Part 2 out of 2
life. The work is booming, and I have all sorts of things to be
Our little household has been very much upset this week by the death
of our cook. The funeral took place last night at seven o'clock from
the lodge house at the gate. The shadows made on the paper screens as
they prepared him for burial, told an uncanny story. The lack of
delicacy, the coarseness, the total disregard for the dignity of death
were all pictured on the doors. I stood in the chapel and watched
with a sick heart. After they had crowded the poor old body into a
sitting position in a sort of square tub, they brought it out to the
coolies who were to carry it to the temple, and afterward to the
crematory. The lanterns flickered with an unsteady light, making
grotesque figures that seemed to dance in fiendish glee on the
grass. The men laughed and chattered, and at last shouldered their
burden and trotted off as merrily as if they were going to a matsuri.
I never before felt the cruelty of heathenism so keenly. No punishment
in the next world can equal the things they miss in this life by a
lack of belief in a personal God.
It must be very beautiful at home about this time. The beech trees are
all green and gold, and the maples are blazing. I am thinking too
about the shadows on the old ice-house. I know every one of them by
heart, and they often come to haunt me as do many other shadows of the
sad, sad past.
HIROSHIMA, December, 1903.
God bless you honey, I've got a holiday and I've sworn vengeance on
anyone who comes to my door until I have written my Christmas
letters. I wish I was a doctor and a trained nurse, and a scholar, a
magician, a philosopher and a saint all combined. I need them in my
I have spent this merry Christmas season, chasing from pillow to post
with bandages, hot water bags, poultices and bottles. We have had a
regular hospital. All the Christmas money I had saved to buy presents
for home went in Cod Liver Oil, and Miss Lessing, bless her soul, is
doing without a coat for the same purpose. When you see a girl
struggling for what little education she can get, and know what
sacrifices are being made for it, you just hate your frumpery old
finery, and you want to convert everything you possess into cash to
help her. All the teachers are doing without fires in their rooms this
winter, and it is rather chillsome to go to bed cold and wake up next
morning in the same condition. When I get home to a furnace-heated
house and have cream in my coffee, I shall feel too dissipated to be
We have not been able to get a new cook since our old one died, and
the fact must have gotten abroad, for all the floating brethren and
sisters in Japan have been to see us! Y.M.C.A.'s, W.C.T.U.'s,
A.W.B.M.'s and X.Y.Z.'s have sifted in, and we have to sit up and be
Marthas and Marys all at the same time!
Sometimes I want to get my hat and run and run until I get to another
planet. But I am not made of the stuff that runs, and I have the
satisfaction of knowing that I have stuck to my post. If sacrificing
self, and knocking longings in the head, and smashing heart-aches
right and left, do not pass me through the Golden Gate, then I'll sue
Peter for damages.
It's snowing to-day, but the old Earth is making about as poor a bluff
at being Christmasy as I am. The leaves are all on the trees, many
flowers are in bloom, and the scarlet geraniums are warm enough to
melt the snow flakes.
My big box has arrived and I am keeping it until to-morrow. I go out
and sit on it every little while to keep cheered up. This is my third
Christmas from home, one more and then--!
There has been too much sickness to make much of the holiday, but I
have rigged up a fish pond for the kindergarten children, and each
kiddie will have a present that cost one-fourth of a cent! I wish I
had a hundred dollars to spend on them!
To-night when the lights are out, my little sick girl's stocking will
hang on one bed post, and mine on the other. I don't believe Santa
Glaus will have the heart to pass us by, do you?
HIROSHIMA, January, 1904.
Here it is January and I am just thanking you dear ones for my
beautiful Christmas box. As you probably guessed, Mate, our Christmas
was not exactly hilarious. The winter has been a hard one, the
prospect of war has sent the price of provisions out of sight, the
sick girls in the school have needed medicine and fires, so altogether
Miss Lessing, Miss Dixon and I have had to do considerable tugging at
the ends to get them to meet. None of us have bought a stitch of new
clothing this winter, so when our boxes came, we were positively dazed
by all the grandeur.
They arrived late at night and we got out of bed to open them. The
first thing I struck was a very crumpled little paper doll, with baby
Bess' name printed in topsy-turvy letters on the back. For the next
five minutes I was kept busy swallowing the lumps that came in my
throat, but Dixie had some peppermint candy out of her box, the first
I had seen since I had left home, so I put on my lovely new beaver
hat, which with my low-necked gown and red slippers was particularly
chic, and I sat on the floor and ate candy. It--the hat and the candy
too, went a long way towards restoring my equanimity, but I didn't
dare look at that paper doll again that night!
You ask if I mind wearing that beautiful crepe de chine which is not
becoming to you? Well, Mate, I suppose there was a day when I would
have scorned anybody's cast-off clothes, but I pledge you my word a
queen in her coronation robes never felt half so grand as I feel in
that dress! Somehow I seem to assume some of your personality, I look
tall and graceful and dignified, and I try to imagine how it feels to
be good and intellectual, and fascinating, and besides I have the
satisfaction of knowing that I am rather becoming to the dress myself!
It fits without a wrinkle and next summer with my big black hat,--!
Well, if Little Germany sees me, there will be something doing!
I must tell you an experience I had the other day. Miss Lessing and I
were coming back on the train from Miyajima and sitting opposite to us
was an old couple who very soon told us that they had never seen
foreigners before. They were as guileless as children, and presently
the old man came over and asked if he might look at my jacket. I had
no objections, so he put his hands lightly on my shoulders and turned
me around for inspection. "But," he said to Miss Lessing in Japanese,
"how does she get into it?" I took it off to show him and in so doing
revealed fresh wonders. He returned to his wife, and after a long
consultation, and many inquiring looks, he came back. He said he knew
he was a great trouble, but I was most honorably kind, and would I
tell him why I wore a piece of leather about my waist, and would I
please remove my dress and show them how I put it on? He was
distinctly disappointed when I declined, but he managed to get in one
more question and that was if we slept in our hats. When he got off,
he assured us that he had never seen anything so interesting in his
life, and he would have great things to tell the people of his
There isn't a place you go, or a thing you do out here that doesn't
afford some kind of amusement.
The first glamour of the country has gotten dimmed a bit, not that the
interest has waned for a moment, but I have come to see that the
beauty and picturesqueness are largely on the surface. If ever I have
to distribute tracts in another world, I am going to wrap a piece of
soap in every one, for I am more and more convinced that the surest
way to heaven for the heathen is the Soapy Way.
During the holidays I tried to study up a little and add a drop or two
to that gray matter that is supposed to be floating around in my
brain. But as a girl said of a child in Kindergarten, "my intelligence
was not working." Putting Psychology into easy terms, stopping to
explain things I do not understand very well myself, struggling
through the medium of a strange language, and trying to occidentalize
the oriental mind has been a stiff proposition for one whose learning
was never her long suit! When I come home I may be nothing but a
giggly, childishly happy old lady, who doesn't care a rap whether her
skin fits or not.
The prospect of war is getting more and more serious. Out in the
Inland Sea, the war ships are hastening here and there on all sorts of
secret missions. I hope with all my heart there will not be war, but
if there is, I hope Japan will wipe Russia right off the map!
HIROSHIMA, February, 1904.
Dear old Mate:
I am breathless! For three weeks I have had a chase up hill and down
dale, to the top of pine clad mountains, into the misty shadows of the
deep valleys, up and down the silvery river, to and fro on the frosty
road. For why! All because I had lost my "poise," that treasured
possession which you said I was to hang on to as I do to my front
teeth and my hair. So when I found it was gone, I started in full
pursuit. Never a sight of its coat tails did I catch until Sunday,
when I gave up the race and sat me down to fight out the old fight of
rebellion, and kicking against the pricks.
It was a perfect day, the plum trees were white with blossom, the
spice bushes heavy with fragrance, the river dancing for joy, and the
whole earth springing into new, tender life. A saucy little bird sat
on an old stone lantern, and sang straight at me. He told me I was a
whiney young person, that it was lots more fun to catch worms and fly
around in the sunshine than it was to sit in the house and mope. He
actually laughed at me, and I seized my hat and lit out after him, and
when I came home I found I had caught my "poise."
To-day in class I asked my girls what "happiness" meant. One new girl
looked up timidly and said, "Sensei, I sink him just mean _you_."
I felt like a hypocrite, but it pleased me to know that on the outside
at least I kept shiny.
I tell you if I don't find my real self out here, if I don't see my
own soul in all its bareness and weakness then I will never see it. At
home hedged in by conventionality, custom, and the hundred little
interests of our daily life, we have small chance to see ourselves as
we really are, but in a foreign land stripped bare of everything in
the world save _self_, in a loneliness as great sometimes as the
grave, face to face with new conditions, new demands, we have ample
chance to take our own measurement. I cannot say that the result
obtained is calculated to make one conceited!
I fit into this life out here, like a square peg in a round hole. I am
not consecrated, I was never "_called_ to the foreign field," I
love the world and the flesh even if I don't care especially for the
devil, I don't believe the Lord makes the cook steal so I may be more
patient, and I don't pray for wisdom in selecting a new pair of
shoes. When my position becomes unbearable, I invariably face the
matter frankly and remind myself that if it is hard on the peg, it is
just as hard on the hole, and that if they can stand it I guess I can!
You ask about my reading. Yes, I read every spare minute I can get,
before breakfast, on my way to classes, and after I go to
bed. Somebody at home sends me the magazines regularly and I keep them
going for months.
By the way I wish you would write and tell me just exactly how Jack
is. You said he was working too hard and that he looked all fagged
out. Wasn't it exactly like him to back out of going South on account
of his conscience? He would laugh at us for saying it was that, but it
was. He may be unreligious, and scoff at churches and all that, but he
has the most rigid, cast-iron, inelastic conscience that I ever came
across. I wish he would take a rest. You see out here, so far away
from you all, I can't help worrying when any of you are the least bit
sick. Jack has been on my mind for days. Don't tell him that I asked
you to, but won't you get him to go away? He would curl his hair if
you asked him to.
Preparations for war are still in progress and it makes a fellow
pretty shivery to see it coming closer and closer. Hiroshima will be
the center of military movements and of course under military law. It
will affect us only as to the restrictions put on our walks and places
we can go. With the city so full of strange soldiers, I don't suppose
we will want to go much. Two big war ships, which Japan has just
bought from Chili are on their way from Shanghai. Regiment after
regiment has poured into Hiroshima and embarked again for Corea. I am
terribly thrilled over it all, and the Japanese watch my enthusiasm
with their non-committal eyes and never say a word!
My poor little sick girl grows weaker all the time. She is a constant
care and anxiety, but she has no money and I cannot send her back to
her wretched home. The teachers think I am very foolish to let the
thing run on, and I suppose I am. She can never be any better, and she
may live this way for months. But when she clings to me with her frail
hands and declares she is better and will soon get well if I will only
let her stay with me, my heart fails me. I have patched up an old
steamer chair for her, and made a window garden, and tried to make the
room as bright as possible. She has to stay by herself nearly all day,
but she is so patient and gentle that I never hear a complaint. This
morning she pressed my hand to her breast and said wistfully, "Sensei,
it makes sorry to play all the time with the health."
Miss Lessing tried to get her in the hospital but they will not take
Somehow Jack's hospital scheme doesn't seem as foolish as it did. If
there are other children in the world as friendless and dependent as
this one, then making a permanent home for them would be worth all the
great careers in the world.
HIROSHIMA, March, 1904.
My Best Girl:
Don't I wish you were here to share all these thrills with me! War is
actually in progress, and if you could see me hanging out of the
window at midnight yelling for a special, then chasing madly around to
get someone to translate it for me, see me dancing in fiendish glee at
every victory won by this brave little country, you would conclude
that I am just as young as I used to be. I tell you I couldn't be
prouder of my own country! Just think of plucky little old Japan
winning three battles from those big, brutal, conceited Russians. Why
I just want to run and hug the Emperor! And the school girls! Why
their placid faces are positively glorified by the fire of
patriotism. Once a week a trained nurse comes to give talks on
nursing, and if I go into any corner afterward, I find a group of
girls practising all kinds of bandaging. Even the demurest little
maiden cherishes the hope that some fate may send her to the
battle-field, or that in some way she may be permitted to serve her
I am afraid I am not very strict about talking in class these days,
but, somehow, courage, nobility, and self-sacrifice seem just as
worthy of attention as "motor ideas," and "apperceptions."
A British guest who hates everything Japanese says my enthusiasm "is
quite annoying, you know," but, dear me, I don't mind him. What could
you expect of a person who eats pie with a spoon? Why my enthusiasm is
just cutting its eye-teeth! The whole country is a-thrill, and even a
wooden Indian would get excited.
Every afternoon we walk down on the sea wall and watch the
preparations going on for a long siege. Hundreds of big ships fill the
harbor to say nothing of the small ones, and there are thousands of
coolies working like mad. I could tell you many interesting things,
but I am afraid of the censor. If he deciphers all my letters home,
he will probably have nervous prostration by the time the war is over.
Many of the war ships are coaled by women who carry heavy baskets on
each end of a pole swung across the shoulder, and invariably a baby on
their backs. It is something terrible the way the women work, often
pulling loads that would require a horse at home. They go plodding
past us on the road, dressed as men, mouth open, eyes straining, all
intelligence and interest gone from their faces.
One day as Miss Lessing and I were resting by the roadside, one of
these women stopped for breath just in front of us. She was pushing a
heavy cart and her poor old body was trembling from the strain. Her
legs were bare, and her feet were cut by the stones. There was
absolute stolidity in her weather-beaten face, and the hands that
lighted her pipe were gnarled and black. Miss Lessing has a perfect
genius for getting at people, I think it is her good kind face through
which her soul shines. She asked the old woman if she was very
tired. The woman looked up, as if seeing us for the first time and
nodded her head. Then a queer look came into her face and she asked
Miss Lessing if we were the kind of people who had a new God. Miss
Lessing told her we were Christians. With a wistfulness that I have
never seen except in the eyes of a dog, she said, "If I paid your God
with offering and prayers, do you think he would make my work easier?
I am so tired!" Miss Lessing made her sit down by her on the grass,
and talked to her in Japanese about the new God who did not take any
pay for his help, and who could put something in her heart that would
give her strength to bear any burden. I could not understand much of
what they said but I had a little prayer-meeting all by myself.
HIROSHIMA, April, 1904.
Yesterday the American mail came after a three weeks' delay. None of
us were good for anything the rest of the day. Twenty letters and
fifty-two papers for me! Do you wonder that I almost danced a hole in
the parlor rug?
The home news was all so bright and cheery, and your letter was such a
bunch of comfort that I felt like a two year old. It was exactly like
you to think out that little farm party and get Jack into it as a
matter of accommodation to you. I followed everything you did, with
the keenest interest, from the all-day tramps in the woods, to the
cozy evenings around the log fire. I can see old Jack now, at first
bored to death but resolved to die if need be on the altar of
friendship, gradually warming up as he always does out of doors, and
ending up by being the life of the party. He once told me that social
success is the infinite capacity for being bored. I know the little
outing did him a world of good, and you are all the trumps in the deck
Who is the Dr. Leet that was in the party? I remember dancing a
cotillon with a very good looking youth of that name in the
prehistoric ages. He was a senior at Yale, very rich and very good
looking. I wore his fraternity pin over my heart for a whole week
We have been having great fun over the American accounts of the war.
Through the newspapers we learn the most marvelous things about Japan
and her people. Large cities are unblushingly moved from the coast to
an island in the Inland Sea, troops are passported from places which
have no harbor, and the people are credited with unheard of customs.
We are still in the midst of stirring times. The city is overflowing
with troops, and we are hemmed in on every side by soldiers. Of course
foreign women are very curious to them, and they often follow us and
make funny comments, but we have never yet had a single rudeness shown
us. In all the thousands of soldiers stationed here, I have only seen
two who were tipsy, and they were mildly hilarious from saki. There
is perfect order and discipline, and after nine o'clock at night the
streets are as quiet as a mountain village.
The other night, five of the soldiers, mere boys, donned citizens'
dress and went out for a lark. At roll-call they were missing and a
guard was sent to search for them. When found, they resisted arrest
and three minutes after they all answered the roll-call in another
And yet although the discipline is so severe, the men seem a contented
and happy lot. They stroll along the roads when off duty hand in hand
like school girls, and laugh and chatter as if life were a big
holiday. But when the time comes to go to the front, they don their
gay little uniforms, and march just as joyfully away to give the last
drop of their blood for their Emperor.
I tell you, Mate, I want to get out in the street and cheer every
regiment that passes! No drum, no fife, no inspiring music to stir
their blood and strengthen their courage, nothing but the unvarying
monotony of the four note trumpets. They don't need music to make them
go. They are perfect little machines whose motive power is a
patriotism so absolute, so complete, that it makes death on the
battle-field an honor worthy of deification.
I look out into the play-ground, and every boy down to the smallest
baby in the kindergarten is armed with a bamboo gun. Such drilling and
marching, and attacking of forts you have never seen. That the enemy
is nothing more than sticks stuck at all angles matters little. An
enemy there must be, and the worst boy in Japan would die before he
would even _play_ at being a Russian! If Kuropatkin could see
just one of these awful onslaughts, he would run up the white flag and
hie himself to safety. So you see we are well guarded and with quiet
little soldiers on the outside, and very noisy and fierce little
soldiers on the inside, we fear no invasion of our peaceful compound.
On my walks around the barracks, I often pass the cook house, and
watch the food being carried to the mess room. The rice buckets, about
the size of our water buckets, are put on a pole in groups of six or
eight and carried on the shoulders of two men. There is a line about a
square long of these buckets, and then another long line follows with
trays of soup bowls. Tea is not as a rule drunk with the meals, but
after the last grain of rice has been chased from the slippery sides
of the bowl, hot water is poured in and sipped with loud appreciation.
Last Sunday afternoon we had to entertain ten officers of high rank,
and it proved a regular lark. Their English and our Japanese got
fatally twisted. One man took great pride in showing me how much too
big his clothes were, giving him ample opportunity to put on several
suits of underwear in cold weather; he said "Many cloth dese trusers
hab, no fit like 'Merican." They were delighted with all our foreign
possessions, and inspected everything minutely. On leaving, one
officer bowed low, and assured me that he would never see me on earth
again, but he hoped he would see me in heaven _first_!
The breezes from China waft an occasional despairing epistle from
Little Germany, but they find me as cold as a snow bank on the north
side of a mountain. The sun that melts my heart will have to rise in
the west, and get up early at that.
HIROSHIMA, May, 1904.
Well commencement is over and my first class is graduated. Now if you
have ever heard of anything more ridiculous than that please cable me!
If you could have seen me standing on the platform dealing out
diplomas, you would have been highly edified.
Last night I gave the class a dinner. There were fourteen girls, only
two of whom had ever been at a foreign table before. At first they
were terribly embarrassed, but before long they warmed up to the
occasion and got terribly tickled over their awkwardness. I was
afraid they would knock their teeth out with the knives and forks, and
the feat of getting soup from the spoon to the mouth proved so
difficult that I let them drink it from the bowl. Sitting in chairs
was as hard for them as sitting on the floor for me, so between the
courses we had a kind of cake walk.
Next week school begins again, and I start three new kindergartens,
making seven over which I have supervision. I am so pleased over the
progress of my work that I don't know what to do. Not that I don't
realize my limitations, heaven knows I do. Imagine my efforts at
teaching the training class psychology! The other day we were
struggling with the subject of reflex action, and one of the girls
handed in this definition as she had understood it from me! "Reflex
action is of a activity nervous. It is sometimes the don't understand
of what it is doing and stops many messages to the brain and sends the
motion to the legs." What little knowledge I start with gets
cross-eyed before I get through.
The Japanese can twist the English language into some of the strangest
knots that you ever saw. There is a sign quite near here that reads
"Cows milk and Retailed."
Since writing you last, I have sent my little sick girl home. It
almost broke us all up, but she couldn't stay here alone during the
summer and there was nobody to take care of her. I write to her every
week and try to keep her cheered up, but for such as she there is only
one release and that is death.
If Jack's hospital ever materializes, I am going to offer my services
as a nurse. This poor child's plight has taken such a hold upon me
that I long to do something for all the sick waifs in creation.
HIROSHIMA, June, 1904.
It is Sunday afternoon, and your Foreign Missionary Kindergarten
Teacher, instead of trudging off to Sunday School with the other
teachers, is recklessly sitting in dressing gown and slippers with her
golden hair hanging down her hack, writing letters home. After
teaching all week, and listening for two hours to a Japanese sermon
Sunday morning, I cross my fingers on teaching Sunday School in the
This past week I have been trying to practice the simple life. It was
a good time for we had spring cleaning, five guests, daily
prayer-meetings, two new cooks, and an earthquake. I think by the time
I get through, I'll be qualified to run a government on some small
The whole city is in confusion, ninety thousand soldiers are here now,
and eighty thousand more are expected this week. Every house-holder
must take as many as he can accommodate, and the strain on the people
is heavy. We heard yesterday of the terrible disaster to the troops
that left here on the 13th, three transports were sunk by the
Russians. Five hundred of the wounded from South Hill battle have been
brought here, and whenever I go out, I see long lines of stretchers
and covered ambulances bringing in more men. It is intolerable to be
near so much suffering and not to be able to relieve it. We are all so
worked up with pity and indignation, and sympathy that we hardly dare
talk about the war.
Summer vacation will soon be here and I am planning a wild career of
self indulgence. I am going to Karuizawa, where I can get cooled off
and rested and invite my soul to my heart's content.
For two mortal weeks the rain has poured in torrents. The rainy season
out here isn't any of your nice polite little shower-a-day affairs, it
is just one interminable downpour, until the old earth is spanked into
submission. I can't even remember how sunshine looks, and my spirits
are mildewed and my courage is mouldy.
To add to the discomfort, we are besieged by mosquitoes. They are the
big ferocious kind that carry off a finger at a time. I heard of one
missionary down in the country, who was so bothered one night that he
hung his trousers to the ceiling, and put his head in one leg, and
made his wife put her head in the other, while the rest of the garment
served as a breathing tube!
It has been nearly a year since I was out of Hiroshima, a year of such
ups and downs that I feel as if I had been digging out my salvation
with a pick-ax.
Not that I do not enjoy the struggle; real life with all its knocks
and bumps, its joys and sorrows, is vastly preferable to a passive
existence of indolence. Only occasionally I look forward to the time
when I shall be an angel frivoling in the eternal blue! Just think of
being reduced to a nice little curly head and a pair of wings! That's
the kind of angel I am going to be. With no legs to ache, and no heart
to break--but dear me it is more than likely that I will get
rheumatism in my wings!
If ever I do get to heaven, it will be on your ladder, Mate. You have
coaxed me up with confidence and praise, you have steadied me with
ethical culture books, and essays, and sermons. You have gotten me so
far up (for me), that I am afraid to look down. I shrink with a mighty
shrivel when I think of disappointing you in any way, and I expand
almost to bursting when I think of justifying your belief in me.
KARUIZAWA, July, 1904.
Here I am comfortably established in the most curious sort of
double-barreled house you ever saw. The front part is all Japanese and
faces on one street, and the back part is foreign and faces on another
street a square away. The two are connected by a covered walk which
passes over a mill race. In the floor of the walk just over the water
is a trap door, and look out when I will I can see the Japanese
stopping to take a bath in this little opening.
I have a nice big room and so much service thrown in that it
embarrasses me. When I come in, in the evening, three little maids
escort me to my room, one fixes the mosquito bar, one gets my gown,
and one helps to undress me. When they have done all they can think
of, they get in a row, all bow together, then pitter patter away.
The clerk has to make out the menus and as his English is limited, he
calls upon me very often to help him. Yesterday he came with only one
entry and that was "Corns on the ear." In return for my assistance he
always announces my bath, and escorts me to the bath room carrying my
sponge and towels.
As to Karuizawa, it has a summer population of about four hundred,
three hundred and ninety-nine of whom are missionaries. Let us all
unite in singing "Blest be the tie that binds."
Everybody at our table is in the mission field. A long-nosed young
preacher who sits opposite me looks as if he had spent all his life in
some kind of a field. He has a terrible attack of religion; I never
saw anybody take it any harder. He told me that he was engaged to be
married and for three days he had been consulting the Lord about what
kind of a ring he should buy!
Sunday I went to church and heard my first English sermon in two
years. We met in a rough little shanty, built in a cluster of pines,
and almost every nation was represented. A young English clergyman
read the service, and afterward said a few words about sacrifice. He
was simple and sincere, and his deep voice trembled with earnestness
as he declared that sacrifice was the only true road to happiness,
sacrifice of ourselves, our wishes and desires, for the good and the
progress of others. And suddenly all the feeling in me got on a
rampage and I wanted to get up and say that it was true, that I knew
it was true, that the most miserable, pitiful, smashed-up life, could
blossom again if it would only blossom for others. I walked home in a
sort of ecstasy and at dinner the long-nosed young preacher said: "'T
was a pity we couldn't have regular preaching, there was such a peart
lot at meeting." This is certainly a good place to study people's
eccentricities, their foibles and follies, to hear them preach and see
them not practice!
One more year and I will be home. Something almost stops in my heart
as I write it! Of course I am glad you are going abroad in the spring,
you have been living on the prospect of seeing Italy all your
life. Only, Mate, I am selfish enough to want you back by the time I
get home. It would take just one perfect hour of seeing you all
together once more to banish the loneliness of all these years!
I am glad Jack and Dr. Leet have struck up such a friendship. Jack
uses about the same care in selecting a friend that most men do in
selecting a wife. Tell Dr. Leet that I am glad he found me in a pigeon
hole of his memory, but that I am a long way from being "the blue-eyed
bunch of mischief" he describes. I wish you would tell him that I am
slender, pale, and pensive with a glamour of romance and mystery
hovering about me; that is the way I would like to be.
I knew you could get Jack out of his rut if you tried. The Browning
evenings must be highly diverting, I can imagine you reading a few
lines for him to expound, then him reading a few for you to explain,
then both gazing into space with "the infinite cry of finite hearts
Dear loyal old Jack! How memories stab me as I think of him. It seems
impossible to think of him as other than well and strong and self
reliant. What happy, happy days I have spent with him! They seem to
stand out to-night in one great white spot of cheerfulness. When the
days were the darkest and I couldn't see one inch ahead, Jack would
happen along with a funny story or a joke, would pretend not to see
what was going on, but do some little kindness that would brighten the
way a bit. What a mixture he is of tenderness, and brusqueness, of
common sense and poetry, of fun and seriousness! I think you and I are
the only ones in the world who quite understand his heights and
depths. He says even I don't.
KARUIZAWA, July, 1904.
Since writing you I have had the pleasure of looking six hundred feet
down the throat of Asamayama, the great volcano. If the old lady had
been impolite enough to stick out her tongue, I would at present be a
We started at seven in the evening on horseback. Now as you know I
have ridden pretty much everything from a broom stick to a camel, but
for absolute novelty of motion commend me to a Japanese horse. There
is a lurch to larboard, then a lurch to starboard, with a sort of
"shiver-my-timbers" interlude. A coolie walks at the head of each
horse, and reasons softly with him when he misbehaves. We rode for
thirteen miles to the foot of the volcano, then at one o'clock we left
the horses with one of the men and began to climb. Each climber was
tied to a coolie whose duty it was to pull, and to carry the
lantern. We made a weird procession, and the strange call of the
coolies as they bent their bodies to the task, mingled with the
laughter and exclamations of the party.
For some miles the pine trees and undergrowth covered the mountain,
then came a stretch of utter barren-ness and isolation. Miles above
yet seemingly close enough to touch rose tongues of flame and crimson
smoke. Above was the majestic serenity of the summer night, below the
peaceful valley, with the twinkling lights of far away villages. It
was a queer sensation to be hanging thus between earth and sky, and to
feel that the only thing between me and death was a small Japanese
coolie, who was half dragging me up a mountain side that was so
straight it was sway-back!
When at last we reached the top, daylight was showing faintly in the
east. Slowly and with a glory unspeakable the sun rose. The great
flames and crimson smoke, which at night had appeared so dazzling,
sank into insignificance. If anyone has the temerity to doubt the
existence of a gracious, mighty God, let him stand at sunrise on the
top of Asamayama and behold the wonder of His works!
I hardly dared to breathe for fear I would dispel the illusion, but a
hearty lunch eaten with the edge of the crater for a table made things
seem pretty real. The coming down was fearful for the ashes were very
deep, and we often went in up to our knees.
The next morning at eleven, I rolled into my bed more dead than
alive. My face and hands were blistered from the heat and the ashes,
and I was sore from head to foot, but I had a vision in, my soul that
can never be effaced.
HIROSHIMA, September, 1904.
Well here I am back in H. (I used to think it stood for that too but
it doesn't!) Curiously enough I rather enjoy getting back into harness
this year. Three kindergartens to attend in the morning, class work in
the afternoon, four separate accounts to be kept, besides
housekeeping, mothers' meetings, and prayer meetings, would have
appalled me once.
The only thing that phases me is the company. If only some nice
accommodating cyclone would come along and gather up all the floating
population, and deposit it in a neat pile in some distant fence
corner, I would be everlastingly grateful. One loving brother wrote
last week that he was coming with a wife and three children to board
with us until his house was completed, and that he knew I would be
glad to have them. Delighted I am sure! All I need to complete my
checkered career is to keep a boarding-house! I smacked Susie Damn
clear down the steps and sang "A consecrated cross-eyed bear," then I
wrote him to come, It is against the principles of the school to
refuse anyone its hospitality, consequently everybody who is out of a
job comes to see us.
The waves of my wrath break upon Miss Lessing for allowing herself to
be imposed upon, but she is as calm and serene as the Great Buddha of
My special grievance this morning is cooked tomatoes and baby organs.
Our cook has just discovered cooked tomatoes, and they seem to fill
some longfelt want in his soul. In spite of protest, he serves them to
us for breakfast, tiffin and dinner, and the household sits with
injured countenance, and silently holds me responsible. As for the
nine and one wind bags that begin their wheezing and squeaking before
breakfast, my thoughts are unfit for publication! This morning I was
awakened by the strains "Shall we meet beyond the River?" Well if we
do, the keys will fly that's all there is about it! Once in a while
they side-track it to "Oh! to be nothing, nothing!" That is where I
fully agree and if they would only give me a chance I would grant
their desire in less time than it takes to write it. I am sure my
Hades will be a hard seat in a lonesome corner where I must listen to
baby organs all day and live on a perpetual diet of cooked tomatoes.
To-day they are bringing in the wounded soldiers from Liaoyang, and I
try to keep away from the windows so I will not see them. Those bright
strong boys that left here such a little while ago, are coming back on
stretchers, crippled and disfigured for life.
Yesterday while taking a walk, I saw about two hundred men, right off
the transport, waiting for the doctors and nurses to come. Men whose
clothes had not been changed for weeks, ragged, bloody and soiled
beyond conception. Wounded, tired, sick, with almost every trace of
the human gone out of their faces, they sat or lay on the ground
waiting to be cared for. Most of the wounds had not been touched
since they were hastily tied up on the battlefield. I thought I had
some idea of what war meant, but I hadn't the faintest conception of
the real horror of it.
Miss Lessing is trying to get permission for us to do regular visiting
at the hospitals, but the officials are very cautious about allowing
any foreigner behind the scenes.
Just here I hung my head out of the window to ask the cook what time
it was. He called back, "Me no know! clock him gone to sleep. He no
talk some more."
I think I shall follow the example of the clock.
HIROSHIMA, October, 1904.
I have been to the hospital at last and I can think of nothing, see
nothing, and talk of nothing but those poor battered up men. Yesterday
the authorities sent word that if the foreign teachers would come and
make a little music for the sick men it would be appreciated. We had
no musical instrument except the organ, so Miss Lessing and I bundled
one up on a jinrikisha and trudged along beside it through the
street. I got almost hysterical over our absurd appearance, and
pretended that Miss Lessing was the organ grinder, and I the
monkey. But oh! Mate when we got to the hospital all the silliness was
knocked out of me. Thousands of mutilated and dying men, literally
shot to pieces by the Russian bullets. I can't talk about it! It was
too horrible to describe.
We wheeled the organ into one of the wards and two of the teachers
sang while I played. It was pitiful to see how eager the men were to
hear. The room was so big that those in the back begged to be moved
closer, so the little nurses carried the convalescent ones forward on
For one hour I pumped away on that wheezy little old instrument, with
the tears running down my cheeks most of the time. So long as I live
I'll never make fun of a baby organ again. The joy that one gave that
afternoon justified its being.
And then--prepare for the worst,--we distributed tracts. Oh! yes I did
it too, in spite of all the fun I have made, and would you believe it?
those men who were able to walk, crowded around and _begged_ for
them, and the others in the beds held out their hands or followed us
wistfully with their eyes. They were so crazy for something to read
that they were even willing to read about the foreign God.
It was late when we got back and I went straight to bed and indulged
in a chill. All the horror of war had come home to me for the first
time, and my very soul rebelled against it. They say you get hardened
to the sights after a few visits to the hospital, but I hope I shall
never get to the point of believing that it's right for strong useful
men to be killed or crippled for life in order to settle a
Before we went into the wards the physician in charge took us all over
the buildings, showed us where the old bandages were being washed and
cleaned, where the instruments were sharpened and repaired, where the
stretchers and crutches, and "first aid to the injured" satchels were
kept. We were taken through the postoffice, where all the mail comes
and goes from the front. It was touching to see the number of letters
that had been sent home unopened.
Twenty thousand sick soldiers are cared for in Hiroshima, and such
system, such cleanliness and order you have never seen. I have wished
for Jack a thousand times; it would delight his soul to see the skill
and ability of these wonderful little doctors and nurses.
HIROSHIMA, November, 1904.
To-morrow it will be four weeks since I have had any kind of mail from
America. It seems to me that everything has stopped running across the
ocean, even the waves.
I know little these days outside of the kindergarten and the
hospital. The former grows cuter and dearer all the time. It is a
constant inspiration to see the daily development of these cunning
babies. As for the visits to the hospital, they are a self-appointed
task that grows no easier through repetition. You know how I shrink
from seeing pain, and how all my life I have tried to get away from
the disagreeable? Well it is like torture to go day after day into
the midst of the most terrible suffering. But in view of the bigger
things of life, the tremendous struggle going on so near, the agony of
the sick and wounded, the suffering of the women and children, my own
little qualms get lost in the shuffle, and my one consuming desire is
to help in any way I can.
Last week we took in addition to the "wind bag" two big baskets of
flowers to give to the sickest ones. Oh! If I could only make you know
what flowers mean to them! Men too sick to raise their heads and often
dying, will stretch out their hands for a flower, and be perfectly
content to hold it in their fingers. One soldier with both arms gone
asked me for a flower just as I had emptied my basket. I would have
given my month's salary for one rose, but all I had was a withered
little pansy. He motioned for me to give him that and asked me to put
it in a broken bottle hanging on the wall, so he could see it.
If I didn't get away from it all once in a while, I don't believe I
could stand it. Yesterday was the Emperor's birthday and we had a
holiday. I took several of the girls and went for a long ramble in the
country. The fields were a brilliant yellow, rich and heavy with the
unharvested grain. The mountains were deeply purple, and the sky so
tenderly blue, that the whole world just seemed a place to be glad and
happy in. Fall in Japan does not suggest death and decay, but rather
the drifting into a beautiful rest, where dreams can be dreamed and
the world forgot. Such a spirit of peace enveloped the whole scene,
that it was hard to realize that the long line of black objects on the
distant road were stretchers bearing the sick and wounded from the
transports to the hospitals.
HIROSHIMA, December, 1904.
Last Saturday I had to go across the bay to visit one of our branch
kindergartens. Many Russian prisoners are stationed on the island and
I was tremendously interested in the good time they were having. The
Japanese officials are entertaining them violently with concerts,
picnics, etc. Imagine a lot of these big muscular men being sent on an
all-day excursion with two little Japanese guards. Of course, it is
practically impossible for the men to escape from the island but I
don't believe they want to. A cook has actually been brought from
Vladivostock so that they may have Russian food, and the best things
in the markets are sent to them. The prisoners I saw seemed in high
spirits, and were having as much fun as a lot of school boys out on a
lark. I don't wonder! It is lots more comfortable being a prisoner in
Japan than a soldier in Manchuria.
I only had a few minutes to visit the hospital, but I was glad I
went. As the doctor took me through one of the wards where the sickest
men lay, I saw one big rough looking Russian with such a scowl on his
face that I hardly dared offer him my small posy. But I hated to pass
him by so I ventured to lay it on the foot of the cot. What was my
consternation when, after one glance, he clasped both hands over his
face and sobbed like a sick child. "Are you in pain?" asked the
doctor. "No," he said shortly, "I'm homesick." Oh! Mate, that
finished me! Didn't I know better than anybody in the world how he
felt? I just sat down on the side of the cot and patted him, and tried
to tell him how sorry I was though he could hardly understand a word.
This morning I could have done a song and dance when I heard that he
had been operated on and was to be sent home.
Almost every day we are having grand military funerals, and they are
most impressive I can tell you. Yesterday twenty-two officers were
buried at the same time, and the school stood on the street for over
an hour to do them honor. The procession was very interesting, with
the Buddhist priests, in their gorgeous robes, and the mourners in
white or light blue. First came the square box with the cremated
remains, then the officer's horse, then coolies carrying small trees
which were to be planted on the grave. Next came a large picture of
the deceased, and perhaps his coat or sword, next the shaven priests
in magnificent raiment and last the mourners carrying small trays with
rice cakes, to be placed upon the grave. The wives and mothers and
daughters rode in jinrikishas, hand folded meekly in hand, and eyes
downcast. Such calm resigned faces I have never seen, many white and
wasted with sorrow, but under absolute control. Of the entire number
only one gave vent to her grief; a bent old woman with thin grey hair
cut close to her head, rode with both hands over her face. She had
lost two sons in one battle, and the cry of her human heart was
stronger than any precept of her religion.
HIROSHIMA, December, 1904.
You remember the Irishman's saying that we could be pretty comfortable
in life if it wasn't for our pleasures? Well I could get along rather
well in Japan were it not for the Merry Christmases. Such a terrible
longing seizes me for my loved ones and for God's country that I feel
like a needle near a magnet. But next Christmas! I just go right up
in the air when I think about it.
This school of life is a difficult one at best, but when a weak sister
like myself is put about three grades higher than she belongs, it is
more than hard. I don't care a rap for the struggle and the heart
aches, if I have only made good. When I came out there were two
kindergartens, now there are nine besides a big training
class. Anybody else could have done as much for the work but one thing
is certain, the work couldn't have done for anyone else what it has
done for me. Outwardly I am the same feather-weight as of old, but
there is a big change inside, Mate, you'll have to take my word for
it. I am coming to take the slaps of Fate very much as I used to take
the curling of my hair with a hot iron, it pulled and sometimes
burned, but I didn't care so long as it was going to improve my looks.
So now I use my crosses as sort of curling irons for my character.
Your sudden decision to give up your trip to Europe this spring set me
guessing! I can't imagine, after all your planning and your dreams,
what could have changed your mind so completely. You don't seem to
care a rap about going. Now look here, Mate, I want a full report. You
have turned all the pockets of my confidence inside out. What about
yours? Have you been getting an "aim" in life, are you going to be an
operatic singer, or a temperance lecturer, or anything like that? You
are so horribly high minded that I am prepared for the worst.
I wish it would stop raining. The mountains are hid by a heavy gray
mist, and the drip, drip of the rain from roof and trees is not a
cheering sound. I am doing my best to keep things bright within, I
have built a big fire in my grate, and in my heart I have lighted all
the lamps at my little shrines, and I am burning incense to the loves
that were and are.
Just after tiffin the rain stopped for a little while and I rushed out
for a walk. I had been reading the "Christmas Carol" all morning, and
it brought so many memories of home that I was feeling rather
wobbly. My walk set me up immensely. A baldheaded, toothless old man
stopped me and asked me where I was "coming." When I told him he said
that was wonderful and he hoped I would have a good time. A woman with
a child on her back ran out and stopped me to ask if I would please
let the baby see my hair. Half a dozen children and two dogs followed
me all the way, and an old man and woman leaned against a wall and
laughed aloud because a foreigner was so funny to look at.
If anyone thinks that he can indulge in a nice private case of the
blues while taking a walk in Japan, he deceives himself. I started out
feeling like Napoleon at St. Helena, and I came home cheerful and
I have been trying to read poetry this winter, but I don't make much
progress. The truth is I have gained five pounds, and I am afraid I am
getting too fat. I never knew but one fat person to appreciate poetry
and he crocheted tidies.
By the way I have learned to knit!! You see there are so many times
when I have to play the gracious hostess when I feel like a volcano
within, that I decided to get something on which I could vent my
restlessness. It is astonishing how much bad temper one can knit into
a garment. I don't know yet what mine is going to be, probably an
opera bonnet for Susie Damn.
KYOTO, December, 1904.
You are not any more surprised to hear from me in Kyoto than I am to
be here. One of the teachers here, a great big-hearted splendid woman,
knowing that I was interested in the sick soldiers, asked me to come
up for a week and help the Red Cross nurses. For six days we have met
all the trains, and given hot tea, and books to both the men who were
going to the front and to those who were being brought home. We work
side by side with Buddhist priests, ladies of rank, and coolies,
serving from one to four hundred men in fifteen minutes! You never saw
such a scrimmage, everybody works like mad while the train stops, and
the wild "Banzais" that greet us as the men catch sight of the hot
tea, show us how welcome it is.
But the sights, Mate dear, are enough to break one's heart. I have
seen good-byes, and partings until I haven't an emotion left! One man
I talked with was going back for the fourth time having been wounded
and sent home again and again; his wife never took her eyes from his
face until the train pulled out, and the smile with which she sent him
away was more heart rending than any tears I ever saw.
Then I have been touched by an old man and his wife who for four days
have met every train to tell their only son good-bye. They are so
feeble that they have to be helped up and down the steps and as each
train comes and goes and their boy is not on board, they totter hand
in hand back to the street corner to wait more long hours.
Going one way the trains carry the soldiers to the front, boys for the
most part wild with enthusiasm, high spirits, and courage, and coming
the other way in vastly greater numbers are the silent trains bearing
the sick and wounded and dead.
We meet five trains during the day and one at two in the night. I have
gotten so that I can sleep sitting upright on a hard bench between
trains. Think of the plucky little Japanese women who have done this
ever since the beginning of the war!
Out of my experience at the station came another very charming one
yesterday. It seems that the president of the Red Cross Society is a
royal princess, first cousin indeed to the Emperor. She had heard of
me through her secretary and of the small services I had rendered here
and at Hiroshima, so she requested an interview that she might thank
me in person.
It seemed very ridiculous that I should receive formal recognition for
pouring tea and handing out posies, but I was crazy to see the
Princess, so early yesterday morning, I donned my best raiment and
sallied forth with an interpreter.
The house was a regular Chinese puzzle and I was passed on from one
person to another until I got positively dizzy. At last we came to a
long beautiful room, at the end of which, in a robe of purple and
gold, all covered with white chrysanthemums, sat the royal lady. I was
preparing to make my lowest bow, when, to my astonishment, she came
forward with extended hand and spoke to me in English! Then she
bowled me right over in the first round by asking me about
Kindergarten. I forgot that she was a lady of royalty and numerous
decorations, and that etiquette forbade me speaking except when spoken
to. She was so responsive and so interested, that I found myself
talking in a blue streak. Then she told me a bit of her story, and I
longed to hear more. It seems that certain women of the royal line are
not permitted to marry, and she, being restless and ambitious, became
a Buddhist Priestess, having her own temple, priestesses, etc. The
priestesses are all young girls, and I wish you could have seen them
examining my clothes, my hair and my rings. The Princess herself is a
woman of brilliant attainments, and fine executive ability.
Of course we had tea, and sat on the floor and chattered and laughed
like a lot of school girls. When I left I was told that the Princess
desired my photograph at once, and that I should sit for it the next
day. I suppose I am in for it.
HIROSHIMA, December, 1904.
My dearest Mate:
The American mail is in and the secret is out, or at least half-way
out and I am wild with curiosity and interest. You say you can't give
me any of the particulars and you would rather I wouldn't even
guess. All that you want me to know is that you have "a new interest
in life that is the deepest and most beautiful experience you have
ever known." I will do as you request, not ask any questions, or make
any surmises but you will let me say this, that no fame, no glory, no
wealth can ever give one thousandth part of the real heart's content
that one hour of love can give. Without it work of any kind is against
the full tide, and accomplishment is emptier than vanity. The heart
still cries out for its own, for what is its birthright and heritage.
I am glad with all my soul for your happiness, Mate, the tenderest
blessing that lips could frame would not express half that is in my
heart. There is nothing so sure in life as that love is best of
all. You think you know it after a few weeks of loving, I know I know
after years of grief and suffering and despair.
From the time when you used to stand between me and childish
punishments, through all the happy days of girlhood, the sorrowful
days of womanhood, on up to the bitter-sweet present, you have never
I want to give you a whole heart full of gladness and rejoicing, I
want to crowd out my own little wail of bereavement, but Oh! Mate, I
never felt so alone in my life before! I am not asking you to tell me
who the man is. I am trying not to _guess_. Tell me what you
like and when you like, and rest assured that whatever comes, my heart
is with you--and with him.
HIROSHIMA, January, 1905.
It has been longer than usual since I wrote but somehow things have
been going wrong with me of late and I didn't want to bother you. But
oh! Mate, I haven't anybody else in the world to come to, and you'll
have to forgive me for bringing a cloud across your happiness.
The whole truth is I'm worsted! The fight has been too much. Days,
weeks, months of homesickness have piled up on top of me until all my
courage and my control, all my _will_ seem paralysed.
Night after night I lie awake and stare out into the dark, and staring
back at me is the one word "_alone_". In the daytime, I try to
keep somebody with me all the time, I have gotten afraid of myself. My
face in the mirror does not seem to belong to me, it is a curious
unfamiliar face that I do not know. Every once in a while I want to
beat the air and scream, but I don't do it. I clench my fists and set
my teeth and teach, teach, teach.
But I can't go on like this forever! Flesh and spirit rebel against a
lifetime of it! Haven't I paid my penalty? Aren't the lightness and
brightness and beauty ever coming back?
On my desk is a contract waiting to be signed for another four years
at the school. Beside it is a letter from Brother, begging me to drop
everything and come home at once. Can yon guess what the temptation
is? On the one hand ceaseless work, uncongenial surroundings and
exile, on the other luxury, loved ones,--and dependence. I must give
my answer to-morrow and Heaven only knows what it will be. One thing
is certain I am tired of doing hard things, I am tired of being brave.
It is storming fearfully but I am going out to mail this letter. If I
cable that I am coming you must be the first one to know why. I have
tried to grow into something higher and better, God knows I have, but
I am afraid I am a house built on the sands after all. Don't be hard
on me, Mate, whatever comes remember I have tried.
HIROSHIMA, 3 hours later.
If you open this letter first, don't read the one that comes in the
same mail. I wrote it this afternoon, and I would give everything I
possess to get it back again. When I went out to mail it, I was
feeling so utterly desperate that I didn't care a rap for the storm or
anything else. I went on and on until I came to the sea-wall that
makes a big curve out into the sea. When I had gone as far as I
dared, I climbed up on an old stone lantern, and let the spray and the
rain beat on my face. The wind was whipping the waves into a perfect
fury, and pounding them against the wall at my feet. The thunder
rolled and roared, and great flashes of lightning ripped gashes in the
green and purple water. It was the most glorious sight I ever saw! I
felt that the wind, the waves, and the storm were all my friends and
that they were doing all my beating and screaming for me.
I clung to the lantern, with my clothes dripping and my hair streaming
about my face until the storm was over. And I don't think I was ever
so near to God in my life as when the sun came out suddenly from the
clouds and lit up that tempest-tossed sea into a perfect glory of
light and color I And the peace had come into my heart, Mate, and I
knew that I was going to take up my cross again and bear it bravely. I
was so glad, so thankful that I could scarcely keep my feet on the
ground. I struck out at full speed along the sea wall and ran every
step of the way home.
And now after a hot bath and dry clothes, with my little kettle
singing by my side, I want to tell you that I have decided to stay,
perhaps for five months, perhaps for five years.
Out of the wreckage of my old life I've managed to build a fairly
respectable craft. It has taken me just four years to realize that it
is not a pleasure boat. To-night I realize once for all that it is a
very modest little tug, and wherever it can tow anything or anybody
into harbor there it belongs, and there it stays.
Tell them all that I am quite well again, Mate, and as for you, please
don't even bother your blessed head about me again. I have meekly
taken my place in the middle of the sea-saw and I shall probably never
go very high or very low again. I am sleepy for the first time in two
weeks, so good-bye comrade mine and God bless you.
HIROSHIMA, February, 1905.
My dearest Mate:
I can't feel quite right until I tell you that I have guessed your
secret, that I have known from the first it was Jack. I always knew
you were made for each other, both so splendid and noble and true. It
isn't any particular credit to you two that you are good, there was no
alternative--you couldn't be bad.
How perfectly you will fit into all his plans and ambitions! A
beautiful new life is opening up for you, a life so full of promise,
of tremendous possibilities for good not only for you but for others
that it seems like a bit of heaven.
Tell him how I feel, Mate. It is hard for me to write letters these
days, but I want him to know that I am glad because he is happy.
I have been living in the past to-day going over the old days in the
Mountains up at the lake, and the reunions on the farm. How many have
gone down into the great silence since then! Somehow I seem nearer to
them than I do to you who are alive. While I am still on the crowded
highway of life, yet I am surrounded by strange, unloving faces that
have no connection with the joys or the sorrows of the past.
How the view changes as we pass along the great road. At first only
the hilltops are visible, rosy and radiant under the enthusiasm of
youth, then the level plains come into sight flooded with the bright
light of mid-day, then slowly we slip into the valleys where the long
shadows fall like memories across our hearts.
Oh! well, with all the struggles, all the heartaches, I am glad, Mate,
very glad that I have lived--and laughed. For I am laughing again, in
spite of the fact that my courage got fuddled and took the wrong road.
I heard of a man the other day who had received a sentence of fifteen
years for some criminal act. He was in love with the freedom of life,
he was young and strong, so he made a dash down a long iron staircase,
dropped into a river, swam a mile and gained his freedom. All search
failed to find him, but two days later he walked into the police
station and gave himself up to serve his time. I made my dash for
liberty, but I have come back to serve my time.
I don't have to tell you, Mate, that I am ashamed of having shown the
white feather. You will write me a beautiful letter and explain it all
away, but I know in my soul you are disappointed in me, and to even
think about it is like going down in a swift elevator. Being able to
go under gracefully is my highest ambition at present, but try as I
will, I kick a few kicks before I disappear.
Please, please, Mate, don't worry about me. I promise that if I reach
the real limit I will cable for a special steamer to be sent for
me. But I don't intend to reach it, or at least I am going to get on
the other side of it, so there will be no further danger.
Two long months will pass before I get an answer to this. It will come
in April with the cherry blossoms and the spring.
HIROSHIMA, March, 1905.
You must forgive me if the letters have been few and far between
lately. After my little "wobble" I plunged into work with might and
main, and I am still at it for all I am worth. First I house-cleaned,
and the old place must certainly be surprised at its transformation.
Fresh curtains, new paper, cozy window seats, and bright cushions have
made a vast difference. Then I tackled the kindergarten, and the
result is about the prettiest thing in Japan. The room is painted
white with buff walls and soft muslin curtains, the only decoration
being a hundred blessed babies, in gay little kimonas, who look like
big bunches of flowers placed in a wreath upon the floor.
As for my training class, I have no words to express my
gratification. I can scarcely believe that the fine, capable, earnest
young women that are going out to all parts of Japan to start new
Kindergartens, are the timid, giggling, dependent little creatures
that came to me four years ago.
Goodness knows I was as immature in my way as they were in theirs, but
in my desperate need, I builded better than I knew. I recklessly
followed your advice and hitched my little go-cart to a star, and the
star turned into a meteor and is now whizzing through space getting
bigger and stronger all the time, and I am tied on to the end of it
unable to stop it or myself.
If I only had more sense and more ability, think what I might have
The work at the hospital is still very heavy. The wards are bare and
repellant and the days are long and dreary for the sick men. We do all
we can to cheer them up, have phonograph concerts, magic lantern
shows, with the magic missing, and baby organ recitals. The results
are often ludicrous, but the appreciation of the men for our slightest
effort is so hearty that it more than repays us.
I saw one man yesterday who had gone crazy on the battlefield. He
looked like a terror stricken animal afraid of everybody, and hiding
under the sheet at the slightest approach. When I came in he cowered
back against the wall shaking from head to foot. I put a big bunch of
flowers on the bed, and in a flash his hands were stretched out for
them, and a smile came to his lips. After that whenever I passed the
door, he would shout out, "Arigato! Arigato!" which the nurse said was
the first sign of sanity he had shown.
In the next room was a man who had fallen from a mast on one of the
flag ships. He had landed full on his face and the result was too
fearful to describe. The nurse said he could not live through the
night so I laid my flowers on his bed and was slipping out when he
called to me. His whole head was covered with bandages except his
mouth and one eye, and I had to lean down very close to understand
what he said. What do you suppose he wanted? To look at my hat!! He
had never seen one before and he was just like a child in his
Of course, as foreigners, we always excite comment, and are gazed at,
examined and talked about continually. I sometimes feel like a wild
animal in a cage straight from the heart of Africa!
Our unfailing point of contact is the flowers. You cannot imagine how
they love them. I have seen men holding them tenderly in their fingers
and talking to them as they would to children. Imagine retreating
soldiers after a hard day's fight, stopping to put a flower in a dead
Oh! Mate, the most comical things and the most tragic, the most
horrible and the most beautiful are all mixed up together. Every time
I go to the hospital I am faced with my wasted years of
opportunities. It takes so little to bring sunshine and cheer, and yet
millions of us go chasing our own little desires through life, and
never stop to think of the ones who are down.
No, I am not going to turn Missionary nor Salvation Army lassie, but
with God's help I shall serve somewhere and "good cheer for the
lonely" shall be my watch-word.
I am lots better than I was, though I am still tussling with
insomnia. My crazy nerves play me all sorts of tricks, but praise be I
have stopped worrying. I have come at last to see that God has found
even a small broken instrument like myself worth working through, and
I just lift up my heart to Him every day, battered and bruised as it
is, in deep unspeakable thankfulness.
HIROSHIMA, April, 1905.
My dearest Mate:
Your letter is here and I haven't a grain of sense, nor dignity, nor
anything else except a wild desire to hug everything in sight! I am
having as many thrills as a surcharged electric battery, and I am so
hysterically happy that I don't care what I do or say.
Why didn't you tell me at first it was Dr. Leet? My mind was so full
of Jack that I forgot that other men inhabited the earth. It is no use
bluffing any longer, Mate, there has never been a minute since the
train pulled out of the home station that every instinct in me hasn't
cried out for Jack. Pride kept me silent at first, and then the
miserable thought got hold of me that he was beginning to care for
you. Oh! the agony I have suffered, trying to be loyal to you, to be
generous to him, and to put myself out of the question! And now your
blessed letter comes, and laughs at my fears and says "Jack chooses
his wife as he does his friends, for eternity."
I have no words to fit the occasion, all I can say is now that
happiness has shown me the back of her head I am scared to death to
look her in the face. But I "shore do" like the arrangement of her
Don't breathe a word of what I have written, but as you love me find
out absolutely and beyond all possibility of doubt if Jack feels
exactly as he did four years ago. If you give me your word of honor
that he does, then--I will write.
I have signed a contract for another year, and I must stay it out, but
I would spend a year in Hades if Heaven was at the end of it.
All you say about Dr. Leet fills me with joy. He does not need any
higher commendation in this world nor the next than that you are
willing to marry him! Isn't it dandy that he is going to back the
When I think of the way Jack has worked for ten years without a
vacation, putting all his magnificent ability, his strength, his
youth, his health even into that project, I don't wonder that men like
Dr. Leet are eager to put their money and services at his disposal.
You say Dr. Leet does it upon the condition that Jack takes a rest.
Make him stick to it, Mate, he will kill himself if he isn't stopped.
I have read your letters over and over and traced your love affair
every inch of the way. Why are you such an old clam! To think that I
am the only one that knows your secret, and that up to to-day I have
been barking up the wrong tree! Never mind, I forgive you, I forgive
everybody, I am drunk with happiness and generous in consequence.
My little old lane is glorified, even the barbed wire fence on either
side scintillates. The house is too small, I am going out on the River
Road, and see the cherry blossoms on the hill sides and the sunlight
on the water, and feel the road under my feet. I feel like a
prospector who has struck gold. Whatever comes of it all, for this one
day I am going to give full rein to my fancy and be gloriously happy
HIROSHIMA, May, 1905.
There is a big yellow bee, doing the buzzing act in the sunshine on my
window, and I am just wondering who is doing the most buzzing, he or
I? His nose is yellow with pollen from some flower he has robbed, his
body is fat and lazy, all in all he is about the happiest bee I ever
beheld. But I can go him one better, while it is only his wings that
are beating with happiness, it is my heart that is going to the tune
of rag-time jigs and triumphal alleluias all at the same time.
My chef, four feet two, remarked this morning "Sensei happy all same
like chicken!" He meant bird, but any old fowl will do.
Oh! Mate, it is good to be alive these days. For weeks we have had
nothing but glorious sunrises, gorgeous sunsets, and perfect
noondays. The wistaria has come before the cherry blossoms have quite
gone, and the earth is a glow of purple and pink with the blue sky
above as tender as love.
Each morning I open my windows to the east to see the marvel of a new
day coming fresh from the hands of its Maker, and each evening I stand
at the opposite window and watch the same day drop over the mountains
to eternity. In the flaming sky where so often hangs the silver
crescent is always the promise of another day, another chance to begin
Just one more year and I will be turning the gladdest face homeward
that ever a lonely pilgrim faced the West with. There will be many a
pang at leaving Japan, I have learned life's deepest lesson here, and
the loneliness and isolation that have been so hard to bear have
revealed inner depths of which I never dreamed before. What strange
things human beings are! Our very crosses get dear after we have
carried them awhile!
I have had three offers to sign fresh contracts, Nagasaki, Tokyo, and
here, but I am leaving things to shape themselves for the
future. Whatever happens I am coming home first. If happiness is
waiting for me, I'll meet it with out-stretched arms, if not I am
coming back to my post. Thank God I am sure of myself at last!
The work at the hospital this month is much lighter, and the patients
are leaving for home daily. The talk of peace is in the air, and we
are praying with all our hearts that it may come. Nobody but those who
have seen with their own eyes can know the unspeakable horrors of this
war. It is not only those who are fighting at the front who have known
the full tragedy, it is those also who are fighting at home the
relentless foe of poverty, sickness, and desolation. If victory comes
to Japan, half the glory must be for those silent heroic little women,
who gave their all, then took up the man's burden and cheerfully bore
it to the end.
I was very much interested in your account of the young missionary who
is coming through Japan on her way to China. I know just how she will
feel when she steps off the steamer and finds no friendly face to
welcome her. I talked over your little scheme with Miss Lessing and
she says I can go up to Yokohama in July to meet her and bring her
right down here. Tell her to tie her handkerchief around her arm so I
will know her, and not to worry the least bit, that I will take care
of her and treat her like one of my own family.
Can you guess how eagerly I am waiting for your answer to my April
letter? It cannot come before the last of June, and happy as I am, the
time seems very long. Yet I would rather live to the last of my days
like this, travelling ever toward the pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow, than ever to arrive and find the gold not there!
You say that at last you know I am the "captain of my soul." Well,
Mate, I believe I am, but I just want to say that it's a hard worked
captain that I am, and if anybody wants the job--very much--I think he
can get it.
YOKOHAMA, July 5, 1905.
Do you suppose, if people could, they would write letters as soon as
they got to Heaven! I don't know where to begin nor what to say. The
only thing about me that is on earth is this pen point, the rest is
floating around in a diamond-studded, rose-colored mist!
I will try to be sensible and give you some idea of what has been
happening, but how I am to get it on paper I don't know. I got here
yesterday, the 4th of July, on the early train, and rushed down to the
hatoba to meet the launch when it came in from the steamer. I had had
no breakfast and was as nervous as a witch. Your letter had not come,
and my fears were increasing every moment.
Well I took my place on the steps as the launch landed and waited,
with very little interest I must confess, for your young missionary to
appear. By and by I saw a handkerchief tied to a sleeve, but it was a
man's sleeve. I gave one more look, and my heart seemed to
stop. "Jack!" I cried, and then everything went black before me, and I
didn't know anything more. It was the first time I ever fainted;
sorrow and grief never knocked me out, but joy like that was enough to
When I came to, I was at the hotel and I didn't dare open my eyes--I
knew it was all a dream, and I did not want to come back to reality. I
lay there holding on to the vision, until I heard a man's voice close
by say, "She will be all right now, I will take care of her." Then I
opened my eyes, and with three Japanese maids and four Japanese men
and two ladies off the steamer looking on, I flung my arms about
Jack's neck and cried down his collar!
He made me stay quiet all morning, and just before tiffin he calmly
informed me that he had made all the arrangements for us to be married
at three o'clock. I declared I couldn't, that I had signed a contract
for another year at Hiroshima, that Miss Lessing would think I was
crazy, that I must make some plans. But you know Jack! He met every
objection that I could offer, said he would see Miss Lessing and make
it all right about the contract, that I was too nervous to teach any
more, and last that I owed him a little consideration after four years
of waiting. Then I realized how the lines had deepened in his face,
and how the grey was streaking his hair, and I surrendered promptly.
We were married in a little English church on the Bluff, with half a
dozen witnesses. Several Americans whom Jack had met on the steamer, a
missionary friend of mine, and the Japanese clerk constituted the
It is all like a beautiful dream to me still, and I am afraid to let
Jack get out of my sight for fear I will wake up. It was Fourth of
July, and Christmas, and birthday, and wedding day all rolled into
one. The whole city was celebrating, the hotel a flutter of flags and
ribbons, the bay full of every kind of pleasure craft. At night there
was a grand lantern fete and fireworks, and a huge figure of Uncle Sam
with stars in his coat tails. Thousands of Japanese in their gayest
kimonas thronged the Bund, listening to the music, watching the
foreigners and the fire-works.
Jack and I were like two children, he forgot that he was a staid
doctor, and I forgot that I had ever been a Foreign Missionary
Kindergarten teacher. We were boy and girl again and up to our eyes in
love. It was the first Fourth of July for fifteen years that I did not
have some unhappiness to conceal. As one of my girls said about
herself: "My little lonely heart had flewed away!"
All the loneliness, the heartaches, the pains are justified now. I do
not regret the past for through it the present is.
Do you remember the lines: "He shall restore the years that the locust
hath eaten?" Well I believe that while I have been struggling out
here, He has restored them, and that I will be permitted to return to
a new life, a life given back by God.
Of course you know we are going on around. It seems rather
inconsistent to say I am glad of it after all my wailing for home. The
truth is, home has come to _me_!
Jack says we are to meet you and Dr. Leet in Paris. You needn't try to
persuade me that Heaven will be any better than the present!
There is no use in my trying to thank you for your part in all this,
dear Mate. I have been in a chronic state of gratitude to you ever
since I was born! I can only say with all my heart and soul "God bless
you and Good-bye."
P.S. In my wedding ring is engraved M.L.O.T.D. Can you guess what it