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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 416 pages of information about Elsie Venner.

He took the bracelet, raised her hand to his lips, then turned his face away; in that moment he was the weaker of the two.

“Good-bye,” she said; “thank you for coming.”

His voice died away in his throat, as he tried to answer her.  She followed him with her eyes as he passed from her sight through the door, and when it closed after him sobbed tremulously once or twice, but stilled herself, and met Helen, as she entered, with a composed countenance.

“I have had a very pleasant visit from Mr. Langdon,” Elsie said.  “Sit by me, Helen, awhile without speaking; I should like to sleep, if I can,—­and to dream.”

CHAPTER XXX.

The golden cord is loosed.

The Reverend Chauncy Fairweather, hearing that his parishioner’s daughter, Elsie, was very ill, could do nothing less than come to the mansion-house and tender such consolations as he was master of.  It was rather remarkable that the old Doctor did not exactly approve of his visit.  He thought that company of every sort might be injurious in her weak state.  He was of opinion that Mr. Fairweather, though greatly interested in religious matters, was not the most sympathetic person that could be found; in fact, the old Doctor thought he was too much taken up with his own interests for eternity to give himself quite ’so heartily to the need of other people as some persons got up on a rather more generous scale (our good neighbor Dr. Honeywood, for instance) could do.  However, all these things had better be arranged to suit her wants; if she would like to talk with a clergyman, she had a great deal better see one as often as she liked, and run the risk of the excitement, than have a hidden wish for such a visit and perhaps find herself too weak to see him by-and-by.

The old Doctor knew by sad experience that dreadful mistake against which all medical practitioners should be warned.  His experience may well be a guide for others.  Do not overlook the desire for spiritual advice and consolation which patients sometimes feel, and, with the frightful mauvaise honte peculiar to Protestantism, alone among all human beliefs, are ashamed to tell.  As a part of medical treatment, it is the physician’s business to detect the hidden longing for the food of the soul, as much as for any form of bodily nourishment.  Especially in the higher walks of society, where this unutterably miserable false shame of Protestantism acts in proportion to the general acuteness of the cultivated sensibilities, let no unwillingness to suggest the sick person’s real need suffer him to languish between his want and his morbid sensitiveness.  What an infinite advantage the Mussulmans and the Catholics have over many of our more exclusively spiritual sects in the way they keep their religion always by them and never blush for it!  And besides this spiritual longing, we should never forget that

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