A Story of the Twentieth Century.
MILAN C. EDSON.
Published by the Author at 1728 New Jersey Ave., N. W., Washington, D. C. In the Year 1900.
Press Work by Byron S. Adams.
Copyright, 1900 by Milan C. Edson. All Rights Reserved.
This book, is dedicated to the sons and daughters of the farms of the Republic as an expression of the author's realization, that Agricultural people constitute a large majority of its working units: That as such, its destiny is in the hands of their boys and girls, as its future guardians, fathers and mothers: That for the reasons stated, they should become its dominant thinkers and leaders: That Agriculture is the true basis of industrial and commercial success; hence, it should be made the most noble and pleasing of all occupations: That the alarming encroachments of land monopoly, and the inability of the small farm to meet the expense of using the latest and best machinery, threatens the total extinction of all land-owning farmers, and of their consequent reduction to the dependent caste of farm laborers: That the isolated life and the severe toil of the small farm, has a dangerously depressing effect on the minds of its people: That all of these things, seem to demand the changes suggested by the contents of this book.
Strong in my convictions that all civilizations are false, which do not civilize the lowest units of any social order, I have written Solaris Farm as my contribution towards the improvement of agriculturists as a class, of the race as a whole; towards the establishment of a truer civilization, organized for the purpose of securing the same degree of progress for the lowest orders of humanity, which have been or can be attained by the highest. In any social or political fabric, wide differences of wealth, of education, of refinement in its sub-divisions are dangerous, they swiftly lead to the introduction of caste. Caste is the dry rot, which, when once established, will surely destroy all progress, all vitality, by slowly eating away the social, industrial and political life of the nation.
In preparing this book for the press, I wish to acknowledge my obligations to the following authors, for much valuable information and inspiration: To Elmer Gates, the discoverer of new domains in Psychology, the inventor and discoverer of the art of Mentation, the founder of the Elmer Gates Laboratory, at Chevy Chase, Maryland: To Henry George, the author of "Progress and Poverty:" To Edward Bellamy, the author of "Equality," and "Looking Backward:" And lastly to that greatest of living Frenchmen, M. Godin, the author of "Social Solutions," and the founder of the "Familistere," with its famous industrial enterprise, located at the city of Guise, France; the grandest co-operative success of the age!
A last word to my readers: Do you wish to join forces with the humanitarians? If so, always strive so to educate the people, that they may fully understand the true object and purpose of human life; and the necessity for the upbuilding of social, industrial and political institutions, in harmony with the demands of that purpose. This will require unselfish, persistent, co-operative effort and thought. In no other way, can you so greatly aid the cause of progress.
MILAN C. EDSON.
No. 1728 N. J. Ave., N. W.
WASHINGTON, D. C., SEPT. 1ST, 1900.
1. A FARMER'S SON WITH PROGRESSIVE TENDENCIES 1
2. THE OUTLINES OF A GREAT PROBLEM 4
3. AN ADVERTISEMENT INTRODUCES THE HEROINE 9
4. THE STORY OF A STONE AND WHAT CAME AFTER 10
5. FAIRY FERN COTTAGE 27
6. FENNIMORE FENWICK 34
7. AN ALASKA KINDERGARTEN 37
8. AN INTERVIEW WITH THE "FAIRIES." 41
9. THE PROBLEM VS. A GOOD MAN WHO IS AS RICH AS HE IS NOBLE 49
10. THE REAPING OF THE DEATH ANGEL 53
11. THE MARTINA MINE 58
12. SPIRIT AND MORTAL—FATHER AND DAUGHTER 61
13. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 63
14. THE ETHICS OF PLANETARY EVOLUTION 71
15. THE CO-OPERATIVE FARM AS A FACTOR IN SOCIAL EVOLUTION 75
16. FILLMORE AND FERN 87
17. SOLARIS FARM 93
18. CLUB LIFE AT SOLARIS 112
19. FENWICK HALL 121
20. THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA 133
21. HIS WOOING PROSPERS WHILE OUR HERO ENJOYS HIS FIRST VACATION 141
22. A SURPRISE PARTY AND RECEPTION COMBINED 150
23. FORMATION OF POPULAR SCIENCE CLUBS 160
24. A TWENTIETH CENTURY LOVE LETTER 162
25. THE REPLY 171
26. FERN FENWICK ARRIVES AT SOLARIS 179
27. THE FESTIVAL 185
28. THE ORATION 187
29. THE STORY OF GILBERT GERRISH; OR, THE STRENGTH OF THE WEAKEST UNIT 216
30. OUR HERO AND HEROINE DISCUSS AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS 227
31. THE DISCUSSION GROWS MORE INTERESTING 248
32. SOCIAL SOLUTIONS 256
33. SOLARIS SCRIP 270
34. THE INSURANCE OFFERED BY CO-OPERATIVE FARMING 273
35. THE MOTHERS' CLUB 287
36. THE CO-OPERATIVE FARM AS A FACTOR IN THE CAPITAL AND LABOR PROBLEM 299
37. THE CO-OPERATIVE FARM TRIUMPHANT 313
38. THE KINDERGARTEN AT SOLARIS 327
39. AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 346
40. THE COMING ERA OF GOOD ROADS 362
41. CO-OPERATIVE ETHICS 371
42. RURAL LIFE UNDER THE REIGN OF CO-OPERATION 387
43. A TWENTIETH CENTURY HONEYMOON 416
44. THE NEW CRUSADE 423
A STORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
A FARMER'S SON WITH PROGRESSIVE TENDENCIES.
One bright summer afternoon, near the close of the month of August, 1905, two young college chums, Fillmore Flagg and George Gaylord, just met after a long separation, were seated on a rustic bench near a well-appointed mountain hotel. The superb view before them was well worthy of their half-hour's silent admiration. Full one thousand feet above the sea stands "Hotel Mount Meenahga" in the heart of the "Shawangunks," a mountain range in the state of New York, famed for its scenic beauty, cool dry air, pure water and commanding elevation. Looking northward a most charming landscape presents itself, a wonderful group of mountain ranges, stretching for seventy-five miles from near the Delaware Water-gap eastward to and including the Alpine peaks of the famous Catskills. Within this lovely semicircle lie the highlands of Ulster, Sullivan and Orange, lifted like seats in some vast amphitheater, tier above tier, while nearer a beautiful mingling of villages and hamlets, broad fields, green woods and silvery water-courses, constitutes a picture of enchanting beauty—a picture constantly changed, shaded and intensified by broad patches of moving shadow and sunlight from a great fleet of fleecy clouds sailing so swiftly, so silently and so majestically across the summer sky.
"How exquisitely beautiful!" murmured Fillmore Flagg, "I wish I had my camera that I might make it captive, carry it hence and keep it, a rare token of beauty, a source of joy forever."
At this point, a brief description of the young men will serve by way of a further introduction.
Fillmore Flagg was fully six feet in height, though his compact, well-rounded figure made him seem less tall; his straight, muscular limbs were in harmony with his deep chest and symmetrical shoulders. His rather large but beautifully turned neck and throat rose straight from the spinal column, firmly supporting a noble head, everywhere evenly and smoothly developed. His thick, soft brown hair, worn rather short, was inclined to curl, giving to the outlines of the head a still more heroic size. His forehead was large, full, dome shaped and remarkably smooth; the brows, finely penciled and well arched, were matched in color and slenderness by a short moustache which seemed a shade or two darker than the hair. His eyes were large, very expressive, of a soft dark brown, bright and flashing with emotion, full of pensive light when partially shaded by their thick silken lashes; his smiling glance possessed a curiously fascinating magnetic charm. The attractiveness of the entire face and neck was intensified by the wonderful marble-like smoothness of skin which accompanies that rare, pale olive tint of complexion. A soft Alpine hat and a neat business suit of dark clothing completes this picture of the personal appearance of Fillmore Flagg. Later on we shall learn to know him better by his genial temperament, mental and moral characteristics.
George Gaylord was above medium height, slender and pale, slightly inclined to stoop; wore glasses, and a thick black moustache which entirely concealed his thin lips. His heavy growth of long, coal black hair was naturally bent on falling over his high white forehead. His large black eyes were deeply set under heavy dark brows, more square than arched. His straight nose and smoothly shaven chin were set in line with his high square forehead. While both face and figure suggested the student, a tall silk hat and a square cut, closely buttoned black frock coat, stamped him at once as a clerical student.
"Tell me, George," said Fillmore Flagg, "how have you fared since we parted, and what are your ambitions and plans for the future?"
"There is not much to tell you, Fillmore. As you know, when I left college, my mother was a widow with a very limited income, which made it difficult to meet my college expenses. Mother had set her heart on my entering the ministry. Her only brother, a childless widower, and a man of some wealth and great influence in the church affairs of his prosperous New England town, promised his assistance. Behold the result! I have just graduated with fair honors from a prominent theological institute. I am to take charge, this coming November, of a large church and congregation in the manufacturing city where my uncle resides. Uncle George, for whom I was named, is now with my mother visiting friends in New York. They have kindly selected as my future wife, my uncle's favorite niece and prospective heiress to his wealth. When last we met, four years ago, Martha Merritt was a sweet little miss in short dresses; but gave promise, even then, of unfolding into a lovely woman. To tell you the truth, under the circumstances, I am more than half prepared to fall in love with her when we meet again. However ambitious my day dreams in the past may have been, a not unkindly fate has woven the web of destiny for me and fixed my future life work without much effort on my part; and yet I am quite content to have it so. Two weeks ago I left the heat and bustle of the great city for a month's rest in this quiet place. I little dreamed of meeting you here; I need not say I am delighted: I am, thoroughly so. I find you looking your best, yet I can easily perceive you have been hard at work as usual. I do not believe you could possibly keep still and rest, even for one short week, let the inducement to do so be ever so great. And now, my dear Fillmore, since I have, so to speak, brought myself up to date for your benefit, may I ask for a similar service on your part?"
THE OUTLINES OF A GREAT PROBLEM.
Fillmore Flagg, seemingly self absorbed, remained silent for some moments, softly stroking his chin with his strong, shapely hand, his dreamy eyes with far-off vision intent, apparently noting details in the hazy borders of the distant landscape. At last, turning to his friend with a hearty hand clasp he said: "George Gaylord, I congratulate you; your future is bright; you deserve it, your mother deserves it. The fates have been very generous with you. I am glad you are content to accept the good things of life which they bring to you.
"As for myself, my lines of life are cast in swift waters. My environments, in their reaction upon me from within, seem to develop a determined will to wrench from the rocks of destiny by ceaseless and persistent effort, whatever gifts I am to possess or enjoy. Work I must. Obstacles seem only to stimulate my ambition to overcome them. Yet I am passionately fond of the beautiful; poetry, music and art in all the loveliness of its varied forms; they affect me profoundly. This poetic side of my nature I inherit from my dear, devoted mother—my highest ideal of all that is good, lovely and angelic in woman. Sadly and often have I missed her loving tenderness, her watchful care, her beautiful smile. The shadowy Angel of Death claimed her and bore her from my sight when I was but four years old. Young as I was at that time, this beautiful world has never seemed quite so bright to me since.
"My father, Fayette Flagg, was a noble man of sterling worth. He belonged to a class of thrifty, hard-working, pioneer farmers, on the broad, fertile prairies of the state of Nebraska. Until the death of my mother he was happy and prosperous, hopeful, helpful and brave. After that great blow came to him, he recovered slowly, as from a long, severe illness and never again was quite so courageous and strong, or as hopeful as before.
"With the advent of the last decade of the nineteenth century a feeling of foreboding unrest seemed to brood over the western farmer: blight and drouth destroyed his best crops just when they seemed to promise most; farm stock had to be reduced. The good years were few, the bad years were many. The great strain of carrying a large outfit of expensive agricultural machinery which on a small farm could be used with profit only from ten to forty days in the year, began to be felt. The debts, incurred by the purchase of the machinery, were growing steadily larger. With each renewal of the mortgage on the farm, came the demand for a bonus and a higher rate of interest. Meanwhile the price of land and of all farm products kept on falling, falling steadily year after year. Only taxes and freight rates from farm to market kept up. High rates of interest and of freight swallowed up everything and seemed to accelerate the terrible shrinkage of values. My father found, to his amazement, that his farm was now mortgaged for more than it would sell for under the hammer. He gave up the struggle in despair. The savings of a lifetime, his health, strength and courage all exhausted; his homestead and farm sold from under him; he lost all hope and in a few short weeks died, a broken-hearted man. I went to him a few months before the end: I tried all in my power to save him, but alas! I could do nothing but bury his body beside that of my mother and come away, filled with the determination of solving the most difficult problem of a lifetime—a problem that lies at the very foundation of the permanency of this republic. 'How to keep the farm lands of America in the hands of the native farmers of this and the coming generations? How to help them to help themselves?' The decree has gone forth. The small farm and farmer must go. They are doomed. A great wave of land monopoly, rolled up by a large class of very shrewd, far-seeing capitalists, is even now sweeping across the continent. Seventy-five years hence only a pauperized peasantry of ignorant farm laborers, bound to the soil as hopelessly as the slave to the master, will coin their lives of ceaseless, unrequited toil to swell the rent roll of the non-resident landowner, who, as lord of the domain, through his heartless agent, will exact his tribute to the uttermost farthing. Must the sons and daughters of the farms of this republic come to the bitter heritage of such a life? Surely! We have already seen the beginning of the end! The sad case of my father can be duplicated a hundred times or more in almost every county of our western states. States that are incalculably rich in their magnificent domain of broad acres of the most fertile land the sun ever shone upon; capable, when permanently placed in the hands of a properly equipped, scientifically educated class of people, of producing the food supply of the world: but under the blight of the monopoly system, history will repeat itself. Our agricultural interests will languish and wither; dependent manufactures, and all branches of exchange and commerce, must, in time, follow. What then will happen to society? To government of both state and nation? In the face of this appalling situation, how stupendous the problem! By what effort can a great counter tidal-wave be set in motion upon whose crest the salt and salvation of the republic, the sons and daughters of American farms, may be carried safely to the permanent heritage of the soil they till? As in the past, so in the future must we look to them for our true reformers, leaders, thinkers and statesmen. They are endowed by birth, by constant association in youth with soil and sunlight, fields and grass, green meadows and mossy brooks and, best of all, doubly endowed by the inbreathing of ozone laden breezes from mountain and forest, with that rare combination of nerve, moral, mental and physical stamina, courage and patriotism which is necessary to preserve this republic and to keep it, ever and always, a model of progressive excellence for all the nations of the earth. This means the embodiment by them of more and better mind, that they may do better, wiser and more dominant thinking; be able to comprehend the sum of human knowledge to such an extent that they may add to it; to so understand their lives, and their relations to the Universe around them, that they may become masters of themselves and their environments—a law unto themselves—fitting them for a perfect citizenship of a perfected republic. This most desirable of all accomplishments, requires better surroundings, more leisure and opportunity for self-improvement, more money, shorter hours of more remunerative labor—labor transformed from a hated drudgery to a desirable occupation. Behold, friend Gaylord, you have before you the outlines of the problem. Can you suggest anything towards its solution?"
"I can suggest nothing," said George Gaylord; "You have stated the case with the clearness and eloquence of a Henry George. If what you say is true, the problem is a very serious one. But are you quite sure the facts will fully warrant your conclusions? If so, what are your plans and what have you been doing towards working out this puzzling question?"
"Oh yes!" said Fillmore Flagg, "I am very sure of my position. The more I study the question, the firmer my conviction that I have understated the case instead of overstating it. I am studying the agricultural question from every possible standpoint and I propose to make it a life work. Every branch of science may aid me; I must master at least a portion of each. Since we left college I have become fairly proficient in surveying and civil engineering; have devoted considerable time to photography; I am classed as a skilled electrician; I have thoroughly mastered agricultural chemistry and several of the more important branches of that interesting and most wonderful science. As you know, I am very fond of mechanics and of all kinds of machinery. I could not rest until I had gained a practical knowledge of all kinds of tools and learned how to repair or construct most kinds of machinery. Two months ago I completed a general course of study at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art, which, for the especial work I have in view, I consider by far the most beneficial and practicable of all my acquirements. I am now resting, cogitating and waiting for the golden opportunity which, sooner or later, must come, to enable me to commence my work."
AN ADVERTISEMENT INTRODUCES THE HEROINE.
"By the way, I have something to show you. I clipped this advertisement from a leading New York daily paper this morning, and have read it carefully many times. Somehow, I have an abiding conviction that it will lead me to the high road, on the way towards the successful solution of my problem. I am going to apply in person."
Full of curiosity, George Gaylord took the clipping and slowly read aloud:
"WANTED: A skilled mechanic, qualified to act in the capacity of landscape gardener and agricultural chemist. Applicant must be a strong, healthy young man, of good habits, pleasing address; with a general knowledge of business methods, and an excellent moral character. Qualifications must be well attested by recommendations from reliable parties. A graduate of the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art is preferred. Salary liberal. Apply in person at the office of BITTERWOOD & BARNARD, Atty's., Atlantic Building, Washington, D. C."
"This is curious! It seems to point directly to you, Fillmore. I do wonder in what peculiar capacity you are to act, and who your real employer is to be? I shall be full of unsatisfied curiosity until I know the sequel."
At this moment George Gaylord was suddenly interrupted by an unlooked-for gust of wind whirling around the shoulders of the big rock standing above and behind them. The fluttering paper slipped from his fingers and went sailing away over the tree tops, down the mountain side, with that erratic up and down, eddying motion peculiar to run away, fly away papers. In an instant both young men were upon their feet, intently watching the uncertain flight of the clipping. A few moments later it fell to the ground, just at the feet of two ladies who, with heads protected from the sun by large parasols, were slowly walking around the bend of the broad, well kept road, winding down the mountain side. The younger of the two ladies picked up the advertisement, hurriedly scanned it, and then raised her eyes to discover the two young men as probable owners of the truant paper.
"Ah!" said George Gaylord, "I recognize those people. It is Miss Fenwick and her travelling companion. Come along Fillmore, let us join them at once and claim your lost clipping. The opportunity for an introduction to two very interesting ladies, who are among the most noted guests of the hotel, is too good to be lost."
Accordingly they hurried down the steep path that joined the road near where the ladies were still waiting, at a point full three hundred feet below.
Approaching, with hats in hand, George Gaylord said: "Allow me, Miss Fenwick, to introduce to you my friend and college chum, Fillmore Flagg: for a peculiar purpose of his own he wishes to regain possession of that flighty paper which, fortunately for him, the prank playing wind carried to your feet but a moment ago."
With a slight inclination of her queenly head, she turned with a dazzling smile to meet the inquiring glance of Fillmore Flagg. In a clear musical voice, full of thrilling cadence and power, she said: "Mr. Flagg, if you are particularly interested in this paper, I am very sure I am quite happy to meet you, and take pleasure in returning it to you now; I trust that we may have the opportunity of becoming better acquainted before you leave these lovely mountains." Turning to her companion she continued: "Permit me, gentlemen, to introduce my friend and companion, Mrs. Bainbridge; Mr. George Gaylord, who is just entering the ministry, and his college friend, Mr. Fillmore Flagg."
Mrs. Bainbridge responded with a pleasant smile. She was a tall, well formed, well preserved woman of forty; full of a quiet dignity, with an air of refinement that fitted her like a garment. Her heavy dark hair, coiled high on her shapely head, was just slightly silvered with gray and seemed to be a fitting foil to her large melancholy black eyes—eyes that from their slumbering depths seemed to impress the beholder with suggestions of some mysterious power, gleaming messages, like beacon flashes, from her inner life. With her becoming dress of rich, dark cloth, gloves and parasol to match, she looked the cultured lady to perfection.
Turning her steps up the mountain, Fern Fenwick said: "Gentlemen, as it is near the hour for supper, we had best return to the hotel at once. I think too, by this time the mail from the station must have arrived." Fillmore Flagg was at her side in an instant, choosing the side opposite the parasol, which gave him a clear view of her charming profile. George Gaylord and Mrs. Bainbridge followed a little more slowly. The conversation soon became animated.
While they are thus occupied let us try to get a more complete picture of Miss Fern Fenwick. Her round, exquisitely proportioned figure was of medium height, straight as an arrow, full of grace with every movement. Her quick, firm, elastic step was Youth personified: a charming maiden, she, of twenty summers. The artistic outlines of her plump arms and shoulders, beautifully modelled bust, throat and neck, so admirably proportioned, would have satisfied the most carping critic; poet or painter, he would have pronounced them a dream of perfect symmetry. Her queenly shaped head, so gracefully poised, like a clear cut cameo, was a poem of intellectual development on lines of rarest beauty. Her thick, glossy hair of dark chestnut brown, fine as spun silk and inclined to a wavy crimp, was artistically coiled in a most becoming style; small ears of perfect shape, and transparently pink, were set close to the head. The curve of the brow, in perfect line with the pleasing oval of both cheek and chin; a Grecian nose and cherub mouth completed the perfect contour of a face and head of marvellous beauty—a beauty made more brilliant by large, lustrous eyes of blended sapphire and amethyst, flashing jewels of deep violet blue, so clearly expressing the varying emotions by their ever changing tints of sparkling light. Her dress, a close fitting gown of rich, soft, silver gray material, was stylishly made, with a narrow line of lovely lace at the throat; perfect fitting gloves of the same shade of gray, with a parasol to match, completed a costume that seemed to bring out and intensify a most charming complexion of pale pink and white, faultlessly smooth and transparently pure: at once indicative and prophetic of a strong vital temperament, perfect mental and physical health; pure, highly cultured mind and a wealth of personal magnetism—that silent charm of mysterious potency—pervading and surrounding her like the perfume of sweet flowers, winning the unsought admiration, friendship and fidelity of all who came within the radiance of her powerful magnetic aura. All this, and more, Fillmore Flagg perceived and felt. He walked and talked as one in a dream. Never before had he met so fair a vision of female loveliness, with grace so winning, gestures so perfect and voice so musical. His heart, overflowing with a new ecstatic emotion, paid silent homage to this queenly creature. He was lost in admiration. Swallowed up and absorbed by the first incoming wave of a great love. He was lifted out of himself, above and beyond all gross things of earth, into a heaven of pure delight. His better nature was thrilled and profoundly moved. He felt that in the presence of this pure, angelic woman he could never again do an unworthy act. A life work, up to the standard of his highest ideal, was a tribute of devotion he would willingly lay at her feet.
All too soon for Fillmore Flagg the moments flew by. Almost before he was aware of it they were ascending the steps of the hotel. Pausing on the broad veranda for a moment before separating, Fern Fenwick said: "Gentlemen, Mrs. Bainbridge and myself have planned for a carriage drive to-morrow to Sam's Point. We have two seats in our conveyance at your disposal and would be delighted to have you accompany us. May we hope that you both can come with us?"
Fillmore Flagg and George Gaylord both eagerly accepted the invitation, the ladies passed on to their rooms, while the young men turned their steps once more to the rustic bench to enjoy the magnificent sunset view of the landscape they had so much admired earlier in the day.
THE STORY OF A STONE AND WHAT CAME AFTER.
Sam's Point, the crowning backbone of the highest mountain in the Shawangunk range, bends away from the general course of its fellows apparently for the especial purpose of giving the mountain climber, by its isolation, a commanding view in almost every direction except to the north-east. For miles in extent the flat, rocky top of this crown forms a promenade of magnificent proportions up amid the clouds. In shape it is a long, slender triangle, about three miles from its base westward to the point where its highest altitude is reached, two thousand three hundred and forty feet above tide-water. Cradled in its rocky bosom, near the base of the triangle, lies a crystal lake—one hundred and fifty acres of sparkling water. At this point the promenade is fully three-fourths of a mile wide, gradually narrowing to a width of less than one hundred feet at the extreme point. The long battlemented sides of this lofty triangle, like some mighty fortress, grim and frowning, are protected and supported by perpendicular cliffs of black rock, rising like some bastioned wall of terrifying proportions, two hundred feet above the shoulder of the mountain. In a sheltered nook, near the point, about five hundred feet below the base of the cliffs, stands the Sam's Point Hotel, scarcely more than a cottage in size. Here Fern Fenwick's party left the carriage. Taking the narrow, zig-zag pathway that led to the cliffs and often pausing to admire the immensity and grandeur of the black rock palisades towering so far above them, they soon found themselves under the nose of the point of rocks. Entering the crevice in the cliffs known as "The Chimney Stairway," they commenced the steep and toilsome climb to the summit; Fillmore Flagg taking the lead and assisting Miss Fenwick, George Gaylord performing the same service for Mrs. Bainbridge; fifteen minutes later they stood, almost breathless, upon the summit, the blue sky all about them, a precipice on either hand where shimmering, giddy space seemed to yawn so frightfully near. Meanwhile a strong, buffeting wind tugged at ribbons and capes, hats and bonnets, so furiously that walking was hazardous; it gave one such an uneasy sensation of giddiness and unstable equilibrium generally, that the temptation to fly over the edge of the cliff was hard to resist. A huge egg-shaped boulder, twenty-five feet in height and as large as a house, poised rather unsteadily on its rounded base, was quite near and gave promise of protection from the violence of the wind. With one accord our party scrambled towards it, the ladies clinging tightly to their escorts with one hand, a firm grip on hat or bonnet with the other. Thus sheltered, and more at ease, they slowly drank in the glorious vision which greeted the eye on every hand. Looking down as from a balloon, at the foot of the mountain, on the north side, the eye was charmed by the length and beauty of the Rondout Valley, through which ran the Delaware and Hudson Canal, and the Rondout River. For miles on either side of canal and river the valley was made more lovely by its checkered farms and gleaming white villages. Directly at the foot of the mountain on the south side, the broader valley of the Wallkill presented an equally beautiful and diversified picture of farm, hamlet and village. Beyond these, in every direction save to the north-east, vast stretches of country lay spread out like a map; the mountains far and near, so dwarfed as to give to the surface the appearance of billowy plains, almost level where they approached the edge of the horizon. The wonderful extent and scope of the view was bounded by the line of the horizon, at least one hundred miles distant. Three-fourths of this sweeping circle responded to the unaided vision, disclosing the blue hills and hazy mountain peaks located in five states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, altogether presenting in its immensity a landscape as variegated and charming as it was wondrously beautiful and attractive—a marvellous picture of indescribable loveliness never to be forgotten.
"How inspiringly magnificent!" said Fillmore Flagg: "All the sublimity of my nature is satisfied."
"And I," said Fern Fenwick, "am too profoundly impressed to talk. I would that I could spend hours here in silent admiration."
"I think," said Mrs. Bainbridge, "that we would better move further back on the rocky summit where doubtless, sheltered seats may be found, then we can all enjoy this most wonderful of views at our leisure and with some degree of comfort."
"Yes," said George Gaylord, "that will be ever so much nicer."
"Stop a moment," said Fern Fenwick, who for some moments had been examining the huge boulder which sheltered them, "Have you noticed the curious formation of this immense stone? How many hundreds of tons it may weigh, I hardly dare guess. Geologically speaking, it is a 'stranger rock,' not in any way related to the rocks of this mountain, nor of the mountains near here. It is a mammoth conglomerate of such an interestingly curious compound and of such flinty hardness. At the time of its formation enormous pressure, coupled with the most intense heat, must have molded this strange mass together. Coarse and fine gravel, smooth, round pebbles, from the size of a pigeon's egg to that of a two-hundred-pound boulder, are all jumbled together in great confusion, and so firmly cemented in this immense globular mass of that peculiar, tenacious clay of greenish gray color, which forms so large a part of the drift formation, and which is so widely distributed over the face of our globe—that strange, unaccountable, isolated and unrelated formation, which still remains an unsolved puzzle by our best geologists. I wish you to observe the long sides of this strange rock, especially where the exposed sides of the pebbles have been worn down smooth and even with the clay—how they are marked and striated by shallow grooves, all running in one direction as straight as though graven by rule. Is it possible that any freak or flood of the glacial period could have floated this huge rock to its resting place on the very summit of this high mountain, almost two thousand five hundred feet above the level of the sea? Oh! tell me, ye listening mortals, or ye winged winds that blow and pull my ribbons so! whence came this stranger rock? how formed? and how were its smooth, worn sides so systematically engraved?"
Fern Fenwick closed her series of queries with a gradually rising pitch and inflection in the ringing tones of her clear, musical voice. With figure erect, eyes flashing, cheeks glowing and hands uplifted, she seemed the personification of some priestess of science. Fillmore Flagg and George Gaylord gazed at her with the admiration of amazement. Mrs. Bainbridge exclaimed:
"Why Fern Fenwick! How you do go on with such nonsense, to be sure. No doubt these gentlemen, from this time forward, will look at you as some scientific freak or geological professor of the female persuasion, but recently escaped from the walls of some famous college!"
"Mrs. Bainbridge," said Fillmore Flagg, "of course we understand that you were joking in what you said just now: that you really admire the terse, clear, and wonderfully complete description of this strange rock by Miss Fenwick, quite as much as we do." Turning to Fern Fenwick, he continued: "I believe, Miss Fenwick, that I can throw some light on the puzzling questions you have so poetically propounded."
"Pray do tell us, Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick; "I can't remember when I was so excited with interest on any subject before."
"Very well," said Fillmore Flagg: "That curiously able and intellectual man, Mr. Ignatius Donnelly, in his very interesting book called 'Ragnarok,' or 'The Age of Fire and Gravel,' puts forth a most remarkable theory regarding the drift formation, to the truth of which this huge rock seems to bear witness. The theory, briefly stated, is as follows: A great many ages ago, when this globe of ours was still in the period of cataclysms, rolling through space around the sun, it came in contact with a portion of the end of the tail of some enormous comet, sweeping through the universe on its erratic course. This great boulder is a sample of the component parts of that fiery tail, which smote the exposed face of the earth so terribly with the drift deposit at that time of dire disaster. The age of fire and gravel, surely! This curious clay, now of such flinty hardness, was at one time the exceedingly fine dust of the comet, cohering, collecting and embedding its mixture of pebbles and gravel by the heat and pressure of the friction caused by its incalculably swift passage through space for periods of uncounted ages. Remember that the heat of all drift material in the tail of the comet was greatly intensified by the explosion of accompanying gases as they came in contact with the atmosphere of our earth. All inflammable material on the face of the globe, which was exposed at the time of its passage through the tail of the comet, was burned up: both earth and sky were on fire! Fortunately our flying globe made a quick passage, thus it happened that large portions of its unexposed surface wholly escaped this terrible downpour of fire and gravel, and the absence of all drift deposit on these places is logically accounted for. The atmosphere, so heated during that awful period, drank up the waters of the earth—then came the floods, as the waters fell again. Then followed the reaction period of extreme cold, snow and ice—the glacial period. This particular rock, while following in the train of its parent comet, though lagging many thousands of miles behind, still, being so very large, moved with accelerated speed towards the comet's head, passing on its way countless millions of smaller particles, whose cutting edges scored these grooves. On entering the earth's atmosphere, on account of its great size, this boulder, through the law of attraction, quickly moved to the outermost fringe of the comet's tail nearest the earth, therefore was the first to alight on the top of this mountain, far away from all smaller drift material.
"I hope, Miss Fenwick, that my brief and rather speculative answers to your questions, reasoning as I did, from Mr. Donnelly's point of view, may prove at least in a measure satisfactory."
"Thank you, Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick, "your answers to my questions have all been very ingenious: equally interesting and satisfactory, especially as to how this mammoth conglomerate came by its grooved lines and, later how it managed to find a resting place on this mountain top, so far from its kind. Mr. Donnelly's theory of accounting for the widely scattered deposits of the drift formation is the most reasonable and logical of anything I have ever read or heard. Doubtless, in course of time, it may be proven the only true one. I see Mr. Gaylord and Mrs. Bainbridge are becoming weary of all this talk about rocks: let us move further back from the point in search of more sheltered and comfortable seats."
Accordingly they chose the central path and were soon seated, enjoying the changed landscape from a new point of view. However, Mr. Gaylord was not yet satisfied and soon proposed a walk to the lake. Mrs. Bainbridge was willing but Miss Fenwick had walked enough for one day. A quiet enjoyment of her lofty outlook was what she now most desired.
"Very well, Fern," said Mrs. Bainbridge, "Mr. Gaylord will accompany me to the lake and we will bring back for lunch some of those very large, delicious blueberries, which Mr. Gaylord assures me are growing so abundantly around the shores of the lake. You and Mr. Flagg shall remain here with the lunch baskets."
This plan was agreed to, and very soon Mrs. Bainbridge and her escort had disappeared on their way to the lake. To Fillmore Flagg it seemed a long time that Fern Fenwick had been sitting so quietly, apparently absorbed in admiring the billowy miles of landscape unrolled so far to the southward. In reality, each was thinking of the other.
"Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick slowly, "will you pardon me for asking you some very abrupt questions, or what may seem such when considering our brief acquaintance?"
"Certainly," said Fillmore Flagg, "I hope my replies this time may prove as satisfactory as those I gave in regard to the rock. The pardon you crave is granted in advance. Pray proceed."
"Tell me, Mr. Flagg, why are you so much interested in that advertisement which came to me so unceremoniously yesterday? And again, tell me why you are so moved and determined to better the conditions of farm life? I suppose you know that I have wealth and leisure at my disposal; it may prove that I can be of great assistance to you. This is my excuse for asking you for more details in regard to your personal plans."
With a heart filled with hope, Fillmore Flagg began the recital of the story he had given to George Gaylord on the terrace bench. With frequent glances of encouragement from Fern Fenwick, his inspiration and eloquence grew upon him. He gave a masterly statement of the work, his preparation, hopes and plans. Delighted beyond measure with the undisguised appreciation and approval of this charming woman, whose very destiny in the vista of a coming future, seemed to him to be linked in some mysterious manner with the success of his most cherished ambitions, he cleverly enlarged and perfected the original statement. As he concluded, Fern Fenwick rose to her feet with hands extended, her face glowing with interested enthusiasm, saying:
"Mr. Flagg, I most heartily congratulate you on the noble life-work you have planned and chosen, I thank you again and again for the valuable facts you have placed so confidingly in my possession, in regard to yourself and your work. Rest assured my interest and assistance henceforth are at your command. You will understand this more clearly when I tell you that Bitterwood & Barnard are my attorneys, and the advertisement which played such an important part in bringing us together here in these mountains, was drawn up by them for my purposes. That it should bring to me a person of your wonderful ability, integrity, skill and knowledge, is an almost unhoped for piece of good fortune. You are the one, of all others, most eminently fitted to help me to a successful solution of my problem, which you have so admirably stated. Hereafter I am your debtor. I hope to prove a not unworthy employer, or, to put it more pleasantly, an interested co-worker. Will you do me the favor of considering yourself as pledged from this moment to take up my work? Go at once to my attorneys in Washington, ask them for a letter of introduction to me, that you may get more complete details of my plans and work, saying not a word of our present acquaintance. I will furnish you with a check on my Washington bankers, with which to defray your expenses. To-morrow, in company with Mrs. Bainbridge, I go to my summer home on the Hudson near Newburgh, where letters will reach me. This is the twenty-eighth of August; on the fifth of September, at noon meet me in the station at Newburgh. Come prepared to devote a week at the least in discussing the scope and plan of our work, devising ways and means etc. I very much desire that you have an interview with my father, I know he will be pleased with you. Do these arrangements suit your convenience? Do they meet your entire approval?"
"I am greatly elated," said Fillmore Flagg, "at this my golden opportunity of commencing what you have so kindly named as 'our' work, under such auspicious circumstances. I thank you, Miss Fenwick, more than words can tell, for your confidence in my integrity and ability, I will do my best to retain that confidence. I am ready to start for Washington to-morrow. I will follow your instructions, and will report to you by letter from that city, and then meet you at Newburgh at the appointed time."
As he finished his reply Fern Fenwick said: "Mr. Flagg, I am very much pleased with your prompt decision in favor of my arrangements. I see our friends returning from the lake, will you help me to spread the lunch?"
With keen appetites they enjoyed the lunch especially the delicious blueberries which George Gaylord and Mrs. Bainbridge had brought from the lake. The hours passed quickly; the drive back to the hotel was without mishap or incident: the entire party, on separating, voted it a day of perfect pleasure, Fillmore Flagg and George Gaylord expressing their thanks to the ladies for their kind invitation which had given them such a delightful excursion.
Later, George Gaylord called at the room of his chum for a few moments chat. "Come in," said Fillmore Flagg, "I was just thinking of you. I have made up my mind to go to Washington to-morrow for the purpose of answering that advertisement. How much longer do you propose to remain here?"
"Not more than two weeks," replied George Gaylord. "I understand Miss Fenwick and Mrs. Bainbridge are going away to-morrow. I am likely to have a very quiet time, all by my lone self: I think I must take to bowling for an hour or two each day just to keep up my exercise and kill time. I hope you may be entirely successful in your interview with Bitterwood & Barnard. Remember how much I am interested in this matter, and your promise to let me know the result. By the way, what a perfectly delightful day we have had, thanks to that lucky gust of wind which tore your clipping from my fingers and landed it at Miss Fenwick's dainty feet. What a talented young lady she is, and so handsome too. Her lecture on the mountain top about that stone would have been a credit to any one. I never saw her look such a picture of perfect beauty before. She seemed wonderfully interested in you, Fillmore, especially after your brilliant reply to her series of apparently unanswerable questions. I declare, the profoundness, the ingeniousness, and the boldness of your successful answers filled me with amazement! You fairly surpassed yourself; all the time looking your best, just like a hero. Yet when you looked at Miss Fenwick you seemed just at the point of falling down to worship her. I can't blame you. What a glorious couple you two would make! If it were not for her immense wealth I believe you could win her; any one can see that you have made a very favorable impression. Perhaps you can win her as it is—I wish you all success, you certainly deserve it. Mrs. Bainbridge tells me that at the death of Miss Fenwick's father, some years ago, she became sole heir to his vast fortune; most of it in very rich Alaska gold mines."
"Are you quite sure," said Fillmore Flagg, "that her father is dead?"
"Yes Fillmore, I am quite sure; although it is just possible that I may have misunderstood Mrs. Bainbridge. In my hotel acquaintance with that lady I discover that she is a very intelligent and accomplished person of rare good sense. Splendid company; we seem to get on famously together, I shall miss her very much I am sure. As usual, I am doing all the talking: it is now your turn to say something."
"I think I could," said Fillmore Flagg, "if my chatterbox friend, George Gaylord, would only give me a chance. Miss Fenwick I regard as the most beautiful and cultured woman I have ever met. I do admire her very much, but the possibility of ever winning her for a wife is, at this time, too remote for me to consider for a moment. I must now pack my trunk and then see the hotel clerk about getting it to the railway station. So good night, George, I will see you again in the morning."
That night Fillmore Flagg could not sleep. The beautiful image of Fern Fenwick was before him the moment he closed his eyes. The events of the past two days, with their crowding memories, kept racing through his mind: he could not think calmly or connectedly. He was in a fever of expectancy regarding the meeting at Newburgh, and the prospect of spending a whole week at Miss Fenwick's cottage on the Hudson. Then and there, no doubt, she would tell him all about herself, her father, her particular work, when and why she became interested in it etc. But what about the father? How could he have an interview with her father, if Mrs. Bainbridge was correct in saying that Mr. Fenwick had been dead for several years? It was a mystery he could not solve. He did not doubt Fern Fenwick for a moment and felt sure she would, at the proper time, make everything plain. How gracious and winning she had been to him; she seemed to bid him to have courage. In spite of her great wealth, and a hundred other obstacles that might exist, he was more and more in love every hour. If proving himself worthy of her confidence in every way would win her love, surely then, he would win it. With this determination fixed in his mind he fell asleep.
In her room that night, as Fern Fenwick brushed her hair and prepared herself for rest, she often paused to ponder over her strange meeting with Fillmore Flagg; thinking what a fine, manly looking fellow he was, and how well he could talk; how thoroughly equipped he was to take up the question of improving farm life, the lives of farmers and their families—the question of all questions for her. Surely, Mr. Flagg bore the stamp of destiny! He was the man of all men to make her work a complete success. How fortunate she was to secure his valuable services. How strange, that after a brief acquaintance of only two days, she should have such perfect confidence in a comparative stranger. Yet, she did not doubt his integrity; she knew he was loyalty itself; she intuitively felt that she could trust him implicitly—he would never betray her interests under any circumstances. She knew from his every look, tone and gesture that he admired her intensely, devotedly. Her own feelings, she did not care to analyze. With a sigh, more of pleasure than weariness, she composed herself for the night and was soon lost in sleep.
FAIRY FERN COTTAGE.
One week has passed since the events narrated in the previous chapter. At Cornwall on the Hudson, on a West Shore train speeding north, we find Fillmore Flagg; his mission at Washington successfully accomplished, the letter of introduction from Bitterwood & Barnard secured. In another short hour he will be at Newburgh. Will the lovely face of Fern Fenwick be the first to greet him? As the moments fly by, his heart beats faster. He feels the surging tide of his all-absorbing love for this beautiful woman, thrilling and permeating his entire being. He tries to be calm, to think what he ought to say that would be fitting and appropriate; he knows his eyes are blazing and his cheeks glowing with an unwonted fire, still his thoughts refuse to flow into the satisfying forms of speech he most desires to use at the coming meeting, which seems to him to be the marking of a great crisis in his life. Ah! There is the whistle sounding! The speed of the train is checked as it approaches the station. He steps on to the platform while the train is still moving. He beholds many upturned faces in the surging crowd between him and the doorway of the ladies' waiting room, but Miss Fenwick he cannot see. Will he ever reach that room? Has anything happened to her? A great fear contracts his heart, he fancies he fairly staggers as he enters the door. In an instant he is suffused with a great joy. By the window, awaiting his approach, stands Fern Fenwick, the perfect picture of cool, contented loveliness. She extends her hand and greets him with a firm clasp of hearty welcome, and a second edition of that dazzling smile, so becoming to her, so bewitching to him.
"How do you do, Mr. Flagg? I believe your train must be late. How well you are looking, in spite of the heat and the dust! We will have your baggage secured as soon as possible and placed in the carriage, then we will drive to the cottage in time for lunch."
"Thank you Miss Fenwick, I am delighted to see you looking so well. My journey from Washington has been a very pleasant one; I have enjoyed it and have not suffered from the heat."
The carriage now came up, they stepped in and commenced the beautiful drive of one and one-half miles to "Fairy Fern Cottage," which was charmingly located on the summit of these famously terraced hills. Hills that have been historic since the revolutionary days of General Washington, when their slopes were white with the tents of his soldiers. As they approached the cottage, the artistic eye of Fillmore Flagg noted with pleasure the broad expanse of spacious lawn, gently sloping down to the road. Half-moon-shaped, it presented for his admiration five acres of smoothly shaven, velvety green. For one-eighth of a mile, the entire width of the lawn and cottage grounds, a low wall of ornamental cut stone separated the lawn from the road and formed the straight line of the half-moon. From the gates at either end of the wall a broad, beautifully kept driveway swept around the semicircle of the lawn, passing just in front of the cottage at the center of the deep bay of the half-moon. On each side of the driveway the greensward was beautified by alternating star and diamond-shaped plots of geraniums, roses, gladioluses, canna and nasturtions. Sitting close to the outer edge of the drive, about ten feet apart, commencing at the corners of the porch on either side, were rows of potted palms extending around the curve, one hundred and fifty feet each way—the palms gradually growing smaller as the distance from the cottage became greater. The effect was beautifully unique and suggestively semi-tropical. The cottage and lawn was embayed by a crowning crescent of choice foliage and shade trees; the thin horns of the crescent terminated at the gateways in low gray stone towers. From these points the horns gradually grew broader and the shrubbery rose higher. First the rhododendrons mixed with clumps of hollyhocks, next flowering almonds, roses, spireas and syringas; then came the drooping long leaf sugar pines, with an artistic mingling of slender limbed graceful silver birches: farther back were the taller firs and spruces, interspersed with thick clumps of small copper beeches, extending to and joining at the back of the cottage, the dense forest of tall, straight bodied elms, oaks and maples which partly hid and shaded the stables and the kitchen portion of the cottage.
The cottage itself was built of gray stone; with thick walls and large, low, deep seated windows. It was two stories in height, with three square towers rising twenty feet higher. The central tower was larger, and gave space within its walls for one grand room of magnificent proportions, thirty feet square and with a fifteen foot ceiling. The general effect of the cottage, lawn, and crescent background of foliage and forest, was as novel as it was beautiful. As the carriage entered the farther gateway, Fillmore Flagg was surprised and delighted:
"How perfectly exquisite!" he exclaimed: "A real gem! A romantic scene from fairyland! Rightly named 'Fairy Fern Cottage!' It is a fitting home for Fern Fenwick."
"Thank you, Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick as they stepped from the carriage to the porch: "I appreciate your praise of my cottage home. I love it, I am proud of it, I give you a hearty welcome to its halls. May your memories of it prove always pleasant. Let us enter. During your stay you are to occupy the front room on the second floor, the one under the right hand tower. I think you will find the view from the windows very pleasing and attractive. The luncheon bell will sound in just half an hour."
In the dining room Fillmore Flagg found Mrs. Bainbridge who greeted him very cordially. She sat at the left of Fern Fenwick, who was at the head of the table. The table itself was oval shaped, very large, seemingly of rich, solid mahogany; the china and silver were elegant and artistic. The center piece was a large silver tray filled with a wonderful collection of rare ferns. Around it a ring of cut glass bouquet holders, filled with spikes of flaming gladioluses, formed a most effective border.
"You are to sit here at my right, Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick.
As Fillmore Flagg took the proffered seat, he thought her a most charming hostess, admirably fitted to preside over this exquisitely decorated table. He looked in vain for her father; finally concluding that Mr. Fenwick must be a confirmed invalid, confined to his room. Luncheon over, Fern Fenwick invited Fillmore Flagg to her study to consider the business of the work before them. Her study proved to be the large square room in the central tower, which was so generously lighted by its eight large windows. The furniture was of carved oak; the carpet and hangings, rich and heavy, were of a pale lilac tint, which gave an air of peaceful quiet and harmony to the room. From the front window, looking eastward, a long stretch of the beautiful Hudson could be seen at one sweeping glance. In the south east corner of the room stood Fern Fenwick's desk, a large one with a roll top. At the right of the desk, on an easel against the wall, was a very fine, life size crayon portrait of a noble looking man of sixty winters or more. The massive forehead was both broad and high and very smooth. The eyes were wide apart, large and expressive, the full beard, thick and fine; the hair, abundant and wavy. Both hair and beard were evenly tinged with gray. The body was large, erect and well proportioned—it fittingly matched the noble head. The portrait impressed one as being life-like and full of character. Close beside the easel was a large arm chair, upholstered with stuffed leather, a grayish brown. Lying across the arms of the chair was a large, peculiarly shaped trumpet of aluminum, ornamented with a heavy cord and tassel of gray silk.
"Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick, "this is my private workroom; here I am undisturbed and not at home to callers. This is my desk. Here you see my father's portrait: this is his favorite chair. Will you be seated in the smaller chair near it? I will sit in the chair at my desk."
"Pardon me, Miss Fenwick," said Fillmore Flagg, "Up to this time I had thought of you as living here with your father: I now perceive, from the way you speak of his portrait and of his favorite chair, that he must be dead. Please correct me if I am wrong in my conclusions."
"I will explain the situation in a very few words," said Fern Fenwick.
"In the eyes of the world I am an orphan, my father and mother having both passed from this to the land of spirit. The world, in its blind ignorance, calls them dead. To me, thanks to my mediumship, and to the mighty truth of spirit communion, they are still conscious, living, loving parents. Every day, here in this room, they come to me and through the trumpet there, speak to me as naturally, as fluently and as lovingly as ever. I feel and realize their constant watchfulness and loving care. In times of need their advice never fails, always proving as wise as it is unerring. They never for a moment allow me to realize that I am an orphan in any sense of the word. The word Death has no terrors for me: I realize that for them it means simply a happy transition to a higher life, filled with broader and brighter possibilities; and, blessed truth! that they are permitted to come to me when I need them. I sometimes shudder when I think what might have happened to me if I had not been born and bred a spiritualist and a medium. However, we will speak of these things more at length later on. At this time, under my father's guidance and with your assistance, I am to carry out and complete his plans for the improvement of farm life on lines quite in harmony with your ideas. I know he approves of you and of your work, and has confidence in your integrity and ability. At the proper time he will speak to you personally through the trumpet. Let us now consider another matter pertinent at this time.
"In order that you may thoroughly understand the situation that surrounds and affects our work, it will be necessary for me to tell you the story of my life, and with it the story of the life of my father."
"On a pioneer farm in northwestern Iowa, with a broad expanse of beautiful prairie on every side, far from town or village, lived my grandfather, George Fenwick. On this farm in October, 1840, my father, Fennimore Fenwick, was born. Of a family of nine children, five boys and four girls, he was the fifth, two of the brothers and two of the sisters being older. Closely associated as a healthy, harmonious family of children, they grew up surrounded by the conditions of an isolated farm life, so general in the widely scattered settlements of those early days, with only now and then rare chances for a little schooling of the most primitive character. However, they shared with each other their joys and sorrows, their plays and privations; always forbearing and patient, kind and affectionate, light-hearted, sympathetic and helpful, they did much to develop that broad, loving, genial nature which made my father kin to all mankind. So just and true! So nobly unselfish! A signal illustration of the great blessing which Nature's beneficent law of compensation brings to large families.
"Passing on to September, 1865, at the close of the war of the rebellion, we find the large family, so long and harmoniously united, now separated and widely scattered. Grandfather and grandmother Fenwick both died during the closing year of the war. With the exception of my father, the brothers and sisters were all married and settled on farms of their own: some in Iowa, one in Missouri, two in Kansas, and two in Minnesota. The homestead was divided between the two younger brothers. All of the brothers served as soldiers, good and true, during the war; the two younger only one year each. My father, more fortunate than the others, by his bravery and soldierly excellence won a commission, and came home the captain of his company.
"From this point forward we will follow my father's career as he makes a pathway in life for himself.
"From 1865 to 1871 he devoted his time and his savings to hard study in the best of schools, finishing a master of his profession—a mining engineer and expert in assaying and metallurgy. From 1871 to 1882 he was general manager of a wealthy mining company in Colorado at a large salary, making a name for himself as one of the most skillful and successful men in the profession. While in Colorado my father was haunted by an intuitive feeling that the gold-bearing quartz region of Alaska held a rich find in store for him. In October, 1882, a very strong corporation was organized in San Francisco, 'The Alaska Mining Co.,' to open and operate their extensive mines in Alaska. The directors of the company chose my father manager. They offered him an increased salary to go to Alaska to take entire charge of the work. This position he accepted and retained for five years. During that time he discovered a very rich mine on a small, rocky island near the coast. In partnership with his old friend, Mr. Dunbar, one of the San Francisco directors of the Alaska Mining Co., my father, at the end of five years service for the company, had developed the mine on the island into one of the best paying and most extensive of that famously rich gold bearing quartz region. This was the foundation and support of his vast fortune, which thereafter required his entire attention. At the death of Mr. Dunbar, which occurred in 1890, his one-third interest in the mine passed to his son, Dewitt C. Dunbar, a young man of great energy and integrity, with an excellent business education. He impressed my father as one in every way trustworthy and capable. At my father's request, Dewitt C. Dunbar, accompanied by his young wife, at once removed to Alaska. Under my father's tuition he began to prepare himself to take the active management of the mine, which had been christened 'The Martina.'
"In 1882, while on his first visit to San Francisco, my father met and loved Martina Morrison, my mother—my beautiful mother. She was twenty-seven, my father forty-two. They were perfectly adapted to each other, and both equally charmed and devoted. She possessed a fine mind, well cultured; a handsome physique, charmingly graceful in every movement; and, her crowning glory, an exceedingly amiable disposition. Martina Morrison, by those who knew her longest and best, was declared to be the soul of honor. She was an excellent medium, an enthusiastic and devoted Spiritualist—one of its purest and most eloquent exponents, highly esteemed by all as an able and earnest worker in the service of the two worlds. Fennimore Fenwick, my father, soon became much interested in her wonderful mediumship, and later became convinced of the absolute verity of the mighty truths of Spiritualism. He at once declared himself its willing and outspoken advocate: in his enthusiasm of delight he even hailed it as the coming religion of the world.
"Martina Morrison had such confidence in my father's future mining success, that she readily yielded to his urgent request for a speedy marriage, that she might accompany him on his first trip to Alaska. And thus it was they sailed away on their bridal tour, their destination that far off land of flashing glacier and unexplored forest, almost, if not quite, beyond the borders of civilization. This long voyage to an unknown country had no terrors for them. They were all the world to each other. A bright halo of hope and happiness spread a soft glow of enchantment over ship and sail, sea and sky, so vivid, so far reaching, that it even touched and tinted the distant shores of that far off, rock bound coast of Alaska. Smooth seas, lovely weather and favoring winds speeded the voyagers: those halcyon days flew swiftly by. Almost before they dreamed it possible the vessel came to anchor in the port that marked the end of the voyage. Safely landed, my father reported at once at the office of The Alaska Mining Company, only a few miles distant. There he commenced his five years of management for the Company, of which I have already spoken. There my mother remained until December, 1884, when she returned to San Francisco, to visit her friends. My father followed her five months later."
AN ALASKA KINDERGARTEN.
"In June, 1885, I was born, and soon became a very active member of the Fenwick family. I was pronounced by all who saw me an offspring in every way worthy of my noble father and my beautiful mother. When I was two months old, my parents returned to Alaska, taking me with them. There I remained until I was seven years old—seven years in that forbidding clime, so near the Arctic Circle. Isolated from other children, yet how happy and contented I was. Those years recall a troop of joyous memories, with not a bitter one to mar the group. My beloved parents were my only companions, playmates, teachers and confidants. I was papa's own girl. He was very proud of me and wished me to be with him as much as possible. He never wearied in the endless task of answering my questions, always so skillfully directing them by suggestions, that in my receptive mind there was soon unfolded a clear conception of the outlines of the different branches of all useful knowledge. When I was four years of age I knew the alphabet perfectly and could spell and construct a great number of words with my lettered blocks, and then copy them on my slate. When I was five years old, thanks to my mother's patient teaching, I could read fairly well. My father's ingenious methods soon made me familiar with the key-words of geology, chemistry, (including the names of minerals, metals and gases) botany, history, geography, physics and astronomy. I was unconsciously taught to associate these words or names with the groups, or families, to which they belong. I would spend hours with my father in the most delightful game of separating and classifying a miscellaneous heap of different colored blocks, bearing the names of minerals, metals and gases and the key-words of the studies I have just mentioned. To illustrate: The astronomy blocks were blue with the names in white letters; the geology blocks were a deep reddish brown, with names in gray; chemistry, red, lettered in black; botany, green, lettered in yellow; geography, gray, lettered in blue; history, black, lettered in red; physics, a deep orange yellow, lettered in white; mathematics was represented in a small way by the cipher and nine digits, lettered in black upon ten plain unpainted blocks, giving in their forms that number of the principal geometrical figures, to which was added a shallow box with a broad lid, perforated by ten holes, corresponding to the blocks in number, size and shape, but large enough for the blocks to easily pass through into the box.
"In these groupings my childish interest and delight was intensified by my father's personification of the different families, such as: 'Mr. Astronomy Blue,' 'Mrs. Geology Brown,' 'Mr. Chemistry Red,' etc. For instance, the wonderful stories he told to me of the minerals, metals and gases—the sons and daughters of Mr. Chemistry Red, as he termed them—describing their loves and hates, the great variety of pranks they played, the queer combinations they entered into, the good and the bad work they performed, etc. These to me were fairy stories of the most charming kind, while at the same time they gave me a correct idea of the powers and properties of these unfamiliar things and served to identify them more closely as members of the chemistry family. My mother was a natural teacher, very proficient in botany, and in history, with its flower and fruitage of classic prose and inspiring poetry. She entered into my father's 'block-signal-system' of education with an enthusiasm as zealous and childish as my own, therefore her contributions to the rapidly increasing store of blocks were large and exceedingly interesting. Her stories regarding the numerous members of the botany and history families proved equally profitable and charming; those about plants and trees especially so. These stories and plays of science grouping, always associated with such pleasant emotions of my childish heart, became permanently fixed and dominant in my mental growth, forming separate brain structures around which the details of the accumulated knowledge of future years could easily and naturally classify and crystallize.
"Thus swiftly passed those happy years of my early girlhood. So constantly was I associated with my dear father and mother that schools I did not need. In my seventh year, under their supervision, I commenced a systematic course of scientific reading which I kept up until after I graduated from college. I commenced with the Science Primer Series, reading aloud to my parents one half hour each morning and evening, conversing and commenting on the different topics as we went along. This proved to be a continuation of the game of blocks: just as interesting, equally entertaining; all about the same familiar families. I enjoyed it so much and never once dreamed I was accomplishing a great deal of good hard study. To me it was play; play that gave me more pleasure than any of my childish sports. I soon began to ask for an extension of the half hour lessons to an hour each; when my request was granted my cup of pleasure was full, my joy complete. With each succeeding week my interest in all my studies continued to grow. Yet my health remained perfect: my physical kept an even pace with my mental growth, largely owing, no doubt, to the much enjoyed hours of good romping exercise and the dancing and singing which followed my reading lessons.
"You must pardon me, Mr. Flagg, if I should tire you with such a detailed account of my child life; my excuse must be, the valuable hints it may offer when we come to consider a school system for the children of our model co-operative farm."
"I am profoundly interested," said Fillmore Flagg. "The very wonderful result flowing from the wise methods conceived by your parents and carried out by them so devotedly, fills my mind with admiration and offers a flood of suggestions as to the possibilities of what may be accomplished by a properly conducted, well equipped school on a co-operative farm. But you must not allow me to interrupt—please proceed with your very interesting story."
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE "FAIRIES."
Fern Fenwick rose from her seat saying: "As it is near sunset, Mr. Flagg, I have something to show you in the way of a surprise, which I wish you to see before it becomes too dark: after having seen it you will better understand why this house was named 'Fairy Fern Cottage.' Therefore I propose that we now adjourn to the cool shade of the grounds at the rear of the cottage, postponing the recital of the remainder of my story until this evening."
"I shall be delighted to follow you," said Fillmore Flagg. "You have excited my curiosity; I am just in the mood to learn all I can about this lovely cottage and its beautiful surroundings."
As they reached the shady lawn, so cool and sweet from its recent sprinkling, Fillmore Flagg observed that a wide, straight avenue, shaded by towering oaks and widely branching elms, led from the rear porch of the cottage to the broad front of the roomy stone stables, some two hundred and fifty feet distant. In the center of this avenue, with a finely graveled carriage drive on either side, rose a long line of huge stone arches, ten in number. These imposing structures of solid masonry were full thirty feet high, spreading to a width of thirty feet at the base. The two center arches were each twenty feet thick; the others, ten feet each. The open space between the arches was uniformly ten feet; the open circle under each arch was twenty feet in diameter. The vista formed by the spaces and arches together, was over two hundred feet in length. From the farther arch to the front of the stables lay thirty feet of smooth, clean gravel which covered, at this point, the full width of the avenue, seventy-five feet, forming the open court, around which was built the stables and the two tastefully designed stone buildings on either side—one, beautifully fitted up for the residence of the superintendent, the other containing the heating and pumping apparatus and the electric generator. The two wide center arches supported the huge metal tank which held the ample water supply of both cottage and outbuildings. Evidently, they were admirably adapted to that particular purpose. The rough stone work of the outside of all the arches was artistically covered and beautified by a luxuriant growth of intermingled ivy and cinnamon vine, which gave a still deeper shade to the interior. To the beholder, the exterior effect of the vines on the long line of arches was as beautifully romantic as if it really were one of those old Abbeys in picturesque ruin, so charmingly described by Sir Walter Scott. Deep grooves in the stone work, with light iron frames fastened near the outer edges of the arches, gave support during the cold weather to a roof of double glass, which covered all the open spaces between the arches, converting the whole into one vast greenhouse, through which passed the system of heating pipes from the furnace room to the cottage, thus providing a roomy winter home for an army of tropical plants and shrubs and at the same time protecting the water supply from the ill effects of all frost. A screen of interlacing vines, in place of the glass roof, now served to make the shade of the archway almost complete.
Having sufficiently examined the exterior and becoming to some extent familiar with the general plan and purpose of these unique arches, Fillmore Flagg and Fern Fenwick returned to the covered entrance from the kitchen porch. Here, as they were standing a few feet above the ground, they had an unobstructed view of the interior of the archway. Through the center, where the lower disc of the open circles touched the ground, ran a deep bed of coarse gravel, covered with a thick layer of smooth round pebbles, forming a perfectly drained pathway about three feet in width which extended uniformly from one end of the archway to the other. Conforming to the contour of the arches, rising and receding in unison, this pathway was bordered on either side by what appeared to be a continuous terrace of three stone benches, each one foot high and of the same width. These benches really were very heavy square terra cotta pipes, ingeniously cemented together with telescopic joints, and having thick, grooved covers which formed the protecting conduits for the wires of the lighting system and the pipes of the irrigating and heating apparatus.
Artistically arranged on these benches, in pots that were beautifully modeled, colored and glazed, was a wonderful collection of choice ferns, embracing all of the known varieties in prodigal profusion. The pots were so arranged that the smaller varieties occupied the lower benches, with the larger ones in gradually increasing sizes on the higher benches farther back. Viewed from either end of the archway they formed two matchless banks of the rarest verdure and the loveliest foliage the world ever saw. Everywhere the eye was delighted by great masses of drooping fronds of delicate green, like rare lace in fineness—outrivaling in beauty the plumes of the famous birds of paradise.
"This is simply superb!" exclaimed Fillmore Flagg. "I never saw anything one half so lovely! Shall we walk through now?"
"Wait a moment, Mr. Flagg," said Fern Fenwick. "The twilight shadows are so deep you have, as yet, caught only a glimpse of the rare beauty of my lovely ferns." Stepping quickly to the right side of the first arch, she pressed a button and lo! those wonderful banks of ferns, and all the space of the archway, was flooded with a glory of soft, clear light. A thousand tiny bulbs, in a lovely variety of flower and fern leaf patterns, gleamed and glowed from beneath the ferny banks or hung pendant, rainbow like, from the roof of this rock ribbed archway.
Held spellbound for some moments by his surprise, admiration and delight, Fillmore Flagg murmured softly, almost in a whisper: "Can anything surpass this vision of perfect beauty?"
"Yes," said Fern Fenwick, radiant and smiling, "I think it can be surpassed, but we must allow the enchantress to use her magic once more, by giving my darling ferns their bath of beauty. Then you shall see them in their diamond robes."
Saying this, she pressed another button. A thousand tiny pipes, concealed in the ribs of the stone roof, gave forth a shower of fine spray, filling the long fernery with a hazy mist of cobweb fineness. Very soon millions of globules of moisture gathered on leaf, stock, frond, plume and tiny tip of every leaflet, reflecting each ray of light with diamond-like brilliancy. Pressing another button to shut off the spray, Fern Fenwick said:
"Now, Mr. Flagg, my ferns have donned their royal robes and are ready for your tour of admiring inspection. I assure you they are worthy of it. As a choice collection of ferns in such perfect condition, its equal cannot be found in all the wide world! As a collector I am an enthusiast; for many months I have travelled far and wide in my efforts to add new specimens of rare beauty to the original collection. You may guess how much I prize it when I tell you that money could not buy it."
"You are surely a most wonderful enchantress," replied Fillmore Flagg. "I feel that under the potent spell of your magical wand, I have entered the inner mysteries of some glorious temple of ferns, in a world of enchantment! I am so fascinated and dazzled by this marvellous display of brilliancy and beauty, that I am moved to pay homage to you, Miss Fenwick, as a fitting tribute of loyal devotion to Fern, the Fairy Queen of this fair temple."
As he finished his gallant speech, the deep tones of emotion vibrating in the full rich voice of Fillmore Flagg, and the look of intense admiration which shone so eloquently from his eyes, brought a flush of color to the fair face of Fern Fenwick and warned her that it was time to be moving. Skillfully keeping up the personification, she quickly said:
"Mr. Flagg, I am delighted on behalf of the fairies to express thanks for the glowing tribute to their Queen which you have so beautifully voiced. Let us now walk through to the end of the fernery and return. As we pass along I will point out my favorite plants."
Only a few steps had been taken when Fillmore Flagg paused, listening and looking about him in all directions, with a very puzzled expression. A delightfully cool breeze was fanning their faces: this breeze was laden with some strangely sweet perfume both soothing and stimulating to the senses. The air all about them seemed to vibrate with the distant melody of some angelic music, now sinking, now swelling in perfect harmony; so soft, so clear, so bright, so inspiring in its wealth of tone and joyous movement.
"Ah! Miss Fenwick," said Fillmore Flagg, "my senses are all entranced! Your wonderful fairies in this grotto of magic are at this moment thrilling my being with sensations of the most intense delight! How can the Fairy Queen explain? What has she been doing with her magical wand to produce such delicious perfume; such entrancing music?"
Fern's merry laugh rang out musically clear, and her eyes sparkled roguishly as she replied: "I assure you Mr. Flagg, that in this instance the fairies are not responsible. The explanation is quite simple but rather long. Therefore let us move forward while I give you the details: As we were stepping down on this graveled walk, I turned the switch and started the ventilating fans, at the same time connecting the electric current with a series of melophones located near the top of the arches. Along the ventilating tubes, in a series of small compartments, are sponges saturated with different kinds of perfume. These sponges can be exposed to the air current or withdrawn at will, yielding a single perfume or a blending of as many kinds as one may wish. The wonderful variety of these choice blendings, which can be so easily produced, affords a constant succession of sweet surprises. The melophones which you hear, represent the highest achievement of art in the production of automatic musical instruments. This set is the most complete and the most expensive one in existence. In construction and final completion they cost the inventor and maker three years of constant thought and labor. The result is truly marvellous. The perfection of harmony and purity of tone are convincing testimonials of their excellence. In operation these instruments are placed in a very large double tube made from a peculiar kind of metallic alloy recently discovered, which affords the most perfect conditions for the conservation and conductivity of all musical vibrations. They are capable of producing an almost endless variety of choice music. The selection which we hear at this time, is one which I have re-named 'The Carol of the Ferns.' Pardon me, Mr. Flagg, if in my enthusiasm over the beauties of what you have so poetically termed my 'magical temple of ferns,' some of my statements should sound like boasting; I assure you they are not so intended. I trust that now I have cleared up the mystery to your perfect satisfaction."
"Charmingly," said Fillmore Flagg, "Nevertheless my fairyland illusions still abide with me; I confess I am still under the spell of the great happiness they have given to me—I shall never forget it. The truth in this case proves even stranger than fiction; I quite agree with you that in all the wide world there is nothing like this! It seems to me that those extraordinary melophones yield the finest music I have ever heard. In sweetness and purity of tone, softness and wealth of harmony, which is pervaded by some electric quality of inspiration, so stirring, so thrilling that every nerve and every cell in the body responds. They stand unrivaled as the very acme of musical art. I now understand why your lovely home here should be named 'Fairy Fern Cottage.' I fully appreciate the significance of the title. This royal temple of ferns makes the name most fittingly appropriate, and easily ranks this cottage as the eighth wonder of the world! The fame of its rare beauty should be known in every land. You ought to be very proud of it. I assure you, Miss Fenwick, that you are abundantly justified in praising it enthusiastically at all times, without fear of being considered egotistical. But tell me, if I may be permitted to ask, who was the wonderful genius who first conceived and planned the building of this imposing line of arches? So useful, so ornamental, so unique, yet so perfectly adapted as a summer and a winter home for your ferns and flowers and, withal, offering such a perfect title to your unrivaled cottage home."
"Thank you, Mr. Flagg, for that question. In my reply I am eager to pay a deserved tribute to the dearest and noblest of men—my father. Inspired by his love for me, his brilliant mind conceived the entire plan and purpose of this curiously novel structure. He succeeded in completing it and also in filling it with the original collection of ferns, without my knowledge. On the morning of my fifteenth birthday, he brought me here to bestow upon me this priceless gift. The surprise was a perfect one. When he made me understand that he gave with it a deed to the cottage and grounds, the surprise became so intense that it fairly took my breath away. I was so overjoyed that by turns I laughed, and cried, and hugged papa, until I came very near to having a genuine fit of hysteria! At that time we changed the name of the house to Fairy Fern Cottage. This is why I am so proud and so fond of my cottage home. This is why I appreciate your praise of it so much—why I am so thankful for it. I feel sure that you will now appreciate my sincerity when I repeat that money could not buy it!"
THE PROBLEM VS. A GOOD MAN WHO IS AS RICH AS HE IS NOBLE.
After supper Fern Fenwick and Fillmore Flagg returned to the tower room for the continuation of the story. She began by saying:
"Let us return to my father's mining operations in Alaska. In 1892, Dewitt C. Dunbar assumed the active management of the Martina mine. A large proportion of my father's surplus capital from the mine had been invested, through trusty agents, in the cities of San Francisco, Saint Paul, Chicago, Washington and New York. We at once planned a tour of travel that would give him the opportunity to personally inspect these investments, and at the same time give me a chance to see the world, and to mingle in society, or so much of it as a continuous hotel life might offer.
"For my mother and myself this delightful tour was one long holiday. We enjoyed it so much. To me especially, it proved exceedingly profitable; geographically speaking, my ideas of the largeness of the world, and the vast number of its people, were wonderfully expanded. In December, 1893, father completed his investments by the purchase of a winter home in the city of Washington, and this summer home here. This cottage was built in the year 1900.
"During the summer of 1894 we visited the brothers and sisters of my father, who were at that time living with their families on farms in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. As was generally the rule, with a large class of farmers in those states at that time, we found them, with but few exceptions, poor, in debt, and very much discouraged by the menacing outlook for the future. Farm interests everywhere were in a desperate condition. A succession of twenty years of falling prices for all farm products, accompanied by frequent calamities, such as hail storms, hurricanes, hot, blighting winds, drouth and armies of grasshoppers, had so multiplied and magnified the farm debts, and so reduced the value of farm, stock, and product, that even the interest on the indebtedness could no longer be kept up; ruin and beggary threatened the entire community of farmers. Under the severe pressure of these conditions, great numbers of the more unfortunate abandoned their farms in despair and sought employment elsewhere, mostly in manufacturing centres and the large eastern cities. Much of the money and wealth of the land had flown to those points, thither logically, they followed, to enter the ranks of that vast army of competitors for the crumbs that might fall from the table of an already glutted labor mart; to learn by bitter experience how cruelly the system of competition in all kinds of business can grind the helpless poor; to learn, through years of suffering, the real meaning of competition, that so long as it rules over commercial and industrial systems, the rich must grow richer and fewer in number, while the poor must grow poorer, and more and more numerous; to apprehend, slowly and painfully, that by coming from farm to city they had still farther congested the already overstocked labor market, thereby adding fierceness to the competition, insuring an increase in the purchasing power of the dollars of those who held the labor market, while they correspondingly decreased the possibilities for earning the dollars they must have in order to live; to perceive dimly in their desperation, that congestion of the labor market speedily affected all markets; that an overstocked labor market always meant a decrease of wages, which in turn, caused a corresponding shrinkage in the number of purchasers for all salable goods in the general market, followed by increased panic and stringency in the money market; which speedily rolled up another disaster, sweeping in turn, additional thousands into the ranks of the unemployed; demonstrating, finally, that a repetition of these evils is inevitable; that competition in its last analysis, means the complete destruction of all business.
"As my father came to understand the full significance of this deplorable situation, involving and distressing his own brothers and sisters, his noble nature was grieved and shocked. He made haste to place his people in a condition of financial independence. How happy and grateful they were! And my father rejoiced with us that he was able to offer such timely assistance. He then announced to us his determination to devote the remainder of his life, and so much of his fortune as might be necessary, to the solution of the problem of how best to overcome the blighting evils of the competitive system. After much thought, long research and hard study, he decided to commence with the land as the necessary basis of all progress; with the farm as the rational progressive unit; with improved farm methods on co-operative lines, as the lever by which to restore the control of the land to the farmers, and to lift them and their sons and daughters from the class of ignorant dependents, to a class of cultured independents, which should be well worthy of serving as a model in the race of progress, for all the other classes. In his efforts to modify, correct, and reform social and business methods, he proposed to use the strong and kindly arms of Co-operation in fighting the evils of Competition, or its representative, the pitiless competitive system. He reasoned that all forms of government are but the result of co-operative effort. Both experience and observation had taught him that the measure of excellence of any government is the measure of its perfection in co-operation. Therefore it logically follows, that the more perfect the co-operation achieved by the administration of any form of government, the greater the degree of justice and equality attained in the distribution of benefits to all of the governed."
THE REAPING OF THE DEATH ANGEL.
"Towards the close of the summer of 1895, my father placed me in the preparatory department of Vassar College, where I made rapid progress. I began to appreciate the superior wisdom of the methods of teaching which my parents had so systematically carried out for my improvement. Thanks to their efforts, I held the key to all of the sciences, history and literature, prose and poetry! All of their principal words or terms with their definitions, were familiar friends to me; while all new facts regarding their various subdivisions, auxiliaries, etc., and the relations existing between them as such, were matters of absorbing interest to me; so much so, that I soon became master of the subject I was studying, very often proving a puzzling surprise to my teachers. At the age of twelve I entered the regular course and graduated from college just as I was entering my eighteenth year, being by four years the youngest member of a graduating class of one hundred girls.
"Some months after my fourteenth birthday, my darling mother was taken from me in the mortal form, very suddenly and most unexpectedly. My father was away from home on a long trip to Alaska. I was at Vassar. My mother was with a congenial party of friends at a favorite seaside resort. One day while bathing, one lady of the party swam too far out, was taken with a cramp and shrieked for help. My mother, who was nearest, being an excellent swimmer, courageously went to her assistance. Unfortunately, the tide was running full and strong and was against my mother in her heroic struggle to save her friend. Alas! before aid could reach them both sank beneath the waves and were lost. My noble mother had generously sacrificed her earthly existence in her brave effort to save the life of another! This was my first experience of the grief and desolation that follows the reaping of the Death Angel. In my youth, my half-dazed condition, I could neither realize nor understand what later became so plain to me; that to die is to live again. That death, so-called, is but the change from one form of life to another, which is still higher in the scale of progress. Nor could I then realize, that for the purpose of bringing to me a consciousness of the possibilities of my spiritual being; under the ministrations of the angel of compensation, out of the very depths of the gulf of bereavement and sadness through which I was passing, there was coming to me the precious gift of a priceless mediumship, the marvelous key! the all-potent 'open sesame' with which to unlock the gates between the two worlds and reunite the separated loved ones on either side.
"At that time Mrs. Bainbridge, then but recently widowed, was in charge of the old home here. She was an excellent medium who had often proved herself worthy of my mother's entire confidence. Acting under the guidance of my arisen mother, she at once, without hesitation, took charge of all business arrangements, especially those of preparing for the cremation of my mother's body, in accordance with her often expressed wish. She telegraphed the sad news to my father in Alaska, asking for instructions. He replied at once that the body must be cremated, as my mother had directed in her will. He would return as soon as possible, but at the best he could not hope to arrive in less than two months. In the meantime, Mrs. Bainbridge was authorized to take entire charge of 'Fern,' and of his business affairs that needed attention, until he came.
"I came home from college, sorely grieved and shocked at the awful suddenness of my mother's transition, but through the mediumship of Mrs. Bainbridge, my mother, having her in a deep trance, was soon able to comfort me; to make me realize that she was not dead, but still near me with all a mother's love and tender care. From time to time she directed Mrs. Bainbridge how to manage the pressing business that came up. She told me that she had long known that I was endowed with wonderful mediumistic power, which must now be fully developed for her sake, as a necessary and natural channel of communication so desirable to her, which she should prize very highly. Also as a source of comfort for myself and my father, especially as a joyful surprise for him when he came home. Therefore it was decided between us that I was to sit one hour each day with Mrs. Bainbridge for development. My mother seemed to feel sure that I would make an excellent trumpet medium, and encouraged me by predicting my speedy development as such. Strangely enough, so it proved. My progress was rapid. In two weeks time my mother could speak to me through the trumpet without difficulty and much to my delight. I began to appreciate the great value of my wonderful gift and to understand what it meant. Our dear family circle, which in my despair I had thought broken forever, was now reunited. Father, mother, daughter! just us three as of yore. And—the wonder of it—I, the youngest, the weakest and the least wise of the trio, was the instrument! When I thought of the possibilities, of the joy and consolation it would bring to my father and mother, my heart swelled with gratitude and thankfulness that this mighty power had come to me. The power to destroy the dread of death; to demonstrate the continuity of life; to prove that the binding love of family ties, kindred, and cherished friends still shone with untarnished lustre beyond the shadows of the silent grave. How beautiful, how wonderful, how glorious it was! And with this power came the solemn charge that I was to cherish it with care and keep it pure and holy. Yes, I resolved that I would do this conscientiously. It should be my highest ambition to ever use my mediumship with my best and most unselfish aspirations, to keep it apart from the grosser things of life, to dedicate it to good and to good alone. And thus it was that my mediumship continued to develop and grow in perfection. My mother could talk with me as often as she wished and as long at each sitting as she desired. I was no longer alone or despondent, my darling mother still could be, and was really, my mentor, friend, parent, teacher and spiritual guide. I forgot to mourn or to feel lonely, though I longed for my father's homecoming that we might share this new found joy. So interested was I and so occupied, that the two months quickly passed and my dear father reached his home in safety. I had arranged for a quiet evening with him alone. When my mother, through the trumpet, joined in the conversation and welcomed him with loving words of endearment, so familiar in the greetings of other days, he was almost overcome by the flood of ecstatic emotions that moved and thrilled him as he began to appreciate the significance of such a miraculous surprise. His heart was glowing and his entire being permeated with this great wave of happiness. His face was radiant with joy and beamed with fatherly affection and pride as he pressed me to his heart again and again, thanking me for my thoughtful spiritual work in the development of my wonderful gift, which, for his consolation, I had striven so unselfishly, so ardently and so earnestly to attain, while facing alone the one great crisis of my young life. Still holding me in his arms, he looked into my eyes long and fondly, almost adoringly, as he said: 'With such a daughter, whose loving heart and purity of soul has won for her the marvellous power to reunite our broken family circle, I am indeed the most fortunate of all men.' Then in a moment I perceived that I was no longer a child, I was a woman; that henceforth my father would think of me as a woman—still his loving daughter—but also his equal, his confidant, his trusted friend, his adviser in times of need, his oracle, his medium of communication with the loved ones who dwelt in the world of spirit. How good and beautiful was life in the light of this new vista of possibilities and responsibilities for me! For the moment I seemed to be transported to some grand spiritual height, where as a responsive spiritual unit, I felt the throbbing of the limitless sea of environmental life surrounding me like a golden mist, on every hand. Every pulsation proclaimed my immortality as a part of that boundless sea; boundless, fathomless, unthinkably shoreless! of life, all-producing, all-containing! My soul no longer questioned. It was filled with a peace and joy that passeth the power of words to describe.