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shalt understand the strange thing that has happened. These

2023-11-28 22:03:44 [family] source:All kinds of troubles

"That reminds me of a snatch of conversation I once overheard between my mother and a doctor's wife. I am reminded of it because the spirit of your meaning is diametrically opposed to her own. After some talk my mother asked, 'And how is the doctor?' 'Oh,' replied the visitor, with a long sigh, 'he's well enough in body, but he's blue, terribly blue; everybody is so well, you know.'"

shalt understand the strange thing that has happened. These

"Her sentiment was more human than humane," laughed Kemp. He was glad to see that she had roused herself from her sad musings; but a certain set purpose he had formed robbed him now of his former lightness of manner.

shalt understand the strange thing that has happened. These

He was about to broach a subject that required delicate handling; but an intuitive knowledge of the womanly character of the young girl aided him much. It was not so much what he had seen her do as what he knew she was, that led him to begin his recital.

shalt understand the strange thing that has happened. These

"We have a good many blocks before us yet," he said, "and I am going to tell you a little story. Why don't you take the full benefit of my arm? There," he proceeded, drawing her hand farther through his arm, "now you feel more like a big girl than like a bit of thistledown. If I get tiresome, just call 'time,' will you?"

"All right," she laughed. She was beginning to meet halfway this matter-of-fact, unadorned, friendly manner of his; and when she did meet it, she felt a comfortable security in it. From the beginning to the end of his short narrative he looked straight ahead.

"How shall I begin? Do you like fairy tales? Well, this is the soul of one without the fictional wings. Once upon a time, --I think that is the very best introduction extant, --a woman was left a widow with one little girl. She lived in New Orleans, where the blow of her husband's death and the loss of her good fortune came almost simultaneously. She must have had little moral courage, for as soon as she could, she left her home, not being able to bear the inevitable falling off of friends that follows loss of fortune. She wandered over the intermediate States between here and Louisiana, stopping nowhere long, but endeavoring to keep together the bodies and souls of herself and child by teaching. They kept this up for years until the mother succumbed. They were on the way from Nevada to Los Angeles when she died. The daughter, then not eighteen, went on to Los Angeles, where she buried her mother, and endeavored to continue teaching as she had been doing. She was young, unsophisticated, sad, and in want in a strange town. She applied for advice to a man highly honored and recommended by his fellow-citizens. The man played the brute. The girl fled--anywhere. Had she been less brave, she would have fled from herself. She came to San Francisco and took a position as nurse-girl; children, she thought, could not play her false, and she might outlive it. The hope was cruel. She was living near my home, had seen my sign probably, and in the extremity of her distress came to me. There is a good woman who keeps a lodging-house, and who delights in doing me favors. I left the poor child in her hands, and she is now fully recovered. As a physician I can do no more for her, and yet melancholy has almost made a wreck of her. Nothing I say has any effect; all she answers is, 'It isn't worth while.' I understand her perfectly, but I wished to infuse into her some of her old spirit of independence. This morning I asked her if she intended to let herself drift on in this way. I may have spoken a little more harshly than necessary, for my words broke down completely the wall of dogged silence she had built around herself. 'Oh, sir,' she cried, weeping like the child she is, 'what can I do? Can I dare to take little children by the hand, stained as I am? Can I go as an impostor where, if people knew, they would snatch their loved ones from me? Oh, it would be too wretched!' I tried to remonstrate with her, told her that the lily in the dust is no less a lily than is her spotless sister held high above contamination. She looked at me miserably from her tear-stained face, and then said, 'Men may think so, but women don't; a stain with them is ignoble whether made by one's self or another. No woman knowing my story would think me free from dishonor, and hold out her clean hands to me.' 'Plenty,' I contradicted. 'Maybe,' she said humbly; 'but what would it mean? The hand would be held out at arm's length by women safe in their position, who would not fail to show me how debased they think me. I am young yet; can you show me a girl, like myself in years, but white as snow, kept safe from contamination, as you say, who, knowing my story, would hold out her hand to me and not feel herself besmirched by the contact? Do not say you can, for I know you cannot.' She was crying so violently that she would not listen to me. When I left her, I myself could think of none of my young friends to whom I could propound the question. I know many sweet, kind girls, but I could count not one among them all who in such a case would be brave as she was womanly--until I thought of you."

Complete silence followed his words. He did not turn his glance from the street ahead of him. He had made no appeal, would make none, in fact. He had told the story with scarcely a reflection on its impropriety, that would have arrested another man from introducing such an element into his gentle fellowship with a girl like Ruth. His lack of hesitancy was born of his manly view of the outcast's blamelessness, of her dire necessity for help, and of a premonition that Ruth Levice would be as free from the artificiality of conventional surface modesty as was he, through the earnestness of the undertaking.

There is something very sweet to a woman in being singled out by a man for some ennobling virtue. Ruth felt this so strongly that she could almost hear her heart beat with the intoxicating knowledge. No question had been asked, but she felt an answer was expected. Yet had her life depended on it, the words could not have come at that moment. Was she indeed what he esteemed her? Unconsciously Dr. Kemp had, in thought, placed her on a pedestal. Did she deserve the high place he had given her, or would she?

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