Mary & Gilbert Were Sweethearts

The following is a short story by Joseph Woodbury III, initially left as a comment on the biography of a Virginal Mind, shared again here with the embedded hyperlinks that failed to show up in the original comment. 


Asa Gilbert Eddy

June 4, 1882: Gilbert lay dying on his bed.  His wife Mary sat by the bedside looking anxiously at the clock . The previous day Gilbert had been quite well and  engaged in the many  secretarial and practical duties of the household that Mary routinely entrusted him with, but that evening after supper he began to feel dreadfully ill.

His breathing became gradually more laboured as he started to speak in a weak, faltering voice and Mary looked at him blankly.

“What is it Gilbert, my dear.”

“I have something to tell you, Mother.  Before I pass…

“Hush, hush sweet Gilbert.  Be still, don’t speak and know that Mother is working Her purpose out on your behalf… ”

“No Mother, I must tell you this. Yesterday I was negligent in my duties, and disobeyed you concerning never ever looking at your papers. Animal magnetism seized the opportunity to invaded my thinking… When you were out on your drive with Mr. Frye I went to your room to tidy and dust, as usual.  The drawer in your desk that you always keep locked was open.  Out of curiosity I looked at the piece of paper that was on the top of your manuscripts.  It was a letter to you written by Dr. Quimby in 1865. He wrote that he intended to call his system of mind-cure Christian Science.”

Mary’s expression remained blank as she  impatiently regarded the clock again.

Gilbert asked for a cup of cold water but Mary lovingly declined his request on the grounds of chemicalization.  He continued, his voice perceptively  weaker,   “As you have always said that the name Christian Science came to you through an impartation of Divine Mind after the Great Fall on the Ice in Lynn,  I know that it is mortal mind that is deceiving me into thinking I saw such a letter. Please forgive me, Mother.”

“Of course, Gilbert.  But as you know, anything that shows Mother as less than perfect must be a false claim.  And you know full well that the belief in sin must be punished, until that belief is conquered. The Cross before the Crown, dear one.  You did something very naughty. Your sin was uncovered….”

And then she took hold of Gilbert’s hand, and  in a voice like Baby Jane Hudson’s, gently smacking out each word, said “Calvin saw you through the windeh.” Then looking at him with a loving smirk added, “And that’s why we put arsenic in your din-din last night…”

Image via, interestingly there are no photographs of Ms. Eddy with her third husband (or any of her husbands).


All the Rugged Way

The following guest post is a short story by Joseph Woodbury III., shared with his permission.

A frail, elderly lady, pale and birdlike, walked slowly down the busy street, quietly singing a hymn to herself, “Shepherd, show me how to go, O’er the hillside steep. How to gather, how to sow, How to feed Thy sheep”.  She wore an old-fashioned two-piece costume of purple crushed velvet and a bonnet of the same material, impaled with an unusual cross-and-crown hat pin. Though it was autumn and a sunless day, she carried her customary furled parasol, which she surreptitiously used from time to time as a walking stick.

As she hobbled along Main Street — which in  latter years had become a Via Dolorosa for her –she looked full into the faces of all she passed, and — defying her chronic pain –smiled sweetly. Even the most hard-boiled businessman, intent on making money, and interested in nothing else, was somehow –- through a power not of his own –- compelled to return that smile.

Miss Brewster knew – after years of beaming at total strangers – that as Love is reflected in Love, so Smile is reflected in Smile. Newcomers turned to look and comment on her quaintness and old-world charm to one another. Habitual frequenters of the street were well aware of her eccentric appearance and mannerisms and were inclined to avert their gaze. Miss Brewster was a Christian Scientist. She knew, as did every faithful adherent of the sect, that the “Science” her beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, had discovered in 1866 was the one true interpretation of God’s word.  Mrs. Eddy had prophesied that “Science” was destined to dominate the thinking of philosophers and theologians by the end of the twentieth century.

But the twentieth century had been and gone. And, far from dominating anything, Christian Science was in its death-throes and dwindling away. The magnificent churches built in Miss Brewster’s city in the twenties, thirties and forties of the last century, had been taken over by other creeds. Or demolished, and their sites occupied by office blocks. Or –- irony of ironies –- a clinic of venereal medicine. The  thought of this made Miss Brewster shudder, and she immediately mentally denied that anything of the sort had happened to her beloved “Twentieth”, whenever she had to pass that church in its new incarnation. Continue reading