Other People’s Troubles: An Antidote to Your Own [Part 11]

Other People’s Troubles: An Antidote to Your Own [Part 11]


Other People’s Troubles

An Antidote for Your Own [Part 9]

Author of “A Japanese Nightingale,” “Heart of Hyacinth,” “Wisteria,” “Marion,” “Me,” etc., etc.
Synopsis:—“Other People’s Troubles” is the new type of a continued story wherein each episode is a complete story itself, but the whole is connected through the central figure of Dr. Carpenter, a very fine character, who believes that to get interested in other people’s troubles is the best cure for your own. His niece, Laura, was jilted on her wedding day by a man who also appropriated her brother’s invention. Felix Holt, a lawyer, accused of killing his wife’s lover, but acquitted on trial, has consented to handle Laura’s court proceedings, although since his own trouble he has lived the life of a recluse, and given up his profession. The doctor’s last patient suffers from insomnia brought on by misunderstanding of his wife’s interest in up-to-date women’s affairs.
The other nodded silently. The doctor studied the matter a moment, his head cocked sidewise, his lips pursed up in his most thoughtful professional manner.
“But, er—hum! You have—ah—seen somewhat of Laura, I believe?”
“Every day since,” said Holt softly.
The doctor appeared very much surprised.
“Well, well, how have I come to miss you?” he inquired guilelessly.
“Not here,” said Halt, in a curiously gentle voice. “From the first, we decided to discuss the matter—in the open.”
“Fort Washington Park?” suggested the doctor mildly, and for the first time the other’s glance was suspicious.
“Yes,” he admitted.
“Just what legal advice did you give my niece,” demanded the doctor angrily.
“None,” admitted Holt simply. He leaned over the desk, and looked at the doctor almost appealingly:
“She needed—not legal advice and service, doctor, but human sympathy and comfort!”
Doctor Carpenter came to his feet abruptly. For a moment he glared at his friend, and then suddenly he brought his hand down upon the other’s shoulder in a resounding slap.
“My medicine!” he cried triumphantly. “You scoundrel! Admit it!”
“Your med——” faltered Holt, and stopped short suddenly. “You think I—I—shed my own griefs, in comforting hers?”
“Didn’t you?”
“I can’t believe it,” said the other huskily, like one speaking in a dream. “If that were true a miracle has been performed. If human agony could be assuaged by the mere burial of it in another’s grief, why——”
He regarded the doctor almost dazedly.
The other smiled benignly.
“—and yet,” went on Holt, and there was a shaky note of joy in his voice, “and yet, it is true! My own troubles seem to me now as far away and distant as a dream.”
His eyes came back to the girl’s photographs on the desk, and he picked one of them up, and studied it. Something in the wistful expression of her eyes brought a sudden moisture to his own, and, impetuously, he held it against his cheek.
He was aware of the close proximity of the doctor only because the latter’s voice sounded almost in his ear:
“It’s a sovereign cure for all ills,” said the doctor softly, “because it is born of one abiding, triumphant, irresistible motive—Love, which is divine!”


Laura sat before her mirror, but she did not see herself. Her face was flushed, her eyes very large and dark and brilliant. She was waiting to be called, for she knew only too well who was in the front room with the doctor, and something in the girl’s beating heart told her for whom he had come.
Gently the doctor turned the handle of her door, and as gently entered. She started and turned toward him expectantly, but he waved her back to her seat. Then he came over beside her, and sat for a moment with her soft little hand cuddled closely in his.
“Laura,” said he, after a moment, half whimsically, half seriously, “tell old Uncle Dan, dear, your thoughts.”
“Uncle Dan, dear,” she said, “there’s nothing to tell, you don’t know already.”
“I thought there was to be a furious lawsuit.”
She shook her head, impatiently.
“It’s not worth while, Uncle Dan, and besides, I no longer care,” she said.
“And why?” persisted the doctor.
“Because—Oh, old darling! Let me whisper it in your dear old ear,” and she pulled him suddenly down to her lips. “I’ve been taking your—medicine,” she said, “and—and it has cured me, Uncle Dan, dear.”
The doctor had need to clear his throat indeed now, for his own eyes were moist, and he wiped his glasses fiercely. Then he looked sidewise at the girl beside him.
“You’ve forgotten your own griefs in the contemplation of another’s?”
“Yes. My own seem like a dream to me now,” she said, softly.
“And you know Holt’s by heart, don’t you?”
She shook her head, looking a trifle bewildered.
“None of the details, but what you told me, dear. But you see, I felt them. He did not need to say a word. Indeed neither of us spoke of our troubles to each other; but we both knew—and felt, and—we exchanged burdens, Uncle Dan, dear, and suddenly they were gone! Oh, cut from our shoulders, like the burden carried by Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress.”


“I think you first loved me when you opened the door, and saw me in the gloom of that rainy day, standing like a lost soul, knocking for entrance into Paradise. There was something in your face so compassionate, so maternal.”
“And you loved me first,” she said, “when you looked back at me, in the doorway, and the suspicion, the fear of me and my kind slipped away from you, like a shadow that goes in the sunlight.”
They were wandering about the deserted Park, moving slowly, almost unconsciously, their voices lowered as though what they had to tell to each other was a secret so dear not even the air must hear.
“Look at this queer old tree stump. I saw a little boy sitting on it one day, and he said he could see farther across the world than I could on the mere earth beneath,” she said.
“Shall I lift you up? There! You are just high enough now for my arm—about you.”
Cheek to cheek they gazed out across the water, and she said, presently, dreamily:
“I wonder why the people prize the other parks of New York more than this? It’s so much lovelier and wilder than the others and there’s the Hudson right in frolic of it and the hills of New Jersey.”
“Ah, but you must whisper that only to yourself and me. We don’t want others just yet trespassing upon our discovery. They’ll know all about it soon enough, and they’ll come and crush up about us with their flats and hotels and shops and apartment houses. And we won’t be able to sit on aged tree stumps then, and tell each other of our love.”
“We’ll always find a place to tell that in,” she said simply, “and we won’t begrudge this lovely place to others. Uncle Dan says when his medicine has 890worked its full cure upon his patients, then they become like beautiful trouble sponges, so he said.” She smiled. “—trouble sponges that absorb all the grief about us, only to squeeze it out again into oblivion. D’you think it’s really so, dearest?”
“Possibly, and as long as I have you all to myself, I’ll be a sponge for all the woe that comes my way,” said he smiling.
“Then let’s put our heads together—”
“They are!” said he, and they laughed and kissed, and she went on as if he had not interrupted at all.
“——heads together, and devise some beautiful scheme as a monument to Uncle Dan.”
“This is City property, and if we set up a monument of Uncle Dan they’ll make us demolish it immediately!” replied he with mock seriousness.
“Ah, but you still have an acre all of your own, and an immense old stone house—just outside the Park.”
That’s to be our home. Do you want Uncle Dan in marble on the lawn?”
“No, but you and I need only a small part of the place, and maybe if we give the rest of it to—to—people in trouble, who need an Uncle Dan—why don’t you see how beautiful that would be?”
“Yes, it would,” said he, looking at her transfigured face.
“Then let’s find Uncle Dan at once. He’ll tell us just what to do—Come!”
He lifted her down, and they stood for a moment looking at each other, his arm still lightly about her.
“Do you see him anywhere?” she asked, scanning the sparsely-wooded hills about them.
“There he is—on the old bench up yonder. Don’t you see him—on that little headland.”
“Why, he’s sleeping,” said the girl.
“So he is. How can he sleep in that sun?”
“I’ll put my parasol over him. Come.”
They moved along and upward.
“He’s been working very hard of late,” said Laura thoughtfully.
“But he’s going with us on our mar­riage trip,” said Holt with a smile of satisfaction.
“I wouldn’t go without him, would you?”
“He gave me my new life,” said Holt solemnly. Then as though the thought had just struck him: “He preached of other people’s troubles as a cure for one’s own. Do you suppose he himself had any serious trouble ever?”
“I do not know,” said Laura, gently troubled at the thought. She raised a face in which was a faint shadow of distress across the rare happiness which had but lately been mirrored there.
“I seem to remember a time,” she said, “when at home they talked of someone Uncle Dan had loved very much—and had given up, so they said. I never knew why, nor who she was, but I do know if Uncle Dan gave up the woman he loved, it must have been on her account….. How strange he looks in the sunlight! His skin——why Uncle Dan!”
She had run forward a few paces and was pulling at his arm.
“Uncle Dan, dear!”
1She threw herself down on her knees beside him. Her hand passed across his face—and she found it—cold!”
Overhead a single woodthrush paused in its full throated melody, then lapsed into piercing song again, and the sun on the glorious Palisades of New Jersey was reflected upon the waters, making it a glittering sheet of quick-silver. The earth was very beautiful and fragrant and full of the essence of spring; but the one who had loved it most of all was looking now upon another shore fairer, dearer!
The End.


No opening quotation mark in original.


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People Mentioned

Sijia Cheng

Sijia Cheng completed an MA student in English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia and was a research assistant for The Winnifred Eaton Archive. Her research focuses primarily on Asian Canadian literature and queer theory.
Sijia Cheng is an MA student in English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia and a research assistant for The Winnifred Eaton Archive. Her research focuses primarily on Asian Canadian literature and queer theory.

Leean Wu

Leean is an Honours English language and literature student at the University of British Columbia and a research assistant for The Winnifred Eaton Archive. She was an undergraduate teaching assistant for the UBC Coordinated Arts Program for two years and a research assistant for the UBC Public Humanities Hub.

Winnifred Eaton

  • Born: August 21, 1875
  • Died: April 08, 1954
See the Biographical Timeline for biographical information on Winnifred Eaton.

Pseudonyms used in this text

Joey Takeda

Joey Takeda is the Technical Director of The Winnifred Eaton Archive and a Developer at Simon Fraser University’s Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL). He is a graduate of the M.A. program in English at the University of British Columbia where he specialized in Indigenous and diasporic literature, science and technology studies, and the digital humanities.

Organizations Mentioned

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