The Child Of The Phalanstery

"Poor little thing," said my strong-minded friend compassionately.

"Just look at her! Clubfooted. What a misery to herself and others! In a

well-organized state of society, you know, such poor wee cripples as

that would be quietly put out of their misery while they were still


"Let me think," said I, "how that would work out in actual practice.

I'm not so sure, after all, that we should be altoget
er the better or

the happier for it."


They sat together in a corner of the beautiful phalanstery garden, Olive

and Clarence, on the marble seat that overhung the mossy dell where the

streamlet danced and bickered among its pebbly stickles; they sat there,

hand in hand, in lovers' guise, and felt their two bosoms beating and

thrilling in some strange, sweet fashion, just like two foolish

unregenerate young people of the old antisocial prephalansteric days.

Perhaps it was the leaven of their unenlightened ancestors still

leavening by heredity the whole lump; perhaps it was the inspiration of

the calm soft August evening and the delicate afterglow of the setting

sun; perhaps it was the deep heart of man and woman vibrating still as

of yore in human sympathy, and stirred to its innermost recesses by the

unutterable breath of human emotion. But at any rate there they sat,

the beautiful strong man in his shapely chiton, and the dainty fair girl

in her long white robe with the dark green embroidered border, looking

far into the fathomless depths of one another's eyes, in silence sweeter

and more eloquent than many words. It was Olive's tenth-day holiday from

her share in the maidens' household duty of the community; and Clarence,

by arrangement with his friend Germain, had made exchange from his own

decade (which fell on Plato) to this quiet Milton evening, that he might

wander through the park and gardens with his chosen love, and speak his

full mind to her now without reserve.

"If only the phalanstery will give its consent, Clarence," Olive said at

last with a little sigh, releasing her hand from his, and gathering up

the folds of her stole from the marble flooring of the seat; "if only

the phalanstery will give its consent! but I have my doubts about it. Is

it quite right? Have we chosen quite wisely? Will the hierarch and the

elder brothers think I am strong enough and fit enough for the duties of

the task? It is no light matter, we know, to enter into bonds with one

another for the responsibilities of fatherhood and motherhood. I

sometimes feel--forgive me, Clarence--but I sometimes feel as if I were

allowing my own heart and my own wishes to guide me too exclusively in

this solemn question: thinking too much about you and me, about

ourselves (which is only an enlarged form of selfishness, after all),

and too little about the future good of the community and--and--"

blushing a little, for women will be women even in a phalanstery--"and

of the precious lives we may be the means of adding to it. You remember,

Clarence, what the hierarch said, that we ought to think least and last

of our own feelings, first and foremost of the progressive evolution of

universal humanity."

"I remember, darling," Clarence answered, leaning over towards her

tenderly; "I remember well, and in my own way, so far as a man can (for

we men haven't the moral earnestness of you women, I'm afraid, Olive), I

try to act up to it. But, dearest, I think your fears are greater than

they need be: you must recollect that humanity requires for its higher

development tenderness, and truth, and love, and all the softer

qualities, as well as strength and manliness; and if you are a trifle

less strong than most of our sisters here, you seem to me at least (and

I really believe to the hierarch and to the elder brothers too) to make

up for it, and more than make up for it, in your sweet and lovable inner

nature. The men of the future mustn't all be cast in one unvarying

stereotyped mould; we must have a little of all good types combined, in

order to make a perfect phalanstery."

Olive sighed again. "I don't know," she said pensively. "I don't feel

sure. I hope I am doing right. In my aspirations every evening I have

desired light on this matter, and have earnestly hoped that I was not

being misled by my own feelings; for, oh, Clarence, I do love you so

dearly, so truly, so absorbingly, that I half fear my love may be taking

me unwittingly astray. I try to curb it; I try to think of it all as the

hierarch tells us we ought to; but in my own heart I sometimes almost

fear that I may be lapsing into the idolatrous love of the old days,

when people married and were given in marriage, and thought only of the

gratification of their own personal emotions and affections, and nothing

of the ultimate good of humanity. Oh, Clarence, don't hate me and

despise me for it; don't turn upon me and scold me: but I love you, I

love you, I love you; oh, I'm afraid I love you almost idolatrously!"

Clarence lifted her small white hand slowly to his lips, with that

natural air of chivalrous respect which came so easily to the young men

of the phalanstery, and kissed it twice over fervidly with quiet

reverence. "Let us go into the music-room, Olive dearest," he said as he

rose; "you are too sad to-night. You shall play me that sweet piece of

Marian's that you love so much; and that will quiet you, darling, from

thinking too earnestly about this serious matter."


Next day, when Clarence had finished his daily spell of work in the

fruit-garden (he was third under-gardener to the community), he went up

to his own study, and wrote out a little notice in due form to be posted

at dinner-time on the refectory door: "Clarence and Olive ask leave of

the phalanstery to enter with one another into free contract of holy

matrimony." His pen trembled a little in his hand as he framed that

familiar set form of words (strange that he had read it so often with so

little emotion, and wrote it now with so much: we men are so selfish!);

but he fixed it boldly with four small brass nails on the regulation

notice-board, and waited, not without a certain quiet confidence, for

the final result of the communal council.

"Aha!" said the hierarch to himself with a kindly smile, as he passed

into the refectory at dinner-time that day, "has it come to that, then?

Well, well, I thought as much; I felt sure it would. A good girl, Olive:

a true, earnest, lovable girl: and she has chosen wisely, too; for

Clarence is the very man to balance her own character as man's and

wife's should do. Whether Clarence has done well in selecting her is

another matter. For my own part, I had rather hoped she would have

joined the celibate sisters, and have taken nurse duty for the sick and

the children. It's her natural function in life, the work she's best

fitted for; and I should have liked to see her take to it. But after

all, the business of the phalanstery is not to decide vicariously for

its individual members--not to thwart their natural harmless

inclinations and wishes; on the contrary, we ought to allow every man

and girl the fullest liberty to follow their own personal taste and

judgment in every possible matter. Our power of interference as a

community, I've always felt and said, should only extend to the

prevention of obviously wrong and immoral acts, such as marriage with a

person in ill-health, or of inferior mental power, or with a distinctly

bad or insubordinate temper. Things of that sort, of course, are as

clearly wicked as idling in work hours or marriage with a first cousin.

Olive's health, however, isn't really bad, nothing more than a very

slight feebleness of constitution, as constitutions go with us; and

Eustace, who has attended her medically from her babyhood (what a dear

crowing little thing she used to be in the nursery, to be sure), tells

me she's perfectly fitted for the duties of her proposed situation. Ah

well, ah well; I've no doubt they'll be perfectly happy; and the wishes

of the whole phalanstery will go with them, in any case, that's


Everybody knew that whatever the hierarch said or thought was pretty

sure to be approved by the unanimous voice of the entire community. Not

that he was at all a dictatorial or dogmatic old man; quite the

contrary; but his gentle kindly way had its full weight with the

brothers; and his intimate acquaintance, through the exercise of his

spiritual functions, with the inmost thoughts and ideas of every

individual member, man or woman, made him a safe guide in all difficult

or delicate questions, as to what the decision of the council ought to

be. So when, on the first Cosmos, the elder brothers assembled to

transact phalansteric business, and the hierarch put in Clarence's

request with the simple phrase, "In my opinion, there is no reasonable

objection," the community at once gave in its adhesion, and formal

notice was posted an hour later on, the refectory door, "The phalanstery

approves the proposition of Clarence and Olive, and wishes all

happiness to them and to humanity from the sacred union they now

contemplate." "You see, dearest," Clarence said, kissing her lips for

the first time (as unwritten law demanded), now that the seal of the

community had been placed upon their choice, "you see, there can't be

any harm in our contract, for the elder brothers all approve it."

Olive smiled and sighed from the very bottom of her full heart, and

clung to her lover as the ivy clings to a strong supporting oak-tree.

"Darling," she murmured in his ear, "if I have you to comfort me, I

shall not be afraid, and we will try our best to work together for the

advancement and the good of divine humanity."

Four decades later, on a bright Cosmos morning in September, those two

stood up beside one another before the altar of humanity, and heard with

a thrill the voice of the hierarch uttering that solemn declaration, "In

the name of the Past, and of the Present, and of the Future, I hereby

admit you, Clarence and Olive, into the holy society of Fathers and

Mothers, of the United Avondale Phalanstery, in trust for humanity,

whose stewards you are. May you so use and enhance the good gifts you

have received from your ancestors that you may hand them on, untarnished

and increased, to the bodies and minds of your furthest descendants."

And Clarence and Olive answered humbly and reverently, "If grace be

given us, we will."


Brother Eustace, physiologist to the phalanstery, looked very grave and

sad indeed as he passed from the Mothers' Room into the Conversazione in

search of the hierarch. "A child is born into the phalanstery," he said

gloomily; but his face conveyed at once a far deeper and more pregnant

meaning than his mere words could carry to the ear.

The hierarch rose hastily and glanced into his dark keen eyes with an

inquiring look. "Not something amiss?" he said eagerly, with an infinite

tenderness in his fatherly voice. "Don't tell me that, Eustace. Not ...

oh, not a child that the phalanstery must not for its own sake permit to

live! Oh, Eustace, not, I hope, idiotic! And I gave my consent too; I

gave my consent for pretty gentle little Olive's sake! Heaven grant I

was not too much moved by her prettiness and her delicacy, for I love

her, Eustace, I love her like a daughter."

"So we all love all the children of the phalanstery Cyriac, we who are

elder brothers," said the physiologist gravely, half smiling to himself

nevertheless at this quaint expression of old-world feeling on the part

even of the very hierarch, whose bounden duty it was to advise and

persuade a higher rule of conduct and thought than such antique

phraseology implied. "No, not idiotic; not quite so bad as that, Cyriac;

not absolutely a hopeless case, but still, very serious and distressing

for all that. The dear little baby has its feet turned inward. She'll be

a cripple for life, I fear, and no help for it."

Tears rose unchecked into the hierarch's soft grey eyes. "Its feet

turned inward," he muttered sadly, half to himself. "Feet turned inward!

Oh, how terrible! This will be a frightful blow to Clarence and to

Olive. Poor young things: their first-born, too. Oh, Eustace, what an

awful thought that, with all the care and precaution we take to keep all

causes of misery away from the precincts of the phalanstery, such trials

as this must needs come upon us by the blind workings of the unconscious

Cosmos! It is terrible, too terrible."

"And yet it isn't all loss," the physiologist answered earnestly. "It

isn't all loss, Cyriac, heart-rending as the necessity seems to us. I

sometimes think that if we hadn't these occasional distressful objects

on which to expend our sympathy and our sorrow, we in our happy little

communities might grow too smug, and comfortable, and material, and

earthy. But things like this bring tears into our eyes, and we are the

better for them in the end, depend upon it, we are the better for them.

They try our fortitude, our devotion to principle, our obedience to the

highest and the hardest law. Every time some poor little waif like this

is born into our midst, we feel the strain of old prephalansteric

emotions and fallacies of feeling dragging us steadily and cruelly down.

Our first impulse is to pity the poor mother, to pity the poor child,

and in our mistaken kindness to let an unhappy life go on indefinitely

to its own misery and the preventible distress of all around it. We have

to make an effort, a struggle, before the higher and more abstract pity

conquers the lower and more concrete one. But in the end we are all the

better for it: and each such struggle and each such victory, Cyriac,

paves the way for that final and truest morality when we shall do right

instinctively and naturally, without any impulse on any side to do wrong

in any way at all."

"You speak wisely, Eustace," the hierarch answered with a sad shake of

his head, "and I wish I could feel like you. I ought to, but I can't.

Your functions make you able to look more dispassionately upon these

things than I can. I'm afraid there's a great deal of the old Adam

lingering wrongfully in me yet. And I'm still more afraid there's a

great deal of the old Eve lingering even more strongly in all our

mothers. It'll be a long time, I doubt me, before they'll ever consent

without a struggle to the painless extinction of necessarily unhappy and

imperfect lives. A long time: a very long time. Does Clarence know of

this yet?"

"Yes, I have told him. His grief is terrible. You had better go and

console him as best you can."

"I will, I will. And poor Olive! Poor Olive! It wrings my heart to think

of her. Of course she won't be told of it, if you can help, for the

probationary four decades?"

"No, not if we can help it: but I don't know how it can ever be kept

from her. She will see Clarence, and Clarence will certainly tell


The hierarch whistled gently to himself. "It's a sad case," he said

ruefully, "a very sad case; and yet I don't see how we can possibly

prevent it."

He walked slowly and deliberately into the ante-room where Clarence was

seated on a sofa, his head between his hands, rocking himself to and fro

in his mute misery, or stopping to groan now and then in a faint feeble

inarticulate fashion. Rhoda, one of the elder sisters, held the

unconscious baby sleeping in her arms, and the hierarch took it from her

like a man accustomed to infants, and looked ruthfully at the poor

distorted little feet. Yes, Eustace was evidently quite right. There

could be no hope of ever putting those wee twisted ankles back straight

and firm into their proper place again like other people's.

He sat down beside Clarence on the sofa, and with a commiserating

gesture removed the young man's hands from his pale white face. "My

dear, dear friend," he said softly, "what comfort or consolation can we

try to give you that is not a cruel mockery? None, none, none. We can

only sympathize with you and Olive: and perhaps, after all, the truest

sympathy is silence."

Clarence answered nothing for a moment, but buried his face once more in

his hands and burst into tears. The men of the phalanstery were less

careful to conceal their emotions than we old-time folks in these early

centuries. "Oh, dear hierarch," he said, after a long sob, "it is too

hard a sacrifice, too hard, too terrible. I don't feel it for the baby's

sake: for her 'tis better so: she will be freed from a life of misery

and dependence; but for my own sake, and oh, above all, for dear

Olive's. It will kill her, hierarch; I feel sure it will kill her!"

The elder brother passed his hand with a troubled gesture across his

forehead. "But what else can we do, dear Clarence?" he asked

pathetically. "What else can we do? Would you have us bring up the dear

child to lead a lingering life of misfortune, to distress the eyes of

all around her, to feel herself a useless incumbrance in the midst of so

many mutually helpful and serviceable and happy people? How keenly she

would realize her own isolation in the joyous busy labouring community

of our phalansteries! How terribly she would brood over her own

misfortune when surrounded by such a world of hearty, healthy,

sound-limbed, useful persons! Would it not be a wicked and a cruel act

to bring her up to an old age of unhappiness and imperfection? You have

been in Australia, my boy, when we sent you on that plant-hunting

expedition, and you have seen cripples with your own eyes, no doubt,

which I have never done--thank Heaven!--I who have never gone beyond the

limits of the most highly civilized Euramerican countries. You have seen

cripples, in those semi-civilized old colonial societies, which have

lagged after us so slowly in the path of progress; and would you like

your own daughter to grow up to such a life as that, Clarence? would you

like her, I ask you, to grow up to such a life as that?"

Clarence clenched his right hand tightly over his left arm, and answered

with a groan: "No, hierarch; not even for Olive's sake could I wish for

such an act of irrational injustice. You have trained us up to know the

good from the evil, and for no personal gratification of our deepest

emotions, I hope and trust, shall we ever betray your teaching or depart

from your principles. I know what it is: I saw just such a cripple once,

at a great town in the heart of Central Australia--a child of eight

years old, limping along lamely on her heels by her mother's side: a

sickening sight: to think of it even now turns the blood in one's

arteries: and I could never wish Olive's baby to live and grow up to be

a thing like that. But, oh, I wish to heaven it might have been

otherwise: I wish to heaven this trial might have been spared us both.

Oh, hierarch, dear hierarch, the sacrifice is one that no good man or

woman would wish selfishly to forego; yet for all that, our hearts, our

hearts are human still; and though we may reason and may act up to our

reasoning, the human feeling in us--relic of the idolatrous days or

whatever you like to call it--it will not choose to be so put down and

stifled: it will out, hierarch, it will out for all that, in real hot,

human tears. Oh, dear, dear kind father and brother, it will kill Olive:

I know it will kill her!"

"Olive is a good girl," the hierarch answered slowly. "A good girl, well

brought up, and with sound principles. She will not flinch from doing

her duty, I know, Clarence: but her emotional nature is a very delicate

one, and we have reason indeed to fear the shock to her nervous system.

That she will do right bravely, I don't doubt: the only danger is lest

the effort to do right should cost her too dear. Whatever can be done to

spare her shall be done, Clarence. It is a sad misfortune for the whole

phalanstery, such a child being born to us as this: and we all

sympathize with you: we sympathize with you more deeply than words can


The young man only rocked up and down drearily as before, and murmured

to himself, "It will kill her, it will kill her! My Olive, my Olive, I

know it will kill her."


They didn't keep the secret of the baby's crippled condition from Olive

till the four decades were over, nor anything like it. The moment she

saw Clarence, she guessed at once with a woman's instinct that something

serious had happened: and she didn't rest till she had found out from

him all about it. Rhoda brought her the poor wee mite, carefully wrapped

after the phalansteric fashion in a long strip of fine flannel, and

Olive unrolled the piece until she came at last upon the small crippled

feet, that looked so soft and tender and dainty and waxen in their very

deformity. The young mother leant over the child a moment in speechless

misery. "Spirit of Humanity," she whispered at length feebly, "oh give

me strength to bear this terrible unutterable trial! It will break my

heart. But I will try to bear it."

There was something so touching in her attempted resignation that Rhoda,

for the first time in her life, felt almost tempted to wish she had been

born in the old wicked prephalansteric days, when they would have let

the poor baby grow up to womanhood as a matter of course, and bear its

own burden through life as best it might. Presently, Olive raised her

head again from the crimson silken pillow. "Clarence," she said, in a

trembling voice, pressing the sleeping baby hard against her breast,

"when will it be? How long? Is there no hope, no chance of respite?"

"Not for a long time yet, dearest Olive," Clarence answered through his

tears. "The phalanstery will be very gentle and patient with us, we

know: and brother Eustace will do everything that lies in his power,

though he's afraid he can give us very little hope indeed. In any case,

Olive darling, the community waits for four decades before deciding

anything: it waits to see whether there is any chance for physiological

or surgical relief: it decides nothing hastily or thoughtlessly: it

waits for every possible improvement, hoping against hope till hope

itself is hopeless. And then, if at the end of the quartet, as I fear

will be the case--for we must face the worst, darling, we must face the

worst--if at the end of the quartet it seems clear to brother Eustace,

and the three assessor physiologists from the neighbouring

phalansteries, that the dear child would be a cripple for life, we're

still allowed four decades more to prepare ourselves in: four whole

decades more, Olive, to take our leave of the darling baby. You'll have

your baby with you for eighty days. And we must wean ourselves from her

in that time, darling. We must try to wean ourselves. But oh Olive, oh

Rhoda, it's very hard: very, very, very hard."

Olive answered not a word, but lay silently weeping and pressing the

baby against her breast, with her large brown eyes fixed vacantly upon

the fretted woodwork of the panelled ceiling.

"You mustn't do like that, Olive dear," sister Rhoda said in a

half-frightened voice. "You must cry right out, and sob, and not

restrain yourself, darling, or else you'll break your heart with silence

and repression. Do cry aloud, there's a dear girl: do cry aloud and

relieve yourself. A good cry would be the best thing on earth for you.

And think, dear, how much happier it will really be for the sweet baby

to sink asleep so peacefully than to live a long life of conscious

inferiority and felt imperfection! What a blessing it is to think you

were born in a phalansteric land, where the dear child will be happily

and painlessly rid of its poor little unconscious existence, before it

has reached the age when it might begin to know its own incurable and

inevitable misfortune. Oh, Olive, what a blessing that is, and how

thankful we ought all to be that we live in a world where the sweet pet

will be saved so much humiliation, and mortification, and misery!"

At that moment, Olive, looking within into her own wicked rebellious

heart, was conscious, with a mingled glow, half shame, half indignation,

that so far from appreciating the priceless blessings of her own

situation, she would gladly have changed places then and there with any

barbaric woman of the old semi-civilized prephalansteric days. We can so

little appreciate our own mercies. It was very wrong and anti-cosmic,

she knew; very wrong, indeed, and the hierarch would have told her so at

once; but in her own woman's soul she felt she would rather be a

miserable naked savage in a wattled hut, like those one saw in old books

about Africa before the illumination, if only she could keep that one

little angel of a crippled baby, than dwell among all the enlightenment,

and knowledge, and art, and perfected social arrangements of

phalansteric England without her child--her dear, helpless, beautiful

baby. How truly the Founder himself had said, "Think you there will be

no more tragedies and dramas in the world when we have reformed it,

nothing but one dreary dead level of monotonous content? Ay, indeed,

there will; for that, fear not; while the heart of man remains, there

will be tragedy enough on earth and to spare for a hundred poets to take

for their saddest epics."

Olive looked up at Rhoda wistfully. "Sister Rhoda," she said in a timid

tone, "it may be very wicked--I feel sure it is--but do you know, I've

read somewhere in old stories of the unenlightened days that a mother

always loved the most afflicted of her children the best. And I can

understand it now, sister Rhoda; I can feel it here," and she put her

hand upon her poor still heart. "If only I could keep this one dear

crippled baby, I could give up all the world beside--except you,


"Oh, hush, darling!" Rhoda cried in an awed voice, stooping down half

alarmed to kiss her pale forehead. "You mustn't talk like that, Olive

dearest. It's wicked; it's undutiful. I know how hard it is not to

repine and to rebel; but you mustn't, Olive, you mustn't. We must each

strive to bear our own burdens (with the help of the community), and not

to put any of them off upon a poor, helpless, crippled little baby."

"But our natures," Clarence said, wiping his eyes dreamily; "our natures

are only half attuned as yet to the necessities of the higher social

existence. Of course it's very wrong and very sad, but we can't help

feeling it, sister Rhoda, though we try our hardest. Remember, it's not

so many generations since our fathers would have reared the child

without a thought that they were doing anything wicked--nay, rather,

would even have held (so powerful is custom) that it was positively

wrong to save it by preventive means from a certain life of predestined

misery. Our conscience in this matter isn't yet fully formed. We feel

that it's right, of course; oh yes, we know the phalanstery has ordered

everything for the best; but we can't help grieving over it; the human

heart within us is too unregenerate still to acquiesce without a

struggle in the dictates of right and reason."

Olive again said nothing, but fixed her eyes silently upon the grave,

earnest portrait of the Founder over the carved oak mantelpiece, and let

the hot tears stream their own way over her cold, white, pallid,

bloodless cheek without reproof for many minutes. Her heart was too full

for either speech or comfort.


Eight decades passed away slowly in the Avondale Phalanstery; and day

after day seemed more and more terrible to poor, weak, disconsolate

Olive. The quiet refinement and delicate surroundings of their placid

life seemed to make her poignant misery and long anxious term of waiting

only the more intense in its sorrow and its awesomeness. Every day, the

younger sisters turned as of old to their allotted round of pleasant

housework; every day the elder sisters, who had earned their leisure,

brought in their dainty embroidery, or their drawing materials, or their

other occupations, and tried to console her, or rather to condole with

her, in her great sorrow. She couldn't complain of any unkindness; on

the contrary, all the brothers and sisters were sympathy itself; while

Clarence, though he tried hard not to be too idolatrous to her (which

is wrong and antisocial, of course), was still overflowing with

tenderness and consideration for her in their common grief. But all that

seemed merely to make things worse. If only somebody would have been

cruel to her; if only the hierarch would have scolded her, or the elder

sisters have shown any distant coldness, or the other girls have been

wanting in sisterly sympathy, she might have got angry or brooded over

her wrongs; whereas, now, she could do nothing save cry passively with a

vain attempt at resignation. It was nobody's fault; there was nobody to

be angry with, there was nothing to blame except the great impersonal

laws and circumstances of the Cosmos, which it would be rank impiety and

wickedness to question or to gainsay. So she endured in silence, loving

only to sit with Clarence's hand in hers, and the dear doomed baby lying

peacefully upon the stole in her lap. It was inevitable and there was no

use repining; for so profoundly had the phalanstery schooled the minds

and natures of those two unhappy young parents (and all their compeers),

that, grieve as they might, they never for one moment dreamt of

attempting to relax or set aside the fundamental principles of

phalansteric society in these matters.

By the kindly rule of the phalanstery, every mother had complete freedom

from household duties for two years after the birth of her child; and

Clarence, though he would not willingly have given up his own particular

work in the grounds and garden, spent all the time he could spare from

his short daily task (every one worked five hours every lawful day, and

few worked longer, save on special emergencies) by Olive's side. At

last, the eight decades passed slowly away, and the fatal day for the

removal of little Rosebud arrived. Olive called her Rosebud because, she

said, she was a sweet bud that could never be opened into a full-blown

rose. All the community felt the solemnity of the painful occasion; and

by common consent the day (Darwin, December 20) was held as an

intra-phalansteric fast by the whole body of brothers and sisters.

On that terrible morning Olive rose early, and dressed herself carefully

in a long white stole with a broad black border of Greek key pattern.

But she had not the heart to put any black upon dear little Rosebud; and

so she put on her fine flannel wrapper, and decorated it instead with

the pretty coloured things that Veronica and Philomela had worked for

her, to make her baby as beautiful as possible on this its last day in a

world of happiness. The other girls helped her and tried to sustain her,

crying all together at the sad event. "She's a sweet little thing," they

said to one another as they held her up to see how she looked. "If only

it could have been her reception to-day instead of her removal!" But

Olive moved through them all with stoical resignation--dry-eyed and

parched in the throat, yet saying not a word save for necessary

instructions and directions to the nursing sisters. The iron of her

creed had entered into her very soul.

After breakfast, brother Eustace and the hierarch came sadly in their

official robes into the lesser infirmary. Olive was there already, pale

and trembling, with little Rosebud sleeping peacefully in the hollow of

her lap. What a picture she looked, the wee dear thing, with the

hothouse flowers from the conservatory that Clarence had brought to

adorn her, fastened neatly on to her fine flannel robe! The physiologist

took out a little phial from his pocket, and began to open a sort of

inhaler of white muslin. At the same moment, the grave, kind old

hierarch stretched out his hands to take the sleeping baby from its

mother's arms. Olive shrank back in terror, and clasped the child softly

to her heart. "No, no, let me hold her myself, dear hierarch," she said,

without flinching. "Grant me this one last favour. Let me hold her

myself." It was contrary to all fixed rules; but neither the hierarch

nor any one else there present had the heart to refuse that beseeching

voice on so supreme and spirit-rending an occasion.

Brother Eustace poured the chloroform solemnly and quietly on to the

muslin inhaler. "By resolution of the phalanstery," he said, in a voice

husky with emotion, "I release you, Rosebud, from a life for which you

are naturally unfitted. In pity for your hard fate, we save you from the

misfortune you have never known, and will never now experience." As he

spoke, he held the inhaler to the baby's face, and watched its breathing

grow fainter and fainter, till at last, after a few minutes, it faded

gradually and entirely away. The little one had slept from life into

death, painlessly and happily, even as they looked.

Clarence, tearful but silent, felt the baby's pulse for a moment, and

then, with a burst of tears, shook his head bitterly. "It is all over,"

he cried with a loud cry. "It is all over; and we hope and trust it is

better so."

But Olive still said nothing.

The physiologist turned to her with an anxious gaze. Her eyes were open,

but they looked blank and staring into vacant space. He took her hand,

and it felt limp and powerless. "Great heaven," he cried, in evident

alarm, "what is this? Olive, Olive, our dear Olive, why don't you


Clarence sprang up from the ground, where he had knelt to try the dead

baby's pulse, and took her unresisting wrist anxiously in his. "Oh,

brother Eustace," he cried passionately, "help us, save us; what's the

matter with Olive? she's fainting, she's fainting! I can't feel her

heart beat, no, not ever so little."

Brother Eustace let the pale white hand drop listlessly from his grasp

upon the pale white stole beneath, and answered slowly and distinctly:

"She isn't fainting, Clarence; not fainting, my dear brother. The shock

and the fumes of chloroform together have been too much for the action

of the heart. She's dead too, Clarence; our dear, dear sister; she's

dead too."

Clarence flung his arms wildly round Olive's neck, and listened eagerly

with his ear against her bosom to hear her heart beat. But no sound came

from the folds of the simple black-bordered stole; no sound from

anywhere save the suppressed sobs of the frightened women who huddled

closely together in the corner, and gazed horror-stricken upon the two

warm fresh corpses.

"She was a brave girl," brother Eustace said at last, wiping his eyes

and composing her hands reverently. "Olive was a brave girl, and she

died doing her duty, without one murmur against the sad necessity that

fate had unhappily placed upon her. No sister on earth could wish to die

more nobly than by thus sacrificing her own life and her own weak human

affections on the altar of humanity for the sake of her child and of

the world at large."

"And yet, I sometimes almost fancy," the hierarch murmured with a

violent effort to control his emotions, "when I see a scene like this,

that even the unenlightened practices of the old era may not have been

quite so bad as we usually think them, for all that. Surely an end such

as Olive's is a sad and a terrible end to have forced upon us as the

final outcome and natural close of all our modern phalansteric


"The ways of the Cosmos are wonderful," said brother Eustace solemnly;

"and we, who are no more than atoms and mites upon the surface of its

meanest satellite, cannot hope so to order all things after our own

fashion that all its minutest turns and chances may approve themselves

to us as light in our own eyes."

The sisters all made instinctively the reverential genuflexion. "The

Cosmos is infinite," they said together, in the fixed formula of their

cherished religion. "The Cosmos is infinite, and man is but a parasite

upon the face of the least among its satellite members. May we so act as

to further all that is best within us, and to fulfil our own small place

in the system of the Cosmos with all becoming reverence and humility! In

the name of universal Humanity. So be it."