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Aiken, South Carolina. DEAR PERCY:
I am constrained to speak to you about one subject before I begin my letter about myself (for my letters are always that).
You must think it strange that I never mention your condition, your suffering, and your patience. I have decided to do so, once for all, because I think between men too much is taken for granted, and too little said. The supposition that a man can get along just as well without sympathy is an erroneous one. Silent sympathy (always without pity) is a great help to a man sore at heart. By silent sympathy, I mean a hand on the shoulder, which wires: “I
know, feel, and understand.” No man could do better; you are facing your fearful odds as a man should, and how could one do better? - not die better, for I know, as few can, that this pitiful earth cannot spare you until your three score and ten have passed. Of later years, in this country, it is fashionable to be “ casual ” in your manners, morals, and friendships. I believe it is wiser to put yourself on record once, as I do now, as having the keenest admiration for your pluck, your adaptability, your faith, and your capacity to encourage yourself. I had a friend once, an "emotional ” of the Latin race, who, for the lack at the critical moment of a hand on his shoulder and a whisper, "I know and care," committed suicide. I now place mine on yours. God bless you — He has, for He has given you a grip on something more important than life - a grip on yourself. I had another friend who was saved by an unconsciously given lesson. He was at his wits' end, his troubles seemed cumulative, and no one cared. So he went one night to the dingiest hotel in that whirlpool city of New York, with a big revolver in his pocket, intending to make his sleep a lasting one. He thought it unjust to himself to take his life except at a time when his brain was clear; there was no emotional insanity about him; he simply thought that penury, loneliness, and an incurable complaint were justification enough. So he slept for an hour or two, then he wakened about five of a winter's morning; but outside of his cheerless room, in the dark, criminally cold entry, he heard a voice singing — a voice rich with an inimitable brogue — "The Rocky Road to Dublin," sung in a voice clear and true, with the most marvellous co-relation to her work, for her work consisted of washing, with soap, water, and a scrubbing-brush, a most ungrateful hall. As she banged her brush into the corners to efface some encrusted dirt, her voice rose high and the time grew faster, then, as it returned to the open, she once more dropped into a rhythmic swing; the sweep of her brush on the floor was her baton. My friend lay quiet for awhile, and thought of what this woman had to live for, and yet was happy, and of what still remained to him in life. It resulted in his slinking out of the house with shame in his heart, but later in the day he found himself whistling “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” and making light of his daily task.
As for you, dear old chap, you are one of God's right-hand men, for you have forgotten creeds, and know nothing but the Golden Rule. A God who needs to be worshipped in a set, formal way is a creation of a finite mind.
“So many gods, so many creeds,
Too many paths that wind and wind,
And now for my affairs. .
I had an accidental interview with B. to-day I think it might amuse you to describe. I was seated in the bay-window of the Aiken Club, one of the cosiest, most intelligently planned clubs I was ever in. The smoke of my cigarette was doing marvellous scrollwork in a sunbeam. A mocking-bird was making love in the most shameless way outside, and thanking God for the opportunity in a roulade of musical notes. A cluster of men were on the