He was fifteen years her senior, a reckless man of the world, even older in experience than in years. He proved a very bad husband, but his young wife remained with him until his own father urged her to leave him. She was quietly divorced, and has lived abroad almost ever since, and holds an excellent position in the French capital, as well as in other European centres, and she is most exemplary in her life. Mr. Walton is now an inmate of a sanitarium, a victim of paresis.
I can imagine no one so well fitted to exert the wisest influence upon Millie’s life as Mrs. Walton.
There is a woman who has run the whole gamut of girlish folly, and who knows all the phases of temptation. She knows what it is to possess physical attractions, and to be flattered by the admiration of men, and she has passed through the dark waters of disillusion and sorrow. She would be the one to help Millie out of dangerous places by sympathy and understanding, instead of using sermons and keys.
She would mould her young, wax-like character by the warmth of love, instead of freezing it by austere axioms.
Miss Brown would make an indiscreet young girl feel hopelessly vulgar and immodest; Mrs. Walton that she understood all about her foolish pranks, and was able to lead her in the better paths.
Miss Brown prides herself upon never having lost her head with any man.
Mrs. Walton is like some other women I have known, who have made mistakes of judgment. She lost her head, but in the losing and the sorrow that ensued she found a heart for all humanity.
There are women in this world whose cold-white chastity freezes the poor wayfarer who tries to find in their vicinity rest and comfort and courage.
Other women cast a cooling shadow, in which the sun-scorched pilgrim finds peace—the shadow of a past error, from which spring fragrant ferns and sweet grasses, where tired and bleeding feet may softly tread.
Mrs. Walton’s life casts the shadow of divorce on her pathway, but it is only the warm, restful shadow of a ripening and mellowing sorrow. Do not fear to have Millie walk in it.
It will be better for her than the steady glare from a glacier.
I find I have said so much about your sister that I must reserve my counsel about your children for another letter.
Your postscript was brief, but pregnant with suggestion, and called for this long reply.
I shall write you again in a few days.
To Mrs. Charles Gordon
Concerning Her Children
Your wish to have your son, who is now four years old, begin to develop the manly qualities, and your oldest daughter, who has reached the mature age of three, start wisely on the path to lovely womanhood, is far from being premature.
“The tree inclines as the twig is bent,” we are told.