With much merriment and an excessive amount of facial expression this little girl held forth to us. It is hardly necessary to say that the account varied somewhat from day to day. She did not like it at home and did not propose to go back there. There were too many in the family. As soon as the floor was scrubbed one of the children would get it all dirty again. She had started for New York, but the old gatekeeper at the station was mean and she could not slip by him. She got along all right in Omaha, but finally she gave herself up to the police there. She thinks perhaps she might go up to the people in Wisconsin who wanted to adopt her. In any case, she can do a great deal better than Viola B. who ran away from New York and got caught, and was so much talked about in the newspapers.
Thus her story would run along at great length, Birdie in the meanwhile chuckling with the thought of her own escapades.
We never recommended institution life because it seemed as if better things might be done for this girl. We felt that if she were built up from a physical standpoint her tendency towards nervous excitement might grow less. Her tonsils were removed. Every one felt that the girl's good mental abilities should be conserved to the utmost. Attempts at management in a different environment gave some hope of success, and after a time her parents moved to a smaller town, when we lost oversight of the girl. Following our acquaintance with the case it had been managed in the light of her characteristics, and her falsifying tendencies were constantly discounted by those in charge. We felt that her tendency was to grow more stable.
Three years later: We have just gained further information concerning Birdie. The family is still in straitened circumstances, the father having proved too weak a character to support them. He posed as somewhat of a gentleman and made off to another country. Birdie is said to have worked steadily for months at a time, but over a year ago suddenly left home once more, this time going with a stage company. Although the police in several cities have been appealed to, no trace has been obtained as yet of our young friend. Whether her lying was continued at home we cannot satisfactorily learn, nor do we know accurately about any continuance of her state of excitement, but without doubt Birdie in her present wandering is fabricating anew, and is what she was before, namely, a young adventuress.
--------------------------------------------------------------- Mental conditions: Constitutional excitement. Case 22. Girl, age 14 years. Developmental conditions: Defective pregnancy. Early impaction of teeth. Poor general physical conditions. Home conditions: Poverty. Irritability of father and mother. Delinquencies: Mentality: Running away. Ability good; Stealing. Constitutional Lying. excitement. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Summary: A girl of 16 having been out all of one night, related a story to the police of having been led off, and incidentally made the statement that she had been repeatedly immoral, once with a relative. She dictated and signed a detailed account of the affairs, giving times and places. This was used in investigating and led to much fruitless effort even on the part of experienced people--her story was quite untrue. When studied she proved to be a mild case of chorea, exhibiting the typical psychotic tendencies of that disease, such as we have observed in court work a number of times.
Nellie M., when brought to us by her grandmother, following the girl's experience with the police who had been told by her of immoralities practiced, was found to be rather a nice looking and gentle girl, pleasant and responsive with us.
On the physical side we found her to be poorly developed and nourished. Weight 93 lbs.; height 4 ft. 9 in. Vision about 20/40 in each eye, but wears glasses which correct this. Rather poor color. Complains somewhat of headaches. Marked tremor of outstretched hands. Moderate amount of choreic movements in arms and legs, exaggerated when attention distracted. Knee jerks exaggerated. Conjunctival and palatal reflexes almost absent. Small regular features. Well shaped head. Said to drink at least 4 cups of tea a day. Heart sounds negative.