From London we went to Belfast, on a very stormy day. Dr. Talmage was advised to wait a while, but he had no fear of anything. That crossing of the Irish Channel was the worst sea trip I ever had. We arrived in Belfast battered and ill from the stormy passage, all but the Doctor, who went stoically ahead with his engagements with undiminished vigour. Going up in the elevator of the hotel one day, we met Mrs. Langtry. Dr. Talmage had crossed the ocean with her.
“Won’t you come and see my play to-night?” she asked him.
“I am very sorry, Madame, but I am speaking myself to-night,” said the Doctor courteously. He told me afterwards how fortunate he felt it to be that he was able to make a real excuse. Invitations to the theatre always embarrassed him.
From Belfast we went to Cork for a few days, making a trip to the Killarney lakes before sailing from Queenstown on October 18, 1900, on the “Oceanic.”
“Isn’t it good to be going back to America, back to that beautiful city of Washington,” said the Doctor, the moment we got on board.
Whatever he was doing, whichever way he was going, he was always in pursuit of the joy of living. Although the greatest year of my life was drawing to a close, it all seemed then like an achievement rather than a farewell, like the beginning of a perfect happiness, the end of which was in remote perspective.
THE LAST MILESTONE
There was no warning of the divine purpose; there was no pause of weakness or illness in his life to foreshadow his approaching end. Until the last sunset hours of his useful days he always seemed to me a man of iron. He had stood in the midst of crowds a towering figure; but away from them his life had been a studied annihilation, an existence of hidden sacrifice to his great work. He used to say to me: “Eleanor, I have lived among crowds, and yet I have been much of the time quite alone.” But alone or in company his mind was ever active, his great heart ever intent on his apostolate of sunshine and help towards his fellow-men. And the good things he said were not alone the utterances of his public career; they came bubbling forth as from a spring during the course of his daily life, in his home and among his friends, even with little children. Books have been written styled, “Conversations of Eminent Men”; and I have often thought had his ordinary conversations been reported, or, better, could the colossal crowds who admired him have been, as we, his privileged listeners, they would have been no less charmed with his brilliant talk than with the public displays of eloquence with which they were so captivated.