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tently fill her life. No one knows better than I what
this means. I had once this disease, and pretty badty
the hunger for imperative duties."

"And you," I said, much interested "you were
cured?"

" Yes ; by marriage. It is what you call a heroic
remedy. But not all women marry, and Alice has so
far been hard, in fact impossible, to please. She has
my sympathy because I once did have ambitions for a
distinct career. They are lost now in the perfect
gratification which I have in seeing the growth and
increasing usefulness of my husband's life. It con-
tents me fully, but it might not have done so. I pity
profoundly the large-minded woman who, craving a
like satisfaction, finds too late that the man in whose
life she has merged her own is incapable of living up
to her ideals."

" Well," said Mrs. Leigh, " you are no doubt correct,
but Alice is Alice, and no one else, and Frederick Vin-
cents are not common, and "

" Go on, dear. Best to tell your own story."

" Oh, Alice says she can endure it no longer, and
now she proposes to really, Anne, it is awful. She
wants to study medicine, and, oh, you do not know
Alice. She is so determined. At last I promised to
inquire about it. It is too distressing. And what can
I do ? I am like a baby when she talks to me. She
is so obstinate, and then I get tired and say, ' Have it
your own way,' and after that we both cry, and in two
or three days it is all to be gone over again, just as I
think I am done with it. Marry her! If I only



236 CHARACTERISTICS.

could. And now what do you advise?" said Mrs.
Leigh, turning to me.

I was a little puzzled, and hesitated. At last I said :
" Tell me first, Mrs. Vincent, what do you think of this
matter ? It is not to be settled by my own views. I
do not know Miss Leigh, and you do."

" Yes ; but I have tried to put you in possession of
her peculiarities. Would you say, let her do as she
desires, or would you be positive in refusal ? She will
yield, but she will hate it."

" Could I see her ? " I said.

" Yes ; she is dining out, but will be here very soon.
She is to call for her mother."

" If, my dear Anne, she knew that we had been dis-
cussing her she is capable, the dear child, of any-
thing."

" Even of a love-affair," said Mrs. Vincent, merrily.

" Of anything else but that. Men are delightful to
Alice until they become interested ; then, as she says,
she becomes disinterested."

"There is some truth in that," cried our hostess.
"The moment a man is interested he ceases to be
interesting to some women. If the position has in it
nothing ridiculous to a woman, then she is either in
danger or is a mere coquette."

" I do not profess to comprehend Alice," said Mrs.
Leigh. "The boys I can manage, and Maude; but
once when Alice was very little she said, ' Mama, was
the Centurion a woman ? ' Of course I said, ' No ; and
why do you ask so silly a question?' 'Because he
just said, "Do this," and "Go," and "Do that," and
never gave any reasons ; and that is the way you do.'



CHARACTERISTICS. 237

Of course I punished her, but that was useless. Once,
after I had put her on bread and water for a day, she
told me the Bible said that 'man shall not live by
bread alone.' So I told her she had water too. When
I came to let her out that evening, she said, ' I 'm so
sorry, mama $ I did not think about the water, and I
forgot I was a girl ; the Bible says a man.' Now we
never argue."

I caught Mrs. Vincent's eye for a moment. It was
intelligent and telegraphic. I began to feel curious
about this reasoning child, and the woman evolved out
of such a childhood.

" I can see," returned our hostess, " how difficult it
must have been to manage a being like that, and one
too, as I recall Alice, so affectionate and so sensitive."

"O my dear Anne, sensitive hardly expresses it.
My children have been brought up on system, and a
part of it has been absolute certainty of punishment.
But if I punished Ned, and he needed it pretty often,
Alice was in tears for a day, 'And, would I punish
her ? ' And one day she was sure that would hurt Ned
worse. Well, at last I took her at her word, and then
Ned was in a rage, and declared he would kill him-
self if I ever struck her again."

" Struck ! " said Mrs. Vincent. " But pardon me."

" Oh, they were mere children. I do not at all share
your views about education ; and then, dear, you have
no experience none."

" That is true," said Mrs. Vincent, quietly.

She was vastly tender about all little ones, as some
childless women are. Pausing a moment, she added :
" Our only excuse for talking so intimately of my dear



238 CHARACTERISTICS.

Alice is because I want Dr. North to understand the
person for whom we seek his advice. Few people are
as little likely to misunderstand us as he."

" Indeed, Anne, if he can see through Alice, he will
be very clever."

"No one," I returned, "can easily apprehend charac-
ter from mere description, and you seem to me to have,
and to have had, a very complex nature to deal with."

" No ; she is simple," said Mrs. Vincent, " and, like
such people, very direct. Only, and you will pardon
me, Helen, Mrs. Leigh and her daughter are people
so different that it is not easy for them to agree in
opinion. In all lesser matters Alice yields. In larger
matters she is at times immovable, and," she added,
laughing, " as my dear Mrs. Leigh is also, and always
immovable "

" Oh," cried the mama, interrupting her, " excuse me,
dear Anne, but that is because I am systematic, and
system can never be cruel, because people know what
to expect. I heard Mr. Clayborne say that, and it
struck me as very profound."

" Be sure," I replied, not a little amused, " that I
shall regard all you say as a confidence. I must know
Miss Leigh personally, and better than your talk can
make me know her, before I advise you, and even then
I may decline to advise, or my advice may be of little
use, to her, at least."

"Too true," remarked Mrs. Leigh. "I know her
well, and my advice is of very little use."

" I hear the carriage," said Mrs. Vincent. " This very
original consultation had better end here. You were
at Baden, Helen, were you not ? "



CHARACTERISTICS. 239

"Yes."

" Did you meet the Falconbergs ? Vincent is very
much attached to them. You know he carried on a
suit for the German embassy when Count Falconberg
was Charge. Ah, my dear Alice, how late you are !
The dinner must have been very pleasant. Where is
Edward ? My old friend Dr. Owen North, Miss Leigh."

Instantly I knew, as I rose to meet her, that she
understood that we had been talking of her. I read
with ease the language of her face. One has these
mysterious cognitions as to certain people, and even
the steadying discipline of society had as yet failed to
enable her to preserve that entire control of the feat-
ures which makes its life an easy masquerade. The
trace of annoyed surprise was gone as she said cor-
dially : " I feel that I ought to know you. We crossed
your path in Europe over and over years ago, and I
used to hear mama regretting that we had not met."

" It was my loss," I returned.

" And was the dinner pleasant ? Do tell us," said
Mrs. Vincent.

" Yes and no. Too long. All our dinners here are
too long. I exhausted one of my neighbors. He was
rather ponderous. I tried him on a variety of subjects,
but at last we hit, by good luck, on the stock-exchange.
It must be a queer sight, and when we women are
stock-brokers in the year 2000 ah, I should like to
see what it will be then. I know all about bulls, and
bears, and puts, and shorts, and margins, and "

" Alice ! " said Mrs. Leigh, severely.

" And the other man ? " said I.

" Ah, he was really a nice boy of twenty. He con-



240 CHARACTERISTICS.

fided to me his ambitions. Do you not know, Dr.
North, the sort of fresh shrewdness a young fellow
like that has sometimes ? It is delightful, and such a
pleasant belief that he knows the world."

" That is like Alice. She is always losing her heart
to some boy in his teens," said the mama.

" She ought to know Mr. St. Clair," cried Mrs. Vin-
cent. " He is in his teens, and always will be. And
I must be a witch. Indeed, I uttered no spells, but
he always comes just at the moment one wants him,
unless you expect him at dinner." And so, amidst her
laughing remarks, she presented St. Clair to Miss Alice
and her astonished mama.

St. Clair was utterly regardless of the conventional
in many ways, and especially as to engagements. He
might or might not dine with you if he had promised
to do so, and these failures, due very often to facility
of f orgetfulness, were at times quite deliberate, and to
appearance selfish, or at least self -full He would re-
ceive a telegram and leave it unopened for a day, and
I have seen the drawer of his desk filled with unopened
letters.

Now he was in a long, dark-brown velvet jacket, and
a spotless, thin white flannel shirt, with a low collar
and a disheveled red necktie. As to his hands, they
were always perfectly cared for, white, and delicate.
The crown of brown, wilful curls over the merry eyes
went well with his picturesque disorder of dress, but I
could see that Mrs. Leigh set him down at once as a
person not of her world. She was as civilly cool as
her daughter was the reverse. He stood a moment
by Miss Alice in her evening dress, a rosy athlete, blue-



CHAEACTERISTICS. 241

eyed, gay, happy, and picturesque, with long Vandyke
beard, soft mustache, and an indefinite, careless grace
in all his ways. The woman was, as to dress and out-
side manner, simply and charmingly conventional. I
have no art in describing faces. Hers was of a clear
white, but the richly tinted lips showed that this was
the natural hue of perfect health. As she stood, I saw
that this paleness was not constant. Little isles of
color came and went, and seemed to me to wander
about cheek and neck, as if to visit one lovely feature
after another. Yes, she was handsome ; that was clear
by the way St. Glair tranquilly regarded her. All
beauty of form bewildered him into forgetfulness of
surroundings.

As he was presented, St. Clair bowed to the matron,
shook Mrs. Vincent by both hands, and then, as I said,
turned a quiet gaze of delight on the young woman.

"I think we must have met before," he said.

"Indeed," she exclaimed.

"Yes; I am always sure of that about certain
people."

"That is one of St. Glair's fads," I said. "But as
to your table-companions. I know one of them. His
sole pleasure is in stock- gambling."

"Ah," cried Mrs. Vincent, "I can understand that,
and, indeed, all gambling propensities."

"Anne ! my dear Anne ! " said Mrs. Leigh.

"Yes; I should like to gamble if one did not have
to lose, which I should hate, or to win, which would
be worse."

"And to me it is incomprehensible," said Miss Alice.
''1 dislike chance."



242 CHARACTERISTICS.

"What ! the dear god Chance ?" said St. Clair. I
wish I could shuffle life every morning like a pack of
cards."

She looked at him steadily. He was always in
earnest. Then she remarked :

"You like all games of chance?"

"Yes; but I never win. I want to think I shall win,
but I never want to win."

"And of course you do sometimes?"

"Yes, it is like making love. I think I want to win,
but I do not, and I am dreadfully afraid if I come
near to winning."

Miss Alice looked amused and puzzled.

"A rare fancy, I should say. And the money if
you do win ? Does it not annoy, embarrass ?"

"Oh, I give it away. I prefer to give it back to the
man; but I tried that once, and found that it was
looked upon as an insult. I had to explain, and it
was not very easy."

"I should think not," said I. "I once gambled in
stocks indirectly, and with a lucky result. A man lost
half of his fortune in X. Y. stock. It fell from 40 to
7 in a month. He became depressed and threatened
to kill himself. I did what I could, and assured him
that the stock was good and would rise again. I was
very young, Miss Leigh, and very sanguine. In a
month he came back and said he was himself again,
and much obliged for my advice."

"'What advice?' I said.

" 'Oh,' he cried, 'you told me the stock was good and
would rise, and as I knew you were a friend of the
president of the road I determined to act upon your



CHAEACTERISTICS. 243

confidence, and so I bought at 7 and 9 all the stock I
could afford to cany. 7

"Without a word I left him, and, returning with the
morning paper, said, 'The stock is 37. Promise me to
sell at once.' He said, 'Of course.' Then I made him
pledge himself never again to meddle with stocks."

"And he kept his word ?" said Mrs. Vincent.

" Yes ; and made a dreadful amount of money."

"I like your making him promise not to gamble,"
said Miss Leigh, gravely. "What a droll story ! "

Meanwhile Mrs. Vincent and the mother had been
chatting apart, and now the latter rose. "Come,
Alice," she said ; and then, with the utmost cordiality,
"And, Dr. North, let us see you soon, very soon, and
often. We are of the same blood, you know. Good
evening, Mr. St. Glair ; I trust we shall have the pleas-
ure of seeing you again."

St. Clair took no note of the difference in manner to
him and to me ; I do not think he saw it. He was
again absorbed in the study of Alice.

" Oh, with great pleasure," he returned. " And Fred
is in the study, Mrs. Vincent, you said ? I will join
him. Good night."

He went up-stairs, while I descended the staircase
with Mrs. Vincent's friends. I put them into their
carriage, and went back.

" Shall I need to apologize ?" said Mrs. Vincent, when
we were again seated.

"Indeed, no. What a remarkable girl ! And the
mother?"

"Oh, better than she seems. There is much sense
back of her views as to system in education, and



244 CHARACTERISTICS.

although positive, cruelly tactless, capable, in a word,
of incredible social blunders, she is yet a lady, and,
moreover, a kindly, charitable woman. People like her.
She is handsome still, as you see. But she is not the
mama for Alice."

"I did not like her manner to St. Clair," I said.

"The only defense possible for him is to know him.
Imagine the effect of that jacket on Mrs. Leigh ! It
said Bohemia at once."

"And if so, what must be to her social nerves the
idea of Miss Dr. Alice, in fact ? Yes ; I shrink from
it myself," I continued, "and I am not sure that I am
wise."

"At least," returned Mrs. Vincent, "it cannot be
here a question of right or wrong. There is no wicked-
ness in it. She abandons no duty. The brothers are
old enough not to need her. The mother and she do
not agree. I mean that they look at life from diverse
points of view. Really, they both love and admire
each other. Only on large occasions do they approach
a quarrel, and Alice is as respectful then as she is de-
termined."

"Not obstinate. Mrs. Leigh is that, I should say."

" Her worst annoyances are what Fred calls Alice's
white mice. She has a curious collection of friends,
the socially lame, halt, and blind, who adore her, and
to pursue a duty is as much a temptation to Alice as
a pleasant bit of wickedness is to some other women.
You will like her. You are sure to like her."

" I do already."

" I knew you would. And do make St. Clair call.
He never will unless you make him."



CHARACTERISTICS. 245

" I will try. I can at least leave his card."

"Yes; do. Next week, you know, we are all to
take tea at his studio. I am to matronize the party.
I want Alice to go, and her mother, but I will see to
that. Only he must call, and then a few words to
Mrs. Leigh will settle it. She does what I like, and
likes what I do, and is, therefore, a model to all my
friends."

u I have no need of the example, but I wish you had
not asked me to meddle in this doctor business."

"Why?"

" I hardly know."

" And yet, that is unusual with you. I mean, not
to be clear as to your reasons. I am sorry ; I "

"Please don't I am always at your service al-
ways. I will find a chance to talk to Miss Alice."

" Pray do ; but be careful. I want her to like you.
You know I insist on my friends liking one another.
And now you must go. I am tired. Fred is up-
stairs."

" No ; I must go home. Good night"




xvn.

SAW none of these people for some
days. The Leighs were not at home
when I called, and my life went on
its usual course of busy hours. Then
I remembered Mrs. Vincent's re-
quest, and dropped in on St. Clair at
his studio. Asking him casually if he had called on
Mrs. Leigh, he said, " No," and to my surprise, " Would
I leave his card ? " I said, " Yes ; with pleasure," and
asked him at what hour was his afternoon tea.

" Jove ! " he exclaimed, " I forgot it. I will see Mrs.
Vincent. How do people remember things ? I want
to have that splendid young woman ; and the mama,
I suppose, is a sad necessity. How lucky that you
came in."

" Best to see Mrs. Vincent soon."
"I will."

"Now, at once. Change your dress," he was in
his blouse "and I will drop you there. And make
haste."

I did see him safely into Mrs. Vincent's house, know-
ing very well that it was as likely as not that he would
have forgotten the whole matter had I not reminded
hin? in time. Then I left my carriage and walked to



CHARACTERISTICS. 247

Mrs. Leigh's. As the door opened I met Miss Leigh
in the hall, dressed for the street.

" Oh," she said, " you are caught and must come in.
I am in no hurry to go out. I am sorry mama is not
at home."

" I am at least fortunate," I said, as we turned back
along the hall, " in finding you, and you will please to
be a trifle blind while I drop St. Glair's cards on the
table. Half a dozen friends are needed to perform
for him his social duties. He might call on you daily
for a week, and then not for six months."

"One must have to make large allowances for a
friend like that," she said, as we entered the drawing-
room. " But do you not think that that is a part of
the capacity for friendship ? I mean knowledge with
charity."

"Assuredly. And with all his shortcomings St.
Clair is a man to love. What he needs in life is some
woman as tender as she is resolute."

" Alas for the woman ! "

" No. I presuppose the one essential without which
the double life is inconceivable to me, at least.
However, this must be left to fate. Mrs. Vincent will
ask your mother and you to his studio next week.
We are to see his statues, and to have tea."

"But mama will never go," she returned, hastily.
"I beg pardon, she is engaged, I mean there will be
some engagement, and I should like to go. Why
do not all of you wear brown velvet coats ? "

" And have curly hair, and write verses, and carve
statues, and look like young Greek athletes! Ah,
Miss Leigh, there are drawbacks believe me, there
17



248 CHARACTERISTICS.

are drawbacks. Now a dress-coat would have made
this afternoon tea seem so easy and so delightful to
a matronly kinswoman of mine."

" You see too much," she cried, laughing. " Yes j
so far as mama is concerned, that beautiful, worn
velvet jacket was fatal. But perhaps Mrs. Vincent
will make mama go. She has a way of smiling mama
into or out of anything." Then she paused a little
and, coloring, said: "Mama told me last night that
she had talked with you and Mrs. Vincent about me.
Mama never keeps a secret very long, unless you ask
her to tell it, and I was sure that I should hear of it
soon or late, for I knew at once the other night that I
had been under discussion. Frankly speaking, I did
not like it. Now, if you if you were were a girl,
would you have liked it ? "

I watched her with amusement and honest in-



" Oh, the delightful possibility of being a girl, and
of being discussed by you and Mrs. Vincent ! I think
I could stand it."

" Please do not laugh at me."

" I do not."

" But you do, and I am serious. I am not always
to be taken lightly. And men are so apt to insist
that a woman must be anything but serious."

"But every sermon has a text. About what are
you serious ? "

"You know. I of course mama told me, and, to
be plain, I would rather state my own case, even at
the risk of your thinking me a very singular young



CHAEACTEEISTICS. 249

" I might answer that to be unusual is not always
to be unpleasant."

" That is nicely put and kindly. May I go on ? "

"I wish you would. I have heard something of
this trouble of yours."

" Oh, it is not my trouble. People other people
take the rough material of one's views, plans, hopes,
and manufacture trouble out of them. But pardon
me. I interrupted you. Do you really want me to go
on?"

" Pray do." She paused, looked up at me, and then
down at her lap, and at last set wide eyes on me for a
moment and continued :

" I hesitate because I do not know how much to say.
Mrs. Vincent can tell you just what I am, the bad and
the good. Oh, I see she has done it already."

"Yes."

" Well, I am twenty-four. I have more than enough
means. Also, I have active brains. A certain discon-
tentment with this life of bits and shreds troubles
me. I am told that I should amuse myself as others
do with music. I can play, but I have no real talent
or love for it. Sketch ! I can caricature hatefully
well; I loathe it. And at last mama suggests fancy
work, and Aunt Selina says, ' The poor, my dear.' If
I were free as to the last suggestion, I might find in
it a true career, but no young unmarried woman could
make of this a life not mama's daughter, at least.
What I need is connected work, something which
offers an enlarging life. I do not mean for ambition,
but as a definite means of development. You are go-
ing to say there is science, study."



250 CHARACTERISTICS.

" I was," I answered. " You are dreadfully appre-
hensive as to one's ideas."

" Oh, it was what others have suggested ; but mere
acquirement of barren knowledge seems to me a poor
use to make of life."

" Yes ; that is true. I am at one with you there."

" I have thought it all over. I want to study medi-
cine, and practise it too. That is all. You can help
me. Be on my side. I I shall thank you so much.
And you will be my friend in this, will you not?"
These last sentences were spoken with some excite-
ment, and with a look of earnest anxiety. I knew as
she talked that this was not a woman to turn aside
from her purposes with ease. And what could I say ?
I, too, hesitated. She went on again, and now with a
pretty girl-like timidity which touched me.

" Perhaps I have said more than I should ; I may
have asked too much of you. Sometimes I seem to
myself to be a strong, effective woman, needing no
help, and competent to go my way. And then I find
I have troubled mama, and that hurts me, and then I
relent, and am like a weak child groping about for
help. Are all women like that ? I am stopped here,
and turned aside there, and told to consult this one or
that. It seems so hard to do what is right."

" No one knows that better than I do," I replied. "It
is not enough to want to do right. And now, as regards
your mother, I am not at all sure what to do or say.
Like you, I want to do right, and do not find it easy."

I felt that I did not wish to wound this gentle girl,
with her honest longings, and her despair as to the
meagerness of mere upper-class life its failures to



CHARACTEEISTICS. 251

satisfy the large mind and larger heart. After an
awkward pause I said, " I should like to help you, and
I desire in so doing not to hurt you " ; and, having so
spoken, felt like a fool.

" But you must not mind that. It is not not as if
you had known me for years. Speak as you would to
a stranger, a patient."

" You have made it difficult."

"I? How?"

" No matter. I will do as you say. But remember,
I may be wrong, may have prejudices."

"Pray, go on."

" I think that every human being, man or woman,
is entitled to any career he or she may please to de-
sire. This is a mere human right."

"Oh, thank you."

"Wait a little. Whether the public will use the
person or not, is the business of the public. Should
you ask if personally I believe that women make as
good doctors as men of like education, I say no.
Should you ask me if I think it desirable that in the
interests of society in general women should follow
the same careers as men, I say no."

" And why ? "

" That is a serious question, or rather several ques-
tions, some of them not easily to be answered. I
would rather not discuss them."

"And is this all?"

" No ; and you will smile at my sequel. I never saw
a woman who did not lose something womanly in ac-
quiring the education of the physician. I hardly put
it delicately enough : a charm is lost."


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