It was perhaps three or four years after the turning-point at Versailles. The intervening time had been one of what I may call spiritual ups and downs. It had not all been straight progress by any means. I had got hold of what for me was a great idea, around which other great ideas grouped themselves; but I grasped them waveringly or intermittently. Nevertheless, during seasons in Boston, Nice, Cannes, Munich, London, and Berlin, life on the whole went hopefully. The malady I have already mentioned tended to grow better rather than worse; the advancing blindness became definitely arrested. I worked easily, happily, and successfully. Returning to the New England city which had become my adopted home, I bought a house and settled down to American life once more.

I mention these facts only because they help me to make myself clearer. For all at once, my affairs, like the chariots of Pharaoh in crossing the Red Sea, began to drive heavily. Trust in an all-conquering life-principle which had meant much to me for a time no longer seemed effective. Difficulties massed themselves. Business misunderstandings sprang up. Friendships on which I had counted suddenly grew cold. Worse than all, the working impulse gave out. There were two whole years in which I slaved at producing little more than what had to be thrown away. My active life had apparently come to another deadening full stop.

I reached the decision that there was but one thing to do—give up the pretense of working, sell the house to which I had grown attached, and resume once more the life of aimless, but at that time inexpensive, European wandering. There came a day when I actually offered my house for sale.

And yet that day proved to be another turning-point. On the very morning, when I had put my house in the market, the chain of small events which we commonly call accidents brought me into touch with a man I had never seen before. During a first meeting, as well as in several that followed, he made certain matters clear to me which changed my course not only then but ever since. These explanations came under three distinct headings, to each of which I should like to give a little space.


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