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Wells, Chester Caesar (ed.) / The Wisconsin magazine
Volume X, Number 3 (December 1912)

Bickelhaupt, Ivan Adair
Relative sympathy,   pp. [unnumbered]-8



     RELATIVE SYMPATHY
"Must we love but on condition that the thing we love must die?
Must there breath a world in sorrow just to teach us sympathy?"
           By Ivan Adair Bickelhaupt, '14
The boys were celebrating Christmas eve.
The mine had shut down for the holiday
and the entire shift was scattered over the
bright spots of the little town that nestled
at the entrance of the "Real Stuff" main
shaft. Two other young engineers and
myself had settled at a table in one corner
of the hotel bar and were attempting to ab-
sorb the Christmas spirit along with our
Scotch. Outwardly we were successful,
inwardly our thoughts were far away.
Mine were of Christmas-Christmas at
home, with the big roaring grate fire, the
kids' stockings, the mysterious tree behind
closed doors, in the dinning room-Oh it
was Christmas all right, that much was
evident. Frank, the white haired old bar-
tender, had hung a waxen linen holly
wreath in the exact center of the long fly-
specked mirror behind the bar.
  "Peace on earth-why fellows even the
Irishers and the Hunkies are chummy to-
night," said Breck. Breck was the young-
est of us three, and with the natural as-
surance of the inexperienced was trying
hard to put up a strong front. His custom-
ary hearty laugh was just a little bit forced
and I had caught him several times gazing
out over the crowded room with that look
which does not see or appreciate surround-
ings.
  "It's a rare sight all right. If there is
one thing that an Irishman loves it's a
hunky-not. Why I remember back ho-"
_A -
  There was a sudden pause.
  Home-memories pent up the whole
evening came surging forth. Every scene,
every event, every person that was in any
way connected with the place passed in my-
imagination.
  "Go on, say it. You've started some--
thing now. Why, hell, man I've been shun-
..ing that word for the past week. You.
couldn't have started the salty tears flow-
ing any faster if you had hit me with a
club," said Bill, pushing his glass away
from him with the same air that one would
use in rejecting a jarring element before
some sacred being.
  But Breck didn't hear him. He hacd
shrunk far down in his chair and I could
see the muscles on his clean shaven cheek
contract and relax as he gazed fixedly at-
a burnt spot on the table.
  It was thus we were sitting when I first
noticed the Stranger.
  It was hard to tell just why I noticed him
out of so many. Perhaps it was the in-
congruity of his tattered and torn cloth-
ing and his fine erect figure, or maybe it
was the general air of hopeless and de-
generate purpose that appealed to me. He
had the appearance of one whose life is
without aim. A sort of an impenetrable
barrier seemed to surround him, as if his
existence and its purposes were things;
apart from the rest of the Universe. His
face had the drawn, hard look of one whol


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