“There’s something in his soul
O’er which his melancholy sits on brood.”
It was a beautiful morning, whose beauty could only hurt, of the first June since Joy-of-Life went away. All green paths were desolate for lack of her glad step. And the stately kennel that had been known from the first as “Sigurd’s House” stood silent, its green door closed on bare floor and cobwebbed walls. Stray cats passed it unconcerned and hoptoads took their ease on the edges of “Sigurd’s Drinking-cup” hollowed out in the adjacent rock. In an hour when the pain of living seemed wellnigh unbearable, the Angel of Healing called me up by telephone. His voice was gruff, but kindly.
“Say, you miss that old dog of yours a sight, don’t you?”
I could feel the confidential pressure of Sigurd’s golden head against my knee as I briefly assented, recognizing the speaker as the proprietor of certain collie kennels not far distant.
“He had a right good home, that dog had, and you must have got pretty well used to collie ways.”
“If you were going to ask me to buy another collie, please don’t. Sigurd is my dog–forever.”
“Well! Since you put it that way–but I’m at my wit’s end to get rid of a collie pup–a pretty little fellow, rough Scotch, sable and white, like yours–that’s scairt at his own shadow.”
“What scared him?”
“Blest if I know! His sire, Commander, and his dam, Whisper, are as nice, normal, easy-tempered dogs as you could find anywhere, and their litters take after ’em–‘cept this youngster, who sulks all day long off in some dark hole by himself and shakes if we speak to him. Nobody has mishandled the little chap so far’s I’ve ever seen or heard, but the least thing–a shout or a rattle of tools or any fool noise–throws him into such a funk that all the rest of the puppies are getting panicky and the whole caboodle is running wild. There’s no two ways about it. I’ve got to clear that born ninny out. I sold him a month ago to a lady for fifty dollars, but she brought him back in a week and said he was about as cheerful company as a tombstone. Now see here! You can have him for twenty, or for nothing, just as you feel after you’ve given him a try.”
“But I don’t want him. I shouldn’t want him if he were the best dog in the country.”
“Then I reckon I’ll have to shoot him. I could give him away, but he’s such a wretched, shivery little rascal that most any sort of folks would be too rough for him. ‘Twould be kinder to put him out of the world and done with it. He’s had seven months of it now and pretty well made up his mind that he don’t like it. I did think maybe you might be willing to give him a chance.”
I was surprised to hear my own voice saying into the telephone: “I’ll try him for a few days, if you care to bring him over.”
Yet I dreaded his coming. The friend who gave us Sigurd had offered us the past winter a very prince of puppies, the daintiest, most spirited, most winsome little collie that a free affection could ask, but Joy-of-Life and I could not make him ours. We could regard him only as a visitor in Sigurd’s haunts, and the Lady of Cedar Hill, resenting the name of Guest which we had given him, re-named him Eric and took him to her own home. Here she soon won the utter devotion of his dog-heart, which, though now no longer beating, through that ardent and faithful love “tastes of immortality.”
I was in the veranda off the study, trying to busy myself with my old toys of books and pen and paper, when the young collie was led in by a small girl, the only person at the kennels whose call he obeyed or whose companionship he welcomed. Deposited beside my chair, he promptly retreated to the utmost distance the narrow limits of his prison-house allowed, panting and quaking.
“Be good, Blazey,” the child admonished him, stroking his head with a sunburned hand from whose light caress he at once shuddered away. “I’ll come to see you by and by.”
“By and by is easily said,” the puppy made answer with incredulous eyes that first watched her out of sight and then rolled in anguish of despair from the wire screening of the porch to roof and wall.
“Is your name Blazey?” I asked him gently, but his fit of ague only grew worse as he turned his ghastly stare on me
“with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors.”
“I made further efforts at conversation while the day wore on, but that little yellow image of throbbing terror, upright in the remotest corner, would not even turn its head toward my voice. In vain I remonstrated:
“Alas, how is’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep.”
The constant tremble of the poor, scared, pitiful puppy was intensified by every train whistle and motor horn to a violent shaking. I could not flutter a leaf nor drop a pencil without causing a nervous twitch of the brown ears. Suddenly the crack of an early Fourth of July torpedo electrified him into a frenzy of fright. If it had been the fatal shot in reserve for Blazey he could not have made a madder leap nor wheeled about in more distracted circles. In one of these lunatic reels he struck against me and, gathering him close, I crooned such comfort as I had into that dizzy, quivering, pathetic face; but he tore himself loose and fled gasping back to his corner beseeching a perilous and cruel universe to let him alone. I, for one, declined:
“Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!–
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee; I’ll call thee Hamlet.”
The puppy accepted his new name, as he accepted his dinner, with lugubrious resignation and the air of saying to himself:
“Heaven hath pleas’d it so,
To punish me with this, and this with me.”
His misery was more appealing than a thousand funny gambols could have been, and the household, those of us who were left, conspired in various friendly devices to make him feel at home. The child at the kennels had taught him one sole accomplishment, that of giving his paw, and Sister Jane, in a fine spirit of sacrifice, made a point of shaking hands with him long and politely at least a dozen times a day, rushing to a faucet as soon as this hospitable rite was accomplished for a fierce scouring of her own polluted palms. Housewife Honeyvoice tempted his appetite with the most savory of puppy menus and kept up such a flow of tuneful comment while he ate that, even in his days of deepest gloom, he rarely failed to polish his dish and then thump it all about in an unscientific effort to extract gravy from tinware. Esther’s arms were now as strong as her feet were lively and, after the first week or so, he would let her pick him up like a baby and carry him about and would even be surprised, at times, into a game of romps. He needed play as much as he needed food, but he was curiously awkward at it, not merely with the usual charming clumsiness of puppies but with a blundering uncertainty in all his movements, miscalculating his jumps, lighting in a sprawling heap and often hurting himself by a lop-sided tumble.
Yet apart from these brief lapses he maintained his pose of hopeless melancholy, varied by frantic perturbations, until his new name fitted him like his new collar.
“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!”
He was not, to be sure,
“The glass of fashion and the mold of form,”
for his nose, from the bench point of view, was nearly half an inch too long. But his “dejected haviour” and deep-rooted suspicion of his surroundings were Hamlet’s own. He felt himself “be-netted round with villanies” and apprehensively watched the simple ways of our family in profound despondency and distrust. The fears that haunted him kept him so hushed that we grew to believe he was actually dumb,–a defect in physical endowment that might account for many abnormalities. Now and then the rigid little figure beside me on the veranda–for gradually, day by day, he edged an inch or two nearer–would give a stir of weariness or even drop, exhausted, for a nap, but in the main
“as patient as the female dove
When that her golden couplets are disclos’d,
His silence” would “sit drooping.”
Through all the hot summer days I had to see him,
“A dull and muddy mettled rascal, peak
but as soon as we reached the cool cover of dusk, I would lift the now crouching, anxious puppy to his four feet and snap on his new leash.
His troubled eyes would well over with expostulatory questions:
“Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?”
“We’re going to walk, Little Stick-in-the-Mud. Come on!”
And thus Hamlet, “with much forcing of his disposition,” would undergo the daily constitutional, which he converted into a genuine gymnastic exercise for us both by pulling back on the leash with all his considerable strength, protesting:
“It is not, nor it cannot come to good;
But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.”
In this ignoble fashion I would drag him along for a mile or so of the least frequented road, until he would suddenly fix his slender legs and refuse to be budged:
“Where wilt thou lead me? speak;
I’ll go no further.”
“Very well! If you insist on turning back here, you know what will happen. It will be your turn to drag me.”
To this he had always the same rejoinder:
“‘Tis true ’tis pity,
And pity ’tis ’tis true.”
So Hamlet, all his soul set on getting back to the comparative security of that veranda, would fall to tugging like an infant Hercules, scrabbling me along, regardless of sidewalks, by the nearest route to safety, till I felt myself, on reaching home, more than ever a “quintessence of dust.”
When I tried him off the leash, he would, even into the autumn, run back to the kennels, though he would let no one there touch him but the gypsy-tanned child. Later, he would slip back to the Scarab, usually after dark, but be afraid to come near or ask admittance, sweeping around the house in wide, wistful circles. It took our softest coaxings to bring that palpitating puppy across the threshold and, once in, we all had to shake paws with him many times before he would believe himself welcome and sink down at my feet to sleep away his tiredness and terror. It was midsummer before I dared loose him on the campus for a free scamper, from which, hesitant, with many tremors and recoils, he came back to me in answer to my call. I thought then that the battle was won, but the next time I ventured it, and the next, he ran away. Yet before the leaves fell we had made such progress that when I fastened on his leash and invited him to go to walk,
“there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it.”
For weeks the rooms of the house were to this kennel-bred puppy no better than torture-chambers, being full of strange, sinister objects, for to Hamlet, even yet, the unknown is a menace and a dread. Brought into study or dining-room, he would “wax desperate with imagination,” throwing wild looks at ceiling and walls and then spinning about and about like an agonized top. “Upon the heat and flame” of those excitements it was hard to persuade him to “sprinkle cool patience,” but in process of time he became accustomed to rugs and furniture and even, after repeated assurances, grew to understand that Sigurd’s chair was at his service.
By mid-winter he had come to realize, with a touching relief and responsive fervor of affection, that the members of the family were his friends, but he was still thrown into a panic by the door-bell and the murderous monsters whose entrance he believed it to announce. Every arrival he regarded as an agent of Hamlet’s doom and fled precipitately to chosen places of concealment on the upper floors. Yet curiosity was strong in the little fellow, too. As I sat chatting with a caller, I would presently be aware of an excessively unobtrusive collie stealing down the stairs. Quivering all over, in awe of his own daring, he would place himself erect on the threshold with his face to the hall and very slowly, inch by inch, would “like a crab” back into the room, edging along on his haunches, steering his blind course for the further side of my chair. Still keeping his back to the stranger, he would reach up a pleading paw for me to clasp and then, regarding himself as both invisible and protected, listen keenly to learn if the conversation were by any chance about Hamlet.
He was as timorous out of doors as in, having little to do with other dogs, save with a benignant collie neighbor, old Betty, and yielding up his choicest bones without remonstrance to any impudent marauder. If I reproached him for his pacifist bearing, he would touch my hand with an apologetic tongue and look up with shamefaced eyes that admitted:
“it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver’d, and lack gall
To make oppression bitter.”
It was his habit to take legs, rather than arms, “against a sea of troubles,” and when enemies loomed on the horizon he would precipitately make for home. He was by this time dog enough to be overjoyed if one of us summoned him for a walk.
“What noise? who calls on Hamlet?”
And all his belated frolic of puppyhood came out in impatient collie capers while, with our intolerable human tardiness, wraps were donned and doors thrown open. And then the leaps of ecstasy!
“Go on; I’ll follow thee.”
But he hated, and still hates, to be out in the great, dangerous world of noises, people, motors, alone by daylight. “Nay, come, let’s go together,” is his constant plea. But if no one of the household is at liberty to companion him, he prefers to wait for his exercise till “the very witching time of night,” when he plunges into the mystery of the woods or runs by moonlight along deserted roads. During his first winter, on returning from one of his nocturnal rambles, he would stand, snow-coated, without a whine or scratch, shivering at the outside door, silent even under the beating of an icy storm, until some anxious watcher caught sight of him and let him in. He had been with us over a year before he found his voice. Then, one noon, a brisk step coming up to the south porch along our private path took Hamlet by surprise. His quick, shrill protest astonished him as much as it did us and he promptly rushed to refuge under the table. But having shattered our psychopathic theories and confessed that he was no mute, he took to barking with immoderate enthusiasm that has already more than made up for lost time. Yet as with his movements, so his barking is odd,–discordant, off the pitch, “jangled out of tune.”
These tremendous bouts of barking, combined with his excitable and suspicious temperament, have given our timid collie a preposterous reputation for ferocity. Callers wise in dogs observe that even as he roars he runs away, wagging his tail, and come boldly on to the north door, while Hamlet announces and denounces them at the south:
“O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!”
“A guilty thing.”
“A puff’d and reckless libertine.”
“A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!”
“What, ho! help, help, help!”
But when he has torn his “passion to tatters, to very rags,” he slips in shyly to greet the accepted caller, usually seating himself, according to his own peculiar code of etiquette, with his back to the guest, but sometimes, especially if it is a college girl “in the morn and liquid dew of youth,” he will, instead of taking his accustomed place by me, lie down at Ophelia’s feet, explaining:
“Here’s metal more attractive.”
Hamlet is a delicate subject for discipline as any sign of displeasure on the part of the few he trusts will fling him back to his puppy state of quivering misery. But for his inhospitable clamors he is occasionally shut up in the telephone closet, a custom which he considers
“More honour’d in the breach than the observance.”
Released, he bounds toward us beseeching caresses and every assurance that we have forgiven him and love him still. But he is just as ready to bark at the next arrival, though the dread word CLOSET will sometimes arrest a roar in mid-career. His sense of duty, as the guardian of the house, is inextricably intertwisted with his desire to be good.
Hamlet has, indeed, an uncharacteristic conviction of the preciousness of property. He did not learn it from me. I resent the metal that outlasts flesh and bone and am careless about locking doors since against grief and death no bolts avail; but Hamlet, had destiny put him in his proper place, would have ridden through life on top of an express wagon, zealously guarding its packages from every thievish touch. As it is, he keeps an embarrassing watch and ward on my desk and bookcases. Often a seminar student, reaching for a volume that promises to throw light on the discussion, is amazed by the leap of what had seemed to be a slumbering collie, now all alert and vigilant, gently nipping her sleeve to hold that arm of robbery back. Or in the midst of committee toils, a guileless colleague may move toward my desk to make a note. From the hall Hamlet dashes in with gleaming eyes and, as she turns in astonishment, squeezes his yellow bulk between her and that mysterious altar of my midnight devotion and firmly shoves her back. These policeman ways of his are not universally endearing and, in return, he has no faith whatever in the honesty of my associates, “arrant knaves all.” He has never put aside his dark suspicions of one who is not only generosity itself, but a socialist to boot, because on his first Christmas Eve in the Scarab she had been so kind as to act as her own Santa Claus and take away her labeled packet from the pile of tissue-papered and gay-ribboned gifts in a corner of the study. Although I had noticed that the puppy made a point of lying down before that heap, I did not realize that he, terrified and bashful as he then was, had constituted himself its custodian, till this action of hers left his soul “full of discord and dismay.” Even yet he heralds her approach with consternation:
“O shame! where is thy blush?”
“A most pernicious woman!”
“Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.”
So our dog has few friends outside his home. It is difficult to maintain with the children on the hill the pleasant fiction that their Christmas playthings come from Hamlet when it so obviously “harrows” him “with fear and wonder” to see the little recipients allowed to bear these objects away. Laddie’s mistress, ever gracious, pets and praises him, and hers is the only home in the village at which, sure of a happy welcome and delectable bits of bread and butter, he consents to call, but Jack’s mistress, catholic as her sympathies are, remembers an unlucky encounter from which her famous comrade retired, blinking queerly, the loser of a tooth. It is, of course, her theory that Hamlet feloniously reached into Jack’s mouth to snap out that treasure, while to me it seems crystal clear that Jack uprooted the venerable fang himself in an unholy effort to bite Hamlet; but now the collie is shut up whenever the terrier comes, though they manage to exchange through the windows a vituperative language not taught in our curriculum.
Hoping to extend this too limited circle of Hamlet’s friendships, we have accepted as a summer guest a cynical old parrot, who has already, in a lifetime cruelly long for a captive, known a variety of vanishing households. The tones that Poor Pol echoes, the names that he calls, insistently and vainly, in his lonesome hours, the scraps of family talk dating perhaps from five, ten, twenty years ago that his strange voice, a mockery of the human, still repeats, make him, even to us, an awesome personage, a Wandering Jew of the caged-pet generations. What does he miss, what does he remember, as he sits sweetly crooning to himself “Peek-a-boo, Pol,” and then rasps crossly out, “Wal! what is it?” and then falls to a direful groaning “Oh!” and “Ah!” over and over, more and more feebly, as if in mimicry of a death-bed, and suddenly spreads his wings, hurrahs like a boy on the Glorious Fourth and storms our ears with a whole barn-yard of cackles and cocka-doodledoos?
For the first few minutes after the arrival of Polonius, Hamlet regarded the great cage, set on top of a tall revolving bookcase, and its motionless perching inmate, whose plumage of sheeny green was diversified by under-glints of red and the pride of a golden nape, as new ornaments committed to his guardianship. Erect on his haunches, he gazed up at them with an air of earnest responsibility, but when Polonius, cocking his head and peering down on the collie with one round orange eye, crisply remarked:
“Hello! What’s that? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” Hamlet went wild with amazement. After making from every side vain leaps and scrambles toward the unperturbed parrot, he tore from one of us to another, with whines and imploring gaze striving to learn what this apparition might mean
“So horridly to shake” his “disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches” of his soul.
A week has passed and I begin to fear that Hamlet’s antipathy to Polonius, “a foolish prating knave,” a “wretched, rash, intruding fool,” is too deeply rooted in drama for life to eradicate. The fault does not lie with the parrot. Though with him, as a rule, “brevity is the soul of wit,” he accosts Hamlet quite as cordially as any other member of the family, with “Hello” when the dog trots into the room and “Good-by” when he trots out. He is, indeed, so far in sympathy with Hamlet that, well-nigh to our despair, he seconds the collie’s uncivil clamor when the doorbell rings by stentorian shouts of “Fire! Fire!! FIRE!!!” We do not admit that, in general, Polonius talks only “words, words, words.” If he does, the coincidences are uncanny, for he warns “Look out” as we lift his heavy cage and pronounces “All right” as we set it safely down. I was adding a column of figures yesterday and, as I named the total, Polonius said in an approving tone: “That’s right; that’s it.” He has a mild curiosity about our doings and occasionally responds to our overtures by offering to an outstretched finger the chilly grip of his clay-colored claws,–invariably, like a well-bred bird, presenting the right foot. If Housewife Honeyvoice undertakes to scratch the parrot’s green head, Hamlet rears up against her and insists that the same ceremony be performed on his yellow one. Polonius, for his part, though too blase for jealousy, has a proper self-respect, and when he overhears us comforting our troubled collie with murmurs of “Good Hamlet! Dear Hamlet!” promptly interjects “Pretty Pol.”
But Hamlet, who is so sensitive to suffering that he will go of his own impulse to any visitor in trouble and press close, lavishing all his shy caresses in the effort to console, need not fear that Polonius will usurp his place in my affection. It is all I have to give him and I shall not fail him there. I cannot give that fearful, only half-quieted heart the security it craves from
“the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to.”
There is no security on this whirring planet where pain is pain, and loss is loss, but where, for our deepest of consolation, though it involves our keenest of grief, love is always love.
“Keep me close,” pleads Hamlet, and I promise: “While I can.
Katharine Lee Bates was an ardent feminist and the author of the song “America the Beautiful.”
She attended Wellesley college and later returned to join the faculty. While on staff she met Katharine Coman and began a relationship that lasted for 25 years.
Bates and Coman’s relationship might be best described as a romantic friendship. It is not clear whether their relationship was sexual, but it was intensely loving; Bates referred to Coman as her “Joy of Life” and wrote many poems about their love.
Both women had successful careers at Wellesley college–Bates became chair of the English department, while Coman became chair of the Economics Department and Dean of the college. They kept contact with other educated women who lived in couples as they did, but they did not assume roles as lesbian activists.
In 1912, Coman was diagnosed with cancer, and Bates nursed her until Coman died in 1915. In 1922, Bates published a limited volume of poetry entitled, “Yellow Clover,” where she wrote of their relationship.
Bates remained at Wellesley until she retired in 1925. She died four years later, at the age of 70. Only a few years before her death, she wrote to a friend, “So much of me died with Katharine Coman that I’m sometimes not quite sure whether I’m alive or not.
Biography by Alix North
Two Poems by Katharine Lee Bates
If You Could Come
My love, my love, if you could come once more
From your high place,
I would not question you for heavenly lore,
But, silent, take the comfort of your face.
I would not ask you if those golden spheres
In love rejoice,
If only our stained star hath sin and tears,
But fill my famished hearing with your voice.
One touch of you were worth a thousand creeds.
My wound is numb
Through toil-pressed, but all night long it bleeds
In aching dreams, and still you cannot come.
Must I, who walk alone,
Come on it still,
This Puck of plants
The wise would do away with,
The sunshine slants
To play with,
Our wee, gold-dusty flower, the yellow clover,
Which once in parting for a time
That then seemed long,
Ere time for you was over,
We sealed our own?
Do you remember yet,
O Soul beyond the stars,
Beyond the uttermost dim bars
Dear Soul who found the earth sweet,
Remember by love’s grace,
In dreamy hushes of heavenly song,
How suddenly we halted in our climb,
Lingering, reluctant, up that farthest hill,
Stooped for the blossoms closest to our feet,
And gave them as a token
Each to each,
In lieu of speech,
In lieu of words too grievous to be spoken,
Those little, gypsy, wondering blossoms wet
With a strange dew of tears?
So it began,
This vagabond, unvalued yellow clover,
To be our tenderest language. All the years
It lent a new zest to the summer hours,
As each of us went scheming to surprise
The other with our homely, laureate flowers,
Sonnets and odes,
Fringing our daily roads.
Can amaranth and asphodel
Bring merrier laughter to your eyes?
Oh, if the Blest, in their serene abodes,
Keep any wistful consciousness of earth,
Not grandeurs, but the childish ways of love,
Simplicities of mirth,
Must follow them above
With touches of vague homesickness that pass
Like shadows of swift birds across the grass.
How oft, beneath some foreign arch of sky,
You or I,
For life oft sundered look from look,
And voice from voice, the transient dearth
Schooling my soul to brook
This distance that no messages may span
Upon our wilding by a lonely well,
Or drowsy watermill,
Or swaying to the chime of convent bell,
Or where the nightingales of old romance
With tragical contraltos fill
Dim solitudes of infinite desire;
And once I joyed to meet
Our peasant gadabout
A trespasser on trim, seigniorial seat,
Twinkling a sauce eye
As potentates paced by.
Our golden cord! our soft, pursuing flame
From friendship’s altar fire!
How proudly we would pluck and tame
The dimpling clusters, mutinously gay!
How swiftly they were sent
Far, far away
On journeys wide
By sea and continent,
Green miles and blue leagues over,
From each of us to each,
That so our hearts might reach
And touch within the yellow clover,
Love’s letter to be glad about
Like sunshine when it came!
My sorrow asks no healing; it is love;
Let love then make me brave
To bear the keen hurts of
This careless summertide,
Ay, of our own poor flower,
Changed with our fatal hour,
For all its sunshine vanished when you died.
Only white cover blossoms on your grave.
Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts. The daughter of a Congregational pastor, she graduated from Wellesley College in 1880 and for many years was a professor of English literature at Wellesley. She lived there with her partner Katharine Coman, who herself was a history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College Economics department. The same-sex pair lived together for twenty-five years until Coman’s death in 1915.
The first draft of America the Beautiful was hastily jotted in a notebook during the summer of 1893, which Miss Bates spent teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Later she remembered,
“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”
The words to her one famous poem first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, for Independence Day, 1895. The poem reached a wider audience when her revised version was printed in the Boston Evening Transcript, November 19, 1904. Her final expanded version was written in 1913.
The hymn has been sung to other music, but the familiar tune that Ray Charles delivered is by Samuel A. Ward (1847-1903), written for his hymn Materna (1882).
Miss Bates was a prolific author of many volumes of poetry, travel books and children’s books. Her family home on Falmouth’s Main Street is preserved by the Falmouth Historical Society.
Katharine Lee Bates died in Wellesley, Massachusetts, on March 26, 1929.
Katharine B. and Katharine C.
While on the faculty at Wellesley College, Bates met Katharine Coman with whom she formed a “romantic friendship.” Coman served on the faculty as the chair of the Economics Department and Dean of the college.
Bates and Coman lived as a couple for 25 years in what is sometimes referred to as a “Boston marriage.” In 1912, Coman was diagnosed with cancer. Bates nursed Coman through three painful years of physical decline. Katherine Coman died in 1915.
“So much of me died with Katharine Coman that I’m sometimes not quite sure whether I’m alive or not.” – K. L. Bates Lambda.net