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Stephen, M. D. online

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you never had such oysters."

" Oysters ! " cried Bell.

" Yes. I have some of the right sort here in
the closet, that I am going to roast for you pres

" You're a grand nurse, Kay ! "

" When I give you oysters," said Stephen.

" When you give me anything. How many days
have you lost for me here ? "

"Not one."

"You haven't been to recitations?"


"Not for a week and more?"


"Then you have lost your time, I should say."

" What is lost time ? "

li iJon't ask me" said Bell, enjoying his cup of tea
and toast; "my head won't stand thinking; and def
initions always did split it. Answer your own quea-
lion, if you like."


"That is not difficult. I should say, lost time is
lime from which you have not got its worth as it

" Its worth ? " said Bell looking at him. "What
was it ' worth ' to you, to take care of me ? I am
aothing to you."

** That is your view of it."

" What is yours, in heaven's name ? "

" Yes, in heaven's name," said Stephen gravely.
" He whom I serve, and love to serve, gave you into
my charge and said, Take care of this man for me.
He is the King of heaven."

Bell stared.

" Do you object to anybody's saying so much as
that ? ' in heaven's name ' ? "

" Not if he means it."

" It don't mean anything ! "

" I object to people's saying anything they do
not mean," Stephen answered with a grave smile.
" And I object and you would object to putting
our national flag down under your feet for a crumb

The tea and toast were done. Stephen removed
the little tray, laid Bell back upon his pillows, and
sat down. The small room was in a perfection of
order; the fire burned and breathed quietly; morn
ing sunbeams made a great splash of brigntness
upon the wall.

" Kay, where did you ever learn to be a nurse,
and such a nurse ? "

" Don't you talk too much."


"No; you may do the talking now. Have you
had a great deal of practice ? You must."

"You are my first case," said Stephen lightly.

" I ! Never nursed any one before ? "


" Then how, in the name of witchcraft, did you
know how ? Because you are capital, you know."

"One can learn, I suppose, more ways than one.
I saw some time ago, at a bookstall, a little book
by Florence Nightingale 'Notes on Nursing.' I
knew her name was famous, and her authority on
that subject ought to be good ; so I bought it, for a
trifle, and then I studied it. The whole thing is
largely a matter of common sense. I enjoyed the
book very much."

" And enjoyed taking care of me, didn't you ?
It would be just like you."

" I enjoyed it very much."

" Well, so did I ! after I got where I could en-
ioy anything; indeed I did before, come to think
of it. Kay, what makes you so different from other

" I am not so different.'*

" Aren't you ! I should think you had come here
from another planet, if that were all. Do you know
what I heard of you ? I was told that you go and
teach some of those characters in the jail; have a
class there, in fact."

Stephen made no reply to this.

" Is it true, though ? "



14 1 should think you'd get fond of your pupils ! "

" I do of some of them."

" Whatever, in all the world, made you take that
up ? if one may ask."

" I used to have such a class at the country town
where I lived. And they are a set of men that
very few people care for."

" I should think so ! " said Bell. " After it has
been found necessary to shut them up under bolts
and bars lest they should break up the peace of so
ciety ! Do you pretend that you care for these mis
creants ? "

" No. I do not pretend."

"You do it! Stephen, that's a weakness of
yours ! "

Stephen smiled, but said nothing more.

" Such wretches ought not to have any one care
for them. They are put there to be shut up; and
you go and make a good time for them ! "

" Did it ever occur to you how it happens that
you are not shut up there among them yourself?"

" Myself! You do me honour. No, I never asked
that question."

" Ask it now then, and give the answer."

"The answer is not far to look for, I should say.
I come of a respectable family, and have some self-
respect, and some principle; not much, but enough
to keep my hands out of other people's pockets."

" And little temptation to do it, perhaps."

"No, no temptation."

" Then the reason you are not in jail, or on your


way there, is because you were born in one street
of Boston instead of another."


" But true."

" Absurdity is never true."

" Nor truth absurd."

" But Kay, I am different; different radically."

" Not radically ; only circumstantially. Just re
verse all your conditions; let a man have no prin
ciples, because nobody ever told him the truth ; no
self-respect, because he had grown up surrounded
by vicious and squalid surroundings ; then add want
and distress; and the temptation to share in some
body else's more than enough, lies very near at

Bell lay still for a while, looking at Stephen, who
presently was deep in his book. Bell broke up his
abstraction and the silence together.

" Kay, stop your studying a bit, and tell me some
thing. As you have lost so many days now, an hour
or two more don't signify."

" Well ? " said Stephen smiling. " What do you
want me to tell you? Your reasoning is abomi

" Never mind," said Bell, hesitating. " They say,
sickness makes people selfish. That will never bo
known in my case, for I was selfish to begin with.
Stephen i want to ask you something."

" Ask it."

" You won't mind ? "

" I think not. What is it ? "


" You said something queer a while ago. You
eaid you said that 'he whom you serve,' told
you to take care of me for him. What did you
mean ? "

"Just that."

" But " Bell hesitated again.

" You belong to him, you know," Stephen went
on, eyeing him steadily."

" I ? 1 never said so."

" Makes no difference."

" But yes, it does ! When people give in their
consent to that doctrine what they call making a
profession of religion, then, if you please, they be
long to him ; but I have never done that."

" It makes no difference," said Stephen indiffer

" What makes no difference?"

" Whether the doctrine has your consent or not
The fact remains the same."

"What fact?"

" That you belong to the same King whom I serve.
Your being a rebel does not hinder your being a

" Without my consent ? " cried Bell.

"Wither without."

" Prove it."

"I have no need to prove it. You know it,
Your conscience knows it."

"How do you know that?" said Bell, with an
uneasy movement. Stephen made 110 aiife\ver;
and a silence ensued which lasted for some time.


Stephen was again apparently absorbed in his

" Stephen, hold on a bit, and listen to me," Bell
called from his bed. " All the religious folk I ever
saw were so intolerably stupid ! no fun, you know ;
not up to anything jolly. I can't seem to get along
with them."

" What do you want me to do about it ? " Stephen
asked calmly.

" Why ! Do ? Tell me whose fault it is, mine
or theirs."

"Probably both; but certainly yours."

" But they are so stupid ! "

" I am sorry you find them so."

" You are not stupid, of course; I do not mean
you; though I thought you were, when I found you
would have nothing to do with cards, and wouldn't
drink wine, or go to the theatre."

" As you find yourself mistaken in my case, per
haps you were in some of the others also."

" But I say, Kay ! why won't you do those things? "

Stephen smiled. "I find them as you found
me, stupid."



"Not the theatre?"

" I have never tried that."

" And you will not try it. Why ? "

Stophen laid down his book and looked at hia
friend. " I know enough of it to keep away from
it," he said. " But besides that, Bell, I have what


is so much better than all these things, that they
have no charm for me."

" Books, you mean ? One cannot be always at
books, man."

" I do not mean books. I have had little to do
with books till I came to Cambridge."

"What do you mean, then?"

Sephen hesitated. " I cannot tell you," he said
then. " If you ever come into the service of the
King, you will know; if not, nobody can explain it
to you. I can only repeat to you what Christ said
to the woman at the well and she did not under
stand it, 'Whosoever drinketh of this water shall
thirst again ; but he that drinketh of the water that
I shall give him, shall never thirst.' "

Silence set in again, and this time lasted long.
Stephen was soon deep in his books ; and Bell stud
ied with a kind of envious admiration the very
placid, manly brow; the singular repose, which in
spite of its energy and life and intentness lay upon
the face. He burst out at last.

"Kay, what are you going to be?"

Stephen lifted up his face and looked towards his
questioner, having but partially heard him. Bell
repeated his question.

" I am going to be autocratic. You are to stop
talking, and stop thinking; and go to sleop."



subject however was brought up at another
1 time. A day or two later Bell was able to
leave his bed; and wrapped in his dressing gown
and seated in an easy chair by the fire, he began
to taste the sweets of life again. Stephen as usual
was with him ; it was evening, and the place was
savoury with the smell of roasting oysters. Bell
looked on at the preparations with the languid
content of a convalescent, who has nothing to do
with them but to enjoy. Then suddenly he went
back to his unanswered question of a few days

" Kay, what are you going to be ? "


" By and by ; after you graduate. What are you
aiming at? beyond being distinguished ? "

" I am not aiming at that unless so far aa it
may be a means to an end."

*" You are not aiming at it ! "

*' No ; except as I said."

"You don't care about being distinguished,



" Except in so far, I do not think I do. Here's
an oyster for you. Take some bread and butter
with it."

" Thanks ! Well, you are distinguished, and you
are going to be distinguished; and I'm glad of it,
for one. You'll come out ahead of us all, as sure
as guns; but what I mean is, what are you going
to be after?"

" I have not found out yet."

" Don't know yet ! What do you want to be, then ?
that's only another form of the same question."

" I do not know. Here's another oyster, Bell
just right."

Bell swallowed the oyster, but returned to the

" I have been thinking where you would distin
guish yourself most; studying that subject and
you, while I lay watching you, these days and
nights. I can't make up my mind. I don't some
how want to give you up to be a clergyman."

" I have no call to be a clergyman."

"Haven't you? I'm sort o' glad of it! Will
you be a lawyer, Stephen ? That aint your line. I
snould say."

"Why not?"

"I don't know. I believe you are too good
tor it."

"There must be a mistake somewhere in yorr
mind, I should say. That judgment proceeds upon
a misapprehension, either of me, or of a lawyer's
business. "


"His business is quarrelling."
"To put a stop to quarrels, rather say."
"How would the lawyer live, old fellow?"
"There will be enough for him to do yet for
some time to come, in righting the wrong."
"Righting the wrong!"

" Yes. * Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and
plead the cause of the poor and needy.' That's his

" I believe you would do for a judge," said Bell
"Thank you."

" Then you will be a lawyer, Stephen ? "
"No," said the other slowly. " I think not."
" What then ? What do you want to be ? Is it
wealth or fame you are steering for ? "
" Neither, I think."

" In the name of well, in the name of every
thing reasonable, what then ? You are not the
sort of fellow to work aimlessly. Not if I know
you ! But don't tell me if you don't want to ! " he
said, as he perceived that Stephen hesitated. " Of
course, as a friend, I would like to know; but I do
not want to make myself a nuisance."

" No* danger of that," Stephen said pleasantly.
But he attended to Bell's wants yet for a minute
or two; pouring out some more tea for him, and
giving him another oyster, and establishing two or
three more fat bivalves on the coals where they
would lie safely and not spill all their juice. Then
he sat down and answered.


"Bell, I have not troubled myself much about
this question, because I knew I should find it; the
solution, I mean. I want to take the line of life in
which I can best serve God and do most work for
the world. That is all I care for."

"You would do that in any line of -life, old

" Yes, I hope so. But it is a great thing for a
man to find his niche."

"How is he to find it?"

" Let God, who made him for it, put him in it."

"Yes, but how? how? You are talking the
most extraordinary enigmas; once I should have
said, nonsense ; but 1 know you better now. The
nonsense is in my stupid head, I suppose."

"Not nonsense, but want of knowledge. It is
very simple, practical, matter of fact that I am
speaking. Every man is fitted and put here for
some special, particular work ; and in that work he
will do more and do better, and his life will amount
to more, than in any other way it possibly could."

" Excuse me, but how do you make it out r I
should certainly say many people most people
are fit for nothing in particular."

" That is because they have unfitted themselves."

"And they were intended, all of them, for a
particular place and work ? Seriously ? "

" Seriously, what would you think of a macnin-
ist who put in his machine here a lever and there
a pin to do nothing at all? or a wheel merely
meant to turn round ? "


Bell looked at his friend with a quizzical face.
" Do you call this world a machine ? "

"No; but you may liken it to a very compli
cated one."

"And we are levers and pins?"

"Ought to be filling our places accordingly;
since, as you know, the work is not interchange

" Stephen, what is the work you talk about ? I
do not see. I do not see any special work to be
done, except by a philanthropist here and there.
You aren't going to turn philanthropist, are you ? "

" What is a philanthropist ? "

"Somebody with a crotchet in his head, who
walks round the world putting everybody else in
the wrong."

"Will you have any more oysters?"

" No, thank you ! not this time. You are going
to put me off with that ? "

" No," said Stephen smiling. " But I cannot tell
you what I do not know myself. Paul said he was
an apostle 'by the will of God;' and whatever 1
may be, it shall be by the same will. I am the
Lord's servant; what he wants me to do, I will do,
and he will shew me what that is."

" But Stephen, everything in this world is not for
duty ? Don't you allow some little chink or cranny
where pleasure comes in ? "

Stephen smiled, a smile that astonished his friend,
and almost silenced him. " I have no greater pleas
ure than to do the will of God," he said. "See,


Charles, you do not understand it, because you do
not know him ; but I know him. He has redeerwed
me, and forgiven me, and adopted me; he has made
me inexpressibly happy with his presence; I am
not living without pleasure, I am full of it; and
the only thing I wish for further in this world is
to do what work my Lord has for me to do, and so
please him."

" You are happy ? " said Bell, looking at him.

" Perfectly happy, except for what I see around

" And have not a wish in the world ? "

" Not a wish, except what I stated. And I should
add, the desire to help other people, less happy."

"That pretty much sweeps the horizon," said

Stephen said no more. His genius was never in
talking, as we know; although with a single friend
he had no want of words or lack of frankness. Bell
meditated and mused. And studied Stephen.

"I should like to know how you are going to
set about helping all those other people. Nursing
them when they are sick, for instance ? "

" If it comes in my way."

"Ridiculous!" exclaimed Bell. "You degener
ating into a sick nurse ! "

" Have I come down so much in your estimation?"

" Not for once in a way ! but if you gave your-
fielf up to the care of other people. Stephen, you
never thought of being a doctor, did you ? "

"Not until lately. Two or three times within


the last days, when the doctor was here to see you,
a thought crossed my mind that his profession gave
mm great opportunities."

"Of what?"

" Doing the work I want to do."

"Don't!" said Bell earnestly. "It's a beastly
life always up and down. No rest, and no

" I have told you, I do not care for the glory."

"But you do! everybody must. It is not nat
ural, not to care. You are honest, of course, but
you are mistaken. Stephen, you must care about
being distinguished. Don't say you don't ! "

" I do not say I don't," Stephen answered slowly,
" but it is a different sort from that you are talking
about. I want the honour that comes from God;
and in comparison with that, the praise of men is
such a small thing that I can't see it."

" You can have both."

" I cannot seek both."

"Why not?"

" They are of such diametrically different nature,
and bestowed upon such different principles. In
the nature of things, a man cannot be striving for
both at once. 'That which is highly esteemed
among men is abomination in the sight of God.'"

"Is it? What?" asked Bell in a bewildered
kind of way. " Instance. I cannot imagine what
you mean. You are going in for honours yourself,
here at Harvard."

" No excuse me I am not ; except as they may


further that service of which I spoke to you a little
while ago."

"Don't you want to have father aiid mother
proud of you ? "

" I have neither."

"Nor brothers and sisters? Nobody?" asked
Bell with a gentler tone of voice. Stephen was
silent a moment.

" I have a sister," he said. " I would like her to
think well of me and hear good of me; but that is
not pride, I think. At least I hope not."

"Well, why can't you have men's praise and
heaven's praise too ? What's to hinder ? "

" It is possible, no doubt, to have both. The im
possible thing is, to seek distinction at the same
time from two opposite and opposing powers."

" What powers ? "

" Christ and the world. He said, * How can
ye believe, which receive honour one of another,
and seek not the honour that cometh from God

" I didn't know that was in the Bible."

"I am afraid there are other things there that
you don't know."

" Still, I don't see why one cannot be a candidate
for earthly and heavenly honours at once."

" Because one cannot be looking in two opposite
directions at once."

" Opposite directions ! "

" Certainly. The Lord's favour is given in ac
cordance with his commands. Do you know what


his commands to his people are ? ' Heal the sick,
cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils;
freely ye have received, freely give.' "

" Do you take that literally ? "

" How else ? "

" But nobody else does ; not Christians, I mean."

" Then they are not obeying orders."

" But Stephen, they conV."

Can't what?"

" Everybody cannot give up his life to that sort
of thing, you know."

"Why not?"

" It would be tantamount to giving up everything
else, don't you know ? "

"What then?"

"Why! You ask 'what then?' as coolly as if
people had nothing else in the world to do."

" What else have they to do ? "

Bell was silent now, and Stephen presently went on.

"They have other things to do, but in order to
the best and most effective doing of that one thing.
As I am giving so many years to study here, arid
then perhaps so many more to study somewhere
else. All in order to the doing of my work."

" Will you allow me to ask, if you regard thia
very stringent rule as binding everybody alike?"

"I will allow you to ask me what you please.
As to the question, surely you know there are not
two rules."

" Stephen, I never heard anybody talk as you do,
and I never saw anybody in the least like you in


any way, in all my life. If you are right, then the
whole world is wrong. Is that likely ? "

Stephen put on rather a quizzical smile, as he
replied that the Bible so represented it.

"Well, but,"

Bell got no further. He sat still looking at his
friend, who with the neatness and quietness pecu
liar to him was putting away dishes, brushing up
crumbs, making the little table nice, and setting
the lamp right, and then making up the fire. Then
as he took his chair again, his eyes met Bell's ob
servant and somewhat doubtful ones. He smiled
at him.

" It is good service, Charley ! "

"Yours, you mean."

" It is joy enough all the while, to serve such a
Master. But besides that, it is free and happy
yes, and dignified, to step out from all the en
tanglements this world spreads for our feet, and
set them upon the way that leads to everlasting
life. The footing is good, and the outlook is clear:
our fellow servants are the angels; and we in our
measure are doing the same work as they. The
special work of each one is given by the King, and
the King himself will take it at our hands, one day,
if we are faithful, with a ' Well done ' from his own
mouth. And the work itself is blessed enough in
the doing, if there were no Lord over us or heaven
ahead of us ; though, as I said, the best of it is that
it is done for him."

Bell looked earnestly at his friend, who tit the


moment so overstepped the usual staid measure of
his speech.

"Then, what would you do, if everybody were
like you, with all the various trades and profes
sions in the world?"

"Carry them on, all the useful ones; but every
one 'in the name of the Lord Jesus.' Don't you
know that we are forbidden to do anything in any
other way ? "

" How about making money ? "

"The same thing."

" I am not clear, but you ought to be a parson
after all, Kay."

" If I ought, I have not yet discovered it"

"What will you be? You won't go into
business ? "


"No, you would not like that You behind a
counting house desk ! you would be like a bird of
Paradise with its wings clipped, turned into a ga v -
deu with a flock of ducks to keep the worms ofi.
Stephen, will you be a doctor ? "

" I have thought of it lately."

"It's hard work and no fame for the most part;
but that's your sort."

'' There are great opportunities in the profes
sion," Stephen went on musingly. " I think, hard
ly greater in any."

" Then, I'll tell you a thing, old boy. I've go*
an nncle. And the uncle is Did you ever hear of
Dr. Bell, of Boston."


" I am a stranger in this part of the world, you

" So of course you don't know him. Well, there
he is; and he is Doctor Bell; and old in the pro
fession, arid men say, distinguished; but that you
don't care for ? "

" I care for it very much."

" I thought you didn't ! "

"As a means to an end, not as an end," Stephen
added smiling.

"0! You'll be logical, whatever else you are.
Well, there is my uncle! I'll bet a cent, what
you'll do will be, to study with him."

" What makes you think he would take me ? "

" I know he would."

Stephen did not pursue the question, and Bell
also let it drop for the time. But he contrived
within a week or two to get his uncle out to Cam
bridge. He brought him and Stephen together,
and led straight to the subject which had been
under discussion between himself and his friend.
The old man and the young man liked each other
ft om the first. Dr. Bell wanted an assistant ; and
the end was, after a little while and several inter
views, that the matter was decided. As soon as
Stephen had taken his degree he should enter Dr.
Bell's house and business.



SO the question of Stephen's life work was de
cided. He said nothing about it for the pres
ent; went on with his studies steadily, adding to
them now one or two new branches. By degrees
also he grew in the liking of his fellow students,
who even became proud of him in a way ; however,
Stephen was pursuing great objects too closely to
have much leisure for the scattering, rollicking,
careless society around him ; in which he mingled
only just so much as he could without giving uj
any of his principles. But if you can stand with
out other people's help, and against their pressure
they will always respect you for so much ; and Ste

Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 31 of 34)