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  • 12/1899
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It said:

“I am a disappointed man. Your honesty is beyond the reach of temptation. I had a different idea about it, but I wronged you in that, and I beg pardon, and do it sincerely. I honour you–and that is sincere too. This town is not worthy to kiss the hem of your garment. Dear sir, I made a square bet with myself that there were nineteen debauchable men in your self-righteous community. I have lost. Take the whole pot, you are entitled to it.”

Richards drew a deep sigh, and said:

“It seems written with fire–it burns so. Mary–I am miserable again.”

“I, too. Ah, dear, I wish–“

“To think, Mary–he BELIEVES in me.”

“Oh, don’t, Edward–I can’t bear it.”

“If those beautiful words were deserved, Mary–and God knows I believed I deserved them once–I think I could give the forty thousand dollars for them. And I would put that paper away, as representing more than gold and jewels, and keep it always. But now–We could not live in the shadow of its accusing presence, Mary.”

He put it in the fire.

A messenger arrived and delivered an envelope. Richards took from it a note and read it; it was from Burgess:

“You saved me, in a difficult time. I saved you last night. It was at cost of a lie, but I made the sacrifice freely, and out of a grateful heart. None in this village knows so well as I know how brave and good and noble you are. At bottom you cannot respect me, knowing as you do of that matter of which I am accused, and by the general voice condemned; but I beg that you will at least believe that I am a grateful man; it will help me to bear my burden. [Signed] ‘BURGESS.'”

“Saved, once more. And on such terms!” He put the note in the lire. “I–I wish I were dead, Mary, I wish I were out of it all!”

“Oh, these are bitter, bitter days, Edward. The stabs, through their very generosity, are so deep–and they come so fast!”

Three days before the election each of two thousand voters suddenly found himself in possession of a prized memento–one of the renowned bogus double-eagles. Around one of its faces was stamped these words: “THE REMARK I MADE TO THE POOR STRANGER WAS–” Around the other face was stamped these: “GO, AND REFORM. [SIGNED] PINKERTON.” Thus the entire remaining refuse of the renowned joke was emptied upon a single head, and with calamitous effect. It revived the recent vast laugh and concentrated it upon Pinkerton; and Harkness’s election was a walk-over.

Within twenty-four hours after the Richardses had received their cheques their consciences were quieting down, discouraged; the old couple were learning to reconcile themselves to the sin which they had committed. But they were to learn, now, that a sin takes on new and real terrors when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out. This gives it a fresh and most substantial and important aspect. At church the morning sermon was of the usual pattern; it was the same old things said in the same old way; they had heard them a thousand times and found them innocuous, next to meaningless, and easy to sleep under; but now it was different: the sermon seemed to bristle with accusations; it seemed aimed straight and specially at people who were concealing deadly sins. After church they got away from the mob of congratulators as soon as they could, and hurried homeward, chilled to the bone at they did not know what- -vague, shadowy, indefinite fears. And by chance they caught a glimpse of Mr. Burgess as he turned a corner. He paid no attention to their nod of recognition! He hadn’t seen it; but they did not know that. What could his conduct mean? It might mean–it might– mean–oh, a dozen dreadful things. Was it possible that he knew that Richards could have cleared him of guilt in that bygone time, and had been silently waiting for a chance to even up accounts? At home, in their distress they got to imagining that their servant might have been in the next room listening when Richards revealed the secret to his wife that he knew of Burgess’s innocence; next Richards began to imagine that he had heard the swish of a gown in there at that time; next, he was sure he HAD heard it. They would call Sarah in, on a pretext, and watch her face; if she had been betraying them to Mr. Burgess, it would show in her manner. They asked her some questions–questions which were so random and incoherent and seemingly purposeless that the girl felt sure that the old people’s minds had been affected by their sudden good fortune; the sharp and watchful gaze which they bent upon her frightened her, and that completed the business. She blushed, she became nervous and confused, and to the old people these were plain signs of guilt–guilt of some fearful sort or other–without doubt she was a spy and a traitor. When they were alone again they began to piece many unrelated things together and get horrible results out of the combination. When things had got about to the worst Richards was delivered of a sudden gasp and his wife asked:

“Oh, what is it?–what is it?”

“The note–Burgess’s note! Its language was sarcastic, I see it now.” He quoted: “‘At bottom you cannot respect me, KNOWING, as you do, of THAT MATTER OF which I am accused’–oh, it is perfectly plain, now, God help me! He knows that I know! You see the ingenuity of the phrasing. It was a trap–and like a fool, I walked into it. And Mary–!”

“Oh, it is dreadful–I know what you are going to say–he didn’t return your transcript of the pretended test-remark.”

“No–kept it to destroy us with. Mary, he has exposed us to some already. I know it–I know it well. I saw it in a dozen faces after church. Ah, he wouldn’t answer our nod of recognition–he knew what he had been doing!”

In the night the doctor was called. The news went around in the morning that the old couple were rather seriously ill–prostrated by the exhausting excitement growing out of their great windfall, the congratulations, and the late hours, the doctor said. The town was sincerely distressed; for these old people were about all it had left to be proud of, now.

Two days later the news was worse. The old couple were delirious, and were doing strange things. By witness of the nurses, Richards had exhibited cheques–for $8,500? No–for an amazing sum–$38,500! What could be the explanation of this gigantic piece of luck?

The following day the nurses had more news–and wonderful. They had concluded to hide the cheques, lest harm come to them; but when they searched they were gone from under the patient’s pillow–vanished away. The patient said:

“Let the pillow alone; what do you want?”

“We thought it best that the cheques–“

“You will never see them again–they are destroyed. They came from Satan. I saw the hell-brand on them, and I knew they were sent to betray me to sin.” Then he fell to gabbling strange and dreadful things which were not clearly understandable, and which the doctor admonished them to keep to themselves.

Richards was right; the cheques were never seen again.

A nurse must have talked in her sleep, for within two days the forbidden gabblings were the property of the town; and they were of a surprising sort. They seemed to indicate that Richards had been a claimant for the sack himself, and that Burgess had concealed that fact and then maliciously betrayed it.

Burgess was taxed with this and stoutly denied it. And he said it was not fair to attach weight to the chatter of a sick old man who was out of his mind. Still, suspicion was in the air, and there was much talk.

After a day or two it was reported that Mrs. Richards’s delirious deliveries were getting to be duplicates of her husband’s. Suspicion flamed up into conviction, now, and the town’s pride in the purity of its one undiscredited important citizen began to dim down and flicker toward extinction.

Six days passed, then came more news. The old couple were dying. Richards’s mind cleared in his latest hour, and he sent for Burgess. Burgess said:

“Let the room be cleared. I think he wishes to say something in privacy.”

“No!” said Richards; “I want witnesses. I want you all to hear my confession, so that I may die a man, and not a dog. I was clean– artificially–like the rest; and like the rest I fell when temptation came. I signed a lie, and claimed the miserable sack. Mr. Burgess remembered that I had done him a service, and in gratitude (and ignorance) he suppressed my claim and saved me. You know the thing that was charged against Burgess years ago. My testimony, and mine alone, could have cleared him, and I was a coward and left him to suffer disgrace–“

“No–no–Mr. Richards, you–“

“My servant betrayed my secret to him–“

“No one has betrayed anything to me–“

– “And then he did a natural and justifiable thing; he repented of the saving kindness which he had done me, and he EXPOSED me–as I deserved–“

“Never!–I make oath–“

“Out of my heart I forgive him.”

Burgess’s impassioned protestations fell upon deaf ears; the dying man passed away without knowing that once more he had done poor Burgess a wrong. The old wife died that night.

The last of the sacred Nineteen had fallen a prey to the fiendish sack; the town was stripped of the last rag of its ancient glory. Its mourning was not showy, but it was deep.

By act of the Legislature–upon prayer and petition–Hadleyburg was allowed to change its name to (never mind what–I will not give it away), and leave one word out of the motto that for many generations had graced the town’s official seal.

It is an honest town once more, and the man will have to rise early that catches it napping again.


As I understand it, what you desire is information about ‘my first lie, and how I got out of it.’ I was born in 1835; I am well along, and my memory is not as good as it was. If you had asked about my first truth it would have been easier for me and kinder of you, for I remember that fairly well. I remember it as if it were last week. The family think it was week before, but that is flattery and probably has a selfish project back of it. When a person has become seasoned by experience and has reached the age of sixty-four, which is the age of discretion, he likes a family compliment as well as ever, but he does not lose his head over it as in the old innocent days.

I do not remember my first lie, it is too far back; but I remember my second one very well. I was nine days old at the time, and had noticed that if a pin was sticking in me and I advertised it in the usual fashion, I was lovingly petted and coddled and pitied in a most agreeable way and got a ration between meals besides.

It was human nature to want to get these riches, and I fell. I lied about the pin–advertising one when there wasn’t any. You would have done it; George Washington did it, anybody would have done it. During the first half of my life I never knew a child that was able to rise about that temptation and keep from telling that lie. Up to 1867 all the civilised children that were ever born into the world were liars– including George. Then the safety-pin came in and blocked the game. But is that reform worth anything? No; for it is reform by force and has no virtue in it; it merely stops that form of lying, it doesn’t impair the disposition to lie, by a shade. It is the cradle application of conversion by fire and sword, or of the temperance principle through prohibition.

To return to that early lie. They found no pin and they realised that another liar had been added to the world’s supply. For by grace of a rare inspiration a quite commonplace but seldom noticed fact was borne in upon their understandings–that almost all lies are acts, and speech has no part in them. Then, if they examined a little further they recognised that all people are liars from the cradle onwards, without exception, and that they begin to lie as soon as they wake in the morning, and keep it up without rest or refreshment until they go to sleep at night. If they arrived at that truth it probably grieved them–did, if they had been heedlessly and ignorantly educated by their books and teachers; for why should a person grieve over a thing which by the eternal law of his make he cannot help? He didn’t invent the law; it is merely his business to obey it and keep still; join the universal conspiracy and keep so still that he shall deceive his fellow-conspirators into imagining that he doesn’t know that the law exists. It is what we all do–we that know. I am speaking of the lie of silent assertion; we can tell it without saying a word, and we all do it–we that know. In the magnitude of its territorial spread it is one of the most majestic lies that the civilisations make it their sacred and anxious care to guard and watch and propagate.

For instance. It would not be possible for a humane and intelligent person to invent a rational excuse for slavery; yet you will remember that in the early days of the emancipation agitation in the North the agitators got but small help or countenance from any one. Argue and plead and pray as they might, they could not break the universal stillness that reigned, from pulpit and press all the way down to the bottom of society–the clammy stillness created and maintained by the lie of silent assertion–the silent assertion that there wasn’t anything going on in which humane and intelligent people were interested.

From the beginning of the Dreyfus case to the end of it all France, except a couple of dozen moral paladins, lay under the smother of the silent-assertion lie that no wrong was being done to a persecuted and unoffending man. The like smother was over England lately, a good half of the population silently letting on that they were not aware that Mr. Chamberlain was trying to manufacture a war in South Africa and was willing to pay fancy prices for the materials.

Now there we have instances of three prominent ostensible civilisations working the silent-assertion lie. Could one find other instances in the three countries? I think so. Not so very many perhaps, but say a billion–just so as to keep within bounds. Are those countries working that kind of lie, day in and day out, in thousands and thousands of varieties, without ever resting? Yes, we know that to be true. The universal conspiracy of the silent-assertion lie is hard at work always and everywhere, and always in the interest of a stupidity or a sham, never in the interest of a thing fine or respectable. Is it the most timid and shabby of all lies? It seems to have the look of it. For ages and ages it has mutely laboured in the interest of despotisms and aristocracies and chattel slaveries, and military slaveries, and religious slaveries, and has kept them alive; keeps them alive yet, here and there and yonder, all about the globe; and will go on keeping them alive until the silent-assertion lie retires from business–the silent assertion that nothing is going on which fair and intelligent men are aware of and are engaged by their duty to try to stop.

What I am arriving at is this: When whole races and peoples conspire to propagate gigantic mute lies in the interest of tyrannies and shams, why should we care anything about the trifling lies told by individuals? Why should we try to make it appear that abstention from lying is a virtue? Why should we want to beguile ourselves in that way? Why should we without shame help the nation lie, and then be ashamed to do a little lying on our own account? Why shouldn’t we be honest and honourable, and lie every time we get a chance? That is to say, why shouldn’t we be consistent, and either lie all the time or not at all? Why should we help the nation lie the whole day long and then object to telling one little individual private lie in our own interest to go to bed on? Just for the refreshment of it, I mean, and to take the rancid taste out of our mouth.

Here in England they have the oddest ways. They won’t tell a spoken lie –nothing can persuade them. Except in a large moral interest, like politics or religion, I mean. To tell a spoken lie to get even the poorest little personal advantage out of it is a thing which is impossible to them. They make me ashamed of myself sometimes, they are so bigoted. They will not even tell a lie for the fun of it; they will not tell it when it hasn’t eve a suggestion of damage or advantage in it for any one. This has a restraining influence upon me in spite of reason, and I am always getting out of practice.

Of course, they tell all sorts of little unspoken lies, just like anybody; but they don’t notice it until their attention is called to it. They have got me so that sometimes I never tell a verbal lie now except in a modified form; and even in the modified form they don’t approve of it. Still, that is as far as I can go in the interest of the growing friendly relations between the two countries; I must keep some of my self-respect–and my health. I can live on a pretty low diet, but I can’t get along on no sustenance at all.

Of course, there are times when these people have to come out with a spoken lie, for that is a thing which happens to everybody once in a while, and would happen to the angels if they came down here much. Particularly to the angels, in fact, for the lies I speak of are self- sacrificing ones told for a generous object, not a mean one; but even when these people tell a lie of that sort it seems to scare them and unsettle their minds. It is a wonderful thing to see, and shows that they are all insane. In fact, it is a country which is full of the most interesting superstitions.

I have an English friend of twenty-five years’ standing, and yesterday when we were coming down-town on top of the ‘bus I happened to tell him a lie–a modified one, of course; a half-breed, a mulatto; I can’t seem to tell any other kind now, the market is so flat. I was explaining to him how I got out of an embarrassment in Austria last year. I do not know what might have become of me if I hadn’t happened to remember to tell the police that I belonged to the same family as the Prince of Wales. That made everything pleasant and they let me go; and apologised, too, and were ever so kind and obliging and polite, and couldn’t do too much for me, and explained how the mistake came to be made, and promised to hang the officer that did it, and hoped I would let bygones be bygones and not say anything about it; and I said they could depend on me. My friend said, austerely:

‘You call it a modified lie? Where is the modification?’

I explained that it lay in the form of my statement to the police. ‘I didn’t say I belonged to the Royal Family; I only said I belonged to the same family as the Prince–meaning the human family, of course; and if those people had had any penetration they would have known it. I can’t go around furnishing brains to the police; it is not to be expected.’

‘How did you feel after that performance?’

‘Well, of course I was distressed to find that the police had misunderstood me, but as long as I had not told any lie I knew there was no occasion to sit up nights and worry about it.’

My friend struggled with the case several minutes, turning it over and examining it in his mind, then he said that so far as he could see the modification was itself a lie, it being a misleading reservation of an explanatory fact, and so I had told two lies instead of only one.

‘I wouldn’t have done it,’ said he; ‘I have never told a lie, and I should be very sorry to do such a thing.’

Just then he lifted his hat and smiled a basketful of surprised and delighted smiles down at a gentleman who was passing in a hansom.

‘Who was that, G—?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Then why did you do that?’

‘Because I saw he thought he knew me and was expecting it of me. If I hadn’t done it he would have been hurt. I didn’t want to embarrass him before the whole street.’

‘Well, your heart was right, G—, and your act was right. What you did was kindly and courteous and beautiful; I would have done it myself; but it was a lie.’

‘A lie? I didn’t say a word. How do you make it out?’

‘I know you didn’t speak, still you said to him very plainly and enthusiastically in dumb show, “Hello! you in town? Awful glad to see you, old fellow; when did you get back?” Concealed in your actions was what you have called “a misleading reservation of an explanatory fact”– the act that you had never seen him before. You expressed joy in encountering him–a lie; and you made that reservation–another lie. It was my pair over again. But don’t be troubled–we all do it.’

Two hours later, at dinner, when quite other matters were being discussed, he told how he happened along once just in the nick of time to do a great service for a family who were old friends of his. The head of it had suddenly died in circumstances and surroundings of a ruinously disgraceful character. If know the facts would break the hearts of the innocent family and put upon them a load of unendurable shame. There was no help but in a giant lie, and he girded up his loins and told it.

‘The family never found out, G—?’

‘Never. In all these years they have never suspected. They were proud of him and had always reason to be; they are proud of him yet, and to them his memory is sacred and stainless and beautiful.’

‘They had a narrow escape, G—.’

‘Indeed they had.’

‘For the very next man that came along might have been one of these heartless and shameless truth-mongers. You have told the truth a million times in your life, G—, but that one golden lie atones for it all. Persevere.’

Some may think me not strict enough in my morals, but that position is hardly tenable. There are many kinds of lying which I do not approve. I do not like an injurious lie, except when it injures somebody else; and I do not like the lie of bravado, nor the lie of virtuous ecstasy; the latter was affected by Bryant, the former by Carlyle.

Mr. Bryant said, ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’ I have taken medals at thirteen world’s fairs, and may claim to be not without capacity, but I never told as big a one as that. Mr. Bryant was playing to the gallery; we all do it. Carlyle said, in substance, this–I do not remember the exact words: ‘This gospel is eternal–that a lie shall not live.’ I have a reverent affection for Carlyle’s books, and have read his ‘Revelation’ eight times; and so I prefer to think he was not entirely at himself when he told that one. To me it is plain that he said it in a moment of excitement, when chasing Americans out of his back-yard with brickbats. They used to go there and worship. At bottom he was probably fond of it, but he was always able to conceal it. He kept bricks for them, but he was not a good shot, and it is matter of history that when he fired they dodged, and carried off the brick; for as a nation we like relics, and so long as we get them we do not much care what the reliquary thinks about it. I am quite sure that when he told that large one about a lie not being able to live he had just missed an American and was over excited. He told it above thirty years ago, but it is alive yet; alive, and very healthy and hearty, and likely to outlive any fact in history. Carlyle was truthful when calm, but give him Americans enough and bricks enough and he could have taken medals himself.

As regards that time that George Washington told the truth, a word must be said, of course. It is the principal jewel in the crown of America, and it is but natural that we should work it for all it is worth, as Milton says in his ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel.’ It was a timely and judicious truth, and I should have told it myself in the circumstances. But I should have stopped there. It was a stately truth, a lofty truth– a Tower; and I think it was a mistake to go on and distract attention from its sublimity by building another Tower alongside of it fourteen times as high. I refer to his remark that he ‘could not lie.’ I should have fed that to the marines; or left it to Carlyle; it is just in his style. It would have taken a medal at any European fair, and would have got an honourable mention even at Chicago if it had been saved up. But let it pass; the Father of his Country was excited. I have been in those circumstances, and I recollect.

With the truth he told I have no objection to offer, as already indicated. I think it was not premeditated but an inspiration. With his fine military mind, he had probably arranged to let his brother Edward in for the cherry tree results, but by an inspiration he saw his opportunity in time and took advantage of it. By telling the truth he could astonish his father; his father would tell the neighbours; the neighbours would spread it; it would travel to all firesides; in the end it would make him President, and not only that, but First President. He was a far-seeing boy and would be likely to think of these things. Therefore, to my mind, he stands justified for what he did. But not for the other Tower; it was a mistake. Still, I don’t know about that; upon reflection I think perhaps it wasn’t. For indeed it is that Tower that makes the other one live. If he hadn’t said ‘I cannot tell a lie’ there would have been no convulsion. That was the earthquake that rocked the planet. That is the kind of statement that lives for ever, and a fact barnacled to it has a good chance to share its immortality.

To sum up, on the whole I am satisfied with things the way they are. There is a prejudice against the spoken lie, but none against any other, and by examination and mathematical computation I find that the proportion of the spoken lie to the other varieties is as 1 to 22,894. Therefore the spoken lie is of no consequence, and it is not worth while to go around fussing about it and trying to make believe that it is an important matter. The silent colossal National Lie that is the support and confederate of all the tyrannies and shams and inequalities and unfairnesses that afflict the peoples–that is the one to throw bricks and sermons at. But let us be judicious and let somebody else begin.

And then–But I have wandered from my text. How did I get out of my second lie? I think I got out with honour, but I cannot be sure, for it was a long time ago and some of the details have faded out of my memory. I recollect that I was reversed and stretched across some one’s knee, and that something happened, but I cannot now remember what it was. I think there was music; but it is all dim now and blurred by the lapse of time, and this may be only a senile fancy.


‘Yes, I will tell you anything about my life that you would like to know, Mr. Twain,’ she said, in her soft voice, and letting her honest eyes rest placidly upon my face, ‘for it is kind and good of you to like me and care to know about me.’

She had been absently scraping blubber-grease from her cheeks with a small bone-knife and transferring it to her fur sleeve, while she watched the Aurora Borealis swing its flaming streamers out of the sky and wash the lonely snow plain and the templed icebergs with the rich hues of the prism, a spectacle of almost intolerable splendour and beauty; but now she shook off her reverie and prepared to give me the humble little history I had asked for. She settled herself comfortably on the block of ice which we were using as a sofa, and I made ready to listen.

She was a beautiful creature. I speak from the Esquimaux point of view. Others would have thought her a trifle over-plump. She was just twenty years old, and was held to be by far the most bewitching girl in her tribe. Even now, in the open air, with her cumbersome and shapeless fur coat and trousers and boots and vast hood, the beauty of her face was at least apparent; but her figure had to be taken on trust. Among all the guests who came and went, I had seen no girl at her father’s hospitable trough who could be called her equal. Yet she was not spoiled. She was sweet and natural and sincere, and if she was aware that she was a belle, there was nothing about her ways to show that she possessed that knowledge.

She had been my daily comrade for a week now, and the better I knew her the better I liked her. She had been tenderly and carefully brought up, in an atmosphere of singularly rare refinement for the polar regions, for her father was the most important man of his tribe and ranked at the top of Esquimaux civilisation. I made long dog-sledge trips across the mighty ice floes with Lasca–that was her name–and found her company always pleasant and her conversation agreeable. I went fishing with her, but not in her perilous boat: I merely followed along on the ice and watched her strike her game with her fatally accurate spear. We went sealing together; several times I stood by while she and the family dug blubber from a stranded whale, and once I went part of the way when she was hunting a bear, but turned back before the finish, because at bottom I am afraid of bears.

However, she was ready to begin her story, now, and this is what she said:

‘Our tribe had always been used to wander about from place to place over the frozen seas, like the other tribes, but my father got tired of that, two years ago, and built this great mansion of frozen snow-blocks–look at it; it is seven feet high and three or four times as long as any of the others–and here we have stayed ever since. He was very proud of his house, and that was reasonable, for if you have examined it with care you must have noticed how much finer and completer it is than houses usually are. But if you have not, you must, for you will find it has luxurious appointments that are quite beyond the common. For instance, in that end of it which you have called the “parlour,” the raised platform for the accommodation of guests and the family at meals is the largest you have ever seen in any house–is it not so?’

‘Yes, you are quite right, Lasca; it is the largest; we have nothing resembling it in even the finest houses in the United States.’ This admission made her eyes sparkle with pride and pleasure. I noted that, and took my cue.

‘I thought it must have surprised you,’ she said. ‘And another thing; it is bedded far deeper in furs than is usual; all kinds of furs–seal, sea-otter, silver-grey fox, bear, marten, sable–every kind of fur in profusion; and the same with the ice-block sleeping-benches along the walls which you call “beds.” Are your platforms and sleeping-benches better provided at home?’

‘Indeed, they are not, Lasca–they do not begin to be.’ That pleased her again. All she was thinking of was the number of furs her aesthetic father took the trouble to keep on hand, not their value. I could have told her that those masses of rich furs constituted wealth–or would in my country–but she would not have understood that; those were not the kind of things that ranked as riches with her people. I could have told her that the clothes she had on, or the every-day clothes of the commonest person about her, were worth twelve or fifteen hundred dollars, and that I was not acquainted with anybody at home who wore twelve-hundred dollar toilets to go fishing in; but she would not have understood it, so I said nothing. She resumed:

‘And then the slop-tubs. We have two in the parlour, and two in the rest of the house. It is very seldom that one has two in the parlour. Have you two in the parlour at home?’

The memory of those tubs made me gasp, but I recovered myself before she noticed, and said with effusion:

‘Why, Lasca, it is a shame of me to expose my country, and you must not let it go further, for I am speaking to you in confidence; but I give you my word of honour that not even the richest man in the city of New York has two slop-tubs in his drawing-room.’

She clapped her fur-clad hands in innocent delight, and exclaimed:

‘Oh, but you cannot mean it, you cannot mean it!’

‘Indeed, I am in earnest, dear. There is Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is almost the richest man in the whole world. Now, if I were on my dying bed, I could say to you that not even he has two in his drawing-room. Why, he hasn’t even one–I wish I may die in my tracks if it isn’t true.’

Her lovely eyes stood wide with amazement, and she said, slowly, and with a sort of awe in her voice:

‘How strange–how incredible–one is not able to realise it. Is he penurious?’

‘No–it isn’t that. It isn’t the expense he minds, but–er–well, you know, it would look like showing off. Yes, that is it, that is the idea; he is a plain man in his way, and shrinks from display.’

‘Why, that humility is right enough,’ said Lasca, ‘if one does not carry it too far–but what does the place look like?’

‘Well, necessarily it looks pretty barren and unfinished, but–‘

‘I should think so! I never heard anything like it. Is it a fine house– that is, otherwise?’

‘Pretty fine, yes. It is very well thought of.’

The girl was silent awhile, and sat dreamily gnawing a candle-end, apparently trying to think the thing out. At last she gave her head a little toss and spoke out her opinion with decision:

‘Well, to my mind there’s a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off when you get down to the marrow of it; and when a man is able to afford two slop-tubs in his parlour, and doesn’t do it, it may be that he is truly humble-minded, but it’s a hundred times more likely that he is just trying to strike the public eye. In my judgment, your Mr. Vanderbilt knows what he is about.’

I tried to modify this verdict, feeling that a double slop-tub standard was not a fair one to try everybody by, although a sound enough one in its own habitat; but the girl’s head was set, and she was not to be persuaded. Presently she said:

‘Do the rich people, with you, have as good sleeping-benches as ours, and made out of as nice broad ice-blocks?’

‘Well, they are pretty good–good enough–but they are not made of ice-blocks.’

‘I want to know! Why aren’t they made of ice-blocks?’

I explained the difficulties in the way, and the expensiveness of ice in a country where you have to keep a sharp eye on your ice-man or your ice-bill will weigh more than your ice. Then she cried out:

‘Dear me, do you buy your ice?’

‘We most surely do, dear.’

She burst into a gale of guileless laughter, and said:

‘Oh, I never heard of anything so silly! My! there’s plenty of it–it isn’t worth anything. Why, there is a hundred miles of it in sight, right now. I wouldn’t give a fish-bladder for the whole of it.’

‘Well, it’s because you don’t know how to value it, you little provincial muggings. If you had it in New York in midsummer, you could buy all the whales in the market with it.’

She looked at me doubtfully, and said:

‘Are you speaking true?’

‘Absolutely. I take my oath to it.’

This made her thoughtful. Presently she said, with a little sigh:

‘I wish I could live there.’

I had merely meant to furnish her a standard of values which she could understand; but my purpose had miscarried. I had only given her the impression that whales were cheap and plenty in New York, and set her mouth to watering for them. It seemed best to try to mitigate the evil which I had done, so I said:

‘But you wouldn’t care for whale-meat if you lived there. Nobody does.’


‘Indeed they don’t.’

‘Why don’t they?’

‘Wel-l-l, I hardly know. It’s prejudice, I think. Yes, that is it–just prejudice. I reckon somebody that hadn’t anything better to do started a prejudice against it, some time or other, and once you get a caprice like that fairly going, you know it will last no end of time.’

‘That is true–perfectly true,’ said the girl, reflectively. ‘Like our prejudice against soap, here–our tribes had a prejudice against soap at first, you know.’

I glanced at her to see if she was in earnest. Evidently she was. I hesitated, then said, cautiously:

‘But pardon me. They had a prejudice against soap? Had?’–with falling inflection.

‘Yes–but that was only at first; nobody would eat it.’

‘Oh–I understand. I didn’t get your idea before.’

She resumed:

‘It was just a prejudice. The first time soap came here from the foreigners, nobody liked it; but as soon as it got to be fashionable, everybody liked it, and now everybody has it that can afford it. Are you fond of it?’

‘Yes, indeed; I should die if I couldn’t have it–especially here. Do you like it?’

‘I just adore it! Do you like candles?’

‘I regard them as an absolute necessity. Are you fond of them?’

Her eyes fairly danced, and she exclaimed:

‘Oh! Don’t mention it! Candles!–and soap!–‘

‘And fish-interiors!–‘

‘And train-oil–‘

‘And slush!–‘

‘And whale-blubber!–‘

‘And carrion! and sour-krout! and beeswax! and tar! and turpentine! and molasses! and–‘

‘Don’t–oh, don’t–I shall expire with ecstasy!–‘

‘And then serve it all up in a slush-bucket, and invite the neighbours and sail in!’

But this vision of an ideal feast was too much for her, and she swooned away, poor thing. I rubbed snow in her face and brought her to, and after a while got her excitement cooled down. By-and-by she drifted into her story again:

‘So we began to live here in the fine house. But I was not happy. The reason was this: I was born for love: for me there could be no true happiness without it. I wanted to be loved for myself alone. I wanted an idol, and I wanted to be my idol’s idol; nothing less than mutual idolatry would satisfy my fervent nature. I had suitors in plenty–in over-plenty, indeed–but in each and every case they had a fatal defect: sooner or later I discovered that defect–not one of them failed to betray it–it was not me they wanted, but my wealth.’

‘Your wealth?’

‘Yes; for my father is much the richest man in this tribe–or in any tribe in these regions.’

I wondered what her father’s wealth consisted of. It couldn’t be the house–anybody could build its mate. It couldn’t be the furs–they were not valued. It couldn’t be the sledge, the dogs, the harpoons, the boat, the bone fish-hooks and needles, and such things–no, these were not wealth. Then what could it be that made this man so rich and brought this swarm of sordid suitors to his house? It seemed to me, finally, that the best way to find out would be to ask. So I did it. The girl was so manifestly gratified by the question that I saw she had been aching to have me ask it. She was suffering fully as much to tell as I was to know. She snuggled confidentially up to me and said:

‘Guess how much he is worth–you never can!’

I pretended to consider the matter deeply, she watching my anxious and labouring countenance with a devouring and delighted interest; and when, at last, I gave it up and begged her to appease my longing by telling me herself how much this polar Vanderbilt was worth, she put her mouth close to my ear and whispered, impressively:

‘Twenty-two fish-hooks–not bone, but foreign–made out of real iron!’

Then she sprang back dramatically, to observe the effect. I did my level best not to disappoint her. I turned pale and murmured:

‘Great Scott!’

‘It’s as true as you live, Mr. Twain!’

‘Lasca, you are deceiving me–you cannot mean it.’

She was frightened and troubled. She exclaimed:

‘Mr. Twain, every word of it is true–every word. You believe me–you do believe me, now don’t you? Say you believe me–do say you believe me!’

‘I–well, yes, I do–I am trying to. But it was all so sudden. So sudden and prostrating. You shouldn’t do such a thing in that sudden way. It–‘

‘Oh, I’m so sorry! If I had only thought–‘

‘Well, it’s all right, and I don’t blame you any more, for you are young and thoughtless, and of course you couldn’t foresee what an effect–‘

‘But oh, dear, I ought certainly to have known better. Why–‘

‘You see, Lasca, if you had said five or six hooks, to start with, and then gradually–‘

‘Oh, I see, I see–then gradually added one, and then two, and then–ah, why couldn’t I have thought of that!’

‘Never mind, child, it’s all right–I am better now–I shall be over it in a little while. But–to spring the whole twenty-two on a person unprepared and not very strong anyway–‘

‘Oh, it was a crime! But you forgive me–say you forgive me. Do!’

After harvesting a good deal of very pleasant coaxing and petting and persuading, I forgave her and she was happy again, and by-and-by she got under way with her narrative once more. I presently discovered that the family treasury contained still another feature–a jewel of some sort, apparently–and that she was trying to get around speaking squarely about it, lest I get paralysed again. But I wanted to known about that thing, too, and urged her to tell me what it was. She was afraid. But I insisted, and said I would brace myself this time and be prepared, then the shock would not hurt me. She was full of misgivings, but the temptation to reveal that marvel to me and enjoy my astonishment and admiration was too strong for her, and she confessed that she had it on her person, and said that if I was sure I was prepared–and so on and so on–and with that she reached into her bosom and brought out a battered square of brass, watching my eye anxiously the while. I fell over against her in a quite well-acted faint, which delighted her heart and nearly frightened it out of her, too, at the same time. When I came to and got calm, she was eager to know what I thought of her jewel.

‘What do I think of it? I think it is the most exquisite thing I ever saw.’

‘Do you really? How nice of you to say that! But it is a love, now isn’t it?’

‘Well, I should say so! I’d rather own it than the equator.’

‘I thought you would admire it,’ she said. ‘I think it is so lovely. And there isn’t another one in all these latitudes. People have come all the way from the open Polar Sea to look at it. Did you ever see one before?’

I said no, this was the first one I had ever seen. It cost me a pang to tell that generous lie, for I had seen a million of them in my time, this humble jewel of hers being nothing but a battered old New York Central baggage check.

‘Land!’ said I, ‘you don’t go about with it on your person this way, alone and with no protection, not even a dog?’

‘Ssh! not so loud,’ she said. ‘Nobody knows I carry it with me. They think it is in papa’s treasury. That is where it generally is.’

‘Where is the treasury?’

It was a blunt question, and for a moment she looked startled and a little suspicious, but I said:

‘Oh, come, don’t you be afraid about me. At home we have seventy millions of people, and although I say it myself that shouldn’t, there is not one person among them all but would trust me with untold fish-hooks.’

This reassured her, and she told me where the hooks were hidden in the house. Then she wandered from her course to brag a little about the size of the sheets of transparent ice that formed the windows of the mansion, and asked me if I had ever seen their like at home, and I came right out frankly and confessed that I hadn’t, which pleased her more than she could find words to dress her gratification in. It was so easy to please her, and such a pleasure to do it, that I went on and said–

‘Ah, Lasca, you are a fortune girl!–this beautiful house, this dainty jewel, that rich treasure, all this elegant snow, and sumptuous icebergs and limitless sterility, and public bears and walruses, and noble freedom and largeness and everybody’s admiring eyes upon you, and everybody’s homage and respect at your command without the asking; young, rich, beautiful, sought, courted, envied, not a requirement unsatisfied, not a desire ungratified, nothing to wish for that you cannot have–it is immeasurable good-fortune! I have seen myriads of girls, but none of whom these extraordinary things could be truthfully said but you alone. And you are worthy–worthy of it all, Lasca–I believe it in my heart.’

It made her infinitely proud and happy to hear me say this, and she thanked me over and over again for that closing remark, and her voice and eyes showed that she was touched. Presently she said:

‘Still, it is not all sunshine–there is a cloudy side. The burden of wealth is a heavy one to bear. Sometimes I have doubted if it were not better to be poor–at least not inordinately rich. It pains me to see neighbouring tribesmen stare as they pass by, and overhear them say, reverently, one to another, “There–that is she–the millionaire’s daughter!” And sometimes they say sorrowfully, “She is rolling in fish-hooks, and I–I have nothing.” It breaks my heart. When I was a child and we were poor, we slept with the door open, if we chose, but now–now we have to have a night-watchman. In those days my father was gentle and courteous to all; but now he is austere and haughty and cannot abide familiarity. Once his family were his sole thought, but now he goes about thinking of his fish-hooks all the time. And his wealth makes everybody cringing and obsequious to him. Formerly nobody laughed at his jokes, they being always stale and far-fetched and poor, and destitute of the one element that can really justify a joke–the element of humour; but now everybody laughs and cackles at these dismal things, and if any fails to do it my father is deeply displeased, and shows it. Formerly his opinion was not sought upon any matter and was not valuable when he volunteered it; it has that infirmity yet, but, nevertheless, it is sought by all and applauded by all–and he helps do the applauding himself, having no true delicacy and a plentiful want of tact. He has lowered the tone of all our tribe. Once they were a frank and manly race, now they are measly hypocrites, and sodden with servility. In my heart of hearts I hate all the ways of millionaires! Our tribe was once plain, simple folk, and content with the bone fish-hooks of their fathers; now they are eaten up with avarice and would sacrifice every sentiment of honour and honesty to possess themselves of the debasing iron fish-hooks of the foreigner. However, I must not dwell on these sad things. As I have said, it was my dream to be loved for myself alone.

‘At last, this dream seemed about to be fulfilled. A stranger came by, one day, who said his name was Kalula. I told him my name, and he said he loved me. My heart gave a great bound of gratitude and pleasure, for I had loved him at sight, and now I said so. He took me to his breast and said he would not wish to be happier than he was now. We went strolling together far over the ice-floes, telling all about each other, and planning, oh, the loveliest future! When we were tired at last we sat down and ate, for he had soap and candles and I had brought along some blubber. We were hungry and nothing was ever so good.

‘He belonged to a tribe whose haunts were far to the north, and I found that he had never heard of my father, which rejoiced me exceedingly. I mean he had heard of the millionaire, but had never heard his name–so, you see, he could not know that I was the heiress. You may be sure that I did not tell him. I was loved for myself at last, and was satisfied. I was so happy–oh, happier than you can think!

‘By-and-by it was towards supper time, and I led him home. As we approached our house he was amazed, and cried out:

‘”How splendid! Is that your father’s?”

‘It gave me a pang to hear that tone and see that admiring light in his eye, but the feeling quickly passed away, for I loved him so, and he looked so handsome and noble. All my family of aunts and uncles and cousins were pleased with him, and many guests were called in, and the house was shut up tight and the rag lamps lighted, and when everything was hot and comfortable and suffocating, we began a joyous feast in celebration of my betrothal.

‘When the feast was over my father’s vanity overcame him, and he could not resist the temptation to show off his riches and let Kalula see what grand good-fortune he had stumbled into–and mainly, of course, he wanted to enjoy the poor man’s amazement. I could have cried–but it would have done no good to try to dissuade my father, so I said nothing, but merely sat there and suffered.

‘My father went straight to the hiding-place in full sight of everybody, and got out the fish-hooks and brought them and flung them scatteringly over my head, so that they fell in glittering confusion on the platform at my lover’s knee.

‘Of course, the astounding spectacle took the poor lad’s breath away. He could only stare in stupid astonishment, and wonder how a single individual could possess such incredible riches. Then presently he glanced brilliantly up and exclaimed:

‘”Ah, it is you who are the renowned millionaire!”

‘My father and all the rest burst into shouts of happy laughter, and when my father gathered the treasure carelessly up as if it might be mere rubbish and of no consequence, and carried it back to its place, poor Kulala’s surprise was a study. He said:

‘”Is it possible that you put such things away without counting them?”

‘My father delivered a vain-glorious horse-laugh, and said:

‘”Well, truly, a body may know you have never been rich, since a mere matter of a fish-hook or two is such a mighty matter in your eyes.”

‘Kalula was confused, and hung his head, but said:

‘”Ah, indeed, sir, I was never worth the value of the barb of one of those precious things, and I have never seen any man before who was so rich in them as to render the counting of his hoard worth while, since the wealthiest man I have ever known, till now, was possessed of but three.”

‘My foolish father roared again with jejune delight, and allowed the impression to remain that he was not accustomed to count his hooks and keep sharp watch over them. He was showing off, you see. Count them? Why, he counted them every day!

‘I had met and got acquainted with my darling just at dawn; I had brought him home just at dark, three hours afterwards–for the days were shortening toward the six-months’ night at that time. We kept up the festivities many hours; then, at last, the guests departed and the rest of us distributed ourselves along the walls on sleeping-benches, and soon all were steeped in dreams but me. I was too happy, too excited, to sleep. After I had lain quiet a long, long time, a dim form passed by me and was swallowed up in the gloom that pervaded the farther end of the house. I could not make out who it was, or whether it was man or woman. Presently that figure or another one passed me going the other way. I wondered what it all meant, but wondering did no good; and while I was still wondering I fell asleep.

‘I do not know how long I slept, but at last I came suddenly broad awake and heard my father say in a terrible voice, “By the great Snow God, there’s a fish-hook gone!” Something told me that that meant sorrow for me, and the blood in my veins turned cold. The presentiment was confirmed in the same instant: my father shouted, “Up, everybody, and seize the stranger!” Then there was an outburst of cries and curses from all sides, and a wild rush of dim forms through the obscurity. I flew to my beloved’s help, but what could I do but wait and wring my hands?–he was already fenced away from me by a living wall, he was being bound hand and foot. Not until he was secured would they let me get to him. I flung myself upon his poor insulted form and cried my grief out upon his breast while my father and all my family scoffed at me and heaped threats and shameful epithets upon him. He bore his ill usage with a tranquil dignity which endeared him to me more than ever, and made me proud and happy to suffer with him and for him. I heard my father order that the elders of the tribe be called together to try my Kalula for his life.

‘”What!” I said, “before any search has been made for the lost hook?”

‘”Lost hook!” they all shouted, in derision; and my father added, mockingly, “Stand back, everybody, and be properly serious–she is going to hunt up that lost hook: oh, without doubt she will find it!”–whereat they all laughed again.

‘I was not disturbed–I had no fears, no doubts. I said:

‘”It is for you to laugh now; it is your turn. But ours is coming; wait and see.”

‘I got a rag lamp. I thought I should find that miserable thing in one little moment; and I set about that matter with such confidence that those people grew grace, beginning to suspect that perhaps they had been too hasty. But alas and alas!–oh, the bitterness of that search! There was deep silence while one might count his fingers ten or twelve times, then my heart began to sink, and around me the mockings began again, and grew steadily louder and more assured, until at last, when I gave up, they burst into volley after volley of cruel laughter.

‘None will ever know what I suffered then. But my love was my support and my strength, and I took my rightful place at my Kalula’s side, and put my arm about his neck, and whispered in his ear, saying:

‘”You are innocent, my own–that I know; but say it to me yourself, for my comfort, then I can bear whatever is in store for us.”

‘He answered:

‘”As surely as I stand upon the brink of death at this moment, I am innocent. Be comforted, then, O bruised heart; be at peace, O thou breath of my nostrils, life of my life!”

‘”Now, then, let the elders come!”–and as I said the words there was a gathering sound of crunching snow outside, and then a vision of stooping forms filing in at the door–the elders.

‘My father formally accused the prisoner, and detailed the happenings of the night. He said that the watchman was outside the door, and that in the house were none but the family and the stranger. “Would the family steal their own property?” He paused. The elders sat silent many minutes; at last, one after another said to his neighbour, “This looks bad for the stranger”–sorrowful words for me to hear. Then my father sat down. O miserable, miserable me! At that very moment I could have proved my darling innocent, but I did not know it!

‘The chief of the court asked:

‘”Is there any here to defend the prisoner?”

‘I rose and said:

‘”Why should he steal that hook, or any or all of them? In another day he would have been heir to the whole!”

I stood waiting. There was a long silence, the steam from the many breaths rising about me like a fog. At last one elder after another nodded his head slowly several times, and muttered, “There is force in what the child has said.” Oh, the heart-lift that was in those words!– so transient, but, oh, so precious! I sat down.

‘”If any would say further, let him speak now, or after hold his peace,” said the chief of the court.

‘My father rose and said:

‘”In the night a form passed by me in the gloom, going toward the treasury and presently returned. I think, now, it was the stranger.”

‘Oh, I was like to swoon! I had supposed that that was my secret; not the grip of the great Ice God himself could have dragged it out of my heart. The chief of the court said sternly to my poor Kalula:


‘Kalula hesitated, then answered:

‘”It was I. I could not sleep for thinking of the beautiful hooks. I went there and kissed them and fondled them, to appease my spirit and drown it in a harmless joy, then I put them back. I may have dropped one, but I stole none.”

‘Oh, a fatal admission to make in such a place! There was an awful hush. I knew he had pronounced his own doom, and that all was over. On every face you could see the words hieroglyphed: “It is a confession!–and paltry, lame, and thin.”

‘I sat drawing in my breath in faint gasps–and waiting. Presently, I heard the solemn words I knew were coming; and each word, as it came, was a knife in my heart:

‘”It is the command of the court that the accused be subjected to the trial by water.”

‘Oh, curses be upon the head of him who brought “trial by water” to our land! It came, generations ago, from some far country that lies none knows where. Before that our fathers used augury and other unsure methods of trial, and doubtless some poor guilty creatures escaped with their lives sometimes; but it is not so with trial by water, which is an invention by wiser men than we poor ignorant savages are. By it the innocent are proved innocent, without doubt or question, for they drown; and the guilty are proven guilty with the same certainty, for they do not drown. My heart was breaking in my bosom, for I said, “He is innocent, and he will go down under the waves and I shall never see him more.”

‘I never left his side after that. I mourned in his arms all the precious hours, and he poured out the deep stream of his love upon me, and oh, I was so miserable and so happy! At last, they tore him from me, and I followed sobbing after them, and saw them fling him into the sea– then I covered my face with my hands. Agony? Oh, I know the deepest deeps of that word!

‘The next moment the people burst into a shout of malicious joy, and I took away my hands, startled. Oh, bitter sight–he was swimming! My heart turned instantly to stone, to ice. I said, “He was guilty, and he lied to me!” I turned my back in scorn and went my way homeward.

‘They took him far out to sea and set him on an iceberg that was drifting southward in the great waters. Then my family came home, and my father said to me:

‘”Your thief sent his dying message to you, saying, ‘Tell her I am innocent, and that all the days and all the hours and all the minutes while I starve and perish I shall love her and think of her and bless the day that gave me sight of her sweet face.'” Quite pretty, even poetical!

‘I said, “He is dirt–let me never hear mention of him again.” And oh, to think–he was innocent all the time!

‘Nine months–nine dull, sad months–went by, and at last came the day of the Great Annual Sacrifice, when all the maidens of the tribe wash their faces and comb their hair. With the first sweep of my comb out came the fatal fish-hook from where it had been all those months nestling, and I fell fainting into the arms of my remorseful father! Groaning, he said, “We murdered him, and I shall never smile again!” He has kept his word. Listen; from that day to this not a month goes by that I do not comb my hair. But oh, where is the good of it all now!’

So ended the poor maid’s humble little tale–whereby we learn that since a hundred million dollars in New York and twenty-two fish-hooks on the border of the Arctic Circle represent the same financial supremacy, a man in straitened circumstances is a fool to stay in New York when he can buy ten cents’ worth of fish-hooks and emigrate.


‘It is the first time since the dawn-days of Creation that a Voice has gone crashing through space with such placid and complacent confidence and command.’


This last summer, when I was on my way back to Vienna from the Appetite-Cure in the mountains, I fell over a cliff in the twilight and broke some arms and legs and one thing or another, and by good luck was found by some peasants who had lost an ass, and they carried me to the nearest habitation, which was one of those large, low, thatch-roofed farm-houses, with apartments in the garret for the family, and a cunning little porch under the deep gable decorated with boxes of bright-coloured flowers and cats; on the ground floor a large and light sitting-room, separated from the milch-cattle apartment by a partition; and in the front yard rose stately and fine the wealth and pride of the house, the manure-pile. That sentence is Germanic, and shows that I am acquiring that sort of mastery of the art and spirit of the language which enables a man to travel all day in one sentence without changing cars.

There was a village a mile away, and a horse-doctor lived there, but there was no surgeon. It seemed a bad outlook; mine was distinctly a surgery case. Then it was remembered that a lady from Boston was summering in that village, and she was a Christian Science doctor and could cure anything. So she was sent for. It was night by this time, and she could not conveniently come, but sent word that it was no matter, there was no hurry, she would give me ‘absent treatment’ now, and come in the morning; meantime she begged me to make myself tranquil and comfortable and remember that there was nothing the matter with me. I thought there must be some mistake.

‘Did you tell her I walked off a cliff seventy-five feet high?’


‘And struck a boulder at the bottom and bounced?’


‘And struck another one and bounced again?’


‘And struck another one and bounced yet again?’


‘And broke the boulders?’


‘That accounts for it; she is thinking of the boulders. Why didn’t you tell her I got hurt, too?’

‘I did. I told her what you told me to tell her: that you were now but an incoherent series of compound fractures extending from your scalp-lock to your heels, and that the comminuted projections caused you to look like a hat-rack.’

‘And it was after this that she wished me to remember that there was nothing the matter with me?’

‘Those were her words.’

‘I do not understand it. I believe she has not diagnosed the case with sufficient care. Did she look like a person who was theorising, or did she look like one who has fallen off precipices herself and brings to the aid of abstract science the confirmation of personal experience?’


It was too large a contract for the Stubenmadchen’s vocabulary; she couldn’t call the hand. I allowed the subject to rest there, and asked for something to eat and smoke, and something hot to drink, and a basket to pile my legs in, and another capable person to come and help me curse the time away; but I could not have any of these things.


‘She said you would need nothing at all.’

‘But I am hungry and thirsty, and in desperate pain.’

‘She said you would have these delusions, but must pay no attention to them. She wants you to particularly remember that there are no such things as hunger and thirst and pain.’

‘She does, does she?’

‘It is what she said.’

‘Does she seem o be in full and functional possession of her intellectual plant, such as it is?’


‘Do they let her run at large, or do they tie her up?’

‘Tie her up?’

‘There, good-night, run along; you are a good girl, but your mental Geschirr is not arranged for light and airy conversation. Leave me to my delusions.’


It was a night of anguish, of course–at least I supposed it was, for it had all the symptoms of it–but it passed at last, and the Christian Scientist came, and I was glad. She was middle-aged, and large and bony and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly deliberate. She unpinned and unhooked and uncoupled her upholsteries one by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand and hung the articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out of her hand-bag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it without hurry, and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without passion:

‘Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with its dumb servants.’

I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt, so that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence, she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms–

‘One does not feel,’ she explained; ‘there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent as a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it.’

‘But if it hurts, just the same–‘

‘It doesn’t. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of reality. Pain is unreal; hence pain cannot hurt.’

In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said ‘Ouch!’ and went tranquilly on with her talk. ‘You should never allow yourself to speak of how you feel, nor permit others to ask you how you are feeling: you should never concede that you are ill, nor permit others to talk about disease or pain or death or similar non-existences in your preserve. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty imaginings.’ Just at that point the Stubenmadchen trod on the cat’s tail, and the cat let fly a frenzy of cat-profanity. I asked with caution:

‘Is a cat’s opinion about pain valuable?’

‘A cat has no opinion; opinions proceed from the mind only; the lower animals, being eternally perishable, have not been granted mind; without mind opinion is impossible.’

‘She merely imagined she felt a pain–the cat?’

‘She cannot imagine a pain, for imagination is an effect of mind; without mind, there is no imagination. A cat has no imagination.’

‘Then she had a real pain?’

‘I have already told you there is no such thing as real pain.’

‘It is strange and interesting. I do wonder what was the matter with the cat. Because, there being no such thing as real pain, and she not being able to imagine an imaginary thing, it would seem that God in his Pity has compensated the cat with some kind of a mysterious emotion useable when her tail is trodden on which for the moment joins cat and Christian in one common brotherhood of–‘

She broke in with an irritated–

‘Peace! The cat feels nothing, the Christian feels nothing. Your empty and foolish imaginings are profanation and blasphemy, and can do you an injury. It is wiser and better and holier to recognise and confess that there is no such thing as disease or pain or death.’

‘I am full of imaginary tortures,’ I said, ‘but I do not think I could be any more uncomfortable if they were real ones. What must I do to get rid of them?’

‘There is no occasion to get rid of them, since they do not exist. They are illusions propagated by matter, and matter has no existence; there is no such thing as matter.’

‘It sounds right and clear, but yet it seems in a degree elusive; it seems to slip through, just when you think you are getting a grip on it.’


‘Well, for instance: if there is no such thing as matter, how can matter propagate things?’

In her compassion she almost smiled. She would have smiled if there were any such thing as a smile.

‘It is quite simple,’ she said; ‘the fundamental propositions of Christian Science explain it, and they are summarised in the four following self-evident propositions: 1. God is All in all. 2. God is good. Good is Mind. 3. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter. 4. Life, God, omnipotent Good, deny death, evil sin, disease. There– now you see.’

It seemed nebulous: it did not seem to say anything about the difficulty in hand–how non-existent matter can propagate illusions. I said, with some hesitancy:

‘Does–does it explain?’

‘Doesn’t it? Even if read backward it will do it.’

With a budding hope, I asked her to do it backward.

‘Very well. Disease sin evil death deny Good omnipotent God life matter is nothing all being Spirit God Mind is Good good is God all in All is God. There–do you understand now?

‘It–it–well, it is plainer than it was before; still–‘


‘Could you try it some more ways?’

‘As many as you like: it always means the same. Interchanged in any way you please it cannot be made to mean anything different from what it means when put in any other way. Because it is perfect. You can jumble it all up, and it makes no difference: it always comes out the way it was before. It was a marvellous mind that produced it. As a mental tour de force it is without a mate, it defies alike the simple, the concrete, and the occult.’

‘It seems to be a corker.’

I blushed for the word, but it was out before I could stop it.

‘A what?’

‘A–wonderful structure–combination, so to speak, or profound thoughts– unthinkable ones–un–‘

‘It is true. Read backwards, or forwards, or perpendicularly, or at any given angle, these four propositions will always be found to agree in statement and proof.’

‘Ah–proof. Now we are coming at it. The statements agree; they agree with–with–anyway, they agree; I noticed that; but what is it they prove–I mean, in particular?’

‘Why, nothing could be clearer. They prove: 1. GOD–Principle, Life, Truth, Love, Soul, Spirit, Mind. Do you get that?’

‘I–well, I seem to. Go on, please.

‘2. MAN–God’s universal idea, individual, perfect, eternal. Is it clear?’

‘It–I think so. Continue.’

‘3. IDEA–An image in Mind; the immediate object of understanding. There it is–the whole sublime Arcana of Christian Science in a nutshell. Do you find a weak place in it anywhere?’

‘Well–no; it seems strong.’

‘Very well. There is more. Those three constitute the Scientific Definition of Immortal Mind. Next, we have the Scientific Definition of Mortal Mind. Thus. FIRST DEGREE: Depravity. 1. Physical–Passions and appetites, fear, depraved will, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, disease, death.’

‘Phantasms, madam–unrealities, as I understand it.’

‘Every one. SECOND DEGREE: Evil Disappearing. 1. Moral–Honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance. Is it clear?’


‘THIRD DEGREE: Spiritual Salvation. 1. Spiritual–Faith, wisdom, power, purity, understanding, health, love. You see how searchingly and co-ordinately interdependent and anthropomorphous it all is. In this Third Degree, as we know by the revelations of Christian Science, mortal mind disappears.’

‘Not earlier?’

‘No, not until the teaching and preparation for the Third Degree are completed.’

‘It is not until then that one is enabled to take hold of Christian Science effectively, and with the right sense of sympathy and kinship, as I understand you. That is to say, it could not succeed during the process of the Second Degree, because there would still be remains of mind left; and therefore–but I interrupted you. You were about to further explain the good results proceeding from the erosions and disintegrations effected by the Third Degree. It is very interesting: go on, please.’

‘Yes, as I was saying, in this Third Degree mortal mind disappears. Science so reverses the evidence before the corporeal human senses as to make this scriptural testimony true in our hearts, “the last shall be first and the first shall be last,” that God and His idea may be to us– what divinity really is, and must of necessity be–all-inclusive.’

‘It is beautiful. And with that exhaustive exactness your choice and arrangement of words confirms and establishes what you have claimed for the powers and functions of the Third Degree. The Second could probably produce only temporary absence of mind, it is reserved to the Third to make it permanent. A sentence framed under the auspices of the Second could have a kind of meaning–a sort of deceptive semblance of it– whereas it is only under the magic of the Third that that defect would disappear. Also, without doubt, it is the Third Degree that contributes another remarkable specialty to Christian Science: viz., ease and flow and lavishness of words, and rhythm and swing and smoothness. There must be a special reason for this?’

‘Yes–God-all, all-God, good Good, non-Matter, Matteration, Spirit, Bones, Truth.’

‘That explains it.’

‘There is nothing in Christian Science that is not explicable; for God is one, Time is one, Individuality is one, and may be one of a series, one of many, as an individual man, individual horse; whereas God is one, not one of a series, but one alone and without an equal.’

‘These are noble thoughts. They make one burn to know more. How does Christian Science explain the spiritual relation of systematic duality to incidental reflection?’

‘Christian Science reverses the seeming relation of Soul and body–as astronomy reverses the human perception of the movement of the solar system–and makes body tributary to Mind. As it is the earth which is in motion, while the sun is at rest, though in viewing the sun rise one finds it impossible to believe the sun not to be really rising, so the body is but the humble servant of the restful Mind, though it seems otherwise to finite sense; but we shall never understand this while we admit that soul is in body, or mind in matter, and that man is included in non-intelligence. Soul is God, unchangeable and eternal; and man coexists with and reflects Soul, for the All-in-all is the Altogether, and the Altogether embraces the All-one, Soul-Mind, Mind-Soul, Love, Spirit, Bones, Liver, one of a series, alone and without an equal.’

(It is very curious, the effect which Christian Science has upon the verbal bowels. Particularly the Third Degree; it makes one think of a dictionary with the cholera. But I only thought this; I did not say it.)

‘What is the origin of Christian Science? Is it a gift of God, or did it just happen?’

‘In a sense, it is a gift of God. That is to say, its powers are from Him, but the credit of the discovery of the powers and what they are for is due to an American lady.’

‘Indeed? When did this occur?’

‘In 1866. That is the immortal date when pain and disease and death disappeared from the earth to return no more for ever. That is, the fancies for which those terms stand, disappeared. The things themselves had never existed; therefore as soon as it was perceived that there were no such things, they were easily banished. The history and nature of the great discovery are set down in the book here, and–‘

‘Did the lady write the book?’

‘Yes, she wrote it all, herself. The title is “Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures”–for she explains the Scriptures; they were not understood before. Not even by the twelve Disciples. She begins thus–I will read it to you.’

But she had forgotten to bring her glasses.

‘Well, it is no matter,’ she said, ‘I remember the words–indeed, all Christian Scientists know the book by heart; it is necessary in our practice. We should otherwise make mistakes and do harm. She begins thus: “In the year 1866 I discovered the Science of Metaphysical Healing, and named it Christian Science.” And she says–quite beautifully, I think–“Through Christian Science, religion and medicine are inspired with a diviner nature and essence, fresh pinions are given to faith and understanding, and thoughts acquaint themselves intelligently with God.” Her very words.’

‘It is elegant. And it is a fine thought, too–marrying religion to medicine, instead of medicine to the undertaker in the old way; for religion and medicine properly belong together, they being the basis of all spiritual and physical health. What kind of medicine do you give for the ordinary diseases, such as–‘

‘We never give medicine in any circumstances whatever! We–‘

‘But, madam, it says–‘

‘I don’t care what it says, and I don’t wish to talk about it.’

‘I am sorry if I have offended, but you see the mention seemed in some way inconsistent, and–‘

‘There are no inconsistencies in Christian Science. The thing is impossible, for the Science is absolute. It cannot be otherwise, since it proceeds directly from the All-in-all and the Everything-in-Which, also Soul, Bones, Truth, one of a series, alone and without equal. It is Mathematics purified from material dross and made spiritual.’

‘I can see that, but–‘

‘It rests upon the immovable basis of an Apodictical Principle.’

The word flattened itself against my mind trying to get in, and disordered me a little, and before I could inquire into its pertinency, she was already throwing the needed light:

‘This Apodictical Principle is the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind-healing, the sovereign Omnipotence which delivers the children of men from pain, disease, decay, and every ill that flesh is heir to.’

‘Surely not every ill, every decay?’

‘Every one; there are no exceptions; there is no such thing as decay–it is an unreality, it has no existence.’

‘But without your glasses your failing eyesight does not permit you to–‘

‘My eyesight cannot fail; nothing can fail; the Mind is master, and the Mind permits no retrogression.’

She was under the inspiration of the Third Degree, therefore there could be no profit in continuing this part of the subject. I shifted to other ground and inquired further concerning the Discoverer of the Science.

‘Did the discovery come suddenly, like Klondike, or after long study and calculation, like America?’

‘The comparisons are not respectful, since they refer to trivialities– but let it pass. I will answer in the Discoverer’s own words: “God had been graciously fitting me, during many years, for the reception of a final revelation of the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind-healing.”‘

‘Many years? How many?’

‘Eighteen centuries!’

‘All God, God-good, good-God, Truth, Bones, Liver, one of a series alone and without equal–it is amazing!’

‘You may well say it, sir. Yet it is but the truth. This American lady, our revered and sacred founder, is distinctly referred to and her coming prophesied, in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse; she could not have been more plainly indicated by St. John without actually mentioning her name.’

‘How strange, how wonderful!’

‘I will quote her own words, for her “Key to the Scriptures:” “The twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse has a special suggestiveness in connection with this nineteenth century.” There–do you note that? Think–note it well.’

‘But–what does it mean?’

‘Listen, and you will know. I quote her inspired words again: “In the opening of the Sixth Seal, typical of six thousand years since Adam, there is one distinctive feature which has special reference to the present age. Thus:

‘”Revelation xii. 1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven–a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”

‘That is our Head, our Chief, our Discoverer of Christian Science– nothing can be plainer, nothing surer. And note this:

‘”Revelation xii. 6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God.”

‘That is Boston.’

‘I recognise it, madam. These are sublime things and impressive; I never understood these passages before; please go on with the–with the– proofs.’

‘Very well. Listen:

‘”And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he had in his hand a little book.”

‘A little book, merely a little book–could words be modester? Yet how stupendous its importance! Do you know what book that was?’

‘Was it–‘

‘I hold it in my hand–“Christian Science”!’

‘Love, Livers, Lights, Bones, Truth, Kidneys, one of a series, alone and without equal–it is beyond imagination and wonder!’

‘Hear our Founder’s eloquent words: “Then will a voice from harmony cry, ‘Go and take the little book; take it and eat it up, and it shall make thy belly bitter; but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.’ Mortal, obey the heavenly evangel. Take up Divine Science. Read it from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it. It will be indeed sweet at its first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find its digestion bitter.” You now know the history of our dear and holy Science, sir, and that its origin is not of this earth, but only its discovery. I will leave the book with you and will go, now, but give yourself no uneasiness–I will give you absent treatment from now till I go to bed.’


Under the powerful influence of the near treatment and the absent treatment together, my bones were gradually retreating inward and disappearing from view. The good word took a brisk start, now, and went on quite swiftly. My body was diligently straining and stretching, this way and that, to accommodate the processes of restoration, and every minute or two I heard a dull click inside and knew that the two ends of a fracture had been successfully joined. This muffled clicking and gritting and grinding and rasping continued during the next three hours, and then stopped–the connections had all been made. All except dislocations; there were only seven of these: hips, shoulders, knees, neck; so that was soon over; one after another they slipped into their sockets with a sound like pulling a distant cork, and I jumped up as good as new, as to framework, and sent for the horse-doctor.

I was obliged to do this because I had a stomach-ache and a cold in the head, and I was not willing to trust these things any longer in the hands of a woman whom I did not know, and in whose ability to successfully treat mere disease I had lost all confidence. My position was justified by the fact that the cold and the ache had been in her charge from the first, along with the fractures, but had experienced not a shade of relief; and indeed the ache was even growing worse and worse, and more and more bitter, now, probably on account of the protracted abstention from food and drink.

The horse-doctor came, a pleasant man and full of hope and professional interest in the case. In the matter of smell he was pretty aromatic, in fact quite horsey, and I tried to arrange with him for absent treatment, but it was not in his line, so out of delicacy I did not press it. He looked at my teeth and examined my hock, and said my age and general condition were favourable to energetic measures; therefore he would give me something to turn the stomach-ache into the botts and the cold in the head into the blind staggers; then he should be on his own beat and would know what to do. He made up a bucket of bran-mash, and said a dipperful of it every two hours, alternated with a drench with turpentine and axle-grease in it, would either knock my ailments out of me in twenty-four hours or so interest me in other ways as to make me forget they were on the premises. He administered my first dose himself, then took his leave, saying I was free to eat and drink anything I pleased and in any quantity I liked. But I was not hungry any more, and did not care for food.

I took up the ‘Christian Scientist’ book and read half of it, then took a dipperful of drench and read the other half. The resulting experiences were full of interest and adventure. All through the rumblings and grindings and quakings and effervescings accompanying the evolution of the ache into the botts and the cold into the blind staggers I could note the generous struggle for mastery going on between the mash and the drench and the literature; and often I could tell which was ahead, and could easily distinguish the literature from the others when the others were separate, though not when they were mixed; for when a bran-mash and an eclectic drench are mixed together they look just like the Apodictical Principle out on a lark, and no one can tell it from that. The finish was reached at last, the evolutions were complete and a fine success; but I think that this result could have been achieved with fewer materials. I believe the mash was necessary to the conversion of the stomach-ache into the boots, but I think one could develop the blind staggers out of the literature by itself; also, that blind staggers produced in this way would be of a better quality and more lasting than any produced by the artificial processes of a horse-doctor.

For of all the strange, and frantic, and incomprehensible, and uninterpretable books which the imagination of man has created, surely this one is the prize sample. It is written with a limitless confidence and complacency, and with a dash and stir and earnestness which often compel the effects of eloquence, even when the words do not seem to have any traceable meaning. There are plenty of people who imagine they understand the book; I know this, for I have talked with them; but in all cases they were people who also imagined that there were no such things as pain, sickness, and death, and no realities in the world; nothing actually existent but Mind. It seems to me to modify the value of their testimony. When these people talk about Christian Science they do as Mrs. Fuller did; they do not use their own language, but the book’s; they pour out the book’s showy incoherences, and leave you to find out later that they were not originating, but merely quoting; they seem to know the volume by heart, and to revere it as they would a Bible–another Bible, perhaps I ought to say. Plainly the book was written under the mental desolations of the Third Degree, and I feel sure that none but the membership of that Degree can discover meanings in it. When you read it you seem to be listening to a lively and aggressive and oracular speech delivered in an unknown tongue, a speech whose spirit you get but not the particulars; or, to change the figure, you seem to be listening to a vigorous instrument which is making a noise it thinks is a tune, but which to persons not members of the band is only the martial tooting of a trombone, and merely stirs the soul through the noise but does not convey a meaning.

The book’s serenities of self-satisfaction do almost seem to smack of a heavenly origin–they have no blood-kin in the earth. It is more than human to be so placidly certain about things, and so finely superior, and so airily content with one’s performance. Without ever presenting anything which may rightfully be called by the strong name of Evidence, and sometimes without even mentioning a reason for a deduction at all, it thunders out the startling words, ‘I have Proved’ so and so! It takes the Pope and all the great guns of his church in battery assembled to authoritatively settle and establish the meaning of a sole and single unclarified passage of Scripture, and this at vast cost of time and study and reflection, but the author of this work is superior to all that: she finds the whole Bible in an unclarified condition, and at small expense of time and no expense of mental effort she clarifies it from lid to lid, reorganises and improves the meanings, then authoritatively settles and establishes them with formulae which you cannot tell from ‘Let there be light!’ and ‘Here you have it!’ It is the first time since the dawn-days of Creation that a Voice has gone crashing through space with such placid and complacent confidence and command.


A word upon a question of authorship. Not that quite; but, rather, a question of emendation and revision. We know that the Bible-Annex was not written by Mrs. Eddy, but was handed down to her eighteen hundred years ago by the Angel of the Apocalypse; but did she translate it alone, or did she have help? There seems to be evidence that she had help. For there are four several copyrights on it–1875, 1885, 1890, 1894. It did not come down in English, for in that language it could not have acquired copyright–there were no copyright laws eighteen centuries ago, and in my opinion no English language–at least up there. This makes it substantially certain that the Annex is a translation. Then, was not the first translation complete? If it was, on what grounds were the later copyrights granted?

I surmise that the first translation was poor; and that a friend or friends of Mrs. Eddy mended its English three times, and finally got it into its present shape, where the grammar is plenty good enough, and the sentences are smooth and plausible though they do not mean anything. I think I am right in this surmise, for Mrs. Eddy cannot write English to-day, and this is argument that she never could. I am not able to guess who did the mending, but I think it was not done by any member of the Eddy Trust, nor by the editors of the ‘Christian Science Journal,’ for their English is not much better than Mrs. Eddy’s.

However, as to the main point: it is certain that Mrs. Eddy did not doctor the Annex’s English herself. Her original, spontaneous, undoctored English furnishes ample proof of this. Here are samples from recent articles from her unappeasable pen; double columned with them are a couple of passages from the Annex. It will be seen that they throw light. The italics are mine:

1. ‘What plague spot, ‘Therefore the efficient or bacilli were (sic) gnawing remedy is to destroy the (sic) at the heart of this patient’s unfortunate belief, metropolis… and bringing by both silently and audibly it on bended knee? arguing the opposite facts in Why, it was an institute that regard to harmonious being had entered its vitals (sic) representing man as that, among other things, healthful instead of diseased, taught games,’ et cetera. (P. and showing that it is 670, ‘C.S.Journal,’ article impossible for matter to suffer, entitled ‘A Narrative–by to feel pain or heat, to be Mary Baker G. Eddy.’) thirsty or sick.’ (P. 375, Annex.) 2. ‘Parks sprang up (sic)…
electric street cars run ‘Man is never sick; for (sic) merrily through several Mind is not sick, and matter streets, concrete sidewalks cannot be. A false belief and macadamised roads dotted is both the tempter and the (sic) the place,’ et cetera. tempted, the sin and the (Ibid.) sinner, the disease and its 3. ‘Shorn (sic) of its cause. It is well to be calm suburbs it had indeed little in sickness; to be hopeful is left to admire, save to (sic) still better; but to such as fancy a skeleton understand that sickness is not above ground breathing (sic) real, and that Truth can slowly through a barren (sic) destroy it, is best of all, for breast.’ (Ibid.) it is the universal and perfect remedy.’ (Chapter xii.,

You notice the contrast between the smooth, plausible, elegant, addled English of the doctored Annex and the lumbering, ragged, ignorant output of the translator’s natural, spontaneous, and unmedicated penwork. The English of the Annex has been slicked up by a very industrious and painstaking hand–but it was not Mrs. Eddy’s.

If Mrs. Eddy really wrote or translated the Annex, her original draft was exactly in harmony with the English of her plague-spot or bacilli which were gnawing at the insides of the metropolis and bringing its heart on bended knee, thus exposing to the eye the rest of the skeleton breathing slowly through a barren breast. And it bore little or no resemblance to the book as we have it now–now that the salaried polisher has holystoned all of the genuine Eddyties out of it.

Will the plague-spot article go into a volume just as it stands? I think not. I think the polisher will take off his coat and vest and cravat and ‘demonstrate over’ it a couple of weeks and sweat it into a shape something like the following–and then Mrs. Eddy will publish it and leave people to believe that she did the polishing herself:

1. What injurious influence was it that was affecting the city’s morals? It was a social club which propagated an interest in idle amusements, disseminated a knowledge of games, et cetera.

2. By the magic of the new and nobler influences the sterile spaces were transformed into wooded parks, the merry electric car replaced the melancholy ‘bus, smooth concrete the tempestuous plank sidewalk, the macadamised road the primitive corduroy, et cetera.

3. Its pleasant suburbs gone, there was little left to admire save the wrecked graveyard with its uncanny exposures.

The Annex contains one sole and solitary humorous remark. There is a most elaborate and voluminous Index, and it is preceded by this note:

‘This Index will enable the student to find any thought or idea contained in the book.’


No one doubts–certainly not I–that the mind exercises a powerful influence over the body. From the beginning of time, the sorcerer, the interpreter of dreams, the fortune-teller, the charlatan, the quack, the wild medicine-man, the educated physician, the mesmerist, and the hypnotist have made use of the client’s imagination to help them in their work. They have all recognised the potency and availability of that force. Physicians cure many patients with a bread pill; they know that where the disease is only a fancy, the patient’s confidence in the doctor will make the bread pill effective.

Faith in the doctor. Perhaps that is the entire thing. It seems to look like it. In old times the King cured the king’s evil by the touch of the royal hand. He frequently made extraordinary cures. Could his footman have done it? No–not in his own clothes. Disguised as the King, could he have done it? I think we may not doubt it. I think we may feel sure that it was not the King’s touch that made the cure in any instance, but the patient’s faith in the efficacy of a King’s touch. Genuine and remarkable cures have been achieved through contact with the relics of a saint. Is it not likely that any other bones would have done as well if the substitution had been concealed from the patient? When I was a boy, a farmer’s wife who lived five miles from our village, had great fame as a faith-doctor–that was what she called herself. Sufferers came to her from all around, and she laid her hand upon them and said, ‘Have faith– it is all that is necessary,’ and they went away well of their ailments. She was not a religious woman, and pretended to no occult powers. She said that the patient’s faith in her did the work. Several times I saw her make immediate cures of severe toothaches. My mother was the patient. In Austria there is a peasant who drives a great trade in this sort of industry and has both the high and the low for patients. He gets into prison every now and then for practising without a diploma, but his business is as brisk as ever when he gets out, for his work is unquestionably successful and keeps his reputation high. In Bavaria there is a man who performed so many great cures that he had to retire from his profession of stage-carpentering in order to meet the demand of his constantly increasing body of customers. He goes on from year to year doing his miracles, and has become very rich. He pretends to no religious helps, no supernatural aids, but thinks there is something in his make-up which inspires the confidence of his patients, and that it is this confidence which does the work and not some mysterious power issuing from himself.

Within the last quarter of a century, in America, several sects of curers have appeared under various names and have done notable things in the way of healing ailments without the use of medicines. There are the Mind Cure, the Faith Cure, the Prayer Cure, the Mental-Science Cure, and the Christian-Science Cure; and apparently they all do their miracles with the same old powerful instrument–the patient’s imagination. Differing names, but no difference in the process. But they do not give that instrument the credit; each sect claims that its way differs from the ways of the others.

They all achieve some cures, there is no question about it; and the Faith Cure and the Prayer Cure probably do no harm when they do no good, since they do not forbid the patient to help out the cure with medicines if he wants to; but the others bar medicines, and claim ability to cure every conceivable human ailment through the application of their mental forces alone. They claim ability to cure malignant cancer, and other affections which have never been cured in the history of the race. There would seem to be an element of danger here. It has the look of claiming too much, I think. Public confidence would probably be increased if less were claimed.

I believe it might be shown that all the ‘mind’ sects except Christian Science have lucid intervals; intervals in which they betray some diffidence, and in effect confess that they are not the equals of the Deity; but if the Christian Scientist even stops with being merely the equal of the Deity, it is not clearly provable by his Christian-Science Amended Bible. In the usual Bible the Deity recognises pain, disease, and death as facts, but the Christian Scientist knows better. Knows better, and is not diffident about saying so.

The Christian Scientist was not able to cure my stomach-ache and my cold; but the horse-doctor did it. This convinces me that Christian Science claims too much. In my opinion it ought to let diseases alone and confine itself to surgery. There it would have everything its own way.

The horse-doctor charged me thirty kreutzers, and I paid him; in fact I