In His Steps
Charles M. Sheldon
Part 3 out of 5
known. It was present with them while Virginia was speaking, and
during the silence that followed. If it had been defined by any of
them it would perhaps have taken some such shape as this: "If I
shall, in the course of my obedience to my promise, meet with loss
or trouble in the world, I can depend upon the genuine, practical
sympathy and fellowship of any other Christian in this room who has,
with me, made the pledge to do all things by the rule, 'What would
All this, the distinct wave of spiritual power emphasized. It had
the effect that a physical miracle may have had on the early
disciples in giving them a feeling of confidence in the Lord that
helped them to face loss and martyrdom with courage and even joy.
Before they went away this time there were several confidences like
those of Edward Norman's. Some of the young men told of loss of
places owing to their honest obedience to their promise. Alexander
Powers spoke briefly of the fact that the Commission had promised to
take action on his evidence at the earliest date possible.
BUT more than any other feeling at this meeting rose the tide of
fellowship for one another. Maxwell watched it, trembling for its
climax which he knew was not yet reached. When it was, where would
it lead them? He did not know, but he was not unduly alarmed about
it. Only he watched with growing wonder the results of that simple
promise as it was being obeyed in these various lives. Those results
were already being felt all over the city. Who could measure their
influence at the end of a year?
One practical form of this fellowship showed itself in the
assurances which Edward Norman received of support for his paper.
There was a general flocking toward him when the meeting closed, and
the response to his appeal for help from the Christian disciples in
Raymond was fully understood by this little company. The value of
such a paper in the homes and in behalf of good citizenship,
especially at the present crisis in the city, could not be measured.
It remained to be seen what could be done now that the paper was
endowed so liberally. But it still was true, as Norman insisted,
that money alone could not make the paper a power. It must receive
the support and sympathy of the Christians in Raymond before it
could be counted as one of the great forces of the city.
The week that followed this Sunday meeting was one of great
excitement in Raymond. It was the week of the election. President
Marsh, true to his promise, took up his cross and bore it manfully,
but with shuddering, with groans and even tears, for his deepest
conviction was touched, and he tore himself out of the scholarly
seclusion of years with a pain and anguish that cost him more than
anything he had ever done as a follower of Christ. With him were a
few of the college professors who had made the pledge in the First
Church. Their experience and suffering were the same as his; for
their isolation from all the duties of citizenship had been the
same. The same was also true of Henry Maxwell, who plunged into the
horror of this fight against whiskey and its allies with a sickening
dread of each day's new encounter with it. For never before had he
borne such a cross. He staggered under it, and in the brief
intervals when he came in from the work and sought the quiet of his
study for rest, the sweat broke out on his forehead, and he felt the
actual terror of one who marches into unseen, unknown horrors.
Looking back on it afterwards he was amazed at his experience. He
was not a coward, but he felt the dread that any man of his habits
feels when confronted suddenly with a duty which carries with it the
doing of certain things so unfamiliar that the actual details
connected with it betray his ignorance and fill him with the shame
When Saturday, the election day, came, the excitement rose to its
height. An attempt was made to close all the saloons. It was only
partly successful. There was a great deal of drinking going on all
day. The Rectangle boiled and heaved and cursed and turned its worst
side out to the gaze of the city. Gray had continued his meetings
during the week, and the results had been even greater than he had
dared to hope. When Saturday came, it seemed to him that the crisis
in his work had been reached. The Holy Spirit and the Satan of rum
seemed to rouse up to a desperate conflict. The more interest in the
meetings, the more ferocity and vileness outside. The saloon men no
longer concealed their feelings. Open threats of violence were made.
Once during the week Gray and his little company of helpers were
assailed with missiles of various kinds as they left the tent late
at night. The police sent down a special force, and Virginia and
Rachel were always under the protection of either Rollin or Dr.
West. Rachel's power in song had not diminished. Rather, with each
night, it seemed to add to the intensity and reality of the Spirit's
Gray had at first hesitated about having a meeting that night. But
he had a simple rule of action, and was always guided by it. The
Spirit seemed to lead him to continue the meeting, and so Saturday
night he went on as usual.
The excitement all over the city had reached its climax when the
polls closed at six o'clock. Never before had there been such a
contest in Raymond. The issue of license or no-license had never
been an issue under such circumstances. Never before had such
elements in the city been arrayed against each other. It was an
unheard-of thing that the President of Lincoln College, the pastor
of the First Church, the Dean of the Cathedral, the professional men
living in fine houses on the boulevard, should come personally into
the wards, and by their presence and their example represent the
Christian conscience of the place. The ward politicians were
astonished at the sight. However, their astonishment did not prevent
their activity. The fight grew hotter every hour, and when six
o'clock came neither side could have guessed at the result with any
certainty. Every one agreed that never before had there been such an
election in Raymond, and both sides awaited the announcement of the
result with the greatest interest.
It was after ten o'clock when the meeting at the tent was closed. It
had been a strange and, in some respects, a remarkable meeting.
Maxwell had come down again at Gray's request. He was completely
worn out by the day's work, but the appeal from Gray came to him in
such a form that he did not feel able to resist it. President Marsh
was also present. He had never been to the Rectangle, and his
curiosity was aroused from what he had noticed of the influence of
the evangelist in the worst part of the city. Dr. West and Rollin
had come with Rachel and Virginia; and Loreen, who still stayed with
Virginia, was present near the organ, in her right mind, sober, with
a humility and dread of herself that kept her as close to Virginia
as a faithful dog. All through the service she sat with bowed head,
weeping a part of the time, sobbing when Rachel sang the song, "I
was a wandering sheep," clinging with almost visible, tangible
yearning to the one hope she had found, listening to prayer and
appeal and confession all about her like one who was a part of a new
creation, yet fearful of her right to share in it fully.
The tent had been crowded. As on some other occasions, there was
more or less disturbance on the outside. This had increased as the
night advanced, and Gray thought it wise not to prolong the service.
Once in a while a shout as from a large crowd swept into the tent.
The returns from the election were beginning to come in, and the
Rectangle had emptied every lodging house, den and hovel into the
In spite of these distractions Rachel's singing kept the crowd in
the tent from dissolving. There were a dozen or more conversions.
Finally the people became restless and Gray closed the service,
remaining a little while with the converts.
Rachel, Virginia, Loreen, Rollin and the Doctor, President Marsh,
Mr. Maxwell and Dr. West went out together, intending to go down to
the usual waiting place for their car. As they came out of the tent
they were at once aware that the Rectangle was trembling on the
verge of a drunken riot, and as they pushed through the gathering
mobs in the narrow streets they began to realize that they
themselves were objects of great attention.
"There he is--the bloke in the tall hat! He's the leader! shouted a
rough voice. President Marsh, with his erect, commanding figure, was
conspicuous in the little company.
"How has the election gone? It is too early to know the result yet,
isn't it?" He asked the question aloud, and a man answered:
"They say second and third wards have gone almost solid for
no-license. If that is so, the whiskey men have been beaten."
"Thank God! I hope it is true!" exclaimed Maxwell. "Marsh, we are in
danger here. Do you realize our situation? We ought to get the
ladies to a place of safety."
"That is true," said Marsh gravely. At that moment a shower of
stones and other missiles fell over them. The narrow street and
sidewalk in front of them was completely choked with the worst
elements of the Rectangle.
"This looks serious," said Maxwell. With Marsh and Rollin and Dr.
West he started to go forward through a small opening, Virginia,
Rachel, and Loreen following close and sheltered by the men, who now
realized something of their danger. The Rectangle was drunk and
enraged. It saw in Marsh and Maxwell two of the leaders in the
election contest which had perhaps robbed them of their beloved
"Down with the aristocrats!" shouted a shrill voice, more like a
woman's than a man's. A shower of mud and stones followed. Rachel
remembered afterwards that Rollin jumped directly in front of her
and received on his head and chest a number of blows that would
probably have struck her if he had not shielded her from them.
And just then, before the police reached them, Loreen darted forward
in front of Virginia and pushed her aside, looking up and screaming.
It was so sudden that no one had time to catch the face of the one
who did it. But out of the upper window of a room, over the very
saloon where Loreen had come out a week before, someone had thrown a
heavy bottle. It struck Loreen on the head and she fell to the
ground. Virginia turned and instantly kneeled down by her. The
police officers by that time had reached the little company.
President Marsh raised his arm and shouted over the howl that was
beginning to rise from the wild beast in the mob.
"Stop! You've killed a woman!" The announcement partly sobered the
"Is it true?" Maxwell asked it, as Dr. West kneeled on the other
side of Loreen, supporting her.
"She's dying!" said Dr. West briefly.
Loreen opened her eyes and smiled at Virginia, who wiped the blood
from her face and then bent over and kissed her. Loreen smiled
again, and the next minute her soul was in Paradise.
"He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness."
THE body of Loreen lay in state at the Page mansion on the avenue.
It was Sunday morning and the clear sweet spring air, just beginning
to breathe over the city the perfume of early blossoms in the woods
and fields, swept over the casket from one of the open windows at
the end of the grand hall. The church bells were ringing and people
on the avenue going by to service turned curious, inquiring looks up
at the great house and then went on, talking of the recent events
which had so strangely entered into and made history in the city.
At the First Church, Mr. Maxwell, bearing on his face marks of the
scene he had been through, confronted an immense congregation, and
spoke to it with a passion and a power that came so naturally out of
the profound experiences of the day before that his people felt for
him something of the old feeling of pride they once had in his
dramatic delivery. Only this was with a different attitude. And all
through his impassioned appeal this morning, there was a note of
sadness and rebuke and stern condemnation that made many of the
members pale with self-accusation or with inward anger.
For Raymond had awakened that morning to the fact that the city had
gone for license after all. The rumor at the Rectangle that the
second and third wards had gone no-license proved to be false. It
was true that the victory was won by a very meager majority. But the
result was the same as if it had been overwhelming. Raymond had
voted to continue for another year the saloon. The Christians of
Raymond stood condemned by the result. More than a hundred
professing Christian disciples had failed to go to the polls, and
many more than that number had voted with the whiskey men. If all
the church members of Raymond had voted against the saloon, it would
today be outlawed instead of crowned king of the municipality. For
that had been the fact in Raymond for years. The saloon ruled. No
one denied that. What would Jesus do? And this woman who had been
brutally struck down by the very hand that had assisted so eagerly
to work her earthly ruin what of her? Was it anything more than the
logical sequence of the whole horrible system of license, that for
another year the very saloon that received her so often and
compassed her degradation, from whose very spot the weapon had been
hurled that struck her dead, would, by the law which the Christian
people of Raymond voted to support, perhaps open its doors tomorrow
and damn a hundred Loreens before the year had drawn to its bloody
All this, with a voice that rang and trembled and broke in sobs of
anguish for the result, did Henry Maxwell pour out upon his people
that Sunday morning. And men and women wept as he spoke. President
Marsh sat there, his usual erect, handsome, firm, bright
self-confident bearing all gone; his head bowed upon his breast, the
great tears rolling down his cheeks, unmindful of the fact that
never before had he shown outward emotion in a public service.
Edward Norman near by sat with his clear-cut, keen face erect, but
his lip trembled and he clutched the end of the pew with a feeling
of emotion that struck deep into his knowledge of the truth as
Maxwell spoke it. No man had given or suffered more to influence
public opinion that week than Norman. The thought that the Christian
conscience had been aroused too late or too feebly, lay with a
weight of accusation upon the heart of the editor. What if he had
begun to do as Jesus would have done, long ago? Who could tell what
might have been accomplished by this time! And up in the choir,
Rachel Winslow, with her face bowed on the railing of the oak
screen, gave way to a feeling which she had not allowed yet to
master her, but it so unfitted her for her part that when Mr.
Maxwell finished and she tried to sing the closing solo after the
prayer, her voice broke, and for the first time in her life she was
obliged to sit down, sobbing, and unable to go on.
Over the church, in the silence that followed this strange scene,
sobs and the noise of weeping arose. When had the First Church
yielded to such a baptism of tears? What had become of its regular,
precise, conventional order of service, undisturbed by any vulgar
emotion and unmoved by any foolish excitement? But the people had
lately had their deepest convictions touched. They had been living
so long on their surface feelings that they had almost forgotten the
deeper wells of life. Now that they had broken the surface, the
people were convicted of the meaning of their discipleship.
Mr. Maxwell did not ask, this morning, for volunteers to join those
who had already pledged to do as Jesus would. But when the
congregation had finally gone, and he had entered the lecture-room,
it needed but a glance to show him that the original company of
followers had been largely increased. The meeting was tender; it
glowed with the Spirit's presence; it was alive with strong and
lasting resolve to begin a war on the whiskey power in Raymond that
would break its reign forever. Since the first Sunday when the first
company of volunteers had pledged themselves to do as Jesus would
do, the different meetings had been characterized by distinct
impulses or impressions. Today, the entire force of the gathering
seemed to be directed to this one large purpose. It was a meeting
full of broken prayers of contrition, of confession, of strong
yearning for a new and better city life. And all through it ran one
general cry for deliverance from the saloon and its awful curse.
But if the First Church was deeply stirred by the events of the last
week, the Rectangle also felt moved strangely in its own way. The
death of Loreen was not in itself so remarkable a fact. It was her
recent acquaintance with the people from the city that lifted her
into special prominence and surrounded her death with more than
ordinary importance. Every one in the Rectangle knew that Loreen was
at this moment lying in the Page mansion up on the avenue.
Exaggerated reports of the magnificence of the casket had already
furnished material for eager gossip. The Rectangle was excited to
know the details of the funeral. Would it be public? What did Miss
Page intend to do? The Rectangle had never before mingled even in
this distant personal manner with the aristocracy on the boulevard.
The opportunities for doing so were not frequent. Gray and his wife
were besieged by inquirers who wanted to know what Loreen's friends
and acquaintances were expected to do in paying their last respects
to her. For her acquaintance was large and many of the recent
converts were among her friends.
So that is how it happened that Monday afternoon, at the tent, the
funeral service of Loreen was held before an immense audience that
choked the tent and overflowed beyond all previous bounds. Gray had
gone up to Virginia's and, after talking it over with her and
Maxwell, the arrangement had been made.
"I am and always have been opposed to large public funerals," said
Gray, whose complete wholesome simplicity of character was one of
its great sources of strength; "but the cry of the poor creatures
who knew Loreen is so earnest that I do not know how to refuse this
desire to see her and pay her poor body some last little honor. What
do you think, Mr. Maxwell? I will be guided by your judgment in the
matter. I am sure that whatever you and Miss Page think best, will
"I feel as you do," replied Mr. Maxwell. "Under the circumstances I
have a great distaste for what seems like display at such times. But
this seems different. The people at the Rectangle will not come here
to service. I think the most Christian thing will be to let them
have the service at the tent. Do you think so, Miss Virginia?"
"Yes," said Virginia. "Poor soul! I do not know but that some time I
shall know she gave her life for mine. We certainly cannot and will
not use the occasion for vulgar display. Let her friends be allowed
the gratification of their wishes. I see no harm in it."
So the arrangements were made, with some difficulty, for the service
at the tent; and Virginia with her uncle and Rollin, accompanied by
Maxwell, Rachel and President Marsh, and the quartet from the First
Church, went down and witnessed one of the strange things of their
It happened that that afternoon a somewhat noted newspaper
correspondent was passing through Raymond on his way to an editorial
convention in a neighboring city. He heard of the contemplated
service at the tent and went down. His description of it was written
in a graphic style that caught the attention of very many readers
the next day. A fragment of his account belongs to this part of the
history of Raymond:
"There was a very unique and unusual funeral service held here this
afternoon at the tent of an evangelist, Rev. John Gray, down in the
slum district known as the Rectangle. The occasion was caused by the
killing of a woman during an election riot last Saturday night. It
seems she had been recently converted during the evangelist's
meetings, and was killed while returning from one of the meetings in
company with other converts and some of her friends. She was a
common street drunkard, and yet the services at the tent were as
impressive as any I ever witnessed in a metropolitan church over the
most distinguished citizen.
"In the first place, a most exquisite anthem was sung by a trained
choir. It struck me, of course--being a stranger in the place--with
considerable astonishment to hear voices like those one naturally
expects to hear only in great churches or concerts, at such a
meeting as this. But the most remarkable part of the music was a
solo sung by a strikingly beautiful young woman, a Miss Winslow who,
if I remember right, is the young singer who was sought for by
Crandall the manager of National Opera, and who for some reason
refused to accept his offer to go on the stage. She had a most
wonderful manner in singing, and everybody was weeping before she
had sung a dozen words. That, of course, is not so strange an effect
to be produced at a funeral service, but the voice itself was one of
thousands. I understand Miss Winslow sings in the First Church of
Raymond and could probably command almost any salary as a public
singer. She will probably be heard from soon. Such a voice could win
its way anywhere.
"The service aside from the singing was peculiar. The evangelist, a
man of apparently very simple, unassuming style, spoke a few words,
and he was followed by a fine-looking man, the Rev. Henry Maxwell,
pastor of the First Church of Raymond. Mr. Maxwell spoke of the fact
that the dead woman had been fully prepared to go, but he spoke in a
peculiarly sensitive manner of the effect of the liquor business on
the lives of men and women like this one. Raymond, of course, being
a railroad town and the centre of the great packing interests for
this region, is full of saloons. I caught from the minister's
remarks that he had only recently changed his views in regard to
license. He certainly made a very striking address, and yet it was
in no sense inappropriate for a funeral.
"Then followed what was perhaps the queer part of this strange
service. The women in the tent, at least a large part of them up
near the coffin, began to sing in a soft, tearful way, 'I was a
wandering sheep.' Then while the singing was going on, one row of
women stood up and walked slowly past the casket, and as they went
by, each one placed a flower of some kind upon it. Then they sat
down and another row filed past, leaving their flowers. All the time
the singing continued softly like rain on a tent cover when the wind
is gentle. It was one of the simplest and at the same time one of
the most impressive sights I ever witnessed. The sides of the tent
were up, and hundreds of people who could not get in, stood outside,
all as still as death itself, with wonderful sadness and solemnity
for such rough looking people. There must have been a hundred of
these women, and I was told many of them had been converted at the
meetings just recently. I cannot describe the effect of that
singing. Not a man sang a note. All women's voices, and so soft, and
yet so distinct, that the effect was startling.
"The service closed with another solo by Miss Winslow, who sang,
'There were ninety and nine.' And then the evangelist asked them all
to bow their heads while he prayed. I was obliged in order to catch
my train to leave during the prayer, and the last view I caught of
the service as the train went by the shops was a sight of the great
crowd pouring out of the tent and forming in open ranks while the
coffin was borne out by six of the women. It is a long time since I
have seen such a picture in this unpoetic Republic."
If Loreen's funeral impressed a passing stranger like this, it is
not difficult to imagine the profound feelings of those who had been
so intimately connected with her life and death. Nothing had ever
entered the Rectangle that had moved it so deeply as Loreen's body
in that coffin. And the Holy Spirit seemed to bless with special
power the use of this senseless clay. For that night He swept more
than a score of lost souls, mostly women, into the fold of the Good
No one in all Raymond, including the Rectangle, felt Loreen's death
more keenly than Virginia. It came like a distinct personal loss to
her. That short week while the girl had been in her home had opened
Virginia's heart to a new life. She was talking it over with Rachel
the day after the funeral. Thee were sitting in the hall of the Page
"I am going to do something with my money to help those women to a
better life." Virginia looked over to the end of the hall where, the
day before, Loreen's body had lain. "I have decided on a good plan,
as it seems to me. I have talked it over with Rollin. He will devote
a large part of his money also to the same plan."
"How much money have you, Virginia, to give in this way?" asked
Rachel. Once, she would never have asked such a personal question.
Now, it seemed as natural to talk frankly about money as about
anything else that belonged to God.
"I have available for use at least four hundred and fifty-thousand
dollars. Rollin has as much more. It is one of his bitter regrets
now that his extravagant habits of life before his conversion
practically threw away half that father left him. We are both eager
to make all the reparation in our power. 'What would Jesus do with
this money?' We want to answer that question honestly and wisely.
The money I shall put into the NEWS is, I am confident, in a line
with His probable action. It is as necessary that we have a
Christian daily paper in Raymond, especially now that we have the
saloon influence to meet, as it is to have a church or a college. So
I am satisfied that the five hundred thousand dollars that Mr.
Norman will know how to use so well will be a powerful factor in
Raymond to do as Jesus would.
"About my other plan, Rachel, I want you to work with me. Rollin and
I are going to buy up a large part of the property in the Rectangle.
The field where the tent now is, has been in litigation for years.
We mean to secure the entire tract as soon as the courts have
settled the title. For some time I have been making a special study
of the various forms of college settlements and residence methods of
Christian work and Institutional church work in the heart of great
city slums. I do not know that I have yet been able to tell just
what is the wisest and most effective kind of work that can be done
in Raymond. But I do know this much. My money--I mean God's, which
he wants me to use--can build wholesome lodging-houses, refuges for
poor women, asylums for shop girls, safety for many and many a lost
girl like Loreen. And I do not want to be simply a dispenser of this
money. God help me! I do want to put myself into the problem. But
you know, Rachel, I have a feeling all the time that all that
limitless money and limitless personal sacrifice can possibly do,
will not really lessen very much the awful condition at the
Rectangle as long as the saloon is legally established there. I
think that is true of any Christian work now being carried on in any
great city. The saloon furnishes material to be saved faster than
the settlement or residence or rescue mission work can save it."
Virginia suddenly rose and paced the hall. Rachel answered sadly,
and yet with a note of hope in her voice:
"It is true. But, Virginia, what a wonderful amount of good can be
done with this money! And the saloon cannot always remain here. The
time must come when the Christian forces in the city will triumph."
Virginia paused near Rachel, and her pale, earnest face lighted up.
"I believe that too. The number of those who have promised to do as
Jesus would is increasing. If we once have, say, five hundred such
disciples in Raymond, the saloon is doomed. But now, dear, I want
you to look at your part in this plan for capturing and saving the
Rectangle. Your voice is a power. I have had many ideas lately. Here
is one of them. You could organize among the girls a Musical
Institute; give them the benefit of your training. There are some
splendid voices in the rough there. Did any one ever hear such
singing as that yesterday by those women? Rachel, what a beautiful
opportunity! You shall have the best of material in the way of
organs and orchestras that money can provide, and what cannot be
done with music to win souls there into higher and purer and better
Before Virginia had ceased speaking Rachel's face was perfectly
transformed with the thought of her life work. It flowed into her
heart and mind like a flood, and the torrent of her feeling
overflowed in tears that could not be restrained. It was what she
had dreamed of doing herself. It represented to her something that
she felt was in keeping with a right use of her talent.
"Yes," she said, as she rose and put her arm about Virginia, while
both girls in the excitement of their enthusiasm paced the hall.
"Yes, I will gladly put my life into that kind of service. I do
believe that Jesus would have me use my life in this way. Virginia,
what miracles can we not accomplish in humanity if we have such a
lever as consecrated money to move things with!"
"Add to it consecrated personal enthusiasm like yours, and it
certainly can accomplish great things," said Virginia smiling. And
before Rachel could reply, Rollin came in.
He hesitated a moment, and then was passing out of the hall into the
library when Virginia called him back and asked some questions about
Rollin came back and sat down, and together the three discussed
their future plans. Rollin was apparently entirely free from
embarrassment in Rachel's presence while Virginia was with them,
only his manner with her was almost precise, if not cold. The past
seemed to have been entirely absorbed in his wonderful conversion.
He had not forgotten it, but he seemed to be completely caught up
for this present time in the purpose of his new life. After a while
Rollin was called out, and Rachel and Virginia began to talk of
"By the way, what has become of Jasper Chase?" Virginia asked the
question innocently, but Rachel flushed and Virginia added with a
smile, "I suppose he is writing another book. Is he going to put you
into this one, Rachel? You know I always suspected Jasper Chase of
doing that very thing in his first story."
"Virginia," Rachel spoke with the frankness that had always existed
between the two friends, "Jasper Chase told me the other night that
he--in fact--he proposed to me--or he would, if--"
Rachel stopped and sat with her hands clasped on her lap, and there
were tears in her eyes.
"Virginia, I thought a little while ago I loved him, as he said he
loved me. But when he spoke, my heart felt repelled, and I said what
I ought to say. I told him no. I have not seen him since. That was
the night of the first conversions at the Rectangle."
"I am glad for you," said Virginia quietly.
"Why?" asked Rachel a little startled.
"Because, I have never really liked Jasper Chase. He is too cold
and--I do not like to judge him, but I have always distrusted his
sincerity in taking the pledge at the church with the rest."
Rachel looked at Virginia thoughtfully.
"I have never given my heart to him I am sure. He touched my
emotions, and I admired his skill as a writer. I have thought at
times that I cared a good deal for him. I think perhaps if he had
spoken to me at any other time than the one he chose, I could easily
have persuaded myself that I loved him. But not now."
Again Rachel paused suddenly, and when she looked up at Virginia
again there were tears on her face. Virginia came to her and put her
arm about her tenderly.
When Rachel had left the house, Virginia sat in the hall thinking
over the confidence her friend had just shown her. There was
something still to be told, Virginia felt sure from Rachel's manner,
but she did not feel hurt that Rachel had kept back something. She
was simply conscious of more on Rachel's mind than she had revealed.
Very soon Rollin came back, and he and Virginia, arm in arm as they
had lately been in the habit of doing, walked up and down the long
hall. It was easy for their talk to settle finally upon Rachel
because of the place she was to occupy in the plans which were being
made for the purchase of property at the Rectangle.
"Did you ever know of a girl of such really gifted powers in vocal
music who was willing to give her life to the people as Rachel is
going to do? She is going to give music lessons in the city, have
private pupils to make her living, and then give the people in the
Rectangle the benefit of her culture and her voice."
"It is certainly a very good example of self-sacrifice," replied
Rollin a little stiffly.
Virginia looked at him a little sharply. "But don't you think it is
a very unusual example? Can you imagine--" here Virginia named half
a dozen famous opera singers--"doing anything of this sort?"
"No, I cannot," Rollin answered briefly. "Neither can I imagine
Miss--" he spoke the name of the girl with the red parasol who had
begged Virginia to take the girls to the Rectangle--" doing what you
are doing, Virginia."
"Any more than I can imagine Mr.--" Virginia spoke the name of a
young society leader "going about to the clubs doing your work,
Rollin." The two walked on in silence for the length of the hall.
"Coming back to Rachel," began Virginia, "Rollin, why do you treat
her with such a distinct, precise manner? I think, Rollin--pardon me
if I hurt you--that she is annoyed by it. You need to be on easy
terms. I don't think Rachel likes this change."
Rollin suddenly stopped. He seemed deeply agitated. He took his arm
from Virginia's and walked alone to the end of the hall. Then he
returned, with his hands behind him, and stopped near his sister and
said, "Virginia, have you not learned my secret?"
Virginia looked bewildered, then over her face the unusual color
crept, showing that she understood.
"I have never loved any one but Rachel Winslow." Rollin spoke calmly
enough now. "That day she was here when you talked about her refusal
to join the concert company, I asked her to be my wife; out there on
the avenue. She refused me, as I knew she would. And she gave as her
reason the fact that I had no purpose in life, which was true
enough. Now that I have a purpose, now that I am a new man, don't
you see, Virginia, how impossible it is for me to say anything? I
owe my very conversion to Rachel's singing. And yet that night while
she sang I can honestly say that, for the time being, I never
thought of her voice except as God's message. I believe that all my
personal love for her was for the time merged into a personal love
to my God and my Saviour." Rollin was silent, then he went on with
more emotion. "I still love her, Virginia. But I do not think she
ever could love me." He stopped and looked his sister in the face
with a sad smile.
"I don't know about that," said Virginia to herself. She was noting
Rollin's handsome face, his marks of dissipation nearly all gone
now, the firm lips showing manhood and courage, the clear eyes
looking into hers frankly, the form strong and graceful. Rollin was
a man now. Why should not Rachel come to love him in time? Surely
the two were well fitted for each other, especially now that their
purpose in life was moved by the same Christian force.
THE next day she went down to the NEWS office to see Edward Norman
and arrange the details of her part in the establishment of the
paper on its new foundation. Mr. Maxwell was present at this
conference, and the three agreed that whatever Jesus would do in
detail as editor of a daily paper, He would be guided by the same
general principles that directed His conduct as the Saviour of the
"I have tried to put down here in concrete form some of the things
that it has seemed to me Jesus would do," said Edward Norman. He
read from a paper lying on his desk, and Maxwell was reminded again
of his own effort to put into written form his own conception of
Jesus' probable action, and also of Milton Wright's same attempt in
"I have headed this, 'What would Jesus do as Edward Norman, editor
of a daily newspaper in Raymond?'
"1. He would never allow a sentence or a picture in his paper that
could be called bad or coarse or impure in any way.
"2. He would probably conduct the political part of the paper from
the standpoint of non-partisan patriotism, always looking upon all
political questions in the light of their relation to the Kingdom of
God, and advocating measures from the standpoint of their relation
to the welfare of the people, always on the basis of 'What is
right?' never on the basis of 'What is for the best interests of
this or that party?' In other words, He would treat all political
questions as he would treat every other subject, from the standpoint
of the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth."
Edward Norman looked up from the reading a moment. "You understand
that is my opinion of Jesus' probable action on political matters in
a daily paper. I am not passing judgment on other newspaper men who
may have a different conception of Jesus' probable action from mine.
I am simply trying to answer honestly, 'What would Jesus do as
Edward Norman?' And the answer I find is what I have put down.'
"3. The end and aim of a daily paper conducted by Jesus would be to
do the will of God. That is, His main purpose in carrying on a
newspaper would not be to make money, or gain political influence;
but His first and ruling purpose would be to so conduct his paper
that it would be evident to all his subscribers that He was trying
to seek first the Kingdom of God by means of His paper. This purpose
would be as distinct and unquestioned as the purpose of a minister
or a missionary or any unselfish martyr in Christian work anywhere.
"4. All questionable advertisements would be impossible.
"5. The relations of Jesus to the employees on the paper would be of
the most loving character."
"So far as I have gone," said Norman again looking up, "I am of
opinion that Jesus would employ practically some form of
co-operation that would represent the idea of a mutual interest in a
business where all were to move together for the same great end. I
am working out such a plan, and I am confident it will be
successful. At any rate, once introduce the element of personal love
into a business like this, take out the selfish principle of doing
it for personal profits to a man or company, and I do not see any
way except the most loving personal interest between editors,
reporters, pressmen, and all who contribute anything to the life of
the paper. And that interest would be expressed not only in the
personal love and sympathy but in a sharing with the profits of the
"6. As editor of a daily paper today, Jesus would give large space
to the work of the Christian world. He would devote a page possibly
to the facts of Reform, of sociological problems, of institutional
church work and similar movements.
"7. He would do all in His power in His paper to fight the saloon as
an enemy of the human race and an unnecessary part of our
civilization. He would do this regardless of public sentiment in the
matter and, of course, always regardless of its effect upon His
Again Edward Norman looked up. "I state my honest conviction on this
point. Of course, I do not pass judgment on the Christian men who
are editing other kinds of papers today. But as I interpret Jesus, I
believe He would use the influence of His paper to remove the saloon
entirely from the political and social life of the nation."
"8. Jesus would not issue a Sunday edition.
"9. He would print the news of the world that people ought to know.
Among the things they do not need to know, and which would not be
published, would be accounts of brutal prize-fights, long accounts
of crimes, scandals in private families, or any other human events
which in any way would conflict with the first point mentioned in
"10. If Jesus had the amount of money to use on a paper which we
have, He would probably secure the best and strongest Christian men
and women to co-operate with him in the matter of contributions.
That will be my purpose, as I shall be able to show you in a few
"11. Whatever the details of the paper might demand as the paper
developed along its definite plan, the main principle that guided it
would always be the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the
world. This large general principle would necessarily shape all the
Edward Norman finished reading the plan. He was very thoughtful.
"I have merely sketched a faint outline. I have a hundred ideas for
making the paper powerful that I have not thought out fully as yet.
This is simply suggestive. I have talked it over with other
newspaper men. Some of them say I will have a weak, namby-pamby
Sunday-school sheet. If I get out something as good as a
Sunday-school it will be pretty good. Why do men, when they want to
characterize something as particularly feeble, always use a
Sunday-school as a comparison, when they ought to know that the
Sunday-school is one of the strongest, most powerful influences in
our civilization in this country today? But the paper will not
necessarily be weak because it is good. Good things are more
powerful than bad. The question with me is largely one of support
from the Christian people of Raymond. There are over twenty thousand
church members here in this city. If half of them will stand by the
NEWS its life is assured. What do you think, Maxwell, of the
probability of such support?"
"I don't know enough about it to give an intelligent answer. I
believe in the paper with all my heart. If it lives a year, as Miss
Virginia said, there is no telling what it can do. The great thing
will be to issue such a paper, as near as we can judge, as Jesus
probably would, and put into it all the elements of Christian
brains, strength, intelligence and sense; and command respect for
freedom from bigotry, fanaticism, narrowness and anything else that
is contrary to the spirit of Jesus. Such a paper will call for the
best that human thought and action is capable of giving. The
greatest minds in the world would have their powers taxed to the
utmost to issue a Christian daily."
"Yes," Edward Norman spoke humbly. "I shall make a great many
mistakes, no doubt. I need a great deal of wisdom. But I want to do
as Jesus would. 'What would He do?' I have asked it, and shall
continue to do so, and abide by the results."
"I think we are beginning to understand," said Virginia, "the
meaning of that command, 'Grow in the grace and knowledge of our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' I am sure I do not know all that He
would do in detail until I know Him better."
"That is very true," said Henry Maxwell. "I am beginning to
understand that I cannot interpret the probable action of Jesus
until I know better what His spirit is. The greatest question in all
of human life is summed up when we ask, 'What would Jesus do?' if,
as we ask it, we also try to answer it from a growth in knowledge of
Jesus himself. We must know Jesus before we can imitate Him."
When the arrangement had been made between Virginia an Edward
Norman, he found himself in possession of the sum of five hundred
thousand dollars to use for the establishment of a Christian daily
paper. When Virginia and Maxwell had gone, Norman closed his door
and, alone with the Divine Presence, asked like a child for help
from his all-powerful Father. All through his prayer as he kneeled
before his desk ran the promise, "If any man lack wisdom, let him
ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and
it shall be given him." Surely his prayer would be answered, and the
kingdom advanced through this instrument of God's power, this mighty
press, which had become so largely degraded to the base uses of
man's avarice and ambition.
Two months went by. They were full of action and of results in the
city of Raymond and especially in the First Church. In spite of the
approaching heat of the summer season, the after-meeting of the
disciples who had made the pledge to do as Jesus would do, continued
with enthusiasm and power. Gray had finished his work at the
Rectangle, and an outward observer going through the place could not
have seen any difference in the old conditions, although there was
an actual change in hundreds of lives. But the saloons, dens,
hovels, gambling houses, still ran, overflowing their vileness into
the lives of fresh victims to take the place of those rescued by the
evangelist. And the devil recruited his ranks very fast.
Henry Maxwell did not go abroad. Instead of that, he took the money
he had been saving for the trip and quietly arranged for a summer
vacation for a whole family living down in the Rectangle, who had
never gone outside of the foul district of the tenements. The pastor
of the First Church will never forget the week he spent with this
family making the arrangements. He went down into the Rectangle one
hot day when something of the terrible heat in the horrible
tenements was beginning to be felt, and helped the family to the
station, and then went with them to a beautiful spot on the coast
where, in the home of a Christian woman, the bewildered city tenants
breathed for the first time in years the cool salt air, and felt
blow about them the pine-scented fragrance of a new lease of life.
There was a sickly babe with the mother, and three other children,
one a cripple. The father, who had been out of work until he had
been, as he afterwards confessed to Maxwell, several times on the
edge of suicide, sat with the baby in his arms during the journey,
and when Maxwell started back to Raymond, after seeing the family
settled, the man held his hand at parting, and choked with his
utterance, and finally broke down, to Maxwell's great confusion. The
mother, a wearied, worn-out woman who had lost three children the
year before from a fever scourge in the Rectangle, sat by the car
window all the way and drank in the delights of sea and sky and
field. It all seemed a miracle to her. And Maxwell, coming back into
Raymond at the end of that week, feeling the scorching, sickening
heat all the more because of his little taste of the ocean breezes,
thanked God for the joy he had witnessed, and entered upon his
discipleship with a humble heart, knowing for almost the first time
in his life this special kind of sacrifice. For never before had he
denied himself his regular summer trip away from the heat of
Raymond, whether he felt in any great need of rest or not.
"It is a fact," he said in reply to several inquiries on the part of
his church, "I do not feel in need of a vacation this year. I am
very well and prefer to stay here." It was with a feeling of relief
that he succeeded in concealing from every one but his wife what he
had done with this other family. He felt the need of doing anything
of that sort without display or approval from others.
So the summer came on, and Maxwell grew into a large knowledge of
his Lord. The First Church was still swayed by the power of the
Spirit. Maxwell marveled at the continuance of His stay. He knew
very well that from the beginning nothing but the Spirit's presence
had kept the church from being torn asunder by the remarkable
testing it had received of its discipleship. Even now there were
many of the members among those who had not taken the pledge, who
regarded the whole movement as Mrs. Winslow did, in the nature of a
fanatical interpretation of Christian duty, and looked for the
return of the old normal condition. Meanwhile the whole body of
disciples was under the influence of the Spirit, and the pastor went
his way that summer, doing his parish work in great joy, keeping up
his meetings with the railroad men as he had promised Alexander
Powers, and daily growing into a better knowledge of the Master.
Early one afternoon in August, after a day of refreshing coolness
following a long period of heat, Jasper Chase walked to his window
in the apartment house on the avenue and looked out.
On his desk lay a pile of manuscript. Since that evening when he had
spoken to Rachel Winslow he had not met her. His singularly
sensitive nature--sensitive to the point of extreme irritability
when he was thwarted--served to thrust him into an isolation that
was intensified by his habits as an author.
All through the heat of summer he had been writing. His book was
nearly done now. He had thrown himself into its construction with a
feverish strength that threatened at any moment to desert him and
leave him helpless. He had not forgotten his pledge made with the
other church members at the First Church. It had forced itself upon
his notice all through his writing, and ever since Rachel had said
no to him, he had asked a thousand times, "Would Jesus do this?
Would He write this story?" It was a social novel, written in a
style that had proved popular. It had no purpose except to amuse.
Its moral teaching was not bad, but neither was it Christian in any
positive way. Jasper Chase knew that such a story would probably
sell. He was conscious of powers in this way that the social world
petted and admired. "What would Jesus do?" He felt that Jesus would
never write such a book. The question obtruded on him at the most
inopportune times. He became irascible over it. The standard of
Jesus for an author was too ideal. Of course, Jesus would use His
powers to produce something useful or helpful, or with a purpose.
What was he, Jasper Chase, writing this novel for? Why, what nearly
every writer wrote for--money, money, and fame as a writer. There
was no secret with him that he was writing this new story with that
object. He was not poor, and so had no great temptation to write for
money. But he was urged on by his desire for fame as much as
anything. He must write this kind of matter. But what would Jesus
do? The question plagued him even more than Rachel's refusal. Was he
going to break his promise? "Did the promise mean much after all?"
As he stood at the window, Rollin Page came out of the club house
just opposite. Jasper noted his handsome face and noble figure as he
started down the street. He went back to his desk and turned over
some papers there. Then he came back to the window. Rollin was
walking down past the block and Rachel Winslow was walking beside
him. Rollin must have overtaken her as she was coming from
Virginia's that afternoon.
Jasper watched the two figures until they disappeared in the crowd
on the walk. Then he turned to his desk and began to write. When he
had finished the last page of the last chapter of his book it was
nearly dark. "What would Jesus do?" He had finally answered the
question by denying his Lord. It grew darker in his room. He had
deliberately chosen his course, urged on by his disappointment and
"What is that to thee? Follow thou me."
WHEN Rollin started down the street the afternoon that Jasper stood
looking out of his window he was not thinking of Rachel Winslow and
did not expect to see her anywhere. He had come suddenly upon her as
he turned into the avenue and his heart had leaped up at the sight
of her. He walked along by her now, rejoicing after all in a little
moment of this earthly love he could not drive out of his life.
"I have just been over to see Virginia," said Rachel. "She tells me
the arrangements are nearly completed for the transfer of the
"Yes. It has been a tedious case in the courts. Did Virginia show
you all the plans and specifications for building?"
"We looked over a good many. It is astonishing to me where Virginia
has managed to get all her ideas about this work."
"Virginia knows more now about Arnold Toynbee and East End London
and Institutional Church work in America than a good many
professional slum workers. She has been spending nearly all summer
in getting information." Rollin was beginning to feel more at ease
as they talked over this coming work of humanity. It was safe,
"What have you been doing all summer? I have not seen much of you,"
Rachel suddenly asked, and then her face warmed with its quick flush
of tropical color as if she might have implied too much interest in
Rollin or too much regret at not seeing him oftener.
"I have been busy," replied Rollin briefly.
"Tell me something about it," persisted Rachel. "You say so little.
Have I a right to ask?"
She put the question very frankly, turning toward Rollin in real
"Yes, certainly," he replied, with a graceful smile. "I am not so
certain that I can tell you much. I have been trying to find some
way to reach the men I once knew and win them into more useful
He stopped suddenly as if he were almost afraid to go on. Rachel did
not venture to suggest anything.
"I have been a member of the same company to which you and Virginia
belong," continued Rollin, beginning again. "I have made the pledge
to do as I believe Jesus would do, and it is in trying to answer
this question that I have been doing my work."
"That is what I do not understand. Virginia told me about the other.
It seems wonderful to think that you are trying to keep that pledge
with us. But what can you do with the club men?"
"You have asked me a direct question and I shall have to answer it
now," replied Rollin, smiling again. "You see, I asked myself after
that night at the tent, you remember" (he spoke hurriedly and his
voice trembled a little), "what purpose I could now have in my life
to redeem it, to satisfy my thought of Christian discipleship? And
the more I thought of it, the more I was driven to a place where I
knew I must take up the cross. Did you ever think that of all the
neglected beings in our social system none are quite so completely
left alone as the fast young men who fill the clubs and waste their
time and money as I used to? The churches look after the poor,
miserable creatures like those in the Rectangle; they make some
effort to reach the working man, they have a large constituency
among the average salary-earning people, they send money and
missionaries to the foreign heathen, but the fashionable, dissipated
young men around town, the club men, are left out of all plans for
reaching and Christianizing. And yet no class of people need it
more. I said to myself: 'I know these men, their good and their bad
qualities. I have been one of them. I am not fitted to reach the
Rectangle people. I do not know how. But I think I could possibly
reach some of the young men and boys who have money and time to
spend.' So that is what I have been trying to do. When I asked as
you did, What would Jesus do?' that was my answer. It has been also
Rollin's voice was so low on this last sentence that Rachel had
difficulty in hearing him above the noise around them, But she knew
what he had said. She wanted to ask what his methods were. But she
did not know how to ask him. Her interest in his plan was larger
than mere curiosity. Rollin Page was so different now from the
fashionable young man who had asked her to be his wife that she
could not help thinking of him and talking with him as if he were an
entirely new acquaintance.
They had turned off the avenue and were going up the street to
Rachel's home. It was the same street where Rollin had asked Rachel
why she could not love him. They were both stricken with a sudden
shyness as they went on. Rachel had not forgotten that day and
Rollin could not. She finally broke a long silence by asking what
she had not found words for before.
"In your work with the club men, with your old acquaintances, what
sort of reception do they give you? How do you approach them? What
do they say?"
Rollin was relieved when Rachel spoke. He answered quickly: "Oh, it
depends on the man. A good many of them think I am a crank. I have
kept my membership up and am in good standing in that way. I try to
be wise and not provoke any unnecessary criticism. But you would be
surprised to know how many of the men have responded to my appeal. I
could hardly make you believe that only a few nights ago a dozen men
became honestly and earnestly engaged in a conversation over
religious matters. I have had the great joy of seeing some of the
men give up bad habits and begin a new life. 'What would Jesus do?'
I keep asking it. The answer comes slowly, for I am feeling my way
slowly. One thing I have found out. The men are not fighting shy of
me. I think that is a good sign. Another thing: I have actually
interested some of them in the Rectangle work, and when it is
started up they will give something to help make it more powerful.
And in addition to all the rest, I have found a way to save several
of the young fellows from going to the bad in gambling."
Rollin spoke with enthusiasm. His face was transformed by his
interest in the subject which had now become a part of his real
life. Rachel again noted the strong, manly tone of his speech. With
it all she knew there was a deep, underlying seriousness which felt
the burden of the cross even while carrying it with joy. The next
time she spoke it was with a swift feeling of justice due to Rollin
and his new life.
"Do you remember I reproached you once for not having any purpose
worth living for?" she asked, while her beautiful face seemed to
Rollin more beautiful than ever when he had won sufficient
self-control to look up. "I want to say, I feel the need of saying,
in justice to you now, that I honor you for your courage and your
obedience to the promise you have made as you interpret the promise.
The life you are living is a noble one."
Rollin trembled. His agitation was greater than he could control.
Rachel could not help seeing it. They walked along in silence. At
last Rollin said: "I thank you. It has been worth more to me than I
can tell you to hear you say that." He looked into her face for one
moment. She read his love for her in that look, but he did not
When they separated Rachel went into the house and, sitting down in
her room, she put her face in her hands and said to herself: "I am
beginning to know what it means to be loved by a noble man. I shall
love Rollin Page after all. What am I saying! Rachel Winslow, have
She rose and walked back and forth. She was deeply moved.
Nevertheless, it was evident to herself that her emotion was not
that of regret or sorrow. Somehow a glad new joy had come to her.
She had entered another circle of experience, and later in the day
she rejoiced with a very strong and sincere gladness that her
Christian discipleship found room in this crisis for her feeling. It
was indeed a part of it, for if she was beginning to love Rollin
Page it was the Christian man she had begun to love; the other never
would have moved her to this great change.
And Rollin, as he went back, treasured a hope that had been a
stranger to him since Rachel had said no that day. In that hope he
went on with his work as the days sped on, and at no time was he
more successful in reaching and saving his old acquaintances than in
the time that followed that chance meeting with Rachel Winslow.
The summer had gone and Raymond was once more facing the rigor of
her winter season. Virginia had been able to accomplish a part of
her plan for "capturing the Rectangle," as she called it. But the
building of houses in the field, the transforming of its bleak, bare
aspect into an attractive park, all of which was included in her
plan, was a work too large to be completed that fall after she had
secured the property. But a million dollars in the hands of a person
who truly wants to do with it as Jesus would, ought to accomplish
wonders for humanity in a short time, and Henry Maxwell, going over
to the scene of the new work one day after a noon hour with the shop
men, was amazed to see how much had been done outwardly.
Yet he walked home thoughtfully, and on his way he could not avoid
the question of the continual problem thrust upon his notice by the
saloon. How much had been done for the Rectangle after all? Even
counting Virginia's and Rachel's work and Mr. Gray's, where had it
actually counted in any visible quantity? Of course, he said to
himself, the redemptive work begun and carried on by the Holy Spirit
in His wonderful displays of power in the First Church and in the
tent meetings had had its effect upon the life of Raymond. But as he
walked past saloon after saloon and noted the crowds going in and
coming out of them, as he saw the wretched dens, as many as ever
apparently, as he caught the brutality and squalor and open misery
and degradation on countless faces of men and women and children, he
sickened at the sight. He found himself asking how much cleansing
could a million dollars poured into this cesspool accomplish? Was
not the living source of nearly all the human misery they sought to
relieve untouched as long as the saloons did their deadly but
legitimate work? What could even such unselfish Christian
discipleship as Virginia's and Rachel's do to lessen the stream of
vice and crime so long as the great spring of vice and crime flowed
as deep and strong as ever? Was it not a practical waste of
beautiful lives for these young women to throw themselves into this
earthly hell, when for every soul rescued by their sacrifice the
saloon made two more that needed rescue?
He could not escape the question. It was the same that Virginia had
put to Rachel in her statement that, in her opinion, nothing really
permanent would ever be done until the saloon was taken out of the
Rectangle. Henry Maxwell went back to his parish work that afternoon
with added convictions on the license business.
But if the saloon was a factor in the problem of the life of
Raymond, no less was the First Church and its little company of
disciples who had pledged to do as Jesus would do. Henry Maxwell,
standing at the very centre of the movement, was not in a position
to judge of its power as some one from the outside might have done.
But Raymond itself felt the touch in very many ways, not knowing all
the reasons for the change.
The winter was gone and the year was ended, the year which Henry
Maxwell had fixed as the time during which the pledge should be kept
to do as Jesus would do. Sunday, the anniversary of that one a year
ago, was in many ways the most remarkable day that the First Church
ever knew. It was more important than the disciples in the First
Church realized. The year had made history so fast and so serious
that the people were not yet able to grasp its significance. And the
day itself which marked the completion of a whole year of such
discipleship was characterized by such revelations and confessions
that the immediate actors in the events themselves could not
understand the value of what had been done, or the relation of their
trial to the rest of the churches and cities of the country.
[Letter from Rev. Calvin Bruce, D.D., of the Nazareth Avenue Church,
Chicago, to Rev. Philip A. Caxton, D.D., New York City.]
"My Dear Caxton:
"It is late Sunday night, but I am so intensely awake and so
overflowing with what I have seen and heard that I feel driven to
write you now some account of the situation in Raymond as I have
been studying it, and as it has apparently come to a climax today.
So this is my only excuse for writing so extended a letter at this
"You remember Henry Maxwell in the Seminary. I think you said the
last time I visited you in New York that you had not seen him since
we graduated. He was a refined, scholarly fellow, you remember, and
when he was called to the First Church of Raymond within a year
after leaving the Seminary, I said to my wife, 'Raymond has made a
good choice. Maxwell will satisfy them as a sermonizer.' He has been
here eleven years, and I understand that up to a year ago he had
gone on in the regular course of the ministry, giving good
satisfaction and drawing good congregations. His church was counted
the largest and wealthiest church in Raymond. All the best people
attended it, and most of them belonged. The quartet choir was famous
for its music, especially for its soprano, Miss Winslow, of whom I
shall have more to say; and, on the whole, as I understand the
facts, Maxwell was in a comfortable berth, with a very good salary,
pleasant surroundings, a not very exacting parish of refined, rich,
respectable people--such a church and parish as nearly all the young
men of the seminary in our time looked forward to as very desirable.
"But a year ago today Maxwell came into his church on Sunday
morning, and at the close of the service made the astounding
proposition that the members of his church volunteer for a year not
to do anything without first asking the question, 'What would Jesus
do?' and, after answering it, to do what in their honest judgment He
would do, regardless of what the result might be to them.
"The effect of this proposition, as it has been met and obeyed by a
number of members of the church, has been so remarkable that, as you
know, the attention of the whole country has been directed to the
movement. I call it a 'movement' because from the action taken
today, it seems probable that what has been tried here will reach
out into the other churches and cause a revolution in methods, but
more especially in a new definition of Christian discipleship.
"In the first place, Maxwell tells me he was astonished at the
response to his proposition. Some of the most prominent members in
the church made the promise to do as Jesus would. Among them were
Edward Norman, editor of the DAILY NEWS, which has made such a
sensation in the newspaper world; Milton Wright, one of the leading
merchants in Raymond; Alexander Powers, whose action in the matter
of the railroads against the interstate commerce laws made such a
stir about a year ago; Miss Page, one of Raymond's leading society
heiresses, who has lately dedicated her entire fortune, as I
understand, to the Christian daily paper and the work of reform in
the slum district known as the Rectangle; and Miss Winslow, whose
reputation as a singer is now national, but who in obedience to what
she has decided to be Jesus' probable action, has devoted her talent
to volunteer work among the girls and women who make up a large part
of the city's worst and most abandoned population.
"In addition to these well-known people has been a gradually
increasing number of Christians from the First Church and lately
from other churches of Raymond. A large proportion of these
volunteers who pledged themselves to do as Jesus would do comes from
the Endeavor societies. The young people say that they have already
embodied in their society pledge the same principle in the words, 'I
promise Him that I will strive to do whatever He would have me do.'
This is not exactly what is included in Maxwell's proposition, which
is that the disciple shall try to do what Jesus would probably do in
the disciple's place. But the result of an honest obedience to
either pledge, he claims, will be practically the same, and he is
not surprised that the largest numbers have joined the new
discipleship from the Endeavor Society.
"I am sure the first question you will ask is, 'What has been the
result of this attempt? What has it accomplished or how has it
changed in any way the regular life of the church or the community?'
"You already know something, from reports of Raymond that have gone
over the country, what the events have been. But one needs to come
here and learn something of the changes in individual lives, and
especially the change in the church life, to realize all that is
meant by this following of Jesus' steps so literally. To tell all
that would be to write a long story or series of stories. I am not
in a position to do that, but I can give you some idea perhaps of
what has been done as told me by friends here and by Maxwell
"The result of the pledge upon the First Church has been two-fold.
It has brought upon a spirit of Christian fellowship which Maxwell
tells me never before existed, and which now impresses him as being
very nearly what the Christian fellowship of the apostolic churches
must have been; and it has divided the church into two distinct
groups of members. Those who have not taken the pledge regard the
others as foolishly literal in their attempt to imitate the example
of Jesus. Some of them have drawn out of the church and no longer
attend, or they have removed their membership entirely to other
churches. Some are an element of internal strife, and I heard rumors
of an attempt on their part to force Maxwell's resignation. I do not
know that this element is very strong in the church. It has been
held in check by a wonderful continuance of spiritual power, which
dates from the first Sunday the pledge was taken a year ago, and
also by the fact that so many of the most prominent members have
been identified with the movement.
"The effect on Maxwell is very marked. I heard him preach in our
State Association four years ago. He impressed me at the time as
having considerable power in dramatic delivery, of which he himself
was somewhat conscious. His sermon was well written and abounded in
what the Seminary students used to call 'fine passages.' The effect
of it was what an average congregation would call 'pleasing.' This
morning I heard Maxwell preach again, for the first time since then.
I shall speak of that farther on. He is not the same man. He gives
me the impression of one who has passed through a crisis of
revolution. He tells me this revolution is simply a new definition
of Christian discipleship. He certainly has changed many of his old
habits and many of his old views. His attitude on the saloon
question is radically opposite to the one he entertained a year ago.
And in his entire thought of the ministry, his pulpit and parish
work, I find he has made a complete change. So far as I can
understand, the idea that is moving him on now is the idea that the
Christianity of our times must represent a more literal imitation of
Jesus, and especially in the element of suffering. He quoted to me
in the course of our conversation several times the verses in Peter:
'For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for
you, leaving you an example, that ye would follow His steps'; and he
seems filled with the conviction that what our churches need today
more than anything else is this factor of joyful suffering for Jesus
in some form. I do not know as I agree with him, altogether; but, my
dear Caxton, it is certainly astonishing to note the results of this
idea as they have impressed themselves upon this city and this
"You ask how about the results on the individuals who have made this
pledge and honestly tried to be true to it. Those results are, as I
have said, a part of individual history and cannot be told in
detail. Some of them I can give you so that you may see that this
form of discipleship is not merely sentiment or fine posing for
"For instance, take the case of Mr. Powers, who was superintendent
of the machine shops of the L. and T. R. R. here. When he acted upon
the evidence which incriminated the road he lost his position, and
more than that, I learn from my friends here, his family and social
relations have become so changed that he and his family no longer
appear in public. They have dropped out of the social circle where
once they were so prominent. By the way, Caxton, I understand in
this connection that the Commission, for one reason or another,
postponed action on this case, and it is now rumored that the L. and
T. R. R. will pass into a receiver's hands very soon. The president
of the road who, according to the evidence submitted by Powers, was
the principal offender, has resigned, and complications which have
risen since point to the receivership. Meanwhile, the superintendent
has gone back to his old work as a telegraph operator. I met him at
the church yesterday. He impressed me as a man who had, like
Maxwell, gone through a crisis in character. I could not help
thinking of him as being good material for the church of the first
century when the disciples had all things in common.
"Or take the case of Mr. Norman, editor of the DAILY NEWS. He risked
his entire fortune in obedience to what he believed was Jesus'
action, and revolutionized his entire conduct of the paper at the
risk of a failure. I send you a copy of yesterday's paper. I want
you to read it carefully. To my mind it is one of the most
interesting and remarkable papers ever printed in the United States.
It is open to criticism, but what could any mere man attempt in this
line that would be free from criticism. Take it all in all, it is so
far above the ordinary conception of a daily paper that I am amazed
at the result. He tells me that the paper is beginning to be read
more and more by the Christian people of the city. He was very
confident of its final success. Read his editorial on the money
questions, also the one on the coming election in Raymond when the
question of license will again be an issue. Both articles are of the
best from his point of view. He says he never begins an editorial
or, in fact, any part of his newspaper work, without first asking,
'What would Jesus do?' The result is certainly apparent.
"Then there is Milton Wright, the merchant. He has, I am told, so
revolutionized his business that no man is more beloved today in
Raymond. His own clerks and employees have an affection for him that
is very touching. During the winter, while he was lying dangerously
ill at his home, scores of clerks volunteered to watch and help in
any way possible, and his return to his store was greeted with
marked demonstrations. All this has been brought about by the
element of personal love introduced into the business. This love is
not mere words, but the business itself is carried on under a system
of co-operation that is not a patronizing recognition of inferiors,
but a real sharing in the whole business. Other men on the street
look upon Milton Wright as odd. It is a fact, however, that while he
has lost heavily in some directions, he has increased his business,
and is today respected and honored as one of the best and most
successful merchants in Raymond.
"And there is Miss Winslow. She has chosen to give her great talent
to the poor of the city. Her plans include a Musical Institute where
choruses and classes in vocal music shall be a feature. She is
enthusiastic over her life work. In connection with her friend Miss
Page she has planned a course in music which, if carried out, will
certainly do much to lift up the lives of the people down there. I
am not too old, dear Caxton, to be interested in the romantic side
of much that has also been tragic here in Raymond, and I must tell
you that it is well understood here that Miss Winslow expects to be
married this spring to a brother of Miss Page who was once a society
leader and club man, and who was converted in a tent where his
wife-that-is-to-be took an active part in the service. I don't know
all the details of this little romance, but I imagine there is a
story wrapped up in it, and it would make interesting reading if we
only knew it all.
"These are only a few illustrations of results in individual lives
owing to obedience to the pledge. I meant to have spoken of
President Marsh of Lincoln College. He is a graduate of my alma
mater and I knew him slightly when I was in the senior year. He has
taken an active part in the recent municipal campaign, and his
influence in the city is regarded as a very large factor in the
coming election. He impressed me, as did all the other disciples in
this movement, as having fought out some hard questions, and as
having taken up some real burdens that have caused and still do
cause that suffering of which Henry Maxwell speaks, a suffering that
does not eliminate, but does appear to intensify, a positive and
"BUT I am prolonging this letter, possibly to your weariness. I am
unable to avoid the feeling of fascination which my entire stay here
has increased. I want to tell you something of the meeting in the
First Church today.
"As I said, I heard Maxwell preach. At his earnest request I had
preached for him the Sunday before, and this was the first time I
had heard him since the Association meeting four years ago. His
sermon this morning was as different from his sermon then as if it
had been thought out and preached by some one living on another
planet. I was profoundly touched. I believe I actually shed tears
once. Others in the congregation were moved like myself. His text
was: 'What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.' It was a most unusually
impressive appeal to the Christians of Raymond to obey Jesus'
teachings and follow in His steps regardless of what others might
do. I cannot give you even the plan of the sermon. It would take too
long. At the close of the service there was the usual after meeting
that has become a regular feature of the First Church. Into this
meeting have come all those who made the pledge to do as Jesus would
do, and the time is spent in mutual fellowship, confession, question
as to what Jesus would do in special cases, and prayer that the one
great guide of every disciple's conduct may be the Holy Spirit.
"Maxwell asked me to come into this meeting. Nothing in all my
ministerial life, Caxton, has so moved me as that meeting. I never
felt the Spirit's presence so powerfully. It was a meeting of
reminiscences and of the most loving fellowship. I was irresistibly
driven in thought back to the first years of Christianity. There was
something about all this that was apostolic in its simplicity and
"I asked questions. One that seemed to arouse more interest than any
other was in regard to the extent of the Christian disciple's
sacrifice of personal property. Maxwell tells me that so far no one
has interpreted the spirit of Jesus in such a way as to abandon his
earthly possessions, give away of his wealth, or in any literal way
imitate the Christians of the order, for example, of St. Francis of
Assisi. It was the unanimous consent, however, that if any disciple
should feel that Jesus in his own particular case would do that,
there could be only one answer to the question. Maxwell admitted
that he was still to a certain degree uncertain as to Jesus'
probable action when it came to the details of household living, the
possession of wealth, the holding of certain luxuries. It is,
however, very evident that many of these disciples have repeatedly
carried their obedience to Jesus to the extreme limit, regardless of
financial loss. There is no lack of courage or consistency at this
"It is also true that some of the business men who took the pledge
have lost great sums of money in this imitation of Jesus, and many
have, like Alexander Powers, lost valuable positions owing to the
impossibility of doing what they had been accustomed to do and at
the same time what they felt Jesus would do in the same place. In
connection with these cases it is pleasant to record the fact that
many who have suffered in this way have been at once helped
financially by those who still have means. In this respect I think
it is true that these disciples have all things in common. Certainly
such scenes as I witnessed at the First Church at that after service
this morning I never saw in my church or in any other. I never
dreamed that such Christian fellowship could exist in this age of
the world. I was almost incredulous as to the witness of my own
senses. I still seem to be asking myself if this is the close of the
nineteenth century in America.
"But now, dear friend, I come to the real cause of this letter, the
real heart of the whole question as the First Church of Raymond has
forced it upon me. Before the meeting closed today steps were taken
to secure the co-operation of all other Christian disciples in this
country. I think Maxwell took this step after long deliberation. He
said as much to me one day when we were discussing the effect of
this movement upon the church in general.
"'Why,' he said, 'suppose that the church membership generally in
this country made this pledge and lived up to it! What a revolution
it would cause in Christendom! But why not? Is it any more than the
disciple ought to do? Has he followed Jesus, unless he is willing to
do this? Is the test of discipleship any less today than it was in
"I do not know all that preceded or followed his thought of what
ought to be done outside of Raymond, but the idea crystallized today
in a plan to secure the fellowship of all the Christians in America.
The churches, through their pastors, will be asked to form disciple
gatherings like the one in the First Church. Volunteers will be
called for in the great body of church members in the United States,
who will promise to do as Jesus would do. Maxwell spoke particularly
of the result of such general action on the saloon question. He is
terribly in earnest over this. He told me that there was no question
in his mind that the saloon would be beaten in Raymond at the
election now near at hand. If so, they could go on with some courage
to do the redemptive work begun by the evangelist and now taken up
by the disciples in his own church. If the saloon triumphs again
there will be a terrible and, as he thinks, unnecessary waste of
Christian sacrifice. But, however we differ on that point, he
convinced his church that the time had come for a fellowship with
other Christians. Surely, if the First Church could work such
changes in society and its surroundings, the church in general if
combining such a fellowship, not of creed but of conduct, ought to
stir the entire nation to a higher life and a new conception of
"This is a grand idea, Caxton, but right here is where I find my
self hesitating. I do not deny that the Christian disciple ought to
follow Christ's steps as closely as these here in Raymond have tried
to do. But I cannot avoid asking what the result would be if I ask
my church in Chicago to do it. I am writing this after feeling the
solemn, profound touch of the Spirit's presence, and I confess to
you, old friend, that I cannot call up in my church a dozen
prominent business or professional men who would make this trial at
the risk of all they hold dear. Can you do any better in your
church? What are we to say? That the churches would not respond to
the call: 'Come and suffer?' Is our standard of Christian
discipleship a wrong one? Or are we possibly deceiving ourselves,
and would we be agreeably disappointed if we once asked our people
to take such a pledge faithfully? The actual results of the pledge
as obeyed here in Raymond are enough to make any pastor tremble, and
at the same time long with yearning that they might occur in his own
parish. Certainly never have I seen a church so signally blessed by
the Spirit as this one. But--am I myself ready to take this pledge?
I ask the question honestly, and I dread to face an honest answer. I
know well enough that I should have to change very much in my life
if I undertook to follow His steps so closely. I have called myself
a Christian for many years. For the past ten years I have enjoyed a
life that has had comparatively little suffering in it. I am,
honestly I say it, living at a long distance from municipal problems
and the life of the poor, the degraded and the abandoned. What would
the obedience to this pledge demand of me? I hesitate to answer. My
church is wealthy, full of well-to-do, satisfied people. The
standard of their discipleship is, I am aware, not of a nature to
respond to the call of suffering or personal loss. I say: 'I am
aware.' I may be mistaken. I may have erred in not stirring their
deeper life. Caxton, my friend, I have spoken my inmost thought to
you. Shall I go back to my people next Sunday and stand up before
them in my large city church and say: 'Let us follow Jesus closer;
let us walk in His steps where it will cost us something more than
it is costing us now; let us pledge not to do anything without first
asking: 'What would Jesus do?' If I should go before them with that
message, it would be a strange and startling one to them. But why?
Are we not ready to follow Him all the way? What is it to be a
follower of Jesus? What does it mean to imitate Him? What does it
mean to walk in His steps?"
The Rev. Calvin Bruce, D. D., of the Nazareth Avenue Church,
Chicago, let his pen fall on the table. He had come to the parting
of the ways, and his question, he felt sure, was the question of
many and many a man in the ministry and in the church. He went to
his window and opened it. He was oppressed with the weight of his
convictions and he felt almost suffocated with the air in the room.
He wanted to see the stars and feel the breath of the world.
The night was very still. The clock in the First Church was just
striking midnight. As it finished a clear, strong voice down in the
direction of the Rectangle came floating up to him as if borne on
It was a voice of one of Gray's old converts, a night watchman at
the packing houses, who sometimes solaced his lonesome hours by a
verse or two of some familiar hymn:
"Must Jesus bear the cross alone
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for every one,
And there's a cross for me."
The Rev. Calvin Bruce turned away from the window and, after a
little hesitation, he kneeled. "What would Jesus do?" That was the
burden of his prayer. Never had he yielded himself so completely to
the Spirit's searching revealing of Jesus. He was on his knees a
long time. He retired and slept fitfully with many awakenings. He
rose before it was clear dawn, and threw open his window again. As
the light in the east grew stronger he repeated to himself: "What
would Jesus do? Shall I follow His steps?"
The sun rose and flooded the city with its power. When shall the
dawn of a new discipleship usher in the conquering triumph of a
closer walk with Jesus? When shall Christendom tread more closely
the path he made?
"It is the way the Master trod; Shall not the servant tread it
"Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest."
THE Saturday afternoon matinee at the Auditorium in Chicago was just
over and the usual crowd was struggling to get to its carriage
before any one else. The Auditorium attendant was shouting out the
numbers of different carriages and the carriage doors were slamming
as the horses were driven rapidly up to the curb, held there
impatiently by the drivers who had shivered long in the raw east
wind, and then let go to plunge for a few minutes into the river of
vehicles that tossed under the elevated railway and finally went
whirling off up the avenue.
"Now then, 624," shouted the Auditorium attendant; "624!" he
repeated, and there dashed up to the curb a splendid span of black
horses attached to a carriage having the monogram, "C. R. S." in
gilt letters on the panel of the door.
Two girls stepped out of the crowd towards the carriage. The older
one had entered and taken her seat and the attendant was still
holding the door open for the younger, who stood hesitating on the
"Come, Felicia! What are you waiting for! I shall freeze to death!"
called the voice from the carriage.
The girl outside of the carriage hastily unpinned a bunch of English
violets from her dress and handed them to a small boy who was
standing shivering on the edge of the sidewalk almost under the
horses' feet. He took them, with a look of astonishment and a "Thank
ye, lady!" and instantly buried a very grimy face in the bunch of
perfume. The girl stepped into the carriage, the door shut with the
incisive bang peculiar to well-made carriages of this sort, and in a
few moments the coachman was speeding the horses rapidly up one of
"You are always doing some queer thing or other, Felicia," said the
older girl as the carriage whirled on past the great residences
already brilliantly lighted.
"Am I? What have I done that is queer now, Rose?" asked the other,
looking up suddenly and turning her head towards her sister.
"Oh, giving those violets to that boy! He looked as if he needed a
good hot supper more than a bunch of violets. It's a wonder you
didn't invite him home with us. I shouldn't have been surprised if
you had. You are always doing such queer things."
"Would it be queer to invite a boy like that to come to the house
and get a hot supper?" Felicia asked the question softly and almost
as if she were alone.
"'Queer' isn't just the word, of course," replied Rose
indifferently. "It would be what Madam Blanc calls 'outre.'
Decidedly. Therefore you will please not invite him or others like
him to hot suppers because I suggested it. Oh, dear! I'm awfully
She yawned, and Felicia silently looked out of the window in the
"The concert was stupid and the violinist was simply a bore. I don't
see how you could sit so still through it all," Rose exclaimed a
"I liked the music," answered Felicia quietly.
"You like anything. I never saw a girl with so little critical
Felicia colored slightly, but would not answer. Rose yawned again,
and then hummed a fragment of a popular song. Then she exclaimed
abruptly: "I'm sick of 'most everything. I hope the 'Shadows of
London' will be exciting tonight."
"The 'Shadows of Chicago,'" murmured Felicia. "The 'Shadows of
Chicago!' The 'Shadows of London,' the play, the great drama with
its wonderful scenery, the sensation of New York for two months. You
know we have a box with the Delanos tonight."
Felicia turned her face towards her sister. Her great brown eyes
were very expressive and not altogether free from a sparkle of
"And yet we never weep over the real thing on the actual stage of
life. What are the 'Shadows of London' on the stage to the shadows
of London or Chicago as they really exist? Why don't we get excited
over the facts as they are?"
"Because the actual people are dirty and disagreeable and it's too
much bother, I suppose," replied Rose carelessly. "Felicia, you can
never reform the world. What's the use? We're not to blame for the
poverty and misery. There have always been rich and poor; and there
always will be. We ought to be thankful we're rich."
"Suppose Christ had gone on that principle," replied Felicia, with
unusual persistence. "Do you remember Dr. Bruce's sermon on that
verse a few Sundays ago: 'For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that though he was rich yet for our sakes he became poor,
that ye through his poverty might become rich'?"
"I remember it well enough," said Rose with some petulance, "and
didn't Dr. Bruce go on to say that there is no blame attached to
people who have wealth if they are kind and give to the needs of the
poor? And I am sure that he himself is pretty comfortably settled.
He never gives up his luxuries just because some people go hungry.
What good would it do if he did? I tell you, Felicia, there will
always be poor and rich in spite of all we can do. Ever since Rachel
Winslow has written about those queer doings in Raymond you have
upset the whole family. People can't live at that concert pitch all
the time. You see if Rachel doesn't give it up soon. It's a great
pity she doesn't come to Chicago and sing in the Auditorium
concerts. She has received an offer. I'm going to write and urge her
to come. I'm just dying to hear her sing."
Felicia looked out of the window and was silent. The carriage rolled
on past two blocks of magnificent private residences and turned into
a wide driveway under a covered passage, and the sisters hurried
into the house. It was an elegant mansion of gray stone furnished
like a palace, every corner of it warm with the luxury of paintings,
sculpture, art and modern refinement.
The owner of it all, Mr. Charles R. Sterling, stood before an open
grate fire smoking a cigar. He had made his money in grain
speculation and railroad ventures, and was reputed to be worth
something over two millions. His wife was a sister of Mrs. Winslow
of Raymond. She had been an invalid for several years. The two
girls, Rose and Felicia, were the only children. Rose was twenty-one
years old, fair, vivacious, educated in a fashionable college, just
entering society and already somewhat cynical and indifferent. A
very hard young lady to please, her father said, sometimes
playfully, sometimes sternly. Felicia was nineteen, with a tropical
beauty somewhat like her cousin, Rachel Winslow, with warm, generous
impulses just waking into Christian feeling, capable of all sorts of
expression, a puzzle to her father, a source of irritation to her
mother and with a great unsurveyed territory of thought and action
in herself, of which she was more than dimly conscious. There was
that in Felicia that would easily endure any condition in life if
only the liberty to act fully on her conscientious convictions were
"Here's a letter for you, Felicia," said Mr. Sterling, handing it to
Felicia sat down and instantly opened the letter, saying as she did
so: "It's from Rachel."
"Well, what's the latest news from Raymond?" asked Mr. Sterling,
taking his cigar out of his mouth and looking at Felicia with
half-shut eyes, as if he were studying her.
"Rachel says Dr. Bruce has been staying in Raymond for two Sundays
and has seemed very much interested in Mr. Maxwell's pledge in the
"What does Rachel say about herself?" asked Rose, who was lying on a
couch almost buried under elegant cushions.
"She is still singing at the Rectangle. Since the tent meetings
closed she sings in an old hall until the new buildings which her
friend, Virginia Page, is putting up are completed.
"I must write Rachel to come to Chicago and visit us. She ought not
to throw away her voice in that railroad town upon all those people
who don't appreciate her."
Mr. Sterling lighted a new cigar and Rose exclaimed: "Rachel is so
queer. She might set Chicago wild with her voice if she sang in the
Auditorium. And there she goes on throwing it away on people who
don't know what they are hearing."
"Rachel won't come here unless she can do it and keep her pledge at
the same time," said Felicia, after a pause.
"What pledge?" Mr. Sterling asked the question and then added
hastily: "Oh, I know, yes! A very peculiar thing that. Alexander
Powers used to be a friend of mine. We learned telegraphy in the
same office. Made a great sensation when he resigned and handed over
that evidence to the Interstate Commerce Commission. And he's back
at his telegraph again. There have been queer doings in Raymond
during the past year. I wonder what Dr. Bruce thinks of it on the
whole. I must have a talk with him about it."
"He is at home and will preach tomorrow," said Felicia. "Perhaps he
will tell us something about it."
There was silence for a minute. Then Felicia said abruptly, as if
she had gone on with a spoken thought to some invisible hearer: "And
what if he should propose the same pledge to the Nazareth Avenue
"Who? What are you talking about?" asked her father a little
"About Dr. Bruce. I say, what if he should propose to our church
what Mr. Maxwell proposed to his, and ask for volunteers who would
pledge themselves to do everything after asking the question, 'What
would Jesus do?'"
"There's no danger of it," said Rose, rising suddenly from the couch
as the tea-bell rang.
"It's a very impracticable movement, to my mind," said Mr. Sterling
"I understand from Rachel's letter that the Raymond church is going
to make an attempt to extend the idea of the pledge to other
churches. If it succeeds it will certainly make great changes in the
churches and in people's lives," said Felicia.
"Oh, well, let's have some tea first!" said Rose, walking into the
dining-room. Her father and Felicia followed, and the meal proceeded
in silence. Mrs. Sterling had her meals served in her room. Mr.
Sterling was preoccupied. He ate very little and excused himself
early, and although it was Saturday night, he remarked as he went
out that he should be down town on some special business.
"Don't you think father looks very much disturbed lately?" asked
Felicia a little while after he had gone out.
"Oh, I don't know! I hadn't noticed anything unusual," replied Rose.
After a silence she said: "Are you going to the play tonight,
Felicia? Mrs. Delano will be here at half past seven. I think you
ought to go. She will feel hurt if you refuse."
"I'll go. I don't care about it. I can see shadows enough without
going to the play."
"That's a doleful remark for a girl nineteen years old to make,"
replied Rose. "But then you're queer in your ideas anyhow, Felicia.
If you are going up to see mother, tell her I'll run in after the
play if she is still awake."
FELICIA started off to the play not very happy, but she was familiar
with that feeling, only sometimes she was more unhappy than at
others. Her feeling expressed itself tonight by a withdrawal into
herself. When the company was seated in the box and the curtain had
gone up Felicia was back of the others and remained for the evening
by herself. Mrs. Delano, as chaperon for half a dozen young ladies,
understood Felicia well enough to know that she was "queer," as Rose
so often said, and she made no attempt to draw her out of her
corner. And so the girl really experienced that night by herself one
of the feelings that added to the momentum that was increasing the
coming on of her great crisis.
The play was an English melodrama, full of startling situations,
realistic scenery and unexpected climaxes. There was one scene in
the third act that impressed even Rose Sterling.
It was midnight on Blackfriars Bridge. The Thames flowed dark and
forbidden below. St. Paul's rose through the dim light imposing, its
dome seeming to float above the buildings surrounding it. The figure
of a child came upon the bridge and stood there for a moment peering
about as if looking for some one. Several persons were crossing the
bridge, but in one of the recesses about midway of the river a woman
stood, leaning out over the parapet, with a strained agony of face
and figure that told plainly of her intention. Just as she was
stealthily mounting the parapet to throw herself into the river, the
child caught sight of her, ran forward with a shrill cry more animal
than human, and seizing the woman's dress dragged back upon it with
all her little strength. Then there came suddenly upon the scene two
other characters who had already figured in the play, a tall,
handsome, athletic gentleman dressed in the fashion, attended by a
slim-figured lad who was as refined in dress and appearance as the
little girl clinging to her mother, who was mournfully hideous in
her rags and repulsive poverty. These two, the gentleman and the
lad, prevented the attempted suicide, and after a tableau on the
bridge where the audience learned that the man and woman were
brother and sister, the scene was transferred to the interior of one
of the slum tenements in the East Side of London. Here the scene
painter and carpenter had done their utmost to produce an exact copy
of a famous court and alley well known to the poor creatures who
make up a part of the outcast London humanity. The rags, the
crowding, the vileness, the broken furniture, the horrible animal
existence forced upon creatures made in God's image were so
skilfully shown in this scene that more than one elegant woman in
the theatre, seated like Rose Sterling in a sumptuous box surrounded
with silk hangings and velvet covered railing, caught herself
shrinking back a little as if contamination were possible from the
nearness of this piece of scenery. It was almost too realistic, and
yet it had a horrible fascination for Felicia as she sat there
alone, buried back in a cushioned seat and absorbed in thoughts that
went far beyond the dialogue on the stage.
From the tenement scene the play shifted to the interior of a
nobleman's palace, and almost a sigh of relief went up all over the
house at the sight of the accustomed luxury of the upper classes.
The contrast was startling. It was brought about by a clever piece
of staging that allowed only a few moments to elapse between the
slum and the palace scene. The dialogue went on, the actors came and
went in their various roles, but upon Felicia the play made but one
distinct impression. In realty the scenes on the bridge and in the
slums were only incidents in the story of the play, but Felicia
found herself living those scenes over and over. She had never
philosophized about the causes of human misery, she was not old
enough she had not the temperament that philosophizes. But she felt
intensely, and this was not the first time she had felt the contrast
thrust into her feeling between the upper and the lower conditions
of human life. It had been growing upon her until it had made her
what Rose called "queer," and other people in her circle of wealthy
acquaintances called very unusual. It was simply the human problem
in its extreme of riches and poverty, its refinement and its
vileness, that was, in spite of her unconscious attempts to struggle
against the facts, burning into her life the impression that would
in the end either transform her into a woman of rare love and
self-sacrifice for the world, or a miserable enigma to herself and
all who knew her.
"Come, Felicia, aren't you going home?" said Rose. The play was
over, the curtain down, and people were going noisily out, laughing
and gossiping as if "The Shadows of London" were simply good
diversion, as they were, put on the stage so effectively.
Felicia rose and went out with the rest quietly, and with the
absorbed feeling that had actually left her in her seat oblivious of
the play's ending. She was never absent-minded, but often thought
herself into a condition that left her alone in the midst of a
"Well, what did you think of it?" asked Rose when the sisters had
reached home and were in the drawing-room. Rose really had
considerable respect for Felicia's judgment of a play.
"I thought it was a pretty fair picture of real life."
"I mean the acting," said Rose, annoyed.
"The bridge scene was well acted, especially the woman's part. I
thought the man overdid the sentiment a little."
"Did you? I enjoyed that. And wasn't the scene between the two
cousins funny when they first learned they were related? But the
slum scene was horrible. I think they ought not to show such things
in a play. They are too painful."
"They must be painful in real life, too," replied Felicia.
"Yes, but we don't have to look at the real thing. It's bad enough
at the theatre where we pay for it."
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