Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/687

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THE STORY OF A COLONY FOR EPILEPTICS.

that is wasted. It must not be forgotten that a number of the people employed, even the most skilled among them, are at times quite irresponsible for their actions. A man may do good steady work for months, and then, for some inexplicable reason, suddenly seize the coat he is sewing or the book he is binding and tear it into atoms. Work done under such conditions can never be lucrative. But although financially the workshops are a failure, in every other respect they are a decided success. They give variety and interest to life in the colony, and they have indirectly a most beneficial effect upon the morale of the patients, many of whom have become much more alert and mentally vigorous since they have been working at their old trades.

Agriculture, however, is, and always must be, the staple industry of the colony; and as agriculturists these epileptics are certainly doing good work—work, too, which from year to year tends to become more productive. They have already cleared and brought to a state of high cultivation much of the land they possess in the forest, and they have completely transformed the great Senne. Until they took it in hand this marshy common produced nothing but thistles and heather; now it yields fairly good crops of barley, oats, and potatoes. Parts of it have even been turned—and with the best results—into vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and fruit orchards. Market gardening is undoubtedly the most profitable industry carried on in the colony. It is, too, the calling for which the majority of male epileptic patients show the most marked preference. Men who are dead to all other emotions seem to derive intense delight from their own special allotments. They will work in them from morning until night, and there is neither bound nor limit to the care they bestow on them. They watch over their plants and seedlings with infinite tenderness, and talk about their early vegetables and first strawberries with enthusiasm. The crops they obtain are surprisingly good considering the soil they have to deal with. Not only do they supply the entire colony with the fruit and vegetables it requires, but they carry on a thriving trade with the manufacturing towns in the neighborhood. For fifty miles around the fruit and the flowers raised in the Bethel hothouses are in great request. In connection with the flower garden, a large building is set aside for drying seeds and storing bulbs, a most profitable undertaking. The colonists, in addition to raising their own vegetables, grow their own corn, feed their own cattle, and make their own butter and cheese. Their well-stocked farms are most delightful places, and the dairies attached to them are perfect models of what dairies should be.

One of the most difficult tasks which fall to the lot of the managers of Bethel is that of providing suitable occupation for