"Yes, indeed," said Katherine, and heartily returned the caress.
"Now, good-by," she added, and, with a respectful bow to her principal, left the room, whispering to herself as she tried to put out of thought the misshapen little figure in the chair:
"God never made one of His children imperfect. He made man upright, and there is no power apart from God."
MATERIA MEDICA AND MIRACLES.
The days and weeks sped swiftly by, Katherine gradually becoming mentally acclimated, so to speak, amid an adverse environment. She did not make many acquaintances, for most of the students still held aloof from her; but she was content, even happy, for, with a stanch friend in Miss Reynolds, whom she found most congenial, and with whom she spent much of her leisure time, she did not miss other companionship so much.
Sadie, her roommate, was an affectionate and kind-hearted girl; but being of an indolent, ease-loving temperament, she was often a trial to Katherine, who loved order and system and believed it to be the duty of everyone to maintain them.
The girl had often attempted to lean upon her in the preparation of some of her lessons, now and then asking to see her problems in mathematics and her translations in German and Latin. But this was something that Katherine would not lend herself to, except in so far as, occasionally, to remind her of some forgotten point in a rule that would suggest a way to work out the knotty problem, or to give her a cue as to case or tense, that would assist in the translation.
While she shrank from wronging her, even in thought, there were times when she felt sure that she had taken advantage of her absence from the room to look over her papers and copy from them.
"I cannot let you see my work," she said one day, when, after repeated but unheeded hints, Sadie had asked her outright to allow her to look at her problems, saying that she had not had time to do them for herself. "It would not be honest," she continued, determined to settle the matter once for all; "it would simply be showing Miss Reynolds my work and claiming it as your own."
"Now I call that downright mean and disobliging," Sadie returned, with an injured air, but flushing uncomfortably and forgetting for the moment the many other acts of kindness Katherine had shown her. "Of course, I don't expect you to do it every day, but just this once, so that I can make a good showing in the class, could do no harm; and, honey, I'll promise to spend all my recreation time, this afternoon, going over the work for myself."
"But that would be like using a key, which is forbidden, you know. No, Sadie, I can't do it," Katherine reiterated, firmly but kindly. "It may seem 'disobliging' to you, but you know that is not my motive. I feel that I should be doing you a personal wrong, besides deceiving others, to allow you to lean on me in any such way. You have just as much time to prepare your lessons as I have; you are naturally quick and bright, and, if you would spend fewer hours in shopping and visiting, there is no reason why you cannot make as good a record for yourself as anyone else. One must do one's own work, or be robbed of mental capacity and strength if one depends upon another."
"Oh, shucks!" retorted Sadie, with an impatient shrug and a very red face, as she employed the Southern localism, "don't preach to me. I reckon my 'mental capacity' will hold out long enough to pull me through Hilton." And with this sharp and angry thrust she flounced out of the room, banging the door after her.
This was the first time there had been an open rupture between them, although on two or three occasions, when Katherine had quietly resisted being imposed upon beyond a certain limit, the girl had manifested something of her hot Southern temper. She had always gotten over it very quickly, however, and harmony had been restored.
Katherine regretted this "rift in the lute," but she knew that she was doing right, and, after a few minutes spent in silently declaring that "error is not power and is always overcome with good," she serenely resumed her study.
For several days the relations between the roommates were somewhat strained, although Katherine bravely strove to ignore the fact and conduct herself as usual; but Sadie spent very little time in her room, except during study hours, when no conversation was allowed, and manifested in other ways that she had neither forgotten nor forgiven.
Meantime Dorothy had been ailing more than usual, and, at Dr. Stanley's suggestion, a consultation of physicians was called, when the young man proposed and explained an operation which he had seen performed abroad, and which he had previously mentioned to his brother-in-law.
The matter was discussed at length, and Dorothy was subjected to a careful examination, and, though all shrank from such a trying ordeal for the delicate girl, the five learned M.D.s agreed that it was the one thing, humanly speaking, left to try. That was all that could be said about it—it might, or might not, prove a success.
It was a heart-burdened trio, composed of the father, mother and Dr. Stanley, that assembled in Prof. Seabrook's study, after the departure of the other physicians, to talk over the weighty matter.
"Well, Emelie, what have you to say about it?" the elder man inquired of his wife, in a voice that was husky from suppressed feeling.
"Oh, Will, pray do not put the responsibility of a decision upon me!" Mrs. Seabrook returned, with quivering lips.
"What does your heart dictate, dear?" her husband pursued, in a tender tone.
"Oh, my heart rebels against any further suffering," she said, with a convulsive sob.
Tears started to the eyes of both men at this pathetic wail from the mother, and which found its echo in each heart.
"Suppose," said Dr. Stanley, after a moment of painful silence, "we let Dorothy decide for herself. She is thoughtful beyond her years, and I think she should have a voice in the matter. Let the case be frankly stated to her, and we will abide by her decision. To be plain with you, I could not bring myself to perform this operation without her consent."
This proposal met with the approval of Prof. and Mrs. Seabrook, and both appeared relieved when the young man said he would take it upon himself to broach the subject to the girl.
This he did with great tact and tenderness, and, after a grave and quiet talk with her uncle, in whom she placed unbounded confidence, Dorothy said she was ready for anything that he regarded as necessary, for she knew that he had only her welfare at heart.
But Dr. Stanley said there must be a time of "building-up" to get adequate strength, meantime she must try to be as happy as possible and think only pleasant thoughts.
"I will try, Uncle Phillip," said the girl, with a trustful look in her eyes, "but"—a wistful expression sweeping over her thin face—"don't you think it is strange there is no such way of healing, nowadays, as when Jesus was here?"
"Yes, Dorrie, I do. I have often asked myself that same question," replied her companion, gravely.
"How lovely it would be if there was some one living now who could say to me, 'Take up thy bed and walk,' and I could do it," she continued, with a note of yearning in her voice that smote sharply on her listener's heart. "Don't you believe that when Jesus went away He meant to have people keep on healing, and teaching others how to heal, just as He had done?"
"Perhaps He did, pet; but you know everybody thinks that those were 'days of miracles,' which were simply intended to establish the divinity of the Savior and His authority to teach the new gospel."
"Yes, I know everybody says that whenever I ask anything about it," Dorothy returned, with an involuntary shrug of impatience, "but, somehow, it doesn't seem fair to me that all sick people cannot be healed in the same way. Jesus' way was certainly the best way to cure people—so much better than making them take horrid medicines and—and cutting them up with knives," and a shiver ran over her slight form as she concluded.
"Let us talk of something else, Dorrie. I do not like to have you dwell upon that subject," said her uncle, with a spasmodic contraction of his lips.
"Well, I will try not to," she said, with a faint sigh. "But truly, Uncle Phil, I can't help thinking that it was never intended that Jesus' way should be stopped any more than the 'new gospel,' as you call it, was meant to be forgotten, or lost, after His resurrection. I think that the healing was a part of the 'new gospel.'"
"Well, Miss Thoughtful, that is certainly a good argument," returned her companion, smiling into the earnest, uplifted eyes. "But who has been talking to you to set you to reasoning so deeply on the subject?"
He was wondering if Katherine Minturn might not have dropped a seed of her doctrine into the receptive mind of his niece.
"Nobody—I just thought it out for myself. You see I can't do much but think, and I often get very puzzled about God and the queer things He lets happen. You know it says in the Bible that He is 'too pure to behold Iniquity,' or evil—and 'does not regard it with any degree of allowance'; and yet there seems to be more sin, sickness and dreadful accidents than anything else in the world."
"It is a mystery, I confess; but what makes you think that Jesus intended that His way of healing should be continued after His ascension?" inquired her uncle, who was deeply interested in the child's reasoning.
"Why, you see, just before He went away He had a talk with His disciples and gave them some last commands. He told them to go everywhere and preach to everybody—to 'heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out sin or devils.' Now, Uncle Phil, that command is all one—the first part of it says 'heal the sick, raise the dead,' then comes the rest of it—'cast out sin;' and I don't see what right people have to pick it to pieces and say He didn't mean them to obey any but the last part of it."
"I see," nodded the young man, as she paused to impress her thought upon him.
"Well, then He told them that everybody who believed what He preached would be able to do the same things. Don't you remember He said—'Teach them to observe'—and observe means to practice— 'all things whatsoever I have commanded you.' Those were His very words. Now don't you think that meant to heal in His way instead of using drugs and all sorts of queer things that the Bible doesn't say anything about?" and Dorothy bent an eager, inquiring look upon her uncle.
"Where do you find all that?" questioned Phillip Stanley, and thus evading a direct reply.
But what she had said had set him thinking of arguments along the same line which Mrs. Minturn had used, during some of their discussions on board the Ivernia.
Dorothy shot a roguish glance up at him.
"I guess you don't know your Bible very well, do you, Uncle Phillip?" she said, laughing. "But when you go home please read the last six verses of the last chapter of Mark, and then the last two verses of the last chapter of Matthew, and see for yourself if what Jesus said about healing the sick isn't just as strong as what He said about preaching to sinners."
"All right, I will; but, by Jove, Dorrie! what a profound little theologian you are getting to be!" laughingly returned the man as, with a caressing hand, he smoothed back the golden hair from her forehead. "What makes you bother your brain with such perplexing questions?"
"I suppose one reason is because I've been sick so long and nobody does me any real good. Oh! I shouldn't have said that to you, when you try so hard," Dorrie interposed, flushing. "But I like to talk about such things, and you are very good to talk with me. Papa used to; but, lately, he doesn't seem to like to. You ought to hear Miss Minturn, though."
"Miss Minturn!" repeated Phillip Stanley, with an inward start.
"Yes. I don't believe you know who she is. She is a new student, and she is just lovely," said Dorothy, with animation.
"Does she talk with you about these things?" inquired Dr. Stanley, and recalling what Katherine had told him regarding having been forbidden to advance her peculiar views while she was a student at Hilton.
"I never heard her say anything about what we have been talking of to-day," Dorothy replied. "I'm going to ask her, though, what she thinks, sometime. But papa asked her some questions once in the Sunday class, and her ideas about God and the way people ought to live are beautiful. She has been to see me several times, and she always brings me a lovely flower of some kind—a rose or lily, and once the sweetest orchid; only one at a time, but always such a beauty. I love to look at it when she is gone, and it almost seems as if she had left part of herself behind."
"That is just like her dainty ladyship," Phillip Stanley observed to himself, and Dorrie continued:
"Sometimes others have been here when she has come, and other times I've felt too weak to talk; but—it is very strange!—I never have that tired feeling in my back when she is here, and she is always so bright and cheery I forget the pain and feel so happy and—and rested. Oh! must you go. Uncle Phillip?" she concluded, regretfully, as he arose and took up his hat.
"Yes, dear, I've made you a long call, and now I really must get back to the office," he said, as he bent his lips to hers for his accustomed farewell.
The girl twined her arms around his neck.
"You are very good to me, Uncle Phillip, and I love you," she murmured, softly, "and when you go away I always count the hours 'til you come again."
"Well! well! I begin to think I am a person of considerable importance," he rejoined, in a playful tone.
"You 'begin to think,'" she retorted, roguishly; "haven't you ever thought it before? I'm not quite sure that you are as modest as you pretend to be. But, Uncle Phil—"
"Will you look up those verses and tell me what you think, the next time you come?"
"I promise you I will, Dorrie; and now au revoir!"
He touched the bell to call the nurse, then waved her a last good- by and quietly left the room.
Phillip Stanley did not, indeed, "know his Bible very well," and had spent very little time conning its pages since starting out in life for himself. Like many another who has been rigidly reared under the vague doctrines of "old theology," he had, at an early age, become both restive and skeptical. This state of mind had grown more pronounced as he had advanced in his profession and been brought in such close touch with suffering and dying humanity. Thus he had long since ceased to attend church, and, having found no comfort in the Scriptures—which seemed to him to portray a stern dictator and relentless judge rather than a merciful and loving Father—he had resolved to live his life as nearly in accord with his own highest conception of honor and rectitude as possible, become an ornament to and an authority in his profession, do what good he could along, the way, and not puzzle his brain trying to solve the perplexing problems of this life and of an unknowable future.
But to-day, on his way back to the city, he found himself thinking more seriously of these things than for many years, and, upon reaching his office and finding no one awaiting him, his first act was to take from an upper shelf his long neglected Bible and read the passages which Dorothy had named to him.
They appealed to him as never before. Every word bristled with a new meaning, and, becoming deeply interested after reading the last two verses of Matthew, he began the book of Mark and did not leave it until he reached the end.
"H-m! I begin to see what Mrs. Minturn founded some of her arguments upon," he said, as the striking of the clock warned him of his dinner hour. "Well, I wonder, were those cases 'miracles'— just supernatural wonders, performed merely to prove Jesus' authority to preach a new gospel? or were they 'governed by a demonstrable Principle,' as she affirms, brought to earth for suffering humanity to learn and practice, and so be redeemed from its sin-cursed bondage?
"There certainly ought to have been a panacea provided for all disease," he resumed, after a moment of deep thought. "But there is none to-day—at least materia medica has never found one, and that is a mortifying fact to be obliged to admit after over four thousand years of investigation and experiment. Poor Dorrie! I'd really like to make a test of her case!"
He put down his book with a sigh and then went out to his evening meal, a troubled expression on his handsome face.
KATHERINE AND THE JUNIOR LEAGUE.
Soon after entering Hilton Seminary, Katherine was invited, as was customary, to become a member of the "Junior League," a secret club or society organized and sustained by the junior class. Its object was twofold. First: improvement, to keep themselves informed of and in touch with current events and literature; and, second: sociability.
But it was hinted, now and then, by some of the more serious- minded members, that "a rollicking good time" had more attractions for the majority of its constituents than anything else.
Their meetings were held once a fortnight, when some member was expected to read a paper on a subject previously selected by a committee appointed for that purpose, after which a short time was spent in a general discussion of the theme, then the remainder of the evening was given over to social enjoyment; or, occasionally, to "a spread," which is so dear to every boarding school girl's heart.
Twice during the year the league formally entertained the faculty and the "Senior League," a similar organization, which as often returned these courtesies.
Katherine accepted the invitation with thanks, and at once threw herself heartily into the methods employed to entertain the club, particularly into the literary work, always carefully preparing herself upon the subject to be discussed. But she soon found that the main object of the organization was being perverted, the topics being superficially written up and argued, except by a very few. Less and less attention was being devoted to improvement and more to a good time, together with much school gossip, until the meetings were fast becoming a farce.
She deeply regretted this, and talked it over with some others as earnest as herself, but without achieving any satisfactory results. Upon one or two occasions she gave a thoughtfully prepared synopsis of the subject, but these efforts were received with shrugs, nudges and significant smiles and glances; and, while no one was openly discourteous to her, it was evident that, with a few exceptions, she was still regarded as a person to be shunned even by her own club.
One evening, on making her appearance, she observed that there was an unusual flutter among the wilder members of the league, and that she at once became the object of their curious regard.
The exercises progressed as usual until the discussion was over, when, as was the custom, the president called upon the chairman of the literary committee to announce the topic and the name of the member to treat it for the next meeting.
The chairman arose and said, while an ominous silence fell upon the room:
"Miss Minturn has been appointed to give us a paper for our next gathering, and the subject chosen is, 'Christian Science and Its Transcendental Tendency.'"
An audible titter ran around the room as this announcement was made, and every eye was fastened upon Katherine, who instantly suspected the situation had been planned for the sole purpose of making her uncomfortably conspicuous and bringing her beloved Science before the club simply to be ridiculed.
She was naturally quick-tempered, though years of discipline had taught her how to hold herself well in hand upon most occasions. But now, for the moment, her whole soul arose in arms and was ready to flash. forth in fiery indignation.
She flushed crimson and a dangerous gleam leaped into her usually gentle eyes, while she trembled from head to foot.
"See! it has hit her in a tender spot!" whispered Ollie Grant to Sadie Minot. "Look out, now, for a tempest from Miss Propriety! Won't it be fun?"
But the unaccustomed emotion passed almost as quickly as it had come. It was like the flash of summer heat that is followed by no thunder. Her momentary resentment was bravely quelled, and, after a brief denial of error, she arose to her feet, the flush still hot on her cheeks, but a sunny smile parting her red lips and chasing the temper from her eyes.
"Lady President and comrades," she began, bowing first to the presiding officer, then to her companions, and there was not the slightest evidence of anger in her sweetly modulated tones, "there is nothing that I love more than Christian Science, and if I thought you also were really interested in it, and I could, consistently, give you some information regarding it, it would give me great pleasure to do so. But you are not interested in it- -you do not believe in it; many of you think it absurdly transcendental, as your topic indicates. Thus you have nothing but ridicule for it. So you can understand that what is very sacred to me I could not discuss in such an antagonistic atmosphere. Besides—"
"Oh, but we really do want to learn something about it," here interposed Ollie Grant, as she gave Sadie a nudge with her elbow, "and—and"—with mock demureness—"if we have wrong ideas about it, why, you can perhaps set us right."
"I am sure it would be very interesting," Clara Follet observed, with a sly wink at her nearest neighbor; "it is so—mysterious and—creepy; like spiritualism, you know."
Katherine had seen both nudge and wink; but neither now had power to move her to any feeling save that of compassion for the thoughtless offenders.
"You are entirely mistaken, Miss Follet," she gently returned. "Christian Science and spiritualism are as far removed from each other as the Poles. But I repeat, I cannot give you a paper on the subject you have assigned me."
"Do I understand, Miss Minturn, that you absolutely refuse to respond to the appointment?" gravely inquired the president, while whispered comments and an excited rustle were heard from various parts of the room.
"Miss Walton, I must," said Katherine, firmly.
"Do you know the penalty of such a refusal?" the presiding officer queried, while Katherine started and colored crimson as she continued: "Any member of the league refusing to comply with an appointment made by its committee is subject to expulsion."
"Provided there is no good reason for such a refusal, I believe the by-law reads," here interposed a young lady who was beginning to feel sorry for Katherine, for she knew that she was simply being "made game of" by those who held her religious belief in derision.
"Yes, certainly. If you can give a good and sufficient reason for the stand you have taken, Miss Minturn, you will, of course, be excused," the president supplemented, realizing there was something in the atmosphere which she did not understand, as she had no knowledge of the plot that had been concocted by the mischief-loving element of the league.
"I think I have already given a good reason," Katherine observed, with quiet dignity; "Christian Science is my religion, and I have been asked to treat it as transcendentalism, and—I am inclined to think—in a perverted sense of that term. Can I be expected to hold my religion up for ridicule? I do not refuse the appointment to write a paper; it is the subject that I decline."
"I claim that Miss Minturn's reason is 'good and sufficient,' and I move that she be excused," said Miss Clark, the young lady who had previously spoken in Katherine's behalf.
The excitement was increasing, and the president was obliged to rap vigorously for order before she could make herself heard.
"Does anyone second Miss Clark's motion?" she inquired.
It was somewhat timidly seconded by a weak voice from one corner of the room; but when put to vote the hands were three to one against it.
Could it be possible, Katherine asked herself in sudden dismay, that certain members of the league were taking this way to get rid of her? Why, then, had they invited her to join it in the first place?
"It seems, Miss Minturn, that you cannot be excused," Miss Walton observed, with a deprecatory smile.
Katherine did not mean to be driven out of the club in such an underhanded manner if she could avoid it; neither would she violate her conscience.
"I shall be obliged to maintain my position, nevertheless," she responded, after a moment of thought. Then she resumed, in a tone of regret: "And since the league does not see fit to release me because of my conscientious scruples, which, it seems to me, should be an unquestionable motive, I will state that Prof. Seabrook, who also does not favor my views, has enjoined me to silence upon the subject while I am a student at Hilton."
"Comrades, that settles the matter without further action or discussion," said the president, bringing her gavel down with an imperative stroke; for this last announcement had created a breezy flutter among the mischief-brewers, who had planned to have "great sport" a fortnight hence.
"And now," observed Katherine, again rising and addressing the chair with charming frankness, "I stand ready to prepare an article upon any other subject which the committee may assign me."
"Is the committee ready with another topic?" the president inquired.
That body conferred together for several minutes, after which the chairman stated with ill-concealed mirth, which appeared to be contagious, that a paper on "Transcendentalism" would be expected from Miss Minturn a fortnight from that night.
As she sat down titters and giggles were audible in various parts of the room, and Miss Walton's mallet again fell heavily upon the table, while she looked both distressed and indignant.
Before she could speak, however, a tall, handsome girl sprang to her feet and turned to her with blazing eyes.
"Lady President," she began, in a clear, ringing tone, "I rise to express my disapproval of the proceedings of this business meeting. While I am not at all in sympathy with the subject that has been broached here this evening, I believe in fair play, and that an insult offered to anyone because of her religious belief should not for a moment be tolerated. I shall feel justified in withdrawing from the league if such discourteous treatment is continued. And"—glancing at Katherine—"I also wish to express my admiration for Miss Minturn for so bravely standing by her colors. She might have shielded herself behind Prof. Seabrook's injunction in the first place and so settled the matter at once; but she made it a question of conscience for a cause that she loves, and was not afraid to say so. And now, I move that, if the last-named topic is distasteful to her, she be allowed to choose one for herself."
A profound hush had fallen upon the room during this spirited speech, and at its close there was a vigorous applause from a few of her listeners, showing something of a reaction of feeling in favor of Katherine, who observed, however, with a pang at her heart, that her roommate, Sadie, was not among the number.
"Is Miss Felton's motion seconded?" queried the president, with a smile and nod of approval at that young lady.
Katherine, who had been doing some rapid thinking during the last few minutes, was on her feet again before anyone could speak.
"Lady President, pray allow me to thank Miss Felton most heartily for her kind espousal of my cause," she said, bestowing a luminous smile upon her new friend, "but I would be very sorry to have any unpleasantness arise in the league, and may I ask that no further action be taken in the matter? I know that many people have a mistaken idea of what Christian Science is, and regard it and its adherents with feelings that are regretted when they become more enlightened on the subject. And now"—a mirthful gleam in her brown eyes—"let me add that I cheerfully accept the last-named subject assigned me, and will do my best to elucidate it for the benefit of the club at our next meeting."
As she concluded and sat down there was another round of applause, more pronounced this time; while some of the ringleaders in the mischief looked as if they felt that the tables were being turned against themselves.
The president appeared immensely relieved to have what had threatened to be a stormy scene so tactfully smoothed over, and, as there was no further business to be transacted, she gave the signal for formalities to cease and sociability to begin.
Katherine at once became the center of an admiring and condoling group, whose attitude towards her had undergone a radical change since the brave championship of Miss Felton, who was a power not only in her own class but in the whole school.
Katherine greeted everyone graciously, but met all expressions of sympathy and indignation with laughing protests, and as soon as she could do so without appearing unappreciative, excused herself, upon the plea that she must look over a lesson before the retiring bell rang, and slipped away to her room.
It is not to be wondered at that a few bitter tears forced themselves over her hot cheeks when she found herself alone, for she had been sorely tried. The struggle with her momentary feeling of indignation and a sense of personal injury had been severe, while she had also been deeply hurt by Sadie's evident sympathy with those who were in the plot against her.
But she resolutely set herself at work to conquer these emotions and then vigorously attacked the unlearned lesson, after which she retired, but not to sleep, for thought was busy with what had occurred and with plans for the next league meeting.
Sadie did not put in an appearance until some time after the gas had been turned off, when she silently undressed and crept into bed, and, shortly after, Katherine fell asleep.
Some hours later she was suddenly awakened by what sounded like a moan of pain.
She sat up in bed and listened; but, hearing nothing more, thought she must have been mistaken, and was about to lie down again, when, from beneath the covers of the bed, in the opposite corner of the room, she was sure she heard her roommate groan.
"Sadie! what is the matter?" she inquired.
There was no verbal answer, but another moan smote upon her ears.
Katherine sprang out of bed and went to her.
"Sadie, tell me, what is the trouble?" she said, laying a gentle hand upon her shoulder.
"Oh, I have a horrible toothache," she girl replied, adding: "I did not mean to wake you, but the pain is simply unbearable," and, throwing back the covers, she sat up and rocked to and fro in agony.
"What can I do for you?" Katherine kindly inquired, while she mentally declared that "God never made pain, nor man to suffer pain."
"Oh, I don't know," was the helpless rejoinder. "I think there is a bottle of oil of cloves somewhere in my upper drawer, if you will find it for me."
Katherine lighted the candle, kept for emergencies, and searched for the desired remedy amid the heterogeneous collection in the drawer, but failed to find it. Then she looked in various other places suggested by Sadie, with the same result, greatly to the girl's disappointment.
"Oh, I remember—I lent it to Carrie Hill last week! What shall I do?" wailed the sufferer in a voice of despair; for Miss Hill roomed at the top of the opposite wing, and just at that moment the clock in the tower of the building struck the hour of three.
She was now wrought up to a state of excessive nervous excitement, and it looked as if there would be no more sleep for either of them that night.
"Haven't you something—some camphor or salts, Katherine? I can't stand this any longer," and Sadie was now sobbing from mingled nervousness and suffering.
"No, dear. I never use anything of the kind," Katherine replied.
"Do you never put anything in a tooth when it aches?"
"Do you ever have the toothache?"
"I used to when I was a child; very seldom now."
"What do you do to stop it?" was the impatient query, accompanied by a prolonged groan.
"Treat it mentally."
"Shucks!" and Miss Minot threw herself violently back upon her pillows with an air of personal injury mingled with supreme contempt, while Katherine kept on working for harmony in her own thought.
"Katherine, I simply cannot stand this until morning," the girl cried again, after a minute or two of forced endurance, as a fresh paroxysm seized her.
"Shall I go to the matron and ask her for something for you?" Katherine inquired.
"Oh, I don't know; it seems a shame to send you way down to her at this unearthly hour. It is bad enough to keep you awake," said Sadie, remorsefully.
"Never mind me, dear. I am willing to do anything you wish, and I'm not afraid to go anywhere in the building," was the kind response.
"Perhaps if I had some water to hold in my mouth it might relieve me," Sadie suggested.
Katherine brought her a glass and she filled her mouth, but expelled the water almost instantly, as the bare and sensitive nerve rebelled against such radical treatment.
"Can't you do something?" she gasped, clutching her companion's arm with a spasmodic grip.
"I'll go to Miss Williams, or some of the girls for—" Katherine began.
"No, I can't bear to make a stir—oh, heavens! oh! treat me—your way—anything—anything to stop this unbearable torture!" and Sadie buried her face in her pillow to smother the moans she could not repress.
"Indeed I will," said Katherine, with a heart-throb of thankfulness for the appeal; and, dropping her face upon her hands, she went to work with all her understanding for the sufferer.
Ten minutes passed; then it seemed as if the intervals between the moans grew longer. Another five minutes and she was sure that the hand upon her arm was relaxing its convulsive grasp. Not long after the restless form grew still, the hot hand on her arm slipped down upon the bed, and when the clock in the tower struck the half hour after three, the regular breathing of the girl told of quiet and restful sleep.
But Katherine continued to work for several minutes longer, then stole softly to her own couch, where she also was soon locked in slumber, and neither awoke again until the rising bell rang its imperative summons to the duties of a new day.
Katherine was nearly dressed before her roommate manifested any inclination to rise. She looked bright and serene, however, and there was no swelling or other evidence of the previous night's broken rest and suffering.
"I believe I'm all right, honey," she thoughtfully observed, after watching Katherine's operations in silence for a while.
"Of course you are," was the cheery response, with a happy heart- throb at the old familiar form of address.
"That was a right smart rumpus, though," Sadie added, in her Southern phraseology.
"The less said about it the better," was the brief reply.
"Because it is nothing now, and you neither need nor wish to live it over."
"I reckon I don't. But, do you believe you cured me?"
"I know that I did not; but I also know that God healed you."
"But you did something."
"Yes—what I did was—well, you may call it prayer, if you like. But I think we must not talk about it because of Prof. Seabrook's command, which I am inclined to think I may have already broken in the letter if not in the spirit," said Katherine, gravely.
"Well—I don't—know. It all seems very queer to me!" Sadie observed, reflectively, as she slipped out of bed and began to dress. "I wouldn't have believed I could feel so well this morning though. I'm as fresh as a daisy, and my face isn't at all swollen. I can't understand it. I'm inclined to think that—after all, the ache just ached itself out and left of its own accord."
Katherine smiled faintly but did not pursue the subject.
"I'm downright obliged to you, Katherine, for being so kind and patient with me in the night," the girl resumed, after a few moments of silence; "and—honey," suddenly facing her and looking her straight in the eyes, though her cheeks were crimson, "I feel mighty mean over our tiff the other day, and—and about what happened last night in the league."
"Never mind, Sadie—it is all past now—" Katherine began.
"But I shall mind; I'm going to eat the whole of my humble pie," interposed Sadie, between a laugh and a sob, "for I—I was in the plot with the others. You see, I hadn't quite gotten over the other affair, and—"
"But you have now, Sadie?" Katherine interrupted, "wistfully.
"How could I help it when you've been so perfectly sweet? Only I want—"
"Well, then I'm happy!" cried Katherine, with a joyous laugh, "and I'm not going to let you eat any more 'humble pie,' for—the North and the South are reunited, and that cancels everything."
"Katherine, you are the dearest—" But Sadie's voice broke suddenly, and to cover her emotion she bounded into the closet and began a vigorous search for some needed article.
There were fair winds and cloudless skies after that, and nothing more was heard from the defective tooth, which, later, was filled and preserved for future usefulness.
TRANSCENDENTALISM AS ELUCIDATED FOR THE JUNIOR LEAGUE.
The following two weeks were unmarked by anything of special interest, and Katherine found her time fully occupied in attending to her daily duties and preparing for the next league meeting.
For a moment, after the second subject, "Transcendentalism," had been assigned her, she felt "old Adam" beginning to stir resentfully again, for she was impressed that, when the topic came up for discussion, certain members of the club intended to make her the target for more sharpshooting.
But the struggle was short, for the monitor within had declared that "God's image and likeness could not reflect or manifest anything but love;" when, like a flash, had come the inspiration to treat the subject from a humorous point of view. She knew that the committee had used the term in its perverted sense, so she would meet them on their own ground, make an hour of fun for the league, and thus, perchance, disarm the aggressive ones and create a better feeling towards herself.
As these thoughts coursed rapidly through her mind during Miss Felton's gallant defense, she became enthused over the idea, hence the mirthful gleam in her eyes when she arose and accepted the topic, and thus tactfully "poured oil upon the troubled waters."
In the quiet of her own room, after retiring, her plan began to take a more definite form, and, before the week was out, she had arranged her programme for the evening.
She found that she would be unable to carry it out alone, and so confided her scheme to Sadie, Miss Walton, the president, and Miss Felton, whom she now regarded as stanch friends. They were delighted with it and heartily lent her their assistance in perfecting it.
It became evident, however, as the day for the meeting drew on apace, that more than usual interest was centered in the event, for, upon two or three occasions, Katherine came suddenly upon a group of the members in earnest conversation, which was instantly cut short, or abruptly changed, when her presence was observed. Jennie Wild, who was very fond of her, also gave her a hint that something unusual was going on.
"Miss Minturn, what's the fun that's brewing in the Junior League?" she inquired, as she encountered Katherine in one of the halls a couple of days previous to the meeting.
"Is there fun brewing?" she inquired, evasively, and wondering if, by any possibility, her own scheme had become known.
"Yes, I am sure there is, for I've heard some of the juniors talking about a 'great time' that is on the tapis for the next meeting; and—and your name was mentioned, too," Jennie concluded, giving her a curious glance.
Katherine flushed and looked perplexed; but she felt sure that her own secret was safe, for it had always been discussed behind locked doors, and all concerned were too interested in the success of it to betray her confidence.
"I have no knowledge of anything outside of my own province," she replied. "I am to read a paper before the league on Tuesday evening."
"Oh, say! what's the subject?" Jennie queried, eagerly.
"Don't you know, dear, it is a rule, in both the Junior and Senior Leagues, that no information regarding what occurs in their meetings can be made public without a vote of the members?" Katherine smilingly inquired.
"Yes; but I'll never tell," said the girl, in a confidential tone.
"No, I am sure you will not," was the laughing retort.
"Oh, you mean you won't give me a chance," said Jennie, with a good-natured grimace. "Well, whatever the subject may be, I am sure the paper will be O. K."
"Thank you for your confidence in my ability, and, sometime, perhaps, you may be enlightened regarding what is at present a profound secret," returned Katherine, encouragingly.
"Well, perhaps that is what those girls were talking about, but I'm pretty sure there's more than that in the wind," Jennie thoughtfully observed. "But"—all on the alert again—"I've found out that the sophs are planning to, kick up a bobbery, too—"
"Oh, Jennie!" interposed her companion, with laughing reproof.
"Yes, I know; that is awful slang. But what can you expect of a 'freshie'? I've got to make the most of my time, too, you know, for when I get to be a junior I'll have to begin the 'prune and prism' act," retorted the girl with a roguish wink. "Then"— suddenly straightening herself, drawing down the corners of her mouth, crossing her eyes, and assuming the air of a would-be prude—"the prospective infraction of law and order would have to be decorously stated something like this: ahem! 'Those irrepressible, irresponsible and notorious sophomores are secretly preparing to engage in exceedingly demoralizing, mischievous and reprehensible behavior, calculated to produce an unpleasant state of perturbation in the atmosphere of our household, inoculate a spirit of anarchy in their fellows, and detract from the dignity of our honored institution.' How's that for high?"
"Oh, I believe you are rightly named 'Wild Jennie'!" cried Katherine, laughing heartily, for the girl was irresistible in her drollery.
"All the same," continued Miss Mischief, resuming her accustomed vivacity, "they really are up to something that will give the teachers a tremendous nightmare one of these fine nights. You just watch out, Miss Minturn—I've only got an inkling of the plot, but it's great, and I'm going to be on hand to see it, even if I can't be in it."
"Look out, dear, that you do not get involved in something that you will be sorry for afterwards," cautioned Katherine.
"I'll look out for number one—never you fear; but"—with a wise nod—"you just keep your eyes peeled about your own affairs. Ta- ta!" and, with a wave of her hand, the girl hurried away, merrily whistling a popular air as she went.
"I wonder if those girls are planning some practical joke upon me for Tuesday evening!" Katherine said to herself, as she went on up to her room.
Taking what Jennie had told her in connection with what she herself had seen and heard, she was inclined to think that there might be "something brewing"; but, as there appeared to be no way to solve the mystery, she wisely decided not to dwell upon it, although she determined that she would be on the qui vive and not caught napping.
Tuesday evening came. The league convened at the usual hour, and that something of more than wonted interest was anticipated was evinced by the fact that every member of the club was promptly on hand, while curious glances were bent, and comments made, upon a curtain which had been stretched across one end of the room.
After the meeting was formally opened the president stated that, before the reading and discussion of the paper, there would be a short entertainment, which had been specially prepared for the occasion.
This announcement met with vigorous applause, and an air of eager interest at once pervaded the audience.
Miss Walton waited patiently until quiet was restored, then resumed:
"First I will read an original conundrum which is propounded by one of our members, and which you are requested to solve."
Everyone was at once on the alert.
"My first," read the chairman, "is a state of oblivion.
"My second is what comes to all things mundane.
"My third appertains to articulation, to a form of surgery, and to a profession.
"My fourth is applied to certain theories and fanatical tenets.
"My whole is a term employed to designate a certain form of philosophy which is also often misconstrued and misapplied."
As Miss Walton was about to lay down her paper she was asked to read the conundrum again, which she did, while pencils were busy taking notes; then she observed:
"Before the answer is called for we are to have a charade, which has also been prepared by a member of our club, after which you will please give your solutions before Miss Minturn reads her paper."
A bell now tinkled faintly, and the mysterious curtain was raised, revealing a prettily furnished room and, conspicuous in a reclining chair, there lay a young lady apparently asleep, while two others, wearing black dominoes and lace masks, attempted to arouse her, Their efforts proved ineffectual, however, although she was pinched, shaken, commanded to awake, and even made to stand upon her feet. But nothing availed; she was seemingly oblivious of everything.
"Alas! it is of no use," solemnly observed one domino to the other, who sighed heavily, and mournfully shook her head, and the curtain was rung down.
A moment later it went up again. No one was now in the room, but a short piece of rope dangled from one arm of the chair.
The third scene revealed an office. On a table lay a number of small instruments, a lot of loose teeth, also a couple of full sets. A lady was seated in a chair, and beside her stood a gentleman(?) holding aloft in one hand a pair of forceps, in which there gleamed a single tooth, while with the other he extended a glass of water to his patient, remarking in a suave, professional tone:
"It is all over, madam—a very successful operation. Rinse your mouth, please, and then we will look at the others," whereupon the curtain fell.
The fourth scene showed the same room in which the first act had been given. In a low rocker sat a spinster of uncertain age, very prim as to attitude and attire, her face partially concealed by a profusion of corkscrew curls that dangled from her temples. She appeared to be absorbed in reading, while there were piles of books on the table at her side, on chairs, and were also strewn promiscuously about the floor.
Presently a colored servant entered the room. A spotless kerchief was folded about her expansive shoulders; a bright red bandanna was coiled around her woolly head, and a long, blue and white checked apron was tied about her ample waist.
She was a typical, full-blooded negress, and shuffled into the room in true darky style, but with signs of distress and one black hand covering her right eye.
"Well, Dinah, is anything wanted?" demanded the spinster, but without glancing up from her book.
"Y'sm, honey; I'se done got sumpin' in m' eye. I has sho'."
"Come here and let me look at it," said her mistress, reluctantly laying her book aside and taking a pencil from the table.
Dinah knelt before the woman, who made a careful examination of the suffering member.
"I see it!" she said; "don't move and I'll get it. There!"— carefully removing something with a corner of her immaculate handkerchief—"see?"
"Y'sm; thank'e, Miss Julia. Yah! yah! what a li'l spec to make such a rumpus! Looks like de Bible 'mote,' but, golly! it done feel mo' like de 'beam.' Yah! yah! yah!" laughed the negress, revealing two rows of dazzling teeth to an appreciative audience as she laboriously struggled to her feet.
"Feel all right now, aunty?" queried the spinster, as she carefully refolded her handkerchief.
"Y'sm, y'sm; I'm obleeg'd to 'e, Miss Julia. Lor'!" rubbing her knees and groaning, "de rumatism do work de mischief wi' dese yere po' ole bones." But Miss Julia had again become absorbed in her book and, apparently, did not hear.
"Got another new book, Miss Julia?" queried Dinah, after watching her mistress in silence for a moment.
"No, Dinah," replied the spinster, lifting a beatific glance and smile to the ceiling, "I am still engaged with my 'Philosophical, Psychological and Theosophical Research.'"
"Lor'!" and Dinah rolled her eyes with an awe-struck look over the audience. "I 'spec' some day, honey, you's so uplifted, you'll go soarin' up inter de clouds and outer sight, straight 'ter kingdom come—"
"Dinah! I think it is time you were giving your attention to your dinner," interposed Miss Julia, in a lofty tone.
"Y'sm; I's gwine—I sho'ly is'm," retorted Dinah, spiritedly, as she straightened herself and turned with a resentful flirt of her skirts to obey. Then glancing back over her shoulder and showing her white teeth in a broad grin, she added: "I's gwine ter 'gage in m' soupy-logical, lamby-logical, pie-o-logical research; y'sm, sho!" and, striking a superior attitude, she cake-walked off the stage with a vigorous stride and regardless of 'ole bones' or 'rumatism'; and the curtain was rung down upon an audience convulsed with merriment, while a voice from somewhere cried out:
"Well done, Sadie! yo'll take de cake, dis time, fer sho."
Scene five showed the same room, the same spinster with her book clasped to her breast, her head thrown back, her eyes gazing aloft into vacancy.
"Oh, ye messengers of supereminent light! Oh, ye soul-thrilling angels from realms supernal! Draw nearer—unfold your celestial wings and brood tenderly o'er the aspirations of this receptive heart—this heart already upborne on waves of ecstasy and o'er- mastering joy; fulfill its psychic dreams and lift it to thine own supersensible heights"—she breathed in an exaggerated stage whisper and continued her vague, visionary monologue, or extravaganza, until the curtain fell and brought down the house again with enthusiastic applause.
"Has anyone guessed the answer to the conundrum, or charade, or both?" inquired the president with mirthful eyes when she could make herself heard.
"Transcendentalism!" cried Clara Follet, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "Dinah gave it away to me with her 'is'm' and her 'rumatism,' and, of course, the charade was the key to the conundrum."
From several others came the same answer, with, the various hints or points which had suggested it.
"And now," continued Miss Walton, "we will have the paper on the same subject from Miss Minturn, who is also the author of both conundrum and charade."
Again there was a vigorous clapping of hands, in the midst of which the curtain was raised and Katherine appeared upon the stage, in her spinster attire, but shorn of her voluminous corkscrew curls.
She was smiling, and rosy, and bowed her thanks for the generous approval of her efforts.
As she unfolded her manuscript an expectant hush fell upon her audience, and she observed that significant and inquiring glances were exchanged between some of the members of the league.
"The paper which I have prepared," she began, "may not prove to be just what the club may have expected from me; but it will at least show that I have given the subject assigned me some thought.
"Once on a time—'twas not so very long ago— Miss Puff craved something of Philosophy to know, And, with proofs of culture armed and high position, To a Summer School of Sages sought admission.
"With inspiration rare, she here absorbed her fill Of ologies galore, and conned them o'er, until Her wearied brain grew dazed beyond expression; But, of this sad fact, Miss Puff made no confessions
"Ontology came first, with arguments profound, With language mystical, the wisest to confound; Physics took the platform next, to claim discussion, And Metaphysics foll'wing near caused concussion.
"Cosmology! Phrenology! what charmed lore! What depths profound! how high her aspirations soar! Tidbits of sweetness for future delectation. Ah! but could she give a lucid explication?
"Theosophy! Psychology! transcendent themes! Glide softly in upon her philosophic dreams: 'Till soul upborne to realms of ecstasy sublime, Earth's vanities grow dim upon the shores of time.
"But, lo! now hydra-head Theology appears To shatter dreams and chill her heart with nameless fears, For Sage and Seer spare not in sharp dissection, 'Till poor Puff, alas! no longer makes connection.
"But, all the same, 'twas lovely to 'philosophize!' It mattered not if she were wise, or—otherwise; Or deeply versed in themes on which the Sages dote, Could she but keep on transcendental waves afloat.
"And so, at length, the Summer School drew to a close. Home went Miss Puff, well primed, to smatter and to pose; Lightly soar on clouds of blissful exaltation, And air her fads, perchance (?) in some smart publication.
"Howe'er, dear friends, Miss Puff's career was very brief. Like all pretentious frauds, she shortly came to grief; She was found out, you know, and took a strange belief Which none could heal, and faded like a leaf. Then, slyly fled the town!—was never seen again, Though faithful search was made o'er mountain, moor and fen.
"The claim? Ah! that begat long medical debate; But finally, as I am authorized to state— For all things mystical must have some kind of name, And there's no better phrase to chronicle the same— 'Twas—the learned doctors vowed—abnormal mentalism, The outgrowth of her fads and Transcendentalism!"
Katherine made her bow as she concluded and slipped behind the scenes. But the applause was beyond anything she had yet received and was kept up, with cries of "come out," "come out," until there was nothing to do but reappear, which she did with flushed cheeks and shining eyes.
"Comrades, I thank you all for your hearty appreciation and commendation," she said, when quiet was restored. "It occurred to me that a humorous treatment of the subject might be more enjoyable than any other, and"—with an arch look and nod—"more applicable to your conception of the term. But"—her eyes now brimming with mirth—"I will not take more of your time, as I believe there is a supplement to my programme yet to come."
The president looked surprised.
"I know of nothing more, Miss Minturn," she said; but even as she spoke there was a nervous rustle apparent among some of the audience.
"Still I am quite sure that a ghostly surprise, not down on my pragramme, had been planned for us. Perhaps this will elucidate my meaning," Katherine explained, and, bringing to light something, which she had until then concealed behind her, she shook out and held up to view a white robe, made of a sheet, and also a white mask.
Groans and laughter greeted this announcement and display.
"Oh! who has given us away? Who has told you, Miss Minturn?" came breathlessly from various quarters of the room.
"No one 'has given the secret away'—no one has 'told' me anything," she replied. "The discovery was an accident. I was obliged to slip up to my room for something forgotten, just before it was time to open the meeting. As I reached the end of the hall I heard voices, and, being arrayed in the dentist's garb with only a domino over it, I did not wish to be seen. I fled into the closet there, and the next moment two juniors passed, carrying something in their arms, wrapped in shawls. I heard one say, 'When I give the signal, Miss Blank will touch the button and put out the lights.' When they were beyond hearing I stole from the closet and found a small bundle at my feet. Investigation revealed this ghostly garb, and, if I am not mistaken, those shawls, in yonder corner, contain several others."
The room was very still for a moment after Katherine concluded, and there were some very red faces, here and there, among the audience.
Suddenly Clara Follet sprang to her feet, and, addressing the president, said:
"Miss Walton, as I am the leader in this affair, may I make an explanation?"
"Certainly. Comrades, Miss Follet has the floor."
"There is nothing to be done but make a clean breast of everything," continued Miss Follet, with a resolute air, but with crimson cheeks as she faced the audience. "As you all know, some of us were inclined to—to guy Miss Minturn at our last meeting about a certain subject, and when she declined to write a paper on it we thought we would give her another as nearly like it as possible, and so get some fun out of it when it came up for discussion. Well"—with a suggestive shrug—"we, of course, expected she would go into it deep, and mount, and soar, and all that; so some of us put our heads together and planned a ghost walk. We were going to wait until she reached the zenith of her flight, when, at a signal from me, the electrics would be turned off, which would leave us a very dim light through the transoms opening into the hall; then eight of us were to slip into our robes, form a circle around Miss Minturn, and chant a dirge. Well- -but—ahem! don't you see, she just took all the wind out of our sails to begin with? Instead of a 'ghostly surprise' the ghosts got the surprise—that conundrum and charade made me suspect that the committee on topics were going to 'get left,' and I began to feel my courage failing. But that transcendental poem!—that capped the climax, and I saw that the only thing to be done was for the spooks to hide their diminished heads and keep dark."
Miss Follet was here interrupted by vigorous clapping and bursts of irrepressible laughter, in which even the dignified president joined.
But a tap of the gavel restored order, and Miss Follet was invited to proceed.
"That is all there is to tell," she replied, "but I want to add, for myself, that I think Miss Minturn is 'a brick,' as the boys would put it, and I take off my hat to her"—turning to Katherine with a low, graceful bow—"if she will accept the homage from the chief transgressor, who—to make all possible atonement—proposes to give the best spread of the season in her honor, in place of the next meeting, if the league will vote me the privilege and she will signify her pardon and approval by shaking hands with me."
As she concluded she extended her hand to Katherine, who grasped it cordially, amid enthusiastic clapping by the entire audience.
It was some minutes before order could be restored, when the business was transacted and Miss Follet's proposal to give a spread in Miss Minturn's honor, two weeks from that night, received a most hearty and unanimous vote.
When the meeting was dismissed it was evident that a decided reaction of feeling had taken place, for Katherine at once became the center of attraction and held a delightful little reception for a while; but this was cut short by the ringing of the retiring bell, and the Junior League dispersed in the happiest frame of mind, all declaring that the "Transcendental Evening" had been the finest of the year.
When Katherine laid her head upon her pillow that night and fell asleep her pulses were beating in joyous rhythm with three beautiful words gleaned from her beloved "Science and Health"— "Love is enthroned! Love is enthroned!" [Footnote: "Science and Health," page 454.]
KATHERINE MAKES A DEMONSTRATION.
From that time on Katherine became conscious of a very different atmosphere, at least when among her own classmates, for, instead of the cold shoulder, averted glances and a general stampede whenever she appeared, she was now cordially received and greeted upon all occasions.
This was more apparent after Miss Follet's "spread," two weeks later, and which really proved to be the "finest of the season," being a "full-dress affair," when all barriers were swept away during the "jollification" and every vestige of disaffection vanished in company with the bountiful and dainty viands that were literally fit "to set before a king."
Katherine, being the guest of honor, was toasted and made much of, and her companions found that she could appreciate a frolic as heartily as anyone, and was not behind, either, in making fun for others.
One evening, early in May, shortly after "the spread," Katherine was diligently studying the morrow's lessons when a rap sounded on her door, and, upon giving the usual password, Jennie Wild put her curly head inside the room and observed:
"Miss Minturn, Miss Reynolds has sent me to ask if you will come to her room as soon as the study hour is over."
"Yes, Jennie, I will go to her the moment the bell rings," replied Katherine, who knew that her teacher had not been well for nearly a week, and, for the last two days, had been unable to attend to her duties.
"And, Miss Minturn," continued the girl, lingering.
"Well?" said her friend, inquiringly.
"May I go with you to your service, next Sunday?"
"Why, Jennie! What has possessed you to ask me that?"
"Oh, I thought I'd just like to know what kind of a rigmarole—Oh, Peter Piper! what have I said?" the heedless girl interposed as Katherine flushed and looked up suddenly. "I really didn't mean that—I—er—it just slipped out before I had time to think. But, truly, I would like to go with you."
"But you know it is against the rules for students to leave their own church. You would have to get permission of Prof. Seabrook," Katherine returned.
"I don't want to ask him," said Jennie, with a shrug, adding: "He need never know."
"No, Jennie, I cannot countenance any such disobedience," gravely replied her companion. "And if it is only a matter of idle curiosity on your part, I think you had better wait until you are actuated by a more worthy motive."
Jennie looked really distressed under this reproof.
"I'm afraid I've offended you," she began, plaintively. "I didn't mean to speak slightingly of your church, and I'm—sorry—"
"Don't be troubled, Jennie, dear; I am not offended," said Katherine, smiling reassuringly. "Of course, you understand that, to me, our service is very beautiful and sacred. I would dearly love to have you go with me in a proper way; but if you do not like to ask permission you can wait until vacation, when you will not be hampered by school rules."
"All right; perhaps—I will," returned Jennie, with a sly smile; then, with a friendly "good-night," she went away, and Katherine thought no more of the matter at that time.
Half an hour later the nine o'clock bell rang and she repaired at once to Miss Reynolds' room. She found her teacher in bed, looking flushed and feverish, her throat badly swollen and swathed in flannels, while she was scarcely able to speak aloud.
She smiled a welcome and held out her hand to the girl, who clasped it fondly as she sat down beside her.
"I suppose you would say 'it is nothing,'" whispered the woman, a little gleam of laughter in her eyes, notwithstanding her evident suffering.
"No, I should say nothing of the kind to you," said Katherine, gravely. "But I hoped that I should find you better."
"No, Kathie"—a fond way she had adopted of late when addressing her—"I have been growing steadily worse since last night. This afternoon I have been very ill, and Prof. Seabrook sent me word by his wife, to-night, that if I am not better by morning he will call a physician upon his own responsibility. I don't want a doctor," she went on, after resting a moment, "for, since having those talks with you and learning something of your faith, I find myself shrinking from medical treatment."
Katherine glanced involuntarily at the array of bottles on the table near her, and Miss Reynolds, observing it, smiled.
"True," she said, "I have been dosing myself with every remedy that I could think of, while 'halting between two opinions'; but nothing does any good, and I have come to the end of my rope, so to speak. That is why I have sent for you, Kathie—to ask you to treat me your way."
Katherine flushed, and for an instant a sense of fear held her in its grip. With it also came the query, "What would Prof. Seabrook think of having Christian Science healing deliberately practiced in Hilton Seminary?"
Then she mentally declared: "There is no fear in love," and "where duty pointed the way she would boldly walk therein."
"Are you afraid to take hold of it?" her teacher inquired, as she observed her hesitation.
"No, I am not afraid, for I know that God is supreme and never fails those who put their trust in Him," was the confident response. "But," Katherine continued, "are you sure you really want Christian Science treatment?"
"Very sure, Kathie."
"How about these?" and the girl glanced at the bottles, "and this?" touching the flannel about her throat.
"Oh, I know they are of no use," said the sick woman, with an impatient sigh. "You may put the medicines all away, and I will take off the flannel. I am determined not to have a doctor and be laid up for three long weeks, if I can help it."
"Very well; then I will do my utmost for you," said our young Scientist, in a resolute tone. "I shall stay here with you to- night; but, first, I must go to tell Sadie and get my wrapper."
"Ah! that is kind; you can sleep on the couch, and, really, dear, I do feel too sick to be left alone," was the weary reply.
Without further ado Katherine sped back to her room—working mentally for her friend as she went—told Sadie her plan, and donned a loose wrapper; then, taking her Bible and "Science and Health," she hastened back to her patient.
During her absence Miss Reynolds had removed the voluminous folds from her neck, and now looked relieved as Katherine reappeared, prepared to care for her during the night.
Katherine noiselessly removed the various bottles, tumblers, etc., from the table, laying her books in their place, and was on the point of sitting down to begin her work when there came a rap on the door.
Upon answering it she found Mrs. Seabrook standing without, a bowl of steaming gruel in her hands.
"Oh, you are going to stay with Miss Reynolds tonight!" she exclaimed, her face lighting as she saw the girl in her wrapper. "I am very glad—I had intended doing so myself, for I know she should not be left alone; but Dorothy has just had a bad turn and I cannot leave her. How is she now?" she concluded, glancing towards the bed.
"About the same as she has been all day."
Mrs. Seabrook sighed anxiously.
"I wish she would have a doctor," she said. "We shall insist upon it if she is not better in the morning. I have made her some gruel—do make her take at least a part of it, for she has had no nourishment to-day."
"Thank you, I will try; and do not worry, dear Mrs. Seabrook. I will take the very best of care of her, I promise you," said Katherine, cheerily.
"I know you will, you dear child; and you have removed a load from my heart already," returned the care-laden woman, tears springing to her eyes. Then she bade her good-night and left her, whereupon Katherine locked the door, and, slipping quietly into a chair, began working vigorously for her friend.
For more than an hour there seemed to be no change in her patient's condition. Indeed, if anything, the symptoms appeared to be aggravated; she tossed restlessly, the fever apparently increasing, while she called for water every few moments, but refused the gruel, saying she could not swallow it.
Eleven o'clock came—half-past; then the long tolling of the tower clock proclaimed midnight ere Katherine was able to detect the slightest sign of improvement. Then, as she responded to another call for water, she found that the fever had abated and there was a slight moisture in the palm of the hand, which she clasped for an instant.
Another half hour spent in alternate reading and work brought quiet, restful sleep. But the faithful sentinel on guard labored on, now reading from her precious book, then seeking help from the only source whence cometh all help and comfort, and never doubting that the answer to her prayer would eventually come.
At two o'clock Miss Reynolds aroused and again called for water; then, after drinking thirstily, dropped restfully back upon her pillows.
At three she awoke once more and asked for the gruel.
"Kathie, I am better—the fever is gone, and my throat is not so sore!" she said, smiling faintly into the earnest face looking down upon her.
"That is certainly good news," Katherine returned, as she received the bowl half-emptied of its contents. "Now go to sleep again, and I will lie down upon the couch."
She lay awake, working, however, until the regular breathing from the bed told her that her patient was wrapped in slumber; when, assured that her toiling and rowing were over for the present, and God at the helm, she, too, dropped off, and knew no more until aroused by the rising bell at half-past six.
She started up, but her companion slept on, and, disliking to disturb her, she lay back and worked silently until the next bell, at seven-thirty, called to the morning meal.
Miss Reynolds heard it also, turned over and looked at her companion, then sat up and involuntarily put her hands to her throat.
An expression of astonishment swept over her face.
"Katherine! why, Katherine!" she exclaimed; "where is it?"
"Where is what?" inquired the girl, going to her side.
"There is none," said Katherine, with a happy smile as she glanced at the white, shapely neck to find it in its normal condition.
"Neither is there any soreness in my throat! Child, I do not know what to think of it!" said the woman, with a note of awe in her tone.
"Think that God was a very present help in time of need," returned Katherine, with sweet seriousness and a slight tremble in her own voice.
Miss Reynolds fell back upon her pillow, a thoughtful look on her face. But, presently, glancing at the clock, she said:
"Dear child, you must go for your breakfast, or you will be too late."
"I will; but what shall I bring you afterwards?"
"What may I have?"
"Anything you like."
"Certainly; don't you remember what we were talking of last week— man's God-given dominion over all things?"
"Well, it surpasses my comprehension, for I have always had to be careful what I ate after one of these attacks! But I am in your hands, Kathie—you may bring me what you choose, and I believe I am hungry," Miss Reynolds returned, in a tone of conviction.
"You shall have something very soon," Katherine assured her, and, having dressed her hair while talking, she now flew away to her own room to complete her toilet, a paean of praise thrilling her heart for the recent safe and triumphant passage through the Red Sea of human fear and error, whose waves had so threatened to engulf her patient the night before.
Breakfast was nearly over when she reached the dining room; but she slid quietly into her place and made a hurried meal, after which she sought the matron and gave her order for Miss Reynolds, saying she would wait and take the tray up to her.
While she was waiting, Mrs. Seabrook espied her and came to inquire for her patient.
"She is more comfortable this morning," Katherine replied, and, thinking it wise not to say very much regarding the conditions upstairs.
Mrs. Seabrook appeared greatly relieved.
"I am thankful," she said. "I was very anxious about her last night, for I have never seen her so ill before. Poor Dorrie is not as well, either, this morning," she concluded, with a weary sigh.
A wave of compassion swept over Katherine's heart for this sweet, patient woman, who was so heavily burdened with her own cares, yet ever ready to do for others.
"Give my love to Dorrie," she said, adding: "And I will run in to see her this afternoon, if I may."
"Do, Miss Minturn," said her companion, eagerly. "You always do the child good, and she will have something pleasant to look forward to during the day."
Miss Reynolds enjoyed her breakfast, which she ate with perfect ease. Then she said she would like to be left alone to rest until noon, when Katherine might bring her a light dinner—"provided her breakfast did not hurt her."
Katherine pinned upon her door a slip of paper on which was written "not to be disturbed"; then went away to her own duties, which would be over at noon, it being Saturday and a half holiday.
After eating her own dinner, she arranged a generous and tempting meal on a tray and took it to her teacher's room.
She found her up and dressed in her wrapper and seated in a comfortable rocker, reading "Science and Health," which she had left lying on the table.
Miss Reynolds looked up and nodded brightly as she laid down the book.
"Isn't this perfectly lovely? Aren't you astonished to find me up?" she inquired, as she bestowed a fond pat upon the girl who had drawn a small table to her side and was arranging her dinner upon it.
"Not in the least," said Katherine, bending to kiss the cheek nearest her.
"Aren't you? not the least bit? Why! I am simply amazed at myself!" her teacher exclaimed.
Katherine laughed out merrily.
"I suppose you have heard of the woman who, on being told that 'the prayer of faith would remove mountains,' prayed that God would take away the hill behind her house?" she queried, archly.
"Yes, and on looking out in the morning, said: 'It's just as I expected; I knew it would be here just the same!' I know the story, and I see your point on lack of faith," said Miss Reynolds, echoing the girl's laugh.
"But that is not the way Christian Scientists pray," Katherine observed. "Jesus said, 'All things whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.' You are not quite like the woman who prayed for what she was sure she would not get; but you are 'amazed' because you have received that for which we asked; which shows that you did not really expect it."
"But I must have had some faith, Kathie, or I would not have trusted myself to your treatment."
"True; and that was your first step in Christian Science, which brought with it the proof of God's supremacy." "It certainly is a beautiful proof," Miss Reynolds earnestly returned, "for I have been subject to these attacks for many years, and have always been under the care of a physician from three to five weeks before getting back to my normal condition."
She went on with her dinner, but it was evident that she was thinking deeply, while Katherine moved softly about the room putting things in order.
"Katherine," the woman at length inquired, "what is this 'treatment' which you give the sick? Is it simply prayer?"
"Yes, and the understanding that God is all in all."
"Well, I would like to know the secret of it. I have been a prayerful woman during the greater portion of my life—at least, according to the common acceptation of the term; but I have never before known of a direct answer to prayer such has come to you or to me, through you. What constitutes a Christian Scientist's prayer and understanding?"
"That question involves a great deal," said Katherine, smiling. "Briefly, it is reaching out for and appropriating that which is already ours."
"Yes, knowing that all good belongs by right to us, as God's dear children; and acting as if we knew it, by gratefully accepting it," Katherine explained. Then observing the puzzled look on her teacher's face, she went on:
"Let me illustrate. You asked for your dinner. I have brought it and set it before you. All you have to do is to reach out and partake of it to satisfy your hunger. How inconsistent it would be if you should ignore these facts and keep on saying, 'Katherine, I want my dinner; please, oh, please give me some food, for I am starving.'"
"How ridiculous that sounds!" said Miss Reynolds, laughing. "I begin to comprehend what you mean and that the old way of praying is only a halfway prayer, while begging and supplicating God to keep His promises impugns His righteousness."
"Exactly," Katherine assented, then added: "Prayer is really twofold—asking and taking, praying and doing; knowing that God's promises mean what they say, and confidently expecting their fulfillment."
"Do you always have this confidence when you have difficulties to meet, Kathie? I should think it would not always be easy to 'know,'" thoughtfully observed Miss Reynolds.
"No, it is not always easy to have perfect trust; in that case every demonstration, or answer to prayer, would be instantaneous. One needs to be patient and persistent, the same as one needs to go over a difficult mathematical problem many times before getting a correct answer, but never doubting that it will follow right effort," Katherine explained. "Of course, there is a great deal more that might be said about the subject," she added, "and if you will read the chapter on 'Prayer' in our text-book you will get a far better idea of it than I have given you."
"I will read it this afternoon if you are not going to use your book," Miss Reynolds replied.
"I have another copy, and you may keep this one for a while," and Katherine flushed with pleasure at the woman's manifest interest in her beloved Science.
"Thank you; and now"—glancing archly at the almost empty dishes before her—"don't you think I have done ample justice to the generous repast you brought me? I only hope it won't bring on the fever again."
"Oh, faithless and perverse generation!" quoted Katherine, with smiling reproof. "It will not," she added, positively; "remember your 'God-given dominion.'"
"I will try, dear; I am very grateful to you, Kathie, and to God, for the wonderful transformation of the last few hours," said Miss Reynolds, with starting tears. "If it were not for this feeling of weakness I believe I could dress and go down to supper to-night."
At that instant there came a tap on the door, and on going to answer it Katherine found Mrs. Seabrook and Miss Williams, another teacher, without.
Both ladies exclaimed in astonishment upon seeing the supposed invalid up and dressed, while Mrs. Seabrook viewed with grave disapproval the tray before her, with its remnants of a hearty dinner.
"My dear! are you crazy that you dare eat meat, potatoes and vegetables—yes, and pie!—with such a fever?" she cried, aghast.
"I have no fever," said Miss Reynolds, giving her a cool, normal hand. "I am very much better, and I was hungry, so asked Miss Minturn to bring me something nice to eat."
"All the same, you are very injudicious," was the severe rejoinder. But the transgressor only smiled serenely and began to talk of other things, while Katherine removed the offensive tray, taking it below, after which she sought her own room.
MRS. SEABROOK'S PROBLEM.
Katherine spent a while chatting with her roommate, after which she made some change in her dress, then sought Mrs. Seabrook's apartments to make her promised visit to Dorothy.
The child was reclining on a couch and propped up by numerous pillows. She looked pale and worn from recent suffering, although, just then, she was comparatively comfortable.
Prof. Seabrook was sitting beside her, reading from an entertaining book, to pass the time during his wife's absence on her round of visits to the sick.
Katherine flushed slightly as she entered the room, for, try as she would, she had not yet quite overcome a sense of reserve whenever she met her principal. His manner to her was always marked by the most punctilious politeness; but it was such frigid courtesy and so entirely at variance with his affability during their first interview, that she also seemed to freeze when in his presence.
The moment the door opened Dorothy uttered a cry of joy, extending eager hands to her, and, after saluting Prof. Seabrook, Katherine went to her side, a cheery smile upon her lips as she greeted her.
"I'm so glad, Miss Minturn! Mamma said you were coming, and I've been watching the door ever since dinner. Can you stay a long time?" exclaimed the girl, in glad tones.
"Perhaps I am interrupting something interesting," Katherine observed, as she glanced at the book in the professor's hands.
"Well, papa has been reading to me, and it was interesting," Dorothy truthfully admitted. "But he has an engagement pretty soon, and is only staying with me till mamma comes back, for Alice is out. Mamma has gone up to see Miss Reynolds. Do you know she is awful sick?"
"She is much better to-day. I came from her room only a little while ago," said Katherine, "and I can stay an hour, or more, with you if you like. I will go on with the reading, Prof. Seabrook, if it will relieve you," she added, courteously turning to him.
"Oh, I'd rather talk with you," Dorothy interposed. "Mamma can finish the story by and by. Now, papa, you can go and leave me with Miss Minturn."
Prof. Seabrook arose.
"It is very good of you, Miss Minturn," he said, addressing her with studied politeness. "I do feel anxious to get away to an important appointment. Well, Dorrie, what shall I bring you from the city?" he questioned, as he bent over the girl, his tones softening suddenly to yearning tenderness.
"Oh! papa, it's Saturday, you know," she said, with a wise look.
"Sure; I almost forgot, and the inevitable cream chocolates for Sunday will have to be forthcoming, I suppose," he laughingly rejoined. "Anything else?"
"No, I guess not; only tell Uncle Phil, if you see him, to be sure to come out to-morrow."
"Very well," then kissing her fondly, he bowed formally to Katherine and quietly left the room.
Ten minutes later Mrs. Seabrook returned, and Katherine persuaded her to go out for a walk, a privilege which the closely confined woman was glad to avail herself of, and Dorothy was soon absorbed in the description of a moonlight fete on the Grand Canal in Venice, and which Katherine had participated in during her recent tour abroad.
Meantime Mrs. Seabrook was walking briskly towards the highway, but with a very thoughtful expression on her refined face.
It was one of those soft, balmy days of May that almost delude one into the belief that it is June; that thrill the heart with tenderness for every living thing, and quicken responsive pulses with their unfolding beauty. She had been shut up the whole week with Dorrie, while, with Miss Reynolds alarmingly ill and several of the students threatened with as many different ailments, her time had been more than full, and her mind heavily burdened with care and anxiety. So it was with a sense of freedom and grateful appreciation that she pursued her way, breathing in the pure and refreshing air, basking in the genial sunshine and feasting her eyes upon the loveliness all around her; but thinking, thinking with a strange feeling of awe deep down in her heart.
She had just passed the entrance to the grounds of the seminary, when she saw her brother, Dr. Stanley, approaching from the opposite direction.
She hurried forward to greet him.
"I am more than glad to see you, Phillip," she said, as she slipped her hand, girl fashion, into his, as it hung by his side. "Come and walk with me. I want to talk to you."
"I am on my way to Dorrie," he replied. "I met William in a car, as I was returning to town from a visit to a patient, and he told me she had been very poorly to-day. So I took the next car back to see her."
"Yes, she had a very bad night, but has grown more comfortable within the last few hours. Miss Minturn offered to sit with her and let me out for a breath of air," his sister explained.
"I owe Miss Minturn my personal thanks. But perhaps I ought to go on and take a look at Dorrie," said the physician, thoughtfully.
"No, Phil; come with me. I am heavy-hearted, discouraged, and I need to be comforted," said the much-tried woman, the sound of tears in her voice. "Miss Minturn is very nice with Dorothy," she continued, struggling for self-control; "the child always seems happy and to forget herself when she is with her. Perhaps, though, you haven't time," she added, with sudden thought.
"Yes, I have, Emelie," the man gently replied, "and we will have one of our old tramps together. Come! Let us get as far as possible from that pile of brick and stone and its too familiar surroundings." And still holding her hand, swinging it gently back and forth, he led her along the road towards the open country.
"What a strange world this is, Phil!" Mrs. Seabrook broke out, suddenly, after they had traversed quite a distance and talked of various matters. "Everything in it seems to be at cross-purposes."
"Do you think so, Emelie? Look!"
The man checked her steps and pointed to the view before them. They had come to the brow of a hill, and there, spread out beneath them, was a valley teeming with luxuriant beauty that was a delight to the eye and full of exhilarating charm. Thrifty farms dotted the broad expanse as far as they could see; springing fields of grain, interspersed with verdant meadows, and rich pastures dotted with their feeding kine were suggestive of prosperous homes and husbandmen; stretches of woodlands, with their sturdy trunks and vigorous branches, unfurled their banners of living green in varying shades and lent an air of dignity and strength to the attractive landscape. Here and there an apple orchard, with trees in full bloom, gave a dainty touch of color to brighten the whole, and a small river winding its glimmering way, like a rope of silver thrown at random, made a graceful trail over the scene; while above it all fleecy clouds, skimming athwart a sky of vivid blue, cast lights and shadows that could not have failed to thrill and inspire the soul of an old master painter.
"I know—that is lovely! No, there are no cross-purposes in nature; it all seems in perfect harmony," murmured Mrs. Seabrook, her eyes glowing with keen appreciation of the exquisite picture before her. "It is only poor humanity that seems all out of tune," she went on, the tense lines coming back to her face. "Oh, Phillip! what is this mystery of suffering that we see all about us? If God is tender, and loving, and supreme, why—oh! why—is the world so full of it?"
Dr. Stanley lifted the hand that he was still holding and laid it within his arm, drawing her closer to him with a tenderness which told her that he both knew and shared the heavy burden that weighed so heavily upon her heart.
"Emelie," he said, his eyes lingering upon the scene before them, "that is a question that I have often asked myself, especially during the last two years that I spent in those hospitals abroad, and witnessed the wretchedness they contained. And I suppose everybody has been asking it over and over for ages gone by. We have been taught that sin is the root of it all," he went on, musingly; "that sin brought sickness and death. Then, as you say, if God is supreme, why doesn't He abolish the sin, or at least show humanity how to conquer it in a practical way, to overcome or lessen the results of sin? But no! The same tragedy is repeated with every generation, and seems likely to go on for ages to come."
"Sin! What sin could an innocent child like Dorrie be guilty of, to bring upon her the curse of torture that she has endured for the last eight years?" cried Mrs. Seabrook, a note of intolerant anguish in her tones. "I know you will say theology teaches that it is the heredity sin of our first parents; but, Phillip, that is not fair nor just—it is not logical reasoning. I believe I am beginning to be very skeptical, for that argument hasn't a true ring to it. What human father or mother would torture their offspring simply because an ancestor, many generations ago, had committed a crime, however heinous? Oh, sometimes I am almost on the verge of declaring there is no God. That would bring chaos, I know," she added, with a deprecatory smile, as she saw her brother's brow contract; "but it really does seem as if the pros and cons are disproportionate, the cons far outnumbering the pros, as far as poor humanity is concerned."
"Emelie, you need change of scene; you are becoming morbid," said Phillip Stanley, looking with fond anxiety into the somber eyes upraised to his.
"Change of scene would not remove the sword that hangs over me, for you know that where I go Dorrie must also go. Oh! Phillip, do you believe that anything will ever permanently relieve that child of pain?" Mrs. Seabrook cried, a sob escaping her quivering lips. "I don't expect she is ever going to be straight, like other girls. I only ask that she may be freed from suffering. Have you any real faith in that proposed operation, or even that—that she will live through it? You have been trying to 'build her up,' but she appears to be running down instead."
"I know, dear, her case does seem to be very trying, although I see no especial cause for anxiety. I hope when the season is more advanced and you go to the mountains she will improve more rapidly. But how would you like to change the treatment?" And Dr. Stanley bent a searching look upon the troubled face beside him.
"Have some one else?"
"Yes; try another specialist."
"No, Philip; we have tried everything—every school, and countless specialists, for eight years," said Mrs. Seabrook, wearily. "I have more confidence in you than in anyone else, for I know that you are putting your whole heart into the case, and yet—"
"What is it, Emelie? Do not fear to speak your mind freely," said her brother, encouragingly.
"Phillip, what do you think of the Christian Scientists? Would it be too ridiculous to try their method for a while?" she faltered, and flushing crimson.
Dr. Stanley smiled.
"Has Dorothy been talking to you also about the miracles of nineteen hundred years ago?" he inquired, evasively.
"No; what do you mean?"
He related his recent conversation with his niece on the subject, and told of his promise to read the Scripture references she had given him.
"I kept my word," he said, in conclusion, "and became so interested that I read the account of every miracle that Christ and His apostles performed."
"Oh! Dorrie never tires of reading or of asking questions about them," returned Mrs. Seabrook; "but that has had nothing to do with my thought. Something very queer has occurred during the last twenty-four hours. You remember I spoke to you yesterday regarding Miss Reynolds' illness?"
"Yes; you thought her condition rather serious, I believe."
"Phillip, she really was very ill; I was thoroughly alarmed about her. Always, before this, when she has had these attacks, she has been very willing to have a physician, but this time she flatly refused to let me call anyone. Last night she was worse than I ever saw, her, and Miss Minturn took care of her."
"Ah!" ejaculated Dr. Stanley, in a peculiar tone.
"You know, perhaps, that Miss Minturn is a Christian Scientist?" said his sister, inquiringly.
"Well, I went to Miss Reynolds' room late last night: and, truly, I came away in fear and trembling. I could not sleep well because of anxiety on her account. This morning, however, Miss Minturn told me, in her quiet way, that she was 'more comfortable.' But you can imagine my astonishment when I went to see the woman, less than an hour ago, and found her up and dressed, having just finished a dinner of roast beef and vegetables—in fact, our regular Saturday menu—pie and all."