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The General Verdict

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'I don't tliink we should visit lier, nuil I, for one, shall not cul.iv.ite lier aequaintance.." ■Sor I," finid ancrtber, while a thdrd inember of the wwing elrele n tured to remark : "I consider her eonduct highly improper." A silence fell upon us wiiile we su wíxJj bowed heada and deft fingere, i.i-hioninjr tlie ganaenta for thelittlu heathen awaj in Uistant lands. Waat liad this woman done to nútrase our feelings ? One would suppose she had committed a grevious offense- a sin against God and man. To the eyes of the fenunle portion of our little village slie liad. We were a quiet communlty in that eleepy little town. Hather low, I ara afraid. at gTaspinjí the more advan ed ideas of our sisters in the larger cities, wao recognize the laet that a woman can íill almost any position in Ufe equally a.s well as her brother, or indulge in any outdoor sport that is conduciré to her health, without beiiig considered unwomauly. Xo, we bad not arrlved at this. To be sure, we bad outlived the days of the patchwork quilt and the sampler; but the trieycle was al most uniward of, escept through an occasioiKil item in our local paper. W took the precaution to destroy these particular copie, fearful least they ediould tal] into the hands of our growing dauiíhtors and prove d imoraliziug. . Imaiíine, if yon can. mir dism.iy al íind tliat In our very ínidst a woman liad come with short hair short ]ettk'oats reaoblng only to her Boot-tops. and was seen daily ridtng along our hi.ürhways m this odious machine, and thi.s woman the wife of the young doctor wtw had come to Grantliain wlth the expectation of building; up a luerat ve practice : He miijht have done so, for we boaeted oí only one physi -ian, a sleepy (.Id íellow-, who liad outlived his usefulness. We t'hought it sucfi a pity that the doctor' wiíe, ly her folly, should injure his prospecte in life. To consult liim wxwld 1e to countenance her conduct. and this we could not or would not do ; consequently. the yonng doctor"s future was anytiiinir but promising. It was (ioinct of a boycott mi our part. We reaeoaed tlnis : If the doctor fails to build up a practice. he will naturally be compelled to return to the city, taking with him liis wife and that odioue tricycle ; if, however, ou the other hand, he anderstands the poition we have taken, he will induce h!s wife to let her hair grow, lengfhen her petticoats, and walk like tlhe rest of us, we are perfectly willinfr to let by-gones be bygones, and consult him on any subject, from a cae of measles to that toost interest ing event- the arrival of the latest baby. Tliey didn't seem to .realizo that they were being boycötted- they appeared so happy. Once we saw the doctor help his young wife to mount then, standing in the open doorway, kiss his hand lovingly as he watched her ride away in the open sunshine along tihe country road, where the branches of the elms met overhead, forming a loafy canopy through which the sunlight fell in little rifts of yellow- ligtht. It was a glorious mornlng in the early autumn, before the leaves camc eddying down, when the woods were deeked in amber and gold. I remember watching with infinite pleasure the Dattertng of her blue flannel skirt and of feeling an indescribable longing to ride a tricycle. I did not dare express my views 10 my companion, Miss Itillings. In fact, I was rather ashamed of Imíiiií guilty of fuich a desire, with some fhing of the feeling that a monk niglit have if found sleeping at hls beadte. When MiM Itillings said, "Isn't it slianveful ?" moral coward that I was, I answered "Yes. " We met her often, like a phantom jdiding noiselessly along, her jaunty blue cap S'hading a face that, although not pretty, was sweet and womanly withal. TVe always drew our skirts a trifle higher after she had passed. as if the groinid Bbe had ridden over were unhiily. "If abe would only go out ia the darkness," said one woman. "Hut in bniad dayliirht !" Do you wdiider that we lrowned on her? We missed her for sevcral days, and learned that she was ill. sho had fallen from the tricycle, and sprained ankle. It wA quite t-erious, as, after sustaining the injury, slie had walked all the way home. "Had she gone into some house by ilie wayside." said the apothecavy's clerk, who voucUsafed the information, "réeted and bathed her ankle it would have amounted to nothing ; but now It'e very painful, and, wliat makes it a great deal said the young man confidently, "she does all her own work ; they cannot afford a hlred girl. They're poor," he sald, sadly, "poor as cfanrcb niiee."' "They deserve to lx-:' saiil Miss BillIngg, npitefnlly. "If she'd stop íidinc tiiat trfcycle the wovld find her husband's practico inereasiiig." To me she Mld : 'Tffl piad he dil not come to my door. I s,nv her, too," slic added, trlumphantly. ' dragging tlwit tricycle along. I sluit the door quick for fear abe would expect me to ask her in. I'd as soon let au Infernal machine in niy house as tthut- " "How could yon, Miss Iïillinas V' I interrupted, in indigiintion. "How could you permit thi.s womaa, weak ajid suffering, to pass your door ? You who profess to be a Christian." We had reaehed her gate by this time. S"he l)id me a curt 'Good afternoon,' without deigning to reply. I watohed her etridin up the garden wialk, her head high in the air, offended at my doubte as to her Christlanity. I wialked home through the sathering twilijrht thinking eeriously, I know what our opinión was concerning the doctor'8 wife, but I wondered wliat she thotight of us. I realized how painíul a sprained ankle must be, and what a lcnig road had trarelled, moet of it up-hill. and she dared not come in to rest ; our doors ■were closed against her. I wondered how she would get on With her work. The words of the apntlieeary's clerk ranii in my eara : ■Tliey're as poor ns church mice." I was tempted to go over and offer my servires, when 1 remembered tiiat I too liad drawn my ü'arments closer wflien the cloud oï dust away in the distante hernlded the coming oí the doctor'3 wife. I did not go. I-ike many another good resolution. this was not put into exeeution ; the fear of being refiulsed kept me away. Never before did my home look 80 uninviting to me. I fancied the gnowy c urtains, half drawn, disclosnit tlii' warmth and liirht within ïad a cold, repelling tone, or why would she have passed by them ? The noxt day I gathered the prettiest flowers in my garden and brouiilit bhem to the doctor's. Away trom Miss BiUingB' influence, my letter nature prevailed. It was my intentioo to leave the bouquet as a sort of peace-offerintr. The doctor'e door had an old-fashion■d lras knocker. It mijiin have been fhat my knoek was noft and timid ; it any rate it was not heard. I dlaovered tlrat the door wa.s slightly ijar, and Btepped into the hall way conject uring in wthat nianncr I coulil best make known my presente. I lesrd voiees in the tsitting-room. "Pertiaps, dear," I could hear In a very faJnt volee that I knew to o tlie sufferer's, "perhaps, dear, I had better give up the tricycle. To be eure, it has done me bo much good. '. never Jiave that rasping pain In my sdde any more. But, Harold, dear, t scems to interfere witL your practlce. Th-e -w-omen of the village aro aboring under the impression that I ride It to be bold and unwomanly. They draw their skirts away from me. If t'hey only knew how much benefit I öiave derlved from its ose ! t is imposslble to overeóme their eelings on tlie subject. Tliink, dear, of my walklog a whole mile and ainting from pain anti exhaustion, witliin a lew yards of my own door, and lying there no helpless until you ound me, darling !" I could hear her sobbing goftly as I ilutCbed tighter the fkrwen I held. Poor little woman ! I was not eavesdropping ; I was spellbound. It was the dot-tor talking now. "No, Letty, you wil] not give up your trkycle," he said, "to suit those narrow niinded women. Confound tliom I" he alded, angrily, "I'd like to meet one of tliem. I'd-" As I wae one of "tlifin," it is needless to write I stole noiselessly out, wQiile something like a tear feil on tlie purple and gold chrysanthemums. Yes, I wias weepinj;. I found part of a letter by the wajsidc. on my way homeward ; it read is fjllovs : "We miss you very nun-li, dear ; notliing can j-econcile me to your tihe thought tliat the country air Ie beneficia! to you, and the hope tliat Harold will build up a practtoe. I am rarprleed tbat he has not done so by this time. Do you Ktill rtde your trkycle ? I tsincerely hope you do not let other dutiee crowti in apon your time to the exclusión oí tliis lioalthliil exercise. You know Mliat a wonderful lielp it has been to you. I ïounil one of your pretty urls, d-ar, tliat we tut off during the fever. It was only Uien tliat I realized lunv very uear we taino to losing you- in favt, h'ow you liad come lack to us irom t;lte abadow of death." The letter -was signed "Mother." I knew it must luave lwen written to tibe doctor'8 wife. t?o ehe had been 111, and flhiey had cut off some of her curie ! Thiig accounted for her short locks. I remember tliat Miss Billings aid ghie must have had her hair cut to attract attention. And ene rode the tricycle for the benefit of her health ! Oh, how naiTOw-minded we were, we women of the sewinf;circle, not to have guessed this ! The next week my boy feil UI. I (-onsulted the old doctor. He pronounced it a case of diphtheria in a maUgaent forni. Susan. the hireil wiuiia.n, coming into the room, heard lus siartlinir word. A look of ïear stole aeróse that Btolid face. Mie carne to me th following morning, ■aylag : Ii' you pleatfe, ma'am, ril be leavin' ymi. My sister is down wiMi ;v tever; witli no one to look after the childrett, and rtve'a tiiat low, ma'am, that-1' ■ Voii may go, Susan." I unid, payng little ilveed to the fabricat ion, "11 yxu have any fear on account of Paul's illness." 8be went, and I was alone. My liu.sltand had left home lmt a few diays previous, to be gone on an extended buniness trip. The ladies of the sewing cirele learned of my boy'n illness. As the disease was eontagioue, they eonld only send messages of sympathy. Miss lïillings had frequently remarked that she was not afraid of any diseaee, feelIng atisured tliat the Iord avouUI carry lier türoogh ; but I had doubtd lver Oiristianity. and this was a reason for her not coming to my assistanee. The days lengthened into weeks. My boy was out of danger. I could leave him now for a while, to take nuivh-nceilcil rest. had I anyone to take my place. The doctor promlsed to proonre a nuree (rom the city, but as yet he had not come. The du tors wife bad recovered fi-om the effects of her sprained ankle. I caugíii a glimpse o{ the Wne cap and ïnïïii gilding past my window in iiii' early mornlng. I alrnost envied her, out in the cool. fresh morning air. AVhat wrald I not i;ive tor one halí-hour of sneh keen enjoyment, after my close confinement in a sitkrooni for weeks ]ast '.' I was beginning to show signs of fatigue. My pele eheeks and sunken ycs liöre evidence of tiliis. If only someone would come and sit with my patiënt, that I inight have one night's rest uninterrupted. Oli, how tired I wias, and yet I dare not close my lyee, lest through uheer exhaustion I should fall a.sleep and negleet the littlemifferer. I knelt lesidc my bey s icilsule and prnyed for strength. How Uxag I knelt there, I cannot teil. I was startlcd liy a slij;ht tap. Perhaps it was the doctor. No one else carne ; we seemed to be completely ent off from the world, as it were ittle Paul and I. I had been weepDg : Irat it wae twiliirht, and the old doctor would not notice my red ind Kwollen eyee. I went to the dioorway, and tïiere stood the doctor's wlfe ! Y'our boy is ill," she nai(l. "I only heard of it an hour ago. Tve come over to help yau." Sh eame in, laid aside the jaunty blue cap, and, before I could realizo t. she insisted upon mj' lying down. "Yon are quite worn out," she eaid n sucJh a eweet, mueiciil voice. 'Leave him to me," she added. ■Wliat te hls name ?" "Paul," ï answered. Tundas t o the child she said : Xow, Paul, mamma is going to lie lown and reet She is very, very tired. I am going to take eare of you. I know jou will be a gool boy while I teil jou of all the little sick boys I've niet with in the hospitals." My Jittle 8OO as ratber poilert, .'m afraid, but he yielded to her control. I was (toon in the land of dreame. Whi-n I awoke, the sim was shining n tlie window. I could see the doctor's ,wife gliding noiselessly across the j-oom, dressed in the Hhort skirt fluit .1, with the other members of the jsewing society, thought o odious; lad jiow I likened it to the robes of i Sister of Mercy. She came and sat besule me. ■How is Paul ?" I asked. "Very mucli bitter," she answered. 'I had a little time to myself this morning," lie went on, "when Paul was asleep." I took the liberty o! going into j-our kitchen to Btraighton things up a bit. I waehed the dishes. [ want you ti liave all the rest you van. You need it." "How kind of you !" I faltered. 'And you've boon with u.s all night, nul I let you pass my door Wlth B sprainod anklt' '. I've - " "No, yon didn't," she Interrupted. 'I didn't pass your door ; I took the other kmI." "You are an angel 1" I nobbed lysteri-ally. I was very weak and the slightcst excltement unnervod me. S'ho drew me toward her, and I rest■il my poor acliing bead on the losom of the tri-ycle costnine, and she com'ortcd me as mly one ivoman can comfort ainother. SomeJiow we overeóme our prejulice. How could we do otherwise ? Tlie doctor'n practice increaeed. Today he is the leading physician in our little town ; land I- well, I have boagbt a trioycle.- Petersoji's Magazine.


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier