**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Case Of The Inner Imperative
by [?]

“This is my section,” said Dr. Elizabeth Black; and the three women who were convoying her down the aisle crowded around her for a last good-bye. There was an excited flurry of talk as they hoped her journey would be pleasant and wished they were going too; and she heartily wished they were; and they wondered if she would find it tiresome; and she assured them she was a good traveller; and they charged her to write them a postal every day. Then all four had to press into the section to make room for two men to walk past them to the next seat.

“But they did n’t get on here–they ‘ve only been out on the platform,” said the youngest and prettiest of the three, lowering her voice and casting a swift glance in their direction. “They look interesting, Doctor, and if they stay on long enough maybe you ‘ll scrape acquaintance with them. When I take a long journey I always know everybody in the car by the end of the second day.”

“We must go, girls,” exclaimed another. “It’s time for the train to start.” Then she produced a florist’s parcel, which she had been trying to conceal in the folds of her dress, and unrolled from it a bunch of glowing roses. Another pressed into Dr. Black’s hands a book; and the third, a box of candy.

“And here ‘s a magazine Dr. Wallace sent–you know she could n’t come–and we agreed not to give them to you till the very last minute–for our last good-bye–” Her voice wavered and Dr. Black broke in with surprised and grateful exclamations.

“The book ‘s a love story,” said the youngest one, an apologetic note perceptible in her voice, “but it’s a pretty story, and the treatment’s interesting, and I thought you might enjoy it, for railroad travelling always makes one feel sentimental, anyway.”

“Oh, the train ‘s moving! Good-bye, dear!” The one who was nearest to Dr. Black left a hurried kiss upon her cheek, the others hastily pressed her hands, and all three scurried toward the door. Their friend raised her window and looked out in time to wave a final farewell as they landed safely upon the platform. As she settled back in her seat she saw that one of the men in the next section had also been watching for their reappearance outside. Their eyes met as she turned from the window, relieved and smiling.

She admired her roses for a moment, tucked them into her belt, and then opened her magazine. But her expression was more pensive than interested as she idled over its pages, looking now and then at a picture and reading only a paragraph or a stanza here and there. Her thoughts were more with the scenes of the life she was leaving behind her, or flying on, with inquiry and indecision, into that whither she was bound. Should she stay on the Pacific Coast where she was going to visit her father and mother in their new home, open an office in some city near them, and build up a practice there? Or should she return to take the position which had been offered her in the faculty of the women’s medical college from which she had been graduated with high honors three years before? After her graduation, a year’s work as interne in the women’s hospital had heightened the expectations of her friends; and the success with which she had then served as physician and superintendent of a branch dispensary and hospital in the slum district had made all who were watching her progress predict for her a brilliant career.

She had accepted the appointment to the college corps of instructors with the deepest gratification, and she looked forward longingly to the opportunities it would give her for special work and to the surety of advancement that would follow. But her heart misgave her not a little as she thought of the great joy it would give her father and mother should she decide to stay near them in California, and of the grief that her mother would try to dissemble if she should return to the East.