Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, November 15, 1891

     To Ashbourne in afternoon, without seeing W. Baker came towards the station to meet us. Was full of glee, affection, and looking stouter than I had ever known him: a red good flush in his face. But said his right arm was pretty lame (thinks will not wear its old power till spring, if then). Immediately to house on the hill, where we stayed till after eight, having tea and constant conversation. Mrs. Baker with us, and Mrs. Meyers, and with the latter a daughter (an odd mincing girl, I think somewhat unbalanced). Everything plain and informal. Anxious inquiries from the Bakers after W. Full recitative of shooting episode, Baker and wife together giving us a pretty good idea of things not previously so clear to us. Sets Baker's case up immensely. "Not one of our friends but were willing to wait," said Baker. "That's one of our happiest points." It was a painful story, the Andersons throughout and from the beginning aggressors. Ingersoll has not seen Baker. His first telegram from Helena was: "Dear Baker. Hold on with both hands. My purse and my heart are yours!" or to that effect. (W. exclaims to me of this, "That is human, emotional—like the big fellow he is! His intentions are the remarkablest I know in any man!") But Baker has an idea Ingersoll may be in to see him here, though B. contemplates getting back to New York within a week or

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fortnight. Baker very proud of the picture W. sent him—called it "characteristic—grand." Said he took greater joy in "Leaves of Grass" as he more closely looked into it. Spoke of the Colonel's love for W., and gave us a number of good stories about Ingersoll. Baker says he has no doubt Ingersoll would be as unsystematic or disorderly about his rooms as W. if he (B.) or some other did not day by day set things to straights again. "He takes a book off the shelf and leaves it where he last uses. He piles his desk up with letters, important and unimportant—valuable papers, too—and then he will grumble, his way, good naturedly, if anyone disturbs them—that is, gives them orderliness and sobriety!"

     Ingersoll supremely generous every way. Baker shot, Mrs. Ingersoll was there at Croton day after day—nursing, inspiring, a very mother of mercy and good will. They would hardly have known what to do without her peculiar aid, rich both in tact and calm. Baker says he has already become one of "the medical marvels," his case having been written about in journals and discussed at conventions. The peculiar and rapid healing of the serious wound through the lungs—entering left above heart, and through and out right at back—amazing and inexplicable. A few days seemed to fix it up. Now and then a little pain appears, but does not continue; the doctors, however, urging great care for the coming winter. No pneumonia, no poisoning. They did not read the papers at all during the excitement. Baker not able to write yet, easily or much. Expressed great joy in message he had from Bucke. "It did our hearts good to have friends everywhere steadfast." This spot the birthplace of Mrs. Baker, or near here (just north, on the road, a bit). This was like coming home. They seemed like two children again, back in childhood's scenes, bright and blithe as spring's new birds. Rare to see people whom sentiment has so possessed.

     Baker declares, "Genius is moody," and fortifies it by example. The Colonel? Oh, he too at times. As when, in San Francisco, engaged to meet and meeting a table of guests selected by

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a friend with especial reference to him, he spoke nothing but commonplaces, and few of these, the whole meal. (W. remarks, "I can see that. Can you blame him? A fellow—a good, natural fellow—hates to be a circus-performer, a curio.") One of the great days, a trip through the Sierras on stage, the Colonel in his best mood, speaking of and reciting Burns. ( "A great stream, no doubt!" exclaims W. "I should have loved to sail it! What a commerce it must have carried!")

     Found Baker thus, every way natural, able, skillful (both of them with radical ideas on the labor problem)—healthy every way and every way inclined to bodily as well as spiritual convictions. He will get well! Many loving messages sent to W.


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