came over and asked me politely if I had seen the shrubbery at the
west entrance. I had not, so he showed it to me and then looked me
"I thought you had 'em," he said, not unkindly, "but I guess you're
all right. You'd better go see a doctor, old man."
A week afterward my doctor tested my blood pressure again without the
preliminary stimulant. He looked to me a little less like Napoleon.
And his socks were of a shade of tan that did not appeal to me.
"What you need," he decided, "is sea air and companionship."
"Would a mermaid - " I began; but he slipped on his professional
"I myself," he said, "will take you to the Hotel Bonair off the coast
of Long Island and see that you get in good shape. It is a quiet,
comfortable resort where you will soon recuperate."
The Hotel Bonair proved to be a nine-hundred-room fashionable hostelry
on an island off the main shore. Everybody who did not dress for
dinner was shoved into a side dining-room and given only a terrapin
and champagne table d'hÃ´te. The bay was a great stamping ground for
wealthy yachtsmen. The _Corsair_ anchored there the day we arrived.
I saw Mr. Morgan standing on deck eating a cheese sandwich and gazing
longingly at the hotel. Still, it was a very inexpensive place. Nobody
could afford to pay their prices. When you went away you simply left
your baggage, stole a skiff, and beat it for the mainland in the
When I had been there one day I got a pad of monogrammed telegraph
blanks at the clerk's desk and began to wire to all my friends for
get-away money. My doctor and I played one game of croquet on the golf
links and went to sleep on the lawn.
When we got back to town a thought seemed to occur to him suddenly.
"By the way," he asked, "how do you feel?"
"Relieved of very much," I replied.
Now a consulting physician is different. He isn't exactly sure whether
he is to be paid or not, and this uncertainty insures you either the
most careful or the most careless attention. My doctor took me to
see a consulting physician. He made a poor guess and gave me careful
attention. I liked him immensely. He put me through some coÃ¶rdination
"Have you a pain in the back of your head?" he asked. I told him I had
"Shut your eyes," he ordered, "put your feet close together, and jump
backward as far as you can."
I always was a good backward jumper with my eyes shut, so I obeyed.
My head struck the edge of the bathroom door, which had been left
open and was only three feet away. The doctor was very sorry. He had
overlooked the fact that the door was open. He closed it.
"Now touch your nose with your right forefinger," he said.
"Where is it?" I asked.
"On your face," said he.
"I mean my right forefinger," I explained.
"Oh, excuse me," said he. He reopened the bathroom door, and I took my
finger out of the crack of it. After I had performed the marvellous
digito-nasal feat I said:
"I do not wish to deceive you as to symptoms, Doctor; I
really have something like a pain in the back of my head." He
ignored the symptom and examined my heart carefully with a
latest-popular-air-penny-in-the-slot ear-trumpet. I felt like a
"Now," he said, "gallop like a horse for about five minutes around the
I gave the best imitation I could of a disqualified Percheron being
led out of Madison Square Garden. Then, without dropping in a penny,
he listened to my chest again.
"No glanders in our family, Doc," I said.
The consulting physician held up his forefinger within three inches of
my nose. "Look at my finger," he commanded.
"Did you ever try Pears' - " I began; but he went on with his test
"Now look across the bay. At my finger. Across the bay. At my finger.
At my finger. Across the bay. Across the bay. At my finger. Across the
bay." This for about three minutes.
He explained that this was a test of the action of the brain. It
seemed easy to me. I never once mistook his finger for the bay. I'll
bet that if he had used the phrases: "Gaze, as it were, unpreoccupied,
outward - or rather laterally - in the direction of the horizon,
underlaid, so to speak, with the adjacent fluid inlet," and "Now,
returning - or rather, in a manner, withdrawing your attention, bestow
it upon my upraised digit" - I'll bet, I say, that Henry James himself
could have passed the examination.
After asking me if I had ever had a grand uncle with curvature of the
spine or a cousin with swelled ankles, the two doctors retired to the
bathroom and sat on the edge of the bath tub for their consultation. I
ate an apple, and gazed first at my finger and then across the bay.
The doctors came out looking grave. More: they looked tombstones and
Tennessee-papers-please-copy. They wrote out a diet list to which I
was to be restricted. It had everything that I had ever heard of to
eat on it, except snails. And I never eat a snail unless it overtakes
me and bites me first.
"You must follow this diet strictly," said the doctors.
"I'd follow it a mile if I could get one-tenth of what's on it," I
"Of next importance," they went on, "is outdoor air and exercise. And
here is a prescription that will be of great benefit to you."
Then all of us took something. They took their hats, and I took my
I went to a druggist and showed him the prescription.
"It will be $2.87 for an ounce bottle," he said.
"Will you give me a piece of your wrapping cord?" said I.
I made a hole in the prescription, ran the cord through it, tied it
around my neck, and tucked it inside. All of us have a little
superstition, and mine runs to a confidence in amulets.
Of course there was nothing the matter with me, but I was very ill.
I couldn't work, sleep, eat, or bowl. The only way I could get any
sympathy was to go without shaving for four days. Even then somebody
would say: "Old man, you look as hardy as a pine knot. Been up for a
jaunt in the Maine woods, eh?"
Then, suddenly, I remembered that I must have outdoor air and
exercise. So I went down South to John's. John is an approximate
relative by verdict of a preacher standing with a little book in his
hands in a bower of chrysanthemums while a hundred thousand people
looked on. John has a country house seven miles from Pineville. It
is at an altitude and on the Blue Ridge Mountains in a state too
dignified to be dragged into this controversy. John is mica, which is
more valuable and clearer than gold.
He met me at Pineville, and we took the trolley car to his home. It
is a big, neighbourless cottage on a hill surrounded by a hundred
mountains. We got off at his little private station, where John's
family and Amaryllis met and greeted us. Amaryllis looked at me a
A rabbit came bounding across the hill between us and the house.
I threw down my suit-case and pursued it hotfoot. After I had run
twenty yards and seen it disappear, I sat down on the grass and wept
"I can't catch a rabbit any more," I sobbed. "I'm of no further use in
the world. I may as well be dead."
"Oh, what is it - what is it, Brother John?" I heard Amaryllis say.
"Nerves a little unstrung," said John, in his calm way. "Don't worry.
Get up, you rabbit-chaser, and come on to the house before the
biscuits get cold." It was about twilight, and the mountains came up
nobly to Miss Murfree's descriptions of them.
Soon after dinner I announced that I believed I could sleep for a year
or two, including legal holidays. So I was shown to a room as big and
cool as a flower garden, where there was a bed as broad as a lawn.
Soon afterward the remainder of the household retired, and then there
fell upon the land a silence.
I had not heard a silence before in years. It was absolute. I raised
myself on my elbow and listened to it. Sleep! I thought that if I only
could hear a star twinkle or a blade of grass sharpen itself I could
compose myself to rest. I thought once that I heard a sound like
the sail of a catboat flapping as it veered about in a breeze, but
I decided that it was probably only a tack in the carpet. Still I
Suddenly some belated little bird alighted upon the window-sill, and,
in what he no doubt considered sleepy tones, enunciated the noise
generally translated as "cheep!"
I leaped into the air.
"Hey! what's the matter down there?" called John from his room above
"Oh, nothing," I answered, "except that I accidentally bumped my head
against the ceiling."
The next morning I went out on the porch and looked at the mountains.
There were forty-seven of them in sight. I shuddered, went into the
big hall sitting room of the house, selected "Pancoast's Family
Practice of Medicine" from a bookcase, and began to read. John came
in, took the book away from me, and led me outside. He has a farm of
three hundred acres furnished with the usual complement of barns,
mules, peasantry, and harrows with three front teeth broken off. I had
seen such things in my childhood, and my heart began to sink.
Then John spoke of alfalfa, and I brightened at once. "Oh, yes," said
I, "wasn't she in the chorus of - let's see - "
"Green, you know," said John, "and tender, and you plow it under after
the first season."
"I know," said I, "and the grass grows over her."
"Right," said John. "You know something about farming, after all."
"I know something of some farmers," said I, "and a sure scythe will
mow them down some day."
On the way back to the house a beautiful and inexplicable creature
walked across our path. I stopped irresistibly fascinated, gazing
at it. John waited patiently, smoking his cigarette. He is a modern
farmer. After ten minutes he said: "Are you going to stand there
looking at that chicken all day? Breakfast is nearly ready."
"A chicken?" said I.
"A White Orpington hen, if you want to particularize."
"A White Orpington hen?" I repeated, with intense interest. The fowl
walked slowly away with graceful dignity, and I followed like a child
after the Pied Piper. Five minutes more were allowed me by John, and
then he took me by the sleeve and conducted me to breakfast.
After I had been there a week I began to grow alarmed. I was sleeping
and eating well and actually beginning to enjoy life. For a man in
my desperate condition that would never do. So I sneaked down to the
trolley-car station, took the car for Pineville, and went to see one
of the best physicians in town. By this time I knew exactly what to do
when I needed medical treatment. I hung my hat on the back of a chair,
and said rapidly:
"Doctor, I have cirrhosis of the heart, indurated arteries,
neurasthenia, neuritis, acute indigestion, and convalescence. I am
going to live on a strict diet. I shall also take a tepid bath at
night and a cold one in the morning. I shall endeavour to be cheerful,
and fix my mind on pleasant subjects. In the way of drugs I intend to
take a phosphorous pill three times a day, preferably after meals, and
a tonic composed of the tinctures of gentian, cinchona, calisaya, and
cardamon compound. Into each teaspoonful of this I shall mix tincture
of nux vomica, beginning with one drop and increasing it a drop each
day until the maximum dose is reached. I shall drop this with a
medicine-dropper, which can be procured at a trifling cost at any
pharmacy. Good morning."
I took my hat and walked out. After I had closed the door I remembered
something that I had forgotten to say. I opened it again. The doctor
had not moved from where he had been sitting, but he gave a slightly
nervous start when he saw me again.
"I forgot to mention," said I, "that I shall also take absolute rest
After this consultation I felt much better. The reÃ«stablishing
in my mind of the fact that I was hopelessly ill gave me so much
satisfaction that I almost became gloomy again. There is nothing more
alarming to a neurasthenic than to feel himself growing well and
John looked after me carefully. After I had evinced so much interest
in his White Orpington chicken he tried his best to divert my mind,
and was particular to lock his hen house of nights. Gradually the
tonic mountain air, the wholesome food, and the daily walks among
the hills so alleviated my malady that I became utterly wretched and
despondent. I heard of a country doctor who lived in the mountains
nearby. I went to see him and told him the whole story. He was a
gray-bearded man with clear, blue, wrinkled eyes, in a home-made suit
of gray jeans.
In order to save time I diagnosed my case, touched my nose with my
right forefinger, struck myself below the knee to make my foot kick,
sounded my chest, stuck out my tongue, and asked him the price of
cemetery lots in Pineville.
He lit his pipe and looked at me for about three minutes. "Brother,"
he said, after a while, "you are in a mighty bad way. There's a chance
for you to pull through, but it's a mighty slim one."
"What can it be?" I asked eagerly. "I have taken arsenic and gold,
phosphorus, exercise, nux vomica, hydrotherapeutic baths, rest,
excitement, codein, and aromatic spirits of ammonia. Is there anything
left in the pharmacopoeia?"
"Somewhere in these mountains," said the doctor, "there's a plant
growing - a flowering plant that'll cure you, and it's about the only
thing that will. It's of a kind that's as old as the world; but of
late it's powerful scarce and hard to find. You and I will have to
hunt it up. I'm not engaged in active practice now: I'm getting along
in years; but I'll take your case. You'll have to come every day in
the afternoon and help me hunt for this plant till we find it. The
city doctors may know a lot about new scientific things, but they
don't know much about the cures that nature carries around in her
So every day the old doctor and I hunted the cure-all plant among the
mountains and valleys of the Blue Ridge. Together we toiled up steep
heights so slippery with fallen autumn leaves that we had to catch
every sapling and branch within our reach to save us from falling. We
waded through gorges and chasms, breast-deep with laurel and ferns;
we followed the banks of mountain streams for miles; we wound our way
like Indians through brakes of pine - road side, hill side, river side,
mountain side we explored in our search for the miraculous plant.
As the old doctor said, it must have grown scarce and hard to find.
But we followed our quest. Day by day we plumbed the valleys, scaled
the heights, and tramped the plateaus in search of the miraculous
plant. Mountain-bred, he never seemed to tire. I often reached home
too fatigued to do anything except fall into bed and sleep until
morning. This we kept up for a month.
One evening after I had returned from a six-mile tramp with the old
doctor, Amaryllis and I took a little walk under the trees near the
road. We looked at the mountains drawing their royal-purple robes
around them for their night's repose.
"I'm glad you're well again," she said. "When you first came you
frightened me. I thought you were really ill."
"Well again!" I almost shrieked. "Do you know that I have only one
chance in a thousand to live?"
Amaryllis looked at me in surprise. "Why," said she, "you are as
strong as one of the plough-mules, you sleep ten or twelve hours every
night, and you are eating us out of house and home. What more do you
"I tell you," said I, "that unless we find the magic - that is, the
plant we are looking for - in time, nothing can save me. The doctor
tells me so."
"Doctor Tatum - the old doctor who lives halfway up Black Oak Mountain.
Do you know him?"
"I have known him since I was able to talk. And is that where you go
every day - is it he who takes you on these long walks and climbs that
have brought back your health and strength? God bless the old doctor."
Just then the old doctor himself drove slowly down the road in his
rickety old buggy. I waved my hand at him and shouted that I would
be on hand the next day at the usual time. He stopped his horse and
called to Amaryllis to come out to him. They talked for five minutes
while I waited. Then the old doctor drove on.
When we got to the house Amaryllis lugged out an encyclopÃ¦dia and
sought a word in it. "The doctor said," she told me, "that you needn't
call any more as a patient, but he'd be glad to see you any time as
a friend. And then he told me to look up my name in the encyclopÃ¦dia
and tell you what it means. It seems to be the name of a genus of
flowering plants, and also the name of a country girl in Theocritus
and Virgil. What do you suppose the doctor meant by that?"
"I know what he meant," said I. "I know now."
A word to a brother who may have come under the spell of the unquiet
The formula was true. Even though gropingly at times, the physicians
of the walled cities had put their fingers upon the specific
And so for the exercise one is referred to good Doctor Tatum on Black
Oak Mountain - take the road to your right at the Methodist meeting
house in the pine-grove.
Absolute rest and exercise!
What rest more remedial than to sit with Amaryllis in the shade,
and, with a sixth sense, read the wordless Theocritan idyl of the
gold-bannered blue mountains marching orderly into the dormitories of
OCTOBER AND JUNE
The Captain gazed gloomily at his sword that hung upon the wall. In
the closet near by was stored his faded uniform, stained and worn by
weather and service. What a long, long time it seemed since those old
days of war's alarms!
And now, veteran that he was of his country's strenuous times, he had
been reduced to abject surrender by a woman's soft eyes and smiling
lips. As he sat in his quiet room he held in his hand the letter he
had just received from her - the letter that had caused him to wear
that look of gloom. He re-read the fatal paragraph that had destroyed
In declining the honour you have done me in asking me to be
your wife, I feel that I ought to speak frankly. The reason
I have for so doing is the great difference between our ages.
I like you very, very much, but I am sure that our marriage
would not be a happy one. I am sorry to have to refer to this,
but I believe that you will appreciate my honesty in giving
you the true reason.
The Captain sighed, and leaned his head upon his hand. Yes, there were
many years between their ages. But he was strong and rugged, he had
position and wealth. Would not his love, his tender care, and the
advantages he could bestow upon her make her forget the question of
age? Besides, he was almost sure that she cared for him.
The Captain was a man of prompt action. In the field he had been
distinguished for his decisiveness and energy. He would see her and
plead his cause again in person. Age! - what was it to come between him
and the one he loved?
In two hours he stood ready, in light marching order, for his greatest
battle. He took the train for the old Southern town in Tennessee where
Theodora Deming was on the steps of the handsome, porticoed old
mansion, enjoying the summer twilight, when the Captain entered the
gate and came up the gravelled walk. She met him with a smile that was
free from embarrassment. As the Captain stood on the step below her,
the difference in their ages did not appear so great. He was tall and
straight and clear-eyed and browned. She was in the bloom of lovely
"I wasn't expecting you," said Theodora; "but now that you've come you
may sit on the step. Didn't you get my letter?"
"I did," said the Captain; "and that's why I came. I say, now, Theo,
reconsider your answer, won't you?"
Theodora smiled softly upon him. He carried his years well.
She was really fond of his strength, his wholesome looks, his
manliness - perhaps, if -
"No, no," she said, shaking her head, positively; "it's out of the
question. I like you a whole lot, but marrying won't do. My age and
yours are - but don't make me say it again - I told you in my letter."
The Captain flushed a little through the bronze on his face. He was
silent for a while, gazing sadly into the twilight. Beyond a line of
woods that he could see was a field where the boys in blue had once
bivouacked on their march toward the sea. How long ago it seemed now!
Truly, Fate and Father Time had tricked him sorely. Just a few years
interposed between himself and happiness!
Theodora's hand crept down and rested in the clasp of his firm, brown
one. She felt, at least, that sentiment that is akin to love.
"Don't take it so hard, please," she said, gently. "It's all for the
best. I've reasoned it out very wisely all by myself. Some day you'll
be glad I didn't marry you. It would be very nice and lovely for a
while - but, just think! In only a few short years what different
tastes we would have! One of us would want to sit by the fireside and
read, and maybe nurse neuralgia or rheumatism of evenings, while the
other would be crazy for balls and theatres and late suppers. No, my
dear friend. While it isn't exactly January and May, it's a clear case
of October and pretty early in June."
"I'd always do what you wanted me to do, Theo. If you wanted to - "
"No, you wouldn't. You think now that you would, but you wouldn't.
Please don't ask me any more."
The Captain had lost his battle. But he was a gallant warrior, and
when he rose to make his final adieu his mouth was grimly set and his
shoulders were squared.
He took the train for the North that night. On the next evening he was
back in his room, where his sword was hanging against the wall. He was
dressing for dinner, tying his white tie into a very careful bow. And
at the same time he was indulging in a pensive soliloquy.
"'Pon my honour, I believe Theo was right, after all. Nobody can deny
that she's a peach, but she must be twenty-eight, at the very kindest
For you see, the Captain was only nineteen, and his sword had never
been drawn except on the parade ground at Chattanooga, which was as
near as he ever got to the Spanish-American War.
THE CHURCH WITH AN OVERSHOT-WHEEL
Lakelands is not to be found in the catalogues of fashionable summer
resorts. It lies on a low spur of the Cumberland range of mountains
on a little tributary of the Clinch River. Lakelands proper is
a contented village of two dozen houses situated on a forlorn,
narrow-gauge railroad line. You wonder whether the railroad lost
itself in the pine woods and ran into Lakelands from fright and
loneliness, or whether Lakelands got lost and huddled itself along
the railroad to wait for the cars to carry it home.
You wonder again why it was named Lakelands. There are no lakes, and
the lands about are too poor to be worth mentioning.
Half a mile from the village stands the Eagle House, a big, roomy
old mansion run by Josiah Rankin for the accommodation of visitors
who desire the mountain air at inexpensive rates. The Eagle House
is delightfully mismanaged. It is full of ancient instead of modern
improvements, and it is altogether as comfortably neglected and
pleasingly disarranged as your own home. But you are furnished with
clean rooms and good and abundant fare: yourself and the piny woods
must do the rest. Nature has provided a mineral spring, grape-vine
swings, and croquet - even the wickets are wooden. You have Art to
thank only for the fiddle-and-guitar music twice a week at the hop in
the rustic pavilion.
The patrons of the Eagle House are those who seek recreation as a
necessity, as well as a pleasure. They are busy people, who may be
likened to clocks that need a fortnight's winding to insure a year's
running of their wheels. You will find students there from the lower
towns, now and then an artist, or a geologist absorbed in construing
the ancient strata of the hills. A few quiet families spend the
summers there; and often one or two tired members of that patient
sisterhood known to Lakelands as "schoolmarms."
A quarter of a mile from the Eagle House was what would have been
described to its guests as "an object of interest" in the catalogue,
had the Eagle House issued a catalogue. This was an old, old mill that
was no longer a mill. In the words of Josiah Rankin, it was "the only
church in the United States, sah, with an overshot-wheel; and the only
mill in the world, sah, with pews and a pipe organ." The guests of
the Eagle House attended the old mill church each Sabbath, and heard
the preacher liken the purified Christian to bolted flour ground to