A Happy Man

— I have seen at last a happy man, the happiest I ever knew. He is perhaps forty-five years old, and his happiness has been unbroken for two years or more.

Hear his story. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word. He has means, culture, social position, and a large circle of devoted relatives and friends. He has a fine physique, a handsome face. But we did not call him a happy man, “ such a happy man,” until two years ago, when the great change came. He has never married, and the Miss X. of whom I am to tell you was no more to him than his lifelong comrade, his best of friends, —an old neighbor, related to him in many ways, but never by the tender tie.

Perhaps he had been more of an invalid than he knew, or than his friends dreamed. One summer day he went to the little lake not far from his native village, a popular inland resort, and spent what he called, upon his return that night, “ a perfect day.” Skies were never bluer, he said, nor flowers fairer, nor the lake so lovely to him as upon that day. Only he had expected to meet Miss X. there, and to have had their usual sail together. He would go again on the morrow, take her with him, and so double and increase the joy. He went to her house that evening to play whist, as usual. It was Saturday. She had gone to spend Sunday at the lake. He was very glad she had gone, he said ; he would join her the next day. During the game he alluded many times to the happy day he had passed. And what is there in life, after all, like a to-morrow full of promise ?

That night, after reaching his room, he had a paralytic stroke. Not a severe one, only a slight shock ; but it clouded his brain, if we can call that a cloud which fixed forever in his mind the happiness reigning there when it came.

Every day since then has been that happy Saturday to him. He has just returned from the lake, no matter if the snow is drifting, or the rain beating the windows. It has been a perfect day, everything in divine harmony. He will go over to X.’s for a game of whist. Even if Miss X. meets him, he asks if she is at home, as if he were addressing some one else ; then he is so glad she is up at the lake ; he is going back to - morrow ; there is every sign of perfect weather, etc., — all in his old-time charming way. Then he takes up his cards and plays a capital game, and goes home in the sweet expectation of a happy to-morrow.

All else in life seems blank to him. In that one fair niche of memory he sees all of the past, the present, and the future. He appears to be reading oftentimes when the book he holds is upside down. Death means nothing to him. When his friends die, he does not weep, nor question, nor miss them. He has had such a happy day, and he is going to repeat it to-morrow.

Naturally his case is of interest to specialists. He is never troublesome. He goes about the village and exchanges cordial greetings. Nor does he always speak of what is in possession of his mind, unless you hold him too long ; then he has excuse for breaking away.

Question : if that last day of his mental balance had been an unhappy one, — say a day black with anguish or remorse, or embittered with rage and revenge, — would he now be the opposite of what he is, a wild beast in toils, the remainder of his life the horrible evolution of an incidental, who knows but an accidental mood ?