Christmas with two little children was all we had expected and we tore about town buying little things, stringing popcorn and cranberries and making the welkin ring.
Four days later, with presents set in a row in front of me, I sat down to write my thank you notes. It took most of the afternoon and I had just finished when Wayne came home and handed me a telegram. It was from Eric’s sister and read, “Eric is dangerously ill. Please write at once.”
I was terribly shocked and began to wonder what it was all about. The summer before Eric had suffered a fall from his bicycle but no one had considered his injury serious. It must be something else.
I wrote a cheerful letter, one I thought he would like, yet all the time I was fearful that he might not receive it in time. Late that night I made the last entry in my diary: “Oh dear, everything seems so full of sorrow lately.” That was all.
The day after New Year’s, Mother and I returned to Evanston. I had scarcely unpacked my bags when a delegation of Eric’s fraternity brothers called to hear the latest news of him. It was apparent that they thought I had been at his bedside and again I began to wonder if there was something peculiar about me that I did not react as I was supposed to.
Word of Eric’s improvement soon arrived and in a few weeks he came to see me. He said little about his illness to me, though he talked freely to Mother and indicated that his health would henceforth have to be a major consideration. He finally decided to enter the law school but almost immediately his physician ordered him away and he flitted from one resort to another. When he was in Evanston we theatred and partied but our old-time relationship was gone. Eric had gone over into the sentimental stage, was morbid and played on my sympathies so the association was depressing rather than pleasurable. He brought me some silver filigree from Mexico and a large fire-opal with four diamonds set like points of the compass about it.
“Promise me you will wear it as long as you live,” he begged and Brother advised me to keep it rather than hurt him. Failing health continued to keep him traveling about. The university’s hold relaxed and he wrote me melancholy letters. “I’m like my uncle,” he wrote. “He loved a little Dutch girl with braids and she wouldn’t marry him. He was never happy any more than I will be. But I could never make anyone happy.” And on and on in the same unhealthy strain.
One day Eberhard, who was living in a new setting, awoke to her opportunity as a promoter. She and her husband were under the same roof with two young men, one a freshman and the other a divinity student four or five years older.
“Une, you ought to meet the young one,” she urged. “He has lots of money and his mother is so afraid some girl will get hold of him that she has put him in the care of a preacher to be. He has a fine voice and he might just as well be spending his money on you as boys,” she continually insisted. Mother and I laughed. Dell was always devising some scheme that would land me a millionaire. Then one day she came over with the announcement that the rich young man had sailed for Europe with his mother and the subject was forgotten.