from Century Magazine
The False Gods of Doc Weaver
by Ellis Parker Butler
Doc Weaver and his boarder sat at the dinner table earnestly engaged in conversation, while the doctor's wife cleared away the dishes. The boarder was a bright young woman who had come up from Franklin to teach the fall term in the Kilo school, and as she was fresh from college and had many new ideas of life, the doctor was having a mental feast. Behind his spectacles his eyes glowed with pleasure, and in the exact ratio that the doctor's spirits rose the frown on his wife's brow deepened.
The doctor had few opportunities for discussing any subjects except the most ordinary. Neighborhood gossip, the weather, crops, and the price of corn were the usual sources of conversation in Kilo, except when an election gave a political tinge to the discussions or when a revival turned all attention to religious matters; but the doctor's mind scorned these limitations, and he found few persons from year's end to year's end to whom he was able to speak openly.
To Kilo in general the doctor was a mystery. Ordinarily he was the most silent of men, but on occasion, as, for instance, when he could buttonhole an intelligent stranger, he dissolved into a torrent of words.
Doc Weaver held views. He believed there were other things besides the Republican party and the Methodist Church, and being liberal-minded, he had believed all these other things in turn and had believed them enthusiastically. He could not help thinking that he was of a little finer clay than the grocer and the blacksmith, but he was tenderhearted, and would not have wounded the feelings of the least of his fellow-townsmen on any condition. Kilo considered the doctor one of its peculiar institutions. It took him good-naturedly, but it refused to take him too seriously. He was "jist Doc Weaver," and Kilo reserved the right to laugh at him in private and to brag about him to strangers. As Doc Weaver was sensitive and feared the rough raillery of his neighbors, he kept his enthusiasms to himself. He was like an overcharged bottle of soda water.
The school teacher and the doctor were discussing Christian Science and faith cures generally, and when the doctor's wife passed to and fro, catching a phrase now and then, a look of deep anxiety spread over her face, until, as she brushed the crumbs from the red tablecloth, her shoulders seemed to droop in dejection.
When she smoothed the cloth and set the lamp on the mat in the center, the doctor glanced at his watch and arose. He buttoned his frock coat over his breast (it was the only frock coat in Kilo), and drew on his gloves, holding his hands on a level with his chin. It was a habit, an aristocratic touch, which, like his side-whiskers, detached him from the rest of Kilo. He had once worn a silk hat, but he soon abandoned it for a gray felt; for even he saw that a silk hat emphasized his individuality too strongly for comfort. It was a tempting mark for snowballs.
When the doctor had closed the door and stepped from the front porch, his wife sank into a chair.
"I do hope you won't git mad at what I'm goin' to say, Miss Miller," she said, "'cause I ain't goin' to say et fer no sich thing; but I couldn't help hearin' what you was sayin' to Doc while I was reddin' off the table. I wisht you wouldn't let him git to talkin' 'bout newfangled religions an' sich. It ain't fer his good ner fer mine."
Miss Miller laughed good-naturedly.
"Why, Mrs. Weaver!" she exclaimed. "We were only discussing faith cures, and neither of us believes in them -- wholly, that is. Of course every one must to some extent admit the power of mind over matter. But if you'd rather not have me, I'll not discuss it again."
"I'd ruther you wouldn't, ef you don't mind," said the doctor's wife, simply.
Miss Miller pushed back her chair and rose, smiling as she saw the lines of worry leave the face of her hostess. She turned to the little case of books that stood in one corner, and ran her eye over the volumes.
Mrs. Weaver sprang to her feet.
"Land's sakes!" she cried, "I know what you're lookin' fer. You're lookin' fer that book o' yourn, ain't you? Et 'a right there behind them wax flowers on the what-not. I seen et layin' round, an' I jist shoved et out o' sight, so's Doc wouldn't git hold on et."
"Well, you sit down," said the schoolteacher; "I can get it. But there was no need to be so particular. I am not reading it; I only pick it up now and then, and it does not matter if the doctor loses my place in it."
The doctor's wife drew her darning basket from the worktable and turned its contents into her lap.
"'T wasn't that," she said; "I'd never of thought o' that, I guess. I hid et 'cause I didn't know ef 't was a proper book fer Doc. Et's got a kind o' queer name."
The schoolteacher turned the book over in her hand. She had never suspected it to be a dangerous book, and she looked up and laughed.
"It isn't as dangerous as it looks," she said. "It wouldn't hurt a baby."
"Well, I guess you'll think I'm awful foolish about Doc," said Mrs. Weaver, "but I wasn't goin' to take no chances, an' the name kind o' riled me, like."
"'Delsarte,'" said the schoolteacher. "Why, that's just a system of training for the body. It makes one more graceful, as running and jumping make a boy strong."
The doctor's wife heaved a sigh of relief.
"Well, I guess that won't hurt Doc any ef he does read et," she laughed. "I thought mebby et was some newfangled religion or other, an' I allus keep sich things out o' Doc's reach. Mebby you think I'm crazy, but when you know Doc as well as I do, you'll find out how mortal quick he is to take up with new notions, an' et would be jist like him to give up his sittin' in church an' go an' be a Delsarty, ef they was any sich belief. I don't much mind him bein' a socialist or any o' them perlitercal things, ef he wants to -- an' goodness knows he does -- 'cause they keep his mind busy; but sence I got him to jine church, I'm goin' to keep him jined, Delsarty or no Delsarty. I seen them picters, an' et riled me right up to think o' Doc's goin' round wrapped up in sheets, or whatever 't is thet's on them folks in the picters. Mebby et's all right fer Delsartys, but I don't ever hope to see Doc so."
Miss Miller lay back in her chair and laughed until the tears stood in her eyes, and the doctor's wife gazed at her with an amused smile.
"Now, you do think I'm foolish, don't you?" she inquired. "But I had sich a time with Doc 'fore we was married thet I'm scared half to death every time I hear a long word I ain't right sure on. I was 'most worried out o' my wits last summer when Mis' Crawford was here lecturin' on Christian Science. Et was jist about even whether Doc 'u'd git in line or not. He had an awful struggle, poor feller, 'cause he can't bear to hev nothin' new to believe in come round an' him not believe in et. Religions is to Doc jist like teethin' is to babies; they got to teethe, an' seems like Doc's got to ketch new religions. He ain't never real happy when he ain't got no queer fandango to poke his nose into. But he didn't git Christian Scientisted.
"I says to him, 'Doc, ain't you allopathy?' An' he says, 'Yes, certainly.' 'Well,' I says, 'ef you go an' be a Christian Science, you can't be no allopathy, Doc. Christian Science an' allopathy don't mix,' I says, 'an' you'd starve, thet's what you'd do. I leave it to you, Doc, ef you quit big pills, how'd you git a livin'? They ain't no big pills set down in the Christian Science book.'
"Well, he poked his eyes up at the ceilin' an' says, 'I might write, Loreny.' 'Yes,' I says, 'so you might. An' what'd you write, Doc Weaver?' I says. 'Shakspere?' An' Doc shet right up, an' never said another word. Et was a mean thing fer me to say, but I was awful worried."
"Shakspere?" inquired Miss Miller.
"Yes, thet's the word -- Shakspere," said Mrs. Weaver. "Et come purty nigh keepin' me from marryin' Doc, as I'll tell you. You see, Doc ain't like common folks. Doc's got sich broad idees o' things. Lib'ral, he calls et, but I name et jist common foolish. He's got to give every newfangled scheme a show. I guess, off an' on, Doc's believed 'most every queer name in the cyclopedy an' some thet ain't in et. I used to tell him they couldn't git 'em up fast enough to keep up with him. He's got a wonderful mind, Doc has.
"I hain't no notion how Doc ever got started believin' things, but mebby he got in with a bad lot at the doctor school he went to. Doc told me hisself they cut up dead folks. Anyhow, he come back from Chicago a reg'lar atheist; but that was 'fore I knowed him. He lived up at Richmond, an' he didn't come to Kilo till 'bout ten year' after thet, an' he'd got purty well along by then, an' hed got right handy at believin' things.
"Well, when Doc come to Kilo pa'd jist died, an' ma an' me had to take in boarders 'o git along; so Doc come to our house to board. Thet's how Doc an' me got to know each other. I was 'bout as old as Doc, an' we wasn't neither of us very chickenish, but I thought Doc was the finest man I'd ever saw, an' 'ceptin' what I'm tellin' you, I ain't ever hed cause to change my mind.
"I'd never saw so many books as Doc brought -- more'n we've got now. I burned a lot when we got married -- Tom Paine an' Bob Ingersoll an' all I was sure wasn't orthodoxy. Why, we hed more books'n we've got in the Sunday school lib'ry. 'Specially Shakspere books, some Shakspere writ hisself, an' some writ about him. Doc was real took up with Shakspere them days.
"'Most all his spare time Doc put in readin' them Shakspere books, an' sometimes he'd git a new one. One day he come home mad. I ain't never see Doc real mad but twice, but he was mad thet day an' no mistake. He'd got a new book, an' he set down to read et soon's he got in the house; but every couple of pages he'd slap et shut an' walk up an' down growlin' to hisself. Oh, but he was riled! Thet night I heard him stampin' up an' down his room, mad as a wet hen, an' by an' by I heard thet book go rattlin' out o' the window an' plunk down in the radish bed. So next mornin' I went out an' got et, 'cause I liked Doc purty well by then, an' et made me sorry to see sich a nice quiet man carry on so.
"I couldn't make head ner tail o' the book, ner see why et riled Doc up. Et was jist another Shakspere book, only this one said et wasn't Shakspere, but somebody else, that writ the Shakspere books. I thought Doc was real foolish to git so mad 'bout et, but I hadn't no idee how much Doc hed took et to heart.
"Well, I do run on terribul when I git started, don't I? An' them dinner dishes waitin' to be washed! But I guess et won't hurt 'em to stand a bit. You see, when Doc begun to take a likin' fer me, the poor feller started in talkin' 'bout what he believed in. Most fellers does. Fust he begun 'bout greenbacks. He was the only Greenback in Kilo; but thet was jist perlitercal stuff, an' while I'm a good Republican, like pa was, I didn't see thet et would hurt ef my husband did think other than I did in thet, so long as he wasn't a saloon Democrat. Thet was when they was havin' the prohibition fight here in Ioway, you know. But when Doc begun lettin' out hints thet he didn't think much o' goin' to church, I was real sorry.
"I was sorry 'cause I couldn't see my way clear to marry an outsider, bein' a good Methodist myself; but I didn't dream but he was jist one o' these lazy Christians thet don't 'tend church lest they're dragged. They's plenty sich. I thought mebby I could bring him round all right once we was married; so I jist asked him right out ef he'd jine church.
"Well, you'd o' thought I'd asked him to take poison! He didn't flare up like some would, but jist sot down an' explained how he couldn't. I guess he must have explained, off an' on, fer three weeks 'fore I got a good hang on his idee. Seems like he was believin' some Hindu stuff jist then. I don't know as you've ever heard tell on et. Et's about souls. When a person dies, his soul goes inter another person, an' so on till kingdom come. Reinca'nation's what they call et. I guess by the time Doc got done explainin' I knew more 'bout the reinca'nation business than anybody in three counties, 'cause night after night Doc 'u'd sit an' explain till I 'd drop off asleep.
"But 't wasn't no use. So far as I could see, reinca'nation was jist plain error an' follerin' after false gods, an' I told Doc so. Anyhow, I knowed they wasn't nothin' like et in the Methodist Church, an' I jist up an' let Doc know I wouldn't marry nobody thet believed sich stuff. Doc reckoned to change my mind, but my argument was jist plain 'I won't!' an' thet settled et. I believe a man an' wife ought to belong to the same church, -- 'thy God shall be my God,' -- an' I wasn't goin' to give up what I'd been taught fer any crazy notions Doc hed got into his head. I told him so plain.
"Then Doc took a poetry-writin' spell, but he wasn't no great hand at et. I told him in plain words thet he'd be better off rollin' allopathy pills. I used to git right put out with Doc sometimes, foolin' away good time thet way, sittin' round by the hour spoilin' good paper. I reckon he started nigh a thousand po'ms; but he didn't git along very good. 'Bout the third line he'd stop an' tear up what he'd wrote. When I wasn't mad I used to feel real sorry fer Doc, he tried so hard; but feelin' sorry didn't help him none, an' it was kind o' redic'lous to see him.
"One day I asked Doc why he didn't tell ma an' the rest o' Kilo what he believed in, an' he said thet Kilo folks couldn't understand sich things, bein' mostly born and bred in the Methodist Church, an' not lib'ral like he was. I seen he was payin' me a compliment, 'cause he'd told me, but I couldn't swaller reinca'nation fer all thet. An' so we didn't seem to git no further.
"But one day Doc says: 'Well, Loreny, why can't you marry me? They ain't no one can love you like I do, an' you know I'll make you a good husband, an' I'll go to church with you reg'lar, ef you say so.'
"'Goin' to church ain't all, Doc Weaver,' I says. 'I jist won't marry no man thet believes sich trash as you do.'
"'Well, tell me why not,' he says.
"'I'll tell you, Doc Weaver,' I says, 'since you drive me to et. I'm willin' enough to marry you, but I ain't willin' to marry some old heathen Chinee or goodness knows what.'
"Doc was took all aback. 'Why, Loreny!' he says, 'why, Loreny!'
"'I mean et,' I says, 'jist what I say. How kin I tell who you are when you say yourself you ain't nothin' but some old spirit in a new body? Like as not you're Herod, or an Indian, or a cannibal savage, an' I'd like to see myself marryin' sich,' I says. 'I'd look purty, wouldn't I, settin' in church alongside of a made-over Chinee?'
"Doc ain't very pale, ever, but he got as red as a beet, an' I see I'd hit him purty hard. Then he kind o' stiffened up.
"'Loreny,' he says, 'I'd of thought you'd of believed my spirit to be a little better'n a heathen Chinee's,' he says, 'though there's much worse folks than they are.'
"I seen he was put out, an' I hadn't meant to hurt his feelin's, so I says, more gentle, 'Well, Doc, ef you ain't thet, what are you?'
"I s'pose you've noticed how sometimes something you find out will make clear a lot o' things you couldn't make head or tail of before. Thet's the way what Doc said did fer me. There was thet poetry-writin' of his, an' the way thet Shakspere book made him mad, an' how he read them Shakspere books instead of his Mateery Medicky volumes.
"Well, I asked Doc, 'Ef you ain't a heathen Chinee or some sich, what are you?' an' when he answered you could of knocked me down with a wisp o' hay. You'd never guess no more'n I did.
"'Loreny,' he says, solemn as a deacon, 'I didn't reckon ever to tell nobody, an' you mustn't jedge what I tell you too quick. I ain't made up my mind sudden-like,' he say?, 'but I've studied myself an' what I like an' don't like fer years, an' I've jist been forced to et,' he says. 'They ain't no doubt in my mind, Loreny,' he says, an' he let his voice go 'way down low, like he was a'most afraid to say et hisself. 'Loreny, I believe thet Shakspere's spirit has transmigrated into me.'
"Well, ma'am, I was too took aback to say a word. I thought Doc had gone crazy, but he hadn't.
"When I kind o' got my senses back I riled up right away. 'Well,' I says, snappy, 'I think when you was pickin' out some one to be you might of picked out some one better. From all I've heard, Shakspere wasn't no better man than he'd ought to be. He don't suit me no better than a Chinee would, an' I ain't no fancy to marry Mr. Shakspere. Mebby you think et's fine doin's to be Shakspere, Doc Weaver, but I don't, an' I ain't goin' to marry no man thet's like a two-headed cow, half one thing an' half another, an' not all of any. When you git your senses,' I says, 'you kin talk about marryin' me.' An' off I went, perky as a peacock. But I cried 'most all night.
"Him an' me kind o' stood off from each other after thet, an' I made up my mind I'd die 'fore I'd marry Doc so long as he was Shakspere, an' Doc hed got the notion thet he was Shakspere so sot in his mind et seemed likely I would.
"I hadn't never took much stock in po'try-readin' since I got out o' 'Mother Goose,' but I begun readin' Shakspere a little, jist to see what sort o' po'try Doc thought he hed writ when he was Shakspere. Well, I wouldn't want to see sich books in the Sunday school lib'ry, thet's all I got to say. Some I couldn't make much sense of, but they was one long po'm 'bout Venus an' some feller -- well, I shouldn't think the gov'ment 'u'd allow sich things printed! I jist knowed Doc couldn't ever of writ sich stuff. They ain't so much meanness in him. But I couldn't see clear how to make Doc see et thet way.
"I'd about give up hopes of curin' Doc, when one day a feller come to town an' give a lecture in the dance room over the grocery. He was one o' these spiritualism fellers, an' soon as et was noised round thet he was comin', I knew Doc 'u'd be the fust man to go an' the last to come away, an' he was. Thinks I, 'Let him go. Ef Doc jines in with the spiritualists, et will be better'n what he believes now, an' ef he begins changin' religions, mebby I kin keep him changin', an' change him into a church-goer.' An' so, jist to see what Doc was like to be, I coaxed ma to go, an' I went too. It wasn't near' so sinful as I expected.
"The feller's name was Gilson, an' he was pale as a picked chicken, but real common-lookin' other ways. He was a right-down good talker an' seemed real earnest. He wasn't the ghost-raisin' kind o' spiritualist, an' them thet went to see a show come away disapp'inted, for all he did was talk an' take up a c'lection. He said he was a new beginner an' used to be a Presbyterian minister. Doc stayed after et was over, an' hed a talk with Gilson, an' of course he got converted, like he always does. He told ma so.
"I hadn't been havin' much talk with Doc one way or another, but when ma told me he'd jined the spiritualists, I eased up a little, an' one day I made bold to say, 'Well, Doc, I s'pose you've give up thet Shakspere idee, ain't you?'
"'No,' he says, 'I ain't.'
"'Land's sakes!' I says, 'do you mean to say you kin be two things at once in religion, as well as bein' Doc Weaver an' Shakspere?'
"'Yes, Loreny,' he says. 'The spirit 'a got to be somewheres between the times it has a body,' he says. 'Thet stands to reason. Et's always puzzled me where I was between the time I died two or three hundred years ago an' the time I entered this body,' he says, 'an' spiritualism makes et all clear. I was floatin' in space.'
"Thet's jist how fool-crazy Doc was them days. There he was believin' with all his might the reinca'nation business an' the spirit business at the same time.
"I says, 'Well, Doc, some day you'll see how deep in error you are; mark my word,' an' I didn't say no more.
"'Course Doc wouldn't let good enough alone. There was a big spiritualist over in Peory, Illinoy, a reg'lar ghost-raisin' feller, an' what did Doc do but write over an' git him to come to Kilo an' give a seeance. Thet's a meetin' where they raise ghosts. Doc wanted the feller to stop at our house, but I wouldn't hev et, so he hed to put up at the hotel. Soon's I see the feller, I says he was a fraud, but Doc swallered him right down, hide an' hoof.
"They hed the seeance in the hotel parlor, an' no charge, so ma an' me went, though we wasn't jist sure et was right; but I says et wasn't as if et was real -- we knowed et was all foolishness; so ma an' me trotted along. I found out afterward thet Doc paid to hev the feller come to Kilo. His name was Moller, an' he was one o' them longhaired, greasy-lookin' men.
"I must say et was real scary when they turned the lights down an' Moller made tables jump round an' fiddles play without anybody playin' them. They wasn't many folks there, but ma held my hand an' I held ma's, an' Doc was right afront of us.
"Moller did a lot of sich tricks, an' then he said he'd bring up any spirits any one'd like to hev come up. Thet was what Doc was waitin' fer, an' he popped right up.
"'I should like to talk to Bacon,' he says.
"'Bacon?' says Moller. 'They's a good many Bacons in spiritland. Which one do you want to speak to, doctor?'
"'The one thet lived when Shakspere did.' says Doc. 'The one thet writ the essays an' sich.'
"'Ah, yes!' says Moller. 'I'll see if he's willin' to say anything tonight.' An' down he sot into a chair. Well, you'd of died! In a bit his head an' legs begin to jerk like he hed St. Vitus' dance, an' then he straightened out, stiff as a broomstick. Et was the silliest thing I ever see. I felt real sorry fer Doc, he was so dead earnest about et.
"In a minute Moller opened his jaw an' begun to talk. Et was all sort o' jerky-like.
"'I'm sailin' through starry fields,' he says, 'explorin' the wonders o' the universe. Why am I called back to earth this way? Doth somebody want to question me 'bout something?'
"Doc was all worked up. He held on to a chair back, an' he was shakin' so I could hear the loose rungs in the chair rattlin'.
"'Is this Bacon?' he says.
"'Et is,' says Moller, his voice jerkin' like a kitten with the fits.
"'Well,' says Doc, like his life was hangin' on what Mollor 'u'd say, 'did you or didn't you write Shakspere's plays?'
"'I did not,' Moller jerked out; 'Shakspere did.'
"You could hear Doc sigh all over thet room, et was sich a relief to his mind. Doc was awful pleased. He was smilin' all over his face, et tickled him so to hev Bacon own up, an' he turned to ma an' me, an' says, 'Ain't et wonderful!'
"Then Moller come out of his fit an' sot still awhile, like he'd jist woke up from a long nap. Then he says he's goin' into another trance, an' if any in the room wants to hold talk with any o' their lost friends or kin, they should ask fer them, an' he jerked ag'in an' jerked out stiff.
"Thet old backslider Seth Olmstead popped up, but Doc was ahead o' him, 'cause Seth allus has to stutter awhile 'fore he gits his tongue goin', an' Doc says, 'I desire to speak with Richard Burbage.'
"I guess Moller didn't know any sich feller. Anyhow, he jist lay still; so Doc says, 'Mebby they's several Richard Burbages. I mean the one thet owned a theater with Shakspere.' But Richard Burbage didn't feel like talkin' thet evenin'. I reckon Moller didn't know nothin' 'bout Richard Burbage, an' was frightened thet Doc 'u'd ask him somethin' he couldn't answer. They ain't nobody slicker'n these fake fellers. Et's their business.
"But Doc was so worked up he'd of swallered anything, an' I guess Moller thought. he hed to make up to Doc fer payin' his expenses, so he says, smilin', 'I see, doctor, you're interested in literatoor, an' I'll try to git somebody in thet line thet's willin' to talk.' So off he jerked into another trance.
"Purty soon Moller says: 'From the seventh circle I hev come, drawn by the will of somebody thet knows me an' loves me. Et's a long way. Billions of miles off is my new home, where I spend eternity writin' things thet make what I writ on earth look like nothin',' or some sich nonsense. Doc looked back at me once, proud as sin, an' then he swelled out his lungs, an' run his hand over his whiskers, like you've seen him do. He was gittin' wound up fer a good talk.
"Ef I do say et myself, Doc's a good talker, an' I figgered he'd make Moller hustle. I see Doc was goin' to spread hisself an' do credit to Shakspere. He hadn't no doubt thet one spirit would recognize another, so he says, like he was makin' a speech, 'You know who I am?'
"'I do,' says Moller.
"'Then,' says Doc, 'sence my spirit eyes are blinded by this mortal body, may I ask who you are?' He didn't hardly breathe. Then Moller jerked. 'I am Shakspere,' he says, sudden-like.
"'What's that?' says Doc, short an' quick.
"'Shakspere,' says Moller -- 'William Shakspere.'
"Poor Doc jist dropped into his chair an' run his hand over his forehead an' his eyes like he 'd bumped into the edge of a door in the dark. I ain't never seen Doc real pale but once, an' thet was then. Then he turned round to ma an' me, weak as a sick baby, an' says, 'Come, Loreny; this lyin' place ain't nowhere fer you to be,' an' we went out.
"'Well, Doc,' I says, when we was outside, 'seems like they's two of you, don't et?' An' thet's all I says to him 'bout et then; but I guess he see what a fool he'd been, 'cause the nex' night he says, 'Loreny, I wisht you'd git me a set o' the articles o' belief o' your church. I'd like to look 'em over.'
"'Well,' I says, 'who'll I say wants 'em, Shakspere or Doc Weaver?'
"'You kin say an old fool wants 'em,'says Doc, 'an' you'll hit et 'bout right.'
"So Doc jined church, an' he's leadin' the singin' now; but you see why I keep sich a lookout lest he gits started off on some new religion."
Mrs. Weaver glanced at the clock.
"Mercy me!" she exclaimed, "Doc'll be home 'fore I git them dinner dishes washed up. Now, you won't feel hurt 'cause I don't want you to talk new religions to Doc, will you? You kin see jist how I feel, an' you wouldn't want no husband yourself thet was a philopeny, as you might say. I don't believe I could of got on real well with Doc if he'd kep' on bein' Shakspere. I'd allus of felt like he was 'bout three hundred years older'n me. But they's jist one thing I dread more'n anything else. Ef Doc should git to be a Mormon an' start a harem, I believe I'd coax him to be Shakspere ag'in. Et's bad enough to hev a double husband, but, land's sakes, I'd ruther thet than to be part of a wife."