“Came the whisper, came the vision,
Came the Power with the need.”
. . . . . . . . . .
“This is the scene of combat, not of rest,
Man’s is laborious happiness at best;
On this side death his labors never cease,
His joys are joys of conquest, not of peace.”
Following my physician’s advice, I slipped away to Old Point Comfort on December the twenty-third. I fell into a sound sleep as soon as I was on the boat, and practically slept all the way there. I had a letter of introduction to the proprietor of the hotel from Mr. Hitchcock, the proprietor of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and was given rooms almost over the sea, and treated with unbounded kindness and respect. Lilly went down with us, and made my rooms comfortable, and ate Christmas dinner with us. We had a delightful surprise at this meal, for we were at the same table with Dr. Peck, one of my neighbors on Storm King Mountain, Cornwall, a most intelligent and delightful companion.
I was not really sick; I was only tired, so tired, however, that I could hardly lift my heavy, aching eyes, and my brain absolutely refused to follow a thought out, and I suffered much from a relaxed, nervous throat. I slept nearly night and day for a week, and the sea winds breathed fresh life into me. Then Lilly felt that she might leave me to their healing influence and the renewing power of sleep and rest.
On January the twentieth, I note, “I am much better. I feel nearly well.” Dr. Frissel of the Hampton School called to see me. Reverend Father Hall, Judge Parker’s son-in-law, sent me violets, and I had a strange but interesting letter from Lilly, who said she had been at a crystal party in M——’s studio rooms, and had heard a lecture by a Hindoo occultist. The guests were invited to ask him any question they wished him to answer, and Lilly asked how her mother was. He said, “She is at sea, or very near the sea. She will be quite well in February, and some good thing will happen at the end of the month. Her good fortune is at a standstill until then.” And I add with emphatic undercrossing, “How does he know anything about me? My times are in God’s hands.” I will also add, that nothing he said was true.
In February I was able to see a few visitors, and I had a great deal of attention from the officers of the regiment stationed there. Colonel Morris and Mrs. Morris called several times, and Lieutenant Allan and Mrs. Allan did all they could to make me happy. On the eleventh, they gave me at their house a delightful reception, and on the nineteenth I was entertained at the Officer’s Club, and had all the privileges of the club presented to me. This honor was the more remarkable, as I was the only woman who had ever received it.
After this callers were so numerous, I thought it best to go home, for I was still very weak and nervous, and I feared to lose what I had gained. My eyes also were far from rested, and it was difficult for me to write. I was sorry to go, because Alice had been so happy, but it was “for Mamma’s sake,” and she went gladly.
No, I cannot write of the next few months. They were filled with sorrow of the most heart-breaking kind, and for the first time in my life, I could not go unto Him who promised to give rest to the sorrowful and heavy laden. Grief, with me, runs into motion, and I walked my room day and night, until exhaustion forced me to sit down. I got the first help from a book Mr. Van Wagenen gave me. I had to go to Dodd, Mead and Company and all of the firm happened to be out but Mr. Van Wagenen, and he gave me a book, telling me to read it, and it would do me good. I do not know why he did so. I tried to smile and look happy, but he may have seen the sorrow in my eyes, for its shadow is still there. This was on April twenty-first and on April twenty-fifth, I write, “I have taken courage, and am going on in God’s strength. I can do nothing without God. I can do everything with God to help me. I will not fret, and I will not worry. I will cease from being hurt and angry. I will go back to my work, and trust in God to give me the sight and strength to do it.”
It was during these months of such anguish as only mothers can know that the great comforting truth of reincarnation was fully revealed to me. And I count the sorrow, even if it had killed me, but a small payment for it. Slowly, but surely it dawned upon my soul, that the suffering which I had not deserved, by either thought, word or deed in this life, must have been earned in some previous existence, and this conviction enabled me not only to accept, but to forgive. Then I read upon my knees the Fifth-first Psalm and prayed, “Forgive me, for it is against Thee, and Thee only, I have sinned.” I had paid my debt, and I was comforted; for we must all go up our own Calvary. The just cannot die for the unjust, the purehearted for the sinner, the merciful for the cruel.
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.”
We all pay our just debts, we all reap then our just rewards. And my soul rose up to God’s expectation, yielded
“... itself to the Power constraining,
With a ready and full surrender;
Trusting God in the roughest whirlwind,
In a cloud of the thickest night,
While I watched and hoped in silence,
For the dawn of a richer splendor;
Musing what new gifts await me—
What of Knowledge, or Love, or Light!”
In July Professor Libbey and Mrs. Libbey spent two days at Cherry Croft, and at the end of the month I had a visit from the Countess de Brémont. She brought a letter from Mr. Paul of London, and I found her an interesting woman. She had just come from Africa, where she had lived for several months in Paul Kruger’s home. Her descriptions of it, and of the Boer President and his family, were of the most unsavory even disgusting character; but I listened to them with a kind of satisfaction. I had no respect for the Boers, and I was heart-sick at their early successes; so much so, that my doctor had forbidden me to read anything respecting the war until my daughter gave me permission.
In August I managed to locate the story of “The Maid of Maiden Lane.” I had begun it half-a-dozen times, but always found myself running across “The Bow of Orange Ribbon;” and I was about to give it up, when I awoke one morning about four o’clock, with the whole story clear in my mind. I made a note of the plot as given me, and then with a good heart finished off “Trinity Bells” for Mrs. Dodge.
On the third of September I was at work again on “The Maid of Maiden Lane,” and on the eighth I took tea at Dr. Henry Van Dyke’s, who was then occupying the beautiful Club House on Storm King as a summer home. The fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth of September, I kept as I have always done in memory of my dear husband’s and sons’ deaths, and I wrote, “It is thirty-two years ago, but I have forgotten nothing of God’s mercy, and of their love.
‘Faithful, indeed, the spirit that remembers,
After such years of change and suffering.’
I am more alone than ever, but God is sufficient.”
Sept. 30th. I made bread, tidied drawers and closets, filled all the vases with fresh flowers, and walked for two hours and half.
Oct. 1st. Writing in the morning on “The Maid of Maiden Lane,” and in the afternoon watching the gathering of the apples, and the digging of the potatoes.
In November I finished “The Maid of Maiden Lane” and made an arrangement with Mr. Dodd to write “The Lion’s Whelp.” For these two books, I was to receive three thousand dollars each.
In December I suffered a great loss. I had as cook a Mrs. Kirkpatrick, the wife of that Thomas Kirkpatrick, whom I have named as my first caller at Cherry Croft, and who was at this very time my gardener. She had both my trust and my affection, for she was faithful and kind to me, and had fine spiritual instincts, which I delighted to inform and to direct. On Sunday, the eleventh of December, she appeared to be in as perfect health as a woman in the prime of life could be, yet when I awoke out of deep sleep, soon after midnight, I knew that something was going to happen; for I could not move a finger, nor could I open my eyes. I lay motionless waiting and listening. Then I heard steps mounting the stairs—steps, no human foot could make—the strong swift steps of a Messenger whom nothing could delay. At the head of the stairs was a corridor on which my room, my study, a guest room and Alice’s two rooms opened. At the end of the corridor there was a door, always locked at night, then two steps leading down to a small hall, on which Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s room, and another room opened.
Into which of these rooms was He going? I listened awestruck and breathless. Past my door, my study, and the guest room He went; past the open door leading into Alice’s rooms, and then I heard the same fateful tread going down the two steps into the outer hall, after which there was dead silence. In a few minutes I was able to move, and I sat up and considered. I was certain that I had locked the door between the corridor and the small hall. Yet there had been no delay at the door, nor any sound of a lock turning. I struck a light and went to the door. It was locked. It had been no impediment unto Him who passed through it, shut and locked. Alice was in a deep sleep; Mrs. Kirkpatrick, also. I went back to my room and sat down. And that night I slept no more.
In the morning Mrs. Kirkpatrick told me she was sick. “I will go home,” she said, “and send my daughter to do my work. I shall be well in a day or two.” I held her hand as she spoke, and looked into her kind face, where I saw written what no mortal could either write, or blot out. As she passed through the gate, I called Alice, to “come and take a last look at Mrs. Kirkpatrick;” and we both watched her hurrying up the hill, until she was out of sight. Seven days after she died of pneumonia.
That night as I sat quite alone by the parlor fire, praying for the passing soul, Lilly came to me. And I cried with joy, while together we sought “Him that ... turneth the shadow of death into the morning” (Amos, 5:8). She spent two days in packing and preparing the house for the winter, and on the third day, I went with Alice to the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, leaving Thomas Kirkpatrick, the sorrowful husband, in charge of the house.
I do not like to write much about 1899. The first three months my doctor forbid me to write, and I amused myself by reading everything I could find on the new cults and “isms” then clamoring for recognition. Theosophy for a few weeks fascinated me, but Christian Science, never for one hour made any impression. I thought it, only a huge misunderstanding of the Bible. Spiritualism I had examined many years previously, and discarded its pretensions at once. Truly God speaks to men, but when he so favors any soul, He asks no dollar fee, and needs no darkened room, veiled cabinet, nor yet any hired medium to interpret His message. He can make Himself heard in the stir and traffic of Broadway, and in the sunshine of midday, as well as in the darkness of midnight. And when I had satisfied my foolish curiosity, I was sorry and ashamed, and with deep contrition asked only to be permitted to say once more “Our Father!” Going back to my Bible, was like going back home, after being lost in a land of darkness and despair.
This three months’ reading, often by electric light, made havoc with my sight, and I was obliged to spend six weeks in a darkened room after it. Lilly spent them with me, and I was greatly consoled by this proof of her affection for me. I was very anxious about money matters, for though I could not write, the expenses of the house went on. But God did not forget His Promise to me. Towards the end of March Mr. Stone of Chicago wrote to me for a novel, and I sold him “Was It Right to Forgive?” for twelve hundred dollars; soon after Mr. Jewett came up to Cherry Croft, told me he had gone into the publishing business with his friend Taylor, and bought the book rights of “Trinity Bells,” for two thousand dollars. These two events, both most unexpected, made my mind easy; and I improved so rapidly, that in May I began to write a little. Then Dr. Klopsch ordered twenty short articles, and these gave me just the work I could do, because I could leave it, and take it up, whenever it was prudent to do so.
I spent the winter of 1900 at Atlantic City, and on the sixth of February, the novelist, Robert Barr of London, came to visit me. He was delighted with Atlantic City, and stayed more than a week. At this time I had a remarkable dream. I thought I stood on the piazza at Cherry Croft, and was looking upward at an immense black African bull, that rose and fell between the sky and the earth. Sometimes he was very high, sometimes he came near to the ground, but as I watched he fell to the earth, and his head came off, and rolled out of sight. And the grass was high, and I called Kirkpatrick and said, “The grass is ready, you will cut it to-morrow.”
After that dream I read all the newspapers I wanted to read. I knew the Boers would fail, and fall, and the English flag float over their conquered states. On the twenty-eighth of February I read of Cronjes’ defeat, and on the fifteenth of March, a few days after my return home, Mr. Henry Hunter of Cornwall, sent his son through a great storm, late at night, up to Cherry Croft to tell me that the English had possession of the capital of the Orange Free State. The next morning I walked to the end of the piazza, and noticing the grass high, I called to Kirkpatrick and said, “Kirk, the grass is too high, cut it down tomorrow.” Then my dream flashed across my mind, and I thanked God and was happy.
The eleventh of July was the fiftieth anniversary of my wedding day. Alice was with Lilly in Brooklyn, and I was quite alone, neither had I any letters referring to it. All my world had forgotten it, so I made it memorable to myself, by commencing my Cromwell novel, which I that day named “The Lion’s Whelp.” In the afternoon I sat in the sunshine, and thought over the incidents of my fifty wedding days. It was a little story for my own pleasure and I shall never write it down. On that day also, I resolved to give up all social visiting, and devote myself entirely to my work.
I worked steadily afterwards on “The Lion’s Whelp” but did not finish it until April second, 1901. Then I note in my diary, “I finished my dear Cromwell novel today, five hundred fifty pages. I leave it now with God and Mr. Dodd.” It was hard to leave it. For some days I could not bring myself to finish the last few sentences, and my eyes were full of tears when I wrote “Vale Cromwell!” I had the same reluctance to close “Remember the Alamo.” In both cases, I was bidding farewell to characters with whom I had spent some of the happiest hours of my life.
After finishing “The Lion’s Whelp,” I collected a volume of my short stories for Dr. Klopsch, and on July fourth I began a novel for Mr. Jewett called “Thyra Varrick.” The scene was laid in the Orkney Isles, and the wind of the great North Sea blew all through it, while it had the brilliant blundering of Prince Charles Stuart for a background. It was a great favorite, for it was the initial story of the Delineator, and I received the following letter from Charles Dwyer, the editor, after it was published:
Dear Mrs. Barr:
I take leave of “Thyra Varrick” in the May number, with the greatest regret. It seems like parting with an old friend, and one who has conferred many favors on you. It is the first serial that has appeared in the magazine, and I consider myself very fortunate in being able to present such a story. A copy of the book has come in from the publishers, and is now in the hands of the reviewer. When it comes back to me, I shall take the liberty of sending it to you for an autograph.
With every good wish for a pleasant summer, and that we may be again in association, I am
Very faithfully yours,
On May the third, my sister Alethia died of apoplexy, and I am now the last of a family that had been more than a century at home when Edward the Confessor reigned. A very ancient prophecy regarding the family said, “It will go out with a lass.” So it will. I stand at the end of a long, long roll of priests and heroes, but though I am only a woman, I have fought a good fight, my hands are clean, my honor unstained, and I have never written a line that I would wish to blot, if I was dying. I am not afraid to meet any of my ancestors, and I shall be glad to look my dear father in the face. He was a great scholar, but he was too busy preaching to write a book. And when I tell him I have written over sixty books, I shall add, “But that is because I am your daughter.”
On June the sixteenth, I had the following letter, and among the hundreds I have received, not one has given me more soul pleasure:
United States Engineer’s Office.
Mrs. Amelia E. Barr.
Allow me to thank you for Chapter Seven, “Souls Of Passage.” I am on a higher plane since reading it, and thoughts, heretofore merely in solution in my mind, have flashed into beautiful and permanent crystallization. I do not apologize for addressing you, for I feel that it must please you to know, that your soul in its passage, has helped another.
William Stoddard McNeill.
From the middle of August unto the end of the year, Alice was very ill, and I could not leave her night or day, unless Lilly was with her. So I went early to the city this year. I finished “Thyra Varrick” on December nineteenth, and then rested until the New Year.
On the second of January, 1902, I was in the Historical Library, then on Second Avenue, where I worked all day, and then bought from the library a large and very valuable book on the Loyalists of New York City during its captivity to the English. It is written by one of the De Lancey family, and is a monumental book that ought to be better known. Alice was in a most unhappy condition all month, and I write sorrowfully on February first: “I am heartbroken about Alice. I can get no hopeful response spiritually from her. She is always conscious of some inimical Presence, whom she cannot pray against, and she is miserably depressed, and will not go out.”
On the fifteenth I had a letter from a small town in Turkey-in-Asia, asking permission to translate my articles in Success into Greek, and thus I discovered that Success had been using my work without my knowledge, or permission, for I never wrote for the paper except one article for the opening number. The success founded on such methods had in it no lasting elements, and the paper has disappeared.
On the twenty-eighth Alice begged me to take her home, and on the third of March I did so. Kirkpatrick had the house beautifully warm, and Lilly went up to Cherry Croft with us, and put all in order.
On March twenty-ninth, my seventy-second birthday, I had had a night of prayer and watching, but I fell asleep at dawn, and woke up wonderfully refreshed; and to my happy amazement, Alice gave me a kiss and a blessing, when I went to her room. “Dear God!” I prayed, “add Thy Blessing to it.” The mail brought me a present of violet pins from Lilly, and all my soiled lace done up with her own hands, and looking like new. Her husband sent me a very handsome scrap-book for my newspaper clippings. I had one hundred seventy-five dollars from Rutger, royalty money, and Mary had made and sent me a pretty kimono. I was very happy indeed; for, thank God, I still keep my child heart, and “little things” make me happy.
On April second I began “The Song of a Single Note.” It carried on the story of “The Bow of Orange Ribbon,” and a month later I wrote, “Alice is well and happy; our days go on calm and sweetly, and I am enjoying my work.”
On May the twenty-first, Mrs. Harry Lee called to see me for the first time. I liked her at once. She is now one of the two women I really love. There is no set time for her calls, she can come morning, noon or night, and be welcome. She is loving and intellectual, and never gets bored or has a train to meet, if our conversation slips into grave, or even religious subjects. From a good tree, we expect good fruit, and she is the eldest daughter of the late well-beloved E. P. Roe. Her love for me also runs into physical and material grooves, which are very enjoyable; many a time she has walked over the fields to my house, with a basket of fine fruit, or a dish of whipped cream, or some other delicacy. And as she is a fashionable woman in the social world, I think such little attentions show a sweet and homely affection, that I value highly.
On May thirty-first I made a note that causes me to smile as I read it—“a kind of dictatorial letter, from a firm who want me to write a novel for them—they are both young!” I also, rejoice, because I have got the grip of the story I am writing, and now it will be easy work.
On June the twelfth, I had a remarkable experience, one I shall never forget. I heard the clock strike three, and thought I had a letter in my hand from my mother. It was written on the old-fashioned large, square letter paper, and contained two sheets, the last one not quite full; folded as we folded letters before envelopes had been thought of, and closed with a seal which I carefully broke. In this letter she told me of all that she had suffered, and how she had prayed to God, and I buried my face in the letter and wept bitterly. Yes, I felt the tears, and I said, “O dear, dear Mother, you had to die, and I had to grow old, to know how much I love you!” A strange thing was, I saw plainly her address, and she had signed herself “Mary Singleton,” her maiden name, “Kingdom of Heaven.” There were two other lines in the address, which I have forgotten, but I knew they were the names of city and street. I was wonderfully comforted by this letter, and its enthralling, heavenly perfume lingered about me for many days.
Miss Alice Barr
On June thirtieth Charles Francis Adams sent me a copy of his oration about Cromwell’s having a statue in the New England Colonies. He deserved it. If England had not so urgently needed him, he would have accompanied his friend, Long John Wentworth, to Massachusetts. If Mr. Adams had only told the New Englanders, that Cromwell was the best ball player in England, and that Wentworth was the only man who could match him, they would doubtless have taken the statue into serious consideration.
At the end of August I finished “A Song of a Single Note” and Mary and Kirk fortunately came from Florida, to pay me a visit. My days of remembrance, the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of September, I spent reading Professor James’s “Varieties of Religious Experience,” a wonderful, wonderful book, which none who read thoughtfully can ever forget. I have read it through many times; it always makes a good time for me, spiritually.
On October, the twenty-sixth, Mr. Hearst gave me fifty dollars for permission to copy my article on “Divorce” from the North American Review into his paper; and on the sixth of December I went to the Marlborough House in Atlantic City. Alice and I spent Christmas alone; she was very sweet and reflective, and talked to me long of the Christmases gone forever. “So fair! So sad!” I said; and she answered with a smile, “They are with God.”
On February fifteenth, I was again settled at Cherry Croft, and began “The Black Shilling,” but on the twenty-sixth I tore up all I had written, and began it over again. On the twenty-ninth of March, my seventy-third year of travail through this life, I write gratefully, “I have good health, a good home, good daughters, good servants, many friends, and one hundred three pages of ‘The Black Shilling’ written to my satisfaction. Lilly was here, and Alice is quite well, and Rutger remembered my birthday and sent me one hundred thirty dollars royalty.” I finished “The Black Shilling” on the twenty-ninth of July; and my eyes were so tired, I went into a darkened room for three weeks, and on the thirtieth of October I went to New York in order to be under the care of Dr. Hunter, a fine oculist, and no alarmist. He told me there was not the slightest evidence of any disease, they only wanted rest; and the relief his verdict gave me was unspeakable, and in itself curative.
From the fourteenth to the nineteenth of December I went to Princeton to stay with the Libbeys. I had sent out no cards this winter, and I saw no one but Dr. and Mrs. Klopsch, and Rutger Jewett. On the whole 1903 was a hard year, and my eyes were so troublesome that I only wrote “The Black Shilling,” and a few little articles for the daily press.
“Jan. 1st, 1904. When I opened my Bible this morning my eyes fell upon this cheering verse, ‘Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day.’ (Acts, 26:22.)” Three days afterwards I went back to Cornwall, and on the sixteenth I had a visit from Mr. Platt of the Smart Set, about writing for him. He was an English gentleman of a fine type, but I am sure he understood at once, that I could not write for a set I knew nothing about. Nevertheless I enjoyed his visit. I read all January for “The Belle of Bowling Green,” which I began on February, the eighth, and finished on June, the twenty-seventh. All August, I was writing for Mr. Rideing and Dr. Klopsch; but on September, the eighteenth, I began “Cecilia’s Lovers,” which I finished on February eighth, 1905.
All April, May and June I was writing articles for the Globe on social subjects, such as slang, bored husbands, colossal fortunes, et cetera. On November fifteenth, I had an invitation to a dinner given to Mark Twain on his seventieth birthday. I did not go to the dinner, but I sent Mr. Clemens the wish that Dr. Stone wrote to me on my seventieth birthday. “The days of our life are three score years and ten, and if by reason of strength it be four score years, yet is it labor and sorrow. May you have the labor without the sorrow.”
On November, the twenty-fourth, I made a contract with Mr. Lovell to write him a novel for five thousand dollars. I wrote him one called “The Man Between,” and it was finished and paid for on March thirty-first, 1906. In April of 1906, I began “The Heart of Jessy Laurie,” which was sold to Mr. Dodd on September the seventeenth. In November I began a book that is a great favorite, and whose writing gave me constant pleasure, “The Strawberry Handkerchief.”
I began 1907 in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and on the fifteenth had finished the first chapter of “The Strawberry Handkerchief,” but on the thirtieth I took pneumonia, and was very near to death. With God’s blessing on the skill of Dr. Charles Nammack, and Lilly’s faithful care, my life was saved. Her husband gave me an equally loving service. Every afternoon he came to the hotel, read and answered my letters, and sat with Alice, while Lilly had a long, sound sleep. Then he went for medicines, and if likely to be needed, remained all night. My own son could have done no more for me, nor done it any more lovingly.
On the twenty-third of February, I had one of the most wonderful spiritual experiences of my life. Lilly had gone home, and taken Alice with her, and I was quite alone. The room which they occupied, while in the hotel, opened into my room; but it was now empty, and the proprietors had promised to put no one into it, unless obliged by stress of business; for it had been very convenient, for changing the air in my room. I awoke from sleep about three A.M. and found my room distressingly hot. I rose, put on wool slippers, stopped at the table, ate a few grapes, and drank a glass of milk, and then thought I would open the door between the two rooms. I was very weak, but I reached the door, and had my hand on the key. Then Some One in the adjoining room thrust quickly a heavy bolt across the other side of the door. I concluded the room had become occupied while I was asleep, was a little annoyed at not being informed, but thought no more of the circumstance, until the chambermaid came to me in the morning.
“Do you know,” she said, “I left both the windows in the next room open, and it has been the coldest night of the winter. The room was like an ice box this morning; for the heat was turned off and the wind blowing, and freezing as it blew.”
“But the room was occupied,” I answered.
“No, indeed!” she continued. “I went in an hour ago, and shut the windows and put on the heat, and I will take you there while I make this room comfortable.” She did so, and I was lying wrapped in a blanket upon a sofa, when I remembered the almost angry drawing of the bolt, and turned my head to look at the door. There was no bolt there. There was nothing but a little brass screw in the lintel, that a child’s finger could turn noiselessly. Yet the bolt I heard was one of the large iron bolts, used in the farm and manor houses of Westmoreland, and the North Country. They crossed the whole door, and fell into the socket provided, with a great noise—the noise I had heard early that morning. Who had been watching me through the long night hours? One step into that freezing room would have chilled the spark of life in me. Who had prevented it, and that in such a manner as should convince me that it was no mortal hand, and no mortal bolt that saved me? That day, I could do nothing but pray and wonder, and then pray again. I thought I was alone, and I was not alone. Some angel had charge over me, and I remembered that there was just a touch of impatience in the driving of the bolt, as if the watcher had the feeling of a mother, vexed at her child’s imprudence. I have had many spiritual experiences but few that affected me more than this one.
About the eighteenth of March I resolved to go home, and Lilly’s husband went to Cornwall, had the water put on, and the fires lighted; and on the twentieth Lilly and Alice followed, taking a servant with them. I waited as patiently as I could for Lilly to send me word the house was warm and comfortable; then Mr. Munro came and packed my trunks, and on the twenty-sixth my captivity ended. God let me go home, and I found Love and every comfort waiting for me.
On March, the twenty-ninth, I wrote: “I am getting well. This is a new birthday. A happy day.” I had written two chapters of “The Strawberry Handkerchief” when I was taken ill, but I was not able to return to it until May, the nineteenth, and I did not finish it until January, the seventh, A.D. 1908, when we were staying at Bretton Hall Hotel, for the three cold months.
On January, the thirty-first, Mr. and Mrs. Dodd gave me a “Bow of Orange Ribbon” dinner. All decorations were in the dominant color, and it was a very pretty affair. Mrs. Dodd is a charming hostess, and Mr. Dodd knows the exact tone at which a company of happy, sensible people should be kept. He sets it, and he keeps it, and every one follows his lead, as naturally in pleasure, as they do in business.
On February, the twenty-ninth, I was guest of honor at the Press Club Reception, held at the Waldorf Astoria. I enjoyed this occasion thoroughly, for I like the men and women of the press. I sat beside Mr. Pollock, a man of extraordinary genius. I had a very sore throat that day, but his speech made me forget I had anything but a heart and a brain. Bishop Potter sat near me. I had a pen and ink acquaintance with him, but had never before met him personally. As a man, he was delightful; as a bishop, he fell below my ideal. But then my ideal had been formed on the English Spiritual Lords, and I thought of Carpenter, and others, and wondered if they ever forgot their office so far as to tell a great public assemblage funny stories. The stories were excellent, and quite in keeping with what one of them called “his job,” but somehow they fell below the office he filled in the church. Yet everyone enjoyed them, and my quibble may be laid to my English superstitions about sacred things.
I had a little reception after the meeting, and never in all my life had I been so petted and praised. The young women crowded round me and kissed my hands, and my cheeks, and I wished they were all my daughters. Mrs. Klopsch had sent me an immense bouquet of violets, and I gave every flower away to them. If ever fame tasted sweet to me, it was during that half hour among the lovely women of the New York press.
On March, the first, I went back to Cornwall, and on the fifteenth I began a novel called “The Hands of Compulsion,” which I finished on June, the twenty-seventh. It is one of the best of my Scotch stories. All July I was reading for “The House on Cherry Street,” which I began on August, the second. I was busy on it all summer, for it was a very difficult period to make interesting, the fight for freedom of the press. The winter came on early, and I went to the city on the first of November, as I needed the Historical Library for my work. On November, the eighteenth, I took dinner at Mr. Dodd’s and among the guests were Mr. George McCutcheon, and Mr. Maurice of the Bookman, a handsome, interesting young man, whom I should like to know better.
On November twenty-seventh, I went to Dr. Klopsch’s to dine with the Honorable Lyman Gage, one of the most widely cultivated men I ever met. I supposed he would not talk of anything but finance or politics. These subjects were never named. During dinner we were talking of evolution and Orlando Smith’s great book on eternalism; after dinner Mr. Gage read aloud some passages from Plato with wonderful beauty and expression; notably the death of Socrates. This began a conversation lasting until midnight concerning death and reincarnation. I shall never forget this evening, which was duplicated on December fourth, with the addition to our company of the Reverend Dr. Chamberlin.
On December, the sixth, I dined with my friend and physician, Dr. Charles Nammack, and his family. Mrs. Nammack and I had long been friends, for they occupied the cottage next to my place on Storm King for two summers. On December, the fifteenth, I went with Dr. and Mrs. Klopsch to the theatre to see “The Servant in the House.” After these compliances for the sake of friendship, I went out no more, for I was busy writing “The House on Cherry Street” until my return home on the eleventh of February.
On the twentieth of February, A.D. 1909, the house was in most comfortable order, and Lilly had gone home the previous day. I was writing well all morning, and was called to dinner as the clock struck twelve. I went into Alice’s rooms to summon her, and we left them hand-in-hand, happily telling each other, how glad we were to be home again. We took one step of the long stairway together, and then in some inscrutable way, I lost my footing, and fell headlong to the bottom. I remember one thought as I fell, “So this is the end of all!” I was insensible, when I reached the lower floor, and knew nothing until I found myself in bed. Alice had run to our nearest neighbor and brought help, and they had telephoned to Lilly to come at once.
Dr. Winter, my own physician, did not arrive for three hours, but I was quite conscious by that time. I had not broken a bone, nor received any internal injury, and he looked at me incredulously. It appeared miraculous, but it was the truth. My right side, however, was severely bruised, and my right shoulder, arm and hand, so much so, as to be practically useless for many months. For neuritis took possession of the bruised member, and I suffered with it, and the nervous consequences of the shock, more than I can express.
And there was my work! How was I to finish it? And it must be finished. I needed the money it would bring. As soon as the pain subsided a little, I began to practice writing with my left hand—tracing letters on the bedspread, and by the time I was able to sit up a little, I was ready to take a pencil and pad. The result was, that I finally wrote very plainly with the left hand, and through sleepless, painful nights and days, I finished the manuscript of “The House on Cherry Street,” on July the twenty-fifth. And by that time, I was able to superintend the typewriter, and to see that it was copied faithfully.
On my seventy-ninth birthday I wrote, “I do not sleep two hours any night. I am racked with pain in my right shoulder, arm and hand. Weak and trembling and unfit to work, but trying to do as well as I can. My left hand stands faithfully by me.”
It was a hard summer in every way. Mr. Munro was in the hospital for a dangerous operation, and Lilly broke down with care and nursing. But through it all, Dr. Winter stood by me, full of hope and encouragement, and promises of final recovery. Mrs. Klopsch sent me constantly pretty hampers of fresh fruits, my friends in Cornwall did all they could to evince their sympathy, and I had almost a wicked joy in my success in training my left hand. Some malign influence had found a moment in which to injure me, but I was hourly getting the better of it. Every page I wrote was a triumph, and Dr. Winter reminded me, also, that the enforced idleness was resting my eyesight, which it sorely needed, and that as I would mind neither physician nor oculist, there was nothing for it, but a fall down stairs, to make me give my eyes a chance. He thought upon the whole it had been a very merciful and necessary fall. So I made the best of it.
On August, the twenty-third, I began “The Reconstructed Marriage,” which I finished on the sixteenth of December. It was a very cold winter, and Alice and I went to the Garden City Hotel, and I felt its healthy influence at once, but I could not escape company, which in my weakened condition was very fatiguing. So I bought a larger furnace, and then my home was warm enough to return to. I only received one thousand dollars for “The Reconstructed Marriage,” but Mr. Dodd had many reasons for cutting my price—the advance in wages, and the price of paper, et cetera, all just reasons, no doubt, but they pressed hard on me, for my long sickness asked for more, instead of less.
On March first, 1910, I heard of Dr. Klopsch’s death. I put away all work that day. He was my best friend! My truest friend! The friend on whom I relied for advice or help in every emergency. I think there were few that knew Dr. Klopsch. He was a man of the widest charity, if you take that word in its noblest sense. And my heart ached for Mrs. Klopsch, whom I love with a strong and true affection, for I knew the lonely suffering she was passing through.
On March, the twelfth, I began “Sheila Vedder.” It was really a continuation of “Jan Vedder’s Wife.” I wrote it at the request of Mrs. Frank Dodd, who said she wanted “to know something more about the Vedders.” The writing of this book was a great pleasure to me, therefore I know that it has given pleasure to others; for if the writer is not interested, the public will not be interested, that is sure.
On April, the sixteenth, I make the short pitiful note, and it brings tears to my eyes yet, “My sweet Alice’s birthday. I could not afford to give her any gift. I asked God to give it for me.”
I finished “Sheila Vedder” on August twenty-fourth, and began making notes for my Stuyvesant novel on August, the twenty-eighth. I was three months in getting the material I wanted, and in fixing it clearly in my mind, but I began this book on the fifteenth of December.
This year, A.D. 1910, I was too poor to keep Christmas. I was not without money, but taxes, insurance, servants’ wages, and a ton of coal every six days, with food, clothing, doctors and medicines, took all the money I could make. And Christmas was not a necessity, though I had always thought it one, and had never missed keeping it for seventy-nine years.
While writing this Stuyvesant novel—which Dodd Mead called “A Maid of Old New York”—a name I do not like, my own choice being “Peter Stuyvesant’s Ward,” I became persistently aware of a familiarity, that would not be dismissed; in fact I recognized in Theodore Roosevelt, a reincarnation of Peter Stuyvesant, Roosevelt having all the fiery radiations of Peter’s character, modified in some cases by the spirit of a more refined age, and intensified in others, by its wider knowledge.
I sent this book to Colonel Roosevelt myself and received the following reply to my letter:
November 8, 1911.
My dear Mrs. Barr:
Any book of yours I am sure to read. I look forward to reading the volume just sent me, which of course has a peculiar interest to me, as a descendant of some of old Peter Stuyvesant’s contemporaries. It would be a pleasure if I could see you some time.
With warm regards, and all good wishes and thanks, I am
The thing that delights me in this pleasant note, is that all the kind words, good wishes and thanks, are written by his own hand, interpolated as it were. I prize it very highly. I would not part with it for anything.
This March twenty-ninth was my eightieth birthday, and I had one hundred and thirty letters and cards full of good wishes, from men and women whom I have never seen, and who were scattered in many states and far distant places.
I finished the Stuyvesant novel on August, the first, 1911, and on September, the eighth, 1911, I began to write this story of my life, which is now drawing rapidly to its conclusion on October twenty-eighth, A.D. 1912.
It has been a grand lesson to me. I have recalled all God’s goodness, remembered all His mercies, lived over again the years in which I have seen so much sorrow and labor, and I say gratefully, yes, joyfully, they were all good days, for always God has been what He promised me—“Sufficient!”
 It is worth noting that the Manx, a very primitive religious people, restore to a wife as soon as she dies her maiden name. Death instantly absolves her from her thraldom to her husband. She regains her individuality, and with it her birth name, which is put both upon her coffin and her tombstone. It is likely that this custom has its source in the words of Christ—Luke, 20:27, Mark, 12:13, and Matthew, 22:23.
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