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seem to be unalterably persistent.

In Professor Draper's work I found his illustration
of how faint need be a material record to be perma-
nent He says: "Put a coin on a clean mirror.
Breathe on both, and wait for the moisture to evapo-



CHAKACTEEISTICS. 101

rate ; cast off the coin, put the glass aside for some
days, and again breathe on the glass, and the outline
of the coin will reappear." His illustration is good,
but is as nothing to the delicacy of the memorial mind-
marks.

I have said that I have small power to reason. I
may add that I have no imagination. Memory is too
implacable with me to admit of that. When I try to
imagine in any of the forms described by Ruskin, I
feel as though I am merely hustled by a rush of re-
membered facts. Every one is a poet in his sleep, but
even in dreams I seldom see anything not possible,
or even not clearly out of my memorial storehouse.
Facts suggest only facts for me in my effort to reason
deeply, and to drive a wedge in between two facts or
remembrances, and thus to separate and hold and ex-
amine them comparatively is difficult. My mind asso-
ciates too rapidly for mental valuations. Thus I am
forbidden by my morbid accuracy of memory to be
other than minutely truthful, and the effort to make
use of the little lies which cement social intercourse is
rendered hard. I am not unwilling to fib, but it hurts
me to be inaccurate.

After reading Dr. Horatio Wood's articles on hash-
ish, I decided to see if this drug might not help me.
I took, at first, small doses, and at last a larger one.
The result I shall never forget. I had been writing,
and was suddenly aware that I had lost control of my
mind, and faintly realized what had happened. In
place of enfeebling my memory, the drug had rein-
forced it. With this came also a horribly strange sen-
sation of the flight of time. Countless ages seemed to



102 CHARACTERISTICS.

go by as palpably as a rushing stream. Every mo-
ment seemed to be freighted with a load of memories,
each mercilessly definite. I had, in fact, a sort of ver-
tigo of reminiscences. It seemed to me that every-
thing I had ever seen, read, or heard flashed into and
through my consciousness. This ended my experi-
ments. I am a miserable man.

WHEN I came to a close Clayborne was calmly sleep-
ing. As I ceased, he wakened, and declared it to be
very interesting.

" It is merely horrible," said Mrs. Vincent. " How
welcome death must be to such a man ! I can under-
stand that he might kill himself."

" But perhaps death may also result in a vertigo of
memories," I returned.

" Perhaps ; yes. That indeed might give us pause."



VHI.




VINCENT, who did not love the
sea, and whose dislike was recipro-
cated by very evil treatment on its
part, was always glad to give her
husband what she called a temporary
divorce. She knew well how much
the roughest sea voyage was his friend, and was well
pleased when in summer she could persuade him to
get away in his yacht.

" I have a note from Vincent," said St. Clair one
day early in September. " He wants us to join him at
Jamestown. Clayborne says this town is good enough.
I believe he cools himself with the classic authors. At
all events, go he will not."

I was happy in the chance of relief, having been
detained in town all of August, and so it was that two
days later we joined Vincent. We lived on his little
vessel, sailed around Newport,, and for a month lived
a life of joyous freedom.

One day we started together to walk on Canonicut
Island, across a country road which led away from the
few houses on the shore. Gaining a little hilltop, we
looked over at Narragansett and out to sea, or, turn-
ing, saw the Dumplings, the fort, and the quaint old
8



104 CHAEACTERISTICS.

steeples of Newport above the white houses scattered
along the bay.

The day was perfect, and it was quiet, too, with the
stillness on sea and on land of a New England Sab-
bath. Presently, moving on, we overtook a small,
slightly built woman, who was pausing here and there
to gather wild flowers.

St. Clair asked her the road to Beaver Tail Light-
house. She said it was a rather crooked way through
gates and fields, and then, as Vincent drew near, ex-
claimed, " Oh, what a bit of luck to see you here ! n

It was evident from his greeting that they were old
acquaintances. He turned and presented us. " Miss

M ," he said, " and will not you show us the way ?

For otherwise we are but lost men."

She smiled pleasantly, and said a few words to each
in turn, in a manner quite hard to put in words, but
which, however one might describe it, as gracious or
generous, at once established mysteriously cordial re-
lations with the hearer. It was easy to see in a few
minutes that she had the rare gift of intellectual sym-
pathy, perhaps I should have said of sympathy in most
of its forms. The farmers we met in their Sunday
black suits knew her, and their dogs came and jumped
on her as if welcoming a friend. The little children
cast up at her shy glances of acquaintance. As we
walked along, she seemed to hear all that was said, and
yet with wandering eyes to see all that earth, air, and
sea had to show.

We passed through fields and open gates, and at
last rested on a grass-bank by the roadside. On our
left was a dense shrubbery of undergrowth, ferns



CHARACTERISTICS. 105

and scrub-oaks. The low lichen-stained walls bounded
fields of perfect grass. Below us, to the left, the mur-
mur of breaking waves came softly to the ear, and
beyond, the open ocean lay intensely blue in the sun
of noon.

St. Clair evidently interested our companion. He
was in a mood of half -suppressed and joyous excite-
ment, such as open air and nature at her best were apt
to produce in him. " What a well-mannered day ! " he
said, looking around. " Such a nice reserve in its way.
Here comes the wind out of the north, and says, I
might be cold, but I am not ; and the midday sun lets
you know it might be warm, and is not. It is a
day full of delicious possibilities, like like a nice
woman."

I saw Vincent's eyebrows go up in faint amusement,
and his face said clearly, "The dear fellow is off."

Not so Miss M . " What a pretty phrase ! " she

exclaimed, smiling. "A well-mannered day. I shall re-
member that. One has worn out weather phraseology."

"Oh," said I, "the thief,

"She has the mystery of a morn in May,
Nor hot nor cold,
Nor ever grave, nor ever gay,
Until her secret soul be told."

"Ah, they always laugh at me," cried St. Clair.
"And as for Dr. North's quotations, who can trust
them ? He is a poet in disguise, and has a half -sup-
pressed notion that poetry is a sort of asking of the
alms of emotion, and not quite as reputable work as
pretending to cure folks. The day may guard her



106 CHAEACTEEISTICS.

secret soul for me. The fair outside is enough. There
is joy in the very air. It is a honeymoon of delight.
Come, I am for the sea." And with this he rose and
walked on ahead of us at a pace that soon left us far
behind.

" What a glad face ! " said Miss M . " It has the

most singular power of joyous expression. I remem-
ber, cousin Fred, your once speaking of him in Rome,
of his intense power to feel ; of his camaraderie with
all natural objects (I think that was the word you
used ; it struck me as happy)."

" I am very fond of him," returned Vincent. " He
is joyous by mere natural construction, a seer of things
that escape us. I envy, without comprehending, his
sensitiveness to innumerable impressions which escape
uncaught through the coarser meshes of my mental
net."

" What you say is quite true," I added ; " and with
it all there is a capacity for friendliness with every
living thing which has often surprised me. He will
quiet the fiercest dog, or take unhurt a handful of bees
in his grasp. I have seen him handle a rattlesnake."

" In another man," said Vincent, " I should call his
affection for trees or flowers an affectation. In him it
seems entirely natural. I am an observer because I
have learned to observe, but this close relation to the
world of animate and inanimate things is like the tie
of kindred. I can merely regard it with wonder."

"Why do you call them inanimate?" said Miss
M .

" Because they are."

" We may not be animate enough to know."



CHAEACTEEISTICS. 107

"I am not," returned Vincent. "I wish I were.
Something I lose, and we cannot afford to lose any of
the reasonable joys of life."

" You will never miss it," said Miss M , " really

miss it I mean this nearness of relation to nature
as you will if ever a great misfortune should pass into
your life, and become thenceforward a part of you I
may say, of your every fiber."

She spoke quietly, without any tone of self -allusion
in her manner ; but I turned to scan her face, and
saw that as she spoke her eyes were set on the distant
horizon, and at once understood that she spoke of
herself.

" That is true," I said. " There is strange comfort
in nature v/hen man has none to profit you. I think
we all must have felt with Victor Hugo the helpfulness
of finding in nature such companionship in our moods
as does give a certain, if mysterious, solace.

" J'aime la roche solennelle
D'ou j'entends la plainte eternelle,
Sans tr&ve eomme le remords,
Totijours renaissant dans les ombres.

He is grieving over a debased and fallen France, and
the sea is grieving with him."

" Yes," she said ; " there are times when no human
soul is tender enough, simple enough, or, if you like,
subtle enough in its apprehensions, to be the friend we
want when man delights you not, nor woman either.
It may be, it may seem to be, absurd to some, but there
are days when to be alone with the sea, or solitary in
the forest, consoles as nothing else can do on earth.
I think," she went on, " that this mere loneliness with



108 CHARACTERISTICS.

nature has negative as well as positive values. One
escapes from talk. That alone is an immense thing
one need not make reply to the glad babble of the
waters."

"And for me," said Vincent, "there would be but
one remedy work."

" No," I returned. " Few men, and fewer women,
while still near to a great sorrow, can find relief in
work. Few have energy enough for this. Those who
have strong characteristics run risks which not the
sturdiest can afford to despise. I have seen many a
man under the stress of grief break down with intense
business occupation."

"And yet," said Vincent, " what else is there ? Let
us suppose that we have used as we may all that higher
consolations can offer ; what shall a man do who is
stricken down with the loss of something the most dear
to him on earth ? Work would be my remedy."

" You might be able to bear it ; many are. Time
would probably answer with you, and do all that is
possible. I fancy the means of relief must vary with
the man. It is quite sure that for many physical ac-
tion is of use, and often saves the sensitive from those
outward expressions of emotion which for them, at
least, are full of moral and even physical danger.
After a while there comes a time when systematic work
is of value ; but I am sure that in days of sorrow some
people are best left to themselves. The blow of grief,
like that of the lion's paw, deadens the sense of its own
hurt, and to urge physical exertion, work, or travel,
or, in fact, anything, is vain or dangerous."



CHAEACTEEISTICS. 109

"Of course," said Vincent, "one's thoughts about
these matters are chiefly of and for the nobler char-
acter. The mass of men suffer and get well without
excess of sorrow."

" The thing we are after is, or ought to be," said

Miss M , " how to save the best natures from the

inefficiency which sorrow sometimes brings in its train
the physical wreckage it makes."

" And, after all, is that common, North ? "

" Common enough to be feared. But very often the
inefficiency which it brings has other explanations.
The dissolution of a partnership in life ruins or im-
pairs the usefulness of the surviving partner. The
dead gave something which was a complement essen-
tial to the usefulness of the remaining member of the
firm. There are wives who supply judgment or com-
mon sense, or who in some way have the gift of en-
ergizing the husband, or of keeping him economical.
She dies, and he is relatively valueless. Then people
say it is grief, while very often he himself never fully
comprehends what has happened to him."

"That is most true," said Vincent. "But to go
back a little. Your remedy of contact with solitary-
nature must be only for the few, who have with it such
relationship as you have been discussing. For some
I am sure that travel has its value, because we are thus
surrounded with distracting objects, and by people who
may interest us without intruding on the solitude of
ourselves. The loneliness of forest or sea would for
me be madness under circumstances of such trouble
as we are speaking of. Nature, not your nature, but



110 CHAKACTEEISTICS.

nature in the more inclusive sense, never invented La
Trappe."

"It gets very complex as we go on," said Miss

M . "The fact remains that for many, for the

sensitive, and often for others than the intellectual,
the world of natural things has soothing ways and an
inexplicable comfort not elsewhere to be found."

" It may be," returned Vincent. " What are those
lines of which St. Clair is so fond ?

"Only on Nature's lap can some men weep,
Only to her beloved gives she sleep ;
Her sympathy alone hath ever perfect touch,
Mpn gives too little or he gives too much."

"Thank you," said Miss M . "And where is

your friend? "We ought to be ashamed to use this
perfect day for a talk so grave. Let us keep the rest
of it for an east wind."

"And its consolations," laughed Vincent. "As to
that I am at one with you. Its relations to me are
despotic and disagreeable. Oh, there he is, the idle
beggar. All Lombard street to a china orange, he has
been making poetry. Halloo, St. Clair ! "

Below the small lighthouse, on the rocks at the verge
of the sea, the sculptor lay with his head over the
edge, his face exposed to the full sunlight. The waves
broke far out on a reef, and as they rose again with
failing power just touched his head. He laughed with
the glee of a truant boy. As we came down the rocks
he sat up, shook the brine out of his hair as a dog
does, looked about him, and said, " Oh, the treacherous
sea ! There it is."

The little black note-book he usually carried in his



CHAEACTERISTICS. Ill

pocket, having been laid on a rock, had been drifted
off by a wave.

" Poetry gone to sea," said I j and while we laughed
heartily at his look of solemn discomfiture Vincent
hooked the soaked book ashore with his cane. St.
Clair ruefully spread it out in the sun, while we made
numerous suggestions as to the loss to the world. St.

Clair said nothing until he looked up at Miss M 's

face. Then he exclaimed, " I think you could help me."

" Yes ; men have no resources," she said, and, taking
the book, went quietly up the shore and into the house
attached to the light-tower.

" Epic or sonnet ? " said Vincent.

"Sonnet," said St. Clair, tranquilly. "What bad
men you are ! Don't you know that was a real mis-
fortune? Only women are entirely good. No man
was ever so good as some women. Men reason them-
selves into goodness, but women oh, I hate you both !
Get away, do."

There was some fun and some earnestness in his
phrases. Then he sat on the rock and threw stones at

the billows as if for punishment, until Miss M ,

who was gone for a full half -hour, came back.

" It is all right," said she, " only a little blurred and
crumpled. It will serve now to keep me in remem-
brance."

He made no conventional mention of thanks, but
looking up, only smiled as he put the book away.
After this we sat on the rocks, saying little.

The sea was one vast round of sapphire set in the
gray of the rocks and the sparkling grasses of the up-
lands. Out of the pine woods of the northland came



112 CHARACTERISTICS.

stronger every hour a great wind, and as the vast bil-
lows rose on the reef with white crests, it sniote them
so severely that the foam streamed southward in level
lines.

At last Miss M said : " How much of this do

you carry away, Dr. North ? In memory, I mean, and
distinctly."

I said : " My thoughts were far afield. I can see it
in a manner when I close my eyes; not as I once
could, when a child."

" It is with me almost as present with my eyes shut
as now," said St. Clair, " and I shall not lose it. Just
as I go to sleep is the time to recall a scene I once
saw, but I cannot always keep it. It changes, or gives
place to another. Is that common, North ? "

" I am not sure. It is common with me ; but al-
though, like you, I can best recall a scene then, I can-
not always do so. Something else appears, and then
that too changes. There must be a law deducible, but
as it is, with what we now know, I cannot explain the
facts."

"And have you," said Miss M , " certain habitual

dreams ? I have."

" Yes. I used to fancy I would collect experiences
on this subject. My own are often professional. I
make an error in a prescription ; or, about to lecture,
find in my portfolio a fairy tale."

"They would be equal in value a hundred years
hence," laughed Vincent.

"Too true," I returned. "A very common dream
with me is to feel that I float above the ground, always
a foot or two above it. It is most agreeable."

" Oh, I do that," said Miss M .



CHAKACTEKISTICS. 113

" Yes ? And you like the sensation as you have it
in your dream ? "

" Certainly. But I had no idea it was a frequent
delusion ; for it is such with me, and a very complete
delusion. Sometimes I seem to have no legs at all,
and to be a spirit afloat."

" It reminds me," said Vincent, " of that queer tale
of a man who lost both arms and both legs in the war.
How was it the story ended, Owen ? a

" He is carried to a spiritual seance, and there in-
vited to choose what spirits he would call up. With
a great deal of sense he requested his legs to reappear,
and immediately was able to walk about the room.
He described his gait as rather uncertain, but ex-
plained it by the fact that both legs had been for two
years in the Government Museum, preserved in alco-
hol. The fun of it was that this absurd stoiy was ac-
cepted by spiritualists as a new proof of the truth of
their doctrine."

" Oh, not really ! " exclaimed Miss M .

" Yes. He had letters thanking him and asking for
details. But, in fact, the autobiography, as a whole,
deceived many, although it was written without the
least desire to mystify. In one place a sum of money
was collected for the poor victim."

" I think I must have read the story," remarked Miss
M .

" Just now," said Vincent, " I have in my sensitive
center a waking dream to the effect that my less noble
organs have been long vacant of food."

"Indeed?" said Miss M . "Then let us go.

But first, Mr. St. Glair, may I confess you ? "

"Yes; surely."



114 CHAEACTERISTICS.

" You have been making verses."

"They make themselves j sometimes in a vague,
disconnected way, sometimes so as to stay in my mind
and bother me like bad children until I hear and heed."

"And have you heeded to-day! and may I hear
what the children of the brain have said ? "

" If it will be pleasant to you."

"It will."

Then he quietly repeated these lines :

BEAVER TAIL ROCKS.

Fare forth, my soul, fare forth and take thine own ;

The silver morning and the golden eve

Wait, as the virgins waited to receive

The bridegroom and the bride with roses strewn.

Fare forth and lift her veil, the bride is joy alone.

To thee the friendly hours with her shall bring

The changeless trust that bird and poet sing ;

Her dower to-day shall be the asters sown

On breezy uplands, hers the vigor brought

Upon the north 1 wind's wing, and hers for thee

A stately heritage of land and sea,

And all that nature hath, and all the great have thought.

And she shall whisper, like a sea-born shell,

Things that thy love may hear, but never tell.

Vincent was silent, and I merely nodded to the poet
He understood me always.

"Is it good? Is it bad, Miss M ?" he said. "I

do not know."

" It is the spirit of this joyous day for me set some-
how in words," Miss M replied. " It likes me. I

always think that such a pretty phrase. I don't quite
care to discuss the verses. Send them to me, will
you?"



CHARACTERISTICS. 115

St. Clair nodded gaily, and we rose and went our
way.

Over the grass, through swaying primroses, among
the bowing plumes of goldenrod and aster came the
hearty north wind, as we went across the stone-walled
fields and saw the quiet bay and the gray lines of the
fort.

A farmer on the fence with his pipe took off his hat
to Miss M . She asked about his crops.

" There 's been a heap of grass, marm, this year, and
corn was never better. But this here farm of mine 'a
the best on the island."

" And he thinks he owns it," said St. Clair, apart.
"And yet the best of it to-day is yours and mine, and
stem or flower of that will he never own, nor sea nor
sky. I have known princes who did not own their
great old galleries of pictures."

" What it is to be a poetical Marquis of Carrabas ! "
laughed Vincent. " I am not of that famous family.
Gracious, it is four o'clock ! "

At the town Miss M left us. Then I asked

Vincent who she was.

"Miss M ," he said, "is a far-away cousin of

mine very distant, in fact. A New England woman.
During the war the man she was to have married was
killed at Fair Oaks. Since then her life has been one
of the widest charity. Strangely enough, this slight,
gentle woman with her quiet ways has a remarkable
control over the criminal classes. The good she has
done is past belief, and how it is that she understands
and influences these ruined outcasts I cannot even
dimly comprehend."



116 CHARACTERISTICS.

" I can," said St. Clair. " I am wicked enough to
understand. I could tell that woman anything."

"And how swiftly apprehensive she is," I added;
" and yet, despite her quickness, a patient hearer, and
that, I think, is rare. Quick-witted folks are apt to be
impatient. It needs the finest manners to keep them
free from the appearance of showing that they have
anticipated your explanations. They are very likely to
"be a trifle annoyed at overfulness of statement, just as
a slightly deaf man is at your speaking too loud."

"I think," said Vincent, "it is rather the dull to
whom you try to make things a little too clear who re-
sent it as the deaf man does a loud voice. Was not
your comparison rather misapplied here ? "

" Perhaps so ; but it is enough that you understand
me."

" I should like to know that woman better," said St.
Clair, " and never may. That is the worst of life."

While eating our belated lunch we ran down past
Beaver Tail, and then away toward the pretty tints of
Gray Head, and at last, crossing over past the beech
woods of Naushon, came to anchor in the moonlight
in the haven of Wood's Holl. There, on deck, in the
calm of a September night (for the north wind had
blown itself out), we fell by and by again into chat
about the chance companion of the morning.

Lying upon long cushions on deck with our pipes
the water sparkling below us with luminous life, for a
while no one spoke, until, at last, St. Clair said : " The
wonder to me is how that woman took up the threads
of activity and wove anew the warp and woof of lif e.
Was the man she lost worth having ? "



CHAEACTERISTICS. 117

" He was of the best," replied Vincent. " A person
of resolute character and positive convictions. He en-
tered the army as a private, and was a colonel when
he died."

" And she has made herself what we have seen and
have heard to-day?"

" Yes," said Vincent ; " but she has one peculiarity
at first sight an odd one. She is not very fond of
children. Their needs and claims she recognizes, of
course, but she prefers to help men and women. I
never could understand that in one so tender."

" I think I do," I returned. " She has never again
thought of marriage, and the contact with these little
ones arouses, I suspect, all the sense of sadness she
must have at feeling that the vast instincts of mater-
nity can never be gratified. The sentiment is subtle,
but real. Men can with difficulty understand the
imTnen.se instinctiveness of the true woman nature.
When her lif e is fulfilled in marriage and motherhood,
everything tends to cultivate her instincts. In the
man's life, everything tends to lessen their influence,


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