosing their places of abode should
consider. Let the child play upon the seashore. The wide horizon gives
his imagination room to grow in, untrammelled. That background of
mystery, without which life is a poor mechanical arrangement, is shaped
and colored, so far as it can have outline, or any hue but shadow, on a
vast canvas, the contemplation of which enlarges and enriches the sphere
of consciousness. The mighty ocean is not too huge to symbolize the
aspirations and ambitions of the yet untried soul of the adolescent.

“The time will come when his indefinite mental horizon has found a solid
limit, which shuts his prospect in narrower bounds than he would have
thought could content him in the years of undefined possibilities. Then
he will find the river a more natural intimate than the ocean. It
is individual, which the ocean, with all its gulfs and inlets and
multitudinous shores, hardly seems to be. It does not love you very
dearly, and will not miss you much when you disappear from its margin;
but it means well to you, bids you good-morning with its coming waves,
and good-evening with those which are leaving. It will lead your
thoughts pleasantly away, upwards to its source, downwards to the stream
to which it is tributary, or the wide waters in which it is to lose
itself. A river, by choice, to live by in middle age.

“In hours of melancholy reflection, in those last years of life which
have little left but tender memories, the still companionship of the
lake, embosomed in woods, sheltered, fed by sweet mountain brooks and
hidden springs, commends itself to the wearied and saddened spirit. I am
not thinking of those great inland seas, which have many of the features
and much of the danger that belong to the ocean, but of those ‘ponds,’
as our countrymen used to call them until they were rechristened by
summer visitors; beautiful sheets of water from a hundred to a few
thousand acres in extent, scattered like raindrops over the map of our
Northern sovereignties. The loneliness of contemplative old age finds
its natural home in the near neighborhood of one of these tranquil
basins.”

Nature does not always plant her poets where they belong, but if we look
carefully their affinities betray themselves. The youth will carry his
Byron to the rock which overlooks the ocean the poet loved so well. The
man of maturer years will remember that the sonorous couplets of Pope
which ring in his ears were written on the banks of the Thames. The old
man, as he nods over the solemn verse of Wordsworth, will recognize the
affinity between the singer and the calm sheet that lay before him as he
wrote,--the stainless and sleepy Windermere.

“The dwellers by Cedar Lake may find it an amusement to compare their
own feelings with those of one who has lived by the Atlantic and the
Mediterranean, by the Nile and the Tiber, by Lake Leman and by one of
the fairest sheets of water that our own North America embosoms in its
forests.”

Miss Lurida Vincent, Secretary of the Pansophian Society, read this
paper, and pondered long upon it. She was thinking very seriously of
studying medicine, and had been for some time in frequent communication
with Dr. Butts, under whose direction she had begun reading certain
treatises, which added to such knowledge of the laws of life in health
and in disease as she had brought with her from the Corinna Institute.
Naturally enough, she carried the anonymous paper to the doctor, to get
his opinion about it, and compare it with her own. They both agreed that
it was probably, they would not say certainly, the work of the solitary
visitor. There was room for doubt, for there were visitors who might
well have travelled to all the places mentioned, and resided long enough
on the shores of the waters the writer spoke of to have had all the
experiences mentioned in the paper. The Terror remembered a young lady,
a former schoolmate, who belonged to one of those nomadic families
common in this generation, the heads of which, especially the female
heads, can never be easy where they are, but keep going between America
and Europe, like so many pith-balls in the electrical experiment,
alternately attracted and repelled, never in contented equilibrium.
Every few years they pull their families up by the roots, and by the
time they have begun to take hold a little with their radicles in the
spots to which they have been successively transplanted up they come
again, so that they never get a tap-root anywhere. The Terror suspected
the daughter of one of these families of sending certain anonymous
articles of not dissimilar character to the one she had just received.
But she knew the style of composition common among the young girls,
and she could hardly believe that it was one of them who had sent this
paper. Could a brother of this young lady have written it? Possibly; she
knew nothing more than that the young lady had a brother, then a student
at the University. All the chances were that Mr. Maurice Kirkwood was
the author. So thought Lurida, and so thought Dr. Butts.

Whatever faults there were in this essay, it interested them both. There
was nothing which gave the least reason to suspect insanity on the part
of the writer, whoever he or she might be. There were references to
suicide, it is true, but they were of a purely speculative nature, and
did not look to any practical purpose in that direction. Besides, if the
stranger were the author of the paper, he certainly would not choose a
sheet of water like Cedar Lake to perform the last offices for him, in
case he seriously meditated taking unceremonious leave of life and its
accidents. He could find a river easily enough, to say nothing of other
methods of effecting his purpose; but he had committed himself as to the
impropriety of selecting a lake, so they need not be anxious about the
white canoe and its occupant, as they watched it skimming the surface of
the deep waters.

The holder of the Portfolio would never have ventured to come before
the public if he had not counted among his resources certain papers
belonging to the records of the Pansophian Society, which he can make
free use of, either for the illustration of the narrative, or for a
diversion during those intervals in which the flow of events is languid,
or even ceases for the time to manifest any progress. The reader can
hardly have failed to notice that the old Anchor Tavern had become the
focal point where a good deal of mental activity converged. There were
the village people, including a number of cultivated families; there
were the visitors, among them many accomplished and widely travelled
persons; there was the University, with its learned teachers and
aspiring young men; there was the Corinna Institute, with its eager,
ambitious, hungry-souled young women, crowding on, class after class
coming forward on the broad stream of liberal culture, and rounding
the point which, once passed, the boundless possibilities of womanhood
opened before them. All this furnished material enough and to spare for
the records and the archives of the society.

The new Secretary infused fresh life into the meetings. It may be
remembered that the girls had said of her, when she was The Terror, that
“she knew everything and didn’t believe anything.” That was just
the kind of person for a secretary of such an association. Properly
interpreted, the saying meant that she knew a great deal, and wanted to
know a great deal more, and was consequently always on the lookout for
information; that she believed nothing without sufficient proof that
it was true, and therefore was perpetually asking for evidence where,
others took assertions on trust.

It was astonishing to see what one little creature like The Terror could
accomplish in the course of a single season. She found out what each
member could do and wanted to do. She wrote to the outside visitors whom
she suspected of capacity, and urged them to speak at the meetings, or
send written papers to be read. As an official, with the printed title
at the head of her notes, PANSOPHIAN SOCIETY, she was a privileged
personage. She begged the young persons who had travelled to tell
something of their experiences. She had contemplated getting up a
discussion on the woman’s rights question, but being a wary little
body, and knowing that the debate would become a dispute and divide the
members into two hostile camps, she deferred this project indefinitely.
It would be time enough after she had her team well in hand, she said to
herself,--had felt their mouths and tried their paces. This expression,
as she used it in her thoughts, seems rather foreign to her habits, but
there was room in her large brain for a wide range of illustrations and
an ample vocabulary. She could not do much with her own muscles, but
she had known the passionate delight of being whirled furiously over
the road behind four scampering horses, in a rocking stage-coach, and
thought of herself in the Secretary’s chair as not unlike the driver
on his box. A few weeks of rest had allowed her nervous energy to store
itself up, and the same powers which had distanced competition in the
classes of her school had of necessity to expend themselves in vigorous
action in her new office.

Her appeals had their effect. A number of papers were very soon sent
in; some with names, some anonymously. She looked these papers over, and
marked those which she thought would be worth reading and listening to
at the meetings. One of them has just been presented to the reader. As
to the authorship of the following one there were many conjectures. A
well-known writer, who had spent some weeks at Arrowhead Village, was
generally suspected of being its author. Some, however, questioned
whether it was not the work of a new hand, who wrote, not from
experience, but from his or her ideas of the condition to which a
story-teller, a novelist, must in all probability be sooner or later
reduced. The reader must judge for himself whether this first paper is
the work of an old hand or a novice.


        SOME EXPERIENCES OF A NOVELIST.

“I have written a frightful number of stories, forty or more, I think.
Let me see. For twelve years two novels a year regularly: that makes
twenty-four. In three different years I have written three
stories annually: that makes thirty-three. In five years one a
year,--thirty-eight. That is all, is n’t it? Yes. Thirty-eight, not
forty. I wish I could make them all into one composite story, as Mr.
Galton does his faces.

“Hero--heroine--mamma--papa--uncle--sister, and so on. Love
--obstacles--misery--tears--despair--glimmer of hope--unexpected
solution of difficulties--happy finale.

“Landscape for background according to season. Plants of each month got
up from botanical calendars.

“I should like much to see the composite novel. Why not apply Mr.
Galton’s process, and get thirty-eight stories all in one? All the
Yankees would resolve into one Yankee, all the P----West Britons into
one Patrick, etc., what a saving of time it would be!

“I got along pretty well with my first few stories. I had some
characters around me which, a little disguised, answered well enough.
There was the minister of the parish, and there was an old schoolmaster
either of them served very satisfactorily for grandfathers and
old uncles. All I had to do was to shift some of their leading
peculiarities, keeping the rest. The old minister wore knee-breeches.
I clapped them on to the schoolmaster. The schoolmaster carried a tall
gold-headed cane. I put this in the minister’s hands. So with other
things,--I shifted them round, and got a set of characters who, taken
together, reproduced the chief persons of the village where I lived, but
did not copy any individual exactly. Thus it went on for a while; but
by and by my stock company began to be rather too familiarly known,
in spite of their change of costume, and at last some altogether too
sagacious person published what he called a ‘key’ to several of my
earlier stories, in which I found the names of a number of neighbors
attached to aliases of my own invention. All the ‘types,’ as he called
them, represented by these personages of my story had come to be
recognized, each as standing for one and the same individual of my
acquaintance. It had been of no use to change the costume. Even changing
the sex did no good. I had a famous old gossip in one of my tales,--a
much-babbling Widow Sertingly. ‘Sho!’ they all said, that ‘s old Deacon
Spinner, the same he told about in that other story of his,--only
the deacon’s got on a petticoat and a mob-cap,--but it’s the same old
sixpence.’ So I said to myself, I must have some new characters. I
had no trouble with young characters; they are all pretty much
alike,--dark-haired or light-haired, with the outfits belonging to their
complexion, respectively. I had an old great-aunt, who was a tip-top
eccentric. I had never seen anything just like her in books. So I said,
I will have you, old lady, in one of my stories; and, sure enough, I
fitted her out with a first-rate odd-sounding name, which I got from the
directory, and sent her forth to the world, disguised, as I supposed,
beyond the possibility of recognition. The book sold well, and the
eccentric personage was voted a novelty. A few weeks after it was
published a lawyer called upon me, as the agent of the person in the
directory, whose family name I had used, as he maintained, to his
and all his relatives’ great damage, wrong, loss, grief, shame, and
irreparable injury, for which the sum of blank thousand dollars would be
a modest compensation. The story made the book sell, but not enough
to pay blank thousand dollars. In the mean time a cousin of mine had
sniffed out the resemblance between the character in my book and our
great-aunt. We were rivals in her good graces. ‘Cousin Pansie’ spoke to
her of my book and the trouble it was bringing on me,--she was so sorry
about it! She liked my story,--only those personalities, you know. ‘What
personalities?’ says old granny-aunt. ‘Why, auntie, dear, they do say
that he has brought in everybody we know,--did n’t anybody tell you
about--well,--I suppose you ought to know it,--did n’t anybody tell you
you were made fun of in that novel?’ Somebody--no matter who--happened
to hear all this, and told me. She said granny-aunt’s withered old face
had two red spots come to it, as if she had been painting her cheeks
from a pink saucer. No, she said, not a pink saucer, but as if they
were two coals of fire. She sent out and got the book, and made her (the
somebody that I was speaking of) read it to her. When she had heard
as much as she could stand,--for ‘Cousin Pansie’ explained passages
to her,--explained, you know,--she sent for her lawyer, and that same
somebody had to be a witness to a new will she had drawn up. It was not
to my advantage. ‘Cousin Pansie’ got the corner lot where the grocery
is, and pretty much everything else. The old woman left me a legacy.
What do you think it was? An old set of my own books, that looked as if
it had been bought out of a bankrupt circulating library.

“After that I grew more careful. I studied my disguises much more
diligently. But after all, what could I do? Here I was, writing stories
for my living and my reputation. I made a pretty sum enough, and worked
hard enough to earn it. No tale, no money. Then every story that went
from my workshop had to come up to the standard of my reputation,
and there was a set of critics,--there is a set of critics now
and everywhere,--that watch as narrowly for the decline of a man’s
reputation as ever a village half drowned out by an inundation watched
for the falling of the waters. The fame I had won, such as it was,
seemed to attend me,--not going before me in the shape of a woman with
a trumpet, but rather following me like one of Actaeon’s hounds, his
throat open, ready to pull me down and tear me. What a fierce enemy
is that which bays behind us in the voice of our proudest bygone
achievement!

“But, as I said above, what could I do? I must write novels, and I must
have characters. ‘Then why not invent them?’ asks some novice. Oh, yes!
Invent them! You can invent a human being that in certain aspects
of humanity will answer every purpose for which your invention was
intended. A basket of straw, an old coat and pair of breeches, a hat
which has been soaked, sat upon, stuffed a broken window, and had a
brood of chickens raised in it,--these elements, duly adjusted to each
other, will represent humanity so truthfully that the crows will avoid
the cornfield when your scarecrow displays his personality. Do you
think you can make your heroes and heroines,--nay, even your scrappy
supernumeraries,--out of refuse material, as you made your scarecrow?
You can’t do it. You must study living people and reproduce them. And
whom do you know so well as your friends? You will show up your friends,
then, one after another. When your friends give out, who is left for
you? Why, nobody but your own family, of course. When you have used
up your family, there is nothing left for you but to write your
autobiography.

“After my experience with my grand-aunt, I be came more cautious, very
naturally. I kept traits of character, but I mixed ages as well as
sexes. In this way I continued to use up a large amount of material,
which looked as if it were as dangerous as dynamite to meddle with.
Who would have expected to meet my maternal uncle in the guise of a
schoolboy? Yet I managed to decant his characteristics as nicely as the
old gentleman would have decanted a bottle of Juno Madeira through that
long siphon which he always used when the most sacred vintages were
summoned from their crypts to render an account of themselves on his
hospitable board. It was a nice business, I confess, but I did it, and I
drink cheerfully to that good uncle’s memory in a glass of wine from
his own cellar, which, with many other more important tokens of his good
will, I call my own since his lamented demise.

“I succeeded so well with my uncle that I thought I would try a course
of cousins. I had enough of them to furnish out a whole gallery of
portraits. There was cousin ‘Creeshy,’ as we called her; Lucretia, more
correctly. She was a cripple. Her left lower limb had had something
happen to it, and she walked with a crutch. Her patience under her trial
was very pathetic and picturesque, so to speak,--I mean adapted to
the tender parts of a story; nothing could work up better in a
melting paragraph. But I could not, of course, describe her particular
infirmity; that would point her out at once. I thought of shifting the
lameness to the right lower limb, but even that would be seen through.
So I gave the young woman that stood for her in my story a lame elbow,
and put her arm in a sling, and made her such a model of uncomplaining
endurance that my grandmother cried over her as if her poor old heart
would break. She cried very easily, my grandmother; in fact, she had
such a gift for tears that I availed myself of it, and if you remember
old Judy, in my novel ‘Honi Soit’ (Honey Sweet, the booksellers called
it),--old Judy, the black-nurse,--that was my grandmother. She had
various other peculiarities, which I brought out one by one, and
saddled on to different characters. You see she was a perfect mine of
singularities and idiosyncrasies. After I had used her up pretty well,
I came down upon my poor relations. They were perfectly fair game; what
better use could I put them to? I studied them up very carefully, and as
there were a good many of them I helped myself freely. They lasted me,
with occasional intermissions, I should say, three or four years. I had
to be very careful with my poor relations,--they were as touchy as they
could be; and as I felt bound to send a copy of my novel, whatever it
might be, to each one of them,--there were as many as a dozen,--I took
care to mix their characteristic features, so that, though each might
suspect I meant the other, no one should think I meant him or her. I
got through all my relations at last except my father and mother. I had
treated my brothers and sisters pretty fairly, all except Elisha and
Joanna. The truth is they both had lots of odd ways,--family traits,
I suppose, but were just different enough from each other to figure
separately in two different stories. These two novels made me some
little trouble; for Elisha said he felt sure that I meant Joanna in one
of them, and quarrelled with me about it; and Joanna vowed and declared
that Elnathan, in the other, stood for brother ‘Lisha, and that it was
a real mean thing to make fun of folks’ own flesh and blood, and treated
me to one of her cries. She was n’t handsome when she cried, poor, dear
Joanna; in fact, that was one of the personal traits I had made use of
in the story that Elisha found fault with.

“So as there was nobody left but my father and mother, you see for
yourself I had no choice. There was one great advantage in dealing with
them,--I knew them so thoroughly. One naturally feels a certain delicacy
it handling from a purely artistic point of view persons who have been
so near to him. One’s mother, for instance: suppose some of her little
ways were so peculiar that the accurate delineation of them would
furnish amusement to great numbers of readers; it would not be without
hesitation that a writer of delicate sensibility would draw her
portrait, with all its whimsicalities, so plainly that it should be
generally recognized. One’s father is commonly of tougher fibre than
one’s mother, and one would not feel the same scruples, perhaps, in
using him professionally as material in a novel; still, while you are
employing him as bait,--you see I am honest and plain-spoken, for your
characters are baits to catch readers with,--I would follow kind
Izaak Walton’s humane counsel about the frog you are fastening to your
fish-hook: fix him artistically, as he directs, but in so doing I use
him as though you loved him.’

“I have at length shown up, in one form and another, all my townsmen
who have anything effective in their bodily or mental make-up, all
my friends, all my relatives; that is, all my blood relatives. It has
occurred to me that I might open a new field in the family connection of
my father-in-law and mother-in-law. We have been thinking of paying them
a visit, and I shall have an admirable opportunity of studying them
and their relatives and visitors. I have long wanted a good chance for
getting acquainted with the social sphere several grades below that to
which I am accustomed, and I have no doubt that I shall find matter for
half a dozen new stories among those connections of mine. Besides, they
live in a Western city, and one doesn’t mind much how he cuts up the
people of places he does n’t himself live in. I suppose there is not
really so much difference in people’s feelings, whether they live in
Bangor or Omaha, but one’s nerves can’t be expected to stretch across
the continent. It is all a matter of greater or less distance. I read
this morning that a Chinese fleet was sunk, but I did n’t think half
so much about it as I did about losing my sleeve button, confound
it! People have accused me of want of feeling; they misunderstand the
artist-nature,--that is all. I obey that implicitly; I am sorry if
people don’t like my descriptions, but I have done my best. I have
pulled to pieces all the persons I am acquainted with, and put them
together again in my characters. The quills I write with come from live
geese, I would have you know. I expect to get some first-rate pluckings
from those people I was speaking of, and I mean to begin my thirty-ninth
novel as soon as I have got through my visit.”



IX. THE SOCIETY AND ITS NEW SECRETARY.

There is no use in trying to hurry the natural course of events, in a
narrative like this. June passed away, and July, and August had come,
and as yet the enigma which had completely puzzled Arrowhead Village and
its visitors remained unsolved. The white canoe still wandered over the
lake, alone, ghostly, always avoiding the near approach of the boats
which seemed to be coming in its direction. Now and then a circumstance
would happen which helped to keep inquiry alive. Good horsemanship was
not so common among the young men of the place and its neighborhood that
Maurice’s accomplishment in that way could be overlooked. If there was
a wicked horse or a wild colt whose owner was afraid of him, he would
be commended to Maurice’s attention. Paolo would lead him to his master
with all due precaution,--for he had no idea of risking his neck on the
back of any ill-conditioned beast,--and Maurice would fasten on his long
spurs, spring into the saddle, and very speedily teach the creature good
behavior. There soon got about a story that he was what the fresh-water
fisherman called “one o’ them whisperers.” It is a common legend enough,
coming from the Old World, but known in American horse-talking circles,
that some persons will whisper certain words in a horse’s ear which
will tame him if he is as wild and furious as ever Cruiser was. All this
added to the mystery which surrounded the young man. A single improbable
or absurd story amounts to very little, but when half a dozen such
stories are told about the same individual or the same event, they begin
to produce the effect of credible evidence. If the year had been 1692
and the place had been Salem Village, Maurice Kirkwood would have run
the risk of being treated like the Reverend George Burroughs.

Miss Lurida Vincent’s curiosity had been intensely excited with
reference to the young man of whom so many stories were told. She had
pretty nearly convinced herself that he was the author of the paper on
Ocean, Lake, and River, which had been read at one of the meetings of
the Pansophian Society. She was very desirous of meeting him, if it
were possible. It seemed as if she might, as Secretary of the Society,
request the cooperation of any of the visitors, without impropriety.
So, after much deliberation, she wrote a careful note, of which the
following is an exact copy. Her hand was bold, almost masculine, a
curious contrast to that of Euthymia, which was delicately feminine.
PANSOPHIAN SOCIETY.

ARROWHEAD VILLAGE, August 3, 18-. MAURICE KIRKWOOD, ESQ.

DEAR SIR,--You have received, I trust, a card of invitation to the
meetings of our Society, but I think we have not yet had the pleasure of
seeing you at any of them. We have supposed that we might be indebted
to you for a paper read at the last meeting, and listened to with
much interest. As it was anonymous, we do not wish to be inquisitive
respecting its authorship; but we desire to say that any papers kindly
sent us by the temporary residents of our village will be welcome, and
if adapted to the wants of our Association will be read at one of its
meetings or printed in its records, or perhaps both read and printed.
May we not hope for your presence at the meeting, which is to take place
next Wednesday evening? Respectfully yours,

LURIDA VINCENT, Secretary of the Pansophian Society.

To this note the Secretary received the following reply: MISS LURIDA
VINCENT,

ARROWHEAD VILLAGE, August 4, 18-.

Secretary of the Pansophian Society:

DEAR MISS VINCENT,--I have received the ticket you refer to, and desire
to express my acknowledgments for the polite attention. I regret that I
have not been and I fear shall not be able to attend the meetings of the
Society; but if any subject occurs to me on which I feel an inclination
to write, it will give me pleasure to send a paper, to be disposed of as
the Society may see fit.

Very respectfully yours, MAURICE KIRKWOOD.

“He says nothing about the authorship of the paper that was read the
other evening,” the Secretary said to herself. “No matter,--he wrote
it,--there is no mistaking his handwriting. We know something about him,
now, at any rate. But why doesn’t he come to our meetings? What has his
antipathy to do with his staying away? I must find out what his secret
is, and I will. I don’t believe it’s harder than it was to solve that
prize problem which puzzled so many teachers, or than beating Crakowitz,
the great chess-player.”

To this enigma, then, The Terror determined to bend all the faculties
which had excited the admiration and sometimes the amazement of those
who knew her in her school-days. It was a very delicate piece of
business; for though Lurida was an intrepid woman’s rights advocate, and
believed she was entitled to do almost everything that men dared to,
she knew very well there were certain limits which a young woman like
herself must not pass.

In the mean time Maurice had received a visit from the young student
at the University,--the same whom he had rescued from his dangerous
predicament in the lake. With him had called one of the teachers,--an
instructor in modern languages, a native of Italy. Maurice and the
instructor exchanged a few words in Italian. The young man spoke it with
the ease which implied long familiarity with its use.

After they left, the instructor asked many curious questions about
him,--who he was, how long he had been in the village, whether anything
was known of his history,--all these inquiries with an eagerness which
implied some special and peculiar reason for the interest they evinced.

“I feel satisfied,” the instructor said, “that I have met that young man
in my own country. It was a number of years ago, and of course he
has altered in appearance a good deal; but there is a look about him
of--what shall I call it?---apprehension,--as if he were fearing the
approach of something or somebody. I think it is the way a man would
look that was haunted; you know what I mean,--followed by a spirit or
ghost. He does not suggest the idea of a murderer,--very far from it;
but if he did, I should think he was every minute in fear of seeing the
murdered man’s spirit.”

The student was curious, in his turn, to know all the instructor could
recall. He had seen him in Rome, he thought, at the Fountain of Trevi,
where so many strangers go before leaving the city. The youth was in
the company of a man who looked like a priest. He could not mistake
the peculiar expression of his countenance, but that was all he now
remembered about his appearance. His attention had been called to this
young man by seeing that some of the bystanders were pointing at him,
and noticing that they were whispering with each other as if with
reference to him. He should say that the youth was at that time fifteen
or sixteen years old, and the time was about ten years ago.

After all, this evidence was of little or no value. Suppose the youth
were Maurice; what then? We know that he had been in Italy, and had been
there a good while,--or at least we infer so much from his familiarity
with the language, and are confirmed in the belief by his having an
Italian servant, whom he probably brought from Italy when he returned.
If he wrote the paper which was read the other evening, that settles it,
for the writer says he had lived by the Tiber. We must put this scrap of
evidence furnished by the Professor with the other scraps; it may
turn out of some consequence, sooner or later. It is like a piece of a
dissected map; it means almost nothing by itself, but when we find the
pieces it joins with we may discover a very important meaning in it.

In a small, concentrated community like that which centred in and
immediately around Arrowhead Village, every day must have its local
gossip as well as its general news. The newspaper tells the small
community what is going on in the great world, and the busy tongues of
male and female, especially the latter, fill in with the occurrences
and comments of the ever-stirring microcosm. The fact that the Italian
teacher had, or thought he had, seen Maurice ten years before was
circulated and made the most of,--turned over and over like a cake,
until it was thoroughly done on both sides and all through. It was a
very small cake, but better than nothing. Miss Vincent heard this story,
as others did, and talked about it with her friend, Miss Tower. Here was
one more fact to help along.

The two young ladies who had recently graduated at the Corinna Institute
remained, as they had always been, intimate friends. They were the
natural complements of each other. Euthymia represented a complete,
symmetrical womanhood. Her outward presence was only an index of a
large, wholesome, affluent life. She could not help being courageous,
with such a firm organization. She could not help being generous,
cheerful, active. She had been told often enough that she was fair to
look upon. She knew that she was called The Wonder by the schoolmates
who were dazzled by her singular accomplishments, but she did not
overvalue them. She rather tended to depreciate her own gifts, in
comparison with those of her friend, Miss Lurida Vincent. The two agreed
all the better for differing as they did. The octave makes a perfect
chord, when shorter intervals jar more or less on the ear. Each admired
the other with a heartiness which if they had been less unlike, would
have been impossible.

It was a pleasant thing to observe their dependence on each other.
The Terror of the schoolroom was the oracle in her relations with her
friend. All the freedom of movement which The Wonder showed in her
bodily exercises The Terror manifested in the world of thought. She
would fling open a book, and decide in a swift glance whether it had
any message for her. Her teachers had compared her way of reading to the
taking of an instantaneous photograph. When she took up the first book
on Physiology which Dr. Butts handed her, it seemed to him that if she
only opened at any place, and gave one look, her mind drank its meaning
up, as a moist sponge absorbs water. “What can I do with such a creature
as this?” he said to himself. “There is only one way to deal with her,
treat her as one treats a silkworm: give it its mulberry leaf, and it
will spin its own cocoon. Give her the books, and she will spin her own
web of knowledge.”

“Do you really think of studying medicine?” said Dr. Butts to her.

“I have n’t made up my mind about that,” she answered, “but I want to
know a little more about this terrible machinery of life and death we
are all tangled in. I know something about it, but not enough. I find
some very strange beliefs among the women I meet with, and I want to be
able to silence them when they attempt to proselyte me to their whims
and fancies. Besides, I want to know everything.”

“They tell me you do, already,” said Dr. Butts.

“I am the most ignorant little wretch that draws the breath of life!”
 exclaimed The Terror.

The doctor smiled. He knew what it meant. She had reached that stage of
education in which the vast domain of the unknown opens its illimitable
expanse before the eyes of the student. We never know the extent of
darkness until it is partially illuminated.

“You did not leave the Institute with the reputation of being the most
ignorant young lady that ever graduated there,” said the doctor. “They
tell me you got the highest marks of any pupil on their record since the
school was founded.”

“What a grand thing it was to be the biggest fish in our small
aquarium, to be sure!” answered The Terror. “He was six inches long, the
monster,--a little too big for bait to catch a pickerel with! What did
you hand me that schoolbook for? Did you think I did n’t know anything
about the human body?”

“You said you were such an ignorant creature I thought I would try you
with an easy book, by way of introduction.”

The Terror was not confused by her apparent self-contradiction.

“I meant what I said, and I mean what I say. When I talk about my
ignorance, I don’t measure myself with schoolgirls, doctor. I don’t
measure myself with my teachers, either. You must talk to me as if I
were a man, a grown man, if you mean to teach me anything. Where is your
hat, doctor? Let me try it on.”

The doctor handed her his wide-awake. The Terror’s hair was not
naturally abundant, like Euthymia’s, and she kept it cut rather short.
Her head used to get very hot when she studied hard. She tried to put
the hat on.

“Do you see that?” she said. “I could n’t wear it--it would squeeze my
eyes out of my head. The books told me that women’s brains were smaller
than men’s: perhaps they are,--most of them,--I never measured a
great many. But when they try to settle what women are good for, by
phrenology, I like to have them put their tape round my head. I don’t
believe in their nonsense, for all that. You might as well tell me
that if one horse weighs more than another horse he is worth more,--a
cart-horse that weighs twelve or fourteen hundred pounds better than
Eclipse, that may have weighed a thousand. Give me a list of the best
books you can think of, and turn me loose in your library. I can find
what I want, if you have it; and what I don’t find there I will get at
the Public Library. I shall want to ask you a question now and then.”

The doctor looked at her with a kind of admiration, but thoughtfully,
as if he feared she was thinking of a task too formidable for her slight
constitutional resource.

She returned, instinctively, to the apparent contradiction in her
statements about herself.

“I am not a fool, if I am ignorant. Yes, doctor, I sail on a wide sea of
ignorance, but I have taken soundings of some of its shallows and
some of its depths. Your profession deals with the facts of life that
interest me most just now, and I want to know something of it. Perhaps I
may find it a calling such as would suit me.”

“Do you seriously think of becoming a practitioner of medicine?” said
the doctor.

“Certainly, I seriously think of it as a possibility, but I want to know
something more about it first. Perhaps I sha’n’t believe in medicine
enough to practise it. Perhaps I sha’n’t like it well enough. No matter
about that. I wish to study some of your best books on some of the
subjects that most interest me. I know about bones and muscles and all
that, and about digestion and respiration and such things. I want to
study up the nervous system, and learn all about it. I am of the nervous
temperament myself, and perhaps that is the reason. I want to read about
insanity and all that relates to it.”

A curious expression flitted across the doctor’s features as The Terror
said this.

“Nervous system. Insanity. She has headaches, I know,--all those
large-headed, hard-thinking girls do, as a matter of course; but what
has set her off about insanity and the nervous system? I wonder if any
of her more remote relatives are subject to mental disorder. Bright
people very often have crazy relations. Perhaps some of her friends are
in that way. I wonder whether”--the doctor did not speak any of these
thoughts, and in fact hardly shaped his “whether,” for The Terror
interrupted his train of reflection, or rather struck into it in a way
which startled him.

“Where is the first volume of this Medical Cyclopaedia?” she asked,
looking at its empty place on the shelf.

“On my table,” the doctor answered. “I have been consulting it.”

Lurida flung it open, in her eager way, and turned the pages rapidly
until she came to the one she wanted. The doctor cast his eye on the
beading of the page, and saw the large letters A N T.

“I thought so,” he said to himself. “We shall know everything there is
in the books about antipathies now, if we never did before. She has a
special object in studying the nervous system, just as I suspected. I
think she does not care to mention it at this time; but if she finds out
anything of interest she will tell me, if she does anybody. Perhaps
she does not mean to tell anybody. It is a rather delicate business,--a
young girl studying the natural history of a young man. Not quite so
safe as botany or palaeontology!”

Lurida, lately The Terror, now Miss Vincent, had her own plans, and
chose to keep them to herself, for the present, at least. Her hands
were full enough, it might seem, without undertaking the solution of
the great Arrowhead Village enigma. But she was in the most perfect
training, so far as her intelligence was concerned; and the summer rest
had restored her bodily vigor, so that her brain was like an overcharged
battery which will find conductors somewhere to carry off its crowded
energy.

At this time Arrowhead Village was enjoying the most successful season
it had ever known. The Pansophian Society flourished to an extraordinary
degree under the fostering care of the new Secretary. The rector was
a good figure-head as President, but the Secretary was the life of the
Society. Communications came in abundantly: some from the village and
its neighborhood, some from the University and the Institute, some from
distant and unknown sources. The new Secretary was very busy with the
work of examining these papers. After a forenoon so employed, the carpet
of her room looked like a barn floor after a husking-match. A glance at
the manuscripts strewed about, or lying in heaps, would have frightened
any young writer away from the thought of authorship as a business. If
the candidate for that fearful calling had seen the process of selection
and elimination, he would have felt still more desperately. A paper of
twenty pages would come in, with an underscored request to please read
through, carefully. That request alone is commonly sufficient to condemn
any paper, and prevent its having any chance of a hearing; but the
Secretary was not hardened enough yet for that kind of martial law in
dealing with manuscripts. The looker-on might have seen her take up the
paper, cast one flashing glance at its title, read the first sentence
and the last, dip at a venture into two or three pages, and decide as
swiftly as the lightning calculator would add up a column of figures
what was to be its destination. If rejected, it went into the heap
on the left; if approved, it was laid apart, to be submitted to the
Committee for their judgment. The foolish writers who insist on one’s
reading through their manuscript poems and stories ought to know how
fatal the request is to their prospects. It provokes the reader, to
begin with. The reading of manuscript is frightful work, at the best;
the reading of worthless manuscript--and most of that which one is
requested to read through is worthless--would add to the terrors of
Tartarus, if any infernal deity were ingenious enough to suggest it as a
punishment.

If a paper was rejected by the Secretary, it did not come before the
Committee, but was returned to the author, if he sent for it, which he
commonly did. Its natural course was to try for admission into some one
of the popular magazines: into “The Sifter,” the most fastidious of them
all; if that declined it, into “The Second Best;” and if that returned
it, into “The Omnivorous.” If it was refused admittance at the doors of
all the magazines, it might at length find shelter in the corner of a
newspaper, where a good deal of very readable verse is to be met with
nowadays, some of which has been, no doubt, presented to the Pansophian
Society, but was not considered up to its standard.



X. A NEW ARRIVAL.

There was a recent accession to the transient population of the village
which gave rise to some speculation. The new-comer was a young fellow,
rather careless in his exterior, but apparently as much at home as if he
owned Arrowhead Village and everything in it. He commonly had a cigar
in his mouth, carried a pocket pistol, of the non-explosive sort, and
a stick with a bulldog’s head for its knob; wore a soft hat, a
coarse check suit, a little baggy, and gaiterboots which had been
half-soled,--a Bohemian-looking personage, altogether.

This individual began making explorations in every direction. He was
very curious about the place and all the people in it. He was especially
interested in the Pansophian Society, concerning which he made all
sorts of inquiries. This led him to form a summer acquaintance with the
Secretary, who was pleased to give him whatever information he asked
for; being proud of the Society, as she had a right to be, and knowing
more about it than anybody else.

The visitor could not have been long in the village without hearing
something of Maurice Kirkwood, and the stories, true and false,
connected with his name. He questioned everybody who could tell him
anything about Maurice, and set down the answers in a little note-book
he always had with him.

All this naturally excited the curiosity of the village about this
new visitor. Among the rest, Miss Vincent, not wanting in an attribute
thought to belong more especially to her sex, became somewhat interested
to know more exactly who this inquiring, note-taking personage, who
seemed to be everywhere and to know everybody, might himself be. Meeting
him at the Public Library at a fortunate moment, when there was nobody
but the old Librarian, who was hard of hearing, to interfere with their
conversation, the little Secretary had a chance to try to find out
something about him.

“This is a very remarkable library for a small village to possess,” he
remarked to Miss Lurida.

“It is, indeed,” she said. “Have you found it well furnished with the
books you most want?”

“Oh, yes,--books enough. I don’t care so much for the books as I do for
the Newspapers. I like a Review well enough,--it tells you all there
is in a book; but a good abstract of the Review in a Newspaper saves a
fellow the trouble of reading it.”

“You find the papers you want, here, I hope,” said the young lady.

“Oh, I get along pretty well. It’s my off-time, and I don’t do much
reading or writing. Who is the city correspondent of this place?”

“I don’t think we have any one who writes regularly. Now and then, there
is a letter, with the gossip of the place in it, or an account of some
of the doings at our Society. The city papers are always glad to get the
reports of our meetings, and to know what is going on in the village.”

“I suppose you write about the Society to the papers, as you are the
Secretary.”

This was a point-blank shot. She meant to question the young man about
his business, and here she was on the witness-stand. She ducked her
head, and let the question go over her.

“Oh, there are plenty of members who are willing enough to write,
--especially to give an account of their own papers. I think they like
to have me put in the applause, when they get any. I do that sometimes.”
 (How much more, she did not say.)

“I have seen some very well written articles, which, from what they
tell me of the Secretary, I should have thought she might have written
herself.”

He looked her straight in the eyes.

“I have transmitted some good papers,” she said, without winking, or
swallowing, or changing color, precious little color she had to change;
her brain wanted all the blood it could borrow or steal, and more too.
“You spoke of Newspapers,” she said, without any change of tone or
manner: “do you not frequently write for them yourself?”

“I should think I did,” answered the young man. “I am a regular
correspondent of ‘The People’s Perennial and Household Inquisitor.’”

“The regular correspondent from where?”

“Where! Oh, anywhere,--the place does not make much difference. I have
been writing chiefly from Naples and St. Petersburg, and now and then
from Constantinople.”

“How long since your return to this country, may I ask?”

“My return? I have never been out of this country. I travel with a
gazetteer and some guide-books. It is the cheapest way, and you can get
the facts much better from them than by trusting your own observation. I
have made the tour of Europe by the help of them and the newspapers.
But of late I have taken to interviewing. I find that a very pleasant
specialty. It is about as good sport as trout-tickling, and much the
same kind of business. I should like to send the Society an account of
one of my interviews. Don’t you think they would like to hear it?”

“I have no doubt they would. Send it to me, and I will look it over; and
if the Committee approve it, we will have it at the next meeting. You
know everything has to be examined and voted on by the Committee,” said
the cautious Secretary.

“Very well,--I will risk it. After it is read, if it is read, please
send it back to me, as I want to sell it to ‘The Sifter,’ or ‘The Second
Best,’ or some of the paying magazines.”

This is the paper, which was read at the next meeting of the Pansophian
Society.

“I was ordered by the editor of the newspaper to which I am attached,
‘The People’s Perennial and Household Inquisitor,’ to make a visit to
a certain well-known writer, and obtain all the particulars I could
concerning him and all that related to him. I have interviewed a good
many politicians, who I thought rather liked the process; but I had
never tried any of these literary people, and I was not quite sure
how this one would feel about it. I said as much to the chief, but he
pooh-poohed my scruples. ‘It is n’t our business whether they like it
or not,’ said he; ‘the public wants it, and what the public wants it’s
bound to have, and we are bound to furnish it. Don’t be afraid of your
man; he ‘s used to it,--he’s been pumped often enough to take it
easy, and what you’ve got to do is to pump him dry. You need n’t be
modest,--ask him what you like; he is n’t bound to answer, you know.’

“As he lived in a rather nice quarter of the town, I smarted myself up a
little, put on a fresh collar and cuffs, and got a five-cent shine on
my best high-lows. I said to myself, as I was walking towards the house
where he lived, that I would keep very shady for a while and pass for a
visitor from a distance; one of those ‘admiring strangers’ who call in
to pay their respects, to get an autograph, and go home and say that
they have met the distinguished So and So, which gives them a certain
distinction in the village circle to which they belong.

“My man, the celebrated writer, received me in what was evidently his
reception-room. I observed that he managed to get the light full on my
face, while his own was in the shade. I had meant to have his face in
the light, but he knew the localities, and had arranged things so as
to give him that advantage. It was like two frigates manoeuvring,--each
trying to get to windward of the other. I never take out my
note-book until I and my man have got engaged in artless and earnest
conversation,--always about himself and his works, of course, if he is
an author.

“I began by saying that he must receive a good many callers. Those who
had read his books were naturally curious to see the writer of them.

“He assented, emphatically, to this statement. He had, he said, a great
many callers.

“I remarked that there was a quality in his books which made his readers
feel as if they knew him personally, and caused them to cherish a
certain attachment to him.

“He smiled, as if pleased. He was himself disposed to think so, he said.
In fact, a great many persons, strangers writing to him, had told him
so.

“My dear sir,” I said, “there is nothing wonderful in the fact you
mention. You reach a responsive chord in many human breasts.


   ‘One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.’

“Everybody feels as if he, and especially she (his eyes sparkled), were
your blood relation. Do they not name their children after you very
frequently?

“He blushed perceptibly. ‘Sometimes,’ he answered. ‘I hope they will all
turn out well.’

“I am afraid I am taking up too much of your time, I said.

“No, not at all,’ he replied. ‘Come up into my library; it is warmer and
pleasanter there.’

“I felt confident that I had him by the right handle then; for an
author’s library, which is commonly his working-room, is, like a lady’s
boudoir, a sacred apartment.

“So we went upstairs, and again he got me with the daylight on my face,
when I wanted it on has.

“You have a fine library, I remarked. There were books all round the
room, and one of those whirligig square book-cases. I saw in front a
Bible and a Concordance, Shakespeare and Mrs. Cowden Clarke’s book, and
other classical works and books of grave aspect. I contrived to give
it a turn, and on the side next the wall I got a glimpse of Barnum’s
Rhyming Dictionary, and several Dictionaries of Quotations and cheap
compends of knowledge. Always twirl one of those revolving book-cases
when you visit a scholar’s library. That is the way to find out what
books he does n’t want you to see, which of course are the ones you
particularly wish to see.

“Some may call all this impertinent and inquisitive. What do you suppose
is an interviewer’s business? Did you ever see an oyster opened? Yes?
Well, an interviewer’s business is the same thing. His man is his
oyster, which he, not with sword, but with pencil and note-book, must
open. Mark how the oysterman’s thin blade insinuates itself,--how gently
at first, how strenuously when once fairly between the shells!

“And here, I said, you write your books,--those books which have
carried your name to all parts of the world, and will convey it down to
posterity! Is this the desk at which you write? And is this the pen you
write with?

“‘It is the desk and the very pen,’ he replied.

“He was pleased with my questions and my way of putting them. I took up
the pen as reverentially as if it had been made of the feather which
the angel I used to read about in Young’s ‘Night Thoughts’ ought to have
dropped, and did n’t.

“Would you kindly write your autograph in my note-book, with that pen? I
asked him. Yes, he would, with great pleasure.

“So I got out my note-book.

“It was a spick and span new one, bought on purpose for this interview.
I admire your bookcases, said I. Can you tell me just how high they are?

“‘They are about eight feet, with the cornice.’

“I should like to have some like those, if I ever get rich enough, said
I. Eight feet,--eight feet, with the cornice. I must put that down.

“So I got out my pencil.

“I sat there with my pencil and note-book in my hand, all ready, but not
using them as yet.

“I have heard it said, I observed, that you began writing poems at a
very early age. Is it taking too great a liberty to ask how early you
began to write in verse?

“He was getting interested, as people are apt to be when they are
themselves the subjects of conversation.

“‘Very early,--I hardly know how early. I can say truly, as Louise Colet
said,


   “‘Je fis mes premiers vers sans savoir les ecrire.’”

“I am not a very good French scholar, said I; perhaps you will be kind
enough to translate that line for me.

“‘Certainly. With pleasure. I made my first verses without knowing how
to write them.’

“How interesting! But I never heard of Louise Colet. Who was she?

“My man was pleased to give me a piece of literary information.

“‘Louise the lioness! Never heard of her? You have heard of Alphonse
Karr?’

“Why,--yes,--more or less. To tell the truth, I am not very well up in
French literature. What had he to do with your lioness?

“‘A good deal. He satirized her, and she waited at his door with a
case-knife in her hand, intending to stick him with it. By and by he
came down, smoking a cigarette, and was met by this woman flourishing
her case-knife. He took it from her, after getting a cut in his
dressing-gown, put it in his pocket, and went on with his cigarette. He
keeps it with an inscription:


   “Donne a Alphonse Karr
   Par Madame Louise Colet....
   Dans le dos.

“Lively little female!’

“I could n’t help thinking that I should n’t have cared to interview
the lively little female. He was evidently tickled with the interest
I appeared to take in the story he told me. That made him feel amiably
disposed toward me.

“I began with very general questions, but by degrees I got at everything
about his family history and the small events of his boyhood. Some of
the points touched upon were delicate, but I put a good bold face on my
most audacious questions, and so I wormed out a great deal that was new
concerning my subject. He had been written about considerably, and the
public wouldn’t have been satisfied without some new facts; and these I
meant to have, and I got. No matter about many of them now, but here
are some questions and answers that may be thought worth reading or
listening to:

“How do you enjoy being what they call ‘a celebrity,’ or a celebrated
man?

“‘So far as one’s vanity is concerned it is well enough. But self-love
is a cup without any bottom, and you might pour the Great Lakes all
through it, and never fill it up. It breeds an appetite for more of the
same kind. It tends to make the celebrity a mere lump of egotism. It
generates a craving for high-seasoned personalities which is in danger
of becoming slavery, like that following the abuse of alcohol, or opium,
or tobacco. Think of a man’s having every day, by every post, letters
that tell him he is this and that and the other, with epithets and
endearments, one tenth part of which would have made him blush red hot
before he began to be what you call a celebrity!’

“Are there not some special inconveniences connected with what is called
celebrity?

“‘I should think so! Suppose you were obliged every day of your life
to stand and shake hands, as the President of the United States has to
after his inauguration: how do you think your hand would feel after
a few months’ practice of that exercise? Suppose you had given you
thirty-five millions of money a year, in hundred-dollar coupons, on
condition that you cut them all off yourself in the usual manner: how do
you think you should like the look of a pair of scissors at the end of
a year, in which you had worked ten hours a day every day but Sunday,
cutting off a hundred coupons an hour, and found you had not finished
your task, after all? You have addressed me as what you are pleased to
call “a literary celebrity.” I won’t dispute with you as to whether or
not I deserve that title. I will take it for granted I am what you call
me, and give you some few hints on my experience.

“‘You know there was formed a while ago an Association of Authors for
Self-Protection. It meant well, and it was hoped that something would
come of it in the way of relieving that oppressed class, but I am sorry
to say that it has not effected its purpose.’

“I suspected he had a hand in drawing up the Constitution and Laws of
that Association. Yes, I said, an admirable Association it was, and as
much needed as the one for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I am
sorry to hear that it has not proved effectual in putting a stop to the
abuse of a deserving class of men. It ought to have done it; it was well
conceived, and its public manifesto was a masterpiece. (I saw by his
expression that he was its author.)

“‘I see I can trust you,’ he said. ‘I will unbosom myself freely of some
of the grievances attaching to the position of the individual to whom
you have applied the term “Literary Celebrity.”

“‘He is supposed to be a millionaire, in virtue of the immense sales of
his books, all the money from which, it is taken for granted, goes into
his pocket. Consequently, all subscription papers are handed to him for
his signature, and every needy stranger who has heard his name comes to
him for assistance.

“‘He is expected to subscribe for all periodicals, and is goaded by
receiving blank formulae, which, with their promises to pay, he is
expected to fill up.

“‘He receives two or three books daily, with requests to read and give
his opinion about each of them, which opinion, if it has a word
which can be used as an advertisement, he will find quoted in all the
newspapers.

“‘He receives thick masses of manuscript, prose and verse, which he is
called upon to examine and pronounce on their merits; these manuscripts
having almost invariably been rejected by the editors to whom they have
been sent, and having as a rule no literary value whatever.

“‘He is expected to sign petitions, to contribute to journals, to write
for fairs, to attend celebrations, to make after-dinner speeches, to
send money for objects he does not believe in to places he never heard
of.

“‘He is called on to keep up correspondences with unknown admirers, who
begin by saying they have no claim upon his time, and then appropriate
it by writing page after page, if of the male sex; and sheet after
sheet, if of the other.

“‘If a poet, it is taken for granted that he can sit down at any moment
and spin off any number of verses on any subject which may be suggested
to him; such as congratulations to the writer’s great-grandmother on her
reaching her hundredth year, an elegy on an infant aged six weeks, an
ode for the Fourth of July in a Western township not to be found in
Lippincott’s last edition, perhaps a valentine for some bucolic lover
who believes that wooing in rhyme is the way to win the object of his
affections.’

“Is n’t it so? I asked the Celebrity.

“‘I would bet on the prose lover. She will show the verses to him, and
they will both have a good laugh over them.’

“I have only reported a small part of the conversation I had with
the Literary Celebrity. He was so much taken up with his pleasing
self-contemplation, while I made him air his opinions and feelings and
spread his characteristics as his laundress spreads and airs his linen
on the clothes-line, that I don’t believe it ever occurred to him
that he had been in the hands of an interviewer until he found himself
exposed to the wind and sunshine in full dimensions in the columns of
The People’s Perennial and Household Inquisitor.’”

After the reading of this paper, much curiosity was shown as to who the
person spoken of as the “Literary Celebrity” might be. Among the various
suppositions the startling idea was suggested that he was neither more
nor less than the unexplained personage known in the village as Maurice
Kirkwood. Why should that be his real name? Why should not he be the
Celebrity, who had taken this name and fled to this retreat to escape
from the persecutions of kind friends, who were pricking him and
stabbing him nigh to death with their daggers of sugar candy?

The Secretary of the Pansophian Society determined to question the
Interviewer the next time she met him at the Library, which happened
soon after the meeting when his paper was read.

“I do not know,” she said, in the course of a conversation in which she
had spoken warmly of his contribution to the literary entertainment of
the Society, “that you mentioned the name of the Literary Celebrity whom
you interviewed so successfully.”

“I did not mention him, Miss Vincent,” he answered, “nor do I think it
worth while to name him. He might not care to have the whole story told
of how he was handled so as to make him communicative. Besides, if I
did, it would bring him a new batch of sympathetic letters, regretting
that he was bothered by those horrid correspondents, full of indignation
at the bores who presumed to intrude upon him with their pages of
trash, all the writers of which would expect answers to their letters of
condolence.”

The Secretary asked the Interviewer if he knew the young gentleman who
called himself Maurice Kirkwood.

“What,” he answered, “the man that paddles a birch canoe, and rides all
the wild horses of the neighborhood? No, I don’t know him, but I have
met him once or twice, out walking. A mighty shy fellow, they tell me.
Do you know anything particular about him?”

“Not much. None of us do, but we should like to. The story is that he
has a queer antipathy to something or to somebody, nobody knows what or
whom.”

“To newspaper correspondents, perhaps,” said the interviewer. “What made
you ask me about him? You did n’t think he was my ‘Literary Celebrity,’
did you?”

“I did not know. I thought he might be. Why don’t you interview this
mysterious personage? He would make a good sensation for your paper, I
should think.”

“Why, what is there to be interviewed in him? Is there any story
of crime, or anything else to spice a column or so, or even a
few paragraphs, with? If there is, I am willing to handle him
professionally.”

“I told you he has what they call an antipathy. I don’t know how much
wiser you are for that piece of information.”

“An antipathy! Why, so have I an antipathy. I hate a spider, and as for
a naked caterpillar,--I believe I should go into a fit if I had to
touch one. I know I turn pale at the sight of some of those great green
caterpillars that come down from the elm-trees in August and early
autumn.”

“Afraid of them?” asked the young lady.

“Afraid? What should I be afraid of? They can’t bite or sting. I can’t
give any reason. All I know is that when I come across one of these
creatures in my path I jump to one side, and cry out,--sometimes using
very improper words. The fact is, they make me crazy for the moment.”

“I understand what you mean,” said Miss Vincent. “I used to have the
same feeling about spiders, but I was ashamed of it, and kept a little
menagerie of spiders until I had got over the feeling; that is, pretty
much got over it, for I don’t love the creatures very dearly, though I
don’t scream when I see one.”

“What did you tell me, Miss Vincent, was this fellow’s particular
antipathy?”

“That is just the question. I told you that we don’t know and we can’t
guess what it is. The people here are tired out with trying to
discover some good reason for the young man’s keeping out of the way of
everybody, as he does. They say he is odd or crazy, and they don’t seem
to be able to tell which. It would make the old ladies of the village
sleep a great deal sounder,--yes, and some of the young ladies, too,--if
they could find out what this Mr. Kirkwood has got into his head, that
he never comes near any of the people here.”

“I think I can find out,” said the Interviewer, whose professional
ambition was beginning to be excited. “I never came across anybody yet
that I could n’t get something out of. I am going to stay here a week
or two, and before I go I will find out the secret, if there is any, of
this Mr. Maurice Kirkwood.”

We must leave the Interviewer to his contrivances until they present us
with some kind of result, either in the shape of success or failure.



XI. THE INTERVIEWER ATTACKS THE SPHINX.

When Miss Euthymia Tower sent her oar off in flashing splinters, as she
pulled her last stroke in the boat-race, she did not know what a strain
she was putting upon it. She did know that she was doing her best, but
how great the force of her best was she was not aware until she saw
its effects. Unconsciousness belonged to her robust nature, in all its
manifestations. She did not pride herself on her knowledge, nor reproach
herself for her ignorance. In every way she formed a striking contrast
to her friend, Miss Vincent. Every word they spoke betrayed the
difference between them: the sharp tones of Lurida’s head-voice,
penetrative, aggressive, sometimes irritating, revealed the
corresponding traits of mental and moral character; the quiet,
conversational contralto of Euthymia was the index of a nature restful
and sympathetic.

The friendships of young girls prefigure the closer relations which will
one day come in and dissolve their earlier intimacies. The dependence of
two young friends may be mutual, but one will always lean more heavily
than the other; the masculine and feminine elements will be as sure to
assert themselves as if the friends were of different sexes.

On all common occasions Euthymia looked up to her friend as her
superior. She fully appreciated all her varied gifts and knowledge, and
deferred to her opinion in every-day matters, not exactly as an oracle,
but as wiser than herself or any of her other companions. It was a
different thing, however, when the graver questions of life came up.
Lurida was full of suggestions, plans, projects, which were too liable
to run into whims before she knew where they were tending. She would lay
out her ideas before Euthymia so fluently and eloquently that she could
not help believing them herself, and feeling as if her friend must
accept them with an enthusiasm like her own. Then Euthymia would
take them up with her sweet, deliberate accents, and bring her calmer
judgment to bear on them.

Lurida was in an excited condition, in the midst of all her new
interests and occupations. She was constantly on the lookout for papers
to be read at the meetings of her Society,--for she made it her own in
great measure, by her zeal and enthusiasm,--and in the mean time she was
reading in various books which Dr. Butts selected for her, all bearing
on the profession to which, at least as a possibility, she was looking
forward. Privately and in a very still way, she was occupying herself
with the problem of the young stranger, the subject of some delusion,
or disease, or obliquity of unknown nature, to which the vague name of
antipathy had been attached. Euthymia kept an eye upon her, partly in
the fear that over-excitement would produce some mental injury, and
partly from anxiety lest she should compromise her womanly dignity in
her desire to get at the truth of a very puzzling question.

“How do you like the books I see you reading?” said Euthymia to Lurida,
one day, as they met at the Library.

“Better than all the novels I ever read,” she answered. “I have been
reading about the nervous system, and it seems to me I have come nearer
the springs of life than ever before in all my studies. I feel just as
if I were a telegraph operator. I was sure that I had a battery in my
head, for I know my brain works like one; but I did not know how many
centres of energy there are, and how they are played upon by all sorts
of influences, external and internal. Do you know, I believe I could
solve the riddle of the ‘Arrowhead Village Sphinx,’ as the paper called
him, if he would only stay here long enough?”

“What paper has had anything about it, Lurida? I have not seen or heard
of its being mentioned in any of the papers.”

“You know that rather queer-looking young man who has been about here
for some time,--the same one who gave the account of his interview with
a celebrated author? Well, he has handed me a copy of a paper in which
he writes, ‘The People’s Perennial and Household Inquisitor.’ He talks
about this village in a very free and easy way. He says there is a
Sphinx here, who has mystified us all.”

“And you have been chatting with that fellow! Don’t you know that he’ll
have you and all of us in his paper? Don’t you know that nothing is safe
where one of those fellows gets in with his note-book and pencil? Oh,
Lurida, Lurida, do be careful! What with this mysterious young man and
this very questionable newspaper-paragraph writer, you will be talked
about, if you don’t mind, before you know it. You had better let the
riddle of the Sphinx alone. If you must deal with such dangerous people,
the safest way is to set one of them to find out the other.--I wonder
if we can’t get this new man to interview the visitor you have so much
curiosity about. That might be managed easily enough without your having
anything to do with it. Let me alone, and I will arrange it. But mind,
now, you must not meddle; if you do, you will spoil everything, and get
your name in the ‘Household Inquisitor’ in a way you won’t like.”

“Don’t be frightened about me, Euthymia. I don’t mean to give him a
chance to work me into his paper, if I can help it. But if you can get
him to try his skill upon this interesting personage and his antipathy,
so much the better. I am very curious about it, and therefore about
him. I want to know what has produced this strange state of feeling in a
young man who ought to have all the common instincts of a social being.
I believe there are unexplained facts in the region of sympathies
and antipathies which will repay study with a deeper insight into the
mysteries of life than we have dreamed of hitherto. I often
wonder whether there are not heart-waves and soul-waves as well as
‘brain-waves,’ which some have already recognized.”

Euthymia wondered, as well she might, to hear this young woman talking
the language of science like an adept. The truth is, Lurida was one of
those persons who never are young, and who, by way of compensation, will
never be old. They are found in both sexes. Two well-known graduates of
one of our great universities are living examples of this precocious
but enduring intellectual development. If the readers of this narrative
cannot pick them out, they need not expect the writer of it to help
them. If they guess rightly who they are, they will recognize the fact
that just such exceptional individuals as the young woman we are dealing
with are met with from time to time in families where intelligence has
been cumulative for two or three generations.

Euthymia was very willing that the questioning and questionable visitor
should learn all that was known in the village about the nebulous
individual whose misty environment all the eyes in the village were
trying to penetrate, but that he should learn it from some other
informant than Lurida.

The next morning, as the Interviewer took his seat on a bench outside
his door, to smoke his after-breakfast cigar, a bright-looking and
handsome youth, whose features recalled those of Euthymia so strikingly
that one might feel pretty sure he was her brother, took a seat by his
side. Presently the two were engaged in conversation. The Interviewer
asked all sorts of questions about everybody in the village. When he
came to inquire about Maurice, the youth showed a remarkable interest
regarding him. The greatest curiosity, he said, existed with reference
to this personage. Everybody was trying to find out what his story
was,--for a story, and a strange one, he must surely have,--and nobody
had succeeded.

The Interviewer began to be unusually attentive. The young man told him
the various antipathy stories, about the evil-eye hypothesis, about
his horse-taming exploits, his rescuing the student whose boat was
overturned, and every occurrence he could recall which would help out
the effect of his narrative.

The Interviewer was becoming excited. “Can’t find out anything about
him, you said, did n-’t you? How do you know there’s anything to find?
Do you want to know what I think he is? I’ll tell you. I think he is an
actor,--a fellow from one of the city theatres. Those fellows go off in
their summer vacation, and like to puzzle the country folks. They are
the very same chaps, like as not, the visitors have seen in plays at the
city theatres; but of course they don’t know ‘em in plain clothes. Kings
and Emperors look pretty shabby off the stage sometimes, I can tell
you.”

The young man followed the Interviewer’s lead. “I shouldn’t wonder if
you were right,” he said. “I remember seeing a young fellow in Romeo
that looked a good deal like this one. But I never met the Sphinx, as
they call him, face to face. He is as shy as a woodchuck. I believe
there are people here that would give a hundred dollars to find out who
he is, and where he came from, and what he is here for, and why he does
n’t act like other folks. I wonder why some of those newspaper men don’t
come up here and get hold of this story. It would be just the thing for
a sensational writer.”

To all this the Interviewer listened with true professional interest.
Always on the lookout for something to make up a paragraph or a column
about; driven oftentimes to the stalest of repetitions,--to the biggest
pumpkin story, the tall cornstalk, the fat ox, the live frog from
the human stomach story, the third set of teeth and reading without
spectacles at ninety story, and the rest of the marvellous commonplaces
which are kept in type with e o y or e 6 m (every other year or every
six months) at the foot; always in want of a fresh incident, a new
story, an undescribed character, an unexplained mystery, it is no wonder
that the Interviewer fastened eagerly upon this most tempting subject
for an inventive and emotional correspondent.

He had seen Paolo several times, and knew that he was Maurice’s
confidential servant, but had never spoken to him. So he said to himself
that he must make Paolo’s acquaintance, to begin with. In the summer
season many kinds of small traffic were always carried on in Arrowhead
Village. Among the rest, the sellers of fruits--oranges, bananas,
and others, according to the seasons--did an active business. The
Interviewer watched one of these fruit-sellers, and saw that his
hand-cart stopped opposite the house where, as he knew, Maurice Kirkwood
was living. Presently Paolo came out of the door, and began examining
the contents of the hand-cart. The Interviewer saw his opportunity. Here
was an introduction to the man, and the man must introduce him to the
master.

He knew very well how to ingratiate himself with the man,--there was
no difficulty about that. He had learned his name, and that he was an
Italian whom Maurice had brought to this country with him.

“Good morning, Mr. Paul,” he said. “How do you like the look of these
oranges?”

“They pretty fair,” said Paolo: “no so good as them las’ week; no sweet
as them was.”

“Why, how do you know without tasting them?” said the Interviewer.

“I know by his look,--I know by his smell,--he no good yaller,--he no
smell ripe,--I know orange ever since my head no bigger than he is,” and
Paolo laughed at his own comparison.

The Interviewer laughed louder than Paolo.

“Good!” said he,--“first-rate! Of course you know all about ‘em. Why
can’t you pick me out a couple of what you think are the best of ‘em? I
shall be greatly obliged to you. I have a sick friend, and I want to get
two nice sweet ones for him.”

Paolo was pleased. His skill and judgment were recognized. He felt
grateful to the stranger, who had given him, an opportunity of
conferring a favor. He selected two, after careful examination and grave
deliberation. The Interviewer had sense and tact enough not to offer him
an orange, and so shift the balance of obligation.

“How is Mr. Kirkwood, to-day?” he asked.

“Signor? He very well. He always well. Why you ask? Anybody tell you he
sick?”

“No, nobody said he was sick. I have n’t seen him going about for a day
or two, and I thought he might have something the matter with him. Is he
in the house now?”

“No: he off riding. He take long, long rides, sometime gone all day.
Sometime he go on lake, paddle, paddle in the morning, very, very
early,--in night when the moon shine; sometime stay in house, and read,
and study, and write,--he great scholar, Misser Kirkwood.”

“A good many books, has n’t he?”

“He got whole shelfs full of books. Great books, little books, old
books, new books, all sorts of books. He great scholar, I tell you.”

“Has n’t he some curiosities,--old figures, old jewelry, old coins, or
things of that sort?”

Paolo looked at the young man cautiously, almost suspiciously. “He don’t
keep no jewels nor no money in his chamber. He got some old things,--old
jugs, old brass figgers, old money, such as they used to have in old
times: she don’t pass now.” Paolo’s genders were apt to be somewhat
indiscriminately distributed.

A lucky thought struck the Interviewer. “I wonder if he would examine
some old coins of mine?” said he, in a modestly tentative manner.

“I think he like to see anything curious. When he come home I ask him.
Who will I tell him wants to ask him about old coin?”

“Tell him a gentleman visiting Arrowhead Village would like to call and
show him some old pieces of money, said to be Roman ones.”

The Interviewer had just remembered that he had two or three old
battered bits of copper which he had picked up at a tollman’s, where
they had been passed off for cents. He had bought them as curiosities.
One had the name of Gallienus upon it, tolerably distinct,--a common
little Roman penny; but it would serve his purpose of asking a question,
as would two or three others with less legible legends. Paolo told him
that if he came the next morning he would stand a fair chance of seeing
Mr. Kirkwood. At any rate, he would speak to his master.

The Interviewer presented himself the next morning, after finishing his
breakfast and his cigar, feeling reasonably sure of finding Mr. Kirkwood
at home, as he proved to be. He had told Paolo to show the stranger up
to his library,--or study, as he modestly called it.

It was a pleasant room enough, with a lookout on the lake in one
direction, and the wooded hill in another. The tenant had fitted it up
in scholarly fashion. The books Paolo spoke of were conspicuous, many of
them, by their white vellum binding and tasteful gilding, showing that
probably they had been bound in Rome, or some other Italian city. With
these were older volumes in their dark original leather, and recent ones
in cloth or paper. As the Interviewer ran his eye over them, he found
that he could make very little out of what their backs taught him. Some
of the paper-covered books, some of the cloth-covered ones, had names
which he knew; but those on the backs of many of the others were strange
to his eyes. The classics of Greek and Latin and Italian literature
were there; and he saw enough to feel convinced that he had better not
attempt to display his erudition in the company of this young scholar.

The first thing the Interviewer had to do was to account for his
visiting a person who had not asked to make his acquaintance, and who
was living as a recluse. He took out his battered coppers, and showed
them to Maurice.

“I understood that you were very skilful in antiquities, and had a good
many yourself. So I took the liberty of calling upon you, hoping that
you could tell me something about some ancient coins I have had for
a good while.” So saying, he pointed to the copper with the name of
Gallienus.

“Is this very rare and valuable? I have heard that great prices have
been paid for some of these ancient coins,--ever so many guineas,
sometimes. I suppose this is as much as a thousand years old.”

“More than a thousand years old,” said Maurice.

“And worth a great deal of money?” asked the Interviewer.

“No, not a great deal of money,” answered Maurice.

“How much, should you say?” said the Interviewer.

Maurice smiled. “A little more than the value of its weight in
copper,--I am afraid not much more. There are a good many of these coins
of Gallienus knocking about. The peddlers and the shopkeepers take such
pieces occasionally, and sell them, sometimes for five or ten cents, to
young collectors. No, it is not very precious in money value, but as a
relic any piece of money that was passed from hand to hand a thousand or
fifteen hundred years ago is interesting. The value of such relics is a
good deal a matter of imagination.”

“And what do you say to these others?” asked the Interviewer. Poor old
worn-out things they were, with a letter or two only, and some faint
trace of a figure on one or two of them.

“Very interesting, always, if they carry your imagination back to the
times when you may suppose they were current. Perhaps Horace tossed one
of them to a beggar. Perhaps one of these was the coin that was brought
when One said to those about Him, ‘Bring me a penny, that I may see it.’
But the market price is a different matter. That depends on the beauty
and preservation, and above all the rarity, of the specimen. Here is a
coin, now,”--he opened a small cabinet, and took one from it. “Here is a
Syracusan decadrachm with the head of Persephone, which is at once rare,
well preserved, and beautiful. I am afraid to tell what I paid for it.”

The Interviewer was not an expert in numismatics. He cared very little
more for an old coin than he did for an old button, but he had thought
his purchase at the tollman’s might prove a good speculation. No matter
about the battered old pieces: he had found out, at any rate, that
Maurice must have money and could be extravagant, or what he himself
considered so; also that he was familiar with ancient coins. That would
do for a beginning.

“May I ask where you picked up the coin you are showing me?” he said

“That is a question which provokes a negative answer. One does not ‘pick
up’ first-class coins or paintings, very often, in these times. I bought
this of a great dealer in Rome.”

“Lived in Rome once?” said the Interviewer.

“For some years. Perhaps you have been there yourself?”

The Interviewer said he had never been there yet, but he hoped he should
go there, one of these years, “suppose you studied art and antiquities
while you were there?” he continued.

“Everybody who goes to Rome must learn something of art and antiquities.
Before you go there I advise you to review Roman history and the classic
authors. You had better make a study of ancient and modern art, and
not have everything to learn while you are going about among ruins, and
churches, and galleries. You know your Horace and Virgil well, I take it
for granted?”

The Interviewer hesitated. The names sounded as if he had heard them.
“Not so well as I mean to before going to Rome,” he answered. “May I ask
how long you lived in Rome?”

“Long enough to know something of what is to be seen in it. No one
should go there without careful preparation beforehand. You are familiar
with Vasari, of course?”

The Interviewer felt a slight moisture on his forehead. He took out his
handkerchief. “It is a warm day,” he said. “I have not had time to read
all--the works I mean to. I have had too much writing to do, myself, to
find all the time for reading and study I could have wished.”

“In what literary occupation have you been engaged, if you will pardon
my inquiry? said Maurice.

“I am connected with the press. I understood that you were a man of
letters, and I hoped I might have the privilege of hearing from your own
lips some account of your literary experiences.”

“Perhaps that might be interesting, but I think I shall reserve it
for my autobiography. You said you were connected with the press. Do I
understand that you are an author?”

By this time the Interviewer had come to the conclusion that it was a
very warm day. He did not seem to be getting hold of his pitcher by the
right handle, somehow. But he could not help answering Maurice’s very
simple question.

“If writing for a newspaper gives one a right to be called an author, I
may call myself one. I write for the ‘People’s Perennial and Household
Inquisitor’.”

“Are you the literary critic of that well-known journal, or do you
manage the political column?”

“I am a correspondent from different places and on various matters of
interest.”

“Places you have been to, and people you have known?”

“Well, yes,--generally, that is. Sometimes I have to compile my
articles.”

“Did you write the letter from Rome, published a few weeks ago?”

The Interviewer was in what he would call a tight place. However, he had
found that his man was too much for him, and saw that the best thing
he could do was to submit to be interviewed himself. He thought that he
should be able to pick up something or other which he could work into
his report of his visit.

“Well, I--prepared that article for our columns. You know one does not
have to see everything he describes. You found it accurate, I hope, in
its descriptions?”

“Yes, Murray is generally accurate. Sometimes he makes mistakes, but I
can’t say how far you have copied them. You got the Ponte Molle--the old
Milvian bridge--a good deal too far down the stream, if I remember. I
happened to notice that, but I did not read the article carefully. May
I ask whether you propose to do me the honor of reporting this visit
and the conversation we have had, for the columns of the newspaper with
which you are connected?”

The Interviewer thought he saw an opening. “If you have no objections,”
 he said, “I should like very much to ask a few questions.” He was
recovering his professional audacity.

“You can ask as many questions as you consider proper and discreet,
--after you have answered one or two of mine: Who commissioned you to
submit me to examination?”

“The curiosity of the public wishes to be gratified, and I am the humble
agent of its investigations.”

“What has the public to do with my private affairs?”

“I suppose it is a question of majority and minority. That settles
everything in this country. You are a minority of one opposed to a large
number of curious people that form a majority against you. That is the
way I’ve heard the chief put it.”

Maurice could not help smiling at the quiet assumption of the American
citizen. The Interviewer smiled, too, and thought he had his man, sure,
at last. Maurice calmly answered, “There is nothing left for minorities,
then, but the right of rebellion. I don’t care about being made the
subject of an article for your paper. I am here for my pleasure, minding
my own business, and content with that occupation. I rebel against your
system of forced publicity. Whenever I am ready I shall tell the public
all it has any right to know about me. In the mean time I shall request
to be spared reading my biography while I am living. I wish you a
good-morning.”

The Interviewer had not taken out his note-book and pencil. In his next
communication from Arrowhead Village he contented himself with a brief
mention of the distinguished and accomplished gentleman now visiting the
place, whose library and cabinet of coins he had had the privilege of
examining, and whose courtesy was equalled only by the modesty that
shunned the public notoriety which the organs of popular intelligence
would otherwise confer upon him.

The Interviewer had attempted the riddle of the Sphinx, and had failed
to get the first hint of its solution.

The many tongues of the village and its visitors could not remain idle.
The whole subject of antipathies had been talked over, and the various
cases recorded had become more or less familiar to the conversational
circles which met every evening in the different centres of social
life. The prevalent hypothesis for the moment was that Maurice had a
congenital aversion to some color, the effects of which upon him were
so painful or disagreeable that he habitually avoided exposure to it.
It was known, and it has already been mentioned, that such cases were
on record. There had been a great deal of discussion, of late, with
reference to a fact long known to a few individuals, but only recently
made a matter of careful scientific observation and brought to the
notice of the public. This was the now well-known phenomenon of
color-blindness. It did not seem very strange that if one person in
every score or two could not tell red from green there might be other
curious individual peculiarities relating to color. A case has already
been referred to where the subject of observation fainted at the sight
of any red object. What if this were the trouble with Maurice Kirkwood?
It will be seen at once how such a congenital antipathy would tend to
isolate the person who was its unfortunate victim. It was an hypothesis
not difficult to test, but it was a rather delicate business to be
experimenting on an inoffensive stranger. Miss Vincent was thinking
it over, but said nothing, even to Euthymia, of any projects she might
entertain.



XII. MISS VINCENT AS A MEDICAL STUDENT.

The young lady whom we have known as The Terror, as Lurida, as Miss
Vincent, Secretary of the Pansophian Society, had been reading various
works selected for her by Dr. Butts,--works chiefly relating to the
nervous system and its different affections. She thought it was about
time to talk over the general subject of the medical profession with her
new teacher,--if such a self-directing person as Lurida could be said to
recognize anybody as teacher.

She began at the beginning. “What is the first book you would put in
a student’s hands, doctor?” she said to him one day. They were in his
study, and Lurida had just brought back a thick volume on Insanity,
one of Bucknill and Puke’s, which she had devoured as if it had been a
pamphlet.

“Not that book, certainly,” he said. “I am afraid it will put all sorts
of notions into your head. Who or what set you to reading that, I should
like to know?”

“I found it on one of your shelves, and as I thought I might perhaps be
crazy some time or other, I felt as if I should like to know what kind
of a condition insanity is. I don’t believe they were ever very bright,
those insane people, most of them. I hope I am not stupid enough ever to
lose my wits.”

“There is no telling, my dear, what may happen if you overwork that busy
brain of yours. But did n’t it make you nervous, reading about so many
people possessed with such strange notions?”

“Nervous? Not a bit. I could n’t help thinking, though, how many people
I had known that had a little touch of craziness about them. Take that
poor woman that says she is Her Majesty’s Person,--not Her Majesty, but
Her Majesty’s Person,--a very important distinction, according to her:
how she does remind me of more than one girl I have known! She would let
her skirts down so as to make a kind of train, and pile things on her
head like a sort of crown, fold her arms and throw her head back, and
feel as grand as a queen. I have seen more than one girl act very much
in that way. Are not most of us a little crazy, doctor,--just a little?
I think so. It seems to me I never saw but one girl who was free from
every hint of craziness.”

“And who was that, pray?”

“Why, Euthymia,--nobody else, of course. She never loses her head,--I
don’t believe she would in an earthquake. Whenever we were at work with
our microscopes at the Institute I always told her that her mind was
the only achromatic one I ever looked into,--I did n’t say looked
through.--But I did n’t come to talk about that. I read in one of your
books that when Sydenham was asked by a student what books he should
read, the great physician said, ‘Read “Don Quixote.”’ I want you to
explain that to me; and then I want you to tell me what is the first
book, according to your idea, that a student ought to read.”

“What do you say to my taking your question as the subject of a paper to
be read before the Society? I think there may be other young ladies at
the meeting, besides yourself, who are thinking of pursuing the study of
medicine. At any rate, there are a good many who are interested in the
subject; in fact, most people listen readily to anything doctors tell
them about their calling.”

“I wish you would, doctor. I want Euthymia to hear it, and I don’t doubt
there will be others who will be glad to hear everything you have to say
about it. But oh, doctor, if you could only persuade Euthymia to become
a physician! What a doctor she would make! So strong, so calm, so full
of wisdom! I believe she could take the wheel of a steamboat in a storm,
or the hose of a fire-engine in a conflagration, and handle it as well
as the captain of the boat or of the fire-company.”

“Have you ever talked with her about studying medicine?”

“Indeed I have. Oh, if she would only begin with me! What good times we
would have studying together!”

“I don’t doubt it. Medicine is a very pleasant study. But how do you
think practice would be? How would you like being called up to ride ten
miles in a midnight snow-storm, just when one of your raging headaches
was racking you?”

“Oh, but we could go into partnership, and Euthymia is n’t afraid of
storms or anything else. If she would only study medicine with me!”

“Well, what does she say to it?”

“She does n’t like the thought of it. She does n’t believe in women
doctors. She thinks that now and then a woman may be fitted for it by
nature, but she does n’t think there are many who are. She gives me a
good many reasons against their practising medicine, you know what most
of them are, doctor,--and ends by saying that the same woman who would
be a poor sort of doctor would make a first-rate nurse; and that,
she thinks, is a woman’s business, if her instinct carries her to the
hospital or sick-chamber. I can’t argue her ideas out of her.”

“Neither can I argue you out of your feeling about the matter; but I
am disposed to agree with your friend, that you will often spoil a good
nurse to make a poor doctor. Doctors and side-saddles don’t seem to me
to go together. Riding habits would be awkward things for practitioners.
But come, we won’t have a controversy just now. I am for giving women
every chance for a good education, and if they think medicine is one of
their proper callings let them try it. I think they will find that they
had better at least limit themselves to certain specialties, and always
have an expert of the other sex to fall back upon. The trouble is that
they are so impressible and imaginative that they are at the mercy
of all sorts of fancy systems. You have only to see what kinds of
instruction they very commonly flock to in order to guess whether they
would be likely to prove sensible practitioners. Charlatanism always
hobbles on two crutches, the tattle of women, and the certificates of
clergymen, and I am afraid that half the women doctors will be too much
under both those influences.”

Lurida believed in Dr. Butts, who, to use the common language of
the village, had “carried her through” a fever, brought on by
over-excitement and exhausting study. She took no offence at his
reference to nursery gossip, which she had learned to hold cheap. Nobody
so despises the weaknesses of women as the champion of woman’s rights.
She accepted the doctor’s concession of a fair field and open trial of
the fitness of her sex for medical practice, and did not trouble herself
about his suggested limitations. As to the imaginative tendencies of
women, she knew too well the truth of the doctor’s remark relating to
them to wish to contradict it.

“Be sure you let me have your paper in season for the next meeting,
doctor,” she said; and in due season it came, and was of course approved
for reading.



XIII. DR. BUTTS READS A PAPER.

“Next to the interest we take in all that relates to our immortal souls
is that which we feel for our mortal bodies. I am afraid my very first
statement may be open to criticism. The care of the body is the first
thought with a great many,--in fact, with the larger part of the world.
They send for the physician first, and not until he gives them up do
they commonly call in the clergyman. Even the minister himself is not
so very different from other people. We must not blame him if he is
not always impatient to exchange a world of multiplied interests
and ever-changing sources of excitement for that which tradition has
delivered to us as one eminently deficient in the stimulus of variety.
Besides, these bodily frames, even when worn and disfigured by long
years of service, hang about our consciousness like old garments. They
are used to us, and we are used to them. And all the accidents of our
lives,--the house we dwell in, the living people round us, the landscape
we look over, all, up to the sky that covers us like a bell glass,--all
these are but looser outside garments which we have worn until they seem
a part of us, and we do not like the thought of changing them for a new
suit which we have never yet tried on. How well I remember that dear
ancient lady, who lived well into the last decade of her century, as
she repeated the verse which, if I had but one to choose, I would select
from that string of pearls, Gray’s ‘Elegy’!


  “‘For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey
   This pleasing, anxious being e’er resigned,
   Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
   Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?’

“Plotinus was ashamed of his body, we are told. Better so, it may be,
than to live solely for it, as so many do. But it may be well doubted
if there is any disciple of Plotinus in this Society. On the contrary,
there are many who think a great deal of their bodies, many who have
come here to regain the health they have lost in the wear and tear of
city life, and very few who have not at some time or other of their
lives had occasion to call in the services of a physician.

“There is, therefore, no impropriety in my offering to the members
some remarks upon the peculiar difficulties which beset the medical
practitioner in the discharge of his laborious and important duties.

“A young friend of mine, who has taken an interest in medical studies,
happened to meet with a very familiar story about one of the greatest
and most celebrated of all English physicians, Thomas Sydenham. The
story is that, when a student asked him what books he should read, the
great doctor told him to read ‘Don Quixote.’

“This piece of advice has been used to throw contempt upon the study of
books, and furnishes a convenient shield for ignorant pretenders.
But Sydenham left many writings in which he has recorded his medical
experience, and he surely would not have published them if he had not
thought they would be better reading for the medical student than the
story of Cervantes. His own works are esteemed to this day, and he
certainly could not have supposed that they contained all the wisdom of
all the past. No remedy is good, it was said of old, unless applied at
the right time in the right way. So we may say of all anecdotes, like
this which I have told you about Sydenham and the young man. It is very
likely that he carried him to the bedside of some patients, and talked
to him about the cases he showed him, instead of putting a Latin volume
in his hand. I would as soon begin in that way as any other, with a
student who had already mastered the preliminary branches,--who knew
enough about the structure and functions of the body in health.

“But if you ask me what reading I would commend to the medical student
of a philosophical habit of mind, you may be surprised to hear me say
it would be certain passages in ‘Rasselas.’ They are the ones where the
astronomer gives an account to Imlac of his management of the elements,
the control of which, as he had persuaded himself, had been committed to
him. Let me read you a few sentences from this story, which is commonly
bound up with the ‘Vicar of Wakefield,’ like a woollen lining to
a silken mantle, but is full of stately wisdom in processions of
paragraphs which sound as if they ought to have a grammatical drum-major
to march before their tramping platoons.

“The astronomer has taken Imlac into his confidence, and reveals to him
the secret of his wonderful powers:--

“‘Hear, Imlac, what thou wilt not without difficulty credit. I
have possessed for five years the regulation of the weather and the
distribution of the seasons the sun has listened to my dictates, and
passed from tropic to tropic by my direction; the clouds, at my call,
have poured their waters, and the Nile has overflowed at my command; I
have restrained the rage of the dog-star, and mitigated the fervors of
the crab. The winds alone, of all the elemental powers, have hitherto
eluded my authority, and multitudes have perished by equinoctial
tempests, which I found myself unable to prohibit or restrain.’

“The reader naturally wishes to know how the astronomer, a sincere,
devoted, and most benevolent man, for forty years a student of the
heavens, came to the strange belief that he possessed these miraculous
powers. This is his account:

“‘One day, as I was looking on the fields withering with heat, I felt in
my mind a sudden wish that I could send rain on the southern mountains,
and raise the Nile to an inundation. In the hurry of my imagination I
commanded rain to fall, and by comparing the time of my command with
that of the inundation I found that the clouds had listened to my lips.’

“‘Might not some other cause,’ said I, ‘produce this concurrence? The
Nile does not always rise on the same day.’

“‘Do not believe,’ said he, with impatience, ‘that such objections
could escape me: I reasoned long against my own conviction, and labored
against truth with the utmost obstinacy. I sometimes suspected myself
of madness, and should not have dared to impart this secret but to a man
like you, capable of distinguishing the wonderful from the impossible
and the incredible from the false.’

“The good old astronomer gives his parting directions to Imlac, whom he
has adopted as his successor in the government of the elements and the
seasons, in these impressive words:

“Do not, in the administration of the year, indulge thy pride by
innovation; do not please thyself with thinking that thou canst make
thyself renowned to all future ages by disordering the seasons. The
memory of mischief is no desirable fame. Much less will it become thee
to let kindness or interest prevail. Never rob other countries of rain
to pour it on thine own. For us the Nile is sufficient.’

“Do you wonder, my friends, why I have chosen these passages, in which
the delusions of an insane astronomer are related with all the pomp
of the Johnsonian vocabulary, as the first lesson for the young person
about to enter on the study of the science and art of healing? Listen to
me while I show you the parallel of the story of the astronomer in the
history of medicine.

“This history is luminous with intelligence, radiant with benevolence,
but all its wisdom and all its virtue have had to struggle with the
ever-rising mists of delusion. The agencies which waste and destroy
the race of mankind are vast and resistless as the elemental forces of
nature; nay, they are themselves elemental forces. They may be to some
extent avoided, to some extent diverted from their aim, to some extent
resisted. So may the changes of the seasons, from cold that freezes
to heats that strike with sudden death, be guarded against. So may the
tides be in some small measure restrained in their inroads. So may the
storms be breasted by walls they cannot shake from their foundations.
But the seasons and the tides and the tempests work their will on the
great scale upon whatever stands in their way; they feed or starve the
tillers of the soil; they spare or drown the dwellers by the shore; they
waft the seaman to his harbor or bury him in the angry billows.

“The art of the physician can do much to remove its subjects from deadly
and dangerous influences, and something to control or arrest the effects
of these influences. But look at the records of the life-insurance
offices, and see how uniform is the action of nature’s destroying
agencies. Look at the annual reports of the deaths in any of our great
cities, and see how their regularity approaches the uniformity of the
tides, and their variations keep pace with those of the seasons. The
inundations of the Nile are not more certainly to be predicted than the
vast wave of infantile disease which flows in upon all our great cities
with the growing heats of July,--than the fevers and dysenteries which
visit our rural districts in the months of the falling leaf.

“The physician watches these changes as the astronomer watched the
rise of the great river. He longs to rescue individuals, to protect
communities from the inroads of these destroying agencies. He uses all
the means which experience has approved, tries every rational method
which ingenuity can suggest. Some fortunate recovery leads him to
believe he has hit upon a preventive or a cure for a malady which had
resisted all known remedies. His rescued patient sounds his praises, and
a wide circle of his patient’s friends joins in a chorus of eulogies.
Self-love applauds him for his sagacity. Self-interest congratulates him
on his having found the road to fortune; the sense of having proved a
benefactor of his race smooths the pillow on which he lays his head
to dream of the brilliant future opening before him. If a single
coincidence may lead a person of sanguine disposition to believe that he
has mastered a disease which had baffled all who were before his time,
and on which his contemporaries looked in hopeless impotence, what must
be the effect of a series of such coincidences even on a mind of calmer
temper! Such series of coincidences will happen, and they may well
deceive the very elect. Think of Dr. Rush,--you know what a famous man
he was, the very head and front of American medical science in his day,
--and remember how he spoke about yellow fever, which he thought he had
mastered!

“Thus the physician is entangled in the meshes of a wide conspiracy,
in which he and his patient and their friends, and Nature herself, are
involved. What wonder that the history of Medicine should be to so great
an extent a record of self-delusion!

“If this seems a dangerous concession to the enemies of the true science
and art of healing, I will remind you that it is all implied in the
first aphorism of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. Do not draw a
wrong inference from the frank statement of the difficulties which
beset the medical practitioner. Think rather, if truth is so hard of
attainment, how precious are the results which the consent of the wisest
and most experienced among the healers of men agrees in accepting. Think
what folly it is to cast them aside in favor of palpable impositions
stolen from the records of forgotten charlatanism, or of fantastic
speculations spun from the squinting brains of theorists as wild as the
Egyptian astronomer.

“Begin your medical studies, then, by reading the fortieth and the
following four chapters of ‘Rasselas.’ Your first lesson will teach
you modesty and caution in the pursuit of the most deceptive of all
practical branches of knowledge. Faith will come later, when you learn
how much medical science and art have actually achieved for the relief
of mankind, and how great are the promises it holds out of still larger
triumphs over the enemies of human health and happiness.”

After the reading of this paper there was a lively discussion, which we
have no room to report here, and the Society adjourned.



XIV. MISS VINCENT’S STARTLING DISCOVERY.

The sober-minded, sensible, well-instructed Dr. Butts was not a little
exercised in mind by the demands made upon his knowledge by his young
friend, and for the time being his pupil, Miss Lurida Vincent.

“I don’t wonder they called her The Terror,” he said to himself. “She is
enough to frighten anybody. She has taken down old books from my
shelves that I had almost forgotten the backs of, and as to the medical
journals, I believe the girl could index them from memory. She is in
pursuit of some special point of knowledge, I feel sure, and I cannot
doubt what direction she is working in, but her wonderful way of dealing
with books amazes me.”

What marvels those “first scholars” in the classes of our great
universities and colleges are, to be sure! They are not, as a rule,
the most distinguished of their class in the long struggle of life.
The chances are that “the field” will beat “the favorite” over the long
race-course. Others will develop a longer stride and more staying power.
But what fine gifts those “first scholars” have received from nature!
How dull we writers, famous or obscure, are in the acquisition of
knowledge as compared with them! To lead their classmates they must
have quick apprehension, fine memories, thorough control of their
mental faculties, strong will, power of concentration, facility of
expression,--a wonderful equipment of mental faculties. I always want to
take my hat off to the first scholar of his year.

Dr. Butts felt somewhat in the same way as he contemplated The Terror.
She surprised him so often with her knowledge that he was ready to
receive her without astonishment when she burst in upon him one day with
a cry of triumph, “Eureka! Eureka!”

“And what have you found, my dear?” said the doctor.

Lurida was flushed and panting with the excitement of her new discovery.

“I do believe that I have found the secret of our strange visitor’s
dread of all human intercourse!”

The seasoned practitioner was not easily thrown off his balance.

“Wait a minute and get your breath,” said the doctor. “Are you not a
little overstating his peculiarity? It is not quite so bad as that.
He keeps a man to serve him, he was civil with the people at the Old
Tavern, he was affable enough, I understand, with the young fellow he
pulled out of the water, or rescued somehow,--I don’t believe he avoids
the whole human race. He does not look as if he hated them, so far as I
have remarked his expression. I passed a few words with him when his man
was ailing, and found him polite enough. No, I don’t believe it is much
more than an extreme case of shyness, connected, perhaps, with some
congenital or other personal repugnance to which has been given the name
of an antipathy.”

Lurida could hardly keep still while the doctor was speaking. When he
finished, she began the account of her discovery:

“I do certainly believe I have found an account of his case in an
Italian medical journal of about fourteen years ago. I met with a
reference which led me to look over a file of the Giornale degli
Ospitali lying among the old pamphlets in the medical section of the
Library. I have made a translation of it, which you must read and then
tell me if you do not agree with me in my conclusion.”

“Tell me what your conclusion is, and I will read your paper and see for
myself whether I think the evidence justifies the conviction you seem to
have reached.”

Lurida’s large eyes showed their whole rounds like the two halves of a
map of the world, as she said,

“I believe that Maurice Kirkwood is suffering from the effects of the
bite of a TARANTULA!”

The doctor drew a long breath. He remembered in a vague sort of way the
stories which used to be told of the terrible Apulian spider, but he had
consigned them to the limbo of medical fable where so many fictions have
clothed themselves with a local habitation and a name. He looked into
the round eyes and wide pupils a little anxiously, as if he feared that
she was in a state of undue excitement, but, true to his professional
training, he waited for another symptom, if indeed her mind was in any
measure off its balance.

“I know what you are thinking,” Lurida said, “but it is not so. ‘I am
not mad, most noble Festus.’ You shall see the evidence and judge for
yourself. Read the whole case,--you can read my hand almost as if it
were print, and tell me if you do not agree with me that this young
man is in all probability the same person as the boy described in the
Italian journal,

“One thing you might say is against the supposition. The young patient
is spoken of as Signorino M---- Ch------ But you must remember that ch
is pronounced hard in Italian, like k, which letter is wanting in the
Italian alphabet; and it is natural enough that the initial of the
second name should have got changed in the record to its Italian
equivalent.”

Before inviting the reader to follow the details of this extraordinary
case as found in a medical journal, the narrator wishes to be indulged
in a few words of explanation, in order that he may not have to
apologize for allowing the introduction of a subject which may be
thought to belong to the professional student rather than to the readers
of this record. There is a great deal in medical books which it is very
unbecoming to bring before the general public,--a great deal to repel,
to disgust, to alarm, to excite unwholesome curiosity. It is not the men
whose duties have made them familiar with this class of subjects who
are most likely to offend by scenes and descriptions which belong to the
physician’s private library, and not to the shelves devoted to polite
literature. Goldsmith and even Smollett, both having studied and
practised medicine, could not by any possibility have outraged all the
natural feelings of delicacy and decency as Swift and Zola have outraged
them. But without handling doubtful subjects, there are many curious
medical experiences which have interest for every one as extreme
illustrations of ordinary conditions with which all are acquainted. No
one can study the now familiar history of clairvoyance profitably who
has not learned something of the vagaries of hysteria. No one can read
understandingly the life of Cowper and that of Carlyle without having
some idea of the influence of hypochondriasis and of dyspepsia upon the
disposition and intellect of the subjects of these maladies. I need
not apologize, therefore, for giving publicity to that part of this
narrative which deals with one of the most singular maladies to be found
in the records of bodily and mental infirmities.

The following is the account of the case as translated by Miss Vincent.
For obvious reasons the whole name was not given in the original paper,
and for similar reasons the date of the event and the birthplace of the
patient are not precisely indicated here.

[Giornale degli Ospitali, Luglio 21, 18--.] REMARKABLE CASE OF
TARANTISM.

“The great interest attaching to the very singular and exceptional
instance of this rare affection induces us to give a full account of the
extraordinary example of its occurrence in a patient who was the subject
of a recent medical consultation in this city.

“Signorino M... Ch... is the only son of a gentleman travelling in
Italy at this time. He is eleven years of age, of sanguine-nervous
temperament, light hair, blue eyes, intelligent countenance, well grown,
but rather slight in form, to all appearance in good health, but subject
to certain peculiar and anomalous nervous symptoms, of which his father
gives this history.

“Nine years ago, the father informs us, he was travelling in Italy with
his wife, this child, and a nurse. They were passing a few days in a
country village near the city of Bari, capital of the province of the
same name in the division (compartamento) of Apulia. The child was in
perfect health and had never been affected by any serious illness. On
the 10th of July he was playing out in the field near the house
where the family was staying when he was heard to scream suddenly and
violently. The nurse rushing to him found him in great pain, saying that
something had bitten him in one of his feet. A laborer, one Tommaso,
ran up at the moment and perceived in the grass, near where the boy
was standing, an enormous spider, which he at once recognized as a
tarantula. He managed to catch the creature in a large leaf, from which
he was afterwards transferred to a wide-mouthed bottle, where he lived
without any food for a month or more. The creature was covered with
short hairs, and had a pair of nipper-like jaws, with which he could
inflict an ugly wound. His body measured about an inch in length, and
from the extremity of one of the longest limbs to the other was between
two and three inches. Such was the account given by the physician to
whom the peasant carried the great spider.

“The boy who had been bitten continued screaming violently while his
stocking was being removed and the foot examined. The place of the bite
was easily found and the two marks of the claw-like jaws already showed
the effects of the poison, a small livid circle extending around them,
with some puffy swelling. The distinguished Dr. Amadei was immediately
sent for, and applied cups over the wounds in the hope of drawing forth
the poison. In vain all his skill and efforts! Soon, ataxic (irregular)
nervous symptoms declared themselves, and it became plain that the
system had been infected by the poison.

“The symptoms were very much like those of malignant fever, such
as distress about the region of the heart, difficulty of breathing,
collapse of all the vital powers, threatening immediate death. From
these first symptoms the child rallied, but his entire organism had
been profoundly affected by the venom circulating through it. His
constitution has never thrown off the malady resulting from this toxic
(poisonous) agent. The phenomena which have been observed in this young
patient correspond so nearly with those enumerated in the elaborate
essay of the celebrated Baglivi that one might think they had been
transcribed from his pages.

“He is very fond of solitude,--of wandering about in churchyards and
other lonely places. He was once found hiding in an empty tomb, which
had been left open. His aversion to certain colors is remarkable.
Generally speaking, he prefers bright tints to darker ones, but his
likes and dislikes are capricious, and with regard to some colors his
antipathy amounts to positive horror. Some shades have such an effect
upon him that he cannot remain in the room with them, and if he meets
any one whose dress has any of that particular color he will turn away
or retreat so as to avoid passing that person. Among these, purple and
dark green are the least endurable. He cannot explain the sensations
which these obnoxious colors produce except by saying that it is like
the deadly feeling from a blow on the epigastrium (pit of the stomach).

“About the same season of the year at which the tarantular poisoning
took place he is liable to certain nervous seizures, not exactly like
fainting or epilepsy, but reminding the physician of those affections.
All the other symptoms are aggravated at this time.

“In other respects than those mentioned the boy is in good health. He
is fond of riding, and has a pony on which he takes a great deal of
exercise, which seems to do him more good than any other remedy.

“The influence of music, to which so much has been attributed by popular
belief and even by the distinguished Professor to whom we shall again
refer, has not as yet furnished any satisfactory results. If the graver
symptoms recur while the patient is under our observation, we propose to
make use of an agency discredited by modern skepticism, but deserving of
a fair trial as an exceptional remedy for an exceptional disease.

“The following extracts from the work of the celebrated Italian
physician of the last century are given by the writer of the paper in
the Giornale in the original Latin, with a translation into Italian,
subjoined. Here are the extracts, or rather here is a selection from
them, with a translation of them into English.

“After mentioning the singular aversion to certain colors shown by
the subject of Tarantism, Baglivi writes as follows: “‘Et si astantes
incedant vestibus eo colore difusis, qui Tarantatis ingrates est,
necesse est ut ab illorum aspectu recedant; nam ad intuitum molesti
coloris angore cordis, et symptomatum recrudescantia stating
corripiuntur.’ (G. Baglivi, Op. Omnia, page 614. Lugduni, 1745.)

“That is, ‘if the persons about the patient wear dresses of the color
which is offensive to him, he must get away from the sight of them, for
on seeing the obnoxious color he is at once seized with distress in the
region of the heart, and a renewal of his symptoms.’

“As to the recurrence of the malady, Baglivi says: “‘Dam calor solis
ardentius exurere incip at, quod contingit circa initia Julii et
Augusti, Tarantati lente venientem recrudescentiam veneni percipiunt.’
(Ibid., page 619.)

“Which I render, ‘When the heat of the sun begins to burn more fiercely,
which happens about the beginning of July and August, the subjects of
Tarantism perceive the gradually approaching recrudescence (returning
symptoms) of the poisoning. Among the remedies most valued by this
illustrious physician is that mentioned in the following sentence:

“‘Laudo magnopere equitationes in aere rusticano factas singulis diebus,
hord potissimum matutina, quibus equitationibus morbos chronicos pene
incurabiles protanus eliminavi.’

“Or in translation, ‘I commend especially riding on horseback in country
air, every day, by preference in the morning hours, by the aid of which
horseback riding I have driven off chronic diseases which were almost
incurable.’”

Miss Vincent read this paper aloud to Dr. Butts, and handed it to him
to examine and consider. He listened with a grave countenance and devout
attention.

As she finished reading her account, she exclaimed in the passionate
tones of the deepest conviction,

“There, doctor! Have n’t I found the true story of this strange visitor?
Have n’t I solved the riddle of the Sphinx? Who can this man be but the
boy of that story? Look at the date of the journal when he was eleven
years old, it would make him twenty-five now, and that is just about the
age the people here think he must be of. What could account so entirely
for his ways and actions as that strange poisoning which produces the
state they call Tarantism? I am just as sure it must be that as I am
that I am alive. Oh, doctor, doctor, I must be right,--this Signorino
M ... Ch... was the boy Maurice Kirkwood, and the story accounts for
everything,--his solitary habits, his dread of people,--it must be
because they wear the colors he can’t bear. His morning rides on
horseback, his coming here just as the season was approaching which
would aggravate all his symptoms, does n’t all this prove that I must be
right in my conjecture,--no, my conviction?”

The doctor knew too much to interrupt the young enthusiast, and so he
let her run on until she ran down. He was more used to the rules of
evidence than she was, and could not accept her positive conclusion so
readily as she would have liked to have him. He knew that beginners are
very apt to make what they think are discoveries. But he had been an
angler and knew the meaning of a yielding rod and an easy-running reel.
He said quietly,

“You are a most sagacious young lady, and a very pretty prima facie case
it is that you make out. I can see no proof that Mr. Kirkwood is not
the same person as the M... Ch... of the medical journal,--that is, if
I accept your explanation of the difference in the initials of these two
names. Even if there were a difference, that would not disprove their
identity, for the initials of patients whose cases are reported by their
physicians are often altered for the purpose of concealment. I do not
know, however, that Mr. Kirkwood has shown any special aversion to any
particular color. It might be interesting to inquire whether it is so,
but it is a delicate matter. I don’t exactly see whose business it is
to investigate Mr. Maurice Kirkwood’s idiosyncrasies and constitutional
history. If he should have occasion to send for me at any time, he might
tell me all about himself, in confidence, you know. These old accounts
from Baglivi are curious and interesting, but I am cautious about
receiving any stories a hundred years old, if they involve an
improbability, as his stories about the cure of the tarantula bite
by music certainly do. I am disposed to wait for future developments,
bearing in mind, of course, the very singular case you have unearthed.
It wouldn’t be very strange if our young gentleman had to send for me
before the season is over. He is out a good deal before the dew is off
the grass, which is rather risky in this neighborhood as autumn comes
on. I am somewhat curious, I confess, about the young man, but I do not
meddle where I am not asked for or wanted, and I have found that eggs
hatch just as well if you let them alone in the nest as if you take
them out and shake them every day. This is a wonderfully interesting
supposition of yours, and may prove to be strictly in accordance with
the facts. But I do not think we have all the facts in this young man’s
case. If it were proved that he had an aversion to any color, it would
greatly strengthen your case. His ‘antipatia,’ as his man called
it, must be one which covers a wide ground, to account for his
self-isolation,--and the color hypothesis seems as plausible as any.
But, my dear Miss Vincent, I think you had better leave your singular
and striking hypothesis in my keeping for a while, rather than let it
get abroad in a community like this, where so many tongues are in active
exercise. I will carefully study this paper, if you will leave it with
me, and we will talk the whole matter over. It is a fair subject for
speculation, only we must keep quiet about it.”

This long speech gave Lurida’s perfervid brain time to cool off a
little. She left the paper with the doctor, telling him she would come
for it the next day, and went off to tell the result of this visit to
her bosom friend, Miss Euthymia Tower.



XV. DR. BUTTS CALLS ON EUTHYMIA.

The doctor was troubled in thinking over his interview with the young
lady. She was fully possessed with the idea that she had discovered the
secret which had defied the most sagacious heads of the village. It was
of no use to oppose her while her mind was in an excited state. But
he felt it his duty to guard her against any possible results of
indiscretion into which her eagerness and her theory of the equality,
almost the identity, of the sexes might betray her. Too much of the
woman in a daughter of our race leads her to forget danger. Too little
of the woman prompts her to defy it. Fortunately for this last class of
women, they are not quite so likely to be perilously seductive as their
more emphatically feminine sisters.

Dr. Butts had known Lurida and her friend from the days of their
infancy. He had watched the development of Lurida’s intelligence from
its precocious nursery-life to the full vigor of its trained faculties.
He had looked with admiration on the childish beauty of Euthymia,
and had seen her grow up to womanhood, every year making her more
attractive. He knew that if anything was to be done with his self-willed
young scholar and friend, it would be more easily effected through the
medium of Euthymia than by direct advice to the young lady herself.
So the thoughtful doctor made up his mind to have a good talk with
Euthymia, and put her on her guard, if Lurida showed any tendency to
forget the conventionalities in her eager pursuit of knowledge.

For the doctor’s horse and chaise to stop at the door of Miss Euthymia
Tower’s parental home was an event strange enough to set all the tongues
in the village going. This was one of those families where illness was
hardly looked for among the possibilities of life. There were other
families where a call from the doctor was hardly more thought of than
a call from the baker. But here he was a stranger, at least on his
professional rounds, and when he asked for Miss Euthymia the servant,
who knew his face well, stared as if he had held in his hand a warrant
for her apprehension.

Euthymia did not keep the doctor waiting very long while she made ready
to meet him. One look at her glass to make sure that a lock had not run
astray, or a ribbon got out of place, and her toilet for a morning call
was finished. Perhaps if Mr. Maurice Kirkwood had been announced, she
might have taken a second look, but with the good middle-aged, married
doctor one was enough for a young lady who had the gift of making all
the dresses she wore look well, and had no occasion to treat her chamber
like the laboratory where an actress compounds herself.

Euthymia welcomed the doctor very heartily. She could not help
suspecting his errand, and she was very glad to have a chance to talk
over her friend’s schemes and fancies with him.

The doctor began without any roundabout prelude.

“I want to confer with you about our friend Lurida. Does she tell you
all her plans and projects?”

“Why, as to that, doctor, I can hardly say, positively, but I do not
believe she keeps back anything of importance from me. I know what she
has been busy with lately, and the queer idea she has got into her
head. What do you think of the Tarantula business? She has shown you the
paper, she has written, I suppose.”

“Indeed she has. It is a very curious case she has got hold of, and I do
not wonder at all that she should have felt convinced that she had come
at the true solution of the village riddle. It may be that this young
man is the same person as the boy mentioned in the Italian medical
journal. But it is very far from clear that he is so. You know all her
reasons, of course, as you have read the story. The times seem to agree
well enough. It is easy to conceive that Ch might be substituted for K
in the report. The singular solitary habits of this young man entirely
coincide with the story. If we could only find out whether he has any
of those feelings with reference to certain colors, we might guess with
more chance of guessing right than we have at present. But I don’t see
exactly how we are going to submit him to examination on this point. If
he were only a chemical compound, we could analyze him. If he were only
a bird or a quadruped, we could find out his likes and dislikes. But
being, as he is, a young man, with ways of his own, and a will of
his own, which he may not choose to have interfered with, the problem
becomes more complicated. I hear that a newspaper correspondent has
visited him so as to make a report to his paper,--do you know what he
found out?”

“Certainly I do, very well. My brother has heard his own story, which
was this: He found out he had got hold of the wrong person to interview.
The young gentleman, he says, interviewed him, so that he did not
learn much about the Sphinx. But the newspaper man told Willy about the
Sphinx’s library and a cabinet of coins he had; and said he should make
an article out of him, anyhow. I wish the man would take himself off. I
am afraid Lurida’s love of knowledge will get her into trouble!”

“Which of the men do you wish would take himself off?”

“I was thinking of the newspaper man.”

She blushed a little as she said, “I can’t help feeling a strange sort
of interest about the other, Mr. Kirkwood. Do you know that I met him
this morning, and had a good look at him, full in the face?”

“Well, to be sure! That was an interesting experience. And how did you
like his looks?”

“I thought his face a very remarkable one. But he looked very pale as he
passed me, and I noticed that he put his hand to his left side as if he
had a twinge of pain, or something of that sort,--spasm or neuralgia,--I
don’t know what. I wondered whether he had what you call angina
pectoris. It was the same kind of look and movement, I remember, as you
must, too, in my uncle who died with that complaint.”

The doctor was silent for a moment. Then he asked, “Were you dressed as
you are now?”

“Yes, I was, except that I had a thin mantle over my shoulders. I was
out early, and I have always remembered your caution.”

“What color was your mantle?”

“It was black. I have been over all this with Lucinda. A black mantle on
a white dress. A straw hat with an old faded ribbon. There can’t be
much in those colors to trouble him, I should think, for his man wears
a black coat and white linen,--more or less white, as you must have
noticed, and he must have seen ribbons of all colors often enough. But
Lurida believes it was the ribbon, or something in the combination of
colors. Her head is full of Tarantulas and Tarantism. I fear that she
will never be easy until the question is settled by actual trial. And
will you believe it? the girl is determined in some way to test her
supposition!”

“Believe it, Euthymia? I can believe almost anything of Lurida. She is
the most irrepressible creature I ever knew. You know as well as I do
what a complete possession any ruling idea takes of her whole nature. I
have had some fears lest her zeal might run away with her discretion. It
is a great deal easier to get into a false position than to get out of
it.”

“I know it well enough. I want you to tell me what you think about the
whole business. I don’t like the look of it at all, and yet I can do
nothing with the girl except let her follow her fancy, until I can show
her plainly that she will get herself into trouble in some way or other.
But she is ingenious,--full of all sorts of devices, innocent enough in
themselves, but liable to be misconstrued. You remember how she won us
the boat-race?”

“To be sure I do. It was rather sharp practice, but she felt she was
paying off an old score. The classical story of Atalanta, told, like
that of Eve, as illustrating the weakness of woman, provoked her to
make trial of the powers of resistance in the other sex. But it was
audacious. I hope her audacity will not go too far. You must watch her.
Keep an eye on her correspondence.”

The doctor had great confidence in the good sense of Lurida’s friend.
He felt sure that she would not let Lurida commit herself by writing
foolish letters to the subject of her speculations, or similar
indiscreet performances. The boldness of young girls, who think no evil,
in opening correspondence with idealized personages is something quite
astonishing to those who have had an opportunity of knowing the facts.
Lurida had passed the most dangerous age, but her theory of the equality
of the sexes made her indifferent to the by-laws of social usage. She
required watching, and her two guardians were ready to check her, in
case of need.



XVI. MISS VINCENT WRITES A LETTER.

Euthymia noticed that her friend had been very much preoccupied for two
or three days. She found her more than once busy at her desk, with a
manuscript before her, which she turned over and placed inside the desk,
as Euthymia entered.

This desire of concealment was not what either of the friends expected
to see in the other. It showed that some project was under way, which,
at least in its present stage, the Machiavellian young lady did not
wish to disclose. It had cost her a good deal of thought and care,
apparently, for her waste-basket was full of scraps of paper, which
looked as if they were the remains of a manuscript like that at which
she was at work. “Copying and recopying, probably,” thought Euthymia,
but she was willing to wait to learn what Lurida was busy about, though
she had a suspicion that it was something in which she might feel called
upon to interest herself.

“Do you know what I think?” said Euthymia to the doctor, meeting him as
he left his door. “I believe Lurida is writing to this man, and I don’t
like the thought of her doing such a thing. Of course she is not like
other girls in many respects, but other people will judge her by the
common rules of life.”

“I am glad that you spoke of it,” answered the doctor; “she would write
to him just as quickly as to any woman of his age. Besides, under the
cover of her office, she has got into the way of writing to anybody. I
think she has already written to Mr. Kirkwood, asking him to contribute
a paper for the Society. She can find a pretext easily enough if she has
made up her mind to write. In fact, I doubt if she would trouble herself
for any pretext at all if she decided to write. Watch her well. Don’t
let any letter go without seeing it, if you can help it.”

Young women are much given to writing letters to persons whom they only
know indirectly, for the most part through their books, and especially
to romancers and poets. Nothing can be more innocent and simple-hearted
than most of these letters. They are the spontaneous outflow of young
hearts easily excited to gratitude for the pleasure which some story
or poem has given them, and recognizing their own thoughts, their own
feelings, in those expressed by the author, as if on purpose for them to
read. Undoubtedly they give great relief to solitary young persons, who
must have some ideal reflection of themselves, and know not where to
look since Protestantism has taken away the crucifix and the Madonna.
The recipient of these letters sometimes wonders, after reading through
one of them, how it is that his young correspondent has managed to fill
so much space with her simple message of admiration or of sympathy.

Lurida did not belong to this particular class of correspondents,
but she could not resist the law of her sex, whose thoughts naturally
surround themselves with superabundant drapery of language, as their
persons float in a wide superfluity of woven tissues. Was she indeed
writing to this unknown gentleman? Euthymia questioned her point-blank.

“Are you going to open a correspondence with Mr. Maurice Kirkwood,
Lurida? You seem to be so busy writing, I can think of nothing else. Or
are you going to write a novel, or a paper for the Society,--do tell me
what you are so much taken up with.”

“I will tell you, Euthymia, if you will promise not to find fault with
me for carrying out my plan as I have made up my mind to do. You may
read this letter before I seal it, and if you find anything in it you
don’t like you can suggest any change that you think will improve it. I
hope you will see that it explains itself. I don’t believe that you will
find anything to frighten you in it.”

This is the letter, as submitted to Miss Tower by her friend. The bold
handwriting made it look like a man’s letter, and gave it consequently
a less dangerous expression than that which belongs to the tinted and
often fragrant sheet with its delicate thready characters, which slant
across the page like an April shower with a south wind chasing it.

ARROWHEAD VILLAGE, August--, 18--.

MY DEAR SIR,--You will doubtless be surprised at the sight of a letter
like this from one whom you only know as the Secretary of the Pansophian
Society. There is a very common feeling that it is unbecoming in one of
my sex to address one of your own with whom she is unacquainted, unless
she has some special claim upon his attention. I am by no means disposed
to concede to the vulgar prejudice on this point. If one human being
has anything to communicate to another,--anything which deserves being
communicated,--I see no occasion for bringing in the question of sex. I
do not think the homo sum of Terence can be claimed for the male sex as
its private property on general any more than on grammatical grounds,

I have sometimes thought of devoting myself to the noble art of healing.
If I did so, it would be with the fixed purpose of giving my whole
powers to the service of humanity. And if I should carry out that idea,
should I refuse my care and skill to a suffering fellow-mortal because
that mortal happened to be a brother, and not a sister? My whole
nature protests against such one-sided humanity! No! I am blind to all
distinctions when my eyes are opened to any form of suffering, to any
spectacle of want.

You may ask me why I address you, whom I know little or nothing of,
and to whom such an advance may seem presumptuous and intrusive. It
is because I was deeply impressed by the paper which I attributed to
you,--that on Ocean, River, and Lake, which was read at one of our
meetings. I say that I was deeply impressed, but I do not mean this as
a compliment to that paper. I am not bandying compliments now, but
thinking of better things than praises or phrases. I was interested in
the paper, partly because I recognized some of the feelings expressed in
it as my own,--partly because there was an undertone of sadness in all
the voices of nature as you echoed them which made me sad to hear, and
which I could not help longing to cheer and enliven. I said to myself, I
should like to hold communion with the writer of that paper. I have
had my lonely hours and days, as he has had. I have had some of his
experiences in my intercourse with nature. And oh! if I could draw him
into those better human relations which await us all, if we come with
the right dispositions, I should blush if I stopped to inquire whether I
violated any conventional rule or not.

You will understand me, I feel sure. You believe, do you not? in the
insignificance of the barrier which divides the sisterhood from the
brotherhood of mankind. You believe, do you not? that they should be
educated side by side, that they should share the same pursuits, due
regard being had to the fitness of the particular individual for hard
or light work, as it must always be, whether we are dealing with
the “stronger” or the “weaker” sex. I mark these words because,
notwithstanding their common use, they involve so much that is not true.
Stronger! Yes, to lift a barrel of flour, or a barrel of cider,--though
there have been women who could do that, and though when John Wesley
was mobbed in Staffordshire a woman knocked down three or four men, one
after another, until she was at last overpowered and nearly murdered.
Talk about the weaker sex! Go and see Miss Euthymia Tower at the
gymnasium! But no matter about which sex has the strongest muscles.
Which has most to suffer, and which has most endurance and vitality? We
go through many ordeals which you are spared, but we outlast you in
mind and body. I have been led away into one of my accustomed trains of
thought, but not so far away from it as you might at first suppose.

My brother! Are you not ready to recognize in me a friend, an equal, a
sister, who can speak to you as if she had been reared under the same
roof? And is not the sky that covers us one roof, which makes us all one
family? You are lonely, you must be longing for some human fellowship.
Take me into your confidence. What is there that you can tell me
to which I cannot respond with sympathy? What saddest note in your
spiritual dirges which will not find its chord in mine?

I long to know what influence has cast its shadow over your existence. I
myself have known what it is to carry a brain that never rests in a body
that is always tired. I have defied its infirmities, and forced it to do
my bidding. You have no such hindrance, if we may judge by your aspect
and habits. You deal with horses like a Homeric hero. No wild Indian
could handle his bark canoe more dexterously or more vigorously than
we have seen you handling yours. There must be some reason for your
seclusion which curiosity has not reached, and into which it is not the
province of curiosity to inquire. But in the irresistible desire which
I have to bring you into kindly relations with those around you, I must
run the risk of giving offence that I may know in what direction to
look for those restorative influences which the sympathy of a friend and
sister can offer to a brother in need of some kindly impulse to change
the course of a life which is not, which cannot be, in accordance with
his true nature.

I have thought that there may be something in the conditions with which
you are here surrounded which is repugnant to your feelings,--something
which can be avoided only by keeping yourself apart from the people
whose acquaintance you would naturally have formed. There can hardly be
anything in the place itself, or you would not have voluntarily sought
it as a residence, even for a single season there might be individuals
here whom you would not care to meet, there must be such, but you cannot
have a personal aversion to everybody. I have heard of cases in which
certain sights and sounds, which have no particular significance for
most persons, produced feelings of distress or aversion that made,
them unbearable to the subjects of the constitutional dislike. It has
occurred to me that possibly you might have some such natural aversion
to the sounds of the street, or such as are heard in most houses,
especially where a piano is kept, as it is in fact in almost all of
those in the village. Or it might be, I imagined, that some color in
the dresses of women or the furniture of our rooms affected you
unpleasantly. I know that instances of such antipathy have been
recorded, and they would account for the seclusion of those who are
subject to it.

If there is any removable condition which interferes with your free
entrance into and enjoyment of the social life around you, tell me, I
beg of you, tell me what it is, and it shall be eliminated. Think it not
strange, O my brother, that I thus venture to introduce myself into
the hidden chambers of your life. I will never suffer myself to be
frightened from the carrying out of any thought which promises to be
of use to a fellow-mortal by a fear lest it should be considered
“unfeminine.” I can bear to be considered unfeminine, but I cannot
endure to think of myself as inhuman. Can I help you, my brother’?

Believe me your most sincere well-wisher, LURIDA VINCENT.

Euthymia had carried off this letter and read it by herself. As she
finished it, her feelings found expression in an old phrase of her
grandmother’s, which came up of itself, as such survivals of early days
are apt to do, on great occasions.

“Well, I never!”

Then she loosened some button or string that was too tight, and went to
the window for a breath of outdoor air. Then she began at the beginning
and read the whole letter all over again.

What should she do about it? She could not let this young girl send
a letter like that to a stranger of whose character little was known
except by inference,--to a young man, who would consider it a most
extraordinary advance on the part of the sender. She would have liked to
tear it into a thousand pieces, but she had no right to treat it in
that way. Lurida meant to send it the next morning, and in the mean time
Euthymia had the night to think over what she should do about it.

There is nothing like the pillow for an oracle. There is no voice like
that which breaks the silence--of the stagnant hours of the night with
its sudden suggestions and luminous counsels. When Euthymia awoke in the
morning, her course of action was as clear before her as if it bad been
dictated by her guardian angel. She went straight over to the home of
Lurida, who was just dressed for breakfast.

She was naturally a little surprised at this early visit. She was
struck with the excited look of Euthymia, being herself quite calm, and
contemplating her project with entire complacency.

Euthymia began, in tones that expressed deep anxiety.

“I have read your letter, my dear, and admired its spirit and force.
It is a fine letter, and does you great credit as an expression of the
truest human feeling. But it must not be sent to Mr. Kirkwood. If you
were sixty years old, perhaps if you were fifty, it might be admissible
to send it. But if you were forty, I should question its propriety; if
you were thirty, I should veto it, and you are but a little more than
twenty. How do you know that this stranger will not show your letter to
anybody or everybody? How do you know that he will not send it to one of
the gossiping journals like the ‘Household Inquisitor’? But supposing he
keeps it to himself, which is more than you have a right to expect, what
opinion is he likely to form of a young lady who invades his privacy
with such freedom? Ten to one he will think curiosity is at the bottom
of it,--and,--come, don’t be angry at me for suggesting it,--may there
not be a little of that same motive mingled with the others? No, don’t
interrupt me quite yet; you do want to know whether your hypothesis is
correct. You are full of the best and kindest feelings in the world, but
your desire for knowledge is the ferment under them just now, perhaps
more than you know.”

Lurida’s pale cheeks flushed and whitened more than once while her
friend was speaking. She loved her too sincerely and respected her
intelligence too much to take offence at her advice, but she could not
give up her humane and sisterly intentions merely from the fear of some
awkward consequences to herself. She had persuaded herself that she was
playing the part of a Protestant sister of charity, and that the fact
of her not wearing the costume of these ministering angels made no
difference in her relations to those who needed her aid.

“I cannot see your objections in the light in which they appear to
you,” she said gravely. “It seems to me that I give up everything when I
hesitate to help a fellow-creature because I am a woman. I am not afraid
to send this letter and take all the consequences.”

“Will you go with me to the doctor’s, and let him read it in our
presence? And will you agree to abide by his opinion, if it coincides
with mine?”

Lurida winced a little at this proposal. “I don’t quite like,” she said,
“showing this letter to--to” she hesitated, but it had to come out--“to
a man, that is, to another man than the one for whom it was intended.”

The neuter gender business had got a pretty damaging side-hit.

“Well, never mind about letting him read the letter. Will you go over to
his house with me at noon, when he comes back after his morning
visits, and have a talk over the whole matter with him? You know I have
sometimes had to say must to you, Lurida, and now I say you must go to
the doctor’s with me and carry that letter.”

There was no resisting the potent monosyllable as the sweet but firm
voice delivered it. At noon the two maidens rang at the doctor’s door.
The servant said he had been at the house after his morning visits, but
found a hasty summons to Mr. Kirkwood, who had been taken suddenly
ill and wished to see him at once. Was the illness dangerous? The
servant-maid did n’t know, but thought it was pretty bad, for Mr. Paul
came in as white as a sheet, and talked all sorts of languages which she
couldn’t understand, and took on as if he thought Mr. Kirkwood was going
to die right off.

And so the hazardous question about sending the letter was disposed of,
at least for the present.



XVII. Dr. BUTTS’S PATIENT.

The physician found Maurice just regaining his heat after a chill of
a somewhat severe character. He knew too well what this meant, and the
probable series of symptoms of which it was the prelude. His patient was
not the only one in the neighborhood who was attacked in this way. The
autumnal fevers to which our country towns are subject, in the place of
those “agues,” or intermittents, so largely prevalent in the South and
West, were already beginning, and Maurice, who had exposed himself in
the early and late hours of the dangerous season, must be expected to go
through the regular stages of this always serious and not rarely fatal
disease.

Paolo, his faithful servant, would fain have taken the sole charge of
his master during his illness. But the doctor insisted that he must
have a nurse to help him in his task, which was likely to be long and
exhausting.

At the mention of the word “nurse” Paolo turned white, and exclaimed in
an agitated and thoroughly frightened way,

“No! no nuss! no woman! She kill him! I stay by him day and night, but
don’ let no woman come near him,--if you do, he die!”

The doctor explained that he intended to send a man who was used to
taking care of sick people, and with no little effort at last succeeded
in convincing Paolo that, as he could not be awake day and night for a
fortnight or three weeks, it was absolutely necessary to call in some
assistance from without. And so Mr. Maurice Kirkwood was to play the
leading part in that drama of nature’s composing called a typhoid
fever, with its regular bedchamber scenery, its properties of phials and
pill-boxes, its little company of stock actors, its gradual evolution of
a very simple plot, its familiar incidents, its emotional alternations,
and its denouement, sometimes tragic, oftener happy.

It is needless to say that the sympathies of all the good people of the
village, residents and strangers, were actively awakened for the young
man about whom they knew so little and conjectured so much. Tokens of
their kindness came to him daily: flowers from the woods and from the
gardens; choice fruit grown in the open air or under glass, for there
were some fine houses surrounded by well-kept grounds, and greenhouses
and graperies were not unknown in the small but favored settlement.

On all these luxuries Maurice looked with dull and languid eyes. A faint
smile of gratitude sometimes struggled through the stillness of his
features, or a murmured word of thanks found its way through his parched
lips, and he would relapse into the partial stupor or the fitful sleep
in which, with intervals of slight wandering, the slow hours dragged
along the sluggish days one after another. With no violent symptoms, but
with steady persistency, the disease moved on in its accustomed course.
It was at no time immediately threatening, but the experienced physician
knew its uncertainties only too well. He had known fever patients
suddenly seized with violent internal inflammation, and carried off with
frightful rapidity. He remembered the case of a convalescent, a young
woman who had been attacked while in apparently vigorous general health,
who, on being lifted too suddenly to a sitting position, while still
confined to her bed, fainted, and in a few moments ceased to breathe. It
may well be supposed that he took every possible precaution to avert
the accidents which tend to throw from its track a disease the regular
course of which is arranged by nature as carefully as the route of a
railroad from one city to another. The most natural interpretation which
the common observer would put upon the manifestations of one of these
autumnal maladies would be that some noxious combustible element had
found its way into the system which must be burned to ashes before the
heat which pervades the whole body can subside. Sometimes the fire may
smoulder and seem as if it were going out, or were quite extinguished,
and again it will find some new material to seize upon, and flame up as
fiercely as ever. Its coming on most frequently at the season when the
brush fires which are consuming the dead branches, and withered
leaves, and all the refuse of vegetation are sending up their smoke is
suggestive. Sometimes it seems as if the body, relieved of its effete
materials, renewed its youth after one of these quiet, expurgating,
internal fractional cremations. Lean, pallid students have found
themselves plump and blooming, and it has happened that one whose hair
was straight as that of an Indian has been startled to behold himself
in his mirror with a fringe of hyacinthine curls about his rejuvenated
countenance.

There was nothing of what medical men call malignity in the case of
Maurice Kirkwood. The most alarming symptom was a profound prostration,
which at last reached such a point that he lay utterly helpless, as
unable to move without aid as the feeblest of paralytics. In this state
he lay for many days, not suffering pain, but with the sense of great
weariness, and the feeling that he should never rise from his bed again.
For the most part his intellect was unclouded when his attention was
aroused. He spoke only in whispers, a few words at a time. The doctor
felt sure, by the expression which passed over his features from time to
time, that something was worrying and oppressing him; something which
he wished to communicate, and had not the force, or the tenacity of
purpose, to make perfectly clear. His eyes often wandered to a certain
desk, and once he had found strength to lift his emaciated arm and
point to it. The doctor went towards it as if to fetch it to him, but he
slowly shook his head. He had not the power to say at that time what he
wished. The next day he felt a little less prostrated; and succeeded
in explaining to the doctor what he wanted. His words, so far as the
physician could make them out, were these which follow. Dr. Butts looked
upon them as possibly expressing wishes which would be his last, and
noted them down carefully immediately after leaving his chamber.

“I commit the secret of my life to your charge. My whole story is told
in a paper locked in that desk. The key is--put your hand under
my pillow. If I die, let the story be known. It will show that I
was--human--and save my memory from reproach.”

He was silent for a little time. A single tear stole down his hollow
cheek. The doctor turned his head away, for his own eyes were full. But
he said to himself, “It is a good sign; I begin to feel strong hopes
that he will recover.”

Maurice spoke once more. “Doctor, I put full trust in you. You are wise
and kind. Do what you will with this paper, but open it at once and
read. I want you to know the story of my life before it is finished--if
the end is at hand. Take it with you and read it before you sleep.”
 He was exhausted and presently his eyes closed, but the doctor saw a
tranquil look on his features which added encouragement to his hopes.



XVIII. MAURICE KIRKWOOD’S STORY OF HIS LIFE.

I am an American by birth, but a large part of my life has been passed
in foreign lands. My father was a man of education, possessed of an
ample fortune; my mother was considered, a very accomplished and amiable
woman. I was their first and only child. She died while I was yet an
infant. If I remember her at all it is as a vision, more like a glimpse
of a pre-natal existence than as a part of my earthly life. At the death
of my mother I was left in the charge of the old nurse who had enjoyed
her perfect confidence. She was devoted to me, and I became absolutely
dependent on her, who had for me all the love and all the care of a
mother. I was naturally the object of the attentions and caresses of
the family relatives. I have been told that I was a pleasant, smiling
infant, with nothing to indicate any peculiar nervous susceptibility;
not afraid of strangers, but on the contrary ready to make their
acquaintance. My father was devoted to me and did all in his power to
promote my health and comfort.

I was still a babe, often carried in arms, when the event happened
which changed my whole future and destined me to a strange and lonely
existence. I cannot relate it even now without a sense of terror. I
must force myself to recall the circumstances as told me and vaguely
remembered, for I am not willing that my doomed and wholly exceptional
life should pass away unrecorded, unexplained, unvindicated. My nature
is, I feel sure, a kind and social one, but I have lived apart, as if my
heart were filled with hatred of my fellow-creatures. If there are any
readers who look without pity, without sympathy, upon those who shun the
fellowship of their fellow men and women, who show by their downcast or
averted eyes that they dread companionship and long for solitude, I pray
them, if this paper ever reaches them, to stop at this point. Follow
me no further, for you will not believe my story, nor enter into the
feelings which I am about to reveal. But if there are any to whom all
that is human is of interest, who have felt in their own consciousness
some stirrings of invincible attraction to one individual and equally
invincible repugnance to another, who know by their own experience that
elective affinities have as their necessary counterpart, and, as it
were, their polar opposites, currents not less strong of elective
repulsions, let them read with unquestioning faith the story of a
blighted life I am about to relate, much of it, of course, received from
the lips of others.

My cousin Laura, a girl of seventeen, lately returned from Europe, was
considered eminently beautiful. It was in my second summer that she
visited my father’s house, where he was living with his servants and my
old nurse, my mother having but recently left him a widower. Laura
was full of vivacity, impulsive, quick in her movements, thoughtless
occasionally, as it is not strange that a young girl of her age should
be. It was a beautiful summer day when she saw me for the first time. My
nurse had me in her arms, walking back and forward on a balcony with
a low railing, upon which opened the windows of the second story of
my father’s house. While the nurse was thus carrying me, Laura came
suddenly upon the balcony. She no sooner saw me than with all the
delighted eagerness of her youthful nature she rushed toward me, and,
catching me from the nurse’s arms, began tossing me after the fashion of
young girls who have been so lately playing with dolls that they feel
as if babies were very much of the same nature. The abrupt seizure
frightened me; I sprang from her arms in my terror, and fell over the
railing of the balcony. I should probably enough have been killed on
the spot but for the fact that a low thorn-bush grew just beneath
the balcony, into which I fell and thus had the violence of the shock
broken. But the thorns tore my tender flesh, and I bear to this day
marks of the deep wounds they inflicted.

That dreadful experience is burned deep into my memory. The sudden
apparition of the girl; the sense of being torn away from the
protecting arms around me; the frantic effort to escape; the shriek that
accompanied my fall through what must have seemed unmeasurable space;
the cruel lacerations of the piercing and rending thorns,--all these
fearful impressions blended in one paralyzing terror.

When I was taken up I was thought to be dead. I was perfectly white, and
the physician who first saw me said that no pulse was perceptible. But
after a time consciousness returned; the wounds, though painful, were
none of them dangerous, and the most alarming effects of the accident
passed away. My old nurse cared for me tenderly day and night, and my
father, who had been almost distracted in the first hours which followed
the injury, hoped and believed that no permanent evil results would be
found to result from it. My cousin Laura was of course deeply distressed
to feel that her thoughtlessness had been the cause of so grave an
accident. As soon as I had somewhat recovered she came to see me, very
penitent, very anxious to make me forget the alarm she had caused me,
with all its consequences. I was in the nursery sitting up in my bed,
bandaged, but not in any pain, as it seemed, for I was quiet and to all
appearance in a perfectly natural state of feeling. As Laura came near
me I shrieked and instantly changed color. I put my hand upon my heart
as if I had been stabbed, and fell over, unconscious. It was very much
the same state as that in which I was found immediately after my fall.

The cause of this violent and appalling seizure was but too obvious. The
approach of the young girl and the dread that she was about to lay her
hand upon me had called up the same train of effects which the moment
of terror and pain had already occasioned. The old nurse saw this in a
moment. “Go! go!” she cried to Laura, “go, or the child will die!”
 Her command did not have to be repeated. After Laura had gone I lay
senseless, white and cold as marble, for some time. The doctor soon
came, and by the use of smart rubbing and stimulants the color came
back slowly to my cheeks and the arrested circulation was again set in
motion.

It was hard to believe that this was anything more than a temporary
effect of the accident. There could be little doubt, it was thought by
the doctor and by my father, that after a few days I should recover from
this morbid sensibility and receive my cousin as other infants receive
pleasant-looking young persons. The old nurse shook her head. “The girl
will be the death of the child,” she said, “if she touches him or comes
near him. His heart stopped beating just as when the girl snatched him
out of my arms, and he fell over the balcony railing.” Once more the
experiment was tried, cautiously, almost insidiously. The same alarming
consequences followed. It was too evident that a chain of nervous
disturbances had been set up in my system which repeated itself whenever
the original impression gave the first impulse. I never saw my cousin
Laura after this last trial. Its result had so distressed her that she
never ventured again to show herself to me.

If the effect of the nervous shock had stopped there, it would have been
a misfortune for my cousin and myself, but hardly a calamity. The world
is wide, and a cousin or two more or less can hardly be considered an
essential of existence. I often heard Laura’s name mentioned, but never
by any one who was acquainted with all the circumstances, for it was
noticed that I changed color and caught at my breast as if I wanted to
grasp my heart in my hand whenever that fatal name was mentioned.

Alas! this was not all. While I was suffering from the effects of
my fall among the thorns I was attended by my old nurse, assisted by
another old woman, by a physician, and my father, who would take his
share in caring for me. It was thought best to keep me perfectly quiet,
and strangers and friends were alike excluded from my nursery, with one
exception, that my old grandmother came in now and then. With her it
seems that I was somewhat timid and shy, following her with rather
anxious eyes, as if not quite certain whether or not she was dangerous.
But one day, when I was far advanced towards recovery, my father brought
in a young lady, a relative of his, who had expressed a great desire to
see me. She was, as I have been told, a very handsome girl, of about the
same age as my cousin Laura, but bearing no personal resemblance to her
in form, features, or complexion. She had no sooner entered the room
than the same sudden changes which had followed my cousin’s visit began
to show themselves, and before she had reached my bedside I was in a
state of deadly collapse, as on the occasions already mentioned.

Some time passed before any recurrence of these terrifying seizures.
A little girl of five or six years old was allowed to come into the
nursery one day and bring me some flowers. I took them from her hand,
but turned away and shut my eyes. There was no seizure, but there was a
certain dread and aversion, nothing more than a feeling which it might
be hoped that time would overcome. Those around me were gradually
finding out the circumstances which brought on the deadly attack to
which I was subject.

The daughter of one of our near neighbors was considered the prettiest
girl of the village where we were passing the summer. She was very
anxious to see me, and as I was now nearly well it was determined that
she should be permitted to pay me a short visit. I had always delighted
in seeing her and being caressed by her. I was sleeping when she entered
the nursery and came and took a seat at my side in perfect silence.
Presently I became restless, and a moment later I opened my eyes and saw
her stooping over me. My hand went to my left breast,--the color faded
from my cheeks,--I was again the cold marble image so like death that it
had well-nigh been mistaken for it.

Could it be possible that the fright which had chilled my blood had left
me with an unconquerable fear of woman at the period when she is most
attractive not only to adolescents, but to children of tender age, who
feel the fascination of her flowing locks, her bright eyes, her blooming
cheeks, and that mysterious magnetism of sex which draws all life into
its warm and potently vitalized atmosphere? So it did indeed seem. The
dangerous experiment could not be repeated indefinitely. It was not
intentionally tried again, but accident brought about more than
one renewal of it during the following years, until it became fully
recognized that I was the unhappy subject of a mortal dread of
woman,--not absolutely of the human female, for I had no fear of my
old nurse or of my grandmother, or of any old wrinkled face, and I had
become accustomed to the occasional meeting of a little girl or two,
whom I nevertheless regarded with a certain ill-defined feeling that
there was danger in their presence. I was sent to a boys’ school very
early, and during the first ten or twelve years of my life I had rarely
any occasion to be reminded of my strange idiosyncrasy.

As I grew out of boyhood into youth, a change came over the feelings
which had so long held complete possession of me. This was what my
father and his advisers had always anticipated, and was the ground of
their confident hope in my return to natural conditions before I should
have grown to mature manhood.

How shall I describe the conflicts of those dreamy, bewildering,
dreadful years? Visions of loveliness haunted me sleeping and waking.
Sometimes a graceful girlish figure would so draw my eyes towards it
that I lost sight of all else, and was ready to forget all my fears
and find myself at her side, like other youths by the side of young
maidens,--happy in their cheerful companionship, while I,--I, under
the curse of one blighting moment, looked on, hopeless. Sometimes the
glimpse of a fair face or the tone of a sweet voice stirred within
me all the instincts that make the morning of life beautiful to
adolescence. I reasoned with myself:

Why should I not have outgrown that idle apprehension which had been the
nightmare of my earlier years? Why should not the rising tide of life
have drowned out the feeble growths that infested the shallows of
childhood? How many children there are who tremble at being left alone
in the dark, but who, a few years later, will smile at their foolish
terrors and brave all the ghosts of a haunted chamber! Why should I any
longer be the slave of a foolish fancy that has grown into a half insane
habit of mind? I was familiarly acquainted with all the stories of the
strange antipathies and invincible repugnances to which others, some of
them famous men, had been subject. I said to myself, Why should not I
overcome this dread of woman as Peter the Great fought down his dread of
wheels rolling over a bridge? Was I, alone of all mankind, to be doomed
to perpetual exclusion from the society which, as it seemed to me, was
all that rendered existence worth the trouble and fatigue of slavery to
the vulgar need of supplying the waste of the system and working at the
task of respiration like the daughters of Danaus,--toiling day and night
as the worn-out sailor labors at the pump of his sinking vessel?

Why did I not brave the risk of meeting squarely, and without regard to
any possible danger, some one of those fair maidens whose far-off smile,
whose graceful movements, at once attracted and agitated me? I can only
answer this question to the satisfaction of any really inquiring reader
by giving him the true interpretation of the singular phenomenon of
which I was the subject. For this I shall have to refer to a paper of
which I have made a copy, and which will be found included with
this manuscript. It is enough to say here, without entering into the
explanation of the fact, which will be found simple enough as seen
by the light of modern physiological science, that the “nervous
disturbance” which the presence of a woman in the flower of her
age produced in my system was a sense of impending death, sudden,
overwhelming, unconquerable, appalling. It was a reversed action of the
nervous centres,--the opposite of that which flushes the young lover’s
cheek and hurries his bounding pulses as he comes into the presence of
the object of his passion. No one who has ever felt the sensation can
have failed to recognize it as an imperative summons, which commands
instant and terrified submission.

It was at this period of my life that my father determined to try the
effect of travel and residence in different localities upon my bodily
and mental condition. I say bodily as well as mental, for I was too
slender for my height and subject to some nervous symptoms which were a
cause of anxiety. That the mind was largely concerned in these there
was no doubt, but the mutual interactions of mind and body are often
too complex to admit of satisfactory analysis. Each is in part cause and
each also in part effect.

We passed some years in Italy, chiefly in Rome, where I was placed in a
school conducted by priests, and where of course I met only those of
my own sex. There I had the opportunity of seeing the influences under
which certain young Catholics, destined for the priesthood, are led to
separate themselves from all communion with the sex associated in
their minds with the most subtle dangers to which the human soul can be
exposed. I became in some degree reconciled to the thought of exclusion
from the society of women by seeing around me so many who were
self-devoted to celibacy. The thought sometimes occurred to me whether I
should not find the best and the only natural solution of the problem
of existence, as submitted to myself, in taking upon me the vows which
settle the whole question and raise an impassable barrier between the
devotee and the object of his dangerous attraction.

How often I talked this whole matter over with the young priest who was
at once my special instructor and my favorite companion! But accustomed
as I had become to the forms of the Roman Church, and impressed as I was
with the purity and excellence of many of its young members with whom
I was acquainted, my early training rendered it impossible for me to
accept the credentials which it offered me as authoritative. My friend
and instructor had to set me down as a case of “invincible ignorance.”
 This was the loop-hole through which he crept out of the prison-house
of his creed, and was enabled to look upon me without the feeling of
absolute despair with which his sterner brethren would, I fear, have
regarded me.

I have said that accident exposed me at times to the influence which
I had such reasons for dreading. Here is one example of such an
occurrence, which I relate as simply as possible, vividly as it is
impressed upon my memory. A young friend whose acquaintance I had made
in Rome asked me one day to come to his rooms and look at a cabinet of
gems and medals which he had collected. I had been but a short time
in his library when a vague sense of uneasiness came over me. My heart
became restless,--I could feel it stirring irregularly, as if it were
some frightened creature caged in my breast. There was nothing that I
could see to account for it. A door was partly open, but not so that I
could see into the next room. The feeling grew upon me of some influence
which was paralyzing my circulation. I begged my friend to open a
window. As he did so, the door swung in the draught, and I saw a
blooming young woman,--it was my friend’s sister, who had been sitting
with a book in her hand, and who rose at the opening of the door.
Something had warned me of the presence of a woman, that occult and
potent aura of individuality, call it personal magnetism, spiritual
effluence, or reduce it to a simpler expression if you will; whatever
it was, it had warned me of the nearness of the dread attraction which
allured at a distance and revealed itself with all the terrors of the
Lorelei if approached too recklessly. A sign from her brother caused
her to withdraw at once, but not before I had felt the impression which
betrayed itself in my change of color, anxiety about the region of the
heart, and sudden failure as if about to fall in a deadly fainting-fit.

Does all this seem strange and incredible to the reader of my
manuscript? Nothing in the history of life is so strange or exceptional
as it seems to those who have not made a long study of its mysteries.
I have never known just such a case as my own, and yet there must have
been such, and if the whole history of mankind were unfolded I cannot
doubt that there have been many like it. Let my reader suspend his
judgment until he has read the paper I have referred to, which was drawn
up by a Committee of the Royal Academy of the Biological Sciences. In
this paper the mechanism of the series of nervous derangements to which
I have been subject since the fatal shock experienced in my infancy is
explained in language not hard to understand. It will be seen that such
a change of polarity in the nervous centres is only a permanent form and
an extreme degree of an emotional disturbance, which as a temporary
and comparatively unimportant personal accident is far from being
uncommon,--is so frequent, in fact, that every one must have known
instances of it, and not a few must have had more or less serious
experiences of it in their own private history.

It must not be supposed that my imagination dealt with me as I am
now dealing with the reader. I was full of strange fancies and wild
superstitions. One of my Catholic friends gave me a silver medal which
had been blessed by the Pope, and which I was to wear next my body. I
was told that this would turn black after a time, in virtue of a power
which it possessed of drawing out original sin, or certain portions
of it, together with the evil and morbid tendencies which had been
engrafted on the corrupt nature. I wore the medal faithfully, as
directed, and watched it carefully. It became tarnished and after a time
darkened, but it wrought no change in my unnatural condition.

There was an old gypsy who had the reputation of knowing more of
futurity than she had any right to know. The story was that she had
foretold the assassination of Count Rossi and the death of Cavour.

However that may have been, I was persuaded to let her try her black
art upon my future. I shall never forget the strange, wild look of the
wrinkled hag as she took my hand and studied its lines and fixed her
wicked old eyes on my young countenance. After this examination she
shook her head and muttered some words, which as nearly as I could get
them would be in English like these:


   Fair lady cast a spell on thee,
   Fair lady’s hand shall set thee free.

Strange as it may seem, these words of a withered old creature, whose
palm had to be crossed with silver to bring forth her oracular response,
have always clung to my memory as if they were destined to fulfilment.
The extraordinary nature of the affliction to which I was subject
disposed me to believe the incredible with reference to all that relates
to it. I have never ceased to have the feeling that, sooner or later, I
should find myself freed from the blight laid upon me in my infancy. It
seems as if it would naturally come through the influence of some young
and fair woman, to whom that merciful errand should be assigned by the
Providence that governs our destiny. With strange hopes, with trembling
fears, with mingled belief and doubt, wherever I have found myself I
have sought with longing yet half-averted eyes for the “elect lady,”
 as I have learned to call her, who was to lift the curse from my ruined
life.

Three times I have been led to the hope, if not the belief, that I had
found the object of my superstitious belief.--Singularly enough it
was always on the water that the phantom of my hope appeared before
my bewildered vision. Once it was an English girl who was a fellow
passenger with me in one of my ocean voyages. I need not say that she
was beautiful, for she was my dream realized. I heard her singing, I
saw her walking the deck on some of the fair days when sea-sickness was
forgotten. The passengers were a social company enough, but I had kept
myself apart, as was my wont. At last the attraction became too strong
to resist any longer. “I will venture into the charmed circle if it
kills me,” I said to my father. I did venture, and it did not kill me,
or I should not be telling this story. But there was a repetition of the
old experiences. I need not relate the series of alarming consequences
of my venture. The English girl was very lovely, and I have no doubt has
made some one supremely happy before this, but she was not the “elect
lady” of the prophecy and of my dreams.

A second time I thought myself for a moment in the presence of the
destined deliverer who was to restore me to my natural place among my
fellow men and women. It was on the Tiber that I met the young maiden
who drew me once more into that inner circle which surrounded young
womanhood with deadly peril for me, if I dared to pass its limits. I was
floating with the stream in the little boat in which I passed many long
hours of reverie when I saw another small boat with a boy and a young
girl in it. The boy had been rowing, and one of his oars had slipped
from his grasp. He did not know how to paddle with a single oar, and was
hopelessly rowing round and round, his oar all the time floating farther
away from him. I could not refuse my assistance. I picked up the oar and
brought my skiff alongside of the boat. When I handed the oar to the boy
the young girl lifted her veil and thanked me in the exquisite music of
the language which


   ‘Sounds as if it should be writ on satin.’

She was a type of Italian beauty,--a nocturne in flesh and blood, if
I may borrow a term certain artists are fond of; but it was her voice
which captivated me and for a moment made me believe that I was no
longer shut off from all relations with the social life of my race. An
hour later I was found lying insensible on the floor of my boat, white,
cold, almost pulseless. It cost much patient labor to bring me back to
consciousness. Had not such extreme efforts been made, it seems
probable that I should never have waked from a slumber which was hardly
distinguishable from that of death.

Why should I provoke a catastrophe which appears inevitable if I invite
it by exposing myself to its too well ascertained cause? The habit of
these deadly seizures has become a second nature. The strongest and the
ablest men have found it impossible to resist the impression produced
by the most insignificant object, by the most harmless sight or sound to
which they had a congenital or acquired antipathy. What prospect have I
of ever being rid of this long and deep-seated infirmity? I may well ask
myself these questions, but my answer is that I will never give up
the hope that time will yet bring its remedy. It may be that the wild
prediction which so haunts me shall find itself fulfilled. I have had of
late strange premonitions, to which if I were superstitious I could not
help giving heed. But I have seen too much of the faith that deals in
miracles to accept the supernatural in any shape,--assuredly when it
comes from an old witch-like creature who takes pay for her revelations
of the future. Be it so: though I am not superstitious, I have a right
to be imaginative, and my imagination will hold to those words of the
old zingara with an irresistible feeling that, sooner or later, they
will prove true.

Can it be possible that her prediction is not far from its realization?
I have had both waking and sleeping visions within these last months
and weeks which have taken possession of me and filled my life with new
thoughts, new hopes, new resolves.

Sometimes on the bosom of the lake by which I am dreaming away this
season of bloom and fragrance, sometimes in the fields or woods in
a distant glimpse, once in a nearer glance, which left me pale and
tremulous, yet was followed by a swift reaction, so that my cheeks
flushed and my pulse bounded, I have seen her who--how do I dare to tell
it so that my own eyes can read it?---I cannot help believing is to be
my deliverer, my saviour.

I have been warned in the most solemn and impressive language by the
experts most deeply read in the laws of life and the history of its
disturbing and destroying influences, that it would be at the imminent
risk of my existence if I should expose myself to the repetition of my
former experiences. I was reminded that unexplained sudden deaths were
of constant, of daily occurrence; that any emotion is liable to arrest
the movements of life: terror, joy, good news or bad news,--anything
that reaches the deeper nervous centres. I had already died once, as
Sir Charles Napier said of himself; yes, more than once, died and been
resuscitated. The next time, I might very probably fail to get my return
ticket after my visit to Hades. It was a rather grim stroke of humor,
but I understood its meaning full well, and felt the force of its
menace.

After all, what had I to live for if the great primal instinct which
strives to make whole the half life of lonely manhood is defeated,
suppressed, crushed out of existence? Why not as well die in the attempt
to break up a wretched servitude to a perverted nervous movement as
in any other way? I am alone in the world,--alone save for my faithful
servant, through whom I seem to hold to the human race as it were by
a single filament. My father, who was my instructor, my companion,
my dearest and best friend through all my later youth and my earlier
manhood, died three years ago and left me my own master, with the means
of living as might best please my fancy. This season shall decide my
fate. One more experiment, and I shall find myself restored to my place
among my fellow-beings, or, as I devoutly hope, in a sphere where all
our mortal infirmities are past and forgotten.

I have told the story of a blighted life without reserve, so that there
shall not remain any mystery or any dark suspicion connected with my
memory if I should be taken away unexpectedly. It has cost me an effort
to do it, but now that my life is on record I feel more reconciled to
my lot, with all its possibilities, and among these possibilities is a
gleam of a better future. I have been told by my advisers, some of them
wise, deeply instructed, and kind-hearted men, that such a life-destiny
should be related by the subject of it for the instruction of others,
and especially for the light it throws on certain peculiarities of human
character often wrongly interpreted as due to moral perversion, when
they are in reality the results of misdirected or reversed actions in
some of the closely connected nervous centres.

For myself I can truly say that I have very little morbid sensibility
left with reference to the destiny which has been allotted to me. I have
passed through different stages of feeling with reference to it, as
I have developed from infancy to manhood. At first it was mere blind
instinct about which I had no thought, living like other infants the
life of impressions without language to connect them in series. In my
boyhood I began to be deeply conscious of the infirmity which separated
me from those around me. In youth began that conflict of emotions and
impulses with the antagonistic influence of which I have already spoken,
a conflict which has never ceased, but to which I have necessarily
become to a certain degree accustomed; and against the dangers of which
I have learned to guard myself habitually. That is the meaning of my
isolation. You, young man,--if at any time your eyes shall look upon my
melancholy record,--you at least will understand me. Does not your heart
throb, in the presence of budding or blooming womanhood, sometimes as if
it “were ready to crack” with its own excess of strain? What if instead
of throbbing it should falter, flutter, and stop as if never to beat
again? You, young woman, who with ready belief and tender sympathy will
look upon these pages, if they are ever spread before you, know what it
is when your breast heaves with uncontrollable emotion and the grip of
the bodice seems unendurable as the embrace of the iron virgin of the
Inquisition. Think what it would be if the grasp were tightened so that
no breath of air could enter your panting chest!

Does your heart beat in the same way, young man, when your honored
friend, a venerable matron of seventy years, greets you with her kindly
smile as it does in the presence of youthful loveliness? When a pretty
child brings you her doll and looks into your eyes with artless grace
and trustful simplicity, does your pulse quicken, do you tremble, does
life palpitate through your whole being, as when the maiden of seventeen
meets your enamored sight in the glow of her rosebud beauty? Wonder
not, then, if the period of mystic attraction for you should be that
of agitation, terror, danger, to one in whom the natural current of the
instincts has had its course changed as that of a stream is changed by a
convulsion of nature, so that the impression which is new life to you is
death to him.

I am now twenty-five years old. I have reached the time of life which
I have dreamed, nay even ventured to hope, might be the limit of the
sentence which was pronounced upon me in my infancy. I can assign no
good reason for this anticipation. But in writing this paper I feel as
if I were preparing to begin a renewed existence. There is nothing for
me to be ashamed of in the story I have told. There is no man living who
would not have yielded to the sense of instantly impending death which
seized upon me under the conditions I have mentioned. Martyrs have gone
singing to their flaming shrouds, but never a man could hold his
breath long enough to kill himself; he must have rope or water, or some
mechanical help, or nature will make him draw in a breath of air, and
would make him do so though he knew the salvation of the human race
would be forfeited by that one gasp.

This paper may never reach the eye of any one afflicted in the same way
that I have been. It probably never will; but for all that, there are
many shy natures which will recognize tendencies in themselves in the
direction of my unhappy susceptibility. Others, to whom such weakness
seems inconceivable, will find their scepticism shaken, if not removed,
by the calm, judicial statement of the Report drawn up for the Royal
Academy. It will make little difference to me whether my story is
accepted unhesitatingly or looked upon as largely a product of the
imagination. I am but a bird of passage that lights on the boughs of
different nationalities. I belong to no flock; my home may be among the
palms of Syria, the olives of Italy, the oaks of England, the elms that
shadow the Hudson or the Connecticut; I build no nest; to-day I am here,
to-morrow on the wing.

If I quit my native land before the trees have dropped their leaves I
shall place this manuscript in the safe hands of one whom I feel sure
that I can trust; to do with it as he shall see fit. If it is only
curious and has no bearing on human welfare, he may think it well to let
it remain unread until I shall have passed away. If in his judgment
it throws any light on one of the deeper mysteries of our nature,--the
repulsions which play such a formidable part in social life, and which
must be recognized as the correlatives of the affinities that distribute
the individuals governed by them in the face of impediments which seem
to be impossibilities,--then it may be freely given to the world.

But if I am here when the leaves are all fallen, the programme of
my life will have changed, and this story of the dead past will be
illuminated by the light of a living present which will irradiate all
its saddening features. Who would not pray that my last gleam of light
and hope may be that of dawn and not of departing day?

The reader who finds it hard to accept the reality of a story so far
from the common range of experience is once more requested to suspend
his judgment until he has read the paper which will next be offered for
his consideration.



XIX. THE REPORT OF THE BIOLOGICAL COMMITTEE.

Perhaps it is too much to expect a reader who wishes to be entertained,
excited, amused, and does not want to work his passage through pages
which he cannot understand without some effort of his own, to read the
paper which follows and Dr. Butts’s reflections upon it. If he has no
curiosity in the direction of these chapters, he can afford to leave
them to such as relish a slight flavor of science. But if he does so
leave them he will very probably remain sceptical as to the truth of the
story to which they are meant to furnish him with a key.

Of course the case of Maurice Kirkwood is a remarkable and exceptional
one, and it is hardly probable that any reader’s experience will furnish
him with its parallel. But let him look back over all his acquaintances,
if he has reached middle life, and see if he cannot recall more than one
who, for some reason or other, shunned the society of young women, as
if they had a deadly fear of their company. If he remembers any such, he
can understand the simple statements and natural reflections which are
laid before him.

One of the most singular facts connected with the history of Maurice
Kirkwood was the philosophical equanimity with which he submitted to the
fate which had fallen upon him. He did not choose to be pumped by the
Interviewer, who would show him up in the sensational columns of his
prying newspaper. He lived chiefly by himself, as the easiest mode of
avoiding those meetings to which he would be exposed in almost every
society into which he might venture. But he had learned to look upon
himself very much as he would upon an intimate not himself,--upon a
different personality. A young man will naturally enough be ashamed
of his shyness. It is something which others believe, and perhaps he
himself thinks, he might overcome. But in the case of Maurice Kirkwood
there was no room for doubt as to the reality and gravity of the long
enduring effects of his first convulsive terror. He had accepted the
fact as he would have accepted the calamity of losing his sight or his
hearing. When he was questioned by the experts to whom his case was
submitted, he told them all that he knew about it almost without a sign
of emotion. Nature was so peremptory with him,--saying in language that
had no double meaning: “If you violate the condition on which you
hold my gift of existence I slay you on the spot,”--that he became as
decisive in his obedience as she was in her command, and accepted his
fate without repining.

Yet it must not be thought for a moment,--it cannot be supposed,--that
he was insensible because he looked upon himself with the coolness of an
enforced philosophy. He bore his burden manfully, hard as it was to
live under it, for he lived, as we have seen, in hope. The thought of
throwing it off with his life, as too grievous to be borne, was familiar
to his lonely hours, but he rejected it as unworthy of his manhood. How
he had speculated and dreamed about it is plain enough from the paper
the reader may remember on Ocean, River, and Lake.

With these preliminary hints the paper promised is submitted to such as
may find any interest in them.


        ACCOUNT OF A CASE OF GYNOPHOBIA.

             WITH REMARKS.

Being the Substance of a Report to the Royal Academy of the Biological
Sciences by a Committee of that Institution.

“The singular nature of the case we are about to narrate and comment
upon will, we feel confident, arrest the attention of those who have
learned the great fact that Nature often throws the strongest light upon
her laws by the apparent exceptions and anomalies which from time
to time are observed. We have done with the lusus naturae of earlier
generations. We pay little attention to the stories of ‘miracles,’
except so far as we receive them ready-made at the hands of the churches
which still hold to them. Not the less do we meet with strange and
surprising facts, which a century or two ago would have been handled by
the clergy and the courts, but today are calmly recorded and judged by
the best light our knowledge of the laws of life can throw upon them.
It must be owned that there are stories which we can hardly dispute,
so clear and full is the evidence in their support, which do,
notwithstanding, tax our faith and sometimes leave us sceptical in spite
of all the testimony which supports them.

“In this category many will be disposed to place the case we commend to
the candid attention of the Academy. If one were told that a young man,
a gentleman by birth and training, well formed, in apparently perfect
health, of agreeable physiognomy and manners, could not endure the
presence of the most attractive young woman, but was seized with deadly
terror and sudden collapse of all the powers of life, if he came into
her immediate presence; if it were added that this same young man did
not shrink from the presence of an old withered crone; that he had a
certain timid liking for little maidens who had not yet outgrown the
company of their dolls, the listener would be apt to smile, if he did
not laugh, at the absurdity of the fable. Surely, he would say, this
must be the fiction of some fanciful brain, the whim of some romancer,
the trick of some playwright. It would make a capital farce, this idea,
carried out. A young man slighting the lovely heroine of the little
comedy and making love to her grandmother! This would, of course, be
overstating the truth of the story, but to such a misinterpretation
the plain facts lend themselves too easily. We will relate the leading
circumstances of the case, as they were told us with perfect simplicity
and frankness by the subject of an affection which, if classified, would
come under the general head of Antipathy, but to which, if we give it a
name, we shall have to apply the term Gynophobia, or Fear of Woman.”

Here follows the account furnished to the writer of the paper, which is
in all essentials identical with that already laid before the reader.

“Such is the case offered to our consideration. Assuming its
truthfulness in all its particulars, it remains to see in the first
place whether or not it is as entirely exceptional and anomalous as it
seems at first sight, or whether it is only the last term of a series
of cases which in their less formidable aspect are well known to us
in literature, in the records of science, and even in our common
experience.

“To most of those among us the explanations we are now about to give are
entirely superfluous. But there are some whose chief studies have been
in different directions, and who will not complain if certain facts are
mentioned which to the expert will seem rudimentary, and which hardly
require recapitulation to those who are familiarly acquainted with the
common text-books.

“The heart is the centre of every living movement in the higher animals,
and in man, furnishing in varying amount, or withholding to a greater
or less extent, the needful supplies to all parts of the system. If its
action is diminished to a certain degree, faintness is the immediate
consequence; if it is arrested, loss of consciousness; if its action
is not soon restored, death, of which fainting plants the white flag,
remains in possession of the system.

“How closely the heart is under the influence of the emotions we need
not go to science to learn, for all human experience and all literature
are overflowing with evidence that shows the extent of this relation.
Scripture is full of it; the heart in Hebrew poetry represents the
entire life, we might almost say. Not less forcible is the language of
Shakespeare, as for instance, in ‘Measure for Measure:’


  “‘Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
   Making it both unable for itself
   And dispossessing all my other parts
   Of necessary fitness?’

“More especially is the heart associated in every literature with the
passion of love. A famous old story is that of Galen, who was called to
the case of a young lady long ailing, and wasting away from some cause
the physicians who had already seen her were unable to make out. The
shrewd old practitioner suspected that love was at the bottom of the
young lady’s malady. Many relatives and friends of both sexes, all of
them ready with their sympathy, came to see her. The physician sat by
her bedside during one of these visits, and in an easy, natural way took
her hand and placed a finger on her pulse. It beat quietly enough until
a certain comely young gentleman entered the apartment, when it suddenly
rose in frequency, and at the same moment her hurried breathing,
her changing color, pale and flushed by turns, betrayed the profound
agitation his presence excited. This was enough for the sagacious Greek;
love was the disease, the cure of which by its like may be claimed as an
anticipation of homoeopathy. In the frontispiece to the fine old ‘Junta’
edition of the works of Galen, you may find among the wood-cuts
a representation of the interesting scene, with the title Amantas
Dignotio,--the diagnosis, or recognition, of the lover.

“Love has many languages, but the heart talks through all of them. The
pallid or burning cheek tells of the failing or leaping fountain which
gives it color. The lovers at the ‘Brookside’ could hear each other’s
hearts beating. When Genevieve, in Coleridge’s poem, forgot herself, and
was beforehand with her suitor in her sudden embrace,


  “‘T was partly love and partly fear,
   And partly ‘t was a bashful art,
   That I might rather feel than see
   The swelling of her heart’

“Always the heart, whether its hurried action is seen, or heard, or
felt. But it is not always in this way that the ‘deceitful’ organ treats
the lover.


  “‘Faint heart never won fair lady.’

“This saying was not meant, perhaps, to be taken literally, but it
has its literal truth. Many a lover has found his heart sink within
him,--lose all its force, and leave him weak as a child in his emotion
at the sight of the object of his affections. When Porphyro looked upon
Madeline at her prayers in the chapel, it was too much for him:


  “‘She seemed a splendid angel, newly drest,
   Save wings, for heaven:--Porphyro grew faint,
   She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from earthly taint.’

“And in Balzac’s novel, ‘Cesar Birotteau,’ the hero of the story
‘fainted away for-joy at the moment when, under a linden-tree, at
Sceaux, Constance-Barbe-Josephine accepted him as her future husband.’

“One who faints is dead if he does not ‘come to,’ and nothing is more
likely than that too susceptible lovers have actually gone off in this
way. Everything depends on how the heart behaves itself in these
and similar trying moments. The mechanism of its actions becomes an
interesting subject, therefore, to lovers of both sexes, and to all who
are capable of intense emotions.

“The heart is a great reservoir, which distributes food, drink, air, and
heat to every part of the system, in exchange for its waste material. It
knocks at the gate of every organ seventy or eighty times in a minute,
calling upon it to receive its supplies and unload its refuse. Between
it and the brain there is the closest relation. The emotions, which act
upon it as we have seen, govern it by a mechanism only of late years
thoroughly understood. This mechanism can be made plain enough to the
reader who is not afraid to believe that he can understand it.

“The brain, as all know, is the seat of ideas, emotions, volition. It is
the great central telegraphic station with which many lesser centres are
in close relation, from which they receive, and to which they transmit,
their messages. The heart has its own little brains, so to speak,--small
collections of nervous substance which govern its rhythmical motions
under ordinary conditions. But these lesser nervous centres are to a
large extent dominated by influences transmitted from certain groups of
nerve-cells in the brain and its immediate dependencies.

“There are two among the special groups of nerve-cells which produce
directly opposite effects. One of these has the power of accelerating
the action of the heart, while the other has the power of retarding or
arresting this action. One acts as the spur, the other as the bridle.
According as one or the other predominates, the action of the heart
will be stimulated or restrained. Among the great modern discoveries in
physiology is that of the existence of a distinct centre of inhibition,
as the restraining influence over the heart is called.

“The centre of inhibition plays a terrible part in the history of
cowardice and of unsuccessful love. No man can be brave without blood
to sustain his courage, any more than he can think, as the German
materialist says, not absurdly, without phosphorus. The fainting
lover must recover his circulation, or his lady will lend him her
smelling-salts and take a gallant with blood in his cheeks. Porphyro got
over his faintness before he ran away with Madeline, and Cesar Birotteau
was an accepted lover when he swooned with happiness: but many an
officer has been cashiered, and many a suitor has been rejected,
because the centre of inhibition has got the upper hand of the centre of
stimulation.

“In the well-known cases of deadly antipathy which have been recorded,
the most frequent cause has been the disturbed and depressing influence
of the centre of inhibition. Fainting at the sight of blood is one of
the commonest examples of this influence. A single impression, in a very
early period of atmospheric existence,--perhaps, indirectly, before that
period, as was said to have happened in the case of James the First
of England,--may establish a communication between this centre and the
heart which will remain open ever afterwards. How does a footpath across
a field establish itself? Its curves are arbitrary, and what we call
accidental, but one after another follows it as if he were guided by a
chart on which it was laid down. So it is with this dangerous transit
between the centre of inhibition and the great organ of life. If once
the path is opened by the track of some profound impression, that same
impression, if repeated, or a similar one, is likely to find the old
footmarks and follow them. Habit only makes the path easier to traverse,
and thus the unreasoning terror of a child, of an infant, may perpetuate
itself in a timidity which shames the manhood of its subject.

“The case before us is an exceptional and most remarkable example of the
effect of inhibition on the heart.

“We will not say that we believe it to be unique in the history of
the human race; on the contrary, we do not doubt that there have been
similar cases, and that in some rare instances sudden death has been
the consequence of seizures like that of the subject of this Report. The
case most like it is that of Colone Townsend, which is too well known to
require any lengthened description in this paper. It is enough to recall
the main facts. He could by a voluntary effort suspend the action of
his heart for a considerable period, during which he lay like one dead,
pulseless, and without motion. After a time the circulation returned,
and he does not seem to have been the worse for his dangerous, or
seemingly dangerous, experiment. But in his case it was by an act of the
will that the heart’s action was suspended. In the case before us it
is an involuntary impulse transmitted from the brain to the inhibiting
centre, which arrests the cardiac movements.

“What is like to be the further history of the case?

“The subject of this anomalous affliction is now more than twenty years
old. The chain of nervous actions has become firmly established.
It might have been hoped that the changes of adolescence would have
effected a transformation of the perverted instinct. On the contrary,
the whole force of this instinct throws itself on the centre of
inhibition, instead of quickening the heart-beats, and sending the
rush of youthful blood with fresh life through the entire system to the
throbbing finger-tips.

“Is it probable that time and circumstances will alter a habit of
nervous interactions so long established? We are disposed to think that
there is a chance of its being broken up. And we are not afraid to say
that we suspect the old gypsy woman, whose prophecy took such hold of
the patient’s imagination, has hit upon the way in which the ‘spell,’
as she called it, is to be dissolved. She must, in all probability,
have had a hint of the ‘antipatia’ to which the youth before her was a
victim, and its cause, and if so, her guess as to the probable mode in
which the young man would obtain relief from his unfortunate condition
was the one which would naturally suggest itself.

“If once the nervous impression which falls on the centre of inhibition
can be made to change its course, so as to follow its natural channel,
it will probably keep to that channel ever afterwards. And this will, it
is most likely, be effected by some sudden, unexpected impression. If
he were drowning, and a young woman should rescue him, it is by no means
impossible that the change in the nervous current we have referred to
might be brought about as rapidly, as easily, as the reversal of the
poles in a magnet, which is effected in an instant. But he cannot be
expected to throw himself into the water just at the right moment
when the ‘fair lady’ of the gitana’s prophecy is passing on the shore.
Accident may effect the cure which art seems incompetent to perform. It
would not be strange if in some future seizure he should never come back
to consciousness. But it is quite conceivable, on the other hand, that
a happier event may occur, that in a single moment the nervous polarity
may be reversed, the whole course of his life changed, and his past
terrible experiences be to him like a scarce-remembered dream.

“This is one, of those cases in which it is very hard to determine
the wisest course to be pursued. The question is not unlike that which
arises in certain cases of dislocation of the bones of the neck. Shall
the unfortunate sufferer go all his days with his face turned far round
to the right or the left, or shall an attempt be made to replace the
dislocated bones? an attempt which may succeed, or may cause instant
death. The patient must be consulted as to whether he will take the
chance. The practitioner may be unwilling to risk it, if the patient
consents. Each case must be judged on its own special grounds. We cannot
think that this young man is doomed to perpetual separation from the
society of womanhood during the period of its bloom and attraction. But
to provoke another seizure after his past experiences would be too much
like committing suicide. We fear that we must trust to the chapter
of accidents. The strange malady--for such it is--has become a second
nature, and may require as energetic a shock to displace it as it did
to bring it into existence. Time alone can solve this question, on which
depends the well-being and, it may be, the existence of a young man
every way fitted to be happy, and to give happiness, if restored to his
true nature.”



XX. DR. BUTTS REFLECTS.

Dr. Butts sat up late at night reading these papers and reflecting upon
them. He was profoundly impressed and tenderly affected by the entire
frankness, the absence of all attempt at concealment, which Maurice
showed in placing these papers at his disposal. He believed that his
patient would recover from this illness for which he had been taking
care of him. He thought deeply and earnestly of what he could do for him
after he should have regained his health and strength.

There were references, in Maurice’s own account of himself, which
the doctor called to mind with great interest after reading his brief
autobiography. Some one person--some young woman, it must be--had
produced a singular impression upon him since those earlier perilous
experiences through which he had passed. The doctor could not help
thinking of that meeting with Euthymia of which she had spoken to him.
Maurice, as she said, turned pale,--he clapped his hand to his breast.
He might have done so if he had met her chambermaid, or any straggling
damsel of the village. But Euthymia was not a young woman to be looked
upon with indifference. She held herself like a queen, and walked like
one, not a stage queen, but one born and bred to self-reliance, and
command of herself as well as others. One could not pass her without
being struck with her noble bearing and spirited features. If she had
known how Maurice trembled as he looked upon her, in that conflict of
attraction and uncontrollable dread,--if she had known it! But what,
even then, could she have done? Nothing but get away from him as fast as
she could. As it was, it was a long time before his agitation subsided,
and his heart beat with its common force and frequency.

Dr. Butts was not a male gossip nor a matchmaking go-between. But he
could not help thinking what a pity it was that these two young persons
could not come together as other young people do in the pairing season,
and find out whether they cared for and were fitted for each other. He
did not pretend to settle this question in his own mind, but the thought
was a natural one. And here was a gulf between them as deep and wide
as that between Lazarus and Dives. Would it ever be bridged over? This
thought took possession of the doctor’s mind, and he imagined all sorts
of ways of effecting some experimental approximation between Maurice and
Euthymia. From this delicate subject he glanced off to certain general
considerations suggested by the extraordinary history he had been
reading. He began by speculating as to the possibility of the personal
presence of an individual making itself perceived by some channel other
than any of the five senses. The study of the natural sciences teaches
those who are devoted to them that the most insignificant facts may lead
the way to the discovery of the most important, all-pervading laws of
the universe. From the kick of a frog’s hind leg to the amazing triumphs
which began with that seemingly trivial incident is a long, a very long
stride if Madam Galvani had not been in delicate health, which was the
occasion of her having some frog-broth prepared for her, the world of
to-day might not be in possession of the electric telegraph and
the light which blazes like the sun at high noon. A common-looking
occurrence, one seemingly unimportant, which had hitherto passed
unnoticed with the ordinary course of things, was the means of
introducing us to a new and vast realm of closely related phenomena. It
was like a key that we might have picked up, looking so simple that it
could hardly fit any lock but one of like simplicity, but which should
all at once throw back the bolts of the one lock which had defied
the most ingenious of our complex implements and open our way into a
hitherto unexplored territory.

It certainly was not through the eye alone that Maurice felt the
paralyzing influence. He could contemplate Euthymia from a distance, as
he did on the day of the boat-race, without any nervous disturbance. A
certain proximity was necessary for the influence to be felt, as in the
case of magnetism and electricity. An atmosphere of danger surrounded
every woman he approached during the period when her sex exercises
its most powerful attractions. How far did that atmosphere extend, and
through what channel did it act?

The key to the phenomena of this case, he believed, was to be found in a
fact as humble as that which gave birth to the science of galvanism and
its practical applications. The circumstances connected with the very
common antipathy to cats were as remarkable in many points of view as
the similar circumstances in the case of Maurice Kirkwood. The subjects
of that antipathy could not tell what it was which disturbed their
nervous system. All they knew was that a sense of uneasiness,
restlessness, oppression, came over them in the presence of one of
these animals. He remembered the fact already mentioned, that persons
sensitive to this impression can tell by their feelings if a cat is
concealed in the apartment in which they may happen to be. It may be
through some emanation. It may be through the medium of some electrical
disturbance. What if the nerve-thrills passing through the whole system
of the animal propagate themselves to a certain distance without any
more regard to intervening solids than is shown by magnetism? A sieve
lets sand pass through it; a filter arrests sand, but lets fluids pass,
glass holds fluids, but lets light through; wood shuts out light, but
magnetic attraction goes through it as sand went through the sieve. No
good reasons can be given why the presence of a cat should not betray
itself to certain organizations, at a distance, through the walls of a
box in which the animal is shut up. We need not disbelieve the stories
which allege such an occurrence as a fact and a not very infrequent one.

If the presence of a cat can produce its effects under these
circumstances, why should not that of a human being under similar
conditions, acting on certain constitutions, exercise its specific
influence? The doctor recalled a story told him by one of his friends, a
story which the friend himself heard from the lips of the distinguished
actor, the late Mr. Fechter. The actor maintained that Rachel had no
genius as an actress. It was all Samson’s training and study, according
to him, which explained the secret of her wonderful effectiveness on the
stage. But magnetism, he said,--magnetism, she was full of. He declared
that he was made aware of her presence on the stage, when he could not
see her or know of her presence otherwise, by this magnetic emanation.
The doctor took the story for what it was worth. There might very
probably be exaggeration, perhaps high imaginative coloring about it,
but it was not a whit more unlikely than the cat-stories, accepted as
authentic. He continued this train of thought into further developments.
Into this series of reflections we will try to follow him.

What is the meaning of the halo with which artists have surrounded the
heads of their pictured saints, of the aureoles which wraps them like
a luminous cloud? Is it not a recognition of the fact that these holy
personages diffuse their personality in the form of a visible emanation,
which reminds us of Milton’s definition of light:


  “Bright effluence of bright essence increate”?

The common use of the term influence would seem to imply the existence
of its correlative, effluence. There is no good reason that I can see,
the doctor said to himself, why among the forces which work upon the
nervous centres there should not be one which acts at various distances
from its source. It may not be visible like the “glory” of the painters,
it may not be appreciable by any one of the five senses, and yet it may
be felt by the person reached by it as much as if it were a palpable
presence,--more powerfully, perhaps, from the mystery which belongs to
its mode of action.

Why should not Maurice have been rendered restless and anxious by the
unseen nearness of a young woman who was in the next room to him, just
as the persons who have the dread of cats are made conscious of their
presence through some unknown channel? Is it anything strange that the
larger and more powerful organism should diffuse a consciousness of its
presence to some distance as well as the slighter and feebler one? Is
it strange that this mysterious influence or effluence should belong
especially or exclusively to the period of complete womanhood in
distinction from that of immaturity or decadence? On the contrary, it
seems to be in accordance with all the analogies of nature,--analogies
too often cruel in the sentence they pass upon the human female.

Among the many curious thoughts which came up in the doctor’s mind was
this, which made him smile as if it were a jest, but which he felt very
strongly had its serious side, and was involved with the happiness or
suffering of multitudes of youthful persons who die without telling
their secret:

How many young men have a mortal fear of woman, as woman, which they
never overcome, and in consequence of which the attraction which draws
man towards her, as strong in them as in others,--oftentimes, in virtue
of their peculiarly sensitive organizations, more potent in them than in
others of like age and conditions,--in consequence of which fear, this
attraction is completely neutralized, and all the possibilities of
doubled and indefinitely extended life depending upon it are left
unrealized! Think what numbers of young men in Catholic countries devote
themselves to lives of celibacy. Think how many young men lose all their
confidence in the presence of the young woman to whom they are most
attracted, and at last steal away from a companionship which it is
rapture to dream of and torture to endure, so does the presence of the
beloved object paralyze all the powers of expression. Sorcerers have in
all time and countries played on the hopes and terrors of lovers. Once
let loose a strong impulse on the centre of inhibition, and the
warrior who had faced bayonets and batteries becomes a coward whom the
well-dressed hero of the ball-room and leader of the German will put to
ignominious flight in five minutes of easy, audacious familiarity with
his lady-love.

Yes, the doctor went on with his reflections, I do not know that I have
seen the term Gynophobia before I opened this manuscript, but I have
seen the malady many times. Only one word has stood between many a pair
of young people and their lifelong happiness, and that word has got as
far as the lips, but the lips trembled and would not, could not, shape
that little word. All young women are not like Coleridge’s Genevieve,
who knew how to help her lover out of his difficulty, and said yes
before he had asked for an answer. So the wave which was to have wafted
them on to the shore of Elysium has just failed of landing them, and
back they have been drawn into the desolate ocean to meet no more on
earth.

Love is the master-key, he went on thinking, love is the master-key that
opens the gates of happiness, of hatred, of jealousy, and, most easily
of all, the gate of fear. How terrible is the one fact of beauty!--not
only the historic wonder of beauty, that “burnt the topless towers of
Ilium” for the smile of Helen, and fired the palaces of Babylon by the
hand of Thais, but the beauty which springs up in all times and places,
and carries a torch and wears a serpent for a wreath as truly as any
of the Eumenides. Paint Beauty with her foot upon a skull and a dragon
coiled around her.

The doctor smiled at his own imposing classical allusions and pictorial
imagery. Drifting along from thought to thought, he reflected on the
probable consequences of the general knowledge of Maurice Kirkwood’s
story, if it came before the public.

What a piece of work it would make among the lively youths of the
village, to be sure! What scoffing, what ridicule, what embellishments,
what fables, would follow in the trail of the story! If the Interviewer
got hold of it, how “The People’s Perennial and Household Inquisitor”
 would blaze with capitals in its next issue! The young fellows of the
place would be disposed to make fun of the whole matter. The young
girls-the doctor hardly dared to think what would happen when the story
got about among them. “The Sachem” of the solitary canoe, the bold
horseman, the handsome hermit,--handsome so far as the glimpses they had
got of him went,--must needs be an object of tender interest among them,
now that he was ailing, suffering, in danger of his life, away from
friends,--poor fellow! Little tokens of their regard had reached his
sick-chamber; bunches of flowers with dainty little notes, some of them
pinkish, some three-cornered, some of them with brief messages, others
“criss-crossed,” were growing more frequent as it was understood that
the patient was likely to be convalescent before many days had passed.
If it should come to be understood that there was a deadly obstacle to
their coming into any personal relations with him, the doctor had his
doubts whether there were not those who would subject him to the risk;
for there were coquettes in the village,--strangers, visitors, let us
hope,--who would sacrifice anything or anybody to their vanity and love
of conquest.



XXI. AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION.

The illness from which Maurice had suffered left him in a state of
profound prostration. The doctor, who remembered the extreme danger of
any overexertion in such cases, hardly allowed him to lift his head from
the pillow. But his mind was gradually recovering its balance, and he
was able to hold some conversation with those about him. His faithful
Paolo had grown so thin in waiting upon him and watching with him that
the village children had to take a second look at his face when they
passed him to make sure that it was indeed their old friend and no
other. But as his master advanced towards convalescence and the doctor
assured him that he was going in all probability to get well, Paolo’s
face began to recover something of its old look and expression, and once
more his pockets filled themselves with comfits for his little circle of
worshipping three and four year old followers.

“How is Mr. Kirkwood?” was the question with which he was always
greeted. In the worst periods of the fever he rarely left his master.
When he did, and the question was put to him, he would shake his head
sadly, sometimes without a word, sometimes with tears and sobs and
faltering words,--more like a brokenhearted child than a stalwart man
as he was, such a man as soldiers are made of in the great Continental
armies.

“He very bad,--he no eat nothing,--he--no say nothing,--he never be no
better,” and all his Southern nature betrayed itself in a passionate
burst of lamentation. But now that he began to feel easy about his
master, his ready optimism declared itself no less transparently.

“He better every day now. He get well in few weeks, sure. You see him on
hoss in little while.” The kind-hearted creature’s life was bound up in
that of his “master,” as he loved to call him, in sovereign disregard of
the comments of the natives, who held themselves too high for any such
recognition of another as their better. They could not understand how
he, so much their superior in bodily presence, in air and manner, could
speak of the man who employed him in any other way than as “Kirkwood,”
 without even demeaning himself so far as to prefix a “Mr.” to it. But
“my master” Maurice remained for Paolo in spite of the fact that all
men are born free and equal. And never was a servant more devoted to a
master than was Paolo to Maurice during the days of doubt and danger.
Since his improvement Maurice insisted upon his leaving his chamber and
getting out of the house, so as to breathe the fresh air of which he was
in so much need. It worried him to see his servant returning after too
short an absence. The attendant who had helped him in the care of the
patient was within call, and Paolo was almost driven out of the house
by the urgency of his master’s command that he should take plenty of
exercise in the open air.

Notwithstanding the fact of Maurice’s improved condition, although the
force of the disease had spent itself, the state of weakness to which
he had been reduced was a cause of some anxiety, and required great
precautions to be taken. He lay in bed, wasted, enfeebled to such a
degree that he had to be cared for very much as a child is tended.
Gradually his voice was coming back to him, so that he could hold some
conversation, as was before mentioned, with those about him. The doctor
waited for the right moment to make mention of the manuscript which
Maurice had submitted to him. Up to this time, although it had been
alluded to and the doctor had told him of the intense interest with
which he had read it, he had never ventured to make it the subject of
any long talk, such as would be liable to fatigue his patient. But now
he thought the time had come.

“I have been thinking,” the doctor said, “of the singular seizures to
which you are liable, and as it is my business not merely to think
about such cases, but to do what I can to help any who may be capable
of receiving aid from my art, I wish to have some additional facts about
your history. And in the first place, will you allow me to ask what led
you to this particular place? It is so much less known to the public at
large than many other resorts that we naturally ask, What brings this or
that new visitor among us? We have no ill-tasting, natural spring of bad
water to be analyzed by the state chemist and proclaimed as a specific.
We have no great gambling-houses, no racecourse (except that for boats
on the lake); we have no coaching-club, no great balls, few lions of any
kind, so we ask, What brings this or that stranger here? And I think I
may venture to ask you whether any, special motive brought you among us,
or whether it was accident that determined your coming to this place.”

“Certainly, doctor,” Maurice answered, “I will tell you with great
pleasure. Last year I passed on the border of a great river. The year
before I lived in a lonely cottage at the side of the ocean. I wanted
this year to be by a lake. You heard the paper read at the meeting of
your society, or at least you heard of it,--for such matters are always
talked over in a village like this. You can judge by that paper, or
could, if it were before you, of the frame of mind in which I came here.
I was tired of the sullen indifference of the ocean and the babbling
egotism of the river, always hurrying along on its own private business.
I wanted the dreamy stillness of a large, tranquil sheet of water that
had nothing in particular to do, and would leave me to myself and my
thoughts. I had read somewhere about the place, and the old Anchor
Tavern, with its paternal landlord and motherly landlady and
old-fashioned household, and that, though it was no longer open as a
tavern, I could find a resting-place there early in the season, at least
for a few days, while I looked about me for a quiet place in which I
might pass my summer. I have found this a pleasant residence. By being
up early and out late I have kept myself mainly in the solitude which
has become my enforced habit of life. The season has gone by too swiftly
for me since my dream has become a vision.”

The doctor was sitting with his hand round Maurice’s wrist, three
fingers on his pulse. As he spoke these last words he noticed that the
pulse fluttered a little,--beat irregularly a few times; intermitted;
became feeble and thready; while his cheek grew whiter than the pallid
bloodlessness of his long illness had left it.

“No more talk, now,” he said. “You are too tired to be using your voice.
I will hear all the rest another time.”

The doctor had interrupted Maurice at an interesting point. What did
he mean by saying that his dream had become a vision? This is what the
doctor was naturally curious, and professionally anxious, to know. But
his hand was still on his patient’s pulse, which told him unmistakably
that the heart had taken the alarm and was losing its energy under
the depressing nervous influence. Presently, however, it recovered its
natural force and rhythm, and a faint flush came back to the pale cheek.
The doctor remembered the story of Galen, and the young maiden whose
complaint had puzzled the physicians.

The next day his patient was well enough to enter once more into
conversation.

“You said something about a dream of yours which had become a vision,”
 said the doctor, with his fingers on his patient’s wrist, as before. He
felt the artery leap, under his pressure, falter a little, stop, then
begin again, growing fuller in its beat. The heart had felt the pull of
the bridle, but the spur had roused it to swift reaction.

“You know the story of my past life, doctor,” Maurice answered; “and, I
will tell you what is the vision which has taken the place of my dreams.
You remember the boat-race? I watched it from a distance, but I held
a powerful opera-glass in my hand, which brought the whole crew of the
young ladies’ boat so close to me that I could see the features, the
figures, the movements, of every one of the rowers. I saw the little
coxswain fling her bouquet in the track of the other boat,--you remember
how the race was lost and won,--but I saw one face among those young
girls which drew me away from all the rest. It was that of the young
lady who pulled the bow oar, the captain of the boat’s crew. I have
since learned her name, you know it well,--I need not name her. Since
that day I have had many distant glimpses of her; and once I met her
so squarely that the deadly sensation came over me, and I felt that in
another moment I should fall senseless at her feet. But she passed
on her way and I on mine, and the spasm which had clutched my heart
gradually left it, and I was as well as before. You know that young
lady, doctor?”

“I do; and she is a very noble creature. You are not the first young man
who has been fascinated, almost at a glance, by Miss Euthymia Tower. And
she is well worth knowing more intimately.”

The doctor gave him a full account of the young lady, of her early days,
her character, her accomplishments. To all this he listened devoutly,
and when the doctor left him he said to himself, “I will see her and
speak with her, if it costs me my life.”



XXII. EUTHYMIA.

“The Wonder” of the Corinna Institute had never willingly made a show
of her gymnastic accomplishments. Her feats, which were so much admired,
were only her natural exercise. Gradually the dumb-bells others used
became too light for her, the ropes she climbed too short, the clubs
she exercised with seemed as if they were made of cork instead of being
heavy wood, and all the tests and meters of strength and agility had
been strained beyond the standards which the records of the school had
marked as their historic maxima. It was not her fault that she broke
a dynamometer one day; she apologized for it, but the teacher said he
wished he could have a dozen broken every year in the same way. The
consciousness of her bodily strength had made her very careful in her
movements. The pressure of her hand was never too hard for the tenderest
little maiden whose palm was against her own. So far from priding
herself on her special gifts, she was disposed to be ashamed of them.
There were times and places in which she could give full play to her
muscles without fear or reproach. She had her special costume for the
boat and for the woods. She would climb the rugged old hemlocks now
and then for the sake of a wide outlook, or to peep into the large nest
where a hawk, or it may be an eagle, was raising her little brood of
air-pirates.

There were those who spoke of her wanderings in lonely places as
an unsafe exposure. One sometimes met doubtful characters about the
neighborhood, and stories were told of occurrences which might well
frighten a young girl, and make her cautious of trusting herself alone
in the wild solitudes which surrounded the little village. Those who
knew Euthymia thought her quite equal to taking care of herself. Her
very look was enough to ensure the respect of any vagabond who might
cross her path, and if matters came to the worst she would prove as
dangerous as a panther.

But it was a pity to associate this class of thoughts with a noble
specimen of true womanhood. Health, beauty, strength, were fine
qualities, and in all these she was rich. She enjoyed all her natural
gifts, and thought little about them. Unwillingly, but over-persuaded
by some of her friends, she had allowed her arm and hand to be modelled.
The artists who saw the cast wondered if it would be possible to get the
bust of the maiden from whom it was taken. Nobody would have dared to
suggest such an idea to her except Lurida. For Lurida sex was a trifling
accident, to be disregarded not only in the interests of humanity, but
for the sake of art.

“It is a shame,” she said to Euthymia, “that you will not let your
exquisitely moulded form be perpetuated in marble. You have no right to
withhold such a model from the contemplation of your fellow-creatures.
Think how rare it is to see a woman who truly represents the divine
idea! You belong to your race, and not to yourself,--at least, your
beauty is a gift not to be considered as a piece of private property.
Look at the so-called Venus of Milo. Do you suppose the noble woman who
was the original of that divinely chaste statue felt any scruple about
allowing the sculptor to reproduce her pure, unblemished perfections?”

Euthymia was always patient with her imaginative friend. She listened to
her eloquent discourse, but she could not help blushing, used as she was
to Lurida’s audacities. “The Terror’s” brain had run away with a large
share of the blood which ought to have gone to the nourishment of her
general system. She could not help admiring, almost worshipping, a
companion whose being was rich in the womanly developments with which
nature had so economically endowed herself. An impoverished organization
carries with it certain neutral qualities which make its subject appear,
in the presence of complete manhood and womanhood, like a deaf-mute
among speaking persons. The deep blush which crimsoned Euthymia’s cheek
at Lurida’s suggestion was in a strange contrast to her own undisturbed
expression. There was a range of sensibilities of which Lurida knew far
less than she did of those many and difficult studies which had absorbed
her vital forces. She was startled to see what an effect her proposal
had produced, for Euthymia was not only blushing, but there was a flame
in her eyes which she had hardly ever seen before.

“Is this only your own suggestion?” Euthymia said, “or has some one been
putting the idea into your head?” The truth was that she had happened
to meet the Interviewer at the Library, one day, and she was offended by
the long, searching stare with which that individual had honored her. It
occurred to her that he, or some such visitor to the place, might have
spoken of her to Lurida, or to some other person who had repeated what
was said to Lurida, as a good subject for the art of the sculptor,
and she felt all her maiden sensibilities offended by the proposition.
Lurida could not understand her excitement, but she was startled by
it. Natures which are complementary of each other are liable to these
accidental collisions of feeling. They get along very well together,
none the worse for their differences, until all at once the tender spot
of one or the other is carelessly handled in utter unconsciousness
on the part of the aggressor, and the exclamation, the outcry, or the
explosion explains the situation altogether too emphatically. Such
scenes did not frequently occur between the two friends, and this little
flurry was soon over; but it served to warn Lurida that Miss Euthymia
Tower was not of that class of self-conscious beauties who would be
ready to dispute the empire of the Venus of Milo on her own ground, in
defences as scanty and insufficient as those of the marble divinity.

Euthymia had had admirers enough, at a distance, while at school, and
in the long vacations, near enough to find out that she was anything but
easy to make love to. She fairly frightened more than one rash youth
who was disposed to be too sentimental in her company. They overdid
flattery, which she was used to and tolerated, but which cheapened
the admirer in her estimation, and now and then betrayed her into an
expression which made him aware of the fact, and was a discouragement
to aggressive amiability. The real difficulty was that not one of her
adorers had ever greatly interested her. It could not be that nature had
made her insensible. It must have been because the man who was made for
her had never yet shown himself. She was not easy to please, that was
certain; and she was one of those young women who will not accept as
a lover one who but half pleases them. She could not pick up the first
stick that fell in her way and take it to shape her ideal out of. Many
of the good people of the village doubted whether Euthymia would ever be
married.

“There ‘s nothing good enough for her in this village,” said the old
landlord of what had been the Anchor Tavern.

“She must wait till a prince comes along,” the old landlady said in
reply. “She’d make as pretty a queen as any of them that’s born to it.
Wouldn’t she be splendid with a gold crown on her head, and di’monds a
glitterin’ all over her! D’ you remember how handsome she looked in the
tableau, when the fair was held for the Dorcas Society? She had on an
old dress of her grandma’s,--they don’t make anything half so handsome
nowadays,--and she was just as pretty as a pictur’. But what’s the use
of good looks if they scare away folks? The young fellows think that
such a handsome girl as that would cost ten times as much to keep as
a plain one. She must be dressed up like an empress,--so they seem to
think. It ain’t so with Euthymy: she’d look like a great lady dressed
anyhow, and she has n’t got any more notions than the homeliest girl
that ever stood before a glass to look at herself.”

In the humbler walks of Arrowhead Village society, similar opinions
were entertained of Miss Euthymia. The fresh-water fisherman represented
pretty well the average estimate of the class to which he belonged.
“I tell ye,” said he to another gentleman of leisure, whose chief
occupation was to watch the coming and going of the visitors to
Arrowhead Village,--“I tell ye that girl ain’t a gon to put up with any
o’ them slab-sided fellahs that you see hangin’ raound to look at her
every Sunday when she comes aout o’ meetin’. It’s one o’ them big gents
from Boston or New York that’ll step up an’ kerry her off.”

In the mean time nothing could be further from the thoughts of Euthymia
than the prospect of an ambitious worldly alliance. The ideals of young
women cost them many and great disappointments, but they save them very
often from those lifelong companionships which accident is constantly
trying to force upon them, in spite of their obvious unfitness. The
higher the ideal, the less likely is the commonplace neighbor who has
the great advantage of easy access, or the boarding-house acquaintance
who can profit by those vacant hours when the least interesting of
visitors is better than absolute loneliness,--the less likely are these
undesirable personages to be endured, pitied, and, if not embraced,
accepted, for want of something better. Euthymia found so much pleasure
in the intellectual companionship of Lurida, and felt her own prudence
and reserve so necessary to that independent young lady, that she had
been contented, so far, with friendship, and thought of love only in an
abstract sort of way. Beneath her abstractions there was a capacity
of loving which might have been inferred from the expression of her
features, the light that shone in her eyes, the tones of her voice, all
of which were full of the language which belongs to susceptible natures.
How many women never say to themselves that they were born to love,
until all at once the discovery opens upon them, as the sense that he
was born a painter is said to have dawned suddenly upon Correggio!

Like all the rest of the village and its visitors, she could not help
thinking a good deal about the young man lying ill amongst strangers.
She was not one of those who had sent him the three-cornered notes or
even a bunch of flowers. She knew that he was receiving abounding tokens
of kindness and sympathy from different quarters, and a certain inward
feeling restrained her from joining in these demonstrations. If he had
been suffering from some deadly and contagious malady she would have
risked her life to help him, without a thought that there was any
wonderful heroism in such self-devotion. Her friend Lurida might have
been capable of the same sacrifice, but it would be after reasoning with
herself as to the obligations which her sense of human rights and duties
laid upon her, and fortifying her courage with the memory of noble
deeds recorded of women in ancient and modern history. With Euthymia the
primary human instincts took precedence of all reasoning or reflection
about them. All her sympathies were excited by the thought of this
forlorn stranger in his solitude, but she felt the impossibility of
giving any complete expression to them. She thought of Mungo Park in the
African desert, and she envied the poor negress who not only pitied him,
but had the blessed opportunity of helping and consoling him. How near
were these two human creatures, each needing the other! How near in
bodily presence, how far apart in their lives, with a barrier seemingly
impassable between them!



XXIII. THE MEETING OF MAURICE AND EUTHYMIA.

These autumnal fevers, which carry off a large number of our young
people every year, are treacherous and deceptive diseases. Not only are
they liable, as has been mentioned, to various accidental complications
which may prove suddenly fatal, but too often, after convalescence
seems to be established, relapses occur which are more serious than the
disease had appeared to be in its previous course. One morning Dr. Butts
found Maurice worse instead of better, as he had hoped and expected to
find him. Weak as he was, there was every reason to fear the issue
of this return of his threatening symptoms. There was not much to do
besides keeping up the little strength which still remained. It was all
needed.

Does the reader of these pages ever think of the work a sick man as much
as a well one has to perform while he is lying on his back and taking
what we call his “rest”? More than a thousand times an hour, between a
hundred and fifty and two hundred thousand times a week, he has to lift
the bars of the cage in which his breathing organs are confined, to save
himself from asphyxia. Rest! There is no rest until the last long sigh
tells those who look upon the dying that the ceaseless daily task, to
rest from which is death, is at last finished. We are all galley-slaves,
pulling at the levers of respiration,--which, rising and falling like so
many oars, drive us across an unfathomable ocean from one unknown shore
to another. No! Never was a galley-slave so chained as we are to these
four and twenty oars, at which we must tug day and night all our life
long.

The doctor could not find any accidental cause to account for this
relapse. It presently occurred to him that there might be some local
source of infection which had brought on the complaint, and was still
keeping up the symptoms which were the ground of alarm. He determined to
remove Maurice to his own house, where he could be sure of pure air,
and where he himself could give more constant attention to his patient
during this critical period of his disease. It was a risk to take,
but he could be carried on a litter by careful men, and remain wholly
passive during the removal. Maurice signified his assent, as he could
hardly help doing,--for the doctor’s suggestion took pretty nearly the
form of a command. He thought it a matter of life and death, and was
gently urgent for his patient’s immediate change of residence. The
doctor insisted on having Maurice’s books and other movable articles
carried to his own house, so that he should be surrounded by familiar
sights, and not worry himself about what might happen to objects which
he valued, if they were left behind him.

All these dispositions were quickly and quietly made, and everything
was ready for the transfer of the patient to the house of the hospitable
physician. Paolo was at the doctor’s, superintending the arrangement
of Maurice’s effects and making all ready for his master. The nurse in
attendance, a trustworthy man enough in the main, finding his patient in
a tranquil sleep, left his bedside for a little fresh air. While he
was at the door he heard a shouting which excited his curiosity, and he
followed the sound until he found himself at the border of the lake. It
was nothing very wonderful which had caused the shouting. A Newfoundland
dog had been showing off his accomplishments, and some of the idlers
were betting as to the time it would take him to bring back to his
master the various floating objects which had been thrown as far from
the shore as possible. He watched the dog a few minutes, when his
attention was drawn to a light wherry, pulled by one young lady and
steered by another. It was making for the shore, which it would soon
reach. The attendant remembered all at once, that he had left his
charge, and just before the boat came to land he turned and hurried back
to the patient. Exactly how long he had been absent he could not have
said,--perhaps a quarter of an hour, perhaps longer; the time appeared
short to him, wearied with long sitting and watching.

It had seemed, when he stole away from Maurice’s bedside, that he was
not in the least needed. The patient was lying perfectly quiet, and to
all appearance wanted nothing more than letting alone. It was such a
comfort to look at something besides the worn features of a sick man, to
hear something besides his labored breathing and faint, half-whispered
words, that the temptation to indulge in these luxuries for a few
minutes had proved irresistible.

Unfortunately, Maurice’s slumbers did not remain tranquil during the
absence of the nurse. He very soon fell into a dream, which began
quietly enough, but in the course of the sudden transitions which dreams
are in the habit of undergoing became successively anxious, distressing,
terrifying. His earlier and later experiences came up before him,
fragmentary, incoherent, chaotic even, but vivid as reality. He was at
the bottom of a coal-mine in one of those long, narrow galleries, or
rather worm-holes, in which human beings pass a large part of their
lives, like so many larvae boring their way into the beams and rafters
of some old building. How close the air was in the stifling passage
through which he was crawling! The scene changed, and he was climbing a
slippery sheet of ice with desperate effort, his foot on the floor of a
shallow niche, his hold an icicle ready to snap in an instant, an abyss
below him waiting for his foot to slip or the icicle to break. How thin
the air seemed, how desperately hard to breathe! He was thinking of
Mont Blanc, it may be, and the fearfully rarefied atmosphere which he
remembered well as one of the great trials in his mountain ascents. No,
it was not Mont Blanc,--it was not any one of the frozen Alpine summits;
it was Hecla that he was climbing.

The smoke of the burning mountain was wrapping itself around him; he was
choking with its dense fumes; he heard the flames roaring around him, he
felt the hot lava beneath his feet, he uttered a faint cry, and awoke.

The room was full of smoke. He was gasping for breath, strangling in the
smothering oven which his chamber had become.

The house was on fire!

He tried to call for help, but his voice failed him, and died away in a
whisper. He made a desperate effort, and rose so as to sit up in the bed
for an instant, but the effort was too much for him, and he sank back
upon his pillow, helpless. He felt that his hour had come, for he could
not live in this dreadful atmosphere, and he was left alone. He could
hear the crackle of fire as the flame crept along from one partition to
another. It was a cruel fate to be left to perish in that way,--the
fate that many a martyr had had to face,--to be first strangled and
then burned. Death had not the terror for him that it has for most
young persons. He was accustomed to thinking of it calmly, sometimes
wistfully, even to such a degree that the thought of self-destruction
had come upon him as a temptation. But here was death in an unexpected
and appalling shape. He did not know before how much he cared to live.
All his old recollections came before him as it were in one long, vivid
flash. The closed vista of memory opened to its far horizon-line, and
past and present were pictured in a single instant of clear vision. The
dread moment which had blighted his life returned in all its terror. He
felt the convulsive spring in the form of a faint, impotent spasm,--the
rush of air,--the thorns of the stinging and lacerating cradle into
which he was precipitated. One after another those paralyzing seizures
which had been like deadening blows on the naked heart seemed to repeat
themselves, as real as at the moment of their occurrence. The pictures
passed in succession with such rapidity that they appeared almost as if
simultaneous. The vision of the “inward eye” was so intensified in this
moment of peril that an instant was like an hour of common existence.
Those who have been very near drowning know well what this description
means. The development of a photograph may not explain it, but it
illustrates the curious and familiar fact of the revived recollections
of the drowning man’s experience. The sensitive plate has taken one look
at a scene, and remembers it all,

Every little circumstance is there,--the hoof in air, the wing in
flight, the leaf as it falls, the wave as it breaks. All there, but
invisible; potentially present, but impalpable, inappreciable, as if not
existing at all. A wash is poured over it, and the whole scene comes
out in all its perfection of detail. In those supreme moments when death
stares a man suddenly in the face the rush of unwonted emotion floods
the undeveloped pictures of vanished years, stored away in the memory,
the vast panorama of a lifetime, and in one swift instant the past comes
out as vividly as if it were again the present. So it was at this moment
with the sick man, as he lay helpless and felt that he was left to die.
For he saw no hope of relief: the smoke was drifting in clouds into
the room; the flames were very near; if he was not reached and rescued
immediately it was all over with him.

His past life had flashed before him. Then all at once rose the thought
of his future,--of all its possibilities, of the vague hopes which he
had cherished of late that his mysterious doom would be lifted from him.
There was something, then, to be lived for, something! There was a new
life, it might be, in store for him, and such a new life! He thought of
all he was losing. Oh, could he but have lived to know the meaning of
love! And the passionate desire of life came over him,--not the dread of
death, but the longing for what the future might yet have of happiness
for him.

All this took place in the course of a very few moments. Dreams and
visions have little to do with measured time, and ten minutes, possibly
fifteen or twenty, were all that had passed since the beginning of those
nightmare terrors which were evidently suggested by the suffocating air
he was breathing.

What had happened? In the confusion of moving books and other articles
to the doctor’s house, doors and windows had been forgotten. Among the
rest a window opening into the cellar, where some old furniture had
been left by a former occupant, had been left unclosed. One of the lazy
natives, who had lounged by the house smoking a bad cigar, had thrown
the burning stump in at this open window. He had no particular intention
of doing mischief, but he had that indifference to consequences which is
the next step above the inclination to crime. The burning stump happened
to fall among the straw of an old mattress which had been ripped open.
The smoker went his way without looking behind him, and it so chanced
that no other person passed the house for some time. Presently the straw
was in a blaze, and from this the fire extended to the furniture, to the
stairway leading up from the cellar, and was working its way along the
entry under the stairs leading up to the apartment where Maurice was
lying.

The blaze was fierce and swift, as it could not help being with such a
mass of combustibles,--loose straw from the mattress, dry old furniture,
and old warped floors which had been parching and shrinking for a score
or two of years. The whole house was, in the common language of the
newspaper reports, “a perfect tinder-box,” and would probably be a heap
of ashes in half an hour. And there was this unfortunate deserted sick
man lying between life and death, beyond all help unless some unexpected
assistance should come to his rescue.

As the attendant drew near the house where Maurice was lying, he was
horror-struck to see dense volumes of smoke pouring out of the lower
windows. It was beginning to make its way through the upper windows,
also, and presently a tongue of fire shot out and streamed upward along
the side of the house. The man shrieked Fire! Fire! with all his might,
and rushed to the door of the building to make his way to Maurice’s
room and save him. He penetrated but a short distance when, blinded and
choking with the smoke, he rushed headlong down the stairs with a cry of
despair that roused every man, woman, and child within reach of a human
voice. Out they came from their houses in every quarter of the village.
The shout of Fire! Fire! was the chief aid lent by many of the young and
old. Some caught up pails and buckets: the more thoughtful ones filling
them; the hastier snatching them up empty, trusting to find water nearer
the burning building.

Is the sick man moved?

This was the awful question first asked,--for in the little village all
knew that Maurice was about being transferred to the doctor’s house. The
attendant, white as death, pointed to the chamber where he had left him,
and gasped out,

“He is there!”

A ladder! A ladder! was the general cry, and men and boys rushed off
in search of one. But a single minute was an age now, and there was no
ladder to be had without a delay of many minutes. The sick man was going
to be swallowed up in the flames before it could possibly arrive. Some
were going for a blanket or a coverlet, in the hope that the young man
might have strength enough to leap from the window and be safely caught
in it. The attendant shook his head, and said faintly,

“He cannot move from his bed.”

One of the visitors at the village,--a millionaire, it was said,--a
kind-hearted man, spoke in hoarse, broken tones:

“A thousand dollars to the man that will bring him from his chamber!”

The fresh-water fisherman muttered, “I should like to save the man and
to see the money, but it ain’t a thaousan’ dollars, nor ten thaousan’
dollars, that’ll pay a fellah for burnin’ to death,--or even chokin’ to
death, anyhaow.”

The carpenter, who knew the framework of every house in the village,
recent or old, shook his head.

“The stairs have been shored up,” he said, “and when the fists that
holds ‘em up goes, down they’ll come. It ain’t safe for no man to go
over them stairs. Hurry along your ladder,--that’s your only chance.”

All was wild confusion around the burning house. The ladder they had
gone for was missing from its case,--a neighbor had carried it off for
the workmen who were shingling his roof. It would never get there in
time. There was a fire-engine, but it was nearly half a mile from the
lakeside settlement. Some were throwing on water in an aimless, useless
way; one was sending a thin stream through a garden syringe: it seemed
like doing something, at least. But all hope of saving Maurice was fast
giving way, so rapid was the progress of the flames, so thick the cloud
of smoke that filled the house and poured from the windows. Nothing was
heard but confused cries, shrieks of women, all sorts of orders to
do this and that, no one knowing what was to be done. The ladder! The
ladder! Five minutes more and it will be too late!

In the mean time the alarm of fire had reached Paolo, and he had stopped
his work of arranging Maurice’s books in the same way as that in which
they had stood in his apartment, and followed in the direction of the
sound, little thinking that his master was lying helpless in the burning
house. “Some chimney afire,” he said to himself; but he would go and
take a look, at any rate.

Before Paolo had reached the scene of destruction and impending death,
two young women, in boating dresses of decidedly Bloomerish aspect,
had suddenly joined the throng. “The Wonder” and “The Terror” of their
school-days--Miss Euthymia rower and Miss Lurida Vincent had just come
from the shore, where they had left their wherry. A few hurried words
told them the fearful story. Maurice Kirkwood was lying in the chamber
to which every eye was turned, unable to move, doomed to a dreadful
death. All that could be hoped was that he would perish by suffocation
rather than by the flames, which would soon be upon him. The man who had
attended him had just tried to reach his chamber, but had reeled back
out of the door, almost strangled by the smoke. A thousand dollars had
been offered to any one who would rescue the sick man, but no one had
dared to make the attempt; for the stairs might fall at any moment, if
the smoke did not blind and smother the man who passed them before they
fell.

The two young women looked each other in the face for one swift moment.

“How can he be reached?” asked Lurida. “Is there nobody that will
venture his life to save a brother like that?”

“I will venture mine,” said Euthymia.

“No! no!” shrieked Lurida,--“not you! not you! It is a man’s work, not
yours! You shall not go!” Poor Lurida had forgotten all her theories
in this supreme moment. But Euthymia was not to be held back. Taking a
handkerchief from her neck, she dipped it in a pail of water and bound
it about her head. Then she took several deep breaths of air, and filled
her lungs as full as they would hold. She knew she must not take a
single breath in the choking atmosphere if she could possibly help it,
and Euthymia was noted for her power of staying under water so long that
more than once those who saw her dive thought she would never come up
again. So rapid were her movements that they paralyzed the bystanders,
who would forcibly have prevented her from carrying out her purpose.
Her imperious determination was not to be resisted. And so Euthymia, a
willing martyr, if martyr she was to be, and not saviour, passed within
the veil that hid the sufferer.

Lurida turned deadly pale, and sank fainting to the ground. She was
the first, but not the only one, of her sex that fainted as Euthymia
disappeared in the smoke of the burning building. Even the rector grew
very white in the face,--so white that one of his vestry-men begged him
to sit down at once, and sprinkled a few drops of water on his forehead,
to his great disgust and manifest advantage. The old landlady was crying
and moaning, and her husband was wiping his eyes and shaking his head
sadly.

“She will nevar come out alive,” he said solemnly.

“Nor dead, neither,” added the carpenter. “Ther’ won’t be nothing left
of neither of ‘em but ashes.” And the carpenter hid his face in his
hands.

The fresh-water fisherman had pulled out a rag which he called a
“hangkercher,”--it had served to carry bait that morning,--and was
making use of its best corner to dry the tears which were running down
his cheeks. The whole village was proud of Euthymia, and with these more
quiet signs of grief were mingled loud lamentations, coming alike from
old and young.

All this was not so much like a succession of events as it was like a
tableau. The lookers-on were stunned with its suddenness, and before
they had time to recover their bewildered senses all was lost, or seemed
lost. They felt that they should never look again on either of those
young faces.

The rector, not unfeeling by nature, but inveterately professional by
habit, had already recovered enough to be thinking of a text for the
funeral sermon. The first that occurred to him was this,--vaguely, of
course, in the background of consciousness:

“Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came forth of the midst of the
fire.”

The village undertaker was of naturally sober aspect and reflective
disposition. He had always been opposed to cremation, and here was a
funeral pile blazing before his eyes. He, too, had his human sympathies,
but in the distance his imagination pictured the final ceremony, and how
he himself should figure in a spectacle where the usual centre piece of
attraction would be wanting,--perhaps his own services uncalled for.

Blame him not, you whose garden-patch is not watered with the tears of
mourners. The string of self-interest answers with its chord to every
sound; it vibrates with the funeral-bell, it finds itself trembling to
the wail of the De Profundis. Not always,--not always; let us not be
cynical in our judgments, but common human nature, we may safely say,
is subject to those secondary vibrations under the most solemn and
soul-subduing influences.

It seems as if we were doing great wrong to the scene we are
contemplating in delaying it by the description of little circumstances
and individual thoughts and feelings. But linger as we may, we cannot
compress into a chapter--we could not crowd into a volume--all that
passed through the minds and stirred the emotions of the awe-struck
company which was gathered about the scene of danger and of terror. We
are dealing with an impossibility: consciousness is a surface; narrative
is a line.

Maurice had given himself up for lost. His breathing was becoming every
moment more difficult, and he felt that his strength could hold out but
a few minutes longer.

“Robert!” he called in faint accents. But the attendant was not there to
answer.

“Paolo! Paolo!” But the faithful servant, who would have given his
life for his master, had not yet reached the place where the crowd was
gathered.

“Oh, for a breath of air! Oh, for an arm to lift me from this bed!
Too late! Too late!” he gasped, with what might have seemed his dying
expiration.

“Not too late!” The soft voice reached his obscured consciousness as if
it had come down to him from heaven.

In a single instant he found himself rolled in a blanket and in the arms
of--a woman!

Out of the stifling chamber,--over the burning stairs,--close by the
tongues of fire that were lapping up all they could reach,--out into the
open air, he was borne swiftly and safely,--carried as easily as if he
had been a babe, in the strong arms of “The Wonder” of the gymnasium,
the captain of the Atalanta, who had little dreamed of the use she was
to make of her natural gifts and her school-girl accomplishments.

Such a cry as arose from the crowd of on-lookers! It was a sound that
none of them had ever heard before or could expect ever to hear again,
unless he should be one of the last boat-load rescued from a sinking
vessel. Then, those who had resisted the overflow of their emotion, who
had stood in white despair as they thought of these two young lives
soon to be wrapped in their burning shroud,--those stern men--the old
sea-captain, the hard-faced, moneymaking, cast-iron tradesmen of the
city counting-room--sobbed like hysteric women; it was like a convulsion
that overcame natures unused to those deeper emotions which many who are
capable of experiencing die without ever knowing.

This was the scene upon which the doctor and Paolo suddenly appeared at
the same moment.

As the fresh breeze passed over the face of the rescued patient, his
eyes opened wide, and his consciousness returned in almost supernatural
lucidity. Euthymia had sat down upon a bank, and was still supporting
him. His head was resting on her bosom. Through his awakening senses
stole the murmurs of the living cradle which rocked him with the
wavelike movements of respiration, the soft susurrus of the air that
entered with every breath, the double beat of the heart which throbbed
close to his ear. And every sense, and every instinct, and every
reviving pulse told him in language like a revelation from another
world that a woman’s arms were around him, and that it was life, and not
death, which her embrace had brought him.

She would have disengaged him from her protecting hold, but the doctor
made her a peremptory sign, which he followed by a sharp command:--

“Do not move him a hair’s breadth,” he said. “Wait until the litter
comes. Any sudden movement might be dangerous. Has anybody a brandy
flask about him?”

One or two members of the local temperance society looked rather
awkward, but did not come forward.

The fresh-water fisherman was the first who spoke.

“I han’t got no brandy,” he said, “but there’s a drop or two of old
Medford rum in this here that you’re welcome to, if it’ll be of any
help. I alliz kerry a little on ‘t in case o’ gettin’ wet ‘n’ chilled.”

So saying he held forth a flat bottle with the word Sarsaparilla stamped
on the green glass, but which contained half a pint or more of the
specific on which he relied in those very frequent exposures which
happen to persons of his calling.

The doctor motioned back Paolo, who would have rushed at once to the aid
of Maurice, and who was not wanted at that moment. So poor Paolo, in an
agony of fear for his master, was kept as quiet as possible, and had to
content himself with asking all sorts of questions and repeating all
the prayers he could think of to Our Lady and to his holy namesake the
Apostle.

The doctor wiped the mouth of the fisherman’s bottle very carefully.
“Take a few drops of this cordial,” he said, as he held it to his
patient’s lips. “Hold him just so, Euthymia, without stirring. I will
watch him, and say when he is ready to be moved. The litter is near by,
waiting.” Dr. Butts watched Maurice’s pulse and color. The “Old Medford”
 knew its business. It had knocked over its tens of thousands; it had its
redeeming virtue, and helped to set up a poor fellow now and then. It
did this for Maurice very effectively. When he seemed somewhat restored,
the doctor had the litter brought to his side, and Euthymia softly
resigned her helpless burden, which Paolo and the attendant Robert
lifted with the aid of the doctor, who walked by the patient as he was
borne to the home where Mrs. Butts had made all ready for his reception.

As for poor Lurida, who had thought herself equal to the sanguinary
duties of the surgeon, she was left lying on the grass with an old woman
over her, working hard with fan and smelling-salts to bring her back
from her long fainting fit.



XXIV. THE INEVITABLE.

Why should not human nature be the same in Arrowhead Village as
elsewhere? It could not seem strange to the good people of that place
and their visitors that these two young persons, brought together under
circumstances that stirred up the deepest emotions of which the human
soul is capable, should become attached to each other. But the bond
between them was stronger than any knew, except the good doctor, who had
learned the great secret of Maurice’s life. For the first time since
his infancy he had fully felt the charm which the immediate presence
of youthful womanhood carries with it. He could hardly believe the fact
when he found himself no longer the subject of the terrifying seizures
of which he had had many and threatening experiences.

It was the doctor’s business to save his patient’s life, if he could
possibly do it. Maurice had been reduced to the most perilous state of
debility by the relapse which had interrupted his convalescence. Only by
what seemed almost a miracle had he survived the exposure to suffocation
and the mental anguish through which he had passed. It was perfectly
clear to Dr. Butts that if Maurice could see the young woman to whom he
owed his life, and, as the doctor felt assured, the revolution in his
nervous system which would be the beginning of a new existence, it would
be of far more value as a restorative agency than any or all of the
drugs in the pharmacopoeia. He told this to Euthymia, and explained the
matter to her parents and friends. She must go with him on some of his
visits. Her mother should go with her, or her sister; but this was a
case of life and death, and no maidenly scruples must keep her from
doing her duty.

The first of her visits to the sick, perhaps dying, man presented a
scene not unlike the picture before spoken of on the title-page of the
old edition of Galen. The doctor was perhaps the most agitated of the
little group. He went before the others, took his seat by the bedside,
and held the patient’s wrist with his finger on the pulse. As Euthymia
entered it gave a single bound, fluttered for an instant as if with
a faint memory of its old habit, then throbbed full and strong,
comparatively, as if under the spur of some powerful stimulus.
Euthymia’s task was a delicate one, but she knew how to disguise its
difficulty.

“Here is a flower I have brought you, Mr. Kirkwood,” she said, and
handed him a white chrysanthemum. He took it from her hand, and before
she knew it he took her hand into his own, and held it with a gentle
constraint. What could she do? Here was the young man whose life she
had saved, at least for the moment, and who was yet in danger from the
disease which had almost worn out his powers of resistance.

“Sit down by Mr. Kirkwood’s side,” said the doctor. “He wants to thank
you, if he has strength to do it, for saving him from the death which
seemed inevitable.”

Not many words could Maurice command. He was weak enough for womanly
tears, but their fountains no longer flowed; it was with him as with the
dying, whose eyes may light up, but rarely shed a tear.

The river which has found a new channel widens and deepens it; it lets
the old water-course fill up, and never returns to its forsaken bed.
The tyrannous habit was broken. The prophecy of the gitana had verified
itself, and the ill a fair woman had wrought a fairer woman had
conquered and abolished.

The history of Maurice Kirkwood loses its exceptional character from the
time of his restoration to his natural conditions. His convalescence
was very slow and gradual, but no further accident interrupted its even
progress. The season was over, the summer visitors had left Arrowhead
Village; the chrysanthemums were going out of flower, the frosts had
come, and Maurice was still beneath the roof of the kind physician. The
relation between him and his preserver was so entirely apart from all
common acquaintances and friendships that no ordinary rules could apply
to it. Euthymia visited him often during the period of his extreme
prostration.

“You must come every day,” the doctor said. “He gains with every visit
you make him; he pines if you miss him for a single day.” So she came
and sat by him, the doctor or good Mrs. Butts keeping her company in
his presence. He grew stronger,--began to sit up in bed; and at last
Euthymia found him dressed as in health, and beginning to walk about the
room. She was startled. She had thought of herself as a kind of nurse,
but the young gentleman could hardly be said to need a nurse any longer.
She had scruples about making any further visits. She asked Lurida what
she thought about it.

“Think about it?” said Lurida. “Why should n’t you go to see a brother
as well as a sister, I should like to know? If you are afraid to go to
see Maurice Kirkwood, I am not afraid, at any rate. If you would rather
have me go than go yourself, I will do it, and let people talk just as
much as they want to. Shall I go instead of you?”

Euthymia was not quite sure that this would be the best thing for the
patient. The doctor had told her he thought there were special reasons
for her own course in coming daily to see him. “I am afraid,” she said,
“you are too bright to be safe for him in his weak state. Your mind is
such a stimulating one, you know. A dull sort of person like myself is
better for him just now. I will continue visiting him as long as the
doctor says it is important that I should; but you must defend me,
Lurida,--I know you can explain it all so that people will not blame
me.”

Euthymia knew full well what the effect of Lurida’s penetrating
head-voice would be in a convalescent’s chamber. She knew how that
active mind of hers would set the young man’s thoughts at work, when
what he wanted was rest of every faculty. Were not these good and
sufficient reasons for her decision? What others could there be?

So Euthymia kept on with her visits, until she blushed to see that she
was continuing her charitable office for one who was beginning to
look too well to be called an invalid. It was a dangerous condition of
affairs, and the busy tongues of the village gossips were free in their
comments. Free, but kindly, for the story of the rescue had melted every
heart; and what could be more natural than that these two young people
whom God had brought together in the dread moment of peril should find
it hard to tear themselves asunder after the hour of danger was past?
When gratitude is a bankrupt, love only can pay his debts; and if
Maurice gave his heart to Euthymia, would not she receive it as payment
in full?

The change which had taken place in the vital currents of Maurice
Kirkwood’s system was as simple and solid a fact as the change in
a magnetic needle when the boreal becomes the austral pole, and the
austral the boreal. It was well, perhaps, that this change took place
while he was enfeebled by the wasting effects of long illness. For
all the long-defeated, disturbed, perverted instincts had found their
natural channel from the centre of consciousness to the organ which
throbs in response to every profound emotion. As his health gradually
returned, Euthymia could not help perceiving a flush in his cheek,
a glitter in his eyes, a something in the tone of his voice, which
altogether were a warning to the young maiden that the highway of
friendly intercourse was fast narrowing to a lane, at the head of which
her woman’s eye could read plainly enough, “Dangerous passing.”

“You look so much better to-day, Mr. Kirkwood,” she said, “that I think
I had better not play Sister of Charity any longer. The next time we
meet I hope you will be strong enough to call on me.”

She was frightened to see how pale he turned,--he was weaker than she
thought. There was a silence so profound and so long that Mrs. Butts
looked up from the stocking she was knitting. They had forgotten the
good woman’s presence.

Presently Maurice spoke,--very faintly, but Mrs. Butts dropped a stitch
at the first word, and her knitting fell into her lap as she listened to
what followed.

“No! you must not leave me. You must never leave me. You saved my life.
But you have done more than that,--more than you know or can ever know.
To you I owe it that I am living; with you I live henceforth, if I am
to live at all. All I am, all I hope,--will you take this poor offering
from one who owes you everything, whose lips never touched those of
woman or breathed a word of love before you?”

What could Euthymia reply to this question, uttered with all the depth
of a passion which had never before found expression.

Not one syllable of answer did listening Mrs. Butts overhear. But she
told her husband afterwards that there was nothing in the tableaux they
had had in September to compare with what she then saw. It was indeed a
pleasing picture which those two young heads presented as Euthymia gave
her inarticulate but infinitely expressive answer to the question of
Maurice Kirkwood. The good-hearted woman thought it time to leave the
young people. Down went the stocking with the needles in it; out of her
lap tumbled the ball of worsted, rolling along the floor with its yarn
trailing after it, like some village matron who goes about circulating
from hearth to hearth, leaving all along her track the story of the new
engagement or of the arrival of the last “little stranger.”

Not many suns had set before it was told all through Arrowhead Village
that Maurice Kirkwood was the accepted lover of Euthymia Tower.



POSTSCRIPT: AFTER-GLIMPSES.

MISS LURIDA VINCENT TO MRS. EUTHYMIA KIRKWOOD. ARROWHEAD VILLAGE, May
18.

MY DEAREST EUTHYMIA,--Who would have thought, when you broke your oar as
the Atalanta flashed by the Algonquin, last June, that before the roses
came again you would find yourself the wife of a fine scholar and grand
gentleman, and the head of a household such as that of which you are the
mistress? You must not forget your old Arrowhead Village friends. What
am I saying?---you forget them! No, dearest, I know your heart too well
for that! You are not one of those who lay aside their old friendships
as they do last years bonnet when they get a new one. You have told me
all about yourself and your happiness, and now you want me to tell you
about myself and what is going on in our little place.

And first about myself. I have given up the idea of becoming a doctor. I
have studied mathematics so much that I have grown fond of certainties,
of demonstrations, and medicine deals chiefly in probabilities. The
practice of the art is so mixed up with the deepest human interests that
it is hard to pursue it with that even poise of the intellect which is
demanded by science. I want knowledge pure and simple,--I do not fancy
having it mixed. Neither do I like the thought of passing my life in
going from one scene of suffering to another; I am not saintly enough
for such a daily martyrdom, nor callous enough to make it an easy
occupation. I fainted at the first operation I saw, and I have never
wanted to see another. I don’t say that I wouldn’t marry a physician,
if the right one asked me, but the young doctor is not forthcoming at
present. Yes, I think I might make a pretty good doctor’s wife. I could
teach him a good deal about headaches and backaches and all sorts of
nervous revolutions, as the doctor says the French women call their
tantrums. I don’t know but I should be willing to let him try his new
medicines on me. If he were a homeopath, I know I should; for if a
billionth of a grain of sugar won’t begin to sweeten my tea or coffee,
I don’t feel afraid that a billionth of a grain of anything would poison
me,--no, not if it were snake-venom; and if it were not disgusting, I
would swallow a handful of his lachesis globules, to please my husband.
But if I ever become a doctor’s wife, my husband will not be one of that
kind of practitioners, you may be sure of that, nor an “eclectic,” nor
a “faith-cure man.” On the whole, I don’t think I want to be married at
all. I don’t like the male animal very well (except such noble specimens
as your husband). They are all tyrants,--almost all,--so far as our sex
is concerned, and I often think we could get on better without them.

However, the creatures are useful in the Society. They send us papers,
some of them well worth reading. You have told me so often that you
would like to know how the Society is getting on, and to read some of
the papers sent to it if they happened to be interesting, that I have
laid aside one or two manuscripts expressly for your perusal. You will
get them by and by.

I am delighted to know that you keep Paolo with you. Arrowhead Village
misses him dreadfully, I can tell you. That is the reason people become
so attached to these servants with Southern sunlight in their natures? I
suppose life is not long enough to cool their blood down to our Northern
standard. Then they are so child-like, whereas the native of these
latitudes is never young after he is ten or twelve years old. Mother
says,--you know mother’s old-fashioned notions, and how shrewd and
sensible she is in spite of them,--mother says that when she was a
girl families used to import young men and young women from the country
towns, who called themselves “helps,” not servants,--no, that was
Scriptural; “but they did n’t know everything down in Judee,” and it is
not good American language. She says that these people would live in the
same household until they were married, and the women often remain in
the same service until they died or were old and worn out, and then,
what with the money they had saved and the care and assistance they got
from their former employers, would pass a decent and comfortable old
age, and be buried in the family lot. Mother has made up her mind to the
change, but grandmother is bitter about it. She says there never was
a country yet where the population was made up of “ladies” and
“gentlemen,” and she does n’t believe there can be; nor that putting a
spread eagle on a copper makes a gold dollar of it. She is a pessimist
after her own fashion. She thinks all sentiment is dying out of our
people. No loyalty for the sovereign, the king-post of the political
edifice, she says; no deep attachment between employer and employed; no
reverence of the humbler members of a household for its heads; and to
make sure of continued corruption and misery, what she calls “universal
suffrage” emptying all the sewers into the great aqueduct we all must
drink from. “Universal suffrage!” I suppose we women don’t belong to the
universe! Wait until we get a chance at the ballot-box, I tell grandma,
and see if we don’t wash out the sewers before they reach the aqueduct!
But my pen has run away with me. I was thinking of Paolo, and what a
pleasant thing it is to have one of those child-like, warm-hearted,
attachable, cheerful, contented, humble, faithful, companionable, but
never presuming grownup children of the South waiting on one, as if
everything he could do for one was a pleasure, and carrying a look of
content in his face which makes every one who meets him happier for a
glimpse of his features.

It does seem a shame that the charming relation of master and servant,
intelligent authority and cheerful obedience, mutual interest in each
other’s welfare, thankful recognition of all the advantages which belong
to domestic service in the better class of families, should be almost
wholly confined to aliens and their immediate descendants. Why should
Hannah think herself so much better than Bridget? When they meet at the
polls together, as they will before long, they will begin to feel more
of an equality than is recognized at present. The native female turns
her nose up at the idea of “living out;” does she think herself so much
superior to the women of other nationalities? Our women will have to
come to it,--so grandmother says,--in another generation or two, and in
a hundred years, according to her prophecy, there will be a new set of
old “Miss Pollys” and “Miss Betseys” who have lived half a century in
the same families, respectful and respected, cherished, cared for in
time of need (citizens as well as servants, holding a ballot as well
as a broom, I tell her), and bringing back to us the lowly, underfoot
virtues of contentment and humility, which we do so need to carpet the
barren and hungry thoroughfare of our unstratified existence.

There, I have got a-going, and am forgetting all the news I have to tell
you. There is an engagement you will want to know all about. It came to
pass through our famous boat-race, which you and I remember, and shall
never forget as long as we live. It seems that the young fellow who
pulled the bow oar of that men’s college boat which we had the pleasure
of beating got some glimpses of Georgina, our handsome stroke oar. I
believe he took it into his head that it was she who threw the bouquet
that won the race for us. He was, as you know, greatly mistaken, and
ought to have made love to me, only he did n’t. Well, it seems he came
posting down to the Institute just before the vacation was over, and
there got a sight of Georgina. I wonder whether she told him she didn’t
fling the bouquet! Anyhow, the acquaintance began in that way, and now
it seems that this young fellow, good-looking and a bright scholar, but
with a good many months more to pass in college, is her captive. It was
too bad. Just think of my bouquet’s going to another girl’s credit! No
matter, the old Atalanta story was paid off, at any rate.

You want to know all about dear Dr. Butts. They say he has just been
offered a Professorship in one of the great medical colleges. I asked
him about it, and he did not say that he had or had not. “But,” said he,
“suppose that I had been offered such a place; do you think I ought to
accept it and leave Arrowhead Village? Let us talk it over,” said he,
“just as if I had had such an offer.” I told him he ought to stay. There
are plenty of men that can get into a Professor’s chair, I said, and
talk like Solomons to a class of wondering pupils: but once get a really
good doctor in a place, a man who knows all about everybody, whether
they have this or that tendency, whether when they are sick they have
a way of dying or a way of getting well, what medicines agree with them
and what drugs they cannot take, whether they are of the sort that think
nothing is the matter with them until they are dead as smoked herring,
or of the sort that send for the minister if they get a stomach-ache
from eating too many cucumbers,--who knows all about all the people
within half a dozen miles (all the sensible ones, that is, who employ a
regular practitioner),--such a man as that, I say, is not to be replaced
like a missing piece out of a Springfield musket or a Waltham watch.
Don’t go! said I. Stay here and save our precious lives, if you can, or
at least put us through in the proper way, so that we needn’t be ashamed
of ourselves for dying, if we must die. Well, Dr. Butts is not going
to leave us. I hope you will have no unwelcome occasion for his
services,--you are never ill, you know,--but, anyhow, he is going to be
here, and no matter what happens he will be on hand.

The village news is not of a very exciting character. Item 1. A new
house is put up over the ashes of the one in which your husband
lived while he was here. It was planned by one of the autochthonous
inhabitants with the most ingenious combination of inconveniences that
the natural man could educe from his original perversity of intellect.
To get at any one room you must pass through every other. It is blind,
or nearly so, on the only side which has a good prospect, and commands
a fine view of the barn and pigsty through numerous windows. Item 2. We
have a small fire-engine near the new house which can be worked by a man
or two, and would be equal to the emergency of putting out a bunch of
fire-crackers. Item 3. We have a new ladder, in a bog, close to the new
fire-engine, so if the new house catches fire, like its predecessor, and
there should happen to, be a sick man on an upper floor, he can be got
out without running the risk of going up and down a burning staircase.
What a blessed thing it was that there was no fire-engine near by and no
ladder at hand on the day of the great rescue! If there had been, what a
change in your programme of life! You remember that “cup of tea spilt
on Mrs. Masham’s apron,” which we used to read of in one of Everett’s
Orations, and all its wide-reaching consequences in the affairs of
Europe. I hunted up that cup of tea as diligently as ever a Boston
matron sought for the last leaves in her old caddy after the tea-chests
had been flung overboard at Griffin’s wharf,--but no matter about that,
now. That is the way things come about in this world. I must write a
lecture on lucky mishaps, or, more elegantly, fortunate calamities. It
will be just the converse of that odd essay of Swift’s we read together,
the awkward and stupid things done with the best intentions. Perhaps I
shall deliver the lecture in your city: you will come and hear it, and
bring him, won’t you, dearest? Always, your loving

LURIDA.



MISS LURIDA VINCENT TO MRS. EUTHYMIA KIRKWOOD.

It seems forever since you left us, dearest Euthymia! And are you, and
is your husband, and Paolo,--good Paolo,--are you all as well and happy
as you have been and as you ought to be? I suppose our small village
seems a very quiet sort of place to pass the winter in, now that you
have become accustomed to the noise and gayety of a great city. For all
that, it is a pretty busy place this winter, I can tell you. We have
sleighing parties,--I never go to them, myself, because I can’t keep
warm, and my mind freezes up when my blood cools down below 95 or 96
deg. Fahrenheit. I had a great deal rather sit by a good fire and
read about Arctic discoveries. But I like very well to hear the bells’
jingling and to see the young people trying to have a good time as hard
as they do at a picnic. It may be that they do, but to me a picnic is
purgatory and a sleigh-ride that other place, where, as my favorite
Milton says, “frost performs the effect of fire.” I believe I have
quoted him correctly; I ought to, for I could repeat half his poems from
memory once, if I cannot now.

You must have plenty of excitement in your city life. I suppose you
recognized yourself in one of the society columns of the “Household
Inquisitor:” “Mrs. E. K., very beautiful, in an elegant,” etc., etc.,
“with pearls,” etc., etc.,--as if you were not the ornament of all that
you wear, no matter what it is!

I am so glad that you have married a scholar! Why should not
Maurice--you both tell me to call him so--take the diplomatic office
which has been offered him? It seems to me that he would find himself in
exactly the right place. He can talk in two or three languages, has good
manners, and a wife who--well, what shall I say of Mrs. Kirkwood but
that “she would be good company for a queen,” as our old friend the
quondam landlady of the Anchor Tavern used to say? I should so like to
see you presented at Court! It seems to me that I should be willing to
hold your train for the sake of seeing you in your court feathers and
things.

As for myself, I have been thinking of late that I would become either a
professional lecturer or head mistress of a great school or college for
girls. I have tried the first business a little. Last month I delivered
a lecture on Quaternions. I got three for my audience; two came over
from the Institute, and one from that men’s college which they try to
make out to be a university, and where no female is admitted unless she
belongs among the quadrupeds. I enjoyed lecturing, but the subject is
a difficult one, and I don’t think any one of them had any very clear
notion of what I was talking about, except Rhodora,--and I know she did
n’t. To tell the truth, I was lecturing to instruct myself. I mean to
try something easier next time. I have thought of the Basque language
and literature. What do you say to that?

The Society goes on famously. We have had a paper presented and read
lately which has greatly amused some of us and provoked a few of the
weaker sort. The writer is that crabbed old Professor of Belles-Lettres
at that men’s college over there. He is dreadfully hard on the poor
“poets,” as they call themselves. It seems that a great many young
persons, and more especially a great many young girls, of whom the
Institute has furnished a considerable proportion, have taken to sending
him their rhymed productions to be criticised,--expecting to be praised,
no doubt, every one of them. I must give you one of the sauciest
extracts from his paper in his own words:

“It takes half my time to read the ‘poems’ sent me by young people
of both sexes. They would be more shy of doing it if they knew that I
recognize a tendency to rhyming as a common form of mental weakness,
and the publication of a thin volume of verse as prima facie evidence of
ambitious mediocrity, if not inferiority. Of course there are exceptions
to this rule of judgment, but I maintain that the presumption is always
against the rhymester as compared with the less pretentious persons
about him or her, busy with some useful calling,--too busy to be tagging
rhymed commonplaces together. Just now there seems to be an epidemic
of rhyming as bad as the dancing mania, or the sweating sickness.
After reading a certain amount of manuscript verse one is disposed to
anathematize the inventor of homophonous syllabification. [This phrase
made a great laugh when it was read.] This, that is rhyming, must have
been found out very early,


   “‘Where are you, Adam?’

   “‘Here am I, Madam;’

“but it can never have been habitually practised until after the Fall.
The intrusion of tintinnabulating terminations into the conversational
intercourse of men and angels would have spoiled Paradise itself. Milton
would not have them even in Paradise Lost, you remember. For my own
part, I wish certain rhymes could be declared contraband of written or
printed language. Nothing should be allowed to be hurled at the world or
whirled with it, or furled upon it or curled over it; all eyes should
be kept away from the skies, in spite of os homini sublime dedit; youth
should be coupled with all the virtues except truth; earth should
never be reminded of her birth; death should never be allowed to stop
a mortal’s breath, nor the bell to sound his knell, nor flowers from
blossoming bowers to wave over his grave or show their bloom upon his
tomb. We have rhyming dictionaries,--let us have one from which all
rhymes are rigorously excluded. The sight of a poor creature grubbing
for rhymes to fill up his sonnet, or to cram one of those voracious,
rhyme-swallowing rigmaroles which some of our drudging poetical
operatives have been exhausting themselves of late to satiate with
jingles, makes my head ache and my stomach rebel. Work, work of some
kind, is the business of men and women, not the making of jingles!
No,--no,--no! I want to see the young people in our schools and
academies and colleges, and the graduates of these institutions,
lifted up out of the little Dismal Swamp of self-contemplating and
self-indulging and self-commiserating emotionalism which is surfeiting
the land with those literary sandwiches,--thin slices of tinkling
sentimentality between two covers looking like hard-baked gilt
gingerbread. But what faces these young folks make up at my good advice!
They get tipsy on their rhymes. Nothing intoxicates one like his--or
her--own verses, and they hold on to their metre-ballad-mongering as the
fellows that inhale nitrous oxide hold on to the gas-bag.”

We laughed over this essay of the old Professor; though it hit us pretty
hard. The best part of the joke is that the old man himself published
a thin volume of poems when he was young, which there is good reason to
think he is not very proud of, as they say he buys up all the copies he
can find in the shops. No matter what they say, I can’t help agreeing
with him about this great flood of “poetry,” as it calls itself, and
looking at the rhyming mania much as he does.

How I do love real poetry! That is the reason hate rhymes which have not
a particle of it in them. The foolish scribblers that deal in them are
like bad workmen in a carpenter’s shop. They not only turn out bad jobs
of work, but they spoil the tools for better workmen. There is hardly a
pair of rhymes in the English language that is not so dulled and hacked
and gapped by these ‘prentice hands that a master of the craft hates to
touch them, and yet he cannot very well do without them. I have not
been besieged as the old Professor has been with such multitudes
of would-be-poetical aspirants that he could not even read their
manuscripts, but I have had a good many letters containing verses, and I
have warned the writers of the delusion under which they were laboring.

You may like to know that I have just been translating some extracts
from the Greek Anthology. I send you a few specimens of my work, with a
Dedication to the Shade of Sappho. I hope you will find something of
the Greek rhythm in my versions, and that I have caught a spark of
inspiration from the impassioned Lesbian. I have found great delight
in this work, at any rate, and am never so happy as when I read from my
manuscript or repeat from memory the lines into which I have transferred
the thought of the men and women of two thousand years ago, or given
rhythmical expression to my own rapturous feelings with regard to them.
I must read you my Dedication to the Shade of Sappho. I cannot help
thinking that you will like it better than either of my last two, The
Song of the Roses, or The Wail of the Weeds.

How I do miss you, dearest! I want you: I want you to listen to what I
have written; I want you to hear all about my plans for the future; I
want to look at you, and think how grand it must be to feel one’s self
to be such a noble and beautiful-creature; I want to wander in the woods
with you, to float on the lake, to share your life and talk over every
day’s doings with you. Alas! I feel that we have parted as two friends
part at a port of embarkation: they embrace, they kiss each other’s
cheeks, they cover their faces and weep, they try to speak good-by to
each other, they watch from the pier and from the deck; the two forms
grow less and less, fainter and fainter in the distance, two white
handkerchiefs flutter once and again, and yet once more, and the last
visible link of the chain which binds them has parted. Dear, dear,
dearest Euthymia, my eyes are running over with tears when I think that
we may never, never meet again.

Don’t you want some more items of village news? We are threatened with
an influx of stylish people: “Buttons” to answer the door-bell, in place
of the chamber-maid; “butler,” in place of the “hired man;” footman
in top-boots and breeches, cockade on hat, arms folded a la Napoleon;
tandems, “drags,” dogcarts, and go-carts of all sorts. It is rather
amusing to look at their ambitious displays, but it takes away the good
old country flavor of the place.

I don’t believe you mean to try to astonish us when you come back to
spend your summers here. I suppose you must have a large house, and I
am sure you will have a beautiful one. I suppose you will have some fine
horses, and who would n’t be glad to? But I do not believe you will try
to make your old Arrowhead Village friends stare their eyes out of their
heads with a display meant to outshine everybody else that comes here.
You can have a yacht on the lake, if you like, but I hope you will pull
a pair of oars in our old boat once in a while, with me to steer you. I
know you will be just the same dear Euthymia you always were and always
must be. How happy you must make such a man as Maurice Kirkwood! And how
happy you ought to be with him!--a man who knows what is in books, and
who has seen for himself, what is in men. If he has not seen so much of
women, where could he study all that is best in womanhood as he can in
his own wife? Only one thing that dear Euthymia lacks. She is not quite
pronounced enough in her views as to the rights and the wrongs of
the sex. When I visit you, as you say I shall, I mean to indoctrinate
Maurice with sound views on that subject. I have written an essay for
the Society, which I hope will go a good way towards answering all the
objections to female suffrage. I mean to read it to your husband, if
you will let me, as I know you will, and perhaps you would like to hear
it,--only you know my thoughts on the subject pretty well already.

With all sorts of kind messages to your dear husband, and love to your
precious self, I am ever your LURIDA.



DR. BUTTS TO MRS. EUTHYMIA KIRKWOOD.

MY DEAR EUTHYMIA,--My pen refuses to call you by any other name.
Sweet-souled you are, and your Latinized Greek name is--the one which
truly designates you. I cannot tell you how we have followed you, with
what interest and delight through your travels, as you have told their
story in your letters to your mother. She has let us have the privilege
of reading them, and we have been with you in steamer, yacht, felucca,
gondola, Nile-boat; in all sorts of places, from crowded capitals to
“deserts where no men abide,”--everywhere keeping company with you in
your natural and pleasant descriptions of your experiences. And now that
you have returned to your home in the great city I must write you a few
lines of welcome, if nothing more.

You will find Arrowhead Village a good deal changed since you left it.
We are discovered by some of those over-rich people who make the little
place upon which they swarm a kind of rural city. When this happens
the consequences are striking,--some of them desirable and some far
otherwise. The effect of well-built, well-furnished, well-kept houses
and of handsome grounds always maintained in good order about them shows
itself in a large circuit around the fashionable centre. Houses get on
a new coat of paint, fences are kept in better order, little plots
of flowers show themselves where only ragged weeds had rioted, the
inhabitants present themselves in more comely attire and drive in
handsomer vehicles with more carefully groomed horses. On the other
hand, there is a natural jealousy on the part of the natives of the
region suddenly become fashionable. They have seen the land they sold at
farm prices by the acre coming to be valued by the foot, like the
corner lots in a city. Their simple and humble modes of life look almost
poverty-stricken in the glare of wealth and luxury which so outshines
their plain way of living. It is true that many of them have found them
selves richer than in former days, when the neighborhood lived on
its own resources. They know how to avail themselves of their altered
position, and soon learn to charge city prices for country products; but
nothing can make people feel rich who see themselves surrounded by men
whose yearly income is many times their own whole capital. I think it
would be better if our rich men scattered themselves more than they
do,--buying large country estates, building houses and stables which
will make it easy to entertain their friends, and depending for society
on chosen guests rather than on the mob of millionaires who come
together for social rivalry. But I do not fret myself about it. Society
will stratify itself according to the laws of social gravitation. It
will take a generation or two more, perhaps, to arrange the strata by
precipitation and settlement, but we can always depend on one principle
to govern the arrangement of the layers. People interested in the same
things will naturally come together. The youthful heirs of fortunes
who keep splendid yachts have little to talk about with the oarsman who
pulls about on the lake or the river. What does young Dives, who drives
his four-in-hand and keeps a stable full of horses, care about Lazarus,
who feels rich in the possession of a horse-railroad ticket? You
know how we live at our house, plainly, but with a certain degree of
cultivated propriety. We make no pretensions to what is called “style.”
 We are still in that social stratum where the article called “a
napkin-ring” is recognized as admissible at the dinner-table. That fact
sufficiently defines our modest pretensions. The napkin-ring is the
boundary mark between certain classes. But one evening Mrs. Butts and
I went out to a party given by the lady of a worthy family, where the
napkin itself was a newly introduced luxury. The conversation of the
hostess and her guests turned upon details of the kitchen and the
laundry; upon the best mode of raising bread, whether with “emptins”
 (emptyings, yeast) or baking powder; about “bluing” and starching and
crimping, and similar matters. Poor Mrs. Butts! She knew nothing more
about such things than her hostess did about Shakespeare and the musical
glasses. What was the use of trying to enforce social intercourse under
such conditions? Incompatibility of temper has been considered ground
for a divorce; incompatibility of interests is a sufficient warrant for
social separation. The multimillionaires have so much that is common
among themselves, and so little that they share with us of moderate
means, that they will naturally form a specialized class, and in virtue
of their palaces, their picture-galleries, their equipages, their
yachts, their large hospitality, constitute a kind of exclusive
aristocracy. Religion, which ought to be the great leveller, cannot
reduce these elements to the same grade. You may read in the parable,
“Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” The
modern version would be, “How came you at Mrs. Billion’s ball not having
a dress on your back which came from Paris?”

The little church has got a new stained window, a saint who reminds me
of Hamlet’s uncle,--a thing “of shreds and patches,” but rather pretty
to look at, with an inscription under it which is supposed to be the
name of the person in whose honor the window was placed in the church.
Smith was a worthy man and a faithful churchwarden, and I hope posterity
will be able to spell out his name on his monumental window; but that
old English lettering would puzzle Mephistopheles himself, if he found
himself before this memorial tribute, on the inside,--you know he goes
to church sometimes, if you remember your Faust.

The rector has come out, in a quiet way, as an evolutionist. He
has always been rather “broad” in his views, but cautious in their
expression. You can tell the three branches of the mother-island church
by the way they carry their heads. The low-church clergy look down, as
if they felt themselves to be worms of the dust; the high-church priest
drops his head on one side, after the pattern of the mediaeval saints;
the broad-church preacher looks forward and round about him, as if he
felt himself the heir of creation. Our rector carries his head in the
broad-church aspect, which I suppose is the least open to the charge of
affectation,--in fact, is the natural and manly way of carrying it.

The Society has justified its name of Pansophian of late as never
before. Lurida has stirred up our little community and its neighbors, so
that we get essays on all sorts of subjects, poems and stories in large
numbers. I know all about it, for she often consults me as to the merits
of a particular contribution.

What is to be the fate of Lurida? I often think, with no little interest
and some degree of anxiety, about her future. Her body is so frail and
her mind so excessively and constantly active that I am afraid one or
the other will give way. I do not suppose she thinks seriously of ever
being married. She grows more and more zealous in behalf of her own sex,
and sterner in her judgment of the other. She declares that she never
would marry any man who was not an advocate of female suffrage, and as
these gentlemen are not very common hereabouts the chance is against her
capturing any one of the hostile sex.

What do you think? I happened, just as I was writing the last sentence,
to look out of my window, and whom should I see but Lurida, with a young
man in tow, listening very eagerly to her conversation, according to all
appearance! I think he must be a friend of the rector, as I have seen a
young man like this one in his company. Who knows?

Affectionately yours, etc.



DR. BUTTS TO MRS. BUTTS.

MY BELOVED WIFE,--This letter will tell you more news than you would
have thought could have been got together in this little village during
the short time you have been staying away from it.

Lurida Vincent is engaged! He is a clergyman with a mathematical
turn. The story is that he put a difficult problem into one of the
mathematical journals, and that Lurida presented such a neat solution
that the young man fell in love with her on the strength of it. I don’t
think the story is literally true, nor do I believe that other report
that he offered himself to her in the form of an equation chalked on the
blackboard; but that it was an intellectual rather than a sentimental
courtship I do not doubt. Lurida has given up the idea of becoming
a professional lecturer,--so she tells me,--thinking that her future
husband’s parish will find her work enough to do. A certain amount of
daily domestic drudgery and unexciting intercourse with simple-minded
people will be the best thing in the world for that brain of hers,
always simmering with some new project in its least fervid condition.

All our summer visitors have arrived. Euthymia Mrs. Maurice Kirkwood and
her husband and little Maurice are here in their beautiful house looking
out on the lake. They gave a grand party the other evening. You ought
to have been there, but I suppose you could not very well have left your
sister in the middle of your visit: All the grand folks were there, of
course. Lurida and her young man--Gabriel is what she calls him--were
naturally the objects of special attention. Paolo acted as major-domo,
and looked as if he ought to be a major-general. Nothing could be
pleasanter than the way in which Mr. and Mrs. Kirkwood received their
plain country neighbors; that is, just as they did the others of more
pretensions, as if they were really glad to see them, as I am sure they
were. The old landlord and his wife had two arm-chairs to themselves,
and I saw Miranda with the servants of the household looking in at
the dancers and out at the little groups in the garden, and evidently
enjoying it as much as her old employers. It was a most charming and
successful party. We had two sensations in the course of the evening.
One was pleasant and somewhat exciting, the other was thrilling and of
strange and startling interest.

You remember how emaciated poor Maurice Kirkwood was left after his
fever, in that first season when he was among us. He was out in a boat
one day, when a ring slipped off his thin finger and sunk in a place
where the water was rather shallow. “Jake”--you know Jake,--everybody
knows Jake--was rowing him. He promised to come to the spot and fish
up the ring if he could possibly find it. He was seen poking about with
fish-hooks at the end of a pole, but nothing was ever heard from
him about the ring. It was an antique intaglio stone in an Etruscan
setting,--a wild goose flying over the Campagna. Mr. Kirkwood valued it
highly, and regretted its loss very much.

While we were in the garden, who should appear at the gate but Jake,
with a great basket, inquiring for Mr. Kirkwood. “Come,” said Maurice to
me, “let us see what our old friend the fisherman has brought us. What
have you got there, Jake?”

“What I ‘ve got? Wall, I ‘ll tell y’ what I’ve got: I ‘ve got the
biggest pickerel that’s been ketched in this pond for these ten year.
An’ I ‘ve got somethin’ else besides the pickerel. When I come to cut
him open, what do you think I faound in his insides but this here ring
o’ yourn,”--and he showed the one Maurice had lost so long before. There
it was, as good as new, after having tried Jonah’s style of housekeeping
for all that time. There are those who discredit Jake’s story about
finding the ring in the fish; anyhow, there was the ring and there
was the pickerel. I need not say that Jake went off well paid for his
pickerel and the precious contents of its stomach. Now comes the chief
event of the evening. I went early by special invitation. Maurice took
me into his library, and we sat down together.

“I have something of great importance,” he said, “to say to you. I
learned within a few days that my cousin Laura is staying with a friend
in the next town to this. You know, doctor, that we have never met since
the last, almost fatal, experience of my early years. I have determined
to defy the strength of that deadly chain of associations connected
with her presence, and I have begged her to come this evening with the
friends with whom she is staying. Several letters passed between us,
for it was hard to persuade her that there was no longer any risk in my
meeting her. Her imagination was almost as deeply impressed as mine had
been at those alarming interviews, and I had to explain to her fully
that I had become quite indifferent to the disturbing impressions of
former years. So, as the result of our correspondence, Laura is coming
this evening, and I wish you to be present at our meeting. There is
another reason why I wish you to be here. My little boy is not far from
the age at which I received my terrifying, almost disorganizing shock.
I mean to have little Maurice brought into the presence of Laura, who is
said to be still a very handsome woman, and see if he betrays any hint
of that peculiar sensitiveness which showed itself in my threatening
seizure. It seemed to me not impossible that he might inherit some
tendency of that nature, and I wanted you to be at hand if any sign of
danger should declare itself. For myself I have no fear. Some radical
change has taken place in my nervous system. I have been born again, as
it were, in my susceptibilities, and am in certain respects a new man.
But I must know how it is with my little Maurice.”

Imagine with what interest I looked forward to this experiment; for
experiment it was, and not without its sources of anxiety, as it seemed
to me. The evening wore along; friends and neighbors came in, but
no Laura as yet. At last I heard the sound of wheels, and a carriage
stopped at the door. Two ladies and a gentleman got out, and soon
entered the drawing room.

“My cousin Laura!” whispered Maurice to me, and went forward to
meet her. A very handsome woman, who might well have been in the
thirties,--one of those women so thoroughly constituted that they cannot
help being handsome at every period of life. I watched them both as
they approached each other. Both looked pale at first, but Maurice soon
recovered his usual color, and Laura’s natural, rich bloom came back by
degrees. Their emotion at meeting was not to be wondered at, but there
was no trace in it of the paralyzing influence on the great centres of
life which had once acted upon its fated victim like the fabled head
which turned the looker-on into a stone.

“Is the boy still awake?” said Maurice to Paolo, who, as they used to
say of Pushee at the old Anchor Tavern, was everywhere at once on that
gay and busy evening.

“What! Mahser Maurice asleep an’ all this racket going on? I hear him
crowing like young cockerel when he fus’ smell daylight.”

“Tell the nurse to bring him down quietly to the little room that leads
out of the library.”

The child was brought down in his night-clothes, wide awake, wondering
apparently at the noise he heard, which he seemed to think was for his
special amusement.

“See if he will go to that lady,” said his father. Both of us held our
breath as Laura stretched her arms towards little Maurice.

The child looked for an instant searchingly, but fearlessly, at her
glowing cheeks, her bright eyes, her welcoming smile, and met her
embrace as she clasped him to her bosom as if he had known her all his
days.

The mortal antipathy had died out of the soul and the blood of Maurice
Kirkwood at that supreme moment when he found himself snatched from the
grasp of death and cradled in the arms of Euthymia.


         --------------------------

In closing the New Portfolio I remember that it began with a prefix
which the reader may by this time have forgotten, namely, the First
Opening. It was perhaps presumptuous to thus imply the probability of a
second opening.

I am reminded from time to time by the correspondents who ask a certain
small favor of me that, as I can only expect to be with my surviving
contemporaries a very little while longer, they would be much obliged if
I would hurry up my answer before it is too late. They are right, these
delicious unknown friends of mine, in reminding me of a fact which I
cannot gainsay and might suffer to pass from my recollection. I thank
them for recalling my attention to a truth which I shall be wiser, if
not more hilarious, for remembering.

No, I had no right to say the First Opening. How do I know that I shall
have a chance to open it again? How do I know that anybody will want it
to be opened a second time? How do I know that I shall feel like opening
it? It is safest neither to promise to open the New Portfolio once more,
nor yet to pledge myself to keep it closed hereafter. There are many
papers potentially existent in it, some of which might interest a
reader here and there. The Records of the Pansophian Society contain
a considerable number of essays, poems, stories, and hints capable of
being expanded into presentable dimensions. In the mean time I will say
with Prospero, addressing my old readers, and my new ones, if such I
have,


  “If you be pleased, retire into my cell
   And there repose: a turn or two I’ll walk,
   To still my beating mind.”

When it has got quiet I may take up the New Portfolio again, and
consider whether it is worth while to open it consider whether it is
worth while to open it.





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