Mabel was not demonstrative. She had no enthusiasms and no sympathies. Enthusiasms and sympathies in other people made her laugh with her characteristic burst of sudden laughter. It was not, as with some persons, that matters calling for sympathy made her impatient,—as very robust people are often intensely impatient with sickness and infirmity. She never would say, “I have no patience with such and such or so and so.” She had plenty of patience. It was simply that she had no imagination whatsoever. Whatever she saw or heard or read, she saw or heard or read exactly as the thing presented itself. If she saw a door she saw merely a piece of wood with a handle and a keyhole. It may be argued that a door is merely a piece of wood with a handle and a keyhole, and that is what Mabel would have argued. But a door is in fact the most intriguing mystery in the world because of what may be the other side of it and of what goes on behind it. To Mabel nothing was on the other side of anything she saw and nothing went on behind it.
A person or a creature in pain was to Mabel a person or a creature “laid up.” Laid up—out of action—not working properly: like a pencil without a point. A picture was a decoration in paint and was either a pretty decoration in paint or a not pretty decoration in paint. Music was a tune, and was either a tune or merely music. A book was a story, and if it was not a story it was simply a book. A flower was a decoration. Poetry, such as
“While the still morn went out with sandals grey,”