In His Steps
Charles M. Sheldon
Part 2 out of 5
"Mr. Maxwell's promise?"
"No, mine. You know what it was, do you not, mother?"
"I suppose I do. Of course all the church members mean to imitate
Christ and follow Him, as far as is consistent with our present day
surroundings. But what has that to do with your decision in the
concert company matter?"
"It has everything to do with it. After asking, 'What would Jesus
do?' and going to the source of authority for wisdom, I have been
obliged to say that I do not believe He would, in my case, make that
use of my voice."
"Why? Is there anything wrong about such a career?"
"No, I don't know that I can say there is."
"Do you presume to sit in judgment on other people who go out to
sing in this way? Do you presume to say they are doing what Christ
would not do?"
"Mother, I wish you to understand me. I judge no one else; I condemn
no other professional singer. I simply decide my own course. As I
look at it, I have a conviction that Jesus would do something else."
"What else?" Mrs. Winslow had not yet lost her temper. She did not
understand the situation nor Rachel in the midst of it, but she was
anxious that her daughter's course should be as distinguished as her
natural gifts promised. And she felt confident that when the present
unusual religious excitement in the First Church had passed away
Rachel would go on with her public life according to the wishes of
the family. She was totally unprepared for Rachel's next remark.
"What? Something that will serve mankind where it most needs the
service of song. Mother, I have made up my mind to use my voice in
some way so as to satisfy my own soul that I am doing something
better than pleasing fashionable audiences, or making money, or even
gratifying my own love of singing. I am going to do something that
will satisfy me when I ask: 'What would Jesus do?' I am not
satisfied, and cannot be, when I think of myself as singing myself
into the career of a concert company performer."
Rachel spoke with a vigor and earnestness that surprised her mother.
But Mrs. Winslow was angry now; and she never tried to conceal her
"It is simply absurd! Rachel, you are a fanatic! What can you do?"
"The world has been served by men and women who have given it other
things that were gifts. Why should I, because I am blessed with a
natural gift, at once proceed to put a market price on it and make
all the money I can out of it? You know, mother, that you have
taught me to think of a musical career always in the light of
financial and social success. I have been unable, since I made my
promise two weeks ago, to imagine Jesus joining a concert company to
do what I should do and live the life I should have to live if I
Mrs. Winslow rose and then sat down again. With a great effort she
"What do you intend to do then? You have not answered my question."
"I shall continue to sing for the time being in the church. I am
pledged to sing there through the spring. During the week I am going
to sing at the White Cross meetings, down in the Rectangle."
"What! Rachel Winslow! Do you know what you are saying? Do you know
what sort of people those are down there?"
Rachel almost quailed before her mother. For a moment she shrank
back and was silent. Then she spoke firmly: "I know very well. That
is the reason I am going. Mr. and Mrs. Gray have been working there
several weeks. I learned only this morning that they want singers
from the churches to help them in their meetings. They use a tent.
It is in a part of the city where Christian work is most needed. I
shall offer them my help. Mother!" Rachel cried out with the first
passionate utterance she had yet used, "I want to do something that
will cost me something in the way of sacrifice. I know you will not
understand me. But I am hungry to suffer for something. What have we
done all our lives for the suffering, sinning side of Raymond? How
much have we denied ourselves or given of our personal ease and
pleasure to bless the place in which we live or imitate the life of
the Savior of the world? Are we always to go on doing as society
selfishly dictates, moving on its little narrow round of pleasures
and entertainments, and never knowing the pain of things that cost?"
"Are you preaching at me?" asked Mrs. Winslow slowly. Rachel rose,
and understood her mother's words.
"No. I am preaching at myself," she replied gently. She paused a
moment as if she thought her mother would say something more, and
then went out of the room. When she reached her own room she felt
that so far as her own mother was concerned she could expect no
sympathy, nor even a fair understanding from her.
She kneeled. It is safe to say that within the two weeks since Henry
Maxwell's church had faced that shabby figure with the faded hat
more members of his parish had been driven to their knees in prayer
than during all the previous term of his pastorate.
She rose, and her face was wet with tears. She sat thoughtfully a
little while and then wrote a note to Virginia Page. She sent it to
her by a messenger and then went downstairs and told her mother that
she and Virginia were going down to the Rectangle that evening to
see Mr. and Mrs. Gray, the evangelists.
"Virginia's uncle, Dr. West, will go with us, if she goes. I have
asked her to call him up by telephone and go with us. The Doctor is
a friend of the Grays, and attended some of their meetings last
Mrs. Winslow did not say anything. Her manner showed her complete
disapproval of Rachel's course, and Rachel felt her unspoken
About seven o'clock the Doctor and Virginia appeared, and together
the three started for the scene of the White Cross meetings.
The Rectangle was the most notorious district in Raymond. It was on
the territory close by the railroad shops and the packing houses.
The great slum and tenement district of Raymond congested its worst
and most wretched elements about the Rectangle. This was a barren
field used in the summer by circus companies and wandering showmen.
It was shut in by rows of saloons, gambling hells and cheap, dirty
boarding and lodging houses.
The First Church of Raymond had never touched the Rectangle problem.
It was too dirty, too coarse, too sinful, too awful for close
contact. Let us be honest. There had been an attempt to cleanse this
sore spot by sending down an occasional committee of singers or
Sunday-school teachers or gospel visitors from various churches. But
the First Church of Raymond, as an institution, had never really
done anything to make the Rectangle any less a stronghold of the
devil as the years went by.
Into this heart of the coarse part of the sin of Raymond the
traveling evangelist and his brave little wife had pitched a
good-sized tent and begun meetings. It was the spring of the year
and the evenings were beginning to be pleasant. The evangelists had
asked for the help of Christian people, and had received more than
the usual amount of encouragement. But they felt a great need of
more and better music. During the meetings on the Sunday just gone
the assistant at the organ had been taken ill. The volunteers from
the city were few and the voices were of ordinary quality.
"There will be a small meeting tonight, John," said his wife, as
they entered the tent a little after seven o'clock and began to
arrange the chairs and light up.
"Yes, I fear so." Mr. Gray was a small, energetic man, with a
pleasant voice and the courage of a high-born fighter. He had
already made friends in the neighborhood and one of his converts, a
heavy-faced man who had just come in, began to help in the arranging
It was after eight o'clock when Alexander Powers opened the door of
his office and started for home. He was going to take a car at the
corner of the Rectangle. But he was roused by a voice coming from
It was the voice of Rachel Winslow. It struck through his
consciousness of struggle over his own question that had sent him
into the Divine Presence for an answer. He had not yet reached a
conclusion. He was tortured with uncertainty. His whole previous
course of action as a railroad man was the poorest possible
preparation for anything sacrificial. And he could not yet say what
he would do in the matter.
Hark! What was she singing? How did Rachel Winslow happen to be down
here? Several windows near by went up. Some men quarreling near a
saloon stopped and listened. Other figures were walking rapidly in
the direction of the Rectangle and the tent. Surely Rachel Winslow
had never sung like that in the First Church. It was a marvelous
voice. What was it she was singing? Again Alexander Powers,
Superintendent of the machine shops, paused and listened,
"Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him.
All the way!"
The brutal, coarse, impure life of the Rectangle stirred itself into
new life as the song, as pure as the surroundings were vile, floated
out and into saloon and den and foul lodging. Some one stumbled
hastily by Alexander Powers and said in answer to a question: "De
tent's beginning to run over tonight. That's what the talent calls
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up
his cross daily and follow me."
HENRY MAXWELL paced his study back and forth. It was Wednesday and
he had started to think out the subject of his evening service which
fell upon that night. Out of one of his study windows he could see
the tall chimney of the railroad shops. The top of the evangelist's
tent just showed over the buildings around the Rectangle. He looked
out of his window every time he turned in his walk. After a while he
sat down at his desk and drew a large piece of paper toward him.
After thinking several moments he wrote in large letters the
A NUMBER OF THINGS THAT JESUS WOULD PROBABLY DO IN THIS PARISH
Live in a simple, plain manner, without needless luxury on the one
hand or undue asceticism on the other. Preach fearlessly to the
hypocrites in the church, no matter what their social importance or
wealth. Show in some practical form His sympathy and love for the
common people as well as for the well-to-do, educated, refined
people who make up the majority of the parish. Identify Himself with
the great causes of humanity in some personal way that would call
for self-denial and suffering. Preach against the saloon in Raymond.
Become known as a friend and companion of the sinful people in the
Rectangle. Give up the summer trip to Europe this year. (I have been
abroad twice and cannot claim any special need of rest. I am well,
and could forego this pleasure, using the money for some one who
needs a vacation more than I do. There are probably plenty of such
people in the city.)
He was conscious, with a humility that was once a stranger to him,
that his outline of Jesus' probable action was painfully lacking in
depth and power, but he was seeking carefully for concrete shapes
into which he might cast his thought of Jesus' conduct. Nearly every
point he had put down, meant, for him, a complete overturning of the
custom and habit of years in the ministry. In spite of that, he
still searched deeper for sources of the Christ-like spirit. He did
not attempt to write any more, but sat at his desk absorbed in his
effort to catch more and more the spirit of Jesus in his own life.
He had forgotten the particular subject for his prayer meeting with
which he had begun his morning study.
He was so absorbed over his thought that he did not hear the bell
ring; he was roused by the servant who announced a caller. He had
sent up his name, Mr. Gray.
Maxwell stepped to the head of the stairs and asked Gray to come up.
So Gray came up and stated the reason for his call.
"I want your help, Mr. Maxwell. Of course you have heard what a
wonderful meeting we had Monday night and last night. Miss Winslow
has done more with her voice than I could do, and the tent won't
hold the people."
"I've heard of that. It is the first time the people there have
heard her. It is no wonder they are attracted."
"It has been a wonderful revelation to us, and a most encouraging
event in our work. But I came to ask if you could not come down
tonight and preach. I am suffering from a severe cold. I do not dare
trust my voice again. I know it is asking a good deal from such a
busy man. But, if you can't come, say so frankly, and I'll try
"I'm sorry, but it's my regular prayer meeting night," began Henry
Maxwell. Then he flushed and added, "I shall be able to arrange it
in some way so as to come down. You can count on me."
Gray thanked him earnestly and rose to go.
"Won't you stay a minute, Gray, and let us have a prayer together?"
"Yes," said Gray simply.
So the two men kneeled together in the study. Henry Maxwell prayed
like a child. Gray was touched to tears as he knelt there. There was
something almost pitiful in the way this man who had lived his
ministerial life in such a narrow limit of exercise now begged for
wisdom and strength to speak a message to the people in the
Gray rose and held out his hand. "God bless you, Mr. Maxwell. I'm
sure the Spirit will give you power tonight."
Henry Maxwell made no answer. He did not even trust himself to say
that he hoped so. But he thought of his promise and it brought him a
certain peace that was refreshing to his heart and mind alike.
So that is how it came about that when the First Church audience
came into the lecture room that evening it met with another
surprise. There was an unusually large number present. The prayer
meetings ever since that remarkable Sunday morning had been attended
as never before in the history of the First Church. Mr. Maxwell came
at once to the point.
"I feel that I am called to go down to the Rectangle tonight, and I
will leave it with you to say whether you will go on with this
meeting here. I think perhaps the best plan would be for a few
volunteers to go down to the Rectangle with me prepared to help in
the after-meeting, if necessary, and the rest to remain here and
pray that the Spirit power may go with us."
So half a dozen of the men went with the pastor, and the rest of the
audience stayed in the lecture room. Maxwell could not escape the
thought as he left the room that probably in his entire church
membership there might not be found a score of disciples who were
capable of doing work that would successfully lead needy, sinful men
into the knowledge of Christ. The thought did not linger in his mind
to vex him as he went his way, but it was simply a part of his whole
new conception of the meaning of Christian discipleship.
When he and his little company of volunteers reached the Rectangle,
the tent was already crowded. They had difficulty in getting to the
platform. Rachel was there with Virginia and Jasper Chase who had
come instead of the Doctor tonight.
When the meeting began with a song in which Rachel sang the solo and
the people were asked to join in the chorus, not a foot of standing
room was left in the tent. The night was mild and the sides of the
tent were up and a great border of faces stretched around, looking
in and forming part of the audience. After the singing, and a prayer
by one of the city pastors who was present, Gray stated the reason
for his inability to speak, and in his simple manner turned the
service over to "Brother Maxwell of the First Church."
"Who's de bloke?" asked a hoarse voice near the outside of the tent.
"De Fust Church parson. We've got de whole high-tone swell outfit
"Did you say Fust Church? I know him. My landlord's got a front pew
up there," said another voice, and there was a laugh, for the
speaker was a saloon keeper.
"Trow out de life line 'cross de dark wave!" began a drunken man
near by, singing in such an unconscious imitation of a local
traveling singer's nasal tone that roars of laughter and jeers of
approval rose around him. The people in the tent turned in the
direction of the disturbance. There were shouts of "Put him out!"
"Give the Fust Church a chance!" "Song! Song! Give us another song!"
Henry Maxwell stood up, and a great wave of actual terror went over
him. This was not like preaching to the well-dressed, respectable,
good-mannered people up on the boulevard. He began to speak, but the
confusion increased. Gray went down into the crowd, but did not seem
able to quiet it. Maxwell raised his arm and his voice. The crowd in
the tent began to pay some attention, but the noise on the outside
increased. In a few minutes the audience was beyond his control. He
turned to Rachel with a sad smile.
"Sing something, Miss Winslow. They will listen to you," he said,
and then sat down and covered his face with his hands.
It was Rachel's opportunity, and she was fully equal to it. Virginia
was at the organ and Rachel asked her to play a few notes of the
"Savior, I follow on,
Guided by Thee,
Seeing not yet the hand
That leadeth me.
Hushed be my heart and still
Fear I no farther ill,
Only to meet Thy will,
My will shall be."
Rachel had not sung the first line before the people in the tent
were all turned toward her, hushed and reverent. Before she had
finished the verse the Rectangle was subdued and tamed. It lay like
some wild beast at her feet, and she sang it into harmlessness. Ah!
What were the flippant, perfumed, critical audiences in concert
halls compared with this dirty, drunken, impure, besotted mass of
humanity that trembled and wept and grew strangely, sadly thoughtful
under the touch of this divine ministry of this beautiful young
woman! Mr. Maxwell, as he raised his head and saw the transformed
mob, had a glimpse of something that Jesus would probably do with a
voice like Rachel Winslow's. Jasper Chase sat with his eyes on the
singer, and his greatest longing as an ambitious author was
swallowed up in his thought of what Rachel Winslow's love might
sometimes mean to him. And over in the shadow outside stood the last
person any one might have expected to see at a gospel tent
service--Rollin Page, who, jostled on every side by rough men and
women who stared at the swell in fine clothes, seemed careless of
his surroundings and at the same time evidently swayed by the power
that Rachel possessed. He had just come over from the club. Neither
Rachel nor Virginia saw him that night.
The song was over. Maxwell rose again. This time he felt calmer.
What would Jesus do? He spoke as he thought once he never could
speak. Who were these people? They were immortal souls. What was
Christianity? A calling of sinners, not the righteous, to
repentance. How would Jesus speak? What would He say? He could not
tell all that His message would include, but he felt sure of a part
of it. And in that certainty he spoke on. Never before had he felt
"compassion for the multitude." What had the multitude been to him
during his ten years in the First Church but a vague, dangerous,
dirty, troublesome factor in society, outside of the church and of
his reach, an element that caused him occasionally an unpleasant
twinge of conscience, a factor in Raymond that was talked about at
associations as the "masses," in papers written by the brethren in
attempts to show why the "masses" were not being reached. But
tonight as he faced the masses he asked himself whether, after all,
this was not just about such a multitude as Jesus faced oftenest,
and he felt the genuine emotion of love for a crowd which is one of
the best indications a preacher ever has that he is living close to
the heart of the world's eternal Life. It is easy to love an
individual sinner, especially if he is personally picturesque or
interesting. To love a multitude of sinners is distinctively a
When the meeting closed, there was no special interest shown. No one
stayed to the after-meeting. The people rapidly melted away from the
tent, and the saloons, which had been experiencing a dull season
while the meetings progressed, again drove a thriving trade. The
Rectangle, as if to make up for lost time, started in with vigor on
its usual night debauch. Maxwell and his little party, including
Virginia, Rachel and Jasper Chase, walked down past the row of
saloons and dens until they reached the corner where the cars
"This is a terrible spot," said the minister as he stood waiting for
their car. "I never realized that Raymond had such a festering sore.
It does not seem possible that this is a city full of Christian
"Do you think any one can ever remove this great curse of drink?"
asked Jasper Chase.
"I have thought lately as never before of what Christian people
might do to remove the curse of the saloon. Why don't we all act
together against it? Why don't the Christian pastors and the church
members of Raymond move as one man against the traffic? What would
Jesus do? Would He keep silent? Would He vote to license these
causes of crime and death?"
He was talking to himself more than to the others. He remembered
that he had always voted for license, and so had nearly all his
church members. What would Jesus do? Could he answer that question?
Would the Master preach and act against the saloon if He lived
today? How would He preach and act? Suppose it was not popular to
preach against license? Suppose the Christian people thought it was
all that could be done to license the evil and so get revenue from
the necessary sin? Or suppose the church members themselves owned
the property where the saloons stood--what then? He knew that those
were the facts in Raymond. What would Jesus do?
He went up into his study the next morning with that question only
partly answered. He thought of it all day. He was still thinking of
it and reaching certain real conclusions when the EVENING NEWS came.
His wife brought it up and sat down a few minutes while he read to
The EVENING NEWS was at present the most sensational paper in
Raymond. That is to say, it was being edited in such a remarkable
fashion that its subscribers had never been so excited over a
newspaper before. First they had noticed the absence of the prize
fight, and gradually it began to dawn upon them that the NEWS no
longer printed accounts of crime with detailed descriptions, or
scandals in private life. Then they noticed that the advertisements
of liquor and tobacco were dropped, together with certain others of
a questionable character. The discontinuance of the Sunday paper
caused the greatest comment of all, and now the character of the
editorials was creating the greatest excitement. A quotation from
the Monday paper of this week will show what Edward Norman was doing
to keep his promise. The editorial was headed:
THE MORAL SIDE OF POLITICAL QUESTIONS
The editor of the News has always advocated the principles of the
great political party at present in power, and has heretofore
discussed all political questions from the standpoint of expediency,
or of belief in the party as opposed to other political
organizations. Hereafter, to be perfectly honest with all our
readers, the editor will present and discuss all political questions
from the standpoint of right and wrong. In other words, the first
question asked in this office about any political question will not
be, "Is it in the interests of our party?" or, "Is it according to
the principles laid down by our party in its platform?" but the
question first asked will be, "Is this measure in accordance with
the spirit and teachings of Jesus as the author of the greatest
standard of life known to men?" That is, to be perfectly plain, the
moral side of every political question will be considered its most
important side, and the ground will be distinctly taken that nations
as well as individuals are under the same law to do all things to
the glory of God as the first rule of action.
The same principle will be observed in this office toward candidates
for places of responsibility and trust in the republic. Regardless
of party politics the editor of the News will do all in his power to
bring the best men into power, and will not knowingly help to
support for office any candidate who is unworthy, no matter how much
he may be endorsed by the party. The first question asked about the
man and about the measures will be, "Is he the right man for the
place?" "Is he a good man with ability?" "Is the measure right?"
There had been more of this, but we have quoted enough to show the
character of the editorial. Hundreds of men in Raymond had read it
and rubbed their eyes in amazement. A good many of them had promptly
written to the NEWS, telling the editor to stop their paper. The
paper still came out, however, and was eagerly read all over the
city. At the end of a week Edward Norman knew very well that he was
fast losing a large number of subscribers. He faced the conditions
calmly, although Clark, the managing editor, grimly anticipated
ultimate bankruptcy, especially since Monday's editorial.
Tonight, as Maxwell read to his wife, he could see in almost every
column evidences of Norman's conscientious obedience to his promise.
There was an absence of slangy, sensational scare heads. The reading
matter under the head lines was in perfect keeping with them. He
noticed in two columns that the reporters' name appeared signed at
the bottom. And there was a distinct advance in the dignity and
style of their contributions.
"So Norman is beginning to get his reporters to sign their work. He
has talked with me about that. It is a good thing. It fixes
responsibility for items where it belongs and raises the standard of
work done. A good thing all around for the public and the writers."
Maxwell suddenly paused. His wife looked up from some work she was
doing. He was reading something with the utmost interest. "Listen to
this, Mary," he said, after a moment while his lip trembled:
This morning Alexander Powers, Superintendent of the L. and T. R. R.
shops in this city, handed in his resignation to the road, and gave
as his reason the fact that certain proofs had fallen into his hands
of the violation of the Interstate Commerce Law, and also of the
state law which has recently been framed to prevent and punish
railroad pooling for the benefit of certain favored shippers. Mr.
Powers states in his resignation that he can no longer consistently
withhold the information he possesses against the road. He will be a
witness against it. He has placed his evidence against the company
in the hands of the Commission and it is now for them to take action
The News wishes to express itself on this action of Mr. Powers. In
the first place he has nothing to gain by it. He has lost a very
valuable place voluntarily, when by keeping silent he might have
retained it. In the second place, we believe his action ought to
receive the approval of all thoughtful, honest citizens who believe
in seeing law obeyed and lawbreakers brought to justice. In a case
like this, where evidence against a railroad company is generally
understood to be almost impossible to obtain, it is the general
belief that the officers of the road are often in possession of
criminating facts but do not consider it to be any of their business
to inform the authorities that the law is being defied. The entire
result of this evasion of responsibility on the part of those who
are responsible is demoralizing to every young man connected with
the road. The editor of the News recalls the statement made by a
prominent railroad official in this city a little while ago, that
nearly every clerk in a certain department of the road understood
that large sums of money were made by shrewd violations of the
Interstate Commerce Law, was ready to admire the shrewdness with
which it was done, and declared that they would all do the same
thing if they were high enough in railroad circles to attempt it."
HENRY MAXWELL finished reading and dropped the paper.
"I must go and see Powers. This is the result of his promise."
He rose, and as he was going out, his wife said: "Do you think,
Henry, that Jesus would have done that?"
Maxwell paused a moment. Then he answered slowly, "Yes, I think He
would. At any rate, Powers has decided so and each one of us who
made the promise understands that he is not deciding Jesus' conduct
for any one else, only for himself."
"How about his family? How will Mrs. Powers and Celia be likely to
"Very hard, I've no doubt. That will be Powers' cross in this
matter. They will not understand his motive."
Maxwell went out and walked over to the next block where
Superintendent Powers lived. To his relief, Powers himself came to
The two men shook hands silently. They instantly understood each
other without words. There had never before been such a bond of
union between the minister and his parishioner.
"What are you going to do?" Henry Maxwell asked after they had
talked over the facts in the case.
"You mean another position? I have no plans yet. I can go back to my
old work as a telegraph operator. My family will not suffer, except
in a social way."
Powers spoke calmly and sadly. Henry Maxwell did not need to ask him
how the wife and daughter felt. He knew well enough that the
superintendent had suffered deepest at that point.
"There is one matter I wish you would see to," said Powers after
awhile, "and that is, the work begun at the shops. So far as I know,
the company will not object to that going on. It is one of the
contradictions of the railroad world that Y. M. C. A.'s and other
Christian influences are encouraged by the roads, while all the time
the most un-Christian and lawless acts may be committed in the
official management of the roads themselves. Of course it is well
understood that it pays a railroad to have in its employ men who are
temperate, honest and Christian. So I have no doubt the master
mechanic will have the same courtesy shown him in the use of the
room. But what I want you to do, Mr. Maxwell, is to see that my plan
is carried out. Will you? You understand what it was in general. You
made a very favorable impression on the men. Go down there as often
as you can. Get Milton Wright interested to provide something for
the furnishing and expense of the coffee plant and reading tables.
Will you do it?"
"Yes," replied Henry Maxwell. He stayed a little longer. Before he
went away, he and the superintendent had a prayer together, and they
parted with that silent hand grasp that seemed to them like a new
token of their Christian discipleship and fellowship.
The pastor of the First Church went home stirred deeply by the
events of the week. Gradually the truth was growing upon him that
the pledge to do as Jesus would was working out a revolution in his
parish and throughout the city. Every day added to the serious
results of obedience to that pledge. Maxwell did not pretend to see
the end. He was, in fact, only now at the very beginning of events
that were destined to change the history of hundreds of families not
only in Raymond but throughout the entire country. As he thought of
Edward Norman and Rachel and Mr. Powers, and of the results that had
already come from their actions, he could not help a feeling of
intense interest in the probable effect if all the persons in the
First Church who had made the pledge, faithfully kept it. Would they
all keep it, or would some of them turn back when the cross became
He was asking this question the next morning as he sat in his study
when the President of the Endeavor Society of his church called to
"I suppose I ought not to trouble you with my case," said young
Morris coming at once to his errand, "but I thought, Mr. Maxwell,
that you might advise me a little."
"I'm glad you came. Go on, Fred." He had known the young man ever
since his first year in the pastorate, and loved and honored him for
his consistent, faithful service in the church.
"Well, the fact is, I am out of a job. You know I've been doing
reporter work on the morning SENTINEL since I graduated last year.
Well, last Saturday Mr. Burr asked me to go down the road Sunday
morning and get the details of that train robbery at the Junction,
and write the thing up for the extra edition that came out Monday
morning, just to get the start of the NEWS. I refused to go, and
Burr gave me my dismissal. He was in a bad temper, or I think
perhaps he would not have done it. He has always treated me well
before. Now, do you think Jesus would have done as I did? I ask
because the other fellows say I was a fool not to do the work. I
want to feel that a Christian acts from motives that may seem
strange to others sometimes, but not foolish. What do you think?"
"I think you kept your promise, Fred. I cannot believe Jesus would
do newspaper reporting on Sunday as you were asked to do it."
"Thank you, Mr. Maxwell. I felt a little troubled over it, but the
longer I think it over the better I feel."
Morris rose to go, and his pastor rose and laid a loving hand on the
young man's shoulder. "What are you going to do, Fred?"
"I don't know yet. I have thought some of going to Chicago or some
large city ."
"Why don't you try the NEWS?"
"They are all supplied. I have not thought of applying there."
Maxwell thought a moment. "Come down to the NEWS office with me, and
let us see Norman about it."
So a few minutes later Edward Norman received into his room the
minister and young Morris, and Maxwell briefly told the cause of the
"I can give you a place on the NEWS," said Norman with his keen look
softened by a smile that made it winsome. "I want reporters who
won't work Sundays. And what is more, I am making plans for a
special kind of reporting which I believe you can develop because
you are in sympathy with what Jesus would do."
He assigned Morris a definite task, and Maxwell started back to his
study, feeling that kind of satisfaction (and it is a very deep
kind) which a man feels when he has been even partly instrumental in
finding an unemployed person a remunerative position.
He had intended to go right to his study, but on his way home he
passed by one of Milton Wright's stores. He thought he would simply
step in and shake hands with his parishioner and bid him God-speed
in what he had heard he was doing to put Christ into his business.
But when he went into the office, Wright insisted on detaining him
to talk over some of his new plans. Maxwell asked himself if this
was the Milton Wright he used to know, eminently practical,
business-like, according to the regular code of the business world,
and viewing every thing first and foremost from the standpoint of,
"Will it pay?"
"There is no use to disguise the fact, Mr. Maxwell, that I have been
compelled to revolutionize the entire method of my business since I
made that promise. I have been doing a great many things during the
last twenty years in this store that I know Jesus would not do. But
that is a small item compared with the number of things I begin to
believe Jesus would do. My sins of commission have not been as many
as those of omission in business relations."
"What was the first change you made?" He felt as if his sermon could
wait for him in his study. As the interview with Milton Wright
continued, he was not so sure but that he had found material for a
sermon without going back to his study.
"I think the first change I had to make was in my thought of my
employees. I came down here Monday morning after that Sunday and
asked myself, 'What would Jesus do in His relation to these clerks,
bookkeepers, office-boys, draymen, salesmen? Would He try to
establish some sort of personal relation to them different from that
which I have sustained all these years?' I soon answered this by
saying, 'Yes.' Then came the question of what that relation would be
and what it would lead me to do. I did not see how I could answer it
to my satisfaction without getting all my employees together and
having a talk with them. So I sent invitations to all of them, and
we had a meeting out there in the warehouse Tuesday night. A good
many things came out of that meeting. I can't tell you all. I tried
to talk with the men as I imagined Jesus might. It was hard work,
for I have not been in the habit of it, and must have made some
mistakes. But I can hardly make you believe, Mr. Maxwell, the effect
of that meeting on some of the men. Before it closed I saw more than
a dozen of them with tears on their faces. I kept asking, 'What
would Jesus do?' and the more I asked it the farther along it pushed
me into the most intimate and loving relations with the men who have
worked for me all these years. Every day something new is coming up
and I am right now in the midst of a reconstruction of the entire
business so far as its motive for being conducted is concerned. I am
so practically ignorant of all plans for co-operation and its
application to business that I am trying to get information from
every possible source. I have lately made a special study of the
life of Titus Salt, the great mill-owner of Bradford, England, who
afterward built that model town on the banks of the Aire. There is a
good deal in his plans that will help me. But I have not yet reached
definite conclusions in regard to all the details. I am not enough
used to Jesus' methods. But see here."
Wright eagerly reached up into one of the pigeon holes of his desk
and took out a paper.
"I have sketched out what seems to me like a program such as Jesus
might go by in a business like mine. I want you to tell me what you
think of it:
"WHAT JESUS WOULD PROBABLY DO IN MILTON WRIGHT'S PLACE AS A BUSINESS
He would engage in the, business first of all for the purpose of
glorifying God, and not for the primary purpose of making money. All
money that might be made he would never regard as his own, but as
trust funds to be used for the good of humanity. His relations with
all the persons in his employ would be the most loving and helpful.
He could not help thinking of all of them in the light of souls to
be saved. This thought would always be greater than his thought of
making money in the business. He would never do a single dishonest
or questionable thing or try in any remotest way to get the
advantage of any one else in the same business. The principle of
unselfishness and helpfulness in the business would direct all its
details. Upon this principle he would shape the entire plan of his
relations to his employees, to the people who were his customers and
to the general business world with which he was connected.
Henry Maxwell read this over slowly. It reminded him of his own
attempts the day before to put into a concrete form his thought of
Jesus' probable action. He was very thoughtful as he looked up and
met Wright's eager gaze.
"Do you believe you can continue to make your business pay on these
"I do. Intelligent unselfishness ought to be wiser than intelligent
selfishness, don't you think? If the men who work as employees begin
to feel a personal share in the profits of the business and, more
than that, a personal love for themselves on the part of the firm,
won't the result be more care, less waste, more diligence, more
"Yes, I think so. A good many other business men don't, do they? I
mean as a general thing. How about your relations to the selfish
world that is not trying to make money on Christian principles?"
"That complicates my action, of course."
"Does your plan contemplate what is coming to be known as
"Yes, as far as I have gone, it does. As I told you, I am studying
out my details carefully. I am absolutely convinced that Jesus in my
place would be absolutely unselfish. He would love all these men in
His employ. He would consider the main purpose of all the business
to be a mutual helpfulness, and would conduct it all so that God's
kingdom would be evidently the first object sought. On those general
principles, as I say, I am working. I must have time to complete the
When Maxwell finally left he was profoundly impressed with the
revolution that was being wrought already in the business. As he
passed out of the store he caught something of the new spirit of the
place. There was no mistaking the fact that Milton Wright's new
relations to his employees were beginning even so soon, after less
than two weeks, to transform the entire business. This was apparent
in the conduct and faces of the clerks.
"If he keeps on he will be one of the most influential preachers in
Raymond," said Maxwell to himself when he reached his study. The
question rose as to his continuance in this course when he began to
lose money by it, as was possible. He prayed that the Holy Spirit,
who had shown Himself with growing power in the company of First
Church disciples, might abide long with them all. And with that
prayer on his lips and in his heart he began the preparation of a
sermon in which he was going to present to his people on Sunday the
subject of the saloon in Raymond, as he now believed Jesus would do.
He had never preached against the saloon in this way before. He knew
that the things he should say would lead to serious results.
Nevertheless, he went on with his work, and every sentence he wrote
or shaped was preceded with the question, "Would Jesus say that?"
Once in the course of his study, he went down on his knees. No one
except himself could know what that meant to him. When had he done
that in his preparation of sermons, before the change that had come
into his thought of discipleship? As he viewed his ministry now, he
did not dare preach without praying long for wisdom. He no longer
thought of his dramatic delivery and its effect on his audience. The
great question with him now was, "What would Jesus do?"
Saturday night at the Rectangle witnessed some of the most
remarkable scenes that Mr. Gray and his wife had ever known. The
meetings had intensified with each night of Rachel's singing. A
stranger passing through the Rectangle in the day-time might have
heard a good deal about the meetings in one way and another. It
cannot be said that up to that Saturday night there was any
appreciable lack of oaths and impurity and heavy drinking. The
Rectangle would not have acknowledged that it was growing any better
or that even the singing had softened its outward manner. It had too
much local pride in being "tough." But in spite of itself there was
a yielding to a power it had never measured and did not know we
enough to resist beforehand.
Gray had recovered his voice so that by Saturday he was able to
speak. The fact that he was obliged to use his voice carefully made
it necessary for the people to be very quiet if they wanted to hear.
Gradually they had come to understand that this man was talking
these many weeks and giving his time and strength to give them a
knowledge of a Savior, all out of a perfectly unselfish love for
them. Tonight the great crowd was as quiet as Henry Maxwell's
decorous audience ever was. The fringe around the tent was deeper
and the saloons were practically empty. The Holy Spirit had come at
last, and Gray knew that one of the great prayers of his life was
going to be answered.
And Rachel her singing was the best, most wonderful, that Virginia
or Jasper Chase had ever known. They came together again tonight,
this time with Dr. West, who had spent all his spare time that week
in the Rectangle with some charity cases. Virginia was at the organ,
Jasper sat on a front seat looking up at Rachel, and the Rectangle
swayed as one man towards the platform as she sang:
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
Gray hardly said a word. He stretched out his hand with a gesture of
invitation. And down the two aisles of the tent, broken, sinful
creatures, men and women, stumbled towards the platform. One woman
out of the street was near the organ. Virginia caught the look of
her face, and for the first time in the life of the rich girl the
thought of what Jesus was to the sinful woman came with a suddenness
and power that was like nothing but a new birth. Virginia left the
organ, went to her, looked into her face and caught her hands in her
own. The other girl trembled, then fell on her knees sobbing, with
her head down upon the back of the rude bench in front of her, still
clinging to Virginia. And Virginia, after a moment's hesitation,
kneeled down by her and the two heads were bowed close together.
But when the people had crowded in a double row all about the
platform, most of them kneeling and crying, a man in evening dress,
different from the others, pushed through the seats and came and
kneeled down by the side of the drunken man who had disturbed the
meeting when Maxwell spoke. He kneeled within a few feet of Rachel
Winslow, who was still singing softly. And as she turned for a
moment and looked in his direction, she was amazed to see the face
of Rollin Page! For a moment her voice faltered. Then she went on:
"Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
"If any man serve me, let him follow me."
IT was nearly midnight before the services at the Rectangle closed.
Gray stayed up long into Sunday morning, praying and talking with a
little group of converts who in the great experiences of their new
life, clung to the evangelist with a personal helplessness that made
it as impossible for him to leave them as if they had been depending
upon him to save them from physical death. Among these converts was
Virginia and her uncle had gone home about eleven o'clock, and
Rachel and Jasper Chase had gone with them as far as the avenue
where Virginia lived. Dr. West had walked on a little way with them
to his own home, and Rachel and Jasper had then gone on together to
That was a little after eleven. It was now striking midnight, and
Jasper Chase sat in his room staring at the papers on his desk and
going over the last half hour with painful persistence.
He had told Rachel Winslow of his love for her, and she had not
given him her love in return. It would be difficult to know what was
most powerful in the impulse that had moved him to speak to her
tonight. He had yielded to his feelings without any special thought
of results to himself, because he had felt so certain that Rachel
would respond to his love. He tried to recall the impression she
made on him when he first spoke to her.
Never had her beauty and her strength influenced him as tonight.
While she was singing he saw and heard no one else. The tent swarmed
with a confused crowd of faces and he knew he was sitting there
hemmed in by a mob of people, but they had no meaning to him. He
felt powerless to avoid speaking to her. He knew he should speak
when they were alone.
Now that he had spoken, he felt that he had misjudged either Rachel
or the opportunity. He knew, or thought he knew, that she had begun
to care something for him. It was no secret between them that the
heroine of Jasper's first novel had been his own ideal of Rachel,
and the hero in the story was himself and they had loved each other
in the book, and Rachel had not objected. No one else knew. The
names and characters had been drawn with a subtle skill that
revealed to Rachel, when she received a copy of the book from
Jasper, the fact of his love for her, and she had not been offended.
That was nearly a year ago.
Tonight he recalled the scene between them with every inflection and
movement unerased from his memory. He even recalled the fact that he
began to speak just at that point on the avenue where, a few days
before, he had met Rachel walking with Rollin Page. He had wondered
at the time what Rollin was saying.
"Rachel," Jasper had said, and it was the first time he had ever
spoken her first name, "I never knew till tonight how much I loved
you. Why should I try to conceal any longer what you have seen me
look? You know I love you as my life. I can no longer hide it from
you if I would."
The first intimation he had of a repulse was the trembling of
Rachel's arm in his. She had allowed him to speak and had neither
turned her face toward him nor away from him. She had looked
straight on and her voice was sad but firm and quiet when she spoke.
"Why do you speak to me now? I cannot bear it--after what we have
"Why--what--" he had stammered and then was silent.
Rachel withdrew her arm from his but still walked near him. Then he
had cried out with the anguish of one who begins to see a great loss
facing him where he expected a great joy.
"Rachel! Do you not love me? Is not my love for you as sacred as
anything in all of life itself?"
She had walked silent for a few steps after that. They passed a
street lamp. Her face was pale and beautiful. He had made a movement
to clutch her arm and she had moved a little farther from him.
"No," she had replied. "There was a time I--cannot answer for that
you--should not have spoken to me--now."
He had seen in these words his answer. He was extremely sensitive.
Nothing short of a joyous response to his own love would ever have
satisfied him. He could not think of pleading with her.
"Some time--when I am more worthy?" he had asked in a low voice, but
she did not seem to hear, and they had parted at her home, and he
recalled vividly the fact that no good-night had been said.
Now as he went over the brief but significant scene he lashed
himself for his foolish precipitancy. He had not reckoned on
Rachel's tense, passionate absorption of all her feeling in the
scenes at the tent which were so new in her mind. But he did not
know her well enough even yet to understand the meaning of her
refusal. When the clock in the First Church struck one he was still
sitting at his desk staring at the last page of manuscript of his
Rachel went up to her room and faced her evening's experience with
conflicting emotions. Had she ever loved Jasper Chase? Yes. No. One
moment she felt that her life's happiness was at stake over the
result of her action. Another, she had a strange feeling of relief
that she had spoken as she had. There was one great, overmastering
feeling in her. The response of the wretched creatures in the tent
to her singing, the swift, powerful, awesome presence of the Holy
Spirit had affected her as never in all her life before. The moment
Jasper had spoken her name and she realized that he was telling her
of his love she had felt a sudden revulsion for him, as if he should
have respected the supernatural events they had just witnessed. She
felt as if it was not the time to be absorbed in anything less than
the divine glory of those conversions. The thought that all the time
she was singing, with the one passion of her soul to touch the
conscience of that tent full of sin, Jasper Chase had been unmoved
by it except to love her for herself, gave her a shock as of
irreverence on her part as well as on his. She could not tell why
she felt as she did, only she knew that if he had not told her
tonight she would still have felt the same toward him as she always
had. What was that feeling? What had he been to her? Had she made a
mistake? She went to her book case and took out the novel which
Jasper had given her. Her face deepened in color as she turned to
certain passages which she had read often and which she knew Jasper
had written for her. She read them again. Somehow they failed to
touch her strongly. She closed the book and let it lie on the table.
She gradually felt that her thought was busy with the sights she had
witnessed in the tent. Those faces, men and women, touched for the
first time with the Spirit's glory--what a wonderful thing life was
after all! The complete regeneration revealed in the sight of
drunken, vile, debauched humanity kneeling down to give itself to a
life of purity and Christlikeness--oh, it was surely a witness to
the superhuman in the world! And the face of Rollin Page by the side
of that miserable wreck out of the gutter! She could recall as if
she now saw it, Virginia crying with her arms about her brother just
before she left the tent, and Mr. Gray kneeling close by, and the
girl Virginia had taken into her heart while she whispered something
to her before she went out. All these pictures drawn by the Holy
Spirit in the human tragedies brought to a climax there in the most
abandoned spot in all Raymond, stood out in Rachel's memory now, a
memory so recent that her room seemed for the time being to contain
all the actors and their movements.
"No! No!" she said aloud. "He had no right to speak after all that!
He should have respected the place where our thoughts should have
been. I am sure I do not love him--not enough to give him my life!"
And after she had thus spoken, the evening's experience at the tent
came crowding in again, thrusting out all other things. It is
perhaps the most striking evidence of the tremendous spiritual
factor which had now entered the Rectangle that Rachel felt, even
when the great love of a strong man had come very near to her, that
the spiritual manifestation moved her with an agitation far greater
than anything Jasper had felt for her personally or she for him.
The people of Raymond awoke Sunday morning to a growing knowledge of
events which were beginning to revolutionize many of the regular,
customary habits of the town. Alexander Powers' action in the matter
of the railroad frauds had created a sensation not only in Raymond
but throughout the country. Edward Norman's daily changes of policy
in the conduct of his paper had startled the community and caused
more comment than any recent political event. Rachel Winslow's
singing at the Rectangle meetings had made a stir in society and
excited the wonder of all her friends.
Virginia's conduct, her presence every night with Rachel, her
absence from the usual circle of her wealthy, fashionable
acquaintances, had furnished a great deal of material for gossip and
question. In addition to these events which centered about these
persons who were so well known, there had been all through the city
in very many homes and in business and social circles strange
happenings. Nearly one hundred persons in Henry Maxwell's church had
made the pledge to do everything after asking: "What would Jesus
do?" and the result had been, in many cases, unheard-of actions. The
city was stirred as it had never been before. As a climax to the
week's events had come the spiritual manifestation at the Rectangle,
and the announcement which came to most people before church time of
the actual conversion at the tent of nearly fifty of the worst
characters in that neighborhood, together with the con version of
Rollin Page, the well-known society and club man.
It is no wonder that under the pressure of all this the First Church
of Raymond came to the morning service in a condition that made it
quickly sensitive to any large truth. Perhaps nothing had astonished
the people more than the great change that had come over the
minister, since he had proposed to them the imitation of Jesus in
conduct. The dramatic delivery of his sermons no longer impressed
them. The self-satisfied, contented, easy attitude of the fine
figure and refined face in the pulpit had been displaced by a manner
that could not be compared with the old style of his delivery. The
sermon had become a message. It was no longer delivered. It was
brought to them with a love, an earnestness, a passion, a desire, a
humility that poured its enthusiasm about the truth and made the
speaker no more prominent than he had to be as the living voice of
God. His prayers were unlike any the people had heard before. They
were often broken, even once or twice they had been actually
ungrammatical in a phrase or two. When had Henry Maxwell so far
forgotten himself in a prayer as to make a mistake of that sort? He
knew that he had often taken as much pride in the diction and
delivery of his prayers as of his sermons. Was it possible he now so
abhorred the elegant refinement of a formal public petition that he
purposely chose to rebuke himself for his previous precise manner of
prayer? It is more likely that he had no thought of all that. His
great longing to voice the needs and wants of his people made him
unmindful of an occasional mistake. It is certain that he had never
prayed so effectively as he did now.
There are times when a sermon has a value and power due to
conditions in the audience rather than to anything new or startling
or eloquent in the words said or arguments presented. Such
conditions faced Henry Maxwell this morning as he preached against
the saloon, according to his purpose determined on the week before.
He had no new statements to make about the evil influence of the
saloon in Raymond. What new facts were there? He had no startling
illustrations of the power of the saloon in business or politics.
What could he say that had not been said by temperance orators a
great many times? The effect of his message this morning owed its
power to the unusual fact of his preaching about the saloon at all,
together with the events that had stirred the people. He had never
in the course of his ten years' pastorate mentioned the saloon as
something to be regarded in the light of an enemy, not only to the
poor and tempted, but to the business life of the place and the
church itself. He spoke now with a freedom that seemed to measure
his complete sense of conviction that Jesus would speak so. At the
close he pleaded with the people to remember the new life that had
begun at the Rectangle. The regular election of city officers was
near at hand. The question of license would be an issue in the
election. What of the poor creatures surrounded by the hell of drink
while just beginning to feel the joy of deliverance from sin? Who
could tell what depended on their environment? Was there one word to
be said by the Christian disciple, business man, citizen, in favor
of continuing the license to crime and shame-producing institutions?
Was not the most Christian thing they could do to act as citizens in
the matter, fight the saloon at the polls, elect good men to the
city offices, and clean the municipality? How much had prayers
helped to make Raymond better while votes and actions had really
been on the side of the enemies of Jesus? Would not Jesus do this?
What disciple could imagine Him refusing to suffer or to take up His
cross in this matter? How much had the members of the First Church
ever suffered in an attempt to imitate Jesus? Was Christian
discipleship a thing of conscience simply, of custom, of tradition?
Where did the suffering come in? Was it necessary in order to follow
Jesus' steps to go up Calvary as well as the Mount of
His appeal was stronger at this point than he knew. It is not too
much to say that the spiritual tension of the people reached its
highest point right there. The imitation of Jesus which had begun
with the volunteers in the church was working like leaven in the
organization, and Henry Maxwell would even thus early in his life
have been amazed if he could have measured the extent of desire on
the part of his people to take up the cross. While he was speaking
this morning, before he closed with a loving appeal to the
discipleship of two thousand years' knowledge of the Master, many a
man and woman in the church was saying as Rachel had said so
passionately to her mother: "I want to do something that will cost
me something in the way of sacrifice." "I am hungry to suffer
something." Truly, Mazzini was right when he said that no appeal is
quite so powerful in the end as the call: "Come and suffer."
The service was over, the great audience had gone, and Maxwell again
faced the company gathered in the lecture room as on the two
previous Sundays. He had asked all to remain who had made the pledge
of discipleship, and any others who wished to be included. The after
service seemed now to be a necessity. As he went in and faced the
people there his heart trembled. There were at least one hundred
present. The Holy Spirit was never before so manifest. He missed
Jasper Chase. But all the others were present. He asked Milton
Wright to pray. The very air was charged with divine possibilities.
What could resist such a baptism of power? How had they lived all
these years without it?
DONALD MARSH, President of Lincoln College, walked home with Mr.
"I have reached one conclusion, Maxwell," said Marsh, speaking
slowly. "I have found my cross and it is a heavy one, but I shall
never be satisfied until I take it up and carry it." Maxwell was
silent and the President went on.
"Your sermon today made clear to me what I have long been feeling I
ought to do. 'What would Jesus do in my place?' I have asked the
question repeatedly since I made my promise. I have tried to satisfy
myself that He would simply go on as I have done, attending to the
duties of my college work, teaching the classes in Ethics and
Philosophy. But I have not been able to avoid the feeling that He
would do something more. That something is what I do not want to do.
It will cause me genuine suffering to do it. I dread it with all my
soul. You may be able to guess what it is."
"Yes, I think I know. It is my cross too. I would almost rather do
any thing else."
Donald Marsh looked surprised, then relieved. Then he spoke sadly
but with great conviction: "Maxwell, you and I belong to a class of
professional men who have always avoided the duties of citizenship.
We have lived in a little world of literature and scholarly
seclusion, doing work we have enjoyed and shrinking from the
disagreeable duties that belong to the life of the citizen. I
confess with shame that I have purposely avoided the responsibility
that I owe to this city personally. I understand that our city
officials are a corrupt, unprincipled set of men, controlled in
large part by the whiskey element and thoroughly selfish so far as
the affairs of city government are concerned. Yet all these years I,
with nearly every teacher in the college, have been satisfied to let
other men run the municipality and have lived in a little world of
my own, out of touch and sympathy with the real world of the people.
'What would Jesus do?' I have even tried to avoid an honest answer.
I can no longer do so. My plain duty is to take a personal part in
this coming election, go to the primaries, throw the weight of my
influence, whatever it is, toward the nomination and election of
good men, and plunge into the very depths of the entire horrible
whirlpool of deceit, bribery, political trickery and saloonism as it
exists in Raymond today. I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a
cannon any time than do this. I dread it because I hate the touch of
the whole matter. I would give almost any thing to be able to say,
'I do not believe Jesus would do anything of the sort.' But I am
more and more persuaded that He would. This is where the suffering
comes for me. It would not hurt me half so much to lose my position
or my home. I loathe the contact with this municipal problem. I
would so much prefer to remain quietly in my scholastic life with my
classes in Ethics and Philosophy. But the call has come to me so
plainly that I cannot escape. 'Donald Marsh, follow me. Do your duty
as a citizen of Raymond at the point where your citizenship will
cost you something. Help to cleanse this municipal stable, even if
you do have to soil your aristocratic feelings a little.' Maxwell,
this is my cross, I must take it up or deny my Lord."
"You have spoken for me also," replied Maxwell with a sad smile.
"Why should I, simply because I am a minister, shelter myself behind
my refined, sensitive feelings, and like a coward refuse to touch,
except in a sermon possibly, the duty of citizenship? I am unused to
the ways of the political life of the city. I have never taken an
active part in any nomination of good men. There are hundreds of
ministers like me. As a class we do not practice in the municipal
life the duties and privileges we preach from the pulpit. 'What
would Jesus do?' I am now at a point where, like you, I am driven to
answer the question one way. My duty is plain. I must suffer. All my
parish work, all my little trials or self-sacrifices are as nothing
to me compared with the breaking into my scholarly, intellectual,
self-contained habits, of this open, coarse, public fight for a
clean city life. I could go and live at the Rectangle the rest of my
life and work in the slums for a bare living, and I could enjoy it
more than the thought of plunging into a fight for the reform of
this whiskey-ridden city. It would cost me less. But, like you, I
have been unable to shake off my responsibility. The answer to the
question 'What would Jesus do?' in this case leaves me no peace
except when I say, Jesus would have me act the part of a Christian
citizen. Marsh, as you say, we professional men, ministers,
professors, artists, literary men, scholars, have almost invariably
been political cowards. We have avoided the sacred duties of
citizenship either ignorantly or selfishly. Certainly Jesus in our
age would not do that. We can do no less than take up this cross,
and follow Him."
The two men walked on in silence for a while. Finally President
Marsh said: "We do not need to act alone in this matter. With all
the men who have made the promise we certainly can have
companionship, and strength even, of numbers. Let us organize the
Christian forces of Raymond for the battle against rum and
corruption. We certainly ought to enter the primaries with a force
that will be able to do more than enter a protest. It is a fact that
the saloon element is cowardly and easily frightened in spite of its
lawlessness and corruption. Let us plan a campaign that will mean
something because it is organized righteousness. Jesus would use
great wisdom in this matter. He would employ means. He would make
large plans. Let us do so. If we bear this cross let us do it
bravely, like men."
They talked over the matter a long time and met again the next day
in Maxwell's study to develop plans. The city primaries were called
for Friday. Rumors of strange and unknown events to the average
citizen were current that week in political circles throughout
Raymond. The Crawford system of balloting for nominations was not in
use in the state, and the primary was called for a public meeting at
the court house.
The citizens of Raymond will never forget that meeting. It was so
unlike any political meeting ever held in Raymond before, that there
was no attempt at comparison. The special officers to be nominated
were mayor, city council, chief of police, city clerk and city
The evening NEWS in its Saturday edition gave a full account of the
primaries, and in the editorial columns Edward Norman spoke with a
directness and conviction that the Christian people of Raymond were
learning to respect deeply, because it was so evidently sincere and
unselfish. A part of that editorial is also a part of this history.
We quote the following:
"It is safe to say that never before in the history of Raymond was
there a primary like the one in the court house last night. It was,
first of all, a complete surprise to the city politicians who have
been in the habit of carrying on the affairs of the city as if they
owned them, and every one else was simply a tool or a cipher. The
overwhelming surprise of the wire pullers last night consisted in
the fact that a large number of the citizens of Raymond who have
heretofore taken no part in the city's affairs, entered the primary
and controlled it, nominating some of the best men for all the
offices to be filled at the coming election.
"It was a tremendous lesson in good citizenship. President Marsh of
Lincoln College, who never before entered a city primary, and whose
face was not even known to the ward politicians, made one of the
best speeches ever made in Raymond. It was almost ludicrous to see
the faces of the men who for years have done as they pleased, when
President Marsh rose to speak. Many of them asked, 'Who is he?' The
consternation deepened as the primary proceeded and it became
evident that the oldtime ring of city rulers was outnumbered. Rev.
Henry Maxwell of the First Church, Milton Wright, Alexander Powers,
Professors Brown, Willard and Park of Lincoln College, Dr. West,
Rev. George Main of the Pilgrim Church, Dean Ward of the Holy
Trinity, and scores of well-known business men and professional men,
most of them church members, were present, and it did not take long
to see that they had all come with the one direct and definite
purpose of nominating the best men possible. Most of those men had
never before been seen in a primary. They were complete strangers to
the politicians. But they had evidently profited by the politician's
methods and were able by organized and united effort to nominate the
"As soon as it became plain that the primary was out of their
control the regular ring withdrew in disgust and nominated another
ticket. The NEWS simply calls the attention of all decent citizens
to the fact that this last ticket contains the names of whiskey men,
and the line is sharply and distinctly drawn between the saloon and
corrupt management such as we have known for years, and a clean,
honest, capable, business-like city administration, such as every
good citizen ought to want. It is not necessary to remind the people
of Raymond that the question of local option comes up at the
election. That will be the most important question on the ticket.
The crisis of our city affairs has been reached. The issue is
squarely before us. Shall we continue the rule of rum and boodle and
shameless incompetency, or shall we, as President Marsh said in his
noble speech, rise as good citizens and begin a new order of things,
cleansing our city of the worst enemy known to municipal honesty,
and doing what lies in our power to do with the ballot to purify our
"The NEWS is positively and without reservation on the side of the
new movement. We shall henceforth do all in our power to drive out
the saloon and destroy its political strength. We shall advocate the
election of the men nominated by the majority of citizens met in the
first primary and we call upon all Christians, church members,
lovers of right, purity, temperance, and the home, to stand by
President Marsh and the rest of the citizens who have thus begun a
long-needed reform in our city."
President Marsh read this editorial and thanked God for Edward
Norman. At the same time he understood well enough that every other
paper in Raymond was on the other side. He did not underestimate the
importance and seriousness of the fight which was only just begun.
It was no secret that the NEWS had lost enormously since it had been
governed by the standard of "What would Jesus do?" And the question
was, Would the Christian people of Raymond stand by it? Would they
make it possible for Norman to conduct a daily Christian paper? Or
would the desire for what is called news in the way of crime,
scandal, political partisanship of the regular sort, and a dislike
to champion so remarkable a reform in journalism, influence them to
drop the paper and refuse to give it their financial support? That
was, in fact, the question Edward Norman was asking even while he
wrote that Saturday editorial. He knew well enough that his actions
expressed in that editorial would cost him very heavily from the
hands of many business men in Raymond. And still, as he drove his
pen over the paper, he asked another question, "What would Jesus
do?" That question had become a part of this whole life now. It was
greater than any other.
But for the first time in its history Raymond had seen the
professional men, the teachers, the college professors, the doctors,
the ministers, take political action and put themselves definitely
and sharply in public antagonism to the evil forces that had so long
controlled the machine of municipal government. The fact itself was
astounding. President Marsh acknowledged to himself with a feeling
of humiliation, that never before had he known what civic
righteousness could accomplish. From that Friday night's work he
dated for himself and his college a new definition of the worn
phrase "the scholar in politics." Education for him and those who
were under his influence ever after meant some element of suffering.
Sacrifice must now enter into the factor of development.
At the Rectangle that week the tide of spiritual life rose high, and
as yet showed no signs of flowing back. Rachel and Virginia went
every night. Virginia was rapidly reaching a conclusion with respect
to a large part of her money. She had talked it over with Rachel and
they had been able to agree that if Jesus had a vast amount of money
at His disposal He might do with some of it as Virginia planned. At
any rate they felt that whatever He might do in such case would have
as large an element of variety in it as the differences in persons
and circumstances. There could be no one fixed Christian way of
using money. The rule that regulated its use was unselfish utility.
But meanwhile the glory of the Spirit's power possessed all their
best thought. Night after night that week witnessed miracles as
great as walking on the sea or feeding the multitude with a few
loaves and fishes. For what greater miracle is there than a
regenerate humanity? The transformation of these coarse, brutal,
sottish lives into praying, rapturous lovers of Christ, struck
Rachel and Virginia every time with the feeling that people may have
had when they saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb. It was an experience
full of profound excitement for them.
Rollin Page came to all the meetings. There was no doubt of the
change that had come over him. Rachel had not yet spoken much with
him. He was wonderfully quiet. It seemed as if he was thinking all
the time. Certainly he was not the same person. He talked more with
Gray than with any one else. He did not avoid Rachel, but he seemed
to shrink from any appearance of seeming to renew the acquaintance
with her. Rachel found it even difficult to express to him her
pleasure at the new life he had begun to know. He seemed to be
waiting to adjust himself to his previous relations before this new
life began. He had not forgotten those relations. But he was not yet
able to fit his consciousness into new ones.
The end of the week found the Rectangle struggling hard between two
mighty opposing forces. The Holy Spirit was battling with all His
supernatural strength against the saloon devil which had so long
held a jealous grasp on its slaves. If the Christian people of
Raymond once could realize what the contest meant to the souls newly
awakened to a purer life it did not seem possible that the election
could result in the old system of license. But that remained yet to
be seen. The horror of the daily surroundings of many of the
converts was slowly burning its way into the knowledge of Virginia
and Rachel, and every night as they went uptown to their luxurious
homes they carried heavy hearts.
"A good many of these poor creatures will go back again," Gray would
say with sadness too deep for tears. "The environment does have a
good deal to do with the character. It does not stand to reason that
these people can always resist the sight and smell of the devilish
drink about them. O Lord, how long shall Christian people continue
to support by their silence and their ballots the greatest form of
slavery known in America?"
He asked the question, and did not have much hope of an immediate
answer. There was a ray of hope in the action of Friday night's
primary, but what the result would be he did not dare to anticipate.
The whiskey forces were organized, alert, aggressive, roused into
unusual hatred by the events of the last week at the tent and in the
city. Would the Christian forces act as a unit against the saloon?
Or would they be divided on account of their business interests or
because they were not in the habit of acting all together as the
whiskey power always did? That remained to be seen. Meanwhile the
saloon reared itself about the Rectangle like some deadly viper
hissing and coiling, ready to strike its poison into any unguarded
Saturday afternoon as Virginia was just stepping out of her house to
go and see Rachel to talk over her new plans, a carriage drove up
containing three of her fashionable friends. Virginia went out to
the drive-way and stood there talking with them. They had not come
to make a formal call but wanted Virginia to go driving with them up
on the boulevard. There was a band concert in the park. The day was
too pleasant to be spent indoors.
"Where have you been all this time, Virginia?" asked one of the
girls, tapping her playfully on the shoulder with a red silk
parasol. "We hear that you have gone into the show business. Tell us
Virginia colored, but after a moment's hesitation she frankly told
something of her experience at the Rectangle. The girls in the
carriage began to be really interested.
"I tell you, girls, let's go 'slumming' with Virginia this afternoon
instead of going to the band concert. I've never been down to the
Rectangle. I've heard it's an awful wicked place and lots to see.
Virginia will act as guide, and it would be"--"real fun" she was
going to say, but Virginia's look made her substitute the word
Virginia was angry. At first thought she said to herself she would
never go under such circumstances. The other girls seemed to be of
the same mind with the speaker. They chimed in with earnestness and
asked Virginia to take them down there.
Suddenly she saw in the idle curiosity of the girls an opportunity.
They had never seen the sin and misery of Raymond. Why should they
not see it, even if their motive in going down there was simply to
pass away an afternoon.
"For I come to set a man at variance against his father, and the
daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her
mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
"Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in
love, even as Christ also loved you."
"HADN'T we better take a policeman along?" said one of the girls
with a nervous laugh. "It really isn't safe down there, you know."
"There's no danger," said Virginia briefly.
"Is it true that your brother Rollin has been converted?" asked the
first speaker, looking at Virginia curiously. It impressed her
during the drive to the Rectangle that all three of her friends were
regarding her with close attention as if she were peculiar.
"Yes, he certainly is."
"I understand he is going around to the clubs talking with his old
friends there, trying to preach to them. Doesn't that seem funny?"
said the girl with the red silk parasol.
Virginia did not answer, and the other girls were beginning to feel
sober as the carriage turned into a street leading to the Rectangle.
As they neared the district they grew more and more nervous. The
sights and smells and sounds which had become familiar to Virginia
struck the senses of these refined, delicate society girls as
something horrible. As they entered farther into the district, the
Rectangle seemed to stare as with one great, bleary, beer-soaked
countenance at this fine carriage with its load of fashionably
dressed young women. "Slumming" had never been a fad with Raymond
society, and this was perhaps the first time that the two had come
together in this way. The girls felt that instead of seeing the
Rectangle they were being made the objects of curiosity. They were
frightened and disgusted.
"Let's go back. I've seen enough," said the girl who was sitting
They were at that moment just opposite a notorious saloon and
gambling house. The street was narrow and the sidewalk crowded.
Suddenly, out of the door of this saloon a young woman reeled. She
was singing in a broken, drunken sob that seemed to indicate that
she partly realized her awful condition, "Just as I am, without one
plea"--and as the carriage rolled past she leered at it, raising her
face so that Virginia saw it very close to her own. It was the face
of the girl who had kneeled sobbing, that night with Virginia
kneeling beside her and praying for her.
"Stop!" cried Virginia, motioning to the driver who was looking
around. The carriage stopped, and in a moment she was out and had
gone up to the girl and taken her by the arm. "Loreen!" she said,
and that was all. The girl looked into her face, and her own changed
into a look of utter horror. The girls in the carriage were smitten
into helpless astonishment. The saloon-keeper had come to the door
of the saloon and was standing there looking on with his hands on
his hips. And the Rectangle from its windows, its saloon steps, its
filthy sidewalk, gutter and roadway, paused, and with undisguised
wonder stared at the two girls. Over the scene the warm sun of
spring poured its mellow light. A faint breath of music from the
band-stand in the park floated into the Rectangle. The concert had
begun, and the fashion and wealth of Raymond were displaying
themselves up town on the boulevard.
When Virginia left the carriage and went up to Loreen she had no
definite idea as to what she would do or what the result of her
action would be. She simply saw a soul that had tasted of the joy of
a better life slipping back again into its old hell of shame and
death. And before she had touched the drunken girl's arm she had
asked only one question, "What would Jesus do?" That question was
becoming with her, as with many others, a habit of life.
She looked around now as she stood close by Loreen, and the whole
scene was cruelly vivid to her. She thought first of the girls in
"Drive on; don't wait for me. I am going to see my friend home," she
said calmly enough.
The girl with the red parasol seemed to gasp at the word "friend,"
when Virginia spoke it. She did not say anything.
The other girls seemed speechless.
"Go on. I cannot go back with you," said Virginia. The driver
started the horses slowly. One of the girls leaned a little out of
"Can't we--that is--do you want our help? Couldn't you--"
"No, no!" exclaimed Virginia. "You cannot be of any help to me."
The carriage moved on and Virginia was alone with her charge. She
looked up and around. Many faces in the crowd were sympathetic. They
were not all cruel or brutal. The Holy Spirit had softened a good
deal of the Rectangle.
"Where does she live?" asked Virginia.
No one answered. It occurred to Virginia afterward when she had time
to think it over, that the Rectangle showed a delicacy in its sad
silence that would have done credit to the boulevard. For the first
time it flashed across her that the immortal being who was flung
like wreckage upon the shore of this early hell called the saloon,
had no place that could be called home. The girl suddenly wrenched
her arm from Virginia's grasp. In doing so she nearly threw Virginia
"You shall not touch me! Leave me! Let me go to hell! That's where I
belong! The devil is waiting for me. See him!" she exclaimed
hoarsely. She turned and pointed with a shaking finger at the
saloon-keeper. The crowd laughed. Virginia stepped up to her and put
her arm about her.
"Loreen," she said firmly, "come with me. You do not belong to hell.
You belong to Jesus and He will save you. Come."
The girl suddenly burst into tears. She was only partly sobered by
the shock of meeting Virginia.
Virginia looked around again. "Where does Mr. Gray live?" she asked.
She knew that the evangelist boarded somewhere near the tent. A
number of voices gave the direction.
"Come, Loreen, I want you to go with me to Mr. Gray's," she said,
still keeping her hold of the swaying, trembling creature who moaned
and sobbed and now clung to her as firmly as before she had repulsed
So the two moved on through the Rectangle toward the evangelist's
lodging place. The sight seemed to impress the Rectangle seriously.
It never took itself seriously when it was drunk, but this was
different. The fact that one of the richest, most
beautifully-dressed girls in all Raymond was taking care of one of
the Rectangle's most noted characters, who reeled along under the
influence of liquor, was a fact astounding enough to throw more or
less dignity and importance about Loreen herself. The event of
Loreen's stumbling through the gutter dead-drunk always made the
Rectangle laugh and jest. But Loreen staggering along with a young
lady from the society circles uptown supporting her, was another
thing. The Rectangle viewed it with soberness and more or less
When they finally reached Mr. Gray's lodging place the woman who
answered Virginia's knock said that both Mr. and Mrs. Gray were out
somewhere and would not be back until six o'clock.
Virginia had not planned anything farther than a possible appeal to
the Grays, either to take charge of Loreen for a while or find some
safe place for her until she was sober. She stood now at the door
after the woman had spoken, and she was really at a loss to know
what to do. Loreen sank down stupidly on the steps and buried her
face in her arms. Virginia eyed the miserable figure of the girl
with a feeling that she was afraid would grow into disgust.
Finally a thought possessed her that she could not escape. What was
to hinder her from taking Loreen home with her? Why should not this
homeless, wretched creature, reeking with the fumes of liquor, be
cared for in Virginia's own home instead of being consigned to
strangers in some hospital or house of charity? Virginia really knew
very little about any such places of refuge. As a matter of fact,
there were two or three such institutions in Raymond, but it is
doubtful if any of them would have taken a person like Loreen in her
present condition. But that was not the question with Virginia just
now. "What would Jesus do with Loreen?" That was what Virginia
faced, and she finally answered it by touching the girl again.
"Loreen, come. You are going home with me. We will take the car here
at the corner."
Loreen staggered to her feet and, to Virginia's surprise, made no
trouble. She had expected resistance or a stubborn refusal to move.
When they reached the corner and took the car it was nearly full of
people going uptown. Virginia was painfully conscious of the stare
that greeted her and her companion as they entered. But her thought
was directed more and more to the approaching scene with her
grandmother. What would Madam Page say?
Loreen was nearly sober now. But she was lapsing into a state of
stupor. Virginia was obliged to hold fast to her arm. Several times
the girl lurched heavily against her, and as the two went up the
avenue a curious crowd of so-called civilized people turned and
gazed at them. When she mounted the steps of her handsome house
Virginia breathed a sigh of relief, even in the face of the
interview with the grandmother, and when the door shut and she was
in the wide hall with her homeless outcast, she felt equal to
anything that might now come.
Madam Page was in the library. Hearing Virginia come in, she came
into the hall. Virginia stood there supporting Loreen, who stared
stupidly at the rich magnificence of the furnishings around her.
"Grandmother," Virginia spoke without hesitation and very clearly,
"I have brought one of my friends from the Rectangle. She is in
trouble and has no home. I am going to care for her here a little
Madam Page glanced from her granddaughter to Loreen in astonishment.
"Did you say she is one of your friends?" she asked in a cold,
sneering voice that hurt Virginia more than anything she had yet
"Yes, I said so." Virginia's face flushed, but she seemed to recall
a verse that Mr. Gray had used for one of his recent sermons, "A
friend of publicans and sinners." Surely, Jesus would do this that
she was doing.
"Do you know what this girl is?" asked Madam Page, in an angry
whisper, stepping near Virginia.
"I know very well. She is an outcast. You need not tell me,
grandmother. I know it even better than you do. She is drunk at this
minute. But she is also a child of God. I have seen her on her
knees, repentant. And I have seen hell reach out its horrible
fingers after her again. And by the grace of Christ I feel that the
least that I can do is to rescue her from such peril. Grandmother,
we call ourselves Christians. Here is a poor, lost human creature
without a home, slipping back into a life of misery and possibly
eternal loss, and we have more than enough. I have brought her here,
and I shall keep her."
Madam Page glared at Virginia and clenched her hands. All this was
contrary to her social code of conduct. How could society excuse
familiarity with the scum of the streets? What would Virginia's
action cost the family in the way of criticism and loss of standing,
and all that long list of necessary relations which people of wealth
and position must sustain to the leaders of society? To Madam Page
society represented more than the church or any other institution.
It was a power to be feared and obeyed. The loss of its good-will
was a loss more to be dreaded than anything except the loss of
She stood erect and stern and confronted Virginia, fully roused and
determined. Virginia placed her arm about Loreen and calmly looked
her grandmother in the face.
"You shall not do this, Virginia! You can send her to the asylum for
helpless women. We can pay all the expenses. We cannot afford for
the sake of our reputations to shelter such a person."
"Grandmother, I do not wish to do anything that is displeasing to
you, but I must keep Loreen here tonight, and longer if it seems
"Then you can answer for the consequences! I do not stay in the same
house with a miserable--" Madam Page lost her self-control. Virginia
stopped her before she could speak the next word.
"Grandmother, this house is mine. It is your home with me as long as
you choose to remain. But in this matter I must act as I fully
believe Jesus would in my place. I am willing to bear all that
society may say or do. Society is not my God. By the side of this
poor soul I do not count the verdict of society as of any value."
"I shall not stay here, then!" said Madam Page. She turned suddenly
and walked to the end of the hall. She then came back, and going up
to Virginia said, with an emphasis that revealed her intensive
excitement of passion: "You can always remember that you have driven
your grandmother out of your house in favor of a drunken woman;"
then, without waiting for Virginia to reply, she turned again and
went upstairs. Virginia called a servant and soon had Loreen cared
for. She was fast lapsing into a wretched condition. During the
brief scene in the hall she had clung to Virginia so hard that her
arm was sore from the clutch of the girl's fingers.
WHEN the bell rang for tea she went down and her grandmother did not
appear. She sent a servant to her room who brought back word that
Madam Page was not there. A few minutes later Rollin came in. He
brought word that his grandmother had taken the evening train for
the South. He had been at the station to see some friends off, and
had by chance met his grandmother as he was coming out. She had told
him her reason for going.
Virginia and Rollin comforted each other at the tea table, looking
at each other with earnest, sad faces.
"Rollin," said Virginia, and for the first time, almost, since his
conversion she realized what a wonderful thing her brother's changed
life meant to her, "do you blame me? Am I wrong?"
"No, dear, I cannot believe you are. This is very painful for us.
But if you think this poor creature owes her safety and salvation to
your personal care, it was the only thing for you to do. O Virginia,
to think that we have all these years enjoyed our beautiful home and
all these luxuries selfishly, forgetful of the multitudes like this
woman! Surely Jesus in our places would do what you have done."
And so Rollin comforted Virginia and counseled with her that
evening. And of all the wonderful changes that she henceforth was to
know on account of her great pledge, nothing affected her so
powerfully as the thought of Rollin's change of life. Truly, this
man in Christ was a new creature. Old things were passed away.
Behold, all things in him had become new.
Dr. West came that evening at Virginia's summons and did everything
necessary for the outcast. She had drunk herself almost into
delirium. The best that could be done for her now was quiet nursing
and careful watching and personal love. So, in a beautiful room,
with a picture of Christ walking by the sea hanging on the wall,
where her bewildered eyes caught daily something more of its hidden
meaning, Loreen lay, tossed she hardly knew how into this haven, and
Virginia crept nearer the Master than she had ever been, as her
heart went out towards this wreck which had thus been flung torn and
beaten at her feet.
Meanwhile the Rectangle awaited the issue of the election with more
than usual interest; and Mr. Gray and his wife wept over the poor,
pitiful creatures who, after a struggle with surroundings that daily
tempted them, too often wearied of the struggle and, like Loreen,
threw up their arms and went whirling over the cataract into the
boiling abyss of their previous condition.
The after-meeting at the First Church was now eagerly established.
Henry Maxwell went into the lecture-room on the Sunday succeeding
the week of the primary, and was greeted with an enthusiasm that
made him tremble at first for its reality. He noted again the
absence of Jasper Chase, but all the others were present, and they
seemed drawn very close together by a bond of common fellowship that
demanded and enjoyed mutual confidences. It was the general feeling
that the spirit of Jesus was the spirit of very open, frank
confession of experience. It seemed the most natural thing in the
world, therefore, for Edward Norman to be telling all the rest of
the company about the details of his newspaper.
"The fact is, I have lost a great deal of money during the last
three weeks. I cannot tell just how much. I am losing a great many
subscribers every day."
"What do the subscribers give as their reason for dropping the
paper?" asked Mr. Maxwell. All the rest were listening eagerly.
"There are a good many different reasons. Some say they want a paper
that prints all the news; meaning, by that, the crime details,
sensations like prize fights, scandals and horrors of various kinds.
Others object to the discontinuance of the Sunday edition. I have
lost hundreds of subscribers by that action, although I have made
satisfactory arrangements with many of the old subscribers by giving
them even more in the extra Saturday edition than they formerly had
in the Sunday issue. My greatest loss has come from a falling off in
advertisements, and from the attitude I have felt obliged to take on
political questions. The last action has really cost me more than
any other. The bulk of my subscribers are intensely partisan. I may
as well tell you all frankly that if I continue to pursue the plan
which I honestly believe Jesus would pursue in the matter of
political issues and their treatment from a non-partisan and moral
standpoint, the NEWS will not be able to pay its operating expenses
unless one factor in Raymond can be depended on."
He paused a moment and the room was very quiet. Virginia seemed
specially interested. Her face glowed with interest. It was like the
interest of a person who had been thinking hard of the same thing
which Norman went on to mention.
"That one factor is the Christian element in Raymond. Say the NEWS
has lost heavily from the dropping off of people who do not care for
a Christian daily, and from others who simply look upon a newspaper
as a purveyor of all sorts of material to amuse or interest them,
are there enough genuine Christian people in Raymond who will rally
to the support of a paper such as Jesus would probably edit? or are
the habits of the church people so firmly established in their
demand for the regular type of journalism that they will not take a
paper unless it is stripped largely of the Christian and moral
purpose? I may say in this fellowship gathering that owing to recent
complications in my business affairs outside of my paper I have been
obliged to lose a large part of my fortune. I had to apply the same
rule of Jesus' probable conduct to certain transactions with other
men who did not apply it to their conduct, and the result has been
the loss of a great deal of money. As I understand the promise we
made, we were not to ask any question about 'Will it pay?' but all
our action was to be based on the one question, 'What would Jesus
do?' Acting on that rule of conduct, I have been obliged to lose
nearly all the money I have accumulated in my paper. It is not
necessary for me to go into details. There is no question with me
now, after the three weeks' experience I have had, that a great many
men would lose vast sums of money under the present system of
business if this rule of Jesus was honestly applied. I mention my
loss here because I have the fullest faith in the final success of a
daily paper conducted on the lines I have recently laid down, and I
had planned to put into it my entire fortune in order to win final
success. As it is now, unless, as I said, the Christian people of
Raymond, the church members and professing disciples, will support
the paper with subscriptions and advertisements, I cannot continue
its publication on the present basis."
Virginia asked a question. She had followed Mr. Norman's confession
with the most intense eagerness.
"Do you mean that a Christian daily ought to be endowed with a large
sum like a Christian college in order to make it pay?"
"That is exactly what I mean. I had laid out plans for putting into
the NEWS such a variety of material in such a strong and truly
interesting way that it would more than make up for whatever was
absent from its columns in the way of un-Christian matter. But my
plans called for a very large output of money. I am very confident
that a Christian daily such as Jesus would approve, containing only
what He would print, can be made to succeed financially if it is
planned on the right lines. But it will take a large sum of money to
work out the plans."
"How much, do you think?" asked Virginia quietly.
Edward Norman looked at her keenly, and his face flushed a moment as
an idea of her purpose crossed his mind. He had known her when she
was a little girl in the Sunday-school, and he had been on intimate
business relations with her father.
"I should say half a million dollars in a town like Raymond could be
well spent in the establishment of a paper such as we have in mind,"
he answered. His voice trembled a little. The keen look on his
grizzled face flashed out with a stern but thoroughly Christian
anticipation of great achievements in the world of newspaper life,
as it had opened up to him within the last few seconds.
"Then," said Virginia, speaking as if the thought was fully
considered, "I am ready to put that amount of money into the paper
on the one condition, of course, that it be carried on as it has
"Thank God!" exclaimed Mr. Maxwell softly. Norman was pale. The rest
were looking at Virginia. She had more to say.
"Dear friends," she went on, and there was a sadness in her voice
that made an impression on the rest that deepened when they thought
it over afterwards, "I do not want any of you to credit me with an
act of great generosity. I have come to know lately that the money
which I have called my own is not mine, but God's. If I, as steward
of His, see some wise way to invest His money, it is not an occasion
for vainglory or thanks from any one simply because I have proved in
my administration of the funds He has asked me to use for His glory.
I have been thinking of this very plan for some time. The fact is,
dear friends, that in our coming fight with the whiskey power in
Raymond--and it has only just begun--we shall need the NEWS to
champion the Christian side. You all know that all the other papers
are for the saloon. As long as the saloon exists, the work of
rescuing dying souls at the Rectangle is carried on at a terrible
disadvantage. What can Mr. Gray do with his gospel meetings when
half his converts are drinking people, daily tempted and enticed by
the saloon on every corner? It would be giving up to the enemy to
allow the NEWS to fail. I have great confidence in Mr. Norman's
ability. I have not seen his plans, but I have the same confidence
that he has in making the paper succeed if it is carried forward on
a large enough scale. I cannot believe that Christian intelligence
in journalism will be inferior to un-Christian intelligence, even
when it comes to making the paper pay financially. So that is my
reason for putting this money--God's, not mine--into this powerful
agent for doing as Jesus would do. If we can keep such a paper going
for one year, I shall be willing to see that amount of money used in
that experiment. Do not thank me. Do not consider my doing it a
wonderful thing. What have I done with God's money all these years
but gratify my own selfish personal desires? What can I do with the
rest of it but try to make some reparation for what I have stolen
from God? That is the way I look at it now. I believe it is what
Jesus would do."
Over the lecture-room swept that unseen yet distinctly felt wave of
Divine Presence. No one spoke for a while. Mr. Maxwell standing
there, where the faces lifted their intense gaze into his, felt what
he had already felt--a strange setting back out of the nineteenth
century into the first, when the disciples had all things in common,
and a spirit of fellowship must have flowed freely between them such
as the First Church of Raymond had never before known. How much had
his church membership known of this fellowship in daily interests
before this little company had begun to do as they believed Jesus
would do? It was with difficulty that he thought of his present age
and surroundings. The same thought was present with all the rest,
also. There was an unspoken comradeship such as they had never
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