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have given this woman small doses of
brandy diluted with water, at regular
intervals. I found her pulse sinking
rapidly, and I knew life would not
linger much longer without artificial
aid. The family being strongly antag-
onistic to liquor opposed my use of
brandy, but I have pursued my own
course despite their opposition, and
you can judge of my present state of
mind.'

" ' Madam,' I said, ' you are to be
commended both for your bravery and
knowledge. Had you not followed
the course you did, doubtless these
people would be mourners at this
moment.'

" 'Tell them so,' she replied calm-
ly. Then she left the room. As
she did so, I cast a furtive look
toward her. In the contour of her
face, and in every movement there







THE DOCTOR'S STORY.



were evidences of will power, pride
and courage, coupled with strong
womanly tendencies.

' ' After she left I asked a member of
the family who she was. ' O, she's a
neighbor,' was the reply. ' Every-
one around here sends for her in times
of illness or trouble. We know little
about her except that she is good and
generous. She moved here some time
ago, lives well and very quietly. All
she seems to care for is to go where
she is needed. I hope she has done
no harm, doctor? '

" ' On the contrary, she has done
what is best for the patient under the
circumstances. Whoever she is, she
knows what she is doing, and you owe
your mother's life to her knowledge
and determination.'

"The danger past, delight gave
place to former doubt, and the inva-
lid's family detailed many acts of un-
sought kindness on the part of the
mysterious neighbor, which awakened
in me a degree of interest of which I
had hardly believed myself capable.
Here was a woman, not yet thirty,
perhaps, young and vigorous, living
apart from the world of pleasure, and
only associating with the afflicted.

" Busy days and nights lessened my
interest in this strange individual,
until I received another call to the
same neighborhood, feeling intuitively
that I should meet her again.

" I found my patient in the midst
of extreme poverty, all the surround-
ings indicating the final breakdown of
an overwrought system against the
tide of distress, overwork, poor food,
and despair. She was there. Like
the angel of charity, she was hovering
over this forlorn woman, and I saw
her in her true light, all the hard lines
softened to the tender touch of pit}'.
With gentle hand the moaning suf-
ferer was tended, and words of truest
courage fell from those lips, before so
gravely silent. She said but little,
but that little carried with it solace,
com tort and helpful conviction that
all would yet end well. Her face was
the mirror of her soul, and the sweet



calm which she shed about her
augured well for the patient. And
gentlemen, to this day I feel myself
humbled when I recall how her pure,
disinterested love for that poor woman
forced me to look w T ithin myself, only
to find a nature cold and unrespon-
sive. I came out of the sick room
reborn, a man who knew his own
failings and had resolved to overcome
them in the future.

1 ' When about to leave the patient,
whom we had eased and quieted, I
said, ' I will return to-morrow. Will
you be here ? ' 'I shall be here, ' she
replied.

4 ' As she spoke she pushed back
from her forehead the folds of thick
auburn hair, which had fallen while
she was attending the sick, and I
noticed on her finger an immense
diamond ring, elegantly mounted.
Somehow there .seemed to flash from
the light of that stone, the conviction
that that ring held the connecting link
of her past. The whole demeanor of
the woman, her charms, her person-
ality, all bespoke power and energy,
and whatever that past had been,
there now remained little doubt in my
mind that she had passed through a
fierce heart struggle, the crisis of
which had been of no mediocrity.

"I returned the next day to find
matters progressing so well that I was
not needed, and said as much to the
object of my curiosity and interest.
She looked up, and with but slight
hesitancy replied, ' Doctor, you will
be doing me a favor by sending for
me in urgent cases where women are
poor and need}-. You seem humane
in your tendencies, and I therefore do
not hesitate in asking you to help me
in my work for these poor neglected
creatures.'

" My heart filled with gratitude at
once. I knew now that her main object
in life was to alleviate the .sorrows of her
own sex, and that she was freely giving
what woman so much needs, the love
and pity of a woman's heart. Her
offer afforded me what I had so often
felt the want of in my practice —




THE DOCTOR'S STORY



59



effective aid in the sick room. You
all know how powerless is our science
when crippled by poor, unintelligent
nurses. Medicine becomes a mere
force and loses half of its virtue, when
not assisted by the human heart and
clear head of some one in charge of
the patient. In this woman's help I
had all that I needed. Where she
had gained the knowledge I knew not.
1 ' She proved invaluable to me in
the various cases to which I called
her, and showed such intimate knowl-
edge of drugs, of symptoms and prog-
nosis, that I depended largely upon



breathing and the pulsations of the
heart, that for the immediate present
there was not much to fear.

1 ' Bending over her I said, ■ You are
much better now ? '

1 ' ' Yes, ' she said, ' I shall live. But
oh, I do not wish to ! Life has grown
too heavy, too dreary to bear it longer,
and I hoped it was all over for me. I
have borne too much. I am but
human after all.'

' \ The next morning I found her
still quite weak, but free from all
threatening symptoms. She gave me
a lon g searching look and said, ' Doc-
can trust you, and I must speak
te one, for it is not possible to go
|ving this life of eternal warfare
>ut the aid and sympathy of some
able to comprehend and help

tefore I permitted her to pro-

I assured myself by examination,

organic trouble. As I suspected,

long pent-up grief had wrought

[amage, and lessened the heart's

Feeling no compunction now

:eiving her story, I realized that

ilief of sharing her trial was the

valve her heart needed, and I

[my ear to the history of this

|c woman. The story she told me

>ut as follows :

I am a widow. My husband

me calculated to harden the heart

ly woman. His selfish nature

no interest but his own, and all

impulsiveness of my young life

Icrushed and broken under the



6o



THE DOCTOR'S STORY.



master who defied the law of pro-
gress.'

"She waited here a moment, and
after a brief rest continued, ' Death
was kind to me. It relieved me of my
chains, but so cramped and stultified
had my nature become, that I sank
for a time into a state of inertia ; all
the flow of thought that heretofore
had urged for utterance, all the fine
fancies of a brain's conception, wasted!
I viewed myself as one who had been
wrecked early in life's journey, and I
gazed out upon the future as an im-
mensity of space in which I had no
power. Days came and went without
interest to me, with no awakening, no
intimation of the past, so rich in
thought, great in desire, and teeming
with a sense of the beautiful, the
good, and the pure. All that was
dead in me — swallowed up in that
giant force whose name is selfishness.
Life went on in this desolate, wasteful
way, until I met one whose coming
melted away the barrier which held
my soul enthralled, and my whole
nature leaped forth, softened and
brightened into the broad day of con-
scious power and happiness. He
came to live in our neighborhood,
and at the first meeting there flashed
forth mutual comprehension.

" ' He had broad views of life, was
studious, not at all poetical, but his
heart was of that responsive nature
that wins one instinctively. His life
was a round of goodness toward the
poor and afflicted ; he was lenient in
his opinions, strong, magnanimous,
and seemed to me a very king. He
taught me how to live, and what life
meant when lived for others. It was
a rare and noble lesson. I supplied
myself with medical books and.eagerly
devoured them, the more readily to
combat the foes of health and make
myself more valuable as his assistant
Little did I dream how my work would
eventually drift out alone !

11 { His stern morality and self-sacri-
fice, all tended towards the develop-
ment of the heroic in me. I saw no
task too great, no trial too hard, if



only I could lift the burdens I daily
saw about me. I felt myself grow
strong and brave under the guidance
of a hand so trained to smooth the
roughened road of life's toilers. Under
the softening influence of deeds of
mercy, was it strange that my better
self turned toward that man as my
salvation — my deliverer from the waste
to which my life seemed tending ? I
had no thought of love. My heart
had been so beaten back by my pre-
vious life, that I now believed myself
incapable of loving. I told myself it
was but the rarest, most beautiful of
friendships. I reasoned no more seri-
ously than that admiration held me in
close bonds with this man, the per-
sonification of all my own heart
recognized as truth ; and in this blind
way I drifted toward what proved to
be at once the most beautiful and the
most painful epoch of my life.

' ' ' One day I wandered down a deep
valley into a nook hidden by willows,
whose shadows of fresh young green
worked marvelous patterns on the
smooth surface of a shining pool below.
A wooden bridge crossed the pool, and
seats were provided for loiterers like
myself to sit and dream.

11 ' Imbued with the full charm of
nature in her natal garb, soothed by
the hum of insects, the whole urging
of life about me stirred within, and
my heart was flooded with the joy of
living. In that hour my soul leaped
forth, dominating all my senses. Time
seemed naught ; I was conscious only
of a feeling of delight unspeakable,
a joy unknown before, and in my
higher self alone, could I find
expression of this greater happiness
pouring into my awakening sense.
Then I lived the grandest moment of
my life when I stood with receptive
soul, reaching out and drinking in the
very essence of the divine, the God in
nature. Then I knew the real ego.
The soul comprehended itself — knew
that it was ! Unconsciously my body
swayed with the rhythmic motion of
the melody about me, as nature sang
her songs and wafted on the breath of



THE DOCTOR'S STORY.



61



spring the delight of her new life.
With it had also come my new life !
Overcome with the emotions which
the quickening touch of nature had
called forth, I leaned back turning my
face upward, conscious that from some
height alone could emanate the deep
joys which now were mine. The
leaves whispered softly of a word so
long forgotten. I heard again repeated
in a strange melody, the sweet message
that ' love was life ! ' and I felt it
trembling in my heart throbs, and
knew that it had come. Entranced
and dreaming I suddenly became con-
scious of the approach of some one,
and starting up, my eyes met sight of
him, whom at that divine moment
seemed master of all. In a state of
timidity I could not account for, I was
about to fly, but 'twas now too late.
He had seen me, and the warm glow
which overspread his face, told me
only too plainly that he too had drank
of the same cup nature had so bounti-
fully prepared, and in his soul I read
the reflection of my own. Tremblingly
I took his hand, and moving aside to
proffer room for him, looked away,
shy and confused. I felt as if he had
surprised me in some weakness which
I fain would hide.

11 ' Raising his hat as if in homage
to some divinity, he said, ' This is
glorious ! ' I could not answer. In-
deed it seemed I need not. The very
air was freighted with more than I
had words to tell. We remained
silent then, in a communion known
only to those whose souls are in ac-
cord, and to whom at such an hour,
speech seems sacrilege. In those
moments I lived years. My imagin-
ation played about in endless fancies,
the sweetest joys absorbed my being,
and I lived in that hour — O, God !
how deeply !

' ' ' At last turning toward me and in
softest speech he said, ' Alethia, have
you ever dreamed of an hour like
this ? Have you ever drunk so full a
draught of sweet contentment ? '

" 'I was silent. The wild beating
of mv heart told me that now was the



supreme moment — love was crowning
all with completion. ' You are
silent,' he said, 4 are you not happy ? '
Tears were my only answer.
'"Tears, Alethia?' he gently ex-
claimed. Still they coursed down my
face. I had no voice. He wiped
them from my eyes, and took my hand
with a look that read my every thought
and was full of wondrous love.

" ' This was but the beginning of a
new happiness.

"'We were to be married soon,
but some important matters necessi-
tated an indefinite postponement. We
were content to wait. Time was of
no consequence. When I knew that
what I most valued, his love and
intellectual life, were already mine,
I could wait for further consum-
mation. But some angry fate seems
ever to pursue those who know
this perfect love. From me it was
torn in an hour, and I defy death to
produce one horror to equal mine.

" ' Circumstances had thrown upon
his hands some near relatives. They
feared the marriage would deprive
them of some measure of financial
support, and to avert this calamity
they resorted to slander. One weak-
ness marked his character — that of
perfect trust in these women, and a
momentary doubt of me stung my
pride. Then desperate and wild with
the sense of injustice, I did not stop
to reason, but fled without a word.
The reaction was too great. I fled from
the sight of all my glorious past into
a cold and uncongenial world where I
might still my aching heart by caring
for others.

11 ' Months passed ere I mastered
myself, but once again I felt renewed
in me the longing for the old life, and
I went forth tendering my help to the
stricken, smoothing out the rough
places for those whose path lay along
the stony way my own feet had so
lately trodden.

" * I often recall his acts of generous
devotion — his pure simplicity ; and
urged on by the memory of his good-
ness, I consecrate each day anew to



62



LIFE-SAVERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST.



some deed of charity done in the name
of Him who loved so truly all his fel-
lows. We were both to blame, that I
knew. But perhaps 'tis best to
suffer.'

4 ' She had really talked more than
my better judgment should have al-
lowed, but somehow I could not inter-
rupt her. ' Poor girl ! ' I murmured
at last, laying my hand upon her head.
vShe looked up at me with quiet, grate-
ful eyes. Then she said with a smile,
' But I am braver now. I shall take
up life refreshed and strengthened by
your sympathy.'

' ' 'Is there no hope of a reunion ? '
I asked presently.

" ' None,' she replied.

1 ' After this she had another attack.
She fought it bravely, but the disease
made serious inroads upon her system
and each day I saw with deepened re-
gret the fatal signs of "

At this juncture there was a com-
motion among the faculty and Dr.
Montgomery rose suddenly to his feet.
His face was pallid, and grasping the
back of his chair, he exclaimed,
" Professor, I am ill. This rTSom is



stifling. May I see you a moment
alone ? ' '

The Professor assented and the two
left the room together.

"Tell me," gasped Dr. Montgom-
ery when they were alone, ' ' is she
dead?"

"Who?" asked the Professor, for
the moment not thinking of associat-
ing the attack with the story. " Ale-
thia? Oh no. But — but you — what
can it matter to you ? ' '

' ' Then she is "still living ? Thank
God ! And she loves me — loves me —
ingrate that I am ! ' '

Overcome with emotion the young
physician burst into sobs, while a
sudden flash of recognition spread
over the Professor's face.

11 Then it was you she loved ? "

11 Yes, yes, but — "

"Softly, my young friend," inter-
rupted the Professor. ' ' She is nei ther
dead nor insane, but very weak, and
I have sent her out of town to recu-
perate. She did contemplate a trip
abroad. But I rather fancy," added
the old doctor, slyly, ' ' that she may be
induced to abandon the idea."



LIFE-SAVERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST.



BY GERALD MATTHEWS

/P^Jte^^^URING the expansion




I? of commerce and mar
itime enterprise, and
the slow development
of naval architecture
since the time when
Noah — who probabl y
never saw the sea — constructed far
inland his three-storied house-boat,
there never yet has been a period,
even in the most nourishing days of
the greatest commercial nations of
the past, when so many ships plied to
and from on ocean highways.

The Phoenicians might visit the
Kassiterides, the ships of Tharshish
might sail to the land of Ophir in



quest of gold for King Solomon ; the
fleets of Carthage may have anchored
in ports of the mysterious Atlantis ;
and Rome with her triremes and w r ar-
galleys may have swept piratical craft
from the Mediterranean and sent her
fleets of merchantmen to every known
port ; but it is not asserting too much
to express the conviction that the
aggregate total of ships possessed by
all the ancient maritime nations put
together, and counted at the most
flourishing epochs of their respective
existences, was very far short of the
number of sea-traversing vessels of to-
day.

In spite of the cautiousness and






LIFE-SAVERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST.



63



skill of the ancients, shipwreck was
of frequent occurrence, as the experi-
ence of Jonah, Mardonius and St.
Paul demonstrate, and with the in-
crease in the number of ships a
corresponding increase of maritime
disasters naturally occurred. Never-
theless, the number of such calami-
ties as take place now-a-days bears a
less proportion to that of the vessels
than the rates prevailing in former
times. This is due to the improved
structure and better sea-going quali-
ties of modern ships, to the employ-
ment of steam as a propelling power,
and to the elaborate establishment of
lighthouses at dangerous points on
seacoasts. Still more satisfactory # is
the decreasing ratio with regard to
loss of life by shipwreck, a result ob-
tained by the institution in all civil-
ized countries of the lifeboat service.
For the invention of the lifeboat
the sea-faring world is indebted to a
London coachbuilder named Lionel
Lukin, who, in 1785, fitted up a Nor-
way yawl as such, patented it, and
described it in a pamphlet entitled
' ' The Insubmergible Boat." Although
encouraged by the Prince of Wales,
he met with little success. The in-
difference of the English public in
regard to disasters at sea was so com-
plete, that Lukin 's humane plan re-
ceived no attention, and he died
neglected. In 1789, the Adventure
was stranded near South Shields, at
the mouth of the Tyne, England, and
one by one the crew was seen to drop
from the rigging into the raging break-
ers by thousands of spectators, who
were unable to render the least assist-
ance, as no boat could possibly be
launched. This dreadful .scene roused
the people of South Shields, at any
rate, from their nightmare of apathy ;
a committee was formed, and a prem-
ium offered for the best model of a
lifeboat. Henry Greathead, a boat
builder of that port, was the success-
ful competitor, and in the same year
above mentioned constructed a life-
boat which did good service. The
Duke of Northumberland interested



himself in this life-saving invention.
By 1803 thirty-one lifeboats had been
built by Greathead — eighteen for
England, five for Scotland, and eight
for foreign countries, and he himself
had been rewarded by the gift of
^1,200 voted for him by Parliament.

Nevertheless, it was not until 1823
that the interest of the public was
properly aroused. In that year a stir-
ring appeal in the lifeboat cause was
made by Sir William Hillary, Bart.,
who, while dwelling in the Isle of
Man, had witnessed the horrors of
shipwreck so frequently that he de-
termined to devote himself to the
establishment of a life-saving institu-
tion. His enthusiasm and energy
met with success, and, aided by Mr.
Thomas Wilson and Mr. George Hil-
bert, both members of Parliament, he
succeeded in founding the ' ' Royal
National Institution for the Preserva-
tion of Life from Shipwreck."

After much fluctuating success and
periods of neglect, and some severe
disasters to lifeboats and their crews,
the institution stands to-day, under
the name of the "Royal National
Lifeboat Institution," the grandest of
England's charitable societies. It is
at once a reproach to the British gov-
ernment, and a glorious honor to the
British nation. It might be supposed
that the rulers of a country, at whose
ports the arrivals and departures of
vessels average annually 600,000, and
on whose 5,000 miles of dangerous
coast 2,000 wrecks occur every year,
would make an appropriation for the
maintenance of so philanthropic a ser-
vice. Such is not the case. It was
benevolent humanity that organized
the institution, and it is private benev-
olence that supports it. From the
date of its formation to the year 1881
inclusive, the lifeboat institution of
England was the means of saving
28,724 lives. In round numbers the
•annual average number of lives saved
is 900.

In the construction of a lifeboat,
two qualities must be given to it
which makes it distinct from every



6 4



LIFE-SAVERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST.



other kind of vessel, and these are the
power to right itself if capsized, and
the capability of immediate self-dis-
charge when filled with water. It
must, moreover, possess in an unusu-
ally high degree all the important
qualities which belong to ordinary
boats ; namely, buoyancy, stability
and strength. In addition to these
requisites, which ensure its being
able to live in seas where other boats
would perish, it must have storage
room for a large number of people ; be
capable of being driven with speed
against a heavy sea, and admit of
being easily launched. By the im-
provements that have been made from
time to time since the date of Lmken's
invention, the lifeboat of the present
day is probably as near perfection as
possible.

Imkin's primitive lifeboat was want-
ing in two most Important qualities ;
the self-righting and self-emptying
principles, though he obtained for it
buoyancy and stability, the former by
means of projecting cork gunwales
and inside air-chambers, at the bow
and stern, and the latter by a false
iron keel. In the lifeboat of to-day
the buoyancy is secured by a water-
tight floor air-ease in board round the
sides, and two large elevated air-
chambers, one in the bow and one in
the stern. To these two air-chambers,
together with the gravitating action
of a heavy iron keel and ballast, is
due the self-righting power ; while
the stability, or resistance to upset-
ting, is chiefly obtained by means of
ballast, the amount being carefully
calculated.

The self-righting and self-emptying
boat was adopted by the Royal Na-
tional Lifeboat Institution in 1851.
The president of the Institution had
offered a prize of .100 guineas for the
best model ot a lifeboat, and with an
additional 100 guineas to defray the
expenses of building a boat on the
model chosen. Two hundred and
eighty models were .sent in from the
United Kingdom, France, Germany,
Holland, and the United States. Mr.



James Beeching, of Great Yarmouth,
Norfolk, England, gained the prize.

The self-emptying quality is of
vital importance. Previous to its ap-
plication the lifeboat was frequently
rendered temporarily useless by being
filled by a heavy sea breaking over it.
It could only be restored to usefulness
after loss of much time occupied in
the tedious process of bailing. The
principle now applied is such that
when a billow overwhelms a boat and
fills it, the water in one-half minute
has been discharged. The floor of
the lifeboat is so placed that its sur-
face is two or three inches above the
level of the sea when the boat is
loaded. In this floor are .six holes,
six inches in diameter, into which
metal tubes are inserted, passing
through the bottom of the boat.
These tubes are provided with valves
opening downward, . preventing the
water from spouting in from below,
but allowing it to run out.

A lifeboat must possess a strength
of fabric that will enable it to with-
stand treatment that would destroy
ordinary boats. In its construction
the best material is used, and it is



Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 9 of 120)