A New Beginning
Clara's weakened physical condition made it appear unlikely that there would be a new beginning in her life. It might have been expected that once back in the United States she would continue to enjoy the respect and admiration of the nation as she quietly slipped into retirement, the heroine of two continents. Looked at from the outside there was much to encourage such a prospect. Come December Barton would be fifty-three years old; presumably her great work was behind her. Financially comfortably off she would probably choose to live in Washington where she knew virtually everyone worth knowing, right up to the vice president, former Senator Henry Wilson. Of course Clara would continue with good works, both corporal and spiritual according to her own lights, but her great days had passed. Or so it all seemed. Barton's supreme achievement, the establishment and direction of the American Red Cross lay short years ahead. Not even Clara, for all her indomitable will, could have predicted that her service to mankind would stretch into the next century. On the other hand, that very indomitability was to make such a thing happen.
How could this be? First of all she must regain her health, both her physical stamina and her mental balance. There were problems of a psychosomatic kind. If as the medical doctors who attended her insisted, there was nothing organically amiss, why should she be crippled to the point of incapacity by a weakened condition. The death