Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Best Url Shortener
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 20
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 20 Post by :ccapelan Category :Long Stories Author :Winston Churchill Date :May 2012 Read :2408

Click below to download : The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 20 (Format : PDF)

The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 20

CHAPTER XX

The Martha Wootton Memorial Hospital was the hobby of an angel alumnus of Silliston. It was situated in Hovey's Lane, but from the window of the white-enameled room in which she lay Janet could see the bare branches of the Common elms quivering to the spring gusts, could watch, day by day, the grass changing from yellow-brown to vivid green in the white sunlight. In the morning, when the nurse opened the blinds, that sunlight swept radiantly into the room, lavish with its caresses; always spending, always giving, the symbol of a loving care that had been poured out on her, unasked and unsought. It was sweet to rest, to sleep. And instead of the stringent monster-cry of the siren, of the discordant clamour of the mill bells, it was sweet yet strange to be awakened by silvertoned chimes proclaiming peaceful hours. At first she surrendered to the spell, and had no thought of the future. For a little while every day, Mrs. Maturin read aloud, usually from books of poetry. And knowing many of the verses by heart, she would watch Janet's face, framed in the soft dark hair that fell in two long plaits over her shoulders. For Janet little guessed the thought that went into the choosing of these books, nor could she know of the hours spent by this lady pondering over library shelves or consulting eagerly with Brooks Insall. Sometimes Augusta Maturin thought of Janet as a wildflower--one of the rare, shy ones, hiding under its leaves; sprung up in Hampton, of all places, crushed by a heedless foot, yet miraculously not destroyed, and already pushing forth new and eager tendrils. And she had transplanted it. To find the proper nourishment, to give it a chance to grow in a native, congenial soil, such was her breathless task. And so she had selected "The Child's Garden of Verses."


"I should like to rise and go
Where the golden apples grow"...


When she laid down her book it was to talk, perhaps, of Silliston. Established here before the birth of the Republic, its roots were bedded in the soil of a racial empire, to a larger vision of which Augusta Maturin clung: an empire of Anglo-Saxon tradition which, despite disagreements and conflicts--nay, through them--developed imperceptibly toward a sublimer union, founded not on dominion, but on justice and right. She spoke of the England she had visited on her wedding journey, of the landmarks and literature that also through generations have been American birthrights; and of that righteous self-assertion and independence which, by protest and even by war, America had contributed to the democracy of the future. Silliston, indifferent to cults and cataclysms, undisturbed by the dark tides flung westward to gather in deposits in other parts of the land, had held fast to the old tradition, stood ready to do her share to transform it into something even nobler when the time should come. Simplicity and worth and beauty--these elements at least of the older Republic should not perish, but in the end prevail.

She spoke simply of these things, connecting them with a Silliston whose spirit appealed to all that was inherent and abiding in the girl. All was not chaos: here at least, a beacon burned with a bright and steady flame. And she spoke of Andrew Silliston, the sturdy colonial prototype of the American culture, who had fought against his King, who had spent his modest fortune to found this seat of learning, believing as he did that education is the cornerstone of republics; divining that lasting unity is possible alone by the transformation of the individual into the citizen through voluntary bestowal of service and the fruits of labour. Samuel Wootton, the Boston merchant who had given the hospital, was Andrew's true descendant, imbued with the same half-conscious intuition that builds even better that it reeks. And Andrew, could he have returns to earth in his laced coat and long silk waistcoat, would still recognize his own soul in Silliston Academy, the soul of his creed and race.


"Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore."...


Janet drew in a great breath, involuntarily. These were moments when it seemed that she could scarcely contain what she felt of beauty and significance, when the ecstasy and pain were not to be borne. And sometimes, as she listened to Mrs. Maturin's voice, she wept in silence. Again a strange peace descended on her, the peace of an exile come home; if not to remain, at least to know her own land and people before faring forth. She would not think of that faring yet awhile, but strive to live and taste the present--and yet as life flowed back into her veins that past arose to haunt her, she yearned to pour it out to her new friend, to confess all that had happened to her. Why couldn't she? But she was grateful because Mrs. Maturin betrayed no curiosity. Janet often lay watching her, puzzled, under the spell of a frankness, an ingenuousness, a simplicity she had least expected to find in one who belonged to such a learned place as that of Silliston. But even learning, she was discovering, could be amazingly simple. Freely and naturally Mrs. Maturin dwelt on her own past, on the little girl of six taken from her the year after her husband died, on her husband himself, once a professor here, and who, just before his last illness, had published a brilliant book on Russian literature which resulted in his being called to Harvard. They had gone to Switzerland instead, and Augusta Maturin had come back to Silliston. She told Janet of the loon-haunted lake, hemmed in by the Laurentian hills, besieged by forests, where she had spent her girlhood summers with her father, Professor Wishart, of the University of Toronto. There, in search of health, Gifford Maturin had come at her father's suggestion to camp.

Janet, of course, could not know all of that romance, though she tried to picture it from what her friend told her. Augusta Wishart, at six and twenty, had been one of those magnificent Canadian women who are most at home in the open; she could have carried Gifford Maturinout of the wilderness on her back. She was five feet seven, modelled in proportion, endowed by some Celtic ancestor with that dark chestnut hair which, because of its abundance, she wore braided and caught up in a heavy knot behind her head. Tanned by the northern sun, kneeling upright in a canoe, she might at a little distance have been mistaken for one of the race to which the forests and waters had once belonged. The instinct of mothering was strong in her, and from the beginning she had taken the shy and delicate student under her wing, recognizing in him one of the physically helpless dedicated to a supreme function. He was forever catching colds, his food disagreed with him, and on her own initiative she discharged his habitant cook and supplied him with one of her own choosing. When overtaken by one of his indispositions she paddled him about the lake with lusty strokes, first placing a blanket over his knees, and he submitted: he had no pride of that sort, he was utterly indifferent to the figure he cut beside his Amazon. His gentleness of disposition, his brilliant conversations with those whom, like her father, he knew and trusted, captivated Augusta. At this period of her life she was awakening to the glories of literature and taking a special course in that branch. He talked to her of Gogol, Turgenief, and Dostoievsky, and seated on the log piazza read in excellent French "Dead Souls," "Peres et Enfants," and "The Brothers Karamazoff." At the end of August he went homeward almost gaily, quite ignorant of the arrow in his heart, until he began to miss Augusta Wishart's ministrations--and Augusta Wishart herself.... Then had followed that too brief period of intensive happiness....

The idea of remarriage had never occurred to her. At eight and thirty, though tragedy had left its mark, it had been powerless to destroy the sweetness of a nature of such vitality as hers. The innate necessity of loving remained, and as time went on had grown more wistful and insistent. Insall and her Silliston neighbours were wont, indeed, gently to rally her on her enthusiasms, while understanding and sympathizing with this need in her. A creature of intuition, Janet had appealed to her from the beginning, arousing first her curiosity, and then the maternal instinct that craved a mind to mould, a soul to respond to her touch....

Mrs. Maturin often talked to Janet of Insall, who had, in a way, long been connected with Silliston. In his early wandering days, when tramping over New England, he used unexpectedly to turn up at Dr. Ledyard's, the principal's, remain for several weeks and disappear again. Even then he, had been a sort of institution, a professor emeritus in botany, bird lore, and woodcraft, taking the boys on long walks through the neighbouring hills; and suddenly he had surprised everybody by fancying the tumble-down farmhouse in Judith's Lane, which he had restored with his own hands into the quaintest of old world dwellings. Behind it he had made a dam in the brook, and put in a water wheel that ran his workshop. In play hours the place was usually overrun by boys.... But sometimes the old craving for tramping would overtake him, one day his friends would find the house shut up, and he would be absent for a fortnight, perhaps for a month--one never knew when he was going, or when he would return. He went, like his hero, Silas Simpkins, through the byways of New England, stopping at night at the farm-houses, or often sleeping out under the stars. And then, perhaps, he would write another book. He wrote only when he felt like writing.

It was this book of Insall's, "The Travels of Silas Simpkins", rather than his "Epworth Green" or "The Hermit of Blue Mountain," that Mrs. Maturin chose to read to Janet. Unlike the sage of Walden, than whom he was more gregarious, instead of a log house for his castle Silas Simpkins chose a cart, which he drove in a most leisurely manner from the sea to the mountains, penetrating even to hamlets beside the silent lakes on the Canadian border, and then went back to the sea again. Two chunky grey horses with wide foreheads and sagacious eyes propelled him at the rate of three miles an hour; for these, as their master, had learned the lesson that if life is to be fully savoured it is not to be bolted. Silas cooked and ate, and sometimes read under the maples beside the stone walls: usually he slept in the cart in the midst of the assortment of goods that proclaimed him, to the astute, an expert in applied psychology. At first you might have thought Silos merely a peddler, but if you knew your Thoreau you would presently begin to perceive that peddling was the paltry price he paid for liberty. Silos was in a way a sage--but such a human sage! He never intruded with theories, he never even hinted at the folly of the mortals who bought or despised his goods, or with whom he chatted by the wayside, though he may have had his ideas on the subject: it is certain that presently one began to have one's own: nor did he exclaim with George Sand, "Il n'y a rien de plus betement mechant que l'habitant des petites villes!" Somehow the meannesses and jealousies were accounted for, if not excused. To understand is to pardon.

It was so like Insall, this book, in its whimsicality, in its feeling of space and freedom, in its hidden wisdom that gradually revealed itself as one thought it over before falling off to sleep! New England in the early summer! Here, beside the tender greens of the Ipswich downs was the sparkling cobalt of the sea, and she could almost smell its cool salt breath mingling with the warm odours of hay and the pungent scents of roadside flowers. Weathered grey cottages were scattered over the landscape, and dark copses of cedars, while oceanward the eye was caught by the gleam of a lighthouse or a lonely sail.

Even in that sandy plain, covered with sickly, stunted pines and burned patches, stretching westward from the Merrimac, Silas saw beauty and colour, life in the once prosperous houses not yet abandoned.... Presently, the hills, all hyacinth blue, rise up against the sunset, and the horses' feet are on the "Boston Road"--or rud, according to the authorized pronunciation of that land. Hardly, indeed, in many places, a "rud" to-day, reverting picturesquely into the forest trail over which the early inland settlers rode their horses or drove their oxen with upcountry produce to the sea. They were not a people who sought the easiest way, and the Boston Road reflects their characters: few valleys are deep enough to turn it aside; few mountains can appal it: railroads have given it a wide berth. Here and there the forest opens out to reveal, on a knoll or "flat," a forgotten village or tavern-stand. Over the high shelf of Washington Town it runs where the air is keen and the lakes are blue, where long-stemmed wild flowers nod on its sunny banks, to reach at length the rounded, classic hills and sentinel mountain that mark the sheep country of the Connecticut....

It was before Janet's convalescence began that Mrs. Maturin had consulted Insall concerning her proposed experiment in literature. Afterwards he had left Silliston for a lumber camp on a remote river in northern Maine, abruptly to reappear, on a mild afternoon late in April, in Augusta Maturin's garden. The crocuses and tulips were in bloom, and his friend, in a gardening apron, was on her knees, trowel in hand, assisting a hired man to set out marigolds and snapdragons.

"Well, it's time you were home again," she exclaimed, as she rose to greet him and led him to a chair on the little flagged terrace beside the windows of her library. "I've got so much to tell you about our invalid."

"Our invalid!" Insall retorted.

"Of course. I look to you to divide the responsibility with me, and you've shirked by running off to Maine. You found her, you know--and she's really remarkable."

"Now see here, Augusta, you can't expect me to share the guardianship of an attractive and--well, a dynamic young woman. If she affects you this way, what will she do to me? I'm much too susceptible."

"Susceptible" she scoffed. "But you can't get out of it. I need you. I've never been so interested and so perplexed in my life."

"How is she?" Insall asked.

"Frankly, I'm worried," said Mrs. Maturin. "At first she seemed to be getting along beautifully. I read to her, a little every day, and it was wonderful how she responded to it. I'll tell you about that I've got so much to tell you! Young Dr. Trent is puzzled, too, it seems there are symptoms in the case for which he cannot account. Some three weeks ago he asked me what I made out of her, and I can't make anything--that's the trouble, except that she seems pathetically grateful, and that I've grown absurdly fond of her. But she isn't improving as fast as she should, and Dr. Trent doesn't know whether or not to suspect functional complications. Her constitution seems excellent, her vitality unusual. Trent's impressed by her, he inclines to the theory that she has something on her mind, and if this is so she should get rid of it, tell it to somebody--in short, tell it to me. I know she's fond of me, but she's so maddeningly self-contained, and at moments when I look at her she baffles me, she makes me feel like an atom. Twenty times at least I've almost screwed up my courage to ask her, but when it comes to the point, I simply can't do it."

"You ought to be able to get at it, if any one can," said Insall.

"I've a notion it may be connected with the strike," Augusta Maturin continued. "I never could account for her being mixed up in that, plunging into Syndicalism. It seemed so foreign to her nature. I wish I'd waited a little longer before telling her about the strike, but one day she asked me how it had come out--and she seemed to be getting along so nicely I didn't see any reason for not telling her. I said that the strike was over, that the millowners had accepted the I.W.W. terms, but that Antonelli and Jastro had been sent to jail and were awaiting trial because they had been accused of instigating the murder of a woman who was shot by a striker aiming at a policeman. It seems that she had seen that! She told me so quite casually. But she was interested, and I went on to mention how greatly the strikers were stirred by the arrests, how they paraded in front of the jail, singing, and how the feeling was mostly directed against Mr. Ditmar, because he was accused of instigating the placing of dynamite in the tenements."

"And you spoke of Mr. Ditmar's death?" Insall inquired.

"Why yes, I told her how he had been shot in Dover Street by a demented Italian, and if it hadn't been proved that the Italian was insane and not a mill worker, the result of the strike might have been different."

"How did she take it?"

"Well, she was shocked, of course. She sat up in bed, staring at me, and then leaned back on the pillows again. I pretended not to notice it--but I was sorry I'd said anything about it."

"She didn't say anything?"

"Not a word."

"Didn't you know that, before the strike, she was Ditmar's private stenographer?"

"No!" Augusta Maturin exclaimed. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"It never occurred to me to tell you," Insall replied.

"That must have something to do with it!" said Mrs. Maturin.

Insall got up and walked to the end of the terrace, gazing at a bluebird on the edge of the lawn.

"Well, not necessarily," he said, after a while. "Did you ever find out anything about her family?"

"Oh, yes, I met the father once, he's been out two or three times, on Sunday, and came over here to thank me for what I'd done. The mother doesn't come--she has some trouble, I don't know exactly what. Brooks, I wish you could see the father, he's so typically unique--if one may use the expression. A gatekeeper at the Chippering Mills!"

"A gatekeeper?"

"Yes, and I'm quite sure he doesn't understand to this day how he became one, or why. He's delightfully naive on the subject of genealogy, and I had the Bumpus family by heart before he left. That's the form his remnant of the intellectual curiosity of his ancestors takes. He was born in Dolton, which was settled by the original Bumpus, back in the Plymouth Colony days, and if he were rich he'd have a library stuffed with gritty, yellow-backed books and be a leading light in the Historical Society. He speaks with that nicety of pronunciation of the old New Englander, never slurring his syllables, and he has a really fine face, the kind of face one doesn't often see nowadays. I kept looking at it, wondering what was the matter with it, and at last I realized what it lacked--will, desire, ambition,--it was what a second-rate sculptor might have made of Bradford, for instance. But there is a remnant of fire in him. Once, when he spoke of the strike, of the foreigners, he grew quite indignant."

"He didn't tell you why his daughter had joined the strikers?" Insall asked.

"He was just as much at sea about that as you and I are. Of course I didn't ask him--he asked me if I knew. It's only another proof of her amazing reticence. And I can imagine an utter absence of sympathy between them. He accounts for her, of course; he's probably the unconscious transmitter of qualities the Puritans possessed and tried to smother. Certainly the fires are alight in her, and yet it's almost incredible that he should have conveyed them. Of course I haven't seen the mother."

"It's curious he didn't mention her having been Ditmar's stenographer," Insall put in. "Was that reticence?"

"I hardly think so," Augusta Maturin replied. "It may have been, but the impression I got was of an incapacity to feel the present. All his emotions are in the past, most of his conversation was about Bumpuses who are dead and buried, and his pride in Janet--for he has a pride--seems to exist because she is their representative. It's extraordinary, but he sees her present situation, her future, with extraordinary optimism; he apparently regards her coming to Silliston, even in the condition in which we found her, as a piece of deserved fortune for which she has to thank some virtue inherited from her ancestors! Well, perhaps he's right. If she were not unique, I shouldn't want to keep her here. It's pure selfishness. I told Mr. Bumpus I expected to find work for her."

Mrs. Maturin returned Insall's smile. "I suppose you're too polite to say that I'm carried away by my enthusiasms. But you will at least do me the justice to admit that they are rare and--discriminating, as a connoisseur's should be. I think even you will approve of her."

"Oh, I have approved of her--that's the trouble."

Mrs. Maturin regarded him for a moment in silence.

"I wish you could have seen her when I began to read those verses of Stevenson's. It was an inspirations your thinking of them."

"Did I think of them?"

"You know you did. You can't escape your responsibility. Well, I felt like--like a gambler, as though I were staking everything on a throw. And, after I began, as if I were playing on some rare instrument. She lay there, listening, without uttering a word, but somehow she seemed to be interpreting them for me, giving them a meaning and a beauty I hadn't imagined. Another time I told her about Silliston, and how this little community for over a century and a half had tried to keep its standard flying, to carry on the work begun by old Andrew, and I thought of those lines,


"Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore."


That particular application just suddenly, occurred to me, but she inspired it."

"You're a born schoolma'am," Insall laughed.

"I'm much too radical for a schoolmam," she declared. "No board of trustees would put up with me--not even Silliston's! We've kept the faith, but we do move slowly, Brooks. Even tradition grows, and sometimes our blindness here to changes, to modern, scientific facts, fairly maddens me. I read her that poem of Moody's--you know it:--


'Here, where the moors stretch free
In the high blue afternoon,
Are the marching sun and the talking sea.'

and those last lines:--

'But thou, vast outbound ship of souls,
What harbour town for thee?
What shapes, when thy arriving tolls,
Shall crowd the banks to see?
Shall all the happy shipmates then
Stand singing brotherly?
Or shall a haggard, ruthless few
Warp her over and bring her to,
While the many broken souls of me
Fester down in the slaver's pen,
And nothing to say or do?'"


"I was sorry afterwards, I could see that she was tremendously excited. And she made me feel as if I, too, had been battened down in that hold and bruised and almost strangled. I often wonder whether she has got out of it into the light--whether we can rescue her." Mrs. Maturin paused.

"What do you mean?" Insall asked.

"Well, it's difficult to describe, what I feel--she's such a perplexing mixture of old New England and modernity, of a fatalism, and an aliveness that fairly vibrates. At first, when she began to recover, I was conscious only of the vitality--but lately I feel the other quality. It isn't exactly the old Puritan fatalism, or even the Greek, it's oddly modern, too, almost agnostic, I should say,--a calm acceptance of the hazards of life, of nature, of sun and rain and storm alike--very different from the cheap optimism one finds everywhere now. She isn't exactly resigned--I don't say that--I know she can be rebellious. And she's grateful for the sun, yet she seems to have a conviction that the clouds will gather again.... The doctor says she may leave the hospital on Monday, and I'm going to bring her over here for awhile. Then," she added insinuatingly, "we can collaborate."

"I think I'll go back to Maine," Insall exclaimed.

"If you desert me, I shall never speak to you again," said Mrs. Maturin.

"Janet," said Mrs. Maturin the next day, as she laid down the book from which she was reading, "do you remember that I spoke to you once in Hampton of coming here to Silliston? Well, now we've got you here, we don't want to lose you. I've been making inquiries; quite a number of the professors have typewriting to be done, and they will be glad to give their manuscripts to you instead of sending them to Boston. And there's Brooks Insall too--if he ever takes it into his head to write another book. You wouldn't have any trouble reading his manuscript, it's like script. Of course it has to be copied. You can board with Mrs. Case--I've arranged that, too. But on Monday I'm going to take you to my house, and keep you until you're strong enough to walk."

Janet's eyes were suddenly bright with tears.

"You'll stay?"

"I can't," answered Janet. "I couldn't."

"But why not? Have you any other plans?"

"No, I haven't any plans, but--I haven't the right to stay here." Presently she raised her face to her friend. "Oh Mrs. Maturin, I'm so sorry! I didn't want to bring any sadness here--it's all so bright and beautiful! And now I've made you sad!"

It was a moment before Augusta Maturin could answer her.

"What are friends for, Janet," she asked, "if not to share sorrow with? And do you suppose there's any place, however bright, where sorrow has not come? Do you think I've not known it, too? And Janet, I haven't sat here all these days with you without guessing that something worries you. I've been waiting, all this time, for you to tell me, in order that I might help you."

"I wanted to," said Janet, "every day I wanted to, but I couldn't. I couldn't bear to trouble you with it, I didn't mean ever to tell you. And then--it's so terrible, I don't know what you'll think."

"I think I know you, Janet," answered Mrs. Maturin. "Nothing human, nothing natural is terrible, in the sense you mean. At least I'm one of those who believe so."

Presently Janet said, "I'm going to have a child."

Mrs. Maturin sat very still. Something closed in her throat, preventing her immediate reply.

"I, too, had a child, my dear," she answered. "I lost her." She felt the girl's clasp tighten on her fingers.

"But you--you had a right to it--you were married. Children are sacred things," said Augusta Maturin.

"Sacred! Could it be that a woman like Mrs. Maturity thought that this child which was coming to her was sacred, too?

"However they come?" asked Janet. "Oh, I tried to believe that, too! At first--at first I didn't want it, and when I knew it was coming I was driven almost crazy. And then, all at once, when I was walking in the rain, I knew I wanted it to have--to keep all to myself. You understand?"

Augusta Maturity inclined her head.

"But the father?" she managed to ask, after a moment. "I don't wish to pry, my dear, but does he--does he realize? Can't he help you?"

"It was Mr. Ditmar."

"Perhaps it will help you to tell me about it, Janet."

"I'd--I'd like to. I've been so unhappy since you told me he was dead--and I felt like a cheat. You see, he promised to marry me, and I know now that he loved me, that he really wanted to marry me, but something happened to make me believe he wasn't going to, I saw--another girl who'd got into trouble, and then I thought he'd only been playing with me, and I couldn't stand it. I joined the strikers--I just had to do something."

Augusta Maturity nodded, and waited.

"I was only a stenographer, and we were very poor, and he was rich and lived in a big house, the most important man in Hampton. It seemed too good to be true--I suppose I never really thought it could happen. Please don't think I'm putting all the blame on him, Mrs. Maturity--it was my fault just as much as his. I ought to have gone away from Hampton, but I didn't have the strength. And I shouldn't have--" Janet stopped.

"But--you loved him?"

"Yes, I did. For a long time, after I left him, I thought I didn't, I thought I hated him, and when I found out what had happened to me--that night I came to you--I got my father's pistol and went to the mill to shoot him. I was going to shoot myself, too."

"Oh!" Mrs. Maturity gasped. She gave a quick glance of sheer amazement at Janet, who did not seem to notice it; who was speaking objectively, apparently with no sense of the drama in her announcement.

"But I couldn't," she went on. "At the time I didn't know why I couldn't, but when I went out I understood it was because I wanted the child, because it was his child. And though he was almost out of his head, he seemed so glad because I'd come back to him, and said he'd marry me right away."

"And you refused!" exclaimed Mrs. Maturity.

"Well, you see, I was out of my head, too, I still thought I hated him--but I'd loved him all the time. It was funny! He had lots of faults, and he didn't seem to understand or care much about how poor people feel, though he was kind to them in the mills. He might have come to understand--I don't know--it wasn't because he didn't want to, but because he was so separated from them, I guess, and he was so interested in what he was doing. He had ambition, he thought everything of that mill, he'd made it. I don't know why I loved him, it wasn't because he was fine, like Mr. Insall, but he was strong and brave, and he needed me and just took me."

"One never knows!" Augusta Maturity murmured.

"I went back that night to tell him I'd marry him--and he'd gone. Then I came to you, to the soup kitchen. I didn't mean to bother you, I've never quite understood how I got there. I don't care so much what happens to me, now that I've told you," Janet added. "It was mean, not to tell you, but I'd never had anything like this--what you were giving me--and I wanted all I could get."

"I'm thankful you did come to us!" Augusta Maturin managed to reply.

"You mean--?" Janet exclaimed.

"I mean, that we who have been more--fortunate don't look at these things quite as we used to, that the world is less censorious, is growing to understand situations it formerly condemned. And--I don't know what kind of a monster you supposed me to be, Janet."

"Oh, Mrs. Maturin!"

"I mean that I'm a woman, too, my dear, although my life has been sheltered. Otherwise, what has happened to you might have happened to me. And besides, I am what is called unconventional, I have little theories of my own about life, and now that you have told me everything I understand you and love you even more than I did before."

Save that her breath came fast, Janet lay still against the cushions of the armchair. She was striving to grasp the momentous and unlooked-for fact of her friend's unchanged attitude. Then she asked:--"Mrs. Maturin, do you believe in God?"

Augusta Maturin was startled by the question. "I like to think of Him as light, Janet, and that we are plants seeking to grow toward Him--no matter from what dark crevice we may spring. Even in our mistakes and sins we are seeking Him, for these are ignorances, and as the world learns more, we shall know Him better and better. It is natural to long for happiness, and happiness is self-realization, and self-realization is knowledge and light."

"That is beautiful," said Janet at length.

"It is all we can know about God," said Mrs. Maturin, "but it is enough." She had been thinking rapidly. "And now," she went on, "we shall have to consider what is to be done. I don't pretend that the future will be easy, but it will not be nearly as hard for you as it might have been, since I am your friend, and I do not intend to desert you. I'm sure you will not let it crush you. In the first place, you will have something to go on with--mental resources, I mean, for which you have a natural craving, books and art and nature, the best thoughts and the best interpretations. We can give you these. And you will have your child, and work to do, for I'm sure you're industrious. And of course I'll keep your secret, my dear."

"But--how?" Janet exclaimed.

"I've arranged it all. You'll stay here this spring, you'll come to my house on Monday, just as we planned, and later on you may go to Mrs. Case's, if it will make you feel more independent, and do typewriting until the spring term is over. I've told you about my little camp away up in Canada, in the heart of the wilderness, where I go in summer. We'll stay there until the autumn, until your baby comes, and, after that, I know it won't be difficult to get you a position in the west, where you can gain your living and have your child. I have a good friend in California who I'm sure will help you. And even if your secret should eventually be discovered--which is not probable--you will have earned respect, and society is not as stern as it used to be. And you will always have me for a friend. There, that's the bright side of it. Of course it isn't a bed of roses, but I've lived long enough to observe that the people who lie on roses don't always have the happiest lives. Whenever you want help and advice, I shall always be here, and from time to time I'll be seeing you. Isn't that sensible?"

"Oh, Mrs. Maturin--if you really want me--still?"

"I do want you, Janet, even more than I did--before, because you need me more," Mrs. Maturin replied, with a sincerity that could not fail to bring conviction....

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 21 The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 21

The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 21
CHAPTER XXIAs the spring progressed, Janet grew stronger, became well again, and through the kindness of Dr. Ledyard, the principal, was presently installed with a typewriter in a little room in an old building belonging to the Academy in what was called Bramble Street, and not far from the Common. Here, during the day, she industriously copied manuscripts' or, from her notebook, letters dictated by various members of the faculty. And she was pleased when they exclaimed delightedly at the flawless copies and failed to suspect her of frequent pilgrimages to the dictionary in the library in order to familiarize herself
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 19 The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 19

The Dwelling Place Of Light - Chapter 19
CHAPTER XIXThe Hampton strike had reached the state of grim deadlock characteristic of all stubborn wars. There were aggressions, retaliations on both sides, the antagonism grew more intense. The older labour unions were accused by the strikers of playing the employers' game, and thus grew to be hated even more than the "capitalists." These organizations of the skilled had entered but half-heartedly into a struggle that now began to threaten, indeed, their very existence, and when it was charged that the Textile Workers had been attempting to secure recruits from the ranks of the strikers, and had secretly offered the millowners
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT