The Wheels of Time
The Wheels of Time
ILLUSTRATED BY R. G. VOSBURGH
Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.
Copyright, 1908, 1910,
By THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.
To one woman who said"I go not," but afterwards repented and went
|"Flower," he said, "my lovely fragrant Flower!"||Cover|
|"Good old Jane," she said. "I do enjoy talking to you"||p. 38|
|"You are not much use at answering questions,darling, are you?"||p. 72|
|"Oh, Flower! You cared like this?"||p. 92|
The Wheels of Time
The doctor stood, with hishand on the doorknob, andgave a final look back into hiswife's boudoir.
There was nothing in that roomsuggestive of town or of town life andwork—delicate green and white, amossy carpet, masses of spring flowers;cool, soft, noiseless, fragrant.
Standing in the doorway the doctorcould hear the agitated clang of thestreet-door bell, Stoddart crossing thehall; the opening and closing of thedoor, and Stoddart's subdued andsympathetic voice saying: "Step thisway, please." A heavy, depressedfoot or an anxious, hurried one, accordingto the mental condition of itsowner, obeyed; and the shutting of thelibrary door meant another patientadded to the number of those whowere already listlessly turning overthe pages of bound volumes of Punchor scrutinizing with unseeing eyes theLandseer engraving over the mantelpiece.
In former days the waiting-roomused to be the doctor's dining-room,but before he married his pretty wifeshe put her foot down firmly on thisquestion. He had been explainingthe Wimpole Street house and its arrangementsas they stood together inher sunny rose-garden.
"But, Deryck," she had exclaimedin dismay, waving her hands at him,full of a great mass of freshly gatheredroses, "I could not possibly sitdown and dine with you in a roomwhere your horrible patients have satwaiting for hours, leaving behindthem the germs of all their nasty, infectiousdiseases!"
The doctor caught the little hands,roses and all, and held them againsthis breast, looking down into her facewith laughing eyes.
"Flower," he said, "my lovely, fragrantFlower! Am I doing a foolishthing in attempting to transplant youinto the soil of busy London life?Should I not do better if I left you inyour rose-garden? Ah, well, it is toolate to ask that now; I can't leaveWimpole Street, and"—his voice, alwaysdeep, suddenly thrilled to adeeper depth; a tenderness of strongpassion quivered in it—"I can't livewithout you." He let go her handsand framed her upturned face in hisstrong, brown fingers.
"What have you done to me,Flower? I was always self-containedand self-sufficing, and now I find Ican't live without you, Flower—myFlower."
His eyes glowed down into her face.She looked up sweetly at him.
"But, Deryck," she said, "they doleave the germs of all their nasty infectious—"
The doctor's hands fell suddenly tohis sides.
"My dear child," he said, and hisvoice instantly regained its usual evennessof tone, "have I not told you thatI am a mind specialist? The peoplewho come to my consulting-room arenot, as a rule, suffering from measles,scarlet fever, or smallpox!"
"Oh, well, they leave their dreadfulmorbid thoughts behind them;and that is worse. I could not dinein a room where diseased minds havesat for hours, brooding. It wouldgive me creeps. And oh, Deryck,you know that stupid article you readme the other day, about how mentalimpressions, when a mind was highlystrung or unbalanced, could leave animpress upon walls or furniture—explainingghost stories, you know?—Iforget who wrote it.... You did?My dear boy, how clever of you!...Oh, no! How can you say I called it'stupid'? Or if I did, I meant 'interesting,'of course. See how well Iremembered it, though you thought Iwas not listening, because I had tokeep counting the stitches in the heelsof your golf stockings, you ungratefulman! And I am certain you are rightabout horrible thoughts sticking tofurniture. And however well Stoddartarranged the room he couldn'tsweep them away, and we should sitat dinner surrounded by them—oh,Deryck, surrounded!"
Her lovely eyes looked widely athim, over the gathered roses.
The doctor laughed. It is so easyfor a man to laugh before marriage.
"All right, Flower," he said."There is nothing like convincing afellow with his own arguments. Wewill remodel the house. I'll talk itover with Hunt. You shall have dining-room,drawing-room, and boudoir,all on the first floor, and I and myfreaks will have the run of the groundfloor. You will need only to passthrough the hall to go in and out ofthe house. So, if they drop their poorminds about, you will not come acrossthem. Now, choose me that promisedbutton-hole, and then let us come downto the stream. I don't like a rose-gardenwhen half of the windows of thehouse overlook it!"
This was seven years ago, and it nowsometimes seemed to Dr. Brand as ifhis tall Wimpole Street house representedin its stories the various portionsof the human anatomy; absolutelydistinct in themselves, but held togetherand kept going by the brain;the ever-busy brain controlling all.
His wife's apartments on the firstfloor; his life with her there, intowhich his professional interests wereso rarely allowed to intrude; certainlythey represented the heart of things;the man's whole heart rested and centredthere.
The floor above was given up tothe nurseries, and there, already, twopairs of little feet pattered ceaselessly,and merry voices shouted clear andgleeful, and a little flower-faced girlpeeped down at him through the balustrade,and a small boy, gazing earnestlywith dark, steadfast eyes intothe interior of a jumping rabbit whichrefused to jump, reproduced absurdlyhis own intent professional manner.
In the basement were the kitchens,and he was as ignorant of them as, hereflected with a smile, every perfectlyhealthy man should be of the digestiveorgans of his own anatomy.
Then on the ground floor, betweenthe life below-stairs and the life above,but generating the needful suppliesto keep the whole establishment going,dwelt the Brain—his brain, his untiring,ever-growing capacity for hardwork, represented by his consulting-room,where so many strenuous hourswere spent, and the old dining-room,now called the library, where an ever-increasingnumber of patients waiteddaily. This floor of his life was practicallyunshared by any, excepting thefaithful and punctilious old butler,whose monotonous "Step this way,sir," "Please to step this way, ma'am,"served to punctuate the departure ofone case and the arrival of the next.
Sometimes the desire to share theinterest of this ever-varying dailywork with another, gripped him in thethroes of its human necessity. Whenhis deep, penetrating eyes had beenlong bent upon the shifting, shufflingmind of a patient, at last piercing withtender mercilessness to the very coreof that mind's malady; when his quickbrain had grasped the case in all itsbearings, and his magnificent will-powerhad compelled the shaken soulto see things as he saw them, to believethings as he believed them, to face thefuture as the future alone could rightlybe faced; when his inspiring enthusiasmand belief in God and life andhuman nature had set that mental crippleon his feet or loosed the bandswhich had bound some poor "daughterof Abraham,—lo, these eighteenyears"; when, conducted by Stoddart'smechanical "Step this way," theypassed out from his consulting-room totread with new hopes the path of anew life, he would stride to his window,squaring his shoulders, and takingin a deep breath of fresh air, hewould say: "God, what a victory! Imust tell Flower."
But once in Flower's boudoir, witha dainty china teacup in his hand anda muffin on his knee, hearing the blissfuldetails of Blossom's new syllable,or Dicky's latest development, orFlower's own triumphal progressthrough the Park in the new motor-car,somehow the story of the strenuousfight, the hopeful victory, seemed outof place. This was the home of feeling;thought must not intrude. Thiswas the domain of trivialities; thegreat issues of life must hide in thebackground. This was the home ofthe Heart; the Brain must abidebelow.
Yet matrimony and motherhood haddone much to deepen Flower. Thelinking with his nature; the havingperforce to awaken in order to meetand satisfy the deep needs of hisovermastering love; the constant exampleof his unselfish nobility, singlenessof purpose, and high ideal of life;and, above all, the pangs and joys ofmotherhood; all these had made of thewilful, wayward little Flower of therose-garden, a sweet and gracious woman;in outward face and form moreexquisite than ever, and in the hiddenpart an awakening soul, which neededonly an hour of deep agony, a tearingaway of the flimsy veil of selfishnessand conventionality now stifling it, tobring it to the birth.
But that time of pain and stress camenot to Flower, because the strong,shielding love of a man was alwaysaround her, and his care warded offthe very thing which alone could havebrought about his comfort and hercompletion. And yet he was dimlyconscious of a gradual growth in her,and sometimes, half wistfully, hecalled her "Mary," that name so sacredto perfect motherhood, and whichhad seemed such an incongruous giftfrom her sponsors, to his Flower ofthe rose-garden.
On this particular morning, whenthe doctor stood at the door lookinginto the boudoir, Flower was bendingover a huge bowl of daffodils, arrangingeach golden trumpet to her liking.
The spring sunshine came glancingthrough the window and touched herhair to the gold of the blossoms. Thedoctor noted this, and a sudden lookof adoration softened the cool clearnessof his eyes.
The baby's godmother, on this lastday of her visit, sitting by the fire withher feet on the fender, opening andsmoothing a copy of the Times,glanced up, past the sunshine and thedaffodils, saw that look and promptlyretired behind a leading article.
The baby's godmother was a perfectlybeautiful woman in an absolutelyplain shell, but, unfortunately,no man had yet looked beneath theshell and seen the woman herself inher perfection. She would have madeearth heaven for a blind lover who, nothaving eyes for the plainness of herface or the massiveness of her figure,might have drawn nearer and apprehendedthe wonder of her as a woman;experiencing the wealth of tendernessof which she was capable, the blessedcomfort of the shelter of her love, theperfect comprehension of her sympathy,the marvellous joy of winningand wedding her. But as yet no blindman with far-seeing vision had comeher way, and it always seemed to beher lot to take a second place on occasionswhen she would have filled thefirst to infinite perfection.
She had been bridesmaid at the doctor'swedding, to whom she would havemade a wife such as Flower, developas she might, could never be. Shewas godmother to the baby—shewhose arms ached for motherhood itselfand whose motherliness wouldhave been a thing for men to kneeldown and worship. She found herduties as godmother to various babiesconsisted chiefly in praying that thefoolish mistakes made by their parentsmight be overruled by an all-wiseProvidence and work out somehow totheir ultimate good.
She had a glorious voice; but herface, not matching it, its existence wasrarely suspected; and as she accompaniedto perfection, she was usuallyin requisition to play for the singingof others. Only once, at a concert,where the principal songstress failed atthe last moment, she volunteered tofill the empty place, and walked to thepiano, when the moment came, in thedouble capacity of singer and accompanist.How she "brought down thehouse" on this occasion, and how ablind man's eyes were opened, belongsto another story.
Meanwhile she was a woman of tact,and when she perceived how the doctorwas momentarily dazzled by the sunlightand the gold, she retired, obviously,behind the Times leader.
"Darling," said the doctor, "I amwired for to Brighton, in consultationover a very important case. I must godown by an afternoon train, and Idoubt if I can get back to-night."
"How tiresome, Deryck! It isMyra's reception this evening, and Ipromised to bring you with me. Ishall hate going alone. However, Isuppose it cannot be helped. Did youever see such daffodils? It makesone long to be back in the woods athome."
The doctor hesitated. Downstairsthe bell rang again, the hall dooropened and closed, Stoddart said, "Stepthis way, sir."
"Flower," said the doctor, "I havea jolly little plan for to-night. I wantyou to come to Brighton with me. Wewill put up at the Metropole and havea real good time. I ought to be ableto get back to you there soon afterseven, and we can have dinner and goon the pier afterwards and watch themoonlight on the sea. Or, if you prefersomething more lively, there is agood concert on in the Dome. I willtelephone for seats. It is a long whilesince we heard any music together."
He stopped rather breathlessly.
The front doorbell rang again.
The doctor's wife took out a daffodiland replaced it to better advantage.Then she looked up with an