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She might have been began to remove the
attention to either her mother or to me. walking in a trance as she mechanically dishes from the dinner table. Her face was white, but it was not the paleness that comes from too little fresh air, it was that blanched whiteness you see on the face of a corpse. She was walking back and forth between the table and the cupboard putting away the unused cups and dishes and then I noticed for the first time that the table was set for three.
""Tell me,' I said, turning to the old woman, 'how did you break your arm?'
""He did it,' she said with sudden ferocity. 'He did it. He was pitching into Annie the way he always does at meals and then I spoke up and he turned on me. He never would stand contradicting. If there were only a man in the house he never would ha' done it.'
"It was Annie who replied. Having been silent for so long, her voice came with startling abruptness. 'He has gone away,' she said.
'Will he be back,' I asked her, and either she didn't hear my question or else she ignored it, for she kept on stacking the dishes without replying.
"I can never forget the picture that the girl made as she stood in the middle of that small, smoke-stained kitchen, the lamp lighting up her pale face with its drooping, sensitive mouth and all the beauty and youth that might have been a part of it crushed out by some unseen force.
"She had stopped in one of her trips between the kitchen table and the sink and was looking at me intently. At first, her eyes had that fixed unseeing stare that they had had earlier in the evening but gradually the expression changed to one of puzzled uncertainty. Our gazes met and she neither lowered her eyes or looked away, but stood looking back at me without speaking. Then slowly she turned and once more began sorting over the dishes on the table.
"The old woman noticed how intently her daughter had been looking at me, plucked me by the sleeve, and said in a strained aside, 'She's been like that ever since it happened. The last couple o' days she's been awful silent, not eating and such like.
Dan began to hector her the way he allus does, but she paid no attention to him.'
"The old woman turned and gave a furtive look at her daughter and then went on. 'It rained all day and there was just the three of us here together. At dinner he was surly and was nagging at her again. I tol' him she wasn't well but he swore at me and said he'd make her look alive. She was sitting all white and silent and he got up and started for her. I jumped up and he hit me on the arm with his fist. When Annie saw my arm hanging all limp and me crying with pain, she rose up -and then she done it.' The old woman's voice had been getting louder and louder as the story progressed. 'She done it,' she moaned and began once more to rock back and forth in her chair. 'She done it, she done it.'
"The bandage began to be loosened and I had to fix it. 'Is there anything can use as a sling?' I asked, 'a scarf or anything will do.' The old woman pointed to a closet door that led to an inside room. "There's a scarf in the bureau in there,' she said and drawing her shawl around her began once more her whimpering moan.
"I started to walk for the door, but Annie was there before me. She leaned against the door blocking my way but her attitude was one of supplication. 'You can't go in there,' she said. For a moment we stood looking at each other. I looked into those dark, horror-filled eyes and something stirred within me. I understood the significance of that lonely, isolated farmhouse and the weary years that had changed the happy girl into the white-faced woman. She must have seen it in my face for slowly her entire expression changed, the terror faded from her eyes, and with a little tired sigh she opened the door.
"At first glance I saw nothing exceptional in the room. It was little and dark and what light there was came through a window in the opposite wall. Then I saw what it was the girl had been trying to hide. There, sprawled on the bed, lay a man fully dressed. It was his enormous size that impressed me first; and then it was his hands. They were large and square and the fingers, as the hand lay palm upwards, were curled inward as if they were about to grasp something and had stiffened in that attitude. From his position he might have been
asleep except that his head was wrapped in a shawl. With a sickening sensation I turned, got the scarf, and left the room.
"Annie aided me to make a sling for her mother's arm. She was clumsily eager to be of use. I left shortly afterwards. When I turned to go Annie was standing in the middle of the kitchen. Possibly it was a remnant of the coquette left in her nature-you see I was younger then and better looking-or possibly it was gratitude, at any rate she looked at me and smiled. It was the embarrassed, trusting smile of a child."
'But,' I said, 'did you never go back? Don't you know what happened?'
""I went back once,' he said, 'but it was months afterwards. Someone else had the house, and I learned from them that the mother and daughter had moved away shortly after my visit. The man no one seemed to know about, but they were quite sure he hadn't gone with the two women. The last I saw of Annie was when I was driving away, the night of my visit. I saw her through the window. She had gone back and was finishing the dishes.”
The doctor gave a meditative puff at his pipe. "It is queer, isn't it," he said, "how people will act in a crisis." He looked down into the fire and smiled. "After all," he said, "as far as I know, the man may have been asleep."
CONCEPTIONS OF LIFE.
Awarded the Stone Corporation Prize in English Composition, June, 1919.
F one turns to a shelf of books on classical mythology and casts his eyes at random through the pages of the first few volumes that fall under his hands, he is very likely to run across something that will present the early conceptions of the origin of life. To the Greek philosopher the important question was not that of his own descent, but rather that of his ancestors, for evidently he was descended from his forebears and none other. And that his progenitors rightly traced their descent from the gods was not open to serious question. To the same Greek, however, the origin of the lower forms of living things was perhaps a trifle problematical. As a general rule the larger number of the more serious students of biology (bio-life, -logy-science of) were agreed that the lower animals and plants might arise. out of non-living things per se: "Empedocles believed that all living things arose spontaneously. Aristotle, whose familiarity with natural history was much broader, does not subscribe to so general a view, but asserts that sometimes animals are formed in putrefying soil, sometimes in plants, and sometimes in the fluids of other animals." The latter represents the better thoughts of those Greeks who were more thoroughly acquainted with the facts of their subject.
The philosophy of the Greeks is replete with examples of their understanding, such as it was, of the spontaneous generation of living things. In Book IV of the "Georgics" Virgil presents clearly a picture of the accepted views on the generation of bees. In his description of the elaborate preparations which are prerequisites in the breeding experiments he said: "First, a space of ground of small dimensions, and narrowed for this purpose is chosen; this they cover in with the tiling of a narrow roof and with confining walls, and add four openings with a slanting light turned toward the four points of the compass. Then a bullock,