Friday, May 26, 2017

Well Said: Stop thinking about yourself

This is from a 1917 mystery featuring a female detective, Millie, who has an unusual way of dealing with cases. Here she has explained to a prospective client that she doesn't deal in divorce cases because they are too "high" (difficult). She goes on to give some advice instead.
"I will give you a piece of advice if you like."

"I am willing to pay well for it," he expanded.

"This is not for pay. No matter what your wife has done, go home and do everything you can that will be for her good."

The man stared.

"Stop thinking about yourself and your wrongs. I don't know what they are. I'd rather not know. Whatever they are, they are past. If it is best for your wife to leave you then help her do it. Stop thinking about yourself."

The man's narrow eyes widened a little as they studied the quiet face before him.

She nodded. "Help her to get away from you if you think she will be better off."

The man's eyes continued to regard her with a puzzled look.

"But I'd be pretty sure, if I were you, that it's best for her to leave you. It would be a silly sort of body if it's heart went wrong, that went to work planning to get rid of it, divorce it for good and all. That's a homely way of saying it. I'm a homely woman and when people are married they seem to me one just as truly as the body is all one. I don't divorce part of me unless it's too bad to be made right. If it is, I go to a good surgeon and tell him to make quick work of it."

She paused with a thoughtful look and smiled. "But the best surgeons now, they tell me, don't believe in amputating. They bring their cases to a serum specialist, don't they?" She nodded toward the card on the desk. "And you find out what's wrong and give them some more of the same kind, only different and they get well."

The look in the man's darted and broke in a little laugh. "You think I'd better give Rose serum treatment? Spiritual serum?" He chuckled. His face had cleared. "I wonder what kind," he said thoughtfully. His face had the keen look of a scientist attacking a difficult problem.

"Some brand of human kindness, I should say," responded Millie dryly.

The man laughed and got up. "I believe you've been giving me serum treatment." He held out his hand. ...

"I am going home," he said. "I came here with the idea that I was a desperate figure, a kind of modern Othello, blighted life and so on due to infidelity. You have made me see I'm sick, a kind of spiritual invalid that hasn't sense enough to take care of a common cold, just goes around suffering with it."
Jennette Lee, The Green Jacket
"Stop thinking about yourself."

If more of us put the good of the other person first, what a lovely world it would be wouldn't it? That's an interesting perspective for a detective who investigates murders and theft. Full of common sense and a knowledge of what makes people tick.

Note: I'm not sure what serum treatment meant in 1917. When I look on the usually reliable internet all I find is ads for skin and facial treatments so it clearly doesn't mean now what it did then.

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