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A Shattered Intellect

A Shattered Intellect image
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"Help! help! help!'1 I started to my feet in a tremor of fright as this cry rang throtigh my room, and gazed at the partition wall which divided my apartment from the room next to it in helpless terror. Tlien 1 bethought me of tlio -hall, and rushing out thoro I knocked on tbc door noxt tó mine. Silence, followcd by a low demoniacal laugh! '¦What is the matter?" I called. "Open tho door, if you need help." A voiee evidently that oí an agcd wonian, called out: "Go away!" Then I eould hear her laugh and mntter to herself, and 1 went back 1o my room. Ontheway I met the boy who was janitorof the building. 'Who has No. 27P" "Some crazy vonians," lie answered in disrespeetful haste, and u :is gone before I eould ask another question. Amad wonian in the next room! Surely fate was unkind to me. 1 had come here to improve iny own mind, andfound nself tete-a-tete with idiocy. I eould move out, but I had only just moved in, and ducats were as acaree as hen's teeth. I was preparing myself for dramatic readings, and spent the most part of my time in the drill work of the profession, with intervals devoted to the rendering of classieal music, con amore. I comforted myself with the belief that however hard my poor demented neighbor shrieked and raved in her insane ebullitions, I eould drown her out with an opposition bedlam, and I decided to stay uhere 1 was and iiUcnii to my own aü'airs. Jf Í had only done so! "Mind J'our own business'' is a liomely formula, but it is a little classic of ""rajhlfli pertinent adrice, which we would do wuii to engra; on CIÏB ritual of our daily lives in letters of gold. tío mueh for parenthesis. I studied aloud. I raved and ranted to develop my voice. I paced my chamber in a long white gown and holding a tallow canille in my rigid hand, wliile I strode up and down, repeated in sepulchral tones: ü-w-it dam-n-ed spot, owit I say - ODe-two; why then tis' time to - "Save mef save me! help! hol])! for God's sake, help!" 1 dropped my oandle, jurnped into bed, and drew the bed-clothes over my head. There I lay and shhrered until morninL. Xhen I saw a palé, still woman with a resolute face, coming out of number "How is your patiënt?" I asked lmrriedly as she passed me on the landing. The womau stared at me a moment as if she did not quite understand. "The - the insane woman," I explained. "Oh, yes, much botter, but I cannot stop to talk," and sho hastened away while I wondered whether sho was a nurse to the mjisterious woman ghut up there, or a relative, possibly a daughter. I decided on the latter when I overheard the fond languago she used toward the poor deuientod oraatura. Never a lmrsli or reproachful word, but the tender endearments of an affection that was as self-sacriiicing as only the strongest filial love can be. And so proudand eareful of the unconscious sufferer that no eye was allowed to rest upon her in that wretched state. I honored and respected such devotion, and soon in my own way I longed to assist the aad and silent woman, who shrunk from the advances of slrangers, in her labor of love. 1 bogan by Ieaving tiny bunches of ilowersat the door. Then small ofl'erings of fruit, and I had a sellish reward in the silence and pcace that followed each occasion. 1 eould hear the patiënt softly laughing or lalking to herself, and I even imagined sho had learned to expect the tributes of my sympathy. Whoknew? Itmighteven act as a new mind cure, this outside diversion from an unknown source. Several times I had tried to talk with the daughter - as I had decided her to be - but her ruanner was so reserveil, and so strange, that I began to think Bhe, too, was non compos mentís; that they were, in fact, amad fainilv. But I had learned that she lillcd a responsible position during the day, and that het whole life was given up to the cheerless society of the wreek vvhom she protected with such devotion that I had never vet caught a glimpse of her. 1 feit that to help such a sorrow was a privilege, and I destred no thanks or aeknowlcdgment. And vet - I will confess it now - it was sometimos hard to bear. The ravinga of insanity are never pleasant to listen to. but there was a peculiar weirdness in the muffled cries that rang through the dcadening walls. JJut there carne a climax, ns thoro doos tomo.stof the tragedies of life, and it did not come a moment t" socin, for 1 had fallen into a nervoua condition that, if I had boon a fine, lady, would have caused my btendfl and mvsolf great apprehousion. But I am not, a Ene lady, and the few frienda 1 had lived far away and did nottrouble ihemsolvos about me. And I had become absorbed, fascinated, haoated by the namelese terror on the theothor .side of mv partition. I too, was bcgiuuing to laugh hysterically; to Bcream "help" aml "murder" in my sleep; to mutter, and jabber incoherent word?. My taco had grown white and wild looking. I fancied that cvery next door neighbor avoided me, as if afraid of me - ha! ha! the idea is too funny! One cvening, Jast at duslr, 5 went lióme froni a reliearsal for a performance! in which I was to appear, and, all absorbed in my part, toiled weariíy up to my room in the fourth story and walkedi in without unlocking the door, so unoonscious was I of my surroundings.i But the room was lighted and a woman sat thcro sewing; the furniture W8 strange - nothing was mine. I liad made a mistake and walkcd into No. 27. The woman who sat there alone rose as if ashamed and stepped back. "I beg your pardon," I said, as I recovered myself, "but it seems I have(made a mistake. 1 was thiuking so bn-il v, Idid not notice." "Won't you si down? Take tbis - " "rilkUlyóu! Help! help!" Bhrieked a discordant roice - tho voiea that haunted me. I started in siidden fright; cvery nook and corner was visible to the eye; the bed was there, white and unoceupied; no one was present except Wö two. " ]Mio is it? IHiat is it?" I gasped, turning pale and sick. "Mi, t parrot," said the woman, calmly, pointing to a gray Afrioan parrot .sit t ing sleepily in a cage in the corner. "Idaresayshe often amuses you witli lior noise. Sho is a verv tragio bird, J ani very choicc of her, but gome day you may borrow her, if yuu liko her ior uompany." "1 would likc to ring her neck," I suid and went home. The next time I met the janitor I asked him how hc dared to teil me there was a crazy woman in that room. "Ale vmimins bees crazy," hc s:iid, with a cynieal smilo. "1 téll.s her you :-i crazy mit your own solluf." "Told her I was crazy:"' "Yees, and she was aírieet, too." Then I toas a mad woman. 1 had been foóled and outwitted by a lont of B boy, and that bird I most ' despised, a


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News