by Fitz Hugh Ludlow
THE first five years of my manhood were too painful to be dwelt
upon. Years, it may be, of much wrong doing—years certainly of great
ignorance and unwisdom—years also of suffering like the inextricable
entanglements of some slowly thickening nightmare. Let them be summed
up in this: that without any world-knowledge I went into the world,
without business capacity I attempted business, with a morbid nature
which felt the breath of real life as a flayed surface feels a draught
of Winter wind, I rashly thrust myself into the tumult of a great city
and struggled for prizes with the strong. I had a partner. At this day
the smile with which I speak that word is not one of bitterness, but
simply of calm, experienced pity for the man that long ago I ceased to
be. For what partnership can there be between strength and
weakness—the bold, pushing mind of the market-place, the self-
distrusting, shrinking, moody nature of the closet? Because I did not
know this, or knowing, madly shut my eyes to it, I failed in my first
scheme of life.
There were a few bright days when the venture looked prosperous,
and cause delayed asserting itself in effect. I verily believed that I
had conquered the course of nature—that even _I_ might win the race of
the world. There came long days of growing doubt, of mutual coldness
between my partner and me. Angry recriminations followed, and at last
with a few fierce words we parted.
At this moment, though each impartial calm has succeeded to the
former tempestuous bitterness, I cannot tell which was in the wrong.
The whole affair was an inexplicable enigma to me. I was accused of
fraud, but I could recollect no fraud. Of deceit, but my brain was so
distracted by things I had no talents for, that I knew not true from
false. Of treachery—how could any man enmeshed like me beguile
After that there were law suits—arrests—yes, even one short
imprisonment. During that latter, which lasted two days and nights,
nothing but the absolute barreness of all means in my narrow cell
prevented my ending that miserable life of mine.
At last—with my once sufficient property dwindled to a pauper's
pension—the law let me go. The fraud which I could not remember, which
I never knew when I committed it, which at this day I do not
understand—was only not quite proven. My counsel told me I had escaped
by a hair's breadth, and I know that he worked night and day to save
me. I have wondered since, how many men like me may be shuddering all
night long in the stone coffins of Auburn, of Sing Sing? Vae victis!
Prison is for the weak as well as the wicked.
Thus I passed the first five years of my manhood. Can you wonder
that I cast them behind me—that I drop them in the depths of the sea?
Let them be forgotten, unspoken things!
But because a man cannot be quite miserable while the Destinies
have some work left for him to do—a great kindness was shown to me in
that hour when I found myself penniless—disgraced—utterly bewildered,
and twenty six years old.
An old friend of my father's—head of an asylum for deaf mutes-
-invited me to become one of his assistants. I accepted the offer as if
it had been a call into Heaven from the beckoning hands of the angels!
I had been thinking of the silence of death—here were life and silence
possible. No more maddening rush of feet, no more tumult of wrathful
voices, no more cries of conflict or pain—but a great overshadowing
rest and hush. This was better than being rich again, with one more
chance to risk my ruin; and for the first time in months I felt my eyes
grow wet, and thanked God.
Seven o'clock of a Saturday evening in September saw me within the
walls of this asylum for the first time. A mute servant maid opened the
door of the great front hall—a mute porter carried my trunks up the
broad staircase to my room—and while I stood waiting and wondering at
the solemn silence which reigned through that immense home of seven
hundred living souls—looking up at the high arched ceiling of spotless
white, and the heavy doors of shining oak, with a feeling that all this
largeness of proportion must be one of the traits of a dream in which
spirits were thronging around me, silent to me only because I was
mortal—my friend came down the opposite corridor and spoke my name.
Not a look—not a tone in his voice recalled the past, as with a few
kind words he welcomed me _home_.
"You will find your room ready for you," said he. "You must be
dusty and hungry. After you change your clothes—come down to my
parlor—No. 30—and take supper with me. At eight o'clock the pupils
hold one of their Saturday evening soirees in the large assembly room.
It is the only time of the week that the girls' and boys' departments
meet on a social footing. They have games- -and many of them dance very
prettily. If you are not too tired, this will be a fine opportunity for
you to become acquainted with them and their peculiar characteristics.
What do you say?"
"That it will interest me greatly. I'll be with you in five
Supper being finished we repaired to the assembly room. This was a
house in itself—one hundred feet in length, sixty in breadth and with
a ceiling twenty five feet high. Its floor had no carpet and needed
none—for its planks of yellow pine were so daintily clean, and so
beautifully variegated by the darkened natural grain of the wood, that
a refined eye felt no desire to replace them even by mosaics. In this
immense hall were gathered all but those very youngest pupils of the
institution who had by this time been been fast asleep for an hour in
the baby-beds of their department. Every age above the child of seven
or eight years was represented in this concourse. To my surprise, many
of the pupils were full grown young men and women. The larger portion
of them were dressed in that cheap, neat uniform of blue and white
check blouses and grey pantaloons for which the state contributes the
raw materials and the apprentice tailors of the institution do the
making up—or dark blue dresses and white aprons from the same
warehouse, and of like home construction. A hundred, it may be, of both
sexes, were paying pupils from families more or less opulent—and these
were permitted to dress as they chose within the boundaries of elegant
simplicity. Notwithstanding this discrepany in attire—and the social
interval plainly indicated, a most democratic equality of feeling
seemed to pervade the whole party. Check and blue were at ease in the
presence of silk and broadcloth—the soft white fingers that were born
to gloves, unshrinkingly clasped the rough brown hands of labor, in all
the common games.
Dr. Gaskell and I took seats on a sofa near the door where we could
watch the universal merriment without appearing to intrude the presence
of a stranger.
"Do they never _laugh_? I asked.
"Sometimes—but the sound is not pleasant to hearing ears. It is
harsh because they are without any test for its modulations. As they
grow up they become aware of this—and put a restraint upon themselves.
The younger children laugh like wild beasts— there, you hear that
burst from those little fellows at the other end of the room? How
jarring it seems! The older—more refined pupils—unless in severe
pain, never venture an audible sound."
At this instant, a low silvery gurgle of laughter—like a wood-
robin's evening note or the tone of a delicate harmonic glass— welled
up from a throng at our side.
"Ah!" said Dr. Gaskell. "I should have made one exception. We have
a most remarkable girl here who has never become entirely inaudible. It
was she who laughed then. And she always laughs in that tone. How she
contrives to make her voice so sweet is a never-ceasing enigma to me.
If I were superstitious I should believe that her inner ear is in
communication with the angels— that she hears _their_ laugh and
repeats it in her own, modulated by them. In twenty five years
acquaintance with every grade and variety of deaf-mutes I have never
met a parallel instance."
"Are you sure that she does not hear in some slight degree?"
"Perfectly sure." Her external sense of sound is so near the
absolute zero point as the organs can possibly be reduced. I asked
myself the same question—trying to find a clue to her remarkable
idiosyncrasy—till last fourth of July—when I saw my naughty little
boy fire a pistol close beside her ear without in the least startling
"What is her name?"
"And how old is she?"
"Seventeen. She has been here since she was nine. Nearly half her
life. I expect that we must part with her year after next— for her
adopted father, Major Braithwaite, is determined that she shall be
graduated as soon as possible. His only real relation to her is that of
second cousin—but I believe he loves her as well as he might have
loved wife and children. He has never married—she seems all in all to
him. He comes to see her whenever he can get furlough—and has only
permitted her to stay with us so long because he is satisfied that she
has great genius and wishes it cultivated to the utmost. I agree with
him—she is a wonderful girl. But see—they are getting up a dance!"
"Where is the music?"
"Ha, ha! You are betrayed into the question that everybody from the
outside asks, when I invite him to a dance of the deaf-mutes! Think
again. What good would music do them?"
"How absurd in me! Of course! But what pleasure can there be in
dancing without it? And how can they keep time?"
"They _do_ take pleasure in it. As to the fact of their keeping
time, you will see for yourself presently. Of its reason, you are as
good a judge as I. It's all conjecture—but you can choose between the
opinion I threw out just now, that Margaret Somers, who almost always
leads them, hears spirit music, and they follow her measure with their
eyes—and another one of a phrenological nature, that every man has an
organ of time independent of these fleshy flaps which we hear with, and
measures ideal successions quite inaudible externally."
The set had taken the floor. Eight of the older pupils stood
_en-carrer_, waiting some signal, as you and I would pause for the
music to begin. I did not need to be told who of the eight was Margaret
Somers. Standing opposite to us, in the head couple, her great blue
eyes looking far away and half upward—her head inclined as if
listening—her hands extended winningly but beseechingly, their gesture
full of wonderful expression, like one who asks silence in a lovely
tone—her almost aerial figure swaying unconsciously with that dramatic
grace which none but the deaf-mute can ever attain, which in the
deaf-mute is the embodiment of the very inmost soul of language—she
gave the signal and the dance began.
I could not believe it! Wonderful! Wonderful! I kept saying to Dr.
Gaskell, as the silent dancers went gliding through the evolutions of
their quadrille, and I, compelled by the absence of all other music,
and the suggestions of their inimitable motion, hummed in myself a
reminiscence of three strains to which I had so often kept gay time,
during the years which now were forever cast behind me.
Like some poor star-gazer, straining from his cold pinnacle to come
at the very heart of those far torch-bearers on the Olympian course of
the universe—enamored of their glory, awe-struck at the fleetness of
their tireless glancing round the cycles, and certain that they run to
the measure of some infinite unbearable music, could he but hear—I
bent further and further forward, devouring the glad faces of those
silent dancers with my eyes— until the last foot paused—and I leaped
to my feet, trembling strangely.
"How pale you are!" said Dr. Gaskell. "Do you feel ill?"
"No, but this dancing affects me very remarkably—_they must hear!
she_ at least."
"I assure you, they do not. Try it—call `Margaret' in your loudest
I hardly durst make the venture—so sure was I that it would
startle her—but I did it. And the result was just what any
unimpassioned spectator might have foreseen.
The doctor rose, and catching Margaret Somers's eye, signalled to
her. With the unembarrassed springy footstep of a child she came to us,
and the Doctor told her in the sign language that I was the new
teacher. For a moment she measured me from head to foot—not staring at
me, but gliding over me with a ripple of quiet sight—then smiled, and
confidingly shook my extended hand.
"Do you hear at all?" asked Dr. Gaskell manually, translating to me
the conversation as it proceeded.
She touched her ears and shook her head.
"Do you know what _music_ is?"
"Oh yes," she answered, her face gladdening suddenly, like a hill
side when the clouds break.
"What is music?"
For a moment she paused, her face changing into that expression of
deep concentration which is so well known to those familiar with the
deaf and dumb, and which is interpreted, even by those who have longest
known them, as "_waiting to be inspired_." Then she answered in signs
so marvellously vital that I had no need of Dr. Gaskell's tongue
"_Music is the heart's feeling of God close by, when He touches us
in quick throbs, and we try to measure them_."
I lay thinking of that answer all night. It seemed to ensphere like
a great soul all that the masters have sung and written from the day
that Israel rejoiced passing through the sea to the last echo of
Bertramo's tremendous entreaty in Robert Le Diable!
Three weeks had passed away since my coming to the asylum, and in
that time I had made no mean progress in the language of the hands.
_Hands_ I say advisedly, for it is a common error among outsiders to
suppose that the ordinary intercourse of the deaf and dumb is carried
on by means of the _fingers_ merely; in other words, that they _spell_
out their thoughts by the alphabet. Whereas, the truth is that this
admirable alphabet of theirs is seldom used because it is seldom
needed, a system of pantomime far superior in all qualities of grace
and expressiveness to any seen upon the stage, superseding it for all
ordinary purposes, and indeed far more accurately and rapidly conveying
delicate shades of meaning than any possible alphabetic speech save in
the rare cases where some profound or novel metaphysical assertion has
to be conveyed. Even in such instances I have seen the sign language
carried, by preference, to the very furthest limits of its capability,
and many of the abstruser tenets of Whateley or of Hickok which a
speaking teacher has required three readings to master have been
pantomimically given to my perfect understanding by a deaf-mute class
in logic or mental philosophy.
In the alphabet also, I was literary "_factus ad unguem_" But as
yet my province lay among the middle classes of pupils only. _Why_,
will be very evident. The dormant or just awakened minds of the younger
children need all the practised patience, ingenuity and technical
knowledge of their intellectual processes which can be grouped together
in the most experienced teacher, to conduct the delicate first steps of
their thinking and communicating life. For this reason, a highly
developed deaf- mute—if he has the rare faculty of meek forbearance,
is often their best master, as being the true "_hegemon_"—the leader
who never keeps farther ahead than the ranks can see him. Next in
importance and dignity of requirements is the teacher who takes charge
of the highest and graduating classes, composed of such pupils as have
emerged from the workshop of the merely objective faculties, and most
now be indoctrinated into truths demanding all the more inward
implements of the mind in their subtlest exercise.
Accordingly, it was only in the evenings that I could prosecute my
study of that wonderful new science, Margaret Somers. I improved every
hour of those, I can assure you. I set myself to the work of learning
her as I would a system of philosophy, or of the Mecanique Celeste.
After tea, it was customary for Dr. Gaskell to invite several of the
older pupils into his parlor, when for the time being we all threw off
the trammelling relations of master and scholar and talked together on
bare friendly terms. Two of the deaf-mutes who frequented these
_conversazioni_ possessed the auditory faculty just so far as
this—that by opening their mouths over the strings of a piano or
guitar they could catch the very faintest shadows of its vibrations
through the Eustachian tube—and enjoy the thin ghost of the music
rather as an impulse than a sound. It was both touching and amusing to
see three poor outcasts from one common world of musical
delights—bending over the sounding board of Mrs. Gaskell's piano,
listening literally with open mouth, and holding their breaths as in
the presence of some strange, beautiful angel, whose magic harpstrings
of tenuous air they feared to shatter by a sigh of bliss. As Mrs.
Gaskell played them some glad resounding strain—the Wedding March from
Midsummer Night's Dream, for instance, which was their favorite— I
have many a time seen them press their handkerchiefs to their eyes half
to let the quivering chords meet them in a sacred solitude of sense and
half to catch the tears which were falling thick and fast like rain in
On such occasions, Margaret Somers sat far apart from them, her
usually bright face settled into an expression of intense melancholy.
She had not even that poor relic of a sense. And invariably—after the
playing had ceased—she would ask them with great interest what music
they had been hearing tonight—if they enjoyed it as much as ever—and
_what it was like_.
I fancy that most of us hearing ears, would be puzzled by that
question. Imagine it asked in Fifth avenue or Beacon street, of a lady
just come back from Don Giovanni, her opera cloak, as you may say,
still fluttering with the rush of bravos and one or two little tremulos
of Zerlina lingering like frightened birds caught between it folds.
"What was Vedrai Carino _like_, to-night?" I wonder how she would
But the deaf-mutes who heard with their mouths seemed to find no
such puzzle. They took the quesiton quite as a matter of course, and
made replies that to us were very curious. Once, one of them told
Margaret that the Wedding March was like a beautiful peach tree, whose
fruit ripened so fast that you see the down blush deeper and deeper
after the fashion of a young girl's cheeks, and growing heavier till
the twigs bent almost to the ground, fall off, and becoming alive
danced away through the air to turn into a sunset! You may laugh at
this, but it gave Margaret great pleasure. She had a mind which could
find reality in the ghost of their ghost, and re-embody it for herself
into some weird Wedding March as I guess that Mendelssohn heard when he
caught at least its negative daguerreotype on his score. By a singular
coincidence I have also heard the two deaf-mutes describe Verdi's great
Zingarella to her, simultaneously as "the brightest possible Northern
It was on this last occasion, and by its suggestion, that an idea
which for months had been lying chaotic in my mind, began to find an
axis for itself and take on crystalline form.
First, I thought how strange it was that that these two friends of
Margaret habitually preferred the higher kinds of music—music for
which nine tenths of the hearing people, in this country, have just as
much penchant for as Chopin or Thalberg have for Old Dog Tray. By the
way, this latter was the very air which Mrs. Gaskell tried on them one
evening when they replied, with an effort of great politeness, that it
was a very nice _noise_. We, the hearing people, all laughed very
heartily at this, but _they_ saw nothing strange in it, and supposed
the distinction one which everybody made in the given case. It was
evident therefore, that their pleaure in music consisted in no mere
passive impression of the auditory nerve, but that they possessed
musical _feeling_ of a very marked order. How could this be, on the
common assumptions that all internal organs must be developed through
the outer? Must there not be, on the other hand, a vast possibility of
culture for this inner sense from inner sources— and through the other
still acute passages of external impressions—as our minds may be
lifted by the music of a dream? And if so, was it not likely that
Margaret Somers, superior to these two as she was in all spiritual
perceptions, and analogical expressions of rhythm, had the internal
organ of melodies and chords developed in the deep laboratory which we
called silence, to a still greater degree? Then, also, their
translations of music into form and color gave me a hint—which I had
been for months growing more and more willing to use for
_her_—because— but never mind now—I am anticipating.
Why might not _I_ be the one, whom Divine Music had sealed to carry
her message to that longing spirit?
This was the last bead on the rosary of the thoughts which I
counted on that evening in the parlor. I had come to the cross— a long
hard work to be done—but I did not grudge it. Again, when we had
separated for the night, I lay awake, hour after hour, considering at
which end I should take hold of it. Then the finger of dreams put
itself forth and touched the right place, without its aerial print
Old John Bull—"Tunefulle Maister Bull of Gresham"—as his
contemporaries used to call him, remarks in the course of some
fragmentary personal recollections he has left us, that the great
enjoyment of his own musical compositions was not vouchsafed him at the
the time of public performance—nor even during his own private
renderings of the same, but that while he perused his completed score
in the perfect quiet of the music loft at mid- day—a divine delight
ever seized him, and the spirit of his notes clothed themselves in a
harmonious body infinitely more splendid than any audible song. This
fact made it possible for him to read music—not in the common
sense—but as he would swim in the deep Summer sea of a rare book,
revelling in all the sweet meanings of the author, yet never speaking a
single word aloud.
Remembering this fact, I refected that if Margaret Somers had ever
possessed the faculty of hearing—and developed her musical perception
by a scientific course of training—she might now read music after
Master Bull's fashion and enjoy it to a similar degree.
The form which her problem consequently took was this. Is there no
method by which the scientific relations of _pitch_ (_time_ I was sure
she had become acquainted with already) may be communicated to the mind
through other adits than the ear? Music in its pure scientific aspect
is quite independent of sound—uses sound only as its ordinary _normal_
expression—and by all the more delicate intellects—the poets
especially—is constantly translated according to a system of
analogies, into other than audible forms. Rossini is called
_florid_—but his roulades have no effect of garlands to the _eye_, no
fragrance to the _nose_. Verdi, they tell us is _brilliant_—but who
_sees_ him shine? And the painters have no difficulty in understanding
a picture's _tone_.
All music, it seemed to me, finally resolved itself into a science
of _tensions_ and one nerve as well as another may convey the relations
of tension, provided that we attain the means best calculated to awake
their idea through the sense. The most delicate receptacles for
external impression still left to Margaret Somers were sight, touch,
and smell. After long thought, I most unwillingly gave up all idea of
attempts to communicate through the last of these, not because I
abjured the life long conviction that the olfactory sense is next to
sight in its capacity for receiving the most delicate impressions—but
because as yet its very etheriality has prevented any true science of
its phenomena. Through sight and touch therefore, I must operate alone.
For a month, without communicating my plans to any one—not even
the object of them—I spent every hour of leisure in elaborating a
system of means.
At the expiration of that time, I told Margaret Somers that I would
teach her music.
My earnestness—and the very fact of my making such a statement at
all—opened her great blue eyes wider than I had ever seen them. "You
forget"—she signed—and put her fingers on her poor dead ears.
"Yes," I replied. But have have eyes—and fingers."
"I would give them away willingly for ears—even such ears as
John's or Augusta's," (the deaf-mutes who heard with their mouths.)
"You shall keep those and have these," I answered. "Are you willing
to try it? You have have to study hard if I am your teacher—but I am
sure I _can_ teach you."
"Will it give me great _pain_?"
"Are you afraid of pain?"
A quick scorn trembled over her lip, and she made a gesture as if
the idea were some tangible bad thing which she would brush away.
"Afraid? No indeed! But I have been praying for a year that God
would give me hearing—even with torture—and I was wondering whether
he had answered me to the utmost."
"No, dear soul, it will give you no pain! I have been praying God
for you too—without any request for the risk of torture—and I hope
_He_ will answer us both, in his gentlest fashion. How could He torture
you! Don't you remember your definition of music—that you gave me the
first time I ever saw you—`God closely touching us in quick throbs?'
Is it not good to have God close by—yes, if we shall be blessed in our
good work, to have Him even closer?"
"It is _good_. But sometimes even now, in His veiled comings, it is
"Perhaps that may be the reason He _is_ velied, because of His
dimness and mystery. To know Him nearer is to love Him more, you know.
Are you willing to try it?"
She put her hand into mine like a white nestling dove. How delicate
were the fingers! Their taper ends were as soft as an infant's. I could
not have been surprised if I had heard that she used them to see with.
I led her into my recitation room—now, at seven in the evening,
left a wide desert of benches, by that throng of children who had all
day been devouring blackboard geography by the continent and made
nothing of taking in a whole ocean at one draught. I lighted the
gas—and with one sweep of the sheep-skin pad swept from the board
those three hundred miles of the Rocky Mountains which had been left
over from the last course of my little Leviathans' late repast. In its
place I drew a staircase of seven steps—on as large a scale as the
space would permit. The first and second I made of equal heights—the
third only half as high as these—then three more of the same altitude
with the first two—and finally one of half height again. While
Margaret was looking at this figure with an expression of puzzled
interest, I took from my desk where it had been lying all day, so that
I could glance at it paternally between classes—a smooth deal board,
three feet long by two broad. Across this I had stretched seven guitar
strings—all of the high E quality, and of equal length—attached at
one end by a permanent ledge as in the instrument to which they
belonged—and at the other two wooden screws of my own manufacture. At
present these strings lay lax along the board.
"Now, Margaret," said I, "take your eyes from the black board for a
moment, and look at this thing which I have in my hand. It is the
simplest instrument of music which we know. It is so simple because it
is most like the human soul which has to understand it. _How_ it is
like we must go back to your definition to perceive. When you have that
strange sense of a presence near you—which you call "God close by" do
you ever feel any _growth_, any _increase_, in the nearness?"
I waved my hands up and down—then let them drop wearily—and made
the sign for laxity.
"Does the Presence ever come to you when you feel _thus_?"
"It does indeed! Oftenest _then_—when I least look for it, and
most need it. _That_ is the reason I think it is the _Dear God_!"
I drew an extra guitar string from my pocket, and gently stretched
it with my hands.
"And as the Presence draws near, does your heart feel more like
She understood me, but was by this time watching my hand so eagerly
that she said yes only by an indication of the head. I stretched the
string still tighter.
"And as it draws still nearer, is the feeling still greater?"
I stretched it tighter yet—"And _still_ greater?"
I was adding force to my pull, when she caught my hands in hers,
and with a wild impetuousness that I had never seen in her before,
aided me at the extremity of her strength. The string snapped asunder,
and trembling like one seized with a divine afflatus, she exclaimed by
a quick cry of her speaking hands.
"There! like _that_ nearly!"
I drew her to me and, laying her head upon my shoulder, smoothed
its fair, sweet brow, and twined its rich soft threads of golden brown
about my fingers, till the storm that shook her was overpast. Like a
dear pure startled child I cherished her— yet not _quite_ like that. I
could not help it, for she let me.
Then I renewed the lesson.
"The way in which men have agreed to represent the soul, and that
growing strain it feels as the Presence draws nearer and nearer is by
an instument like this." I touched the lower string of the seven and
continued. ""This is loose now, as the soul is, before the Presence
comes. I will tighten it a little to express the first sense of the
With a tuning fork I got C natural of the vocal pitch and began
tightening the string up to it.
"That is right," said I; "Watch my hand closely. You see how many
turns I give this screw? One—two—three—there! nearly three and a
half. Let this degree of tension represent the feeling of the first
throb of the Presence. Now—to represent the sense of the second—I
tighten the first string a little more. Nearly half a turn tighter
And so I continued up the whole septenary system—avoiding for the
present, so as not to embarrass her mind with too much, any exposition
of the only half-interval between the third and fourth, the seventh and
eighth steps of pitch. Besides, I felt enough faith in her ideal music
to believe, chimerical as it might seem, that she would unerringly
translate the half-tension of this minor interval into the internal
impulse which quantitatively corresponded to it, at the proper time.
And who can _explain_ it, further than to reduce it to mathematical
formulas themselves still more inexplicable?
The instrument being perfectly tuned in the natural gamut, I put it
"Now shut your eyes, Margaret," said I; "And pull the first and
second strings gently with your forefinger. Try to banish everything
outside of you but the strings, and see if you can perceive any
difference in their tension."
"May I think of _God_? You know I believe _He_ is the presence."
"So do I. By all means, it if helps you."
"It does help me, very much."
She closed her eyes, and with her right hand struck the strings in
succession. Her left was extended—oh, so gracefully!—as if she were
listening with those delicate beseeching fingers.
One, two—one, two—and she still sat motionless, giving me no
report of any perception.
Presently she opened her eyes again, and looked at me for a moment
with half timid earnestness—Then laid the instrument in her lap, while
she signed to me.
"Must I banish _everything_ but the strings?"
"And the Presence, you know, we agreed."
"Must I banish—_you too_?"
As I looked at her, thinking with a strange conflict of emotions
for a right reply, her eyes fell for an instant from mine, but only for
an instant, and then resumed their pure fearless gaze of inquiry.
"Do I help you, too, Margaret?"
"Yes. You are _very_ good to me."
"Then think of _me_, dear child."
She closed her eyes again. It was the first time any one had ever
begged that leave, since my mother died, long before the terrible five
years, saying she would always think of me, even in Heaven.
The silence of that wide blank recitation-room had been broken by
the frail soft repetitions that come from Margaret's fingers, scarcely
three minutes, when her eyes opened again, a quick gleam of delight
bathed her whole face, and her rapid hands exclaimed:
"I feel it! I feel it! I understand what you mean."
I was like one intoxicated in my joy. I have heard people say that
of such at such times they could "dance." As for _me_, sitting
perfectly still, and looking straight into that illuminated face was my
only adequate expression of myself. I had reached the first possibility
which was the mother of all the rest. Margaret could hear with her
"Thank God!" said I at length. "You will certainly learn music,
now, if we live. To-night we have been glad enough, and learned all
that is good for either of us without having time to think of it. Let
us put by this instrument till to-morrow. And now—why it is half-past
ten o'clock!—go and sleep sweetly, and may the Presence be gently near
"Do you wish to lock this up in your desk?"
"Did you make it for me?"
"Do you think I would be tempted to play on it, are you afraid it
would keep me awake, if I should take it with me and put it behind my
"No, not if you promised not to play on it."
"I _will_ promise. And no one shall see it."
So clasping the board to her side with one hand—she put the other
into my own—and went, holding it there like a child, to the foot of
the broad staircase where we must separate.
There it seemed as if I could not let her go—And I did not, till
our good night had been said in
"__________ kisses sweeter,
Sweeter than anything on earth!_"
A fortnight from her first lesson Margaret had mastered the whole
gamut of C natural. I could blindfold her—place her fingers upon any
of the strings—and get back an unerring response as to the position in
the scale. To my great encouragement, her enthusiasm for this exercise
continued unabated. She seemed to find all the pleasure of a hearing
ear in the practice of her finger education.
To relieve the monotony of this practice—for _I_ could not see any
possibility of its being otherwise than monotonous, remembering my
first lessons on the scale—I composed now and then some simple
recreation for her by a numerical system of notation. She soon learned
to recognize the little melodies I set for her, and was as delighted as
a child when she discovered that the air she had been playing as "1, 1,
2, 3," was really the great national hymn "Yankee Doodle."
But I felt the necessity of writing on these recreations, as over
the benches on London bridge—"To _rest_—not to _lounge_ on."
By the diagram of the staircase, which I drew, you remember, during
Margaret's first lesson, but did not then have time to use, I conveyed
to her mind, little by little, the ideas of transposition. It is the
most difficult thing in the world to explain even the mere external
method by which she learned them— _my_ part of the work I
mean—without a diagram like that on the blackboard. Even then, some
scientific musician might so far discredit the possibility of teaching
their science by such a method, that they would not care to understand
me. But as nearly as words can explain it this was the system which I
used. Recollect that I had taught Margaret the letters representing the
notes of the scale, and had shown her the strings of the simple gamut
instrument which corresponded to them. Also that I had drawn for her a
flight of steps—marking each step with a letter in the order of the
scale—making _F_ a low step because it was only half the usual rate of
ascent from _E_—and _C_, a step equally low, because it bore the same
relation of ascent from _B_. I now wiped out the original _F_ which I
had drawn and replaced it with another twice the former size. At the
same time I sharped the F string of our gamut instrument, and without
altering any of the others, put it back into Margaret's hands. This was
my moment of suspense—yes—it may seem strange to an uninterested
person that I use this word—_agony_! For I reasoned thus. If all my
past convictions have been delusive, then she will not notice this
change except as a mere meaningless vagary, and will find just as much
pleasure in strumming the strings in their new relations of tension, as
before. But if she really grasped the ideal principle of musical
successions—if they have been recognized by her mind not only as a
pleasure but a _law_—then this disproportion which now exists will
give her pain, and she will at least ask me what I have done.
A look of puzzle[ment] came over her face. First she glanced at the
blackboard and then she felt of the strings. She lifted them one by one
with the delicatest touch of her finger, as if she were weighing them,
and she always paused longest at the sharped F. At last she searched my
face feebly with an expression of query, and then shook her head.
"What is the matter, Margaret," said I.
She touched the F of the instrument, and pointed to its
corresponding stop on the board. Then she signed this answer.
"I do not know why, but I have learned to _need rest_ at this step.
The souls seems always to tire for a moment and lifts its feet only
half as high as before. There are too many high steps together, _now_."
My heart beat like a hammer! Would she, could she find of herself
what she must do?
"What will you do to help it, Margaret?" said I.
She thought, and looked, and fingered for several minutes more. The
she rose, took the chalk from my hand, and going to the board, altered
all the other steps of the staircase to correspond with the raised F.
Without my suggestion, she had transposed the scale!
I took the instrument into my hands and tuned it to the transposed
key. I thought she might have done it—was sure she could, indeed—but
I could not bear to mar the strange delight of my new triumph by any
further suspense. Then I handed it back to her, she ran over the
strings, and in an instant her whole face beamed with joy at the
discovery of the restored proportion. I knew such gladness in that hour
as all imaginable riches could not buy from me!
Day after day I taught, and she studied patiently. In two months
from the time of our first lesson in transposition, she had learned all
the keys and acquired the ideal philosophy of their meaning. At length
I ventured to put a guitar into her hands. The artificial arrangement
of its strings baffled her long, but before the Summer vacation of the
asylum had arrived, she had mastered the relations which existed
between our simple gamut instrument and this more complicated one.
As yet, neither of us had imparted our secret studies to another
soul beside ourselves. I knew Major Braithwaite was coming to see her
graduated, and I wished to reserve the great surprise of her
accomplishment for him.
Commencement day had come. With it came all the friends of pupils
who had friends. And among the first persons whom I saw in the morning
as I came down the broad stair to breakfast was Major Braithwaite. He
was just entering the front door.
Margaret happened to be in the entry at the time. The moment she
saw him, she ran into his arms, and he clasped her to him,
passionately? A heart sickening doubt came over me. I had supposed he
was a kind of adopted father to her. I had never heard of his being,
thinking of being, anything else. Yet a father does not kiss in the way
he kissed. There is not that strange light in a father's eyes when he
sees his daughter.
Major Braithwaite was the perfection of soldierly beauty. His
beard, which he wore full, was a luxuriant curly black, like his hair,
only as the hair was not, touched here and there with iron grey. His
features were massive and Roman without being heavy. His figure was
tall, erect, but not inflexible, and he seemed about thirty six years
I was introduced to him at breakfast, and he thanked me for the
interest I had taken in his ward. He meant the books I had explained to
her—the conversation I had enjoyed with her in Dr. Gaskell's parlor,
of which that kind man had told him. But the greatest of all
interests—did he know _that_, and would he have thanked me if he had
Before the exercises of the day commenced, Dr. Gaskell called me
into his study.
"I have good news for you," said he. "You are so trusted by all of
us, that I know I am not betraying confidence in telling it to you.
Margaret is going to be married. Now, who do you think is the
"I'm sure I can't think," replied I, in a dream.
"_Major Braithwaite_!" He has always loved her since she was a
child. He believed that there was nothing she could not be taught to
do. He has all the admiration of her that you or I would feel for
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And so he sent her here to be developed.
This morning he asked me if she was sufficiently the woman to know her
own mind, if I thought she could love anybody consciously and answer
for herself intelligently. I told him yes—decidedly. You see he has
all the gentlemanly and soldierly honor of taking the weak at a
disadvantage. When I said yes, he acted like a boy! He was perfectly
overcome! He means to tell her that he loves her, to- morrow. Of course
she will accept him. Then she will be married during the vacation and
have a happy home as long as she lives. He is rich—and if she wishes
it, he will resign his commission." So concluded the doctor, rubbing
his hands with pleasure, "her fortune is made for life. Dear girl! I am
so glad! I think you will be asked to be the groomsman."
"That is capital!" said I coolly—still in my dream—and so we
parted to get ready for the exercises.
In these Margaret acquitted herself well—admirably. She shone like
a queen among all the deaf-mutes who read or recited. At every new
eloquent answer to the questions of the examiner, which she wrote on
the blackboard, I glanced furtively at the Major, and saw proud
sparkles in his eye which set my own heart on fire.
When all was over, the graduates were invited into Dr. Gaskell's
parlor. I was still in my dream, but I thought enough of the outer
world and its results, to bring in Margaret's guitar unnoticed and set
it in the corner by Mrs. Gaskell's piano. The hours of the evening went
on and still Major Braithwaite was chained to Margaret's side. He hung
on her every gesture and lived in her looks. At ten o'clock all of the
deaf-mute company, wearied with the day's labor, had departed, leaving
Dr. Gaskell and Mrs. Gaskell, Margaret, the Major and myself alone
I signed to Margaret. She went to the corner and brought out her
guitar. The rest looked at her with puzzled curiosity.
"Major Braithwaite," said I, calmly, when she had taken her seat
again with the instrument in her lap, "I have kept the best wine until
now. I wish to crown the last day of Miss Somers at the asylum with the
highest attainment she has made—Listen, if you please, and hear what
she will do for you."
Again I signed to Margaret, and her fingers ran nervously over the
strings. I looked at her steadily and tried to throw into that look all
the cheerfulness I could imagine. Then she seemed to take heart and
began that simple rich melody from the Bohemian Girl—"When other lips
and other hearts their tales of love shall tell."
Then came the turn of the others to dream! Dr. and Mrs. Gaskell sat
silently in a trance when astonishment had not yet yielded to delight.
Major Braithwaite, sitting straight upright in his chair after the
soldierly manner, was pale as death, listening with compressed lips and
breath that was imperceptible, save now and then in strong burdened
From the first air, Margaret's fingers wandered on to the second I
had taught her. This was the Kataplan from The Child of the Regiment. I
had given her that, in the old times that looked at through my dream,
seemed a hundred years ago—because I thought it would please Major
When she had finished playing, Mrs. Gaskell turned to me.
"_Does_ she hear after all?" said she.
Major Braithwaite answered for me.
"No, she does not. She never knew I had entered this morning till I
touched her. Her back was turned when I came in. I slammed the door,
and almost forgetting her affliction, called her name. _Who_ taught her
"Major Braithwaite asks who taught you to play, Margaret," said I.
She replied by laying down her guitar, stealing up to my side like
a child, and taking my hand. The look she gave me then was at once joy
and agony enough for years! Major Braithwaite saw it and grew paler
"Does she know any meaning in what she plays?" said he eagerly.
"Does she play like an automaton? Or can it be possible that in any way
she understands it as music?"
As he spoke he signed the same questions to her. And she answered
"I feel _God_ near me in that music. God and _kindness_. God and
_him_." She pointed to me as she signed.
"Wonderful! Wonderful!" Was all that Dr. Gaskell and his wife could
But Major Braithwaite rose and stood between Margaret and me.
"What made you think of teaching her this thing?" said he. "I do
not ask you _how_—for I could not understand that part now if you
should tell me. But why? What was your motive?"
It then broke forth from me for the first time—because, even in
his presence I could not hold it longer—
"Because I _loved_ her!"
"And does she love you?"
So he asked her. And she returned me such an ineffable look that
now remembering it, I seem to be among the angels.
Major Braithwaite folded his arm around her and kissed her on the
forehead. Not as in the morning he had kissed her on the mouth.
"My dear—_dear daughter_!" said he. "I believe you have chosen
well. Would you be willing to go everywhere over the world and be this
young man's wife? Supposing he had to be a soldier, like—many men, for
instance. Had to fight the Indians- -be separated from you through
nights and days when you would be very anxious about him. Had to endure
hardships for him— loneliness—doubt—fear—everything bitter and
dreadful—would you be his wife, still? His true, loving wife?"
Margaret's only answer to his signs was to cling still closer to me
and hide her face against my shoulder.
"Very well," spoke the Major. "Have you the salary which will
enable you to support a wife, young man?"
Dr. Gaskell answered for me that my salary would be raised to
twelve hundred the next term.
"That is enough," said Major Braithwaite. "A woman who loves a man
can live on much less that one who does not. Margaret is now graduated.
She can be married at any time. I would like to have it take place
somewhere where I can be present. Can you come to Fort Allen and be
"We can go anywhere to have you in our happiness, dear father!"
"Very well," said the Major calmly. "let it be August then."
After Margaret and I were married we continued to live at the
asylum for a year. Then my mother's brother—an eccentric though not an
unusually rich man—who believed that young people should help
themselves, awoke to the consciousness that I was doing that thing
tolerably well and had a wife to carry honorably through the world
besides. So—one day—he offered to take me into partnership with him
in his flourishing New York jobbing house, and for Margaret's sake I
accepted the offer.
When we got into New York I found my means ampler, and the first
thought I had was to complete my wife's _musical_ education.
Again there arose in my mind those old analogies between sight and
hearing. I had taught her something about music by the relation between
sight and touch. There were still greater harvests of delight to be
reaped by that wonderful mind of hers in the domain of _color_ as
representative of music.
We had a house in West Twenty-sixth street. For the first time in
my life I knew what it was to have all the _gas_ I wanted, and to pay
the company a corresponding large bill for the same. For my wife's New
Year's present during the second year of my marriage, I prepared a
surprise based upon the following principles.
In natural philosophy we are taught that the primal colors, as
ascertained from the phenomenon of the rainbow, are:— "Violet, indigo,
blue, green, yellow, orange, red." But the question arises—Is the
rainbow a _gamut_ or a harmony? I decided that it was the latter. For
its intention is the expression of _hope_ to man. A mere scientific
gamut would not have done _that_. The rainbow must be an expression in
color of certain _gratifying_ sentiments in the divine mind. Those
sentiments, in heaven at least, must be reduceable to speech. Therefore
to music also. Let us try them on earth!
I came to the conclusion that the rainbow was not the true gamut of
colors correspondent to the ascertained gamut of sound. It must be
divided and re-arranged before the gamut can be made. And this was the
rearrangement which after long thinking I arrived at:—
Yellow, violt, blue, indigo, green, orange, red.
This you see, at least in theory, was an order measurably
consistent with the gamut of sounds. Between blue and indigo there is
apparent but half the interval of color which intervenes between yellow
and violet. Orange and red are separated from each other by but half
the distance which divides indigo and green. Thus I constructed a gamut
of color which should to my mind represent that of sounds. I arranged
in my study a long gas pipe, consecting laterally with burners where
several ground glass shades were colored in order according to my
theory. I then constructed an apparatus with strings like the original
one by which I taught my wife, so that at least pressure upon the
strings the delicate cone of burning gas which I had already lighted
within three colored shades should flare up into a broad tinted
brilliancy. If for instance I moved the _F_ string, it not only gave me
the sense of the peculiar tension, but an indigo light on the wall
before me also. Likewise a touch on the _A_ string gave me orange
light, on the _D_ string violet, and so on. Between each of these
shades, was one of compromised tints, representing the half intervals.
On New Year's day, for the first time in a month, I opened to my
wife the door of my study.
"Come in, darling!" signed I. "I hve a new instrument for you. I
want you to play on it for me. See if it gives you any greater pleasure
than the guitar."
Margaret sat down in front of the strings and began playing the
air—"True love can ne'er forget," while she watched the coming and
going of the colored lights. A new delight seemed to seize her. She
tried all the strings at once with capricious fingers, and shuddered as
she saw a certain discrepancy in their relation. She pulled two
neighboring strings at once, and the effect of their light combination
on her was that of a musical discord. Then finally, she returned to the
true melody, and found such a new pleasure in the relation between
tension and colors—in what we call music—as I never saw in the most
rapt of hearing performers.
After this first experiment, she grew rapidly in her knowledge of
inaudible music. She made me many suggestions by which I immediately
profited—as to the colors of the lamps. With a box of paints, she drew
me the exact shades which to her mind represented a certain tension of
string, and I had it immediately copied in glass to replace in the
From melodies she gradually rose to harmonies. She learned to
combine two tints and tensions so as give her the idea of _chords_. And
when she had accomplished this attainment, I knew that her musical
attainment was at its earthly apex. She might learn the most difficult
pieces of Chopin—and find pleasure in them—but she never could attain
further _primal ideas of music_, till she reached that great resounding
dome of Heaven where the angels play and God is satisfied!
"Doctor Athanasius Bloor cures all diseases of the eye and ear. His
operations are painless, his success absolute, and he is recommended by
the following gentlemen, whose selves or family have been benefited by
"Timothy Tompkins, Esq, Common Councilman of Peoria—strabismus.
"Rev. Hezekiah Green, Jenkinstown, Conn—permanent deafness.
"Hon. Peter Plumbpie, Sec. For. Miss.—blindness and deafness,
I saw this advertisement in one of the New York papers, eighteen
months after I was married. I debated for a while whether Dr.
Athanasius Bloor was not a quack. Finally I determined to take my wife
to him. He could not hurt her at any rate, and he might make her hear,
which would be the crowning delight of my life!
So I took my wife to Dr. Athansius Bloor's.
I found that he was _not_ a mere quack; that he had really done,
and was capable of doing, far more good than the newspapers gave him
credit for. I put my wife under his treatment. He discovered that her
loss of hearing was to be ascribed to no congenital and irremediable
cause, but to a pressue on the auditory nerve which rendered it obtuse.
This pressure, he thought, might be either a sluggish cerebral tumor,
or a closing of the out passage through the results of early disease.
Whatever it might be, he had remedied it in two months from our
first interview with him. Margaret heard some sounds. She knew when
they were firing salutes from Governor's Island, or ringing the bells
for fire in our district, for instance, and in six weeks more, she
heard my voice! Oh blessed time! It seemed as if Heaven had been
brought down to earth again. The voice that spoke to her sweetest! And
she distinguished it from the hard noises of the world.
Well, for one short month I was a happy man. He who has been happy
for a whole month, if he remembers it, may be happy forever. So, at
least, must I fancy, to live—to _bear_ life at all now.
My beautiful one began fading. Day by day I saw it without
believing it. And when I asked her why she was so wan and pale— why
she trembled so as to wake me through the long nights—she answered in
her old beloved signs, which she clung to still.
"It _jars_ me so! There is too much noise in the world. I do not
hear enough _music_."
At last I became sorry that she heard. I even prayed God that he
would make her deaf again. She had expected too much of the world.
There was more noise than music there.
But I had made her _hear_. I must accept _that_. I had thought it a
blessing. If it was not a blessing, whose fault was it!
I was compelled to confess my wife's situation vry critical. Her
peril stared me in the face. If some means could not be found of
protecting her sensitive soul from the shocks of the outer world's
discordant sound—she would certainly die—and that very speedily. I
could think of no other comparison for her than a spirit walking
through the din and roughness of life, in perfect nakedness, but with
all the bodily senses strangely preserved to it, feeling the cold with
an intensity of pain which bodies never know, hearing the outcries, the
curses, the wailings of men and women with an infinitely sensitive ear,
seeing all the cruellest wretchedness of humanity with a piercing eye
that could not close, without shelter, without sleep. I began to
understand that God had meant Margaret's deafness as a great
mercy—that it was the necessary cover to the most delicate of human
souls—that she could really bear no more of the world than might be
taken in through sight, touch, taste and smell.
I could not restore her to deafness but I environed her with all
that was loveliest in earthly voices. I made the care of her my only
luxury. I sacrificed every thing which men usually call desirable to
the one aim of enshrining her in a sacredness of sweet sound. I bought
the choicest music boxes and kept them playing by her bedside when she
lay down to sleep. I took her to every performance given by the best
artists in opera or concert room. Oh with what joy did I thank God when
I found that there were some musicians whose music was not too harsh to
give her pleasure! How I exulted when that grand dear Formes brought
tears of happiness to her eyes in Bertramo—when D'Angri's wonderful
honey of song distilled through her ears into her heart and made her
clasp my hand with a glad thrill in Zerlima.
But from all the great singers and instruments she ever came home
to seek a better bliss in the music of that apparatus I had given her
on New Year's day. That expressed to her mind a music such as she would
never hear till she reached Heaven. And while she tenderly touched the
strings, weighing their tension as of old, and watched the gleaming
colors dance hither and thither on the wall, the bitterness within me
welled to the eyes, for I knew that she was getting ready to hear that
music of eternal life, in which there are no false tones.
We had been married two years—when, one night, I took her to hear
Formes for the third time in Roberto. That night the greatest of living
singers and actors eclipsed himself. Having the greatest opera that was
ever written to be great in, he was great enough for it. He was the
Bertramo whom Meyerbeer _meant_. Never again in this world do I expect
to see Robert the Devil. The thought of hearing any other man than
Formes sing the tremendous music of that last act is a pain to me. My
memory of the opera now is such that to find it misrendered in a single
point, would be like breaking down the everlasting distinction between
right and wrong. Roberto is an opera whose plot has no parallel for
sublimity in the grandest involvements of Greek tragic writing.
Aeschylus never had such a plot. And there is not one particular in
which the music of Meyerbeer could be ameliorated for the plot's
expression. Nor is there a man living who understands that plot—that
music—who can sing it, save Carl Formes. So now we went to hear him
for the third—yes, though I did not know it then—the _last_ time.
Formes, I have said, surpassed himself. The cumulative horrors of
the fiendish father were borne up on his demi-god shoulders as Atlas
bears the world. My wife never took her eyes from the stage when he
stood there. In the last act she clasped my hand and turned so pale
that I half rose from my seat with fright. I thought the long feared
end was coming. But seeing my suffering she composed herself aand
managed to endure the finale.
The moment that we got home she went to the instrument in my study,
which, out of burlesque acquiesence with the Graecizing nomenclature of
the time, we had called the _kaleidophone_. I lighted the colored lamps
and I took my seat beside her. She began wandering over the strings
into a memory of Roberto. First she repeated the "Vanne, Vanne," that
exquisite air in which Alice brings to Robert the message of their
dying mother. Thence she strayed to the Gaming Chorus. Finally she
found herself in the grand mazes of Bertramo's character, and from that
moment restricted herself to expressing him alone.
It will seem incredible, I know, how by an instrument like this,
where only melody was possible, in perfection and that the slender
melody of a single gamut of strings, the music of Roberto could be at
all conveyed. And truly, any but Margaret or I might have found it
meagre enough for the purpose. But we knew its hidden meanings. She had
translated its tensions and its colors into the music of the soul. And
I, though less favored than she, because I had not like her any
enclosed and purely spiritual sense, from the long efforts I had made
to awaken this sense in her, at length reached some measurable
perception of her interior music.
That night to me she seemed inspired. The rich hues of the lamps
danced on the wall as if they were alive. The lamp which she played
most was the red one. She told me that this color was the best to
express Bertramo's character where it touched humanity, but our
apparatus was sadly deficient in shades of the tint. It needed at least
a hundred lamps to give the representations of Bertramo's music in this
particular alone. I promised her to complete the instrument according
to any suggestion she might make. Alas! I have never done so. There on
my lonely wall it stands imperfect still!
But when the fiendish side of Bertramo showed itself, the colors
she most used were a succession of violet and orange. As she touched
the strings communicating with those lamps, the room was full of a
lurid light and I saw the caverns opening to receive the Demon home. We
forgot the simple music of the strings. We revelled in a gorgeous
coming and going of rich lights which spoke Meyerbeer's meaning as no
sound can ever speak. And when at last she came to the passage where
Alice triumphs and Robert is saved—the green lamp sent a mellow lustre
of hope and peace through the study, in which, as on a ladder of
Heaven, our lifted minds seemed to see angels, passing up and down!
When the last strain of color died away, Margaret said to me— "I
am very tired, dear. Let me sleep."
I took her in my arms as was my wont and carried her like a sick
child up to our chamber. I helped her undress for the night and lay
down beside her. She slept almost immediately, and as soon as I heard
her beloved heart beating and her breath coming regularly, I slept
It was about three o'clock in the morning when her voice awakened
"Husband," said she, "don't be frightened—but I feel very
strangely. Take my hand, please. I love to feel you by me. For I am so
happy, and I hear such wonderful music that I am afraid to be alone."
"Oh, Margaret," I answered, my own heart almost stopping with a
mystical undefined fear. "It is nothing but the effect of last night's
music on your overwrought nerves. Try, darling, if you cannot sleep
again. I will stroke your forehead and lull you as I have so often done
before. Go to sleep, beautiful one! Precious one!
And she answered me:
"I feel too wide awake. I do not think I shall ever sleep again."
I watched by her side in the loneliness for an hour. Her breath
grew softer and slower. I made an effort to arouse myself, to call the
servants and send for a doctor. But she clasped my hand so tightly that
I feared to loose it lest I should loose life with it. I must have been
At the end of the hour she spoke to me once more.
"I hear again!" said she, "as I used to in the old times at the
institute. The Presence is coming nearer—and nearer." Then she added
faintly— "_And is close beside me. I hear again_."
And she _did_ hear. For she was among the music of the Angels!