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A BITTER LESSON
WEEK-END TRUE STORY Can A Woman Sacrifice Too Much for Her Children? I am old. The snows of sixty winters have left their whiteness in my hair. The warmth of sixty summers has left a fever in my slow flowing blood. - 4 I» the years that have passed I have known suffering and sorrow, toil and hardship, but none of these things live in memory as does the overshadowing knowledge of the sin ful sacrifice that inspired them—a sacrifice that the years have stamued as my one great crime — the crime of folly, masquerading under the gar ment of worshipful love. The story of my folly and my sin, I pray, may help some other as blindly foolish ► — pendent manhood that I so admired and later'ioved. He had been a poor farmer’s son. The statement carried with it its own explanation. The rising from bed .n ihe early dawn, befor~ the sun itself was up. The cows to be milked. The horses to be fed, wood to be cut and fires made, then to the plow, or the hoe, or the rake. Perhaps to school. Coarse food, coarse clothes — »Uy the finer things of the mind and the spirit throve in that environment and “My Husband . ■ frowned”_ | .. : - - ■■ ■ ■ * Before he died my husband often frowned at my over-indulgence of our “Donnie Boy.” and unseeing as I — and so — I tell, it here. My husband died three years after our happy marriage. Our infant son was a year old. He was a bonny boy. Dark curls lay in soft ringlets against the olive velvet of his broad, high forehead. The eyes of his father looked up at me when I held him close to my sorrowing breast. I had loved my husband passion ately. This afTection, enhanced and deepened by the natural wealth of mother love, I transferred to our son. I literally worshipped our “Donnie Boy.” We had named him for his father and always I saw him, in the future, as his father was. But. I did not reason that, per haps the factors of training and • mbit have much to do with the final out come in any life. Donald Edgar ton, my husband, had often told me of the hardships through which he had won his way to the handsome, upstanding, inde under those handicaps. In sheer de fence the mind sought relief from the commonplace things of the daily drudgery and routine, in a world of visions and dreams. While the physical body was being hardened and toughened the mental and spiritual bodies were thriving on the fine food of aspiration and being strengthened and hardened to the fineness of tempered steel. So—Donald Edgarton had come to the heritage of manhood. It was U: such a heritage of strength and power that his son was born. I felt a swelt ering pride whenever I looked at young Donald as he grew into sturdy young adolescence. His father had left me well pro vided for. There was the home, sev eral income-producing pieces of real ■estate, and a life insurance policy that paid me a monthly stipend *f Afty cMburs in addition to some money In the bank. Enot^h, if han dled rightly, to keep me in independ ! kinder than the rest, had I but known—won my lasting enmity by telling me frankly that she didn’t like to have me bring Donnie with me when I came to visit her because he was so destructive. “He tears up every hing and won’t mind you nor anyone else, Emily,” she said emphatically “I like YOU. We all do, and we would love that youngster of yours but you have spoiled him until he is a regular imp.” I never put my foot in Dolly Pear son’s house again. I felt that she was unbearable. Oh, if I had only known. Of all those who used to smile hypocritically in my face when I went, blithely, with Donnie, to call upon them, and gritted their teeth with the hope I wouldn’t come again, Dolly was my one true friend among them. But I didn’t know. When Donnie was seven I began Read the frank story of an unhappy mother who gave the wrong answer to the question .... ent circumstances for life. I was very happy till Donald was seven—as happy as I could hope to 'be who had lost the center and light of my life when his father died. I petted and pampered the child. No fault must be found with my “biby.” ; No punishments must fall upon him. i He was too precious. In vain my mother warned and j prophesied. In vain my friends j laughed and secretly disliked co have, Donnie about their homes. One— ■ to lavish useless and inappropriate gifts on him. I bought him the most j expensive mechanical toys. I paid the highest prices f°r his clothes. I taughi him to consider himself above the ordinary playmates of our decent working class neighbors. I led him to neasure and hoose his compan ions, not by their worth as individuals, but by the clothes they wore, the kind of homes their people lived in. j Character meant nothing *o me wh_n i I chose my Donnie’s associates. Ac fifteen I had as snobbish a son as any one could wish. He boasted , to his companions that his suits j were made to ord.., that they cost i as much as the millionaire's son who , owned the string of department stores j in our town. He bragged of the fact that he always had money in his j pockets without working. 1 would Sit Dy MIC uycii and listen with a complacent smile j on my face. I thought it was “cute.” j Then—the crash came. By the dis- j honest dealings of the business 1m that had my real estate holdings in hand, I lost all ot my incomf prop erty at one feel .woop. A month later, the bank in which my ready money was deposited failed on account of frozen assets in the same company. I wa left with only the fiity-dollar a month stipend from my husband's insurance, the home, and Don with his expensive tastes. About this time Don, being in high school, began going with girls. He was a handsome chap, and when not crossed had a very lovable disposi tion. The girls liked him. His repu * tation of always having money drew them to him. The boys, too, who | profited by being “in the bunch when Don’s lavish spending pro clivities were in evidence, toadied to him. All in all, he was well pleased with himself and I—standing afar off in admiring silliness—thought my boy was heading toward success in life. •‘What a leader my Don will make, some day,” I used to murmur fondly to myself when I saw him loitering and laughing in the center of a group of his classmates. When the teachers complained of his misconduct or of his overbearing ways I always found excuses for him, and blamed the teachers or the other boys, always—anyone and everyone aut Don. Several of the wealthiest families in the town bought cars for their youngsters about this time. They used to drive them to school. Don took it into his head that he, too, ought to have a car. As usual, he bad his way. I mortgaged the home to give it to him. Three years later vhen he was eighteen, about six weeks after his graduation from high school, we lost the home by foreclosure of the mort gage. Now I was stripped down to the fifty dollars a month, and Don want ed to go to college. Fifty dollais a month? How far would it go with a youth who was accustomed to living on the basis of a millionaire's income? The next four years was to prove that that diminished income was but one drop in the bucket which I tried to fill by going out in service. The twenty dollars a week that I got from the millionaire whose children I nursed went after the fifty a month to sup ply Don’s needs. But all I could do could not ap pease him. He was forever grumbling, forever dissatisfied. This boy ha. that, the other fellow had this. The bunch was going to do this or that or the other. He couldn’t afford to come up lacking. He couldn’t find a job that he would have. They all required too much time or werent up to his style. Fe couldn’t sflord to be known to have to do certain kinds of work. None ot the fellows who were anything ever did. So it went on. And I saerifleed everything to try to help him live up to his standards—the star t.ards I had taught him. He graduated from college. "But, of course, I’ll have to go through medical school, now.” I was aghast. I was sure that once through college Don would see the need of helping me. 'ie was hi* father’s son, I used to say to myself. He would understand when he was older. But—THIS! There was only one year more of the fifty dollar monthly payments due. Medical school would take four years. “Don, son,” I said—at last come to the time of mv first refusal of a request of his—“Mother doesn’t see how she can send you through medi cal school. You see I have been working and sacrificing for this day when you would be through college and could help me.” I lOOKeu away uuui f^^t*^** lines I saw gathering around his handsome mouth as I went on. I knew what those lines presaged. Al ways before, I hac been able to erase them by giving the boy what he wanted. This time I knew I could not. “You see, sonny," I said, as softly as I could and with an apologetic lowering of my head, "I will only have my salary after this year and that won’t be enough. I-’’ “Well, where’d all the money and stuC go to that my dad left you, then?” The words and the tone struck me like the laah of •* "whip. I flinched under it. “Son!" the one word was a cry for mercy and a prayer. But he did not heed it. He struck and struck—the boy I had pampered and sacrificed for. Cruelly he lashed me with his bitter words. “If you had had any sense you wouldn’t have let ‘hose sharks beat you out of all that property. You ought to have known I’d need pro fessional training; what can I do now? TEACH! Who wants to teach? 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