Wondering: The Impressions of an Inmate

IT was with a peculiar sense of defeat that I sat and gazed through the barred windows at the autumn hills reaching far out, one behind the other, to an October’s blue sky. I knew, with poignant regret, that I should have indignantly denied an assertion that I should one day be in a State Hospital for the Insane.

The square of blue sky, checkered by the regular iron bars, dimmed before my eyes when a few fragments of shattered dreams persisted in returning to my already weary mind. What, after all, had there been in life that I should treasure it? Why should the smile of two brown eyes or a maple tree crimson to the point of burning move me?

I glanced restlessly back to the room behind me. It was large — and empty. Polished floors, a table placed so that it reminded me of one I loved much more, rose rugs, a black walnut piano, ferns that looked lonely for the near-by woods. Ah, yes, but there was more than this! This was the home of the wretches I had watched with alternating twinges of repulsion and terror!

I leaned back and forgot the crying hills in front of me. My head was weary when there appeared before me the woman with the beautiful voice, the careful intonation of which marked its owner as one who had once been cultured. I wondered what fiendish tortures she could have known to have disrupted so beautiful a mind. Her neverceasing talk had nearly lulled me to sleep when another appeared.

She was very tall and pale. I had wondered for many days wherein lay her appeal, when one day she smiled and I discovered it was her eyes. They were blue and very kind. I wondered if her dreams, too, had been shattered.

And then the enigmatic, bright girl who had played cards with us came back. To think that anyone who might have done so much good in the world should be locked for six long years behind the unyielding doors of an insane asylum, realizing every dreary moment of the day that life was never to hold any more for her!

I let my head rest against the high back of the chair. I had grown very weary with thinking. Life, with its slow curves, was sometimes hard to understand, and as I closed my eyes I remembered that its pattern of lace was one which, if it ever came to comprehensible view, came slowly. I tried to forget that the lovely woman who had asked me to wait for the finished pattern was the very one for whom I was sitting here, in tears, staring through bars at a hill of crimson and gold.