“Master,” she said, with something of his own abruptness, “may I talk to you a little, a very little, about myself?”
Already Josef realized the charm of her companionship as well as the adoring humility with which her eyes shone into his and the unquestioning way she placed herself under his direction. He nodded his permission with a smile.
“I want to be taught in everything. I know so little. It is not book studies I mean. I want to learn to be bigger, to think great thoughts. I want, most of all, to develop the power to be happy, to make the people around me happy. Most, I want”—she drew up her chest and made an outward gesture with her arms, a gesture significant of her whole nature in its indication of courage and generosity—“I want,” she repeated, “to grow soul!”
Josef laughed aloud. “Ah,” he cried, “you funny, little, unusual thing! I’m glad you’ve come to me. We will study, study, and grow soul together, you and I. We will not accumulate facts to be laid on shelves, like mental lumber, but grow bigger thoughts: see ourselves and people clearer that the work may be broadened. And we will find our ideals changing, changing, getting bigger, higher. And the little people will fall away from us, like Punch-and-Judy shows, painlessly, with kind thoughts, because we will have no further use for them. Wait! Trust the master! Nothing makes one forget like a great art! In three—four years, you will meet the man, and say: ’Ach, Heaven! is it for this I suffered? Stupid me! Praise God things are as they are, and that I still have Josef.’”
“I have thought sometimes,” Katrine went on, “that men have many fine traits, which, without becoming masculine, women might study to acquire. I remember once I went to spend the day with a boy and a girl whose mother punished them both for some slight misdemeanor. Afterward the girl cried all the rest of the morning, but the boy went out and made a swing, and in a little while was quite happy. I was only five, but I saw then, and later, that women bear their sorrows differently from men. I don’t want to cry; I want to make swings.”
“Very well. It is very well,” said the great man, and there was a mist in his eyes as he looked at the valiant little creature. “It’s a great gospel—that! I wish I could teach it to every woman on earth. Don’t cry! Make swings!”
She had resumed her hat and jacket, and, with the lesson-day slip in her hand, was at the farther door, when she turned with sweetest pleading in her eyes. “Illustrious One!” she said, “I’ve not told you all. I’ve not asked you what I really want to know.”
Already there was between them that quick comprehension of each other which exists for those people who have special gift.
“Well?” he said, waiting with a smile.
“You remember a pupil of yours named Charlotte Hopkins?”
“Very well, indeed.”