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A Ramble In Aphasia
by [?]

My wife and I parted on that morning in precisely our usual manner. She left her second cup of tea to follow me to the front door. There she plucked from my lapel the invisible strand of lint (the universal act of woman to proclaim ownership) and bade me to take care of my cold. I had no cold. Next came her kiss of parting–the lever kiss of domesticity flavored with Young Hyson. There was no fear of the extemporaneous, of variety spicing her infinite custom. With the deft touch of long malpractice, she dabbed awry my well-set scarf pin; and then, as I closed the door, I heard her morning slippers pattering back to her cooling tea.

When I set out I had no thought or premonition of what was to occur. The attack came suddenly.

For many weeks I had been toiling, almost night and day, at a famous railroad law case that I won triumphantly but a few days previously. In fact, I had been digging away at the law almost without cessation for many years. Once or twice good Doctor Volney, my friend and physician, had warned me.

“If you don’t slacken up, Belford,” he said, “you’ll go suddenly to pieces. Either your nerves or your brain will give way. Tell me, does a week pass in which you do not read in the papers of a case of aphasia–of some man lost, wandering nameless, with his past and his identity blotted out–and all from that little brain clot made by overwork or worry?”

“I always thought,” said I, “that the clot in those instances was really to be found on the brains of the newspaper reporters.”

Doctor Volney shook his head.

“The disease exists,” he said. “You need a change or a rest. Court-room, office and home–there is the only route you travel. For recreation you–read law books. Better take warning in time.”

“On Thursday nights,” I said, defensively, “my wife and I play cribbage. On Sundays she reads to me the weekly letter from her mother. That law books are not a recreation remains yet to be established.”

That morning as I walked I was thinking of Doctor Volney’s words. I was feeling as well as I usually did–possibly in better spirits than usual.

I woke with stiff and cramped muscles from having slept long on the incommodious seat of a day coach. I leaned my head against the seat and tried to think. After a long time I said to myself: “I must have a name of some sort.” I searched my pockets. Not a card; not a letter; not a paper or monogram could I find. But I found in my coat pocket nearly $3,000 in bills of large denomination. “I must be some one, of course,” I repeated to myself, and began again to consider.

The car was well crowded with men, among whom, I told myself, there must have been some common interest, for they intermingled freely, and seemed in the best good humor and spirits. One of them–a stout, spectacled gentleman enveloped in a decided odor of cinnamon and aloes–took the vacant half of my seat with a friendly nod, and unfolded a newspaper. In the intervals between his periods of reading, we conversed, as travelers will, on current affairs. I found myself able to sustain the conversation on such subjects with credit, at least to my memory. By and by my companion said:

“You are one of us, of course. Fine lot of men the West sends in this time. I’m glad they held the convention in New York; I’ve never been East before. My name’s R. P. Bolder–Bolder & Son, of Hickory Grove, Missouri.”

Though unprepared, I rose to the emergency, as men will when put to it. Now must I hold a christening, and be at once babe, parson and parent. My senses came to the rescue of my slower brain. The insistent odor of drugs from my compainion supplied one idea; a glance at his newspaper, where my eye met a conspicuous advertisement, assisted me further.