Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/370

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table, perhaps tied in her chair, with a series of baby alphabet-blocks before her. Her attendant opposite tries to make out what is wanted. Over and over again nothing is determined. Then it slowly dawns that she hopes to use these blocks to make known her wishes. Then, again, after weeks of trial, it is learned that she wishes to write a letter. But what a task is before her and her interpreter. Evidently, as it is not a commonplace communication that she wishes to make, the ordinary words and phrases must easily fail. But how difficult to be sure when the right letter or word or phrase is reached; even her simplest thoughts and feelings, to say nothing of the great determination in some way to succeed in more complicated expression, is so impossible. But slowly, with patience that should be crowned by all the Academies—slowly one by one, letters, words, phrases, sentences, even unto as many as eight note pages, and requiring as many as two full years or more to do it, was the precious revealing letter evolved—to be read in two minutes, to be forgotten—never! A letter so intime, so exceptional, so precious, that as a voice from the tomb did it come; as an appeal from the innermost soul of humanity, should it be received.

Nothing but the dire, infinite needs of the suffering soul of humanity's very self could justify the publication of such a communication; yet the justification is complete, when once we think of all the many selves that are everywhere suffering, if not from living entombments, then from death-in-life psychalgias, which if not physical are yet not the less horrible, and have similarly day by day through all time so absolutely to feel the great need of accurate recognition and efficient ministering.

Beginning our use of this letter at about its third page, she says, "While I look at the ceiling I see beyond and live in a world of thought and imagination. I take journeys, make visits, write letters—am like a live spirit in a dead body. Though I seem to be dead and irresponsive, I feel as if I were made on the principle of a toy jumping-jack, with some one pulling the string, holding my head back and mouth open. I must be a repulsive-looking object," she continues. "I must look like a fool, anyway." To one who had known her even when but partially well, and had noted her most delicately feminine appearance and ways, it is only too clear that observation of the successive steps of her progressive physical degradation was not among the least of the sources of her mental distress. "My throat and mouth are in dreadful condition. . . . My tongue refuses to work. My teeth all seem to be dying like the rest of my body. My tongue has grown short, I can hardly get it outside my mouth." No wonder that her next words are these: "I suppose books tell you these things I suffer and endure, but that little innocent word 'helpless' must be lived to know its meaning and misery. Add speechless, and the trifles of daily living become mountains of trial." And now