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The Foolish Virgin by Thomas Dixon

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roof. An overflow pipe sent a sparkling, bubbling and
laughing through the lawn, refreshing the wild flowers
planted along its edges.

The view from the window looking south was one of
ravishing beauty and endless charm. Perched on a
rising spur of the Black Mountain the house commanded a
view of the long valley of the Swannanoa opening at the
lower end into the wide, sunlit sweep of the lower
hills around Asheville. Upward the balsam-crowned
peaks towered among the clouds and stars.

No two hours of the day were just alike.
Sometimes the sun was raining showers of diamonds
on the trembling tree-tops of the valleys while the
blackest storm clouds hung in ominous menace around
Mount Mitchell and the Cat-tail. Sometimes it was
raining in the valley--the rain cloud a level sheet of
gray cloth stretching from the foot of the lawn across
to the crags beyond, while the sun wrapped the little
bungalow in a warm, white mantle.

Mary had never tired of this enchanted world during
the days of her convalescence. The Doctor, with firm
will, had lifted every care from her mind. She had
gratefully submitted to his orders, and asked no

She began to wonder vaguely about his life and
people and why he had left the world in which a man of
his culture and power must have moved, to bury himself
in these mountain wilds. She wondered if he had
married, separated from his wife and chosen the life of
a recluse. He volunteered no information about

When not attending his patients he spent his hours
in the greenhouse among his flowers or in the long
library extension of the bungalow. More than five
thousand volumes filled the solid shelves. A massive
oak table, ten feet in length and four feet wide,
stood in the center of the room, always generously
piled with books, magazines and papers. At the end of
this table he kept the row of books which bore
immediately on the theme he was studying.

Beside the window opening on the view of the valley
stood his old-fashioned desk--six feet long, its top a
labyrinth of pigeon-holes and tiny drawers.

He pursued his studies with boyish enthusiasm and
chattered of them to Mary by the hour--with never a
word passing his lips about himself.

Aunt Abbie, the cook, brought her a cup of tea, and
Mary volunteered a question.

"Do you know the Doctor's people, Auntie?" she
asked hesitatingly.

"Lord, child, he's a mystery to everybody! All we
know is that he's the best man that ever walked the
earth. He won't talk and the mountain folks are too
polite to nose into his business. He saved my boy's
life one summer, and when he was strong and well and
went back to Asheville to his work, I had nothin' to do
but to hold my hands, and I come here to cook for him.
He tries to pay me wages but I laugh at him. I told
him if he could save my boy's life for nothin' I reckon
I could cook him a few good meals without pay----"

Her eyes filled with tears. She brushed them off,
laughed and added:

"He lets me alone now and don't pester me no more
about money."

Her tea and toast finished, Mary placed the tray on
the table, rose with a sudden look of pain, and made
her way slowly to the library.

A warm fire of hardwood logs sparkled in the big
stone fireplace. The Doctor was out on a visit to a
patient. He had given her the freedom of the place and
had especially insisted that she use his books and make
his library her resting place whenever her mind was
fagged. She had spent many quiet hours in its
inspiring atmosphere.

She seated herself at his desk and studied the
calendar which hung above it. A sudden terror
overwhelmed her; she buried her face in her arms and
burst into tears.

She was still lying across the desk, sobbing, when
the Doctor walked into the room.

He touched her hair reproachfully with his firm

"Why, what's this? My little soldier has disobeyed

"I don't want to live now," she sobbed.

"And why not?"

"I--I--am going to be a mother," she whispered.


"The mother of a criminal! Oh, Doctor, it's
horrible! Why did you let me live? The hell I passed
through that night was enough--God knows! This will be
unendurable. I've made up my mind--I'll die first----"

"Rubbish, child! Rubbish!" he answered with a
laugh. "Where did you get all this misinformation?"

"You know what my husband was. How can you ask?"

"Because I happen to know also his wife--the
mother-to-be of this supposed criminal who has just set
sail for the shores of our planet--and I know that she
is one of the purest and sweetest souls who ever lost
her way in the jungles of the world. If you were the
criminal, dear heart, the case might be hopeless. But
you're not. You are only the innocent victim of your
own folly. That doesn't count in the game of

"What do you mean?" she asked breathlessly.

"Simply this: The part which the male plays in the
reproduction of the race is small in comparison with
the role of the female. He is merely a supernumerary
who steps on the stage for a moment
and speaks one word announcing the arrival of the
queen. The queen is the mother. She plays the star
role in the drama of Heredity. She is never off the
stage for a single moment. We inherit the most obvious
physical traits from our male ancestors but even these
may be modified by the will of the mother."

"Modified by the will of the mother?" she repeated

"Certainly. There are yet long days and weeks and
months before your babe will be born--at least seven
months. There's not a sight or sound of earth or
heaven that can reach or influence this coming human
being save through your eyes and ears and touch and
soul. Almighty God can speak His message only through
you. You are his ambassador on earth in this solemn
hour. What your husband was, is of little importance.
There is not a moment, waking or sleeping, day or
night, that does not bring to you its divine
opportunity. This human life is yours--absolutely to
mold and fashion in body and mind as you will."

"You're just saying this to keep me from suicide,"
Mary interrupted.

"I am telling you the simplest truth of physical
life. You can even change the contour of your
baby's head if you like. You think in your silly fears
that the bull neck and jaw of the father will reappear
in the child. It might be so unless you see fit to
change it. All any father can do is to transmit
general physical traits unless modified by the will of
the mother."

"You mean that I can choose even the personal
appearance of my child?" she asked in blank amazement.

"Exactly that. Choose the type of man you wish
your babe to be and it shall be so. Who in all the
world would you prefer that he resemble?"

"You," she answered promptly.

He smiled gently.

"That pays me for all my trouble, child! No doctor
ever got a bigger fee than that. Banks may fail, but
I'll never lose it. Your choice simplifies that matter
very much. You won't need a picture in your room----"

"A picture could determine the features of an
unborn babe?" she asked incredulously.

"Beyond a doubt, and it will determine character
sometimes. I knew a mother in the mountains of Vermont
who hung the picture of a ship under full sail in her
living-room. She bore seven sons. Not one of them
ever saw the ocean until he was grown and yet all
of them became sailors. This was not an accident. In
her age and loneliness she blamed God for taking her
children from her. Yet she had made sailors of them
all by the selection of a single piece of furniture in
her room. Nature has a way of starting her children on
their journey through this world very nearly equal--
each a bundle of possibilities in the hands of a
mother. A father may transmit physical disease, if his
body is unsound. Such marriages should be prohibited
by law. But nine-tenths of the spiritual traits out of
which character is formed are the work of the mother.
A criminal mother will bring into the world only
criminals. A criminal male may be the father of a
saint. The responsibility of shaping the destiny of
the race rests with the mother----"

The Doctor sprang to his feet and paced the floor,
his arms gripped behind his back in deep thought. He
paused before the enraptured listener and hesitated to
speak the thought in his mind.

He lifted his hand suddenly, his decision
apparently made.

"It is of the utmost importance to the race that
our mothers shall be pure. Better certainly if both
father and mother are so. It is indispensable that the
mother shall be! On this elemental fact rests the
dual standard of sex morals. On this fact rests the
hope of a glorified humanity through the development of
an intelligent motherhood. Stay here with me until
your child is born and I'll prove the truth of every
word I've spoken----"

"Oh, if I only could!"

"Why not?"

"I couldn't impose such a burden on you!" she

"You would confer on me the highest honor, if you
will allow me to direct you in this experiment."

There was no mistaking his honesty and earnestness.
There was no refusing the appeal.

"You really wish me to stay?" she asked.

"I beg of you to stay! You will bring to me a new
inspiration--new faith--new courage to fight. Will

She extended her hand.


"And you will agree to follow my instructions?"


"Good. We begin from this moment. I give you my
first orders. Forget that James Anthony ever lived.
Forget the tragedy of Christmas Eve. You are going to
be a mother. All other events in life pale before this
fact. God has conferred on you the highest honor
He can give to mortal. Keep your soul serene, your
body strong. You are to worry about nothing----"

"I must pay you for this extra expense I impose,
Doctor. I have a thousand dollars in bank in New
York," she interrupted.

"Certainly, if you will be happier. My home is now
your sanitarium. You are my patient. Your board will
cost me about eight dollars a week. All right. You
can pay that if you wish.

"Take no thought now except on the business of
being a mother. I will make myself your father, your
brother, your guardian, your physician, your friend and
companion. I will give you at once a course of
reading. You are to think only beautiful thoughts, see
beautiful things, dream beautiful dreams, hear
beautiful music. I'm going to make you climb these
mountain peaks with me for the next three months and
live among the clouds. I'm going to refit your room
with new furniture and pictures and place in it a
phonograph with the best music. When you are strong
enough you can work for me three hours a day as my
secretary. You use the typewriter?"

"I'm an expert----"

"Good! I'm writing a book which I'm going to
call `The Rulers of the World.' It is a study of
Motherhood. I am one who believes that the redemption
of humanity awaits the realization by woman of her
divine call. When woman knows that she is really a co-
creator with God in the reproduction of the race, a new
era will dawn for mankind. You promise me faithfully
to obey my instructions?"


"You're a wonderful subject on which to make an
experiment. You are young--in the first dawn of the
glory of womanhood. Your body is beautiful, your mind
singularly pure and sweet. You must give me at once
the full power of your will in its concentration on
Truth and Beauty. The success or failure of this
experiment will depend almost entirely on your
mentality and the use you make of it during these
months in which your babe is being formed. Whatever
the shape of the body there is one eternal certainty--
only YOUR mind can reach the soul of this child.
If the father were the veriest fiend who ever existed
and should concentrate his mind to the task, not one
thought from his darkened soul could reach your babe!
YOUR mind will be the ever-brooding, enfolding
spirit forming and fashioning character."

He paused and his deep brown eyes flashed with

"Think of it! You are now creating an immortal
being whose word may bend a million wills to his. And
you are doing this mighty work solely by your mind.
The physical processes are simple and automatic.

"The first lesson you must learn and hold with
deathless grip is that thoughts are things. A thought
can kill the body. A thought can heal the body. If I
am successful as a physician it is because I use this
power with my patients. With some I use drugs, with
others none. With all I use every ounce of mental
power which God has given me. You will remember this?"


He walked to the shelves and drew down a volume of

"Read these poems until you are tired today--then
sleep. I'll give you a good novel tomorrow and when
you've read it, a volume of philosophy. When we climb
the peaks, I'll give you a study of these rocks that
will tell you the story of their birth, their life, and
their coming death. We'll learn something of the birds
and flowers next spring. We'll dream great dreams and
think great thoughts--you and I--in these
wonderful days and weeks and months which God shall
give us together."

She looked up at him through her tears:

"Oh, Doctor, you have not only saved a miserable
life: you have saved my soul!"



It was more than a month after the experiment began
before the Doctor ventured to hint of Jim's survival.
He had waited patiently until Mary's strength had been
fully restored and her
mind filled with the new enthusiasm for motherhood. He
could tell her now with little risk. And yet he
ventured on the task with reluctance. He found her
seated at her favorite window overlooking the deep blue
valley of the Swannanoa, a volume of poetry in her lap.

He touched her shoulder and she smiled in cheerful

"You are content?" he asked.

"A strange peace is slowly stealing into my heart,"
she responded reverently. "I shall learn to love life
again when my baby comes to help me."

"You remember your solemn promise?"

"Have I not kept it?" she murmured.

"Faithfully--and I remind you of it that you
may not forget today for a moment that your work
is too high and holy to allow a shadow to darken your
spirit even for an hour. I have something to tell you
that may shock a little unless I warn you----"

She lifted her eyes with a quick look of
uneasiness, and studied his immovable face.

"You couldn't guess?" he laughed.

She shook her head in puzzled silence.

"Suppose I were to tell you," he went on evenly,
"that I found a spark of life in your husband's body
that morning and drew him back from the grave?"

Her eyes closed and she stretched her hand toward
the Doctor.

He clasped the fingers firmly between both his
palms, held and stroked them gently.

"You did save him?" she breathed.


"Thank God his poor old mother is not a murderer!
But he is dead to me. I shall never see him again--

"I thought you would feel that way," the Doctor
quietly replied.

"You won't let him come here?" she asked suddenly.

"He won't try unless you consent----"

Mary shuddered.

"You don't know him----"

The Doctor smiled.

"I'm afraid you don't know him now, my child."

"He has changed?"

"The old, old miracle over again. He has been
literally born again--this time of the spirit."

"It's incredible!"

"It's true. He's a new man. I think his
reformation is the real thing. He's young. He's
strong. He has brains. He has personality----"

Mary lifted her hand.

"All I ask of him is to keep out of my sight. The
world is big enough for us both. The past is now a
nightmare. If I live to be a hundred years old, with
my dying breath I shall feel the grip of his fingers on
my throat----"

She paused and closed her eyes.

"Forget it! Forget it!" the Doctor laughed. "We
have more important things to think of now."

"He wishes to see me?"

"Begs every day that I ask you."

"And you have hesitated these long weeks?"

"Your strength and peace of mind were of greater
importance than his happiness, my dear. Let him wait
until you please to see him."

"He'll wait forever," was the firm answer.

Jim smiled grimly when his friend bore back the

"I'll never give up as long as there's breath in my
body," he cried, bringing his square jaws together with
a snap.

"That's the way to talk, my boy," the Doctor

"Anyhow you believe in me, Doc, don't you?"


"And you'll help me a little on the way if it gets
dark--won't you?"

"If I can--you may always depend on me."

Jim clasped his outstretched hand gratefully.

"Well, I'm going to make good."

There was something so genuine and manly in the
tones of his voice, he compelled the Doctor's respect.
A smaller man might have sneered. The healer of souls
and bodies had come to recognize with unerring instinct
the true and false note in the human voice.

His heart went out in a wave of sympathy for the
lonely, miserable young animal who stood before him
now, trembling with the first sharp pains of the
immortal thing that had awaked within. He slipped his
arm about Jim's shoulders and whispered:

"I'll tell you something that may help you
when the way gets dark--the wife is going to bear
you a child."



"God!---- That's great, ain't it?"

Jim choked into silence and looked up at the Doctor
with dimmed eyes.

"Say, Doc, you hit me hard when you brought what
she said--but that's good news! Watch me work my hands
to the bone--you know it's my kid and she can't keep me
from workin' for it if she tries now can she?"


"There's just one thing that'll hang over me like a
black cloud," he mused sorrowfully.

"I know, boy--your mother's darkened mind."

Jim nodded.

"When I see that queer glitter in her eyes it goes
through me like a knife. Will she ever get over it?"

"We can't tell yet. It takes time. I believe she

"You'll do the best you can for her, Doc?" he
pleaded pathetically. "You won't forget her a single
day? If you can't cure her, nobody can."

"I'll do my level best, boy."

Jim pressed his hand again.

"Gee, but you've been a friend to me! I didn't
know that there were such men in the world as you!"

For six months the Doctor watched the transplanted
child of the slums grow into a sturdy manhood in his
new environment. He snapped at every suggestion his
friend gave and with quick wit improved on it. He not
only discovered and developed a mica mine on his
mother's farm, he invented new machinery for its
working that doubled the market output. Within six
weeks from the time he began his shipments the mine was
paying a steady profit of more than five hundred
dollars a month. He had made just one trip to New York
and secretly returned to the police every stolen jewel
and piece of plunder taken, with a full confession of
the time and place of the crime. He had shipped his
tools and machinery from the workshop on the east side
before his sensational act and made good his departure
for the South.

The tools and machinery he installed in a new
workshop which he built in the yard of Nance's cabin.
Here he worked day and night at his blacksmith forge
making the iron hinges, and irons, shovels, tongs, fire
sets and iron work complete for a log bungalow of seven
rooms which he was building on the sunny slope of
the mountain which overlooks the valley toward

The Doctor had lent Jim the blue-prints of his own
home and he was quietly duplicating it with loving
care. His wife might refuse to see him but he could
build a home for their boy. For his sake she couldn't
refuse it.

With childlike obedience Nance followed him every
day and watched the workmen rear the beautiful
structure under Jim's keen eyes and skillful hands.
The man's devotion to his mother was pathetic. Only
the Doctor knew the secret of his pitiful care, and he
kept his own counsel.



The last roses of summer were bursting their topmost
buds into full bloom on the lawn of the Doctor's
bungalow. The martins that built each year in the
little boxes he had set on poles around his garden were
circling and chattering far up in the sapphire skies of
a late September day. Their leaders had sensed the
coming frost and were drilling for their long march
across the world to their winter home. The chestnut
burrs were bursting in the woods. The silent sun-
wrapped Indian Summer had begun. Not a cloud flecked
the skies.

A quiet joy filled the soul of the woman who smiled
and heard her summons.

"You are not afraid?" the Doctor asked.

She turned her grateful eyes to his.

"The peace of God fills the world--and I owe it all
to you."

"Nonsense. Your sturdy will and cultivated mind
did the work. I merely made the suggestion."

"You are not going to give me an anesthetic, are
you?" she said evenly.

"Why did you ask that?"

"Because I wish to feel and know the pain and glory
of it all."

"You don't wish to take it?"

"Not unless you say I should."

"What a wonderful patient you are, child! What a
beautiful spirit!" He looked at her intently. "Well,
I'm older and wiser in experience than you. I'm glad
you added that clause `unless you say I should.' I'm
going to say it. After all my talks to you on our
return to the truths and simplicity of Nature you are
perhaps surprised. You needn't be. I'm going to put
you into a gentle sleep. Nature will then do her
physical work automatically. I do this because our
daughters are the inheritors of the sins of their
mothers for centuries. The over-refinement of nerves,
the hothouse methods of living, and the maiming of
their bodies with the inventions of fashion have made
the pains of this supreme hour beyond endurance. This
should not be. It will not be so when our race has
come into its own. But it will take many generations
and perhaps many centuries before we reach the ideal.
No physician who has a soul could permit a woman of
your physique, your culture and refinement to walk
barefoot and blindfolded into such a hell of physical
torture. I will not permit it."

He walked quietly into his laboratory, prepared the
sleeping powders and gave them to her.

Six hours later she opened her eyes with eager
wonder. Aunt Abbie was busy over a bundle of fluffy
clothes. The Doctor was standing with his arms folded
behind his back, his fine, clean-shaven face in profile
looking thoughtfully over the sun-lit valley. There
was just one moment of agonized fear. If they had
failed! If her child were hideous--or deformed! Her
lips moved in silent prayer.

"Doctor?" she whispered.

In a moment he was bending over her, a look of
exaltation in his brown eyes.

"Tell me quick!"

"A wonderful boy, little mother! The most
beautiful babe I have ever seen. He didn't even cry--
just opened his big, wide eyes and grunted

"Give him to me."

Aunt Abbie laid the warm bundle in her arms and she
pressed it gently until the sweet, red flesh touched
her own. She lay still for a moment, a smile on her

"Lift him and let me look!"

"What a funny little pug nose," she laughed.

"Yes--exactly like his mother's!" the Doctor

She gazed with breathless reverence.

"He is beautiful, isn't he?" she sighed.

"And you have observed the chin and mouth?"

"Exactly like yours. It's wonderful!"



Eighteen months swiftly passed with the little mother
and her boy still in Dr. Mulford's sanitarium. She had
allowed herself to be persuaded that he had the right
to be her guide and helper in the first year's training
of the child.

The boy had steadily grown in strength and beauty
of body and mind. The Doctor persuaded her to spend
one more winter basking in his sun-parlor and finishing
the final chapters of his book. Her mind was
singularly clever and helpful in the interpretation of
the experiences and emotions of motherhood.

She had stubbornly resisted every suggestion to see
her husband or allow him to see the child. The Doctor
had managed twice to give Jim an hour with the baby
while she had gone to Asheville on shopping trips. He
was rewarded for his trouble in the devotion with which
the young father worshiped his son. The Doctor
watched the slumbering fires kindle in the man's deep
blue eyes with increasing wonder at the strength and
tenderness of his newfound soul.

Jim had completed the furnishing of the bungalow
with the advice and guidance of his friend, and every
room stood ready and waiting for its mistress. He had
insisted on making every piece of furniture for Mary's
room and the nursery adjoining. The Doctor was amazed
at the mechanical genius he displayed in its
construction. He had taken a month's instruction at a
cabinet maker's in Asheville and the bed, bureau,
tables and chairs which he had turned out were
astonishingly beautiful. Their lines were copied from
old models and each piece was a work of art. The iron
work was even more tastefully and beautifully wrought.
He had toiled day and night with an enthusiasm and
patience that gave the physician a new revelation in
the possibility of the development of human character.

His friend came at last with a cheering message.
He began smilingly:

"I'm going to make the big fight today, boy, to get
her to see you."

"You think she will?"

"There's a good chance. Her savings have all
been used up from her bank account in New York. She is
determined to go to her father in Kentucky. I'll have
a talk with her, bring her over to the bungalow, show
her through it on the pretext of its model construction
and then you can tell her that you built it with your
own hands for her and the baby. You might be loafing
around the place about that time."

Jim's hand was suddenly lifted.

"I got ye, Doc, I got ye! I'll be there--all day."

"Don't let her see you until I give the signal."

"Caution's my name."

"We'll see what happens."

Jim pressed close.

"Say, Doc, if you know how to pray, I wish you'd
send up a little word for me while you're talkin' to
her. Could ye now?"

"I'll do my best for you, boy--and I think you've
got a chance. She's been watching the blue eyes of
that baby lately with a rather curious look of unrest."

"They're just like mine, ain't they?" Jim broke in
with pride.

"Time has softened the old hurt," the Doctor went
on. "The boy may win for you----"

The square jaw came together with a smash.

"Gee--I hope so. I'll wait there all day for you
and I'm goin' to try my own hand at a little prayer or
two on the side while I'm waiting. Maybe God'll think
He's hit me hard enough by this time to give me another

With a friendly wave of his hand the Doctor hurried

He found Mary seated under the rose trellis beside
the drive, watching for his coming. The day was still
and warm for the end of April. Birds were singing and
chattering in every branch and tree. A quail on the
top fence-rail of the wheat field called loudly to his

The boy was screaming his joy over a new wagon to
which Aunt Abbie had hitched his goat. He drove by in
style, lifted his chubby hand to his mother and

"Dood-by, Doc-ter!"

The Doctor waved a smiling answer, and lapsed into
a long silence.

He waked at last from his absorption to notice that
Mary was day-dreaming. The fair brow was drawn into
deep lines of brooding.

"Why shadows in your eyes a day like this, little
mother?" he asked softly.

"Just thinking----"

"About a past that you should forget?"

"Yes and no," she answered thoughtfully. "I was
just thinking in this flood of spring sunlight of the
mystery of my love for such a man as the one I married.
How could it have been possible to really love him?"

"You are sure that you loved him?"


"How did you know?"

"By all the signs. I trembled at his footstep.
The touch of his hand, the sound of his voice thrilled
me. I was drawn by a power that was resistless. I was
mad with happiness those wonderful days that preceded
our marriage. I was madder still during our
honeymoon--until the shadows began to fall that fatal
Christmas Eve." She paused and her lips trembled.
"Oh, Doctor, what is love?"

The drooping shoulders of the man bent lower. He
picked up a pebble from the ground and flicked it
carelessly across the drive, lifted his head at last
and asked earnestly:

"Shall I tell you the truth?"

"Yes--your own particular brand, please--the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

"I'll try," he began soberly. "If I were a poet,
naturally I would use different language. As I'm
only a prosaic doctor and physiologist I may shock your
ideals a little."

"No matter," she interrupted. "They couldn't well
get a harder jolt than they have had already."

He nodded and went on:

"There are two elemental human forces that maintain
life--hunger and love. They are both utterly simple,
otherwise they could not be universal. Hunger compels
the race to live. Love compels it to reproduce itself.
There has never been anything mysterious about either
of these forces and there never will be--except in the
imagination of sentimentalists.

"Nature begins with hunger. For about thirteen
years she first applies this force to the development
of the body before she begins to lay the foundation of
the second. Until this second development is complete
the passion known as love cannot be experienced.

"What is this second development? Very simple
again. At the base of the brain of every child there
is a vacant space during the first twelve or fifteen
years. During the age of twelve to fourteen in girls,
thirteen to fifteen in boys, this vacant space is
slowly filled by a new lobe of the brain and with its
growth comes the consciousness of sex and the
of sex powers.

"This new nerve center becomes on maturity a
powerful physical magnet. The moment this magnet comes
into contact with an organization which answers its
needs, as certain kinds of food answer the needs of
hunger, violent desire is excited. If both these
magnets should be equally powerful, the disturbance to
both will be great. The longer the personal
association is continued the more violent becomes this
disturbance, until in highly sensitive natures it
develops into an obsession which obscures reason and
crushes the will.

"The meaning of this impulse is again very simple--
the unconscious desire of the male to be a father, of
the female to become a mother."

"And there is but one man on earth who could thus
affect me?" Mary asked excitedly.

"Rubbish! There are thousands."


"Literally thousands. The reason you never happen
to meet them is purely an accident of our poor social
organization. Every woman has thousands of true
physical mates if she could only meet them. Every man
has thousands of true physical mates if he could only
meet them. And in every such meeting, if mind and
body are in normal condition, the same violent
disturbance would result--whether married or single,
free or bound.

"Marriage therefore is not based merely on the
passion of love. It is a crime for any man or woman to
marry without love. It is the sheerest insanity to
believe that this passion within itself is sufficient
to justify marriage. All who marry should love. Many
love who should not marry.

"The institution of marriage is the great
SOCIAL ordinance of the race. Its sanctity and
perpetuity are not based on the violence of the passion
of love, but something else."

He paused and listened to the call of the quail
again from the field.

"You hear that bob white calling his mate?"

"Yes--and she's answering him now very softly. I
can hear them both."

"They have mated this spring to build a home and
rear a brood of young. Within six months their babies
will all be full grown and next spring a new alignment
of lovers will be made. Their marriage lasts during
the period of infancy of their offspring. This is
Nature's law.

"It happens in the case of man that the period of
infancy of a human being is about twenty-four
years. This is the most wonderful fact in nature.
It means that the capacity of man for the improvement
of his breed is practically limitless. A quail has a
few months in which to rear her young. God gives to
woman a quarter of a century in which to mold her
immortal offspring. Because the period of infancy of
one child covers the entire period of motherhood
capacity, marriage binds for life, and the sanctity of
marriage rests squarely on this law of Nature."

He paused again and looked over the sunlit valley.

"I wish our boys and girls could all know these
simple truths of their being. It would save much
unhappiness and many tragic blunders.

"You were swept completely off your feet by the
rush of the first emotion caused by meeting a man who
was your physical mate. You imagined this emotion to
be a mysterious revelation which can come but once.
Your imagination in its excited condition, of course,
gave to your first-found mate all sorts of divine
attributes which he did not possess. You were `in
love' with a puppet of your own creation, and
hypnotized yourself into the delusion that James
Anthony was your one and only mate, your knight, your

"In a very important sense this was true.
Your intuitions could not make a mistake on so
vital an issue. But you immediately rushed into
marriage and your union has been perfected by the birth
of a child. Whether you are happy or unhappy in
marriage does not depend on the reality of love.
Happiness in marriage is based on something else."

"On what?"

"The joy and peace that comes from oneness of
spirit, tastes, culture and character. I know this
from the deepest experiences of life and the widest

"You have loved?" she asked softly.


A silence fell between them.

"Shall I tell you, little mother?" he finally asked


He seated himself and looked into the skies beyond
the peaks across the valley.

"Ten years ago I met my first mate. The meeting
was fortunate for both. She was a woman of gentle
birth, of beautiful spirit. Our courtship was ideal.
We thought alike, we felt alike, she loved my
profession even--an unusual trait in a woman. She
thought it so noble in its aims that the petty jealousy
that sometimes wrecks a doctor's life was to her an
unthinkable crime. The first year was the nearest to
heaven that I had ever gotten down here.

"And then, little mother, by one of those
inexplicable mysteries of nature she died when our baby
was born. For a while the light of the world went out.
I quit New York, gave up my profession and came here
just to lie in the sun on this mountainside and try to
pull myself together. I didn't think life could ever
be worth living again. But it was. I found about me
so much of human need--so much ignorance and
helplessness--so much to pity and love, I forgot the
ache in my own heart in bringing joy to others.

"I had money enough. I gave up the ambitions of
greed and strife and set my soul to higher tasks. For
nine years I've devoted my leisure hours to the study
of Motherhood as the hope of a nobler humanity. But
for the great personal sorrow that came to me in the
death of my wife and baby I should never have realized
the truths I now see so clearly.

"And then the other woman suddenly came into my
life. I never expected to love again--not because I
thought it impossible, but because I thought it
improbable in my little world here that I could
ever again meet a woman I would ask to be my wife. But
she dropped one day out of the sky."

He paused and took a deep breath.

"I recognized her instantly as my mate, gentle and
pure and capable of infinite joy or infinite pain. She
did not realize the secret of my interest in her. I
didn't expect it. I knew that under the conditions she
could not. But I waited."

He paused and searched for Mary's eyes.

"And you married her?" she asked in even tones.

"I have never allowed her to know that I love her."


"She was married."

Mary threw him a startled look and he went on

"I could have used my power over mind and body to
separate her from her husband. I confess that I was
tempted. But there was a child. Their union had been
sealed with the strongest tie that can bind two human
beings. I have never allowed her to realize that she
might love me. Had I chosen to break the silence
between us I could have revealed this to her, taken her
and torn her from the man to whom she had borne a babe.
I had no right to commit that crime, no matter how deep
the love that cried for its own. Marriage is
based on the period of infancy of the child which spans
the maternal life of woman. God had joined these two
people together and no man had the right to put them

"And you gave her up?"

"I had to, little mother. On the recognition of
this eternal law the whole structure of our
civilization rests."

Mary bent her gaze steadily on his face for a
moment in silence.

"And you are telling me that I should be reconciled
to the man who choked me into insensibility?"

"I am telling you that he is the father of your
son--that he has rights which you cannot deny; that
when you gave yourself to him in the first impulse of
love a deed was done which Almighty God can never undo.
Your tragic blunder was the rush into marriage with a
man about whose character you knew so little. It's the
timid, shrinking, home-loving girl that makes this
mistake. You must face it now. You are responsible as
deeply and truly as the man who married you. That he
happened at that moment to be a brute and a criminal is
no more his fault than yours. It was YOUR business
to KNOW before you made him the father of your

"I tried to appeal to his better nature that awful
night," Mary interrupted, "but he only laughed at me!"

"You owe him another trial, little mother--you owe
it to his boy, too."

Mary shook her head bitterly.

"I can't--I just can't!"

"You won't see him once?"

She sprang to her feet trembling.


"I don't think it's fair."

"I'm afraid of him! You can't understand his power
over my will."

"Come, come, this is sheer cowardice--give the
devil his dues. Face him and fight it out. Tell him
you're done forever with him and his life, if you
will--but don't hedge and trim and run away like this.
I'm ashamed of you."

"I won't see him--I've made up my mind."

The Doctor threw up both hands.

"All right. If you won't, you won't. We'll let it
go at that."

He paused and changed his tones to friendly
personal interest.

"And you're determined to leave me and take my kid
away tomorrow?"

"We must go. I've no money to pay my board. I
can't impose on you----"

"It's going to be awfully lonely."

He looked at her with a strange, deep gaze, lifted
his stooping shoulders with sudden resolution and
changed his manner to light banter.

"I suppose I couldn't persuade you to give me that

She smiled tenderly.

"You know his father did leave his mark on him
after all! The eyes are all his. Of course, I will
admit that those drooping lids have often been the mark
of genius--perhaps a genius for evil in this case. If
you don't want to take the risk--now's your chance. I

Mary shook her head in reproachful protest.

"Don't tease me, dear doctor man. I've just this
one day more with you. I'm counting each precious

"Forgive me!" he cried gayly. "I won't tease you
any more. Come, we'll run over now and see our
neighbor's new bungalow before you go. You admire this
one and threaten to duplicate it. He has built a
better one."

"I don't believe it."

"You'll go?"

"If you wish it----"

"Good. We'll take the boy, too. He can drive his
new wagon the whole way. It's only half a mile.



The door of the bungalow stood wide open. Mary paused
in rapture over the rich beds of wood violets that
carpeted the spaces between the drive and the log

"Aren't they beautiful!" she cried. "A perfect
carpet of dazzling green and purple!"

"Come right in," the Doctor urged from the steps.
"My neighbor's a patient of mine. He hasn't moved in
yet but he told me always to make myself at home."

Mary lifted the boy from his wagon, tied the goat
and led the child into the house. The Doctor showed
her through without comment. None was needed. The
woman's keen eye saw at a glance the perfection of care
with which the master builder had wrought the slightest
detail of every room. The floors were immaculate
native hard-wood--its grain brought out through shining
mirrors of clean varnish. There was not one shoddy
piece of work from the kitchen sink to the big
open fireplace in the spacious hall and living-room.

"It's exquisite!" she exclaimed at last. "It seems
all hand-made--doesn't it?"

"It is, too. The owner literally built it with his
own hands--a work of love."

"For himself?" Mary asked with a smile.

"For the woman he loves, of course! My neighbor's
a sort of crank and insisted on expressing himself in
this way. Come, I want you to see two rooms upstairs."

He led her into the room Jim had built for his

"Observe this furniture, if you please."

"Don't tell me that he built that too?" she

"That's exactly what I'm going to tell you."

"Impossible!" she protested. "Why, the line and
finish would do credit to the finest artisan in

"So I say. Look at the perfect polish of that
table! It's like the finish of a rosewood piano." He
touched the smooth surface.

"Of course you're joking?" Mary answered. "No
amateur could have done such work."

"So I'd have said if I had not seen him do

"What on earth possessed him to undertake such a

"The love of a beautiful woman--what else?"

"He learned a trade--just to furnish this room with
his own hand?"


"His love must be the real thing," she mused.

"That's what I've said. Look at this iron work,
too--the stately andirons in that big fireplace, the
shovel, the tongs, and the massive strop-hinges on the

"He did that, too?" she asked in amazement.

"Every piece of iron on the place he beat out with
his own hand at his forge."

"And all for the love of a woman? The age of
romance hasn't passed after all, has it?"


Mary paused before the window looking south.

"What a glorious view!" she cried. "It's even
grander than yours, Doctor."

"Yes. I claim some of the credit, though, for
that. I helped him lay out the grounds."

"Who is this remarkable man?" she asked at last.

"A friend of mine. I'll introduce him directly.
He should be here at any moment now."

"We're intruding," Mary whispered. "We must
go. I mustn't look any more. I'll be coveting my
neighbor's house."

The doctor turned to the window and signaled to
someone on the lawn, as Mary hurried down the stairs.

She fairly ran into Jim, who was being pulled into
the house by the boy.

"'Ook, Mamma! 'Ook! I found a Daddy! He says he
be my Daddy if you let him. Please let him. I want a
Daddy, an' I like him. Please!"

Jim blushed and trembled and lifted his eyes
appealingly, while Mary stood white and still watching
him in a sort of helpless terror.

The child moved on to his wagon.

"Say, little girl," Jim began in low tones, "it's
been a thousand years since I saw you. Don't drive me
away--just give me one chance for God's sake and this
baby's that He sent us! I've gone straight. I've sent
back every dishonest dollar. I'm earning a clean
living down here and a good one. I've practiced for
two years cutting out the slang, too."

He paused for breath and she turned her head away.

"Just listen a minute! I know I was a beast that
night. I'm not the same now. I've been through the
fires of hell and I've come out a cleaner man.
Let me show you how much I love you! Life's too
short, but just give me a chance. If I could undo that
awful hour when I hurt you so, I'd crawl 'round the
world on my hands and knees--and I'll show you that I
mean it! I built this house for you and the baby."

Mary turned suddenly with wide dilated eyes.

"You--YOU built this house?" she gasped.

"I've worked on it every hour, day and night, the
past two years when I wasn't earning a living in the
mine. I made every stick of that furniture in the
rooms up there--for you and my boy. The house is
yours--whether you let me stay or not."

"I--I can't take it, Jim," she faltered.

"You've got to, girlie. You can't throw a gift
like this back in a fellow's face--it cost too much!
Your money's all gone. You've got to bring up that
kid. He's mine, too. I'm man enough to support my
wife and baby and I'm going to do it. I don't care
what you say. You've got to let me. I'm going to work
for you, live for you and die for you--whether you stay
with me or not. I've got the right to do that, you know."

She lifted her head and faced him squarely for the
first time, amazed at the new dignity and strength of
his quiet bearing.

"You HAVE changed, Jim----"

Her eyes sought the depths of his soul in a
moment's silence, and she slowly extended her hand:

"We'll try again!"

He bent and kissed the tips of her fingers reverently.

They stood for a moment hand in hand and looked
over the sunlit valley of the Swannanoa shimmering in
peace and beauty between its sheltering walls of blue
mountains. The bees were humming spring music among
the flowers at their feet and the faint odor of fruit
trees in blossom came from the orchard Jim had planted
two years before.

"I'll show you, little girl--I'll show you!" he whispered tensely.

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