Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/688

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the women. There are few things female epileptics are capable of doing. They can wash, clean, and sew, though only under supervision; but they dislike gardening, and cooking is entirely beyond their power. They can not be relied upon to lay tables, or to do anything, in fact, which requires memory or attention. Their helplessness, however, is evidently merely the result of previous neglect; for the young girls who are trained at Bethel exhibit comparatively few of the defects which characterize the women who go there later in life. First and second class female patients are now lodged in large cottages, but the third class still remain in the great building which was originally assigned to them. The first floor of it has been turned into a sort of restaurant for the whole of the colony, six hundred of the patients dining there every day, and the food for all the houses in the immediate neighborhood being cooked there. The women and girls are entirely under the care of the Deaconesses, some fifty of whom are stationed in the colony.

The pleasantest part of Bethel—the one, too, in which perhaps the most valuable work is being done—is that set aside for children. The brightness and gayety which prevail there are simply indescribable. Far from being depressed by their affliction, the little patients seem to look at life through glasses of even brighter rose than healthy children. They are more excitable, more keenly alert, more easily moved by every passing emotion. They literally dance with delight at the merest trifles, and make their playground ring with peals of the merriest laughter. Not but that there are specks in the sunshine even there, for on one and all the fell disease casts its shadow. There are wild outbursts of grief just when the games go most gayly, heart-breaking sobs of which no one knows the cause. In the midst of a class, a bright, intelligent girl falls to the ground a shrieking maniac; a boy, beaming with light-hearted fun, lifts his bat, and in a trice he is a thing strong men might shrink from. Wherever these children may be, whether at work or at play, some guardian must always be at hand, for no one knows the moment at which they may be stricken. About one hundred and fifty children are now attending the schools in Bethel. There they are thoroughly well taught according to their capacity. Some of them learn with quite marvelous quickness; but, unfortunately, they forget what they learn with equal speed. The greatest care is taken in cultivating any talent they may possess; and special importance is attached to their acquiring dexterity in the use of their fingers. When they have passed through the ordinary course of study, they are sent to a sort of technical school, where they are regularly trained for some handicraft which will enable them later to take their place as self-supporting colonists.