Love Is The Whole


This is a story about some children who were living together in a

Western State, in a little house on the prairie, nearly two miles from

any other. There were three boys and three girls; the oldest girl was

seventeen, and her oldest brother a year younger. Their mother had died

two or three years before, and now their father grew sick,--more sick

and more, and died also
The children were taking the best care they

could of him, wondering and watching. But no care could do much, and so

he told them. He told them all that he should not live long; but that

when he died he should not be far from them, and should be with their

dear mother. "Remember," he said, "to love each other. Be kind to each

other. Stick together, if you can. Or, if you separate, love one

another as if you were together." He did not say any more then. He lay

still awhile, with his eyes closed; but every now and then a sweet smile

swept over his face, so that they knew he was awake. Then he roused up

once more, and said, "Love is the whole, George; love is the

whole,"--and so he died.

I have no idea that the children, in the midst of their grief and

loneliness, took in his meaning. But afterwards they remembered it again

and again, and found out why he said it to them.

Any of you would have thought it a queer little house. It was not a log

cabin. They had not many logs there. But it was no larger than the log

cabin which General Grant is building in the picture. There was a little

entry-way at one end, and two rooms opening on the right as you went. A

flight of steps went up into the loft, and in the loft the boys slept in

two beds. This was all. But if they had no rooms for servants, on the

other hand they had no servants for rooms. If they had no hot-water

pipes, on the other hand a large kettle hung on the crane above the

kitchen fire, and there was but a very short period of any day that one

could not dip out hot water. They had no gas-pipes laid through the

house. But they went to bed the earlier, and were the more sure to enjoy

the luxury of the great morning illumination by the sun. They lost but

few steps in going from room to room. They were never troubled for want

of fresh air. They had no door-bell, so no guest was ever left waiting

in the cold. And though they had no speaking-tubes in the house, still

they found no difficulty in calling each other if Ethan were up stairs

and Alice wanted him to come down.

Their father was buried, and the children were left alone. The first

night after the funeral they stole to their beds as soon as they could,

after the mock supper was over. The next morning George and Fanny found

themselves the first to meet at the kitchen hearth. Each had tried to

anticipate the other in making the morning fire. Each confessed to the

other that there had been but little sleep, and that the night had

seemed hopelessly long.

"But I have thought it all over," said the brave, stout boy. "Father

told us to stick together as long as we can. And I know I can manage it.

The children will all do their best when they understand it. And I

know, though father could not believe it, I know that I can manage with

the team. We will never get in debt. I shall never drink. Drink and

debt, as he used to say, are the only two devils. Never you cry, darling

Fanny, I know we can get along."

"George," said Fanny, "I know we can get along if you say so. I know it

will be very hard upon you. There are so many things the other young men

do which you will not be able to do; and so many things which they have

which you might have. But none of them has a sister who loves them as I

love you. And, as he said, 'Love is the whole.'"

I suppose those words over the hearth were almost the only words of

sentiment which ever passed between those two about their plans. But

from that moment those plans went forward more perfectly than if they

had been talked over at every turn, and amended every day. That is the

way with all true stories of hearth and home.

For instance, it was only that evening, when the day's work of all the

six was done--and for boys and girls, it was hard work, too--Fanny and

George would have been glad enough, both of them, to take each a book,

and have the comfort of resting and reading. But George saw that the

younger girls looked down-cast and heavy, and that the boys were

whispering round the door-steps as if they wanted to go down to the

blacksmith's shop by way of getting away from the sadness of the house.

He hated to have them begin the habit of loafing there, with all the

lazy boys and men from three miles round. And so he laid down his book,

and said, as cheerily as if he had not laid his father's body in the

grave the day before,--

"What shall we do to-night that we can all do together? Let us have

something that we have never had before. Let us try what Mrs. Chisholm

told us about. Let us act a ballad."

Of course the children were delighted with acting. George knew that, and

Fanny looked across so gratefully to him, and laid her book away also;

and, in a minute, Ethan, the young carpenter of the family, was putting

up sconces for tallow candles to light the scenes, and Fanny had Sarah

and Alice out in the wood-house, with the shawls, and the old ribbons,

and strips of bright calico, which made up the dresses, and George

instructed Walter as to the way in which he should arrange his armor and

his horse, and so, after a period of preparation, which was much longer

than the period of performance, they got ready to act in the kitchen the

ballad of Lochinvar.

The children had a happy evening. They were frightened when they went to

bed--the little ones--because they had been so merry. They came together

with George and Fanny, and read their Bible as they had been used to do

with their father, and the last text they read was, "Love is the

fulfilling of the law." So the little ones went to bed, and left George

and Fanny again together.

"Pretty hard, was it not?" said she, smiling through her tears. "But it

is so much best for them that home should be the happiest place of all

for them. After all, 'Love is the whole.'"

And that night's sacrifice, which the two older children made to the

younger brothers and sisters as it were over their father's grave, was

the beginning of many such nights, and of many other joint amusements

which the children arranged together. They read Dickens aloud. They

cleared out the corn-room at the end of the wood-house for a place for

their dialogues and charades. The neighbors' children liked to come in,

and, under very strict rules of early hours and of good behavior, they

came. And George and Fanny found, not only that they were getting a

reputation for keeping their own little flock in order, but that the

nicest children all around were intrusted to their oversight, even by

the most careful fathers and mothers. All this pleasure to the children

came from the remembrance that "Love is the whole."

Far from finding themselves a lonely and forsaken family, these boys and

girls soon found that they were surrounded with friends. George was

quite right in assuming that he could manage the team, and could keep

the little farm up, not to its full production under his father, but to

a crop large enough to make them comfortable. Every little while there

had to be a consultation. Mr. Snyder came down one day to offer him

forty dollars a month and his board, if he would go off on a surveying

party and carry chain for the engineers. It would be in a good line for

promotion. Forty dollars a month to send home to Fanny was a great

temptation. And George and Fanny put an extra pine-knot on the fire,

after the children had gone to bed, that they might talk it over. But

George declined the proposal, with many thanks to Mr. Snyder. He said to

him, "that, if he went away, the whole household would be very much

weakened. The boys could not carry on the farm alone, and would have to

hire out. He thought they were too young for that. After all, Mr.

Snyder, 'Love is the whole.'" And Mr. Snyder agreed with him.

Then, as a few years passed by, after another long council, in which

another pine-knot was sacrificed on the hearth, and in which Walter

assisted with George and Fanny, it was agreed that Walter should "hire

out." He had "a chance," as they said, to go over to the Stacy Brothers,

in the next county. Now the Stacy Brothers had the greatest stock farm

in all that part of Illinois. They had to hire a great deal of help, and

it was a great question to George and Fanny whether poor Walter might

not get more harm than good there. But they told Walter perfectly

frankly their doubts and their hopes. And he said boldly, "Never you

fear me. Do you think I am such a fool as to forget? Do I not know that

'Love is the whole'? Shall I ever forget who taught us so?" And so it

was determined that he should go.

Yes, and he went. The Stacys' great establishment was different indeed

from the little cabin he had left. But the other boys there, and the men

he met, Norwegians, Welshmen, Germans, Yankees, all sorts of people, all

had hearts just like his heart. And a helpful boy, honest as a clock and

brave as St. Paul, who really tried to serve every one as he found

opportunity, made friends on the great stock farm just as he had in the

corn-room at the end of the wood-house. And once a month, when their

wages were paid, he was able to send home the lion's share of his to

Fanny, in letters which every month were written a little better, and

seemed a little more easy for him to write. And when Thanksgiving came,

Mr. George Stacy sent him home for a fortnight, with a special message

to his sister, "that he could not do without him, and he wished she

would send him a dozen of such boys. He knew how to raise oxen, he said;

but would Miss Fanny tell him how she brought up boys like Walter?"

"I could have told him," said Walter, "but I did not choose to; I could

have told him that love was the whole."

And that story of Walter is only the story of the way in which Ethan

also kept up the home tie, and came back, when he got a chance, from his

voyages. His voyages were not on the sea. He "hired out" with a

canal-boatman. Sometimes they went to the lake, and once they set sail

there and came as far as Cleveland. Ethan made a great deal of fun in

pretending to tell great sea-stories, like Swiss Family Robinson and

Sinbad the Sailor. Fresh-water voyaging has its funny side, as has the

deep-sea sailing. But Ethan did not hold to it long. His experience with

grain brought him at last to Chicago, and he engaged there in the work

of an elevator. But he lived always the old home life. There were three

other boys he got acquainted with, one at Mr. Eggleston's church, one at

the Custom House, and one at the place where he got his dinner, and they

used to come up to his little room in the seventh story of the McKenzie

House, and sit on his bed and in his chairs, just as the boys from the

blacksmith's came into the corn-room. These four boys made a literary

club "for reading Shakespeare and the British essayists." Often did they

laugh afterwards at its title. They called it the Club of the Tetrarchy,

because they thought it grand to have a Greek name. Whatever its name

was, it kept them out of mischief. These boys grew up to be four ruling

powers in Western life. And when, years after, some one asked Ethan how

it was that he had so stanch a friend in Torrey, Ethan told the history

of the seventh-story room at the McKenzie House, and he said, "Love is

the whole."

Central in all his life was the little cabin of two rooms and a loft

over it. There is no day of his life, from that time to this, of which

Fanny cannot tell you the story from his weekly letters home. For though

she does not live in the cabin now, she keeps the old letters filed and

in order, and once a week steadily Ethan has written to her, and the

letters are all sealed now with his own seal-ring, and on the seal-ring

is carved the inscription, "Love is the whole."

I must not try to tell you the story of Alice's fortunes, or Sarah's.

Every day of their lives was a romance, as is every day of yours and

mine. Every day was a love-story, as may be every day of yours and

mine, if we will make it so. As they all grew older their homes were all

somewhat parted. The boys became men and married. The girls became women

and married. George never pulled down the old farm-house, not even when

he and Mr. Vaux built the beautiful house that stands next to it to-day.

He put trellises on the sides of it. He trained cotoneaster and Roxbury

wax-work over it. He carved a cross himself, and fastened it in the

gable. Above the door, as you went in, was a picture of Mary Mother and

her Child, with this inscription:--

"Holy cell and holy shrine,

For the Maid and Child divine!

Remember, thou that seest her bending

O'er that babe upon her knee,

All heaven is ever thus extending

Its arms of love round thee.

Such love shall bless our arched porch;

Crowned with his cross, our cot becomes a church."

And in that little church he gathered the boys and girls of the

neighborhood every Sunday afternoon, and told them stories and they sang

together. And on the week days he got up children's parties there, which

all the children thought rather the best experiences of the week, and

he and his wife and his own children grew to think the hours in the

cabin the best hours of all. There were pictures on the walls; they

painted the windows themselves with flower-pictures, and illuminated

them with colored leaves. But there were but two inscriptions. These

were over the inside of the two doors, and both inscriptions were the

same,--"Love is the whole."

They told all these stories, and a hundred more, at a great Thanksgiving

party after the war. Walter and his wife and his children came from

Sangamon County; and the General and all his family came down from

Winetka; and Fanny and the Governor and all their seven came all the way

from Minnesota; and Alice and her husband and all her little ones came

up the river, and so across from Quincy; and Sarah and Gilbert, with the

twins and the babies, came in their own carriage all the way from

Horace. So there was a Thanksgiving dinner set for all the six, and the

six husbands and wives, and the twenty-seven children. In twenty years,

since their father died, those brothers and sisters had lived for each

other. They had had separate houses, but they had spent the money in

them for each other. No one of them had said that anything he had was

his own. They had confided wholly each in each. They had passed through

much sorrow, and in that sorrow had strengthened each other. They had

passed through much joy, and the joy had been multiplied tenfold because

it was joy that was shared. At the Thanksgiving they acted the ballad of

Lochinvar again, or rather some of the children did. And that set Fanny

the oldest and Sarah the youngest to telling to the oldest nephews and

nieces some of the stories of the cabin days. But Fanny said, when the

children asked for more, "There is no need of any more,--'Love is the