KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
Life at Laurel Town in Anglo Saxon Kansas by Kate Stephens

DWELLERS IN LAUREL TOWN

III

Colonization fires the fancy of nearly all kinds of people. First it seizes the strong, the adventurous, who must express their life in deeds, who are articulate through action rather than speech. Not infrequently high-spirited and imaginative, such men and women gave color and individuality to Laurel Town in its earlier days.

They had settled with intent of working out a free state, and to found institutions embodying truth and justice bent, that is, on concreting such principles as Anglo-Saxons have endeavored after since they appeared in England. They lived ardent, constructive lives.

Their circumstances were narrow. They understood the nobility of self-helpfulness, and perforce practiced William Penn's advice, "Have little to do, and do it thyself." Their houses, a well-read Laurel Townsman once declared, called to mind Lord Hervey's quip about the villa an Earl of Burlington built;


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"Too small to live in, and too large to hang to a watch."

Even in years a little later, when we knew the burg, its people retained the venturesomeness of the colonizer and, bristling with "corners," refused to be dove-tailed into community methods and community manners. They made no secret of their despising conventionalities as tyranny -- in those days, one must not forget, the sane spirit of gratitude that evented from the War Between the States warmed every heart; the old, basic American habit of mind prevailed, the benefactive, the benevolent; that outlook on life that gave this country laws and stable government, and invited other people to share the good of their labors; the old American mental attitude, altruistic and helpful to the degree that when a stranger entered a yard and walked towards an owner sitting on his porch, he met the salutation: "Good morning, sir, what can I do for you?'*

In those old Laurel Town days a considerable percentage of the people prospered on what has repeatedly kept colonists alive; "I have always fed on illusions,"

*We had not yet passed through the immigrants' gate millions of foreigners, often boorish in breeding, saturated with anarchies and socialisms generated, like malignant, febrile plagues, in ineradicable slums of Eastern Europe. And traveling westward -- we had not yet passed through the immigrants' gate spouters and adherents of spouters of vague, silly inaccurate isms; incapable of balanced reasoning; transferring their hostilities toward feudalisms of their old home to our country, and abusing us and institutions we afford them inflooders whose only query seeming to be, "What can you do for me?" do not delay for verbalisms, but proceed by exploiture to answer their question themselves.


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wrote one, awakening to fact at the end of a long life. So often they mistook creatures of their mind for realities and insistently deceived themselves, that they did astonishing deeds.

Individualists of ripest harvest, "originals," "eccentrics," you see, thinking their own pungent thoughts so vividly that they dared to speak them; piquant, often polemic, sometimes seemingly irreverent, always forceful, effective, clean, and blessed with the cool, straight-to-the point independence of the New Englander; expressing themselves not in

"Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,"

but, rather, baldly speaking

"In russet yeas, and honest kersey noes."

Of that sort was Mrs. Plymouth, centre of surpassing stories; a spare dame with prominent nose, thin, compressed lips, broad, reflective brow and blunt action.

"Mother, what would you like for your birthday?" asked a son of hers, the one she said was "more Christlike" than her other children, "Blue silk for a dress or black?"

"Oh, get it black," returned the lady sturdily, "black does for weddings as well as funerals."

There you have it -- stern, stiff, old Anglo-Saxon stock, yet so vision-eyed, tear-eyed, tender-hearted, too, in its depths, that it keeps itself from whimpering


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and blubbering only by pressing back emotion. A stock so averse to falsehood that it distrusts emotion as a fleeting thing and wipes expression of sentiment out of its daily life. A blood that has worked out world-compelling ideals and in accord with the law that great thoughts come from the heart.

A Vermont man whom the family had known before they trekked in white-sailed prairie-schooner over western lands -- a Vermont man sought a daughter of this dame in marriage. The bride followed the habit of women the world over, and went back with her husband to his home. Not long to enjoy life, however. Upon her death her body was laid in the Green Mountain burying ground of her husband. There several years it rested.

At the end of such a time, for some reason later days do not disclose, Mrs. Plymouth determined the reliques should be brought to Laurel Town for final burial.

Now, in such a settlement as Laurel Town, least-wise as Laurel Town was, each family knew the general lines of neighbors' lives. Mrs. Plymouth had openly told she was going to ask Enoch for her daughter's remains. Afterwards she said he had agreed to her petition. Neighbors had eyes as well as ears. They knew the mortuary box arrived, and was carried to the mother's house.

Time passed into weeks. One afternoon a near


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dweller dropped in for half an hour's confabulation. The caller followed her alert and busy hostess to the part of the house where her duties that hour were lying, and at last spoke of Mrs. Plymouth's probable satisfaction in having the mortality of her daughter brought home.

"Will there be any service at the final interment at Laurel Town?"

"No," returned Mrs. Plymouth. She stood at her ironing board, generations of refined thought illuminating her face, and her own innate dignity speaking from her person. "I had the coffin put down cellar.

"If I had been a man," she added reflectively, gazing with vision-suffused eyes into the impersonal spaces of the yard, "I should have been a doctor. I've always had such a longing to study the human skeleton! But I never had a chance before."

A ghoulish story, you exclaim. And playing back in the recesses of your mind is the wonder if Mrs. Plymouth made her request of Enoch in order to satisfy her craving for the scientific analysis to which she was confessedly subjecting her daughter's poor bones. Not by measure of the average mind.

Mrs. Plymouth's was not the average mind, however -- rather a mind with native cravings choked back through long years of devotion to husband and bairns and now, at last, finding pathetic gratification. An afterthought, doubtless, her "study of the human


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skeleton," springing when sentiment had satisfied itself and mental equipoise supervened. In her concealing and suppressing an inborn gift to such conduct plainly enough by moral sense of duties she assumed when she married the world may have lost a notable anatomist.

But listen to another tale -- this macabre, too. Yet unadulterated truth brings a happier end.

A phrase-maker of Kansas, and the state has had many, once said that its climate was "always too 'nough or too none." Amidst plenty of heat and no rain, Laurel Town had another ghostly happening.

One summer-day express offices under the Eldridge House received a long, narrow box; which was pushed to one side to await its consignee, Ephraim Quat.

An odd-looking box; and it did not strike the clerks of the office agreeably. The day after its arrival, glancing towards that part of the room where it lay, they began protesting one to another:

"Have you noticed? Positively offensive!"

"Strange name that -- Ephraim Quat!"

"Quat! Quat! What Quat?"

"Never heard anything like it here."

"Sounds as if it were made up."

"I think it is."

"Wouldn't wonder if those six boards concealed some crime.

"Its very shape shows the box holds a coffin!"


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Each hour its presence became more intolerable. By the day's closing the whole force were sickened, as well as ghost-haunted. And when the sun sank round and red, portending hot weather again on the morrow, it was not difficult to conclude the box must be laid in a kindly, concealing earth.

Next morning, just as the office-doors opened, a gentleman of the old soft-mannered type, white-haired, white-cravatted, long-black-coated, a staunch Episcopalian, known as "Lord" Denman because of punctilious courtesy and other qualities the title "lord" supposedly connotes -- Lord Denman chanced to come in errand about a parcel.

He listened with sympathy to the murmurs beginning afresh, and found it not hard to sense the grounds of the complaint. "Surely," he said to the protesting clerks, "the box is a thing intolerable."

To aid to their relief, he added, he would accompany the body to the cemetery, and, since the rector was out of town, help bury the poor stray with last rites of the church.

"That's the right thing for everybody," the clerks declared, "and especially justice for the unhappy unclaimed."

Without further delay they commandeered an express wagon to carry the remains, and calling a hack for Lord Denman, and such pitiful and curious by-


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standers as offered to serve as pall-bearers, they drove to the burying ground.

There, in a peace unbroken save by the voice of birds and rustle of oak leaves, Lord Denman solemnly read the ritual for "The Burial of the Dead," and they sank the case in the resting place the sexton had prepared.

What relief every one felt! The natural buoyancy of the younger returned as they drove back to the office. The elder estimated their work as a humane deed for some unknown, possibly mistreated mortal. All had done as they would be done by, and had freed themselves from an offense that had reached the very face of heaven.

A day or two after this outpouring of compassion, a husky, well-overalled, young farmer drove up, and sprang from his mud-stained spring-wagon.

"I'm expecting a box," he said as he entered the express-room. "Had it sent to Laurel Town for your office is nearer than any other to my place in Tonganoxie."

"What name?" asked a clerk.

"Ephraim Quat," answered Mr. Farmer.

Nervous glances from every clerk.

"Yes, we had such a box."

"Had such a box!"

"But we had to bury it."

"Bury it!" echoed Mr. Quat, "Why?"


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"Well, if you'd come in the day after the box got here," called out one of the bolder of the office force, "your nose would have told you why."

The consignee could make nothing out of the history they gave him, and a few minutes later the express clerks again levied on a company-wagon, and taking with them the mystified Mr. Quat, drove to the cemetery. Work now was to dig up the box. And then the task of examining its contents!

They were willing to handle a digger's shovel, but at the duty of unfastening and lifting off the lid each man shied -- all save Mr. Quat whose conscience made him fearless, whose zeal to get back to his work drove him on.

He talked lightly, the express boys felt, when he took a screw-driver from his pocket. "Any of you know a rain-maker?" he queried. "How I do hone for a regular, all-day drizzle," he continued as he worked at loosening the cover, "the sort that comes soft and wets deep, not a pelter that pounds down and runs off and doesn't strike in more 'n an inch.

"Not a cloud as big as a tax commissioner's mercy in sight," he added, squinting at the horizon. "Well, it's ploughing this afternoon for me."

Finally, all fastenings out, he carefully raised the top board. Packed in waste and wrapped in newspapers lay the new "fixings" he had ordered for his farm machinery.


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Joy mixed with shamefacedness filled the wagon which brought men and case back to Laurel Town.

"What could it have been," the express boys asked themselves, "that made the air of the office so insufferable those days the box stood there?"

They were never able to tell. Perhaps they became sensitive about the matter. Leastwise, no word ever escaped to Lord Denman that they had resurrected the unhappy mortal over whom he, deeply moved, had conducted sacramental liturgies.

As for Ephraim Quat -- he started home before noon declaring himself mighty glad to get those fittings, and he now hoped to plant his winter wheat within a fortnight.


IV

"Nature," said a witty Kansan speaking of colonization appealing to others than the strong, "Nature is profuse with her Dirt, and sparing of her Diety." Colonization does strike the fancy of a flying squadron of the Half-baked -- people who, so far as mental grasp goes, pass through life a sort o' babe-needing-incubator-nursing; people unable to comprehend eternal verities; incapable of standards; with not a notion of the price the human race has paid for the modicum of truth it possesses. A citizen coming to my mind's eye as I write affords fair example; a squash-


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headed old boy, (his face suggested to you a gourd of the yellow variety) who bragged he had had no schooling since he was twelve; who would, for instance, go one evening to a "spiritualistic seance," and with the same zest sit at home next night and read Emerson.

Yes, new settlements do attract the Half-baked; folks one-sidedly intelligent, hardly ever articulate through the hand or any medium except the tongue, but articulate through the tongue to an astounding degree; people whose main aim in the realm of morals seems, in the phrase of our Milesian friends, "to give a sausage and take a ham."

That sort has long accompanied colonists. Tales nearly, or quite, three thousand years old tell of Thersites in a Greek settlement.

The identical law held at Laurel Town. Half-bakeds were not lacking. Under this family name, however, stood various genera described in that day's idiom, more often spoken than written -- a speech not elegant, but grounded in truth and winged by fancy--as "sap-heads," "un-mit-I-ga-ted ahsses," "pinky-dinkies, " "bone-heads, " "pin-heads, " "natural-born-durn fools," and so on. To trade on another's strength in achievement, to deplete another's vitality, and again to do deeds that made the stronger explode in a laughter darkening the eyelids with tears and as unquenchable as the immor-


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tals', seemed the role of Half-bakeds in the community drama. Commonly they acted their part well.

Not infrequently their sayings, or doings, were a coming to the surface of Anglo-Saxon "temperament;" or of that generous, laughter-loving hey-nonny-nonny, gifted-with-words, devil-may-care blood -- willingness to be led, lack of clarity and singleness of purpose that sometimes distinguishes Irish Celts. Long life to them! May their number never grow less!

The tragi-comedy of a newly married pair living at the Eldridge House serves an example.

A hotel is well enough for folks in health. In fact, for such a hotel is to be tolerated. But surely it is no place for an invalid.

And now the force majeure of the newly wedded pair, the lady, that is, fell ill and had need of home nursing. She was so sick, indeed, that she could not sit up to ride from the hostel in public hack or private carriage; and no such conveyance as an ambulance comforted Laurel Town in those days. Yet leave the hotel she must.

Her husband spent the night at his wits' end. Early in the morning he called in a maid of the house, and towards noon they had the lady ready for setting out-- having clothed her in a pale-green silk visiting-frock, shoeing her feet with white satin slippers and


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covering her hands with white kid gloves. Then they laid her upon a lounge and rested from their labors.

Four stalwart Negroes now filed into the room. Ranging themselves, one at each of its corners, they lifted the lounge and bore it down the broad general stairway.

Out in the street a July sun struck down in the pitiless way the sun has when appearing in the guise of the Slayer. The lady must not suffer Apollo's darts. Therefore her husband, walking alongside, carried in his left hand the dame's parasol, which matched her green silk visiting-frock, and with its shade protected her face; while he kept her from fainting by fanning her with her white-satin gilt-spangled fan.

Thus the sextette, and the lounge, moved along the sidewalk of the main street of Laurel Town, and down the thoroughfare's busiest blocks. The hour was noon, when the pantaloon folks of environing farms had driven in for supplies and stood smoking and gossiping under awnings, or tying their horses at the curb. Women, too, were now marketing and shopping; and merchants setting forth their wares.

Naturally everybody held up his business to look. But the sextette went on, and finally reached the home of the lady's mother-in-law; where she was safely put to bed.

Yet the adventure had a charming ending. For the invalid got back her health and bloom, and the green


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silk frock had merrier, even if less attention-compelling excursions.

Many another laughter-laden tale went leaping from lip to lip. And yet not far behind lay picturesque times. Only five years before the scout of a Union colonel used every day to promenade the streets in a black velvet suit. An embossed morocco belt held his coat snugly about his body, but the main end of the girdle was to carry a pair of ivory-mounted revolvers. Red sheepskin leggings covered his calves; and a military hat, set off with a flowing black plume topped his splendor.

Then there was the dame who went about in the innovating "Bloomers" of the day. One of the town-wits, sitting on the sidewalk, his arm chair tipped back against the wall of the Eldridge House (loafers of a town are most often wits of a town; busy folks do not find leisure for antitheses) -- one of Laurel Town's wits, slothing one afternoon as the Bloomers lady passed, exclaimed (possibly from the habit men have long had of criticising women's ways and deeds), "They ought to catch that woman, and cut off her legs to match her skirts." The force of this remark is plainer, possibly, if you turn back to pages sixty-nine and seventy foregoing, and read of the power of the petticoat in those days.

But you may be crying, "Monstrous, an intolerable deal of sack to one half-pennyworth of bread!" Still,


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after all, a whole pennyworth of truth lies in what garrulous, old Jean de Joinville told in his chronicles, some three hundred years, by the bye, before Shakespeare wrote the famous advice of Polonius; "We ought to dress in such a way that the more observing of mankind may not think we clothe ourselves too finely, nor the younger too meanly."

An Anglo-Saxon child-city in Kansas is, after all, much like the rest of the world. To say its folks in those earlier years of Laurel Town were of like dye would, I repeat, not be true. Yet all bore the shade of the Kansan; a possibility a greater fact exemplifies: -- In this country our Anglo-Saxon foreparents erected on Anglo-Saxon principles, attracting peoples from all round the globe- else why do they come here? to get advantages and opportunities they could not obtain in their old home: -- In this country, west and east even to the seas, neither are the people of the various states of identical dye; and yet you see every soul of them reflecting social America, glorying in their sameness, measuring with like measure when it comes to questions of government and the general ethics of life.

Mysteries at times haunted Laurel Town. For instance, there was the English lady whose face bore the imprint of imbecility; a young woman of the fleshly, Rubens type, fastidiously dressed, guarded, never speaking to any one, every day taking a constitutional


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walking between two young men. Gossip said the men were her husband and brother, and that the lady owned the fortune upon which the three lived. They suddenly appeared in Laurel Town; then after a time were gone.

Men and women at that day mysteries, to this day mysteries -- lives which had not met conventional demands "back east," or in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and other countries; people who had, possibly, made a marriage distasteful to relatives, or had deviated from maxim, or even the written law, such were at times shipped or themselves wandered to the Mid-West. When they had the best of fortune they got off the train at Laurel Town.

Provided they staid put and did not disturb the comfort of stronger factors in the old home, they lived at ease upon transmitted support. To all such incomers Laurel Town was undeniably a Utopia, if they were thankful-hearted, and a bit of a Cairo in Egypt, refuge of mysterious folks from sundry parts of the world, if they longed for their own blood and its associations.

Then others besides those abounding in strength and love of adventure, and high-spiritedness, and imaginativeness; and besides those suffering minor moral misadventures; other folk came who had failed elsewhere -- a shoe merchant, a general store-keeper, clergymen of various denominations, each unfortunate wanting to bury past experiences and try to win


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life's guerdon again. And prosperous issue often took up abode with such workers -- praise be to their persistence!

Again there occasionally landed in Laurel Town people so successful that they seemingly astonished themselves -- people whom fate had lifted to a condition more prosperous than their ambition had ever vaulted to; and they had unconsciously come to attribute their own stunned state of the mind to their neighbors.

Such possibly was Colonel Perry. His colonel's title may have been a relic of militia training, or remains of the War Between the States. Be that as it may, although from the old, refined American stock, he entered Laurel Town with a hoopla, buying speedily one of its most spacious dwellings, driving about with spanking bays in clattering harnesses, setting up a bank, and declaring his wife had "nothing else to do but sit in her parlor and cut off coupons." As to himself I hesitate to report his exact words. Well, then, mind you, in a low voice and only for the reason you insist--he said--he was "fairly lousy with money." That comes of your insisting!

"Dramatic!" you exclaim, recovering from the shock. Yes. You know old New England blood is not given to attitudinizing. Large natures are simple, direct, straightforward, truthful, not addicted to sinuosities. Old New England blood is not apt to be dra-


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matic in the cramping, three-wall stage of a theatre built by man; rather only in the vast theatre which has earth's mountains for its back-curtain, river-valleys for its wings, rolling prairies for its floor and the Almighty as scene-shifter; and in dramas of self-denial, self-reliance, religious consecration -- works which would shame the Titans. In such theatres of God Anglo-Saxon blood has played, here in America, various of the greatest dramas of mankind.

That blood is commonly too sincere, too unconscious of any but its duties to be dramatic in posturings, in phrases. "He that is lavish in words," said our kinsman of the stock, Sir Walter Raleigh, "he that is lavish in words, is a niggard in deeds."

And yet Colonel Perry and his family came from a Connecticut town! How it happened, what urgency led to the exodus, no one could tell. The Colonel may have fallen heir to a sum which, to an unimaginative mind, had no end. Mortals sometimes suffer that way. And when the experience comes, they not infrequently want to slough off the old home and find new fields for their activities.

In this instance in Laurel Town, as reports elsewhere, money made the mare go. Glitter of new things, and rattle, especially of harnesses of high-stepping steeds, attract. Folks less colorful, less temperamental, of the soft-grey weave of respectability and quiet manners, rushed to call upon the new arrivals.


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The daughter Maggie, not openly disdainful of, but seemingly disregarding Laurel Town girls, imported a confidante from her old home. One evening the two were at a party Mrs. Means gave to her visiting sister.

A thunder storm had crashed down upon Laurel Town that afternoon. Rain came in torrents. Thunder rolled so continuously that it seemed one vast rumble, now in the zenith, now off on the horizon. And electricity had been so fluidly intense that it fairly balled in red light and shot about amid the greenery.

After the storm the air stood in drenched stillness, weary with excessive action. From the land vapors slowly rose and stood enveloping Mount Oread. Birds kept silent. Leaves hung in perpendicular from weight of the waters which had washed them. Mosses stood out, their every feather-tip surfeited.

The evening of this superb spectacle, when supper was serving a thin, little voice shrilled, "Do bring me some pepper. Why! I never eat ice-cream without pepper." The speaker was Maggie.

"Pepper!" I exclaimed to myself. "Shades of Brillat-Savarin! If it were ginger; that might conserve taste."*

* Perhaps the order was more qualmish because in those days I was delighting in the twenty-four books of "The Iliad," even to the heroes' feasts. Then, too, that was years before I had seen much besides our old Anglo-American cookery; before I had seen foreign epicures, and Americans imitating foreigners, serve such mix-ups as roast chicken en garniture with onions and cauliflower.


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Not long after the pepper-box service Miss Maggie married a suitor who had come for her all the way from the Connecticut valley. Her daddy's bank closed its doors. Gossip said he had fallen by the wiles of Income, a jade ever deceitful and flippant in intimacies; and in spite of the parasitic conditions which he declared he suffered at the time of his dramatic debut in Laurel Town, Income had given him the mitten.

Purse-pride rarely touched Laurel Townfolk. Their self-gratulation had its foundation in self-reliant honesty of purpose, action, speech, for the most part, and in like sturdy qualities of ancestor and race. After all, it was only the newly rich who flaunted pride of purse and put their money into display.


V


The social life of the little burg fell mainly along cleavages of church membership -- a fact often true of older and larger cities. In Laurel Town it was sun-clear.

Now, just as the Puritan, his self-government, his demand for individual freedom, is the very core of our American nationality to-day, so his compelling spirituality has colored all religions in our midst.

At times you met the Puritans' stern sincerity, their fidelity to principle, their contempt for riches and


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prosperity when weighed against the moral law. Again you found the touching conviction, deep-seated in our hearts and causing rigid self-examination -- again and again you saw the rudimentary moral conviction, pathetic in its reversion to early Hebrew ideas, that material prosperity walks hand in hand with moral goodness, an enduring witness of the approval of the Supreme Giver.

And you heard over and over the demand that no power stand between the weak human and the Lasting Type -- naturally you would in a state whose life, not far back, had been intense and dramatic.

"Don't you," hotly asked a clergyman of a staid and blameless resident of the little city, "Don't you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?"

"Yes, I do," returned the laic, rising to the same degree of heat. "But there are too damned many middlemen.

"I have sometimes feared," the layman went on, "that Kansas might become what Andrew Lang defined India to be."

"What! -- what's that?" asked the cleric turning swiftly and eying his companion.

"The secular home of driveling creeds and of religion in her sacerdotage," calmly answered the citizen.

Religion's practical expression -- we do not speak of religion itself, communion between the soul and the Infinite; but practical religion, our duty to give


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ourselves to human works in helpfulness, in truth and joy -- had open force those days in Laurel Town. All citizens knew that a man may hide himself in every other way, but he can not in his works. -- A momentous law which holds true of women, also.

The story of how the Episcopal ladies took in washing bears witness:--

Those workers of picturesque Trinity wanted to buy a new carpet for the main aisle; or perhaps they were after new bellows for the organ; something of the sort, at any rate.

"It happened years ago," said the man who told the tale, "and I've been doing a lot of thinking ever since, till I've concluded roping in our wives and mothers is a sneaking way we have of fixing up our churches -- men in business meetings voting a thing shall be done and leaving the women to gather money to pay for it.

"In this town, and in others, too, I've seen the game played again and again. And did you ever find the women failing to rise to the occasion? -- what with their oyster-suppers and chicken-dinners, their Saturday morning sales of pies and cakes, their rummage-auctions and every other means their clever heads and faithful hearts can plan and willing hands execute?

"I notice the Presbyterians, at least in Laurel Town, don't so often resort to such subterfuges for church up-keep. There's some incalculable thing in


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Presbyterian teachings, it seems to me, that makes good financiers -- some indefinable quality acting on the mind and judgment. That's true of the Unitarians', also; and true of the Jews'. Perhaps it is because their religion is not so impressionable. They don't submerge themselves in inarticulate emotions which have no deedy outlet. Their devotees are more masters of themselves, calmly abiding in a sort of practical religiosity -- like a Jacob's, prayerful, yet subtle not swaying in mysticism, choking for utterance of what can not be put into human words. Where Presbyterianism prevails the people are canny.

"But I'm losing my story. As I was saying, in those times the ladies of Trinity Church were taking in washing, I used to lay my way home to mid-day meal just to see the plucky workers hard at it.

"They met at Mrs. Green's because she had no end of soft cistern water, plenty of yard; plenty of curtain stretchers, too. Then she herself had such a faculty for putting things through! Out in her side-yard, or back yard behind the grape trellis, I'd see the women skirmishing with the tubs.

"There was Mrs. Arnold who took mathematical honors at Cornell; and washing was not included in her curriculum. Like as not she'd be standing before a tub sozzling and pounding with one of these suction punchers. A couple of others would be dashing the white things in blue water, and another group chat-


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ting and laughing while they hooked the lace and thin stuff along stretcher-poles.

"And above would arch the Kansas sky, and below would roll Kansas blue grass, and in mid-air of elm-branches robins would carol and jays scream, and wrens chatter from porch crannies, and perhaps you would catch sight of a rose-breasted grosbeak hiding in the shade. Lord! I used to say to myself as I passed by, could there be a prettier sight! Or one more indicative of our race's active, bold, progressive self-respect! Or of our religion of helpfulness, holding together, protective defence of the group! Or of our state's motto, 'Work through trials and we shall reach the stars!'

"Of course the women won. They always do win. They washed all the curtains in town, I guess. I don't know whether they washed all the curtains of neighboring towns, or not. I rather think they did.

"And in the end they laughed right merrily at us men, who had lacked gumption to devise means to buy the carpet, or whatever it was, after we had voted the church must have it.

"Then, too, the women laughed at certain critics who, when they started out, laughed at them. But it was the gentle laughter of the one who laughs best because he laughs righteously and last."

Other congregations, also, had their legends founded on folk characteristics. There was, for in-


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stance, the tale about Adoniram Kellner. You will probably agree with his workfellows that the most merciful judgment is that Adoniram meant better than he did.

To say Adoniram Kellner is to call before your eyes Mary Louise, daughter of a wholesome mother who enjoyed an apron string forty-four inches long; and an equally plethoric father, a coal merchant with a bank-account as plethoric as himself and his amiable consort.

A red-brick, broad-door dwelling, that also large in girth and smiling-eyed, in the midst of lawn, shrubs and graceful elms, formed the shell of their blessed home.

The joy and sunshine of that home was a daughter, coddled and petted all her short life. By gentle askings, by loving mildness, ready obedience and duty to parents, Mary Louise had gained whatever ends her little mind chanced to seek. The family-life was as the angels' in heaven.

In church work and the Sunday-school to which Mary Louise devoted her sweet efficiencies, was another laborer, a young man studying at the university -- Adoniram Kellner himself, built after an ample, well-fleshed, Teutonic model, features indefinitely cut and small eyes looking out from a rubescent complexion and thatch of reddish hair.

Not a joy forever, in looks, you say. But in devout-


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ness, we answer, in what he termed devotion to the vineyard of the Lord he led every junior member. No one at the Sunday-school so always early and at hand; to see chairs were in line, singing books in place, temperature at sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. No one else stayed so late. No other so apt at making Scripture quotations in just the right place, at just the telling second. Any one with half an eye could see he was bent on doing the right thing.

This mere gate-keeping in the vineyard, to use his phrase, at one time so lifted his spirit that he felt he had a call from On High. Yet, after completer examination of his heart in the privacy of his closet, he determined he could benefit a world waiting for energetic, efficient practicians, by giving himself to banking six days in the week, supplemented by teaching of a zealous faith whenever opportunity afforded.

Therefore Adoniram dismissed thought of the ministry. Yet he frequented canvas tents into which evangelists, devoted to the awakening of souls, gathered friends of summer evenings. At such meetings Adoniram's petitions excited outspoken admiration. "The sweet humility of them!" the ladies said. "We give thanks," he cried one evening, "for this new and beautiful tent in which we meet -- ahem --this piano to lead us in joyous song -- ahem -- these chairs -- ahem -- this sawdust; we give thanks for this sawdust!"


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Adoniram had a rather striking voice; it sounded just as unbaked cake tastes; that is, to the aural palate it had the savors of raw, sweet dough to the tongue.

In his duty as general aide to the superintendent of the Sunday-school Adoniram gathered reports from teachers, and so it fell that he had often to go over to the corner where Mary Louise lisped stories of Noah's dove, and Moses in the bulrushes, and Elisha and his bears to a group of little girls. Out of her frills of lace, or furs, as weather might demand, Mary Louise's blue eyes would look up to Adoniram's face, and smiles would play about her innocent mouth as she told what the children of her class were learning and giving.

Now, if you have any fancy for reading the future without a crystal ball, and if you had seen the expression in Adoniram's eyes, and if you had noticed his carriage toward those possessed of this world's goods -- for a pinch of Uriah Heep as well as a dash of Pecksniff had gone to the making of Aloniram; moreover, if you took into consideration Mary Louise's probable, ultimate bank account, you could reason with moderate exactness that the young man would seek the lady's hand in marriage.

It all happened that a-way. Adoniram proposed the winter he was a college senior. Papa and Mama Huddleston considered his devoutness, his irreproachable conduct wherever they had seen him, his clear, logical thinking, his very evident helpfulness. With


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results that the month that brought Adoniram's winning of a bachelor's degree, gave also to Adoniram that happiest circle of a man's life his wedding day.

One luscious June evening Mary Louise's Sunday-school associates gathered in the ample parlors of her home, full-lit and hung with roses, and then and there her pastor united her to the greatest hero within her horizon.

Long before the wedding came, in planning the journey to follow their espousal, Adoniram had completely given Mary Louise her will. "Just as you wish; whatever you like;" he had said; and so she determined they were to stay at her home till they should take flight the morning following the wedding.

From this arrangement it fell that that night Mary Louise stood with toothbrush in hand and clad in little beruffled, belaced nightgown, when, after pacing half an hour in the shrubbery, Adoniram entered her room.

In he walked calmly enough; just as if he were used to that chamber, into which he had merely peeped before when it had served as ladies' cloak-room for church societies -- in he walked and pulled a chair to the middle of the room and sat down.

"Come here, missy," he called to the smiling bride, signing with his right forefinger from her to himself, but without any other word or action, "Come here."

Mary Louise came.

"Now kneel down here at my knee," laying a hand


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over that articulation of his body, "and say your prayers. We'll begin as we expect to go on," he added.

A malleable little soul, dutiful, unacquainted with rebellion in all her twenty protected years, never necessarily assertive of self -- what did Mary Louise do? Through all her life she had done what those she trusted told her to do. Naturally she did that now.

She knelt, and covering her face with her hands resting against her bridegroom's knee, she prayed aloud -- Adoniram improving her expression as she went on.

Next morning the couple stood waiting on the porch for the family-carriage to take them to the train. June sunlight, song of turtle-dove and thrush, fragrance of clustering roses had put last night's humiliation from the tender heart of Mary Louise, and her sweet face told how her mind was turned towards the journey.

"Daughter darling," called her mother at the last moment, bustling forward with purse in hand, "when you are in New York you'll want to buy a few pretties;" and she handed Mary Louise a hundred dollar bill.

Adoniram's ears heard the mother's cooing voice. His eyes saw the gift.

That afternoon, when the train had nosed its way out of Kansas City and was leaping eastward over the sunset-dyed lands of Missouri, he said to the trusting


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lady at his side, "Hand that one hundred dollars to me, missy, I can take care of it."

The wife undid her porte-monnaie and gave her husband the bill. Yet her spirits were not daunted. Such glorious days ahead! The great metropolis, its churches, its music, its hotels, its tens of thousands of people every waking hour! May be Adoniram would take her to a theatre or two!

The train sped on. Tzu-tzu-tzu it sang. Rickety-rick, rickety-rick, rickety-rick through many hours. And finally, in the calm of an evening, leaped alongside the waters of the Hudson till its monster eyes sighted the metropolis.

Mary Louise now spoke of a hotel, the Fifth Avenue over on Twenty-third Street, where her mother told her they should put up. "Which way from the station did it lie?" she wondered.

"No," answered Adoniram, "we'll take a furnished room."

They walked about till they found one.

For their comfort, in case of railway accident, Mary Louise's mother had packed food in a lunch basket. After they had eaten what the lady's generous hands stowed away, Adoniram refilled the basket at grocers' counters. They picniced in the midst of enticing eating-houses.

Still, their days were full of wonders and joys


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which Lord Byron, after his own nuptials, declared should belong to the "treacle-moon."

At last time came for winging their way homeward. Their journey ended in the dwelling Adoniram had chosen not far from the bank in his home-town, Minnehaha.

Summer passed.

Autumn's chill lay over the land. One evening they had in a few friends, and the company sat about the dining-table cracking nuts and telling stories. Finally the talk drifted to what would make each "perfectly happy." One would start next week for a hunting trip in Australia. Another would buy an orange grove in Florida. A third would spend summers on his own yacht off the New England coast.

Adoniram was silent. At last, upon appeal, he fell to telling his supreme choice: Granting at the outset an income that would free him from need of counting costs -- then, broad, spacious rooms; a fireplace in which crackled logs; a piano for improvising, if he chose; carefully chosen books lining the walls, with now and then a Raffael Morghen.

So spoke Adoniram.

"And me," added Mary Louise after a moment's pause, looking towards here husband with a wistful smile. "No-o-o," answered Adoniram slowly, eyes nar-


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rowing as if balancing values, and voice taking a downward inflection, "Not necessarily you-u-u."

Winter pushed forward; and storms which held Adoniram at home even of daylight hours, and found him keeping on as he had started. Every night, after her day spent according to the meticulous direction of her spouse, Mary Louise knelt at his knee and said her prayer, which, before its flight to The Infinite, Adoniram criticised and "bettered."

Her face had lost the soft, laughing sweetness of her girlhood. Her smile seemed a ghost of habit.

Still, no word of complaint escaped the little woman, or colored her letters to her old home. Save once, "I had no idea what life was, mama darling," her sad heart at last dared to say. "Why, I didn't know I had always been carried about like a kitten in a basket on your dear arm."

But springs do come in spite of the distortion of man, and when lilac bushes purpled at Minnehaha, and snow-ball trees whitened, Mary Louise's boy was born.

What a doting, delighted grandmother! -- who had declared a new milch cow should welcome that blessed baby; a grandmother who had employed a dairyman to search the county and find the best.

A few hours after the birth of her boy Mary Louise lay half asleep, shutting out the light by snuggling to-


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wards the wall, when her husband came to her bedside and asked a question.

In her weakness the little woman only half-sensed his presence. But when he repeated, "Where did you put the cream from last night's milk?" seizing the tip of her nose between his right forefinger and thumb and turning her face towards himself, adding, "I'll teach you to answer me, missy," he thoroughly roused her.

Day by day after that, the nurse could get little cream for the invalid's use; it seemed as if someone took it off, or the new milch cow did not give normal milk. Moreover, wrote the nurse to the grandparents in Laurel Town --moreover, her patient suffered depression, had spells of silent weeping and showed no reaction to enjoyment.

"What is the mystery?" queried the dame of the ample apron-string; and she took the train for Minnehaha. In that little borough she vibrated between her daughter's bedside and the milk pans, dipping off the cream in precious spoonfuls, her mother-tenderness coaxing world-weary Mary Louise back to strength -- till, at last, in the flood of early June beauty, just as Michigan creepers and Baltimore bells were again hanging out their clusters, she could bring the poor ewe lamb, and her lambkin, to dwell in the broad-door, smiling-eyed home.

Suit for separation and divorce Mary Louise based


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on grounds of incompatibility. The court listened to her testimony, granted her plea and gave her baby to her keeping.

Adoniram went from one success to another. Still, time had its effect on him, too. Years after he spoke of the need of straightening distorted conceptions, and of humanizing old-time practices, if we would meet present-day problems.




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