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A Beautiful Possibility by Edith Ferguson Black

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frosted with silver, and peaches with cheeks like the first blush of
dawn. The 'fruits of the Spirit,' have a wondrous bloom and an exquisite
fragrance."

"'Love, joy, peace,'" Evadne repeated slowly, "'long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith.' But those belong to the Spirit, Aunt
Marthe."

"Yes, dear child, the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit whom he sent to
comfort his people when he took his bodily presence from the earth. The
holy, indwelling presence which is to reveal the Christ to us and
prepare us for the abiding of the Father and the Son. It is the
beautiful mystery of the Trinity."

"But we cannot have the Trinity abiding in our hearts!" said Evadne in
an awestruck voice.

"The Bible teaches us so."

"Not God, Aunt Marthe!"

"Jesus is God, little one. He said to the Jews, 'I and my Father are
one.' He says plainly, 'If any man love me, he will keep my word and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with
him,' and in another place we are told to be filled with the Spirit. It
is three persons but three in one."

"I do not understand, Aunt Marthe."

"No, dear, we never shall, down here. Thomas wanted to do that and
Christ said 'Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.'
The Spirit is continually giving us deeper insight into the love of the
Son, just as the Son came to make known to the world the wonderful love
of the Father."

"But 'be filled,'" said Evadne. "That looks as if we had something to do
with it."

"So we have, dear child. Suppose a man owned one hundred acres of land
and gave you the right of way through it from one public road to
another,--that would leave him many acres for his own use on which you
have no right to trespass. I think we treat Jesus so. We are willing
that he should have the right of way through our hearts, but we forget
that every acre must be the King's property. There must be no rights
reserved, no fenced corners. Jesus must be an absolute monarch."

Mrs. Everidge spoke the last words softly and Evadne, looking at her
uplifted face, shining now with the radiance which always filled it when
she spoke of her Lord, saw again that glowing face which she had watched
across the gate at Hollywood and heard the strange, exultant tones, 'He
is my King!' Ah, that was beautiful! That was what Aunt Marthe meant,
and Pompey and Dyce.

"Jesus must come to abide, not merely as a transient guest," Aunt Marthe
continued in her low tones. "We must give him full control of our
thought and will. We must hand him the keys of the citadel. We must give
the all for the all,--that is only fair dealing. You see, dear child,
Christ cannot fill us until we are willing to be emptied of self. He
must have undivided possession. There is a vast amount of heartache,
little one, in this old world, and self is at the bottom of it all, when
we stop to analyze it. We want to be first, to be thought much of, to be
loved best. No wonder that the selfless life seems impossible to most
people. Think what a continuous self-sacrifice Christ's life was! So
utterly alone and lonely among such uncongenial surroundings with
people uncouth and totally foreign to his tastes. Ah! we don't realize
it. We look at him doing the splendid things amidst the plaudits of the
multitude, but think of the monotonous, weary days, going up and down
the sun-baked streets surrounded by a crowd of noisy beggars full of all
sorts of loathsome disease, and the humdrum life in Nazareth; and all
the time the great heart aching with that ceaseless sorrow,--'His own
received him not!' Oh, what a waste of love! We do not realize that it
is in these footsteps of his that we are called to follow. We are
willing to do the great things, with the world looking on, but not for
the loneliness and the pain! It seems a strange antithesis that Paul
should count that as his highest glory, and yet how comparatively few
seem counted worthy to enter with Christ into the shadow of that
mysterious Gethsemane which lasted all his life. 'The fellowship of his
sufferings.' It must surely mean the privilege of getting very near his
heart, just as human hearts grow closer in a common sorrow,--knit by
pain. Yes, dear child, self must die: and it is a cruel death,--the
death of the cross. But then comes the newness of life with its strange,
sweet joy which the world's children do not know the taste of. How can
they when it is 'the joy of the Lord,' and they reject him?"

"You talk of the cross, Aunt Marthe, and other people talk of crosses.
Aunt Kate and Isabelle are always talking about the sacrifices they have
to make, and Mrs. Rivers carries a perfect bundle of crosses on her
back. She is wealthy and has everything she wants, and yet she is always
wailing, while Dyce is as happy as the day is long. Do the poor
Christians always do the singing while the rich ones sigh?"

Mrs. Everidge smiled. "We make our crosses, dear child, when we put our
wishes at right angles to God's will. When we only care to please him
everything that he chooses for us seems just right. I have heard people
speak as if it were a cross to mention the name of Christ. How could it
be if they loved him? Do you find it a cross to talk to me about your
father? People make a terrible mistake about this. The only cross we are
commanded to carry is the cross of Christ."

"And what is that, Aunt Marthe?"

"Self renunciation," said Aunt Marthe softly, "the secret of peace.

"Among all the pictures of the Madonna," she continued after a pause,
"the one I like best is where Mary is sitting, holding in her hands the
crown of thorns; everything else had been wrenched from her grasp, but
this they had no use for. What a legacy it was! As I look at it I see
how he has gathered all the thorns of life and woven them into that
kingly garland which is his glory. All the wealth of the Indies could
not shed as dazzling a light as that thorny crown. Like the brave
soldier who gathered into his own breast the spears of the enemy, Christ
has taken the sting from our sorrows and made us more than conquerors
over the wounds of earth. Surely he has tasted it all for us,--the
baseness and coldness and ingratitude and treachery which have wrung
human hearts all through the ages,--when Judas betrayed him, Peter
denied him and they all forsook him and fled, do you suppose any other
pain was comparable to that? Only our friends have the power to wound
us, you know, and, 'he was wounded in the house of his friends.' When
people talk of the crucifixion they think of the nail-torn hands and
pierced side,--I think of his heart! Oh, my Lord, how _could_ they treat
thee so!"

Evadne looked wistfully at the rapt face, irradiated now by the
moonlight which was streaming in through the window. "_How_ you love
him, Aunt Marthe!"

"He is my all," she answered simply. The girl stroked the hand which
she still held in both her own. She is absolutely satisfied, she thought
sorrowfully, she wants nothing that I can give her. And then through the
stillness she heard the sweet voice singing,--

"I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."

CHAPTER XV.

"Dear Aunt Marthe," cried Evadne one afternoon, "what is love?"

"I will answer you in the words of one who for years has lived the
love-life," said Mrs. Everidge.

"'One must be himself infinite in knowledge to define it, infinite in
comprehension to fathom it, infinite in love to appreciate it. Love is
God in man, for "God is love," and "every one that loveth is born of
God;" but love is not merely veneration, nor respect, nor justice, nor
passion, nor jealousy, nor sympathy, nor pity, nor self-gratification;
to love something as our own is but a form of self-love; to love
something in order to win it for ourselves is just a perpetration of the
same mistake.' Dr. Karl Gerok wrote,--'Love is the fundamental law of
the world. First, as written in heaven, for God is love; second, as
written on the cross, for Christ is love; third, as written in our
hearts, for Christianity is love,' And Drummond tells us that 'Love--is
the rule for fulfilling all rules, the new commandment for keeping all
the old commandments, Christ's one secret of the Christian life.' And
another writer says,--'You are a personality only as your heart lives,
and the heart lives only as it loves. Love is all action, therefore the
amount of your active love measures the size of your personal heart.'"

"Love has been defined as 'the desire to bless.' That is like divine
love, for there can be no self thought in God. God's love is over all
and above all, but when our love responds to his, his love becomes to us
a personal experience. Love can reach down when in loving trust we reach
up. Love is like the seed. It manifests no life until it begins to grow.
Like the seed it must rise out of the dark ground into the light of
heaven,--out of self thought into God. God's love to us is like the
sunlight. We can make it our own only by being in it, if we try to shut
up the sunlight, we shut it out. We forget to do wrong when loving God.
As we love God, the love we feel for him goes out to others."

Evadne sighed. "You make it seem a wonderful thing to be a Christian,"
she said.

"To be a Christian, little one, Andrew Murray tells us, 'just means to
have Christ's love.' Real love means giving always, of our best."

[Illustration: THE SILENT FIGURE WITH THE AWFUL ENTREATY IN ITS STARING
EYES]

God so loved that he gave his Son, the essence of himself. Jesus gave
his life, not only in the final agony of the crucifixion, but all
through the beautiful years of ministry in Nazareth and Galilee. There
is a truer giving than of our temporal goods. Our friends, if they
really love us, want most of all what we can give them of ourselves. It
is those who give themselves to the world's need who come nearest to the
divine pattern Christ has set for us to copy, and, if we truly love him,
we shall want not his gifts but himself.

"People seek after holy living instead of perfect loving, they do not
realize that we can be truly holy only as we love, for 'love is the
great reality of the spiritual world.'"

Evadne laid her cheek caressingly against Mrs. Everidge's. "If it were
only you, dear, how delightfully easy it would be, but do you suppose it
is possible for me to love Aunt Kate and Isabelle?"

"Yes, dear child, with the love of God."

"You can't imagine how I dread the idea of going back!" Evadne said with
a sigh. "This summer has been like a lovely dream. How shall I endure
the cold reality of my waking?"

"Where is your joy, little one?"

"Joy, Aunt Marthe!" exclaimed Evadne drearily, "why, I haven't got any
apart from you. Just the mere thought of the separation makes my heart
ache."

"'The joy of the Lord,'" said Mrs. Everidge softly. "If Jesus Christ is
able to fill heaven don't you think he ought to be able to fill earth
too? The trouble is we turn away from him and pour our wealth of love at
earthly shrines. Mary showed us the better way,--she _broke_ the box,
that every drop of the precious ointment might fall on his dear head.
What is going to be the crowning satisfaction of heaven? Not that we
shall meet our friends, as so many seem to think, but that we shall
awake in _his_ likeness and see _his_ face. We shall be 'together,'--we
have that comfort given us, but it will be 'together with the Lord.' He
is to be the centre of attraction and delight always. What an
unfathomable mystery it must be to the angels that he is not so with us
now!"

Evadne took a long, yearning look at the dear face, as if she would
imprint it upon her memory forever. "He _is_ with you," she said softly.
"_You_ will never be a puzzle to the angels."

* * * * *

The time of her stay in Vernon drew near its close, and on the last day
but one she went to say good-bye to Penelope Riggs. She found her
sitting alone in the house, her mother having taken a fancy to have a
sun bath. Her right hand was doubled up and she was rubbing it slowly up
and down the palm of her left while she sang softly.

"Why, Penelope, what are you doing?" cried Evadne in amaze.

"Polishin', child. I learnt it long ago. One day I was that wore out I
wouldn't have cared if the sky had fallen,--things had been goin'
crooked, an' Mother hadn't slept well for a fortnight, an' I was that
narvous an' tuckered out I thought I'd fly to pieces. There's an old
hymn Mother's dredful fond of,--I don't remember how it goes now, but
there's one line she keeps repeatin' over an' over till I feel ready to
jump. It's this,--'What dyin' wurms we be.' So, when she begun her wurm
song that mornin' I just let fly. 'Ef I _am_ a wurm,' sez I, 'I ain't
goin' ter be allers lookin' to see myself squirm!' and with that I up
and out of the house. My head was that tight inside I felt if I didn't
git out that minit somethin' would snap. I went straight up to Mis'
Everidge's. She's one of the people you see who always lives on a hill,
inside an' out. When I got there I couldn't speak. My heart's weak at
the best of times an' the weather in there was pretty stormy. I just
dropped into the first chair an' she put her hands on my two shoulders
an' sez she,--'You poor child!' an' then she went away an' made me a
syllabub."

"'Look on the bright side,' sez she in her cheery way when I had
finished drinkin'."

"'Sakes alive, Mis' Everidge,' sez I, 'there isn't any bright side!'"

"'Then polish up the dark one,' sez she, ez quick ez a flash. I've been
tryin' to do it ever since."

"You dear Penelope!" exclaimed Evadne, "I think you have!"

"It's all a wale, child, a wale o' tears," old Mrs. Riggs complained as
she bade her good-bye in the porch, but when she reached the turn in the
road she heard Penelope singing,--

"Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be!
Lead me by Thine own hand;
Choose out my path for me.
I dare not choose my lot,
I would not if I might;
Choose Thou for me, My God,
So shall I walk aright."

and Evadne knew that in the brave heart the voice of Christ had made the
storm a calm.

"You dear Aunt Marthe! How am I ever going to thank you for all you
have been to me; and what shall I do without you?" Evadne spoke the
words wistfully. They were making the most of their last evening.

"Why, dear child, we can always be together in spirit. 'It is not
distance in miles that separates people but distance in feeling.'
Emerson says,--'A man really lives where his thought is,' so you can be
in Vernon and I in Marlborough,--each of us held close in the hush of
God's love, which 'in its breadth is a girdle that encompasses the globe
and a mantle that enwraps it.'"

Evadne caught Mrs. Everidge's face between her hands and kissed it
reverently. "I mean to devote my life to making other people happy, as
you do, my saint," she said.

* * * * *

"Board!" The conductor's cry of warning smote the air and the train
passengers made a final bustle of preparation for a start. Mrs. Everidge
caught Evadne close in a last embrace.

"My precious little sister, I shall miss you every day!" Then she was
gone, and Evadne, looking eagerly out of her window, saw the dear face,
from which the tears had been swept away, smiling brightly at her from
the platform.

"You magnificent Christian!" she cried. "You will give others the
sunshine always!"

* * * * *

The train steamed into the station at Marlborough and again Louis came
forward to greet her with a look of admiration on his unusually animated
face.

"Well done, Evadne! If the atmosphere of Vernon can work such
transformation as this, it ought to be bottled up and sold at twenty
dollars the dozen. You go away looking like a snow-wraith, and you
return a blooming Hebe."

Evadne laughed merrily. "Thank you. The atmosphere of Vernon has a
wonderful power," but it was not of the material ozone she was thinking
as she spoke.

"I believe I will try it. My constitution is running down at the rate of
an alarm clock. I must take my choice between a tonic and an early
grave. Will you vouch for like good results in my case?"

Evadne shook her head. "I do not believe it would have the same effect
upon everyone," she said.

"Ah, then I shall be compelled to go to Europe."

Evadne looked at him. "Yes," she said, "I think Europe would suit you
better."

"That is unfortunate,--for the Judge's purse. How is Aunt Marthe?"

"She is well," she answered with a sudden stillness in her voice. She
could not trust herself to talk about this friend of hers to careless
questioners. "How is Uncle Lawrence, and all the others?"

"The Judge is in his usual state of health, I fancy. We rarely meet
except at the table and then you know personal questions are not
considered in good form. The others are well, and Isabelle, having just
returned from the metropolis of Fashion, is more than ever _au fait_ in
the usages of polite society. But none of them have improved like you,
little coz. What has changed you so?"

And she answered softly, with a new light shining in her lovely
eyes,--"Jesus Christ."

* * * * *

"You poor Evadne!" said Marion that evening, "what a dreary summer you
must have had, shut away among those stupid mountains! If you could only
have been with me, now. I never had such a lovely vacation in my life.
There seemed to be some excitement every day;--picnics and boating
parties and tennis matches and five o'clocks----"

Evadne laughed. "You would better not let Uncle Horace know you are 'a
votary of the deadly five o'clock' or he will empty his vials of
denunciation upon your unlucky head.

"Oh, Aunt Kate, he sent you a large bundle of fraternal greetings. He
says that, 'viewed through the glamour of memory, you impress him like
an Alpine landscape, when the sun is rising, and he hopes the soft
brilliance of prosperity will ever envelop you in its radiance and serve
to enhance the beauty of your stately calm.'"

Mrs. Hildreth smiled, well pleased. "Horace is so poetical," she said,
"but all the Everidges are clever. What a shame it seems that a man of
his talent should be forced by ill health to exist in a place where
there is not a single soul capable of appreciating his rare qualities.
Even his wife does not begin to understand him. It seems like casting
pearls before swine."

Evadne's eyes flashed and her lips pressed themselves tightly together,
but Mrs. Hildreth's gaze was fixed intently upon the lace shawl she was
knitting and Louis just then gave a sudden turn to the conversation.

She went up to her room with a great homesickness surging at her heart.
Only last night all had been lightsome and happy, now the old darkness
seemed to have settled down about her again. She knelt before her window
and looked at the strip of sky which was all a Marlborough residence
allowed her. "Happy stars!" she murmured, "for you are shining on Aunt
Marthe!"

Far into the night she knelt there, until a great peace flooded her
soul. She raised her hands towards the sparkling sky. "To make the world
brighter, to make the world better, to lift the world nearer to God.
Blessed Christ, that was thy mission. I will make it mine!"

The next morning Louis drew her aside. "So, little coz, you did not
coincide with the lady mother's eulogium of our respected collateral
last night?"

"Why, I said nothing!" cried Evadne in astonishment.

Louis laughed. "Have you never heard of eyes that speak and faces that
tell tales?" he said. "I will just whisper a word of warning before you
play havoc with your web of destiny. Don't let a suspicion of your
dislike cross the lady mother's mind, for Uncle Horace is her beau-ideal
of a man. I agree with you. I think he is a cad."

CHAPTER XVI.

"An invitation to Professor Joliette's," and Isabelle tossed a
gilt-edged card across the table to Marion; "Wednesday evening. It's not
a very long invitation. What dress will you wear?"

"But you are engaged, Marion," said Evadne; "Wednesday evening, you
know."

"Yes," said Marion with a sigh, "it is awkward. I do wish they would
choose some other night for prayer meeting. Wednesday seems such a
favorite with everybody."

"What a little prig you are getting to be, Evadne!" said Isabelle with a
sneer. "Your only diversion seems to be prayer meeting and church. You
are as bad as Aunt Marthe."

"Aunt Marthe a prig! Oh, that is too funny!" and Evadne gave one of her
low, sweet laughs. "Besides, does keeping one's engagements constitute a
prig, Isabelle? You wouldn't think so if you were invited to the
President's reception."

"The President's reception! What does get into the child! I don't see
much analogy between the two cases. No one considers prayer meeting a
binding engagement, and I'm sure we go as often as we can."

"Not binding!" echoed Evadne. "So Christ is not of as much importance as
the President of the United States!"

"You do have such a way of putting things, Evadne!" said Marion
thoughtfully. "I expect we had better refuse, Isabelle."

"Refuse,--nonsense!" said Isabelle sharply. "You always meet the best
people at the Joliettes',--besides, why should we run the risk of
offending them?"

"Why should they run the risk of offending you, by choosing a night they
know you cannot come?" asked Evadne.

"Ridiculous! What do they care about our church concerns? The Joliettes
are foreigners. People in polite society do not give religion such an
unpleasant prominence as you delight in, Evadne. For my part, I consider
it very bad form."

"Breakers ahead, Evadne," said Louis with his cynical laugh. "Good form
is Isabelle's fetich. Woe betide the unlucky wight who dares to hold an
opinion of his own."

"But," said Evadne, the old puzzled look coming into her eyes, "I wish I
could understand. Are Christians ashamed of the religion of Jesus?"

"That's about the amount of it, little coz. It is a sort of kedge anchor
which they keep on board in case of danger. For my part I think it is
better to sail clear. It is only an uncomfortable addition which spoils
the trim of the ship."

"Oh, Louis, don't!" exclaimed Marion with a sigh. "It is so hard to know
what is right! Sometimes I wish I were a nun, shut up in a convent, and
then I should have nothing else to do."

"Doubtless the Lord would appreciate that sort of faithfulness," said
Louis gravely, "although I notice Christianity seems to be a sort of
Sing-Sing arrangement with the majority. Everything is done under a
sense of compulsion, and the air is lurid with trials and lamentations
and woe. It is not an alluring life, and, in my opinion, the jolly old
world shows its sense in steering clear of it."

"Your irreverence is shocking, Louis," said Isabelle severely, "and you
are as much of an extremist as Evadne. No one could live such a life as
you seem to expect. Religion has its proper place, of course, but I do
not think it is wise to speak of the deep things of life on all
occasions."

"'I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and
him crucified,'" quoted Evadne. "Was Paul mistaken then?"

"Certainly, my dear coz," said Louis, as he prepared to leave the room.
"The greatest men are subject to that infirmity. The only one who has
never been mistaken is Isabelle."

* * * * *

"It is so provoking that we cannot have the carriage," grumbled
Isabelle, as, when Wednesday evening came, they waited for Louis in the
dining-room. "At the Joliettes' of all places! I am sure I don't see,
Papa, why you cannot insist upon Pompey's taking some other night off
when we need him on Wednesdays. It is horribly awkward!"

Her father shook his head as he slowly peeled an orange. "Because I have
given him my word, my dear. The only stipulation he made when I engaged
him was that he should not be required to drive on Sundays and Wednesday
evenings, and, when I hear people complaining about their surly,
incapable coachmen, I consider it is a light price to pay. Pompey is as
sober as a church and as pleasant-tempered in a rain storm as a
water-spaniel,--no matter what hour of the night you keep him waiting;
so it is the least we can do to let the poor fellow be sure of one
evening to himself;" and the Judge opened his Times and began to study
the money market.

"Well," said Isabelle crossly. "I, for one, don't believe in allowing
servants to have such cast-iron rules. It savors too much of socialism."

"Exactly so," said Louis from the doorway, where he stood leisurely
buttoning his gloves. "You will never pose as the goddess of liberty,
_ma belle soeur_. It is a good thing that Lincoln got the Emancipation
bill signed before you came into power, or dusky millions might still be
weeping tears of blood."

Isabelle swept past him with an indignant toss of her head, and the
front door closed after the trio with a metallic clang.

"I don't wonder the poor child is annoyed," said Mrs. Hildreth as she
played with her grapes. "It is very embarrassing when people know that
we keep a carriage; and the Joliettes are such sticklers in the matter
of etiquette. It is a ridiculous fad of yours, Lawrence, to be so
punctilious."

"But, my dear, I gave him my word of honor!"

"What if you did? There are exceptions to every rule."

"Not in the Hildreth code of honor, Kate."

"Nonsense! What does a colored coachman understand about that! Why,
Evadne, you cannot go to prayer meeting alone!" she exclaimed, as Evadne
came into the room with her hat on. "Your uncle is busy and I am too
tired, so there is no way for you to get home."

"I am going to Dyce's church, Aunt Kate. Pompey will bring me home."

"Among a lot of shouting negroes! You must be crazy, child!"

"Their souls are white, Aunt Kate, and there is no color line on the
Rock of Ages."

"Oh, well, tastes differ," said her aunt carelessly, "but it is a
strange fancy for Judge Hildreth's niece. Next thing you will suggest
going to board with Pompey."

"I might fare a good deal worse," said Evadne with her soft laugh. "Dyce
keeps her rooms like waxwork and she is a capital cook."

"Really, Evadne, I am in despair! You have not an iota of proper pride.
How are you going to maintain your position in society?"

"I don't believe I care to test the question, Aunt Kate; but I think my
position will maintain itself."

"Well said, Evadne," said her uncle, looking up from his paper. "You
will never forget you are a Hildreth, eh?"

"Higher than that, uncle," said Evadne softly. "I am a sister of Jesus
Christ."

"I don't know what to make of the child," said Mrs. Hildreth
discontentedly, as the door closed behind her. "I believe she would
rather associate with such people than with those of her own class. She
has a bowing acquaintance with the most _outre_ looking individuals I
ever saw. I really don't think Dr. Jerome is wise setting young girls to
visit in the German quarter. It doesn't hurt Marion, now. She only does
it as a disagreeable duty and is immensely relieved when her round of
visits is made for the month, but Evadne takes as much interest in them
as if they were her relations. Next thing we know, she will be wanting
to take up slum work. I hope she won't come to any harm down among those
crazy blacks. They always seem to get possessed the moment they touch
religion."

"I do not think Evadne will ever come to any harm," the Judge said
slowly. "The Lord takes pretty good care of his own."

His wife looked at him with a puzzled expression. "I fully intended
going to prayer meeting myself to-night," she said, "but it gets to be a
great tax,--an evening out of every week,--and I do dread the night air
so much."

Mrs. Judge Hildreth dipped her jeweled fingers into the perfumed water
of her finger glass and dried them on her silk-fringed napkin. "Oh,
Lawrence, don't forget Judge Tracer's dinner to-morrow night. You will
have to come home earlier than usual, for it is such a long drive, and
it will never do to keep his mulligatawny waiting. And, by the way, I
made a new engagement for you to-day. Mrs. General Leighton has invited
us to join the Shakespearean Club which she is getting up. It is to be
very select. Will meet at the different houses, you know, with a choice
little supper at the close. She says the one she belonged to in Atlanta
was a brilliant affair. She comes from one of Georgia's first families,
you remember."

"A Shakespearean Club!" and Judge Hildreth smiled incredulously. "Why,
my dear, I never knew you and the immortal Will had much affinity for
each other!"

"Oh, of course it is more for the prestige of the thing. Mrs. Leighton
said the General assured her you would never find leisure for it, but I
said I would promise for you. It is only one evening a week you know.
She thinks we Americans retire far too early from the enjoyments of
life in favor of our children, and I believe she is right. I certainly
do not feel myself in the sere and yellow," and Mrs. Judge Hildreth
regarded herself complacently in the long mirror before which she stood.
"You will manage to make the time, Lawrence?"

"What other answer but 'yes' can Petruchio make to 'the prettiest Kate
in Christendom'?" replied the Judge, bowing gallantly to the face in the
mirror as he came up and stood beside his wife. It was a handsome face
but there was a hardness about it, and the lines around the mouth which
bespoke an indomitable will, had deepened with the years.

"Only one evening a week, Kate, but you thought that too much of a tax
just now."

"How absurd you are, Lawrence! When shall I make you understand that
there are sacrifices that must be made. We owe a duty to society. We
cannot afford to let ourselves drop wholly out of the world."

A little later Judge Hildreth entered his library with a heavy sigh. He
had attained the ends he had striven for, he was respected alike in the
church and the world, he held a high and lucrative position, he had a
well appointed home, over which his handsome wife presided with dignity
and grace, and yet, as he took his seat before his desk in the lofty
room whose shelves were lined with gems of thought in fragrant, costly
bindings, life seemed to have missed its sweetness to Lawrence Hildreth.

Evadne's words haunted him, and, like an accusing angel, the letter
which still lay hidden under the mass of papers in the drawer which he
never opened, seemed to look at him reproachfully.

"A sister of Jesus Christ." Sisters and brothers lived together. Was it
possible that Jesus Christ could be in this house,--this very room? The
idea was appalling. He was familiar with the truism that God was
everywhere, but he had never really believed it; and, as the years
passed, he had found it convenient to remove him to a shadowy distance
in space, less likely to interfere with modern business methods. Jesus
Christ, enshrined in a far off glory among his angels, appealed to the
decorum of his religious sentiment; but Jesus Christ, face to face, to
be reckoned with in the practical details of honesty and fair dealing;
that was a different matter. And this was the violation of a dead man's
trust, who had put everything in his power because he had faith in him!

He saw again the young brother, handsome, easy-going to a fault, but
with a sense of honor so fine as to shrink in indignation from the
slightest breath of shame; read again the closing words of the farewell
letter which he had read for the first time on the day now so long ago,
which he would have given worlds to recall, and which, from out the
shadowy recesses of eternity, laughed at his futile wish.

"So, my dear brother," the letter ran, "I am giving you this
responsibility as only a brother can. I have left Evadne absolutely
untrammelled. I have no fear that my little girl will abuse the trust.
She is wise beyond her years, with a sense of honor as keen as your
own."

The Judge's head sank upon his hands. It was for Evadne's good he had
persuaded himself. She was too much of a child,--and now,--the letter
could not be delivered. It meant disgrace and shame. It was his duty as
a father to shield his family from that. How well he could picture
Evadne's look of bewildered, incredulous surprise, and then the pain,
tinged with scorn, which would creep into the clear eyes. And Jesus
Christ! The Judge's head sank lower as he heard the voice which has rung
down through the ages in scathing denunciation of all subterfuge and
lies.

"Woe unto you ... hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin,
and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice and
mercy and faith."

"Woe unto you ... hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and
of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess."

"Woe unto you ... hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres
which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's
bones."

Lower and lower sank the Judge's head, until at last it rested upon the
desk with a groan.

* * * * *

They were singing when Evadne reached the humble church which Dyce and
Pompey called their spiritual home. The walls were white-washed and the
seats were hard, for the "Disciples of Jesus" possessed but little of
this world's goods. Two prayers followed, full of rich imagery and
fervid passion, and then a young girl with a deep contralto voice began
to sing,--

"Steal away, steal away,
Steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, steal away home,
We ain't got long to stay here."

The soft, deep notes of the weird melody ended in a burst of triumph,
and Evadne bent her head while her tired heart thrilled with joy. When
she looked up again Dyce was speaking.

"I've ben thinkin', friens," she said, "that we don't get the sweetness
of them words inter our hearts ez we should. We'se too much taken up wid
de thought of de heavenly manshuns to 'member dat de King's chillen hez
an inheritance on de earth. We'se not poor, lonesome people widout a
home! De dear Christ promised, 'I will not leave youse orphans, I will
come to youse,' an' he who hez de Lord Jesus alongside, hez de best of
company. 'Pears like we don't let our Father's message go any deeper dan
de top of our heads. Ef we believes we'se preshus in his sight,--an' de
Bible sez we is,--we'll hev no occashun fer gettin discouraged, fer de
dear Lord's boun ter do de best fer his loved ones. Ef we'se keepin'
company wid Jesus we'se no call ter want de worl's invitashuns, an ef
we'se hidden away in Christ's heart dere's no need fer us ter be
frettin' about de little worriments of earth. Satan don't hev no chance
where Jesus is. Ef we'se tempted, friens, an' fall inter sin, it's
'cause we'se not livin' close ter de Saviour.

"I knows we allers tinks of a home as a place where dere is good times,
an' dere don't seem much good times goin' for some of us in dis worl',
but dere ain't no call fer us ter spec' ter be better off dan our Lord,
an ef we'se feedin' on de Lord Jesus all de time we won't min' ef de
worl's bread is scarce; de soul ain't dependin' on dem tings fer
nourishmen' an' de Lord Jesus makes de hard bed easy an' de coarse food
taste good.

"'Tain't good management fer us ter be allers groanin' in dis worl'
while we 'spect ter be singin' de glory song up yonder. De best singers
is dem dat's longes' trainin' an' I'se feared some of us'll find it
drefful hard ter git up ter de proper concert pitch in heaven ef we
sings nuthin but lamentashuns on earth. De dear Lord don't seem ter hev
made any sort of pervishun for fault findin'. He 'low dere'll be
trubble, but he tells us ter be of good cheer on account of hevin' him
ter git de victry fer us, an' ef we keep singin' all de time, dere ain't
no time fer sighs. Let us keep a-whisperin' to our Father, my friens.
It's a beautiful worl' he's put us in, an' dere ain't no combine ter
keep us back from enjoyin' de best tings in it. De sky belong ter us ez
much as to de rich folks, an' de grass an' de trees an' de birds an' de
flowers; de rollin rivers an' de mighty ocean belongs ter us. De only
priviluge de rich folks hez is dat dey kin sail on deir billows while
we hez ter stan' alongside,--but dey's powerfu' unhappy sometimes when
dey hez so much ter look after, an' we kin enjoy lookin' at deir fine
houses widout hevin' any of de care.

"We'se not payin' much complimen' ter Jesus, friens, when we 'low dat de
good tings of dis worl' kin make people happier dan he kin, an' 'pears
like we ought ter be 'shamed of ourselves. De Bible sez we'se ter 'live
an' move an' hev our bein' in God,' an' it don't 'pear becomin' when we
hev such a home pervided fer us, ter be allers grumblin' 'cause we can't
live in de brown stone fronts an' keep a kerridge. We don't begin ter
understan' how ter live up ter our privilegus, friens, an' I'se bowed in
shame as I tink how de dear Lord's heart must ache as he sees how little
we'se appresheatin' his lovin' kindness."

The tender, pleading voice ceased and then Dyce lifted her clasped
hands,--"Oh, Lord Jesus, help us ter glorify thee before de worl'. Help
us ter understan' an 'preciate de wonderful honor thou hez put upon us.
Make us used ter dwellin' wid thee on de earth, so as we won't feel like
strangers in heaven. Oh, blessed Jesus, by de remembrance of de thorn
marks an' de nail prints an' de woun' in thy side forgive thy
ungrateful chillen. We'se ben a' lookin' roun on de perishin' tings of
earth fer our comfort, an' a' seekin' our homes in this worl'. Lord,
help us ter find our real home in thee! Help us ter steal away ter
Jesus, when de storm cloud hangs low and de billows roar about our
heads. Dere's no shadows in de home thou makes, fer 'de light of de
worl' is Jesus,' an' ebery room is full of de sunshine of thy love.
Dere's no harm kin cum to us ef we'se inside de fold, fer thou art de
door, Lord Jesus; dere's no danger kin touch us ef we'se hidden in de
cleft of de rock. Lord, make us abide in de secret place of de Almighty
an' hoi' us close forever under de shadow of thy wing."

Then the congregation dispersed to the humble homes, glorified now by
the possibility of being made the dwelling-place of the King of kings.

CHAPTER XVII.

It was intensely warm in the Marlborough Steel Works. Outdoors the sun
beat fiercely upon the heads of toiling men and horses while the heat
waves danced with a dazzling shimmer along the brick pavements. Indoors
there was the steady thud of the engine, and the great hammers clanked
and the belts swept through the air with a deafening whirr, while the
workmen drew blackened hands across their grimy foreheads and John
Randolph gave a sigh of longing for the cool forest chambers of
Hollywood, as he leaned over to exchange a cheery word with Richard
Trueman, beside whom he had been working for over a year and for whom he
had come to entertain a strong feeling of affection.

Varied experiences had come to him since he had said good-by to his kind
Quaker friends and started on his search for work. Monotonous days of
wood piling in a lumber yard, long weeks of isolation among the giant
trees of the forest, where no sound was to be heard except the whistle
of the axes, as they cleaved the air, and the coarse jokes of the
workmen,--then had come days when even odd jobs had been hailed with
delight, and he had sat at the feet of the grim schoolmistress Necessity
and learned how little man really needs to have to live. And then the
Steel Works had opened again and he had forged his way up through the
different departments to the responsible position he now held. His
promotion had been rapid. The foreman had been quick to note the keen,
intelligent interest and deft-handedness of this strangely alert new
employe. He finished his work in the very best way that it was possible
to do it, even though it took a little longer in the doing. Such workmen
were not common at the Marlborough Steel Works. He put his heart into
whatever he did. That was John Randolph's way. There was something about
the work which pleased him. It gave him a feeling of triumph to watch
the evolution of the crude chaos into the finished perfection, and see
how through baptism of fire and flood the diverse particles emerged at
length a beautifully tempered whole. He read as in an allegory the
discipline which a soul needs to fit it for the kingdom, and so
throughout the meshes of his daily toil John Randolph wove his parable.

When evening came he would stride cheerily along the dingy street to
the house where he and his fellow-workman lodged, refresh himself with a
hot bath, don what he called his dress suit, and after their simple meal
and a frolic with little Dick, the motherless boy who was the joy of
Richard Trueman's heart, he would settle down for a long evening of
study among his cherished books. John Randolph never lost sight of the
fact that he was to be a physician by and by.

* * * * *

Somewhere in one of the great centers of the world's industry a workman
had blundered. His conscience urged him to confess his mistake, while
Satan whispered with a sneer,--"Yes, and get turned adrift for your
pains, with a rating into the bargain!"

"Never mind if you do lose a week's wages," conscience had pleaded,
"your hands will be clean," and the workman shrugged his shoulders with
a muttered, "Pshaw! What do I care for that, so long as I don't git
found out. I'll fix it so as no one kin tell it was me."

The work was passed upon by the foreman and the Company's certificate
attached. The man chuckled, "Hooray! Now that it's out from under old
Daggett's eyes nobody'll ever be able to lay the blame on me!" and he
had gone home whistling. He forgot God!

* * * * *

The long, stifling day was drawing near its close. Half an hour more and
the workmen would be free to rest. Only half an hour! Suddenly there was
a sharp clicking sound, then a cry, and in an instant all was bustle and
confusion at the Marlborough Steel Works. The great hammers hung
suspended in mid-air, the whirling wheels were still, while the workmen,
with faces showing pale beneath the grime, gathered hastily around a
fallen comrade. Summoned by telephone the Company's surgeon was driving
rapidly towards the Works, but his services would not be required.

An accident. No one knew just how it happened. There must have been a
flaw, a defect in some part of the machinery. These things do happen.
Somewhere there had been carelessness, dishonesty, and the price of it
was--a life!

The dying man opened his eyes suddenly and looked full at John Randolph,
who knelt beside him supporting his head on his arm.

"Little Dick," he murmured.

"All right, Trueman, I will take care of him."

"God bless you, John!" and with the fervid benediction, the breath
ceased and the spirit flew away.

The body was prepared for the inquest, and through the gathering dusk
John, strangely white and silent, entered the house he called home,
gathered the fatherless boy into his arms and let him sob out his grief
upon his shoulder.

* * * * *

Some days after the funeral the Manager sent for John to come to his
private office. He was a pleasant man and had taken a kindly interest in
the capable young workman from the start.

"Well, Randolph, this is a terrible business of poor Trueman," he said,
as he pointed him to a chair. "Terrible! I can't get over it. A fine man
and one of our best finishers too. Well, we can't do anything for him
now, poor fellow, but he left a boy I think?"

"Yes, sir," said John simply; "I have taken him to live with me."

"Shake hands, Randolph! We _talk_ about what ought to be done and you
_do_ it. Is that your usual mode of procedure?"

John laughed. "There was nothing else to do," he said.

"H'm. Most fellows in your position would have thought it was the last
thing possible. Have you any idea what it means to saddle yourself with
a child like this? Whatever put such an idea into your head?"

"Jesus Christ," answered John quietly.

"Well, well, you're a queer fellow, Randolph. But how are you going to
make the wages spin out? A boy is 'a growing giant of wants whom the
coat of Have is never large enough to cover.'"

"His father managed, so can I." John's voice shook a little.

"His father! But he _was_ his father, you see. That makes a mighty
difference. Well, Randolph, I give you up. You are beyond me."

John rose. "Was that all you wished to say to me, Mr. Branford?"

"Sit down, man! What the mischief are you in such a hurry for? It stands
to reason the Company can't let you bear the brunt of this most
deplorable occurrence, though I don't believe we could have found a
better guardian for the poor little lad. But guardians expect to be paid
for their trouble. What price do you set, Randolph?"

"I don't want any pay for obeying my Master, Mr. Branford."

"Your Master, Randolph?" said the Manager with a puzzled stare.

"Yes, sir, Jesus Christ."

"Upon my word, Randolph, you're a queer fellow! Well, if you don't want
pay, I want some one with a head on his shoulders in this office. Any of
the fellows in the outside office would be glad of the chance to get in
here, but I want a man who understands what he is doing as well as I do
myself. You have practical knowledge, Randolph, you're the man I want. I
shall expect you to start in here tomorrow morning. The salary will be
double your present wages. And, since you have constituted yourself
guardian of the boy, I may as well tell you that the Company has decided
to set aside a yearly sum for his maintenance and education.

"Now you can go, if you are in such a tremendous hurry, Randolph: only
don't try any more of such toploftiness with me. It won't go down, you
see;" and the Manager chuckled softly, as John, with broken thanks, left
the room. "I rather think I got the better of him that time!" he said to
himself.

CHAPTER XVIII.

Judge Hildreth sat in his private office, immersed in anxious thought.
Every day brought new difficulties to be wrestled with in connection
with the multitudinous schemes which were making an old man of him while
he was still in his prime. His hair was grey, his hands trembled, his
eyes were bloodshot, and his face had the unhealthy pallor which
accompanies intense nervous pressure and excitement.

He knew that it was so, and the knowledge did not tend to sweeten his
disposition. He told himself again and again that he could not help
it,--it was the force of circumstances and the curse of competition.
Like the fly in the spider's parlor, he found himself inextricably
enveloped in the silken maze of deceit which he had entered so blithely
years ago. He had ceased to question bitterly whether the game was worth
the candle. He told himself the Fates had decreed it, and the game had
to be played out to the end, The principal thing now was to keep the
pieces moving and prevent a checkmate, for that would mean ruin!

One of the office boys knocked at the door and presented a card, for
into this _sanctum sanctorum_ no one was permitted to enter unannounced.
The card bore the name of the nominal president of the Consolidated
Provident Savings Company, which was one of the numerous schemes that
Judge Hildreth had on hand. It was not always wise to have his name
appear. He believed in sleeping partnerships. As he explained it to
himself, that gave one a free hand.

The Consolidated Provident Savings Company was a popular institution in
Marlborough. There were conservative financiers who shook their heads
and feared that its methods were not based on sound business principles
and savored too much of wild-cat schemes and fraudulent speculations,
but they were voted cranks by the majority, and the Consolidated
Provident Savings Company grew and flourished. It paid large dividends,
and its stockholders were duly impressed with the magnificence of its
buildings and the grandiose tone of its officials.

Judge Hildreth frowned heavily as he read the name, and was about to
deny himself to the visitor, but on second thought he curtly ordered
the boy to show him in.

The man who obeyed the invitation bowed deferentially to his chief and
then took a chair in front of him, with the table between. He was
elaborately dressed, and the shiny silk hat which he deposited on the
table looked aggressively prosperous. His manner betokened a man
suddenly inflated with a sense of his own importance. His hair was
sandy, and the thin moustache and beard failed to cover the pitifully
weak lines of his mouth and chin.

"Good-morning, Peters." The Judge nodded carelessly as he spoke, but he
moved uneasily in his chair. Of late the sight of this man fretted him.
It seemed as if he always saw him accompanied by a ghostly form. He
tried to shake off the impression, and told himself angrily that he was
falling into his dotage; but his memory would not yield. He saw again
the pleading, trustful face of the man's mother as, years ago, she had
besought him to do what he could for her son.

"Just make a man of him, like yourself, Judge Hildreth," she had
pleaded. "I will be more than satisfied then. I want my boy to be
respected and to have a place in the world. Folks needn't know how hard
his mother had to work."

The Judge smiled grimly as he thought of her phrasing,--"a man like
yourself." She did not know how near to it he had come!

The boy had a surface smartness, and he had proved himself an apt
scholar. The Judge had found him a willing tool in many of his deep laid
schemes to get money for less than money's worth. But within the last
few months there had been a change. A spark of manhood had asserted
itself, and in the presence of his minion the Judge found himself upon
the rack.

He was the first to speak. "I hope there is nothing out of the usual?"
he said. "I intended coming over to the office before the meeting of
directors took place."

"It is the same old trouble about bonds, Judge Hildreth. There are not
enough of them to go round."

The Judge rubbed his hands in simulated pleasure. "Well, that shows good
management, Peters, if the public are hungry for our stock."

"The public are fools!" said the young man, hotly.

"Not at all, Peters. A discriminating public, you know, always chooses
the best depositaries." He chuckled softly. He had turned his eyes
towards the window so as not to see the ghostly figure behind the young
man's chair which had such a world of reproach in its face. "There is
only one thing to do, Peters. We must water it a little, eh?"

"It seems to me we've been using the watering-pot rather too
frequently."

The Judge started. Had he detected a menace in the tone?

He temporized. His plans were not sufficiently matured yet. When they
were he would crush this tool of his as surely and as carelessly as he
would have crushed a fly.

"Nonsense, Peters!" he said pleasantly; "that is only a little clever
financing to tide us over the hard places. Of course we will make it all
good to the public--by and bye."

"How?" The question rang out through the office like a pistol shot.

The Judge looked at the man before him in amaze. For once his face
showed determination and an honest purpose.

"Will you tell me how we're going to do it?" he persisted with a strange
vehemence. "I've been a fool, Judge Hildreth, a blamed, gigantic fool!
I've let you hood wink me and lead me by the nose for years. I've done
your dirty work for you and borne the credit of it, too; but I swear
I'll not do it any longer. I thought at first--fool that I was--that
everything you did was just the right thing to copy. My poor old mother
told me you were the pattern I was to follow if I wanted to be an
honorable man. An honorable man! Good heavens!

"Do you know where I've been these last months? I've been in hell, sir;
in hell, I tell you! Every night I've dreamed of my mother and every day
I've bamboozled the public and sold bonds that weren't worth the paper
they were written on, and paid big dividends that were just some of
their own money returned. And now you tell me to keep on watering the
stock when you know we haven't a dollar put towards the 'Rest' and the
money is just pouring out for expenses and directors' fees. There's
barely enough left over to keep up the sham of dividends. You know it as
well as I do. I've been an ass and an idiot, but I'm done with living a
lie. Judge Hildreth, I came to tell you that if you don't do the square
thing by these people who have trusted us, I'll expose you!"

His vehemence was tremendous and the words poured out in a torrent which
never checked its flow. He had risen and in his excitement paced up and
down the room. Now, overcome by his effort, he sank exhausted into a
chair.

Judge Hildreth rose suddenly and locked the office door. When he turned
again his face was not a pleasant sight to see.

"President Peters," he said sternly, "this is not the age of heroics nor
the place for them. In future I beg you to remember our relative
positions. You seem to forget that I am the direct cause of your present
prosperity, but that is an omission which men of your stamp are liable
to make. I never expect gratitude from those whom I have befriended.

"But when you come to threats, that is another matter. You say you will
expose me. To whom, if you please? _You_ are the President of the
Consolidated Company. Your name is associated with its business. Mine
does not appear in any way, shape or form. You sign all papers, and it
is you whom the public hold accountable for all moneys deposited in the
institution. Any attempt which you might make to connect me with the
enterprise would be futile, utterly futile. The public would not believe
you, and you could not prove it in any court of law."

The man, worn and spent with his emotion, lifted his head and looked at
the Judge with dazed, lack-luster eyes.

"Not connected with the enterprise," he repeated, "why, the whole
thought of the thing came from you! and you have drawn thousands of
dollars----"

"I have simply given advice," interrupted the Judge haughtily.

"Advice!" echoed the man, "and doesn't advice count in law?"

"If you can prove it;" said the Judge with a cold smile. "Do you ever
remember having any of my opinions in writing, President Peters? The law
takes cognizance only of black and white, you know."

The victim writhed in his chair, as the trap in which he was caught
revealed itself. Heavily his eyes searched Judge Hildreth's face for
some sign of pity or relenting, but in vain.

"And if there should come a run on the funds?" he questioned dully.

"If there should come a run on the funds," answered the Judge, "_you_
would be underneath."

The man's head fell forward upon the table, and the Judge, with a cruel
smile, left the room.

* * * * *

Two office boys lingered in the handsome offices of the Consolidated
Provident Savings Company after business hours were over.

"I tell you what it is, Bob," said the eldest one, "I'm going to quit
this concern. It's my opinion it's a rotten corporation; and I don't
propose to ruin my standing with the commercial world."

"Gee!" exclaimed the younger boy in delight. "You're a buster, Joe, and
no mistake. The president himself couldn't have rolled that sentence off
better, or that old piece of pomposity who conies to the secret meetings
with the gold-headed cane."

"That's Judge Hildreth. He's another deep one or I lose my guess."

"Why, he's a No. I deacon in one of the uptown's swellest churches!"

"Guess he's a child of darkness in between times then, for I'll bet he
does lots of underground work. I don't believe in this awfully private
business. The other day, after old man Hildreth came, before the
directors had their meeting, (he always does come just before that, to
prime Peters, you know,) what did he do but make Peters send for me to
shut the transoms over his office doors, so that none of us fellows
outside could hear what they were saying!

"I tell you I don't like the looks of things. This morning one of those
heavy stockholders came in and wanted to take out all his money, and the
president went white as a sheet. There's a flaw in the ready money
account somewhere, I'll bet, and I'm going to leave before the bottom
drops out of the concern. If you take my advice you'll follow."

The other boy laughed. "Bet your life I won't, then. Where'd you get
such good pay, I'd like to know? I've had enough of grubbing along on
$4.00 a week. No, sirree, I'll keep in tow with the deacon and get my
share of all the stuff that's going, same as the other fellows do."

"You won't do it long then, you mark my words. Did you see the president
when he came into the office this morning? He looked as if he'd been
gagged. I went into his office for something in a hurry afterwards and
he was head over ears in Railway Time Tables. He jumped as if he'd been
caught poaching. It's my belief he means to skip across the border. It's
the only way for him to get out of the mess, unless he takes a dose of
lead, you see.

"Well, here goes. I'm going to write my resignation with the president's
best gold pen. You can do as you like, but it's slow and honest for me."

CHAPTER XIX.

Miss Diana Chillingworth was sitting in the old-fashioned porch of her
old-fashioned house which opened into an old-fashioned garden in one of
the suburbs of Marlborough, shelling peas. Everything about Miss Diana
was old-fashioned and sweet. Her hair was dressed as she had been
accustomed to wear it in her girlhood, and even the head mantua-maker of
Marlborough, ardent worshiper at Fashion's shrine though she was, was
forced to bow before her gentle individuality and confess that Miss
Diana's taste was perfect.

She wore a morning dress of soft pearl grey, over which she had tied an
apron of white lawn with a dainty ruffle of embroidery below its hem.
The peas danced merrily against the sides of an old-fashioned china
bowl. Miss Diana had an aesthetic repugnance to the use of tin utensils
in the preparation of food.

Outside there were sweet lilies of the valley and violets and pansies,
and the roses wafted long breaths of fragrance to her through the
trellis work of the porch, while the morning glories hung their heads
and blushed under the ardent kisses of the sun.

In the kitchen Unavella Cynthesia Crockett, her faithful and devoted
"assistant" (Miss Crockett objected to the term servant upon democratic
principles), moved cheerily, with a giant masterfulness which bespoke a
successful initiation into the mysteries of the culinary art. All at
once she shut the oven door, where three toothsome loaves were browning,
and listened intently. Then she went out to interview Thomas, the
butcher's boy, who came three times a week with supplies.

"The sweet-breads hez cum, Miss Di-an," she said, appearing in the porch
before her mistress.

"Well, Unavella," said Miss Diana, with a pleasant smile, "you expected
them, did you not? We ordered them, you know. They are very nutritious,
I think."

"Hum! There's some news cum along with 'em that ain't likely to prove ez
nourishin'. Tummas sez the Provident Savings Company hez busted an' the
president's vamoosed."

"Dear me! I wish Thomas would not use such very forceful language," said
Miss Diana. "Do you think he finds it necessary? Being a butcher, you
know? I hardly understand the words. Do you think you would find them
defined in Webster?"

Unavella's eyes twinkled through her gloom. "I guess Tummas ain't got
much use for dictionners," she said. "He uses words that cums nearest to
his feelin's. He's lost two hundred dollars, Tummas hez."

"Dear me! How very grieved I am. But a dictionary, Unavella, is the
basis of all education. Thomas ought to appreciate that. 'Busted,'" she
repeated the word slowly, with an instinctive shrinking from its sound,
"that is a vulgar corruption of the verb to burst; but 'vamoosed,' I do
not think I ever heard the term before."

"Tummas says it means to show the under side of your shoe leather."

"The under side of your shoe leather, Unavella?" Miss Diana lifted her
pretty shoe and held it up for inspection. "Do you see anything wrong
with that?"

The faithful soul threw her apron over her head with a sob. "Oh, Miss
Di-an!" she wailed, "it means the company's all a set of cheats, an' the
biggest rogue of the lot hez lit out--run away--an' taken the money the
Gin'rel left you along with him."

CHAPTER XX.

Miss Diana received the news in absolute silence. The brave daughter of
a brave father, she would make no moan, but the sweetness seemed to have
suddenly gone from the flowers and the light out of the sky.

Unavella looked at her in amazement. She was used to the stormy grief
which finds vent in tears and groans. "It beats me how different folks
takes things!" she ejaculated mentally. "Well, she'll need suthin' to
keep her strength up all the more now she ain't got nuthin' to support
her;" and, gathering peas and pods into her apron with a mighty sweep of
her arm, she marched into her kitchen in a fever of sympathetic
indignation and evolved a dinner which was a masterpiece of culinary
skill.

Miss Diana forced herself to eat something. She knew if she did not,
Unavella would be worried, and she possessed that peculiar regard for
the feelings of others which would not allow her to consider her own.

"You are a wonderful cook, Unavella," she said, with a pathetic
cheerfulness which did not deceive her faithful handmaiden, who, as she
confided afterwards to a friend, wuz weepin' bitter gall tears in her
mind, though she kep' a calm front outside, for she wuzn't goin' ter be
outdid in pluck by that little bit of sweetness. "I shall be able to
give you a beautiful character."

She lifted her hand with a deprecating gesture as Unavella was about to
burst forth with a stormy denial.

"Not yet, please, Unavella; not just yet. Let me have time to think a
little before you say anything. I feel rather shaken. The news was so
very unexpected, you see," she said with a shadowy smile, which Unavella
averred "cut her heart clean in two." "But everything is just right,
Unavella, that happens to the Lord's children, you know. Things look a
little misty now, but I shall see the sunlight again by and bye. In the
meantime there is this delicious dinner. Someone ought to be reaping the
benefit of it. Suppose you take it to poor Mrs. Dixon? She enjoys
anything tasty so much and she cannot afford to buy dainties for
herself." Miss Diana would never learn the economy which is content to
be comfortable while a neighbor is in need. "And, Unavella, if you
please, you might say I am not receiving callers this afternoon. I am
afraid it is not very hospitable, but I feel as if I must be alone. This
has been rather a sudden shock to me."

"You, you--angul!" exclaimed Unavella, as soon as she had regained the
privacy of her kitchen, while a briny crystal of genuine affection
rolled down her cheek and splashed unceremoniously into the gravy.

Up-stairs in her pretty chamber Miss Diana sat and thought. Ruin and
starvation. Was that what it meant? She had seen the words in print
often but they seemed different now. Ruin meant a giving up and going
out, while the auctioneer's hammer smote upon one's heart with cruel
blows, and one could not see to say farewell because one's eyes were
full of tears. It would not be starvation--of the body. She must be
thankful for that. The house and grounds were in a good locality and she
had refused several handsome offers for them during the past year.

She caught her breath a little as she thought of the wide stretching
field where her dainty Jersey was feeding, with its cluster of trees in
one corner, under which a brook babbled joyously as it danced on its way
to the river; the pretty barn with its pigeon-house where her
snow-white fantails craned their imperious heads; the wide porch with
its flower drapery, where she sat and read or worked with her pet
spaniel at her feet, and where her friends loved to gather through the
summer afternoons and chat over the early supper before they went back
to the city's grime and stir.

Then in thought she entered the house. The room which had been her
father's and the library which held his books. Could she sell those! She
shivered, as in imagination she heard the careless inventory of the
auctioneer. She had never attended an auction except once, and then she
had hurried away, for it seemed to her the pictured faces were misty
with tears and she fancied the draperies sighed, as they waved in the
wind which swept through the gaping windows. There were the engravings
which she loved and the pictures her father had brought with him from
Europe, and the rare old china and her mother's silver service, and her
store of delicate napery and household linen; while every table and
chair had a story and the very walls of each room were dear. Had she
been making idols of these things in her heart?

Miss Diana knelt beside the couch, comfortable as only old-fashioned
couches know how to be. "Dear Christ," she cried, "I am thy follower
and I have gone shod with velvet while thy feet were travel-stained, and
I have slept upon eider-down while thou hadst not where to lay thine
head!"

She knelt on, motionless, until the twilight fell and the stars began to
peep out in the sky. Then she went down-stairs and there was a strange,
exalted look upon her sweet face.

"Unavella," she cried softly, "I have found the sunlight, for I can say
'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the
LORD.'"

"Oh, Miss Di-an!" wailed Unavella, "I b'lieve you're goin' ter die an'
be an angul afore the moon changes!"

* * * * *

Miss Diana had been to see her lawyer and he had confirmed her decision.
Her income was gone. With the exception of a couple of hundred dollars,
coming to her from a different source, she was penniless. There was
nothing left her but to sell.

When she reached home that night she looked very white and weary, but
her smile was all the sweeter because of the unshed tears. Unavella had
spread her supper in the porch. She ate but little, however. "I am sorry
I cannot do more justice to your skill, Unavella," she said with her
gentle courtesy, "but I do not seem to feel hungry lately."

"It's that li-yar!" muttered Unavella grimly, as she cleared the things
away. "I never knowed a li-yar yit that didn't scare all the appetite
away from a body."

When her work was finished she came back to the porch where Miss Diana
was sitting very still in the moonlight. "Miss Di-an!" she exclaimed
impetuously, "don't you go fer to be thinkin' of sellin'! I've got a
plan that beats the li-yar's all holler, ef he duz wear a wig."

"Sit down, Unavella," said her mistress kindly, "and tell me what it
is."

"Well, I haven't said nuthin' to you before, 'cause I knowed it would
only hurt you ef I wuz to let my feelin's loose about them thievin'
rapscallions that dared to lay their cheatin' hands on the money the
Gin'rel left ye; but I've been a thinkin'--stiddy--an' while you wuz
comin' to your decision above I wuz comin' to mine below, an' now we'll
toss 'em up fer luck, an' see which wins, ef you air willin'."

Miss Diana smiled. "Well, Unavella." she said.

"You decide ter leave yer hum, with all there is to it, an' me inter the
bargain, an' go ter board with folks what don't know yer likins nor
understan' yer feelin's, an' the end on it'll be that you'll jest wilt
away wuss than a mornin' glory. I never did think folks sarved the Lord
by dyin' afore their time comes.

"I decide to hev you keep yer hum, an' the things in it, an' me too. The
hull on it is, Miss Di-an, _I won't be left_!" and Unavella buried her
face in her hands and sobbed aloud.

"You dear Unavella!" Miss Diana laid her soft hand upon the
toil-roughened ones. "If you only knew how I dread the thought of
leaving you! But what else is there for me to do?"

"Gentlemen boarders," was the terse reply.

"Gentlemen boarders!" echoed Miss Diana in bewilderment.

"Yes. You catch 'em, an' I'll cook'em. We'll begin with two ter see how
they eat, an ef we find it don't cost too much ter fatten 'em up, we'll
go inter the bizness reglar;" after making which cannibalistic
proposition Unavella looked to her mistress for approval.

"Why, Unavella," said Miss Diana, after the first shock of surprise was
over, "I never even dreamed of such a thing! It might be possible, if
you are willing to undertake it, it is very good of you. But we will not
make any plans, Unavella, until I talk it over with the Lord. If his
smile rests upon it, your kindly thought for me will succeed; if not, it
would be sure to fail. I must have his approval first of all."

She rose as she spoke and bade her a gentle good-night, and Unavella
walked slowly back to her kitchen again. "Ef the angul Gabriel," she
soliloquized, "starts in ter searchin' the earth this night fer the
Lord's chosen ones, there ain't no fear but what he'll cum ter this
house, the fust thing."

Up-stairs Miss Diana was whispering softly, as she looked up at the
stars with a trustful smile. "Oh, my Father, if it is thy will that I
should do this thing, thou wilt send me the right ones."

CHAPTER XXI.

John Randolph did some hard thinking during the weeks which followed
Richard Trueman's death. It was no light task which he had so cheerfully
imposed upon himself. The boy was constitutionally delicate and fretted
so constantly after his father that his health began to suffer, and it
grew to be a very pale face which welcomed John with a smile when he
returned from the office. The style of living was bad for him. He was
alone all day, except for an occasional visit from the good-natured
German woman who kept their rooms, and, although he was a voracious
reader, the doctor had forbidden all thought of study for a year, even
had there been a school near enough for him to attend, where John would
have been willing to send him. He ought to be where the air was pure and
the surroundings cheerful. John would have preferred to put up with the
discomfort of his present quarters and lay by the addition to his salary
towards the more speedy realization of his day-dream, but John Randolph
had never found much time to think of himself; there were always so many
other people in the world to be attended to.

"Dick, my boy," he said cheerily one evening, after they had finished
what he pronounced a sumptuous repast, "I have a presentiment that this
month will witness a turning point in our career. I believe you and I
are going to become suburbanites."

The boy's sad eyes grew wide with wonder.

"What do you mean, John?"

"Well you see, Dick True, it is this way. As soon as I get my
degree--earn the right to put M.D. after my name, you know,--I am going
to take two rubber bags, fill one with sunshine and one with pure air,
full of the scent of rose leaves and clover and strawberries--ah, Dick,
you'd like to smell that, wouldn't you?--and carry one in each pocket;
then, when my patients come to me for advice, the first dose I shall
give them will be out of my rubber bags, and in six cases out of ten I
believe they'll get better without any drug at all. You see, Dick True,
the trouble is, our Father has given us a whole world full of air and
sunlight to be happy in, and we poison the air with smoke and shut
ourselves away from the sunshine in boxes of brick and mortar, only
letting a stray beam come in occasionally through slits in the walls
which we call windows. It's no wonder we are such poor, miserable
concerns. You can't fancy an Indian suffering from nervous prostration,
can you, Dick? and it doesn't strike you as probable that Robinson
Crusoe had any predisposition to lung trouble? So you see, Dick True, as
it is a poor doctor who is afraid of his own medicine, I am going to
prescribe it first of all for ourselves, and we will go where
unadulterated oxygen may be had for the smelling, and we can draw in
sunshine with every breath."

The pale face brightened.

"Oh, that will be lovely! I do get so tired of these old streets. But
John,--"

"Well, Dick?"

"Why do you keep calling me Dick True all the time?"

John laughed. "Just to remind you that you must be a true boy before you
can really be a True-man, Dick. I want you to be in the best company.
Jesus Christ is the truth, you know, Dick."

"Jesus Christ," repeated the boy thoughtfully. "I wish I knew him, John,
as well as you do."

"If you love, you will know," said John, the light which the boy loved
to watch creeping into his eyes. "He is the best friend we will ever
have, Dick, you and I."

He opened several papers as he spoke and ran his eyes over the
advertising columns. "H'm, I don't like the sound of these," he said,
"they promise too much. Hot and cold water baths and gas and the
advantages of a private family and city privileges. Everyone seems to
keep the 'best table in the city.' That's curious, isn't it, Dick? And
nearly everyone has the most convenient location. Dick, my boy, it's one
thing to say we are going to do a thing, it's another thing to do it. I
expect this suburban question is going to be a puzzle to you and me."

And so it proved. Day after day John searched the papers in vain, until
it seemed as if a suburban residence was the one thing in life
unattainable. But the long lane of disappointment had its turning at
length, and he hurried home to Dick, paper in hand.

"Dick, Dick True, we've found it at last! Listen:

"Two gentlemen can be pleasantly accommodated at 'The Willows.' Address
Miss Chillingworth, University P.O. Box 123.

"The University Post Office is just near the College, you know, Dick, so
it is in a good location. Two gentlemen--that means you and me, Dick;
and 'The Willows' means running brooks, or ought to, if they are any
sort of respectable trees."

The boy clapped his hands. "When can we go, John?"

John laughed. "Not so fast, Dick. There may be other gentlemen in
Marlborough on the lookout for a suburban residence. I addressed Miss
Chillingworth on paper this morning, telling her I should give myself
the pleasure of addressing her in person to-morrow. It is a half
holiday, you know, Dick. I like the ring of this advertisement. There is
no fuss and feathers about it. She doesn't offer city privileges and
promise ice cream with every meal."

"But, John," said the boy, ruefully, "we're not gentlemen. You don't
wear a silk hat, you know, and I have no white shirts--nothing but these
paper fronts. I hate paper fronts! They're such shams!

"Oh, ho! Dick, so you're pining for frills, eh? Well, if it will make
you feel more comfortable, we'll go down to Stewart's and get fitted out
to your satisfaction. But don't forget that you can be a gentleman in
homespun as well as broadcloth, Dick. Real diamonds don't need to borrow
any luster from their setting; only the paste do that."

The next afternoon John strode along in the direction of 'The Willows'
to the accompaniment of a merry whistle. It did him good to get out into
the open country once more, and he felt sure it would be worth a king's
ransom to Dick; but when he came in sight of the house he hesitated.
There must be some mistake. This was not the sort of house to open its
doors to boarders. "Poor Dick!" he soliloquized, "no wonder you felt a
premonitory sense of the fitness of frills! Well, I'll go and inquire.
They can only say 'No,' and that won't annihilate me."

He was ushered into Miss Diana's presence, and on the instant forgot
everything but Miss Diana herself. Before he realized what he was doing
he had explained the reason of his seeking a suburban home, and, drawn
on by her gentle sympathy, was telling her the story of his life. Miss
Diana had a way of compelling confidence, and the people who gave it to
her never afterwards regretted the gift. With the straightforwardness
which was a part of his nature he told his story. It never occurred to
him that there was anything peculiar about it, yet when he had finished
there were tears in his listener's eyes.

When at length he rose to go, everything was settled between them.
John's eyes wandered round the room and then rested again with a
curious sense of pleasure upon Miss Diana's face.

"I cannot begin to thank you," he said, gratefully, "for allowing us to
come here. I never dared to hope that my poor little Dick would have
such an education as this home will be to him, but I feel sure you will
learn to like Dick True."

Miss Diana held out her hand, with a smile. "I think I shall like you as
well as Dick," she said.

* * * * *

Weeks and months flew past and the household at 'The Willows' was a very
happy one. Unavella was in great glee over the success of her scheme.

"I used ter think," she confided to her bosom friend, "thet boarders wuz
good fer nuthin' 'cept ter be an aggervation an' a plague; but I
couldn't think o' nuthin' else ter do, an' I made up my mind I'd ruther
put up with 'em than lose Miss Di-an, even ef their antics did make me
gray-headed afore the year wuz out. But I needn't hev worritted. Two
sech obligin' young fellers I never did see, an' never expect ter agin
in this world. They don't never seem comfortable 'cept when they're
helpin' a body. An' Mr. John's whistle ez enuff ter put sunshine inter
the Deluge! I used ter think we wuz ez happy ez birds--Miss Di-an an'
me--but I declare the house seems lonesum now when he leaves in the
mornin'. He's alluz at it, whistle, whistle, whistle. 'Tain't none o'
them screechin' whistles that takes the top off of your head an' leaves
the inside a' hummin', but it's jest as soft an' sweet an' low!
Sometimes I think he's prayin', it's that lovely. It's my belief it puts
Miss Di-an in mind o' someone, fer she jest sets in the porch, when he's
a' tinkerin' round in the evenings or dig-gin' in the gardin--he's never
satisfied unless everything's jest kep spick an' span--an' there's the
sweetest smile on her face, an' the dreamy look in her eyes thet folks'
eyes don't never hev 'cept when they're episodin' with their past.

"An' the way they foller her about an' treat her jest ez ef she wuz a
princess! I declare, it makes my heart warm. The young one called her
his little mother the other night, an' Mr. John sez, sez he, 'Ye
couldn't hev a sweeter, Dick, nor a dearer.' He makes me think of one o'
them folks in poetry what wuz alluz a' ridin' round with banners an' a
spear."

"A knight?" suggested her friend, who had just indulged a literary taste
by purchasing a paper covered edition of Sir Walter Scott.

"Yes, that's what I mean. An' I sez to myself,--'ef they wuz like he
is, an' wuz ez plenty in the Middle Ages ez they make 'em out ter be,
then it's a pity we wuzn't back right in the center uv 'em,' sez I."

"Lady Di! Lady Di!" and little Dick came hurrying into the library where
Miss Diana was sitting in the gloaming. "John wants you to come out and
see if you like the new flowers he is planting. He says I must be sure
to put your shawl on, for the dew is falling."

Miss Diana's eyes grew misty as her little cavalier adjusted her wrap.
"Why do you give me that name, Dick?" she asked. Only one other had ever
given it to her before, in the long ago.

"What? Lady Di?" answered the boy. "Oh, we always call you that, John
and I. Our Lady Di. John says you make him think of the elect lady, in
the Bible, you know."

And Miss Diana, as she passed the shelves, laid her hand caressingly
upon the beloved books with a happy smile. God had sent her the right
ones!

CHAPTER XXII.

Marion entered Evadne's room one glorious winter's morning and threw
herself on the lounge beside her cousin with a sigh.

"I don't see how you do it!" she exclaimed.

"Do what?" asked Evadne.

"Why, keep so pleasant with Isabelle. She works me up to the last pitch
of endurance, until I feel sometimes as if I should go wild. It is no
use saying anything, Mamma always takes her side, you know, but she does
aggravate me so! Even her movements irritate me,--just the way she
shakes her head and curls her lip,--she is so self-satisfied. She thinks
no one else knows anything. It must be a puzzle to her how the world
ever got along before she came into it, and what it will do when she
leaves it is a mystery!"

"She is good discipline."

Marion gave her an impetuous hug. "You dear Evadne! I believe you take
us all as that! But I don't think the rest of us can be quite as trying
as Isabelle. She does seem to delight in saying such horrid things. She
was abominably rude to you this morning at breakfast and yet you were
just as polite as ever. I couldn't have done it. I should have sulked
for a week. I know you feel it, for I see your lips quiver--you are as
susceptible to a rude touch as a sensitive plant--but it is beautiful to
be able to keep sweet outside."

"You mean to be _kept_, Marion," said Evadne softly, "by the power of
God. I have no strength of my own."

Marion sighed dismally. "Oh, dear! I don't know what I mean, except that
I'm a failure. It is no wonder Louis thinks Christianity is a humbug,
though he must confess there is something in it when he looks at you.
You are so different, Evadne! I should think Isabelle would be ashamed
of herself, for I believe half the time she says things on purpose to
provoke you. She doesn't seem to get much comfort out of it any way. I
never saw such a discontented mortal. Don't you think it is wicked for
people to grumble the way she does, Evadne? It is growing on her, too.
She finds fault with everything. Even the snow came in for a share of
her disapprobation this morning, because it would spoil the skating, as
if the Lord had no other plans to further than just to give her an
afternoon's amusement! She is _so_ self-centered!"

Evadne looked out at the street where the fresh fallen snow had spread
a dazzling carpet of virgin white. "He is going to let me give an
afternoon's amusement to Gretchen and little Hans," she said. "Uncle
Lawrence has promised me the sleigh and I am going to take them to the
Park. Won't it be beautiful to see them enjoy! Hans has never seen the
trees after a snowstorm."

"That is you all over, Evadne. It is always other people's pleasure,
while I think of my own! Oh, dear! I seem to do nothing but get savage
and then sigh over it. I know it is dreadful to talk about my own sister
as I have been doing--they say you ought to hide the faults of your
relations--but it is only to you, you know. Do you suppose there is any
hope for me, Evadne?" she asked disconsolately.

Evadne drew her head down until it was on a level with her own. "Let
Christ teach you to love, dear," she whispered, "Then, 'charity will
cover the multitude of sins.'" She opened the book she had been reading
when her cousin entered and took from it a newspaper clipping. "Read
this," she said. "Aunt Marthe sent it in her last letter. If we follow
its teachings I think all the fret and worry will go out of our lives
for good."

And Marion read,--"To step out of self-life into Christ-life, to lie
still and let him lift you out of it, to fold your hands close and hide
your face upon the hem of his robe, to let him lay his cooling,
soothing, healing hands upon your soul, and draw all the hurry and fever
away, to realize that you are not a mighty messenger, an important
worker of his, full of care and responsibility, but only a little child
with a Father's gentle bidding to heed and fulfil, to lay your busy
plans and ambitions confidently in his hands, as the child brings its
broken toys at its mother's call; to serve him by waiting, to praise him
by saying 'Holy, holy, holy,' a single note of praise, as do the
seraphim of the heavens if that be his will, to cease to live in self
and for self and to live in him and for him, to love his honor more than
your own, to be a clear and facile medium for his life-tide to shine and
glow through--this is consecration and this is rest."

When, some hours later, Evadne went down-stairs to luncheon, she felt
strangely happy. Marion had said Louis must confess there was something
in Christianity when he looked at her. That was what she longed to
do--to prove to him the reality of the religion of Jesus. And that
afternoon she was going to give such a pleasure to Gretchen and little
Hans. It was beautiful to be able to give pleasure to people. She could
just fancy how Gretchen's eyes would glisten as she talked to her in her
mother tongue, while little Hans' shyness would vanish under the genial
influence of Pompey's sympathetic companionship, and he would clap his
hands with delight as Brutus and Caesar drew them under the arches of
evergreen beauty, bending low beneath their ermine robes, while the
silver bells broke the hush of silence which dwelt among the forest
halls with a subdued melody and then rang out joyously as they emerged
into the open, where the sun shone bright and clothed denuded twigs and
trees in the bewitching beauty of a silver thaw. It would always seem to
little Hans like a dream of fairyland and she would be remembered as his
fairy godmother. It was a pleasant role--that of a fairy godmother.

She started, for Louis was saying carelessly to the servant,--"Tell
Pompey to have the sleigh ready by half-past two, sharp."

"Why, Louis!" she spoke as if in a dream, "I am going to have the sleigh
this afternoon."

"That is unfortunate, coz," said Louis lightly, "as probably we are
going in different directions."

"I am going to the Park," stammered Evadne, "with little Hans and
Gretchen."

"Exactly, and I to the Club grounds. Diametrically opposite, you see."

"But Uncle Lawrence promised me. He said no one wanted the sleigh this
afternoon."

"The Judge should not allow himself to jump at such hasty conclusions
before hearing the decision of the Foreman of the Jury. It is an unwise
procedure for his Lordship."

"But poor little Hans will be so disappointed! He has been looking
forward to it for weeks."

"Disappointed! My dear coz, the placid Teutonic mind is impervious to
anything so unphilosophical. It will teach him the truth of the adage
that 'there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip,' and in the
future he will not be so foolish as to look forward to anything."

Evadne's lips quivered. "You are cruel," she said, "to shut out the
sunlight from a poor little crippled child!"

"My dear coz, I give you my word of honor, I am sorry. But there is
nothing to make a fuss about. Any other day will suit your little beggar
just as well. I promised some of the fellows to drive them out and a
Hildreth cannot break his word, you know."

"You have made me break mine," said Evadne sadly, as she passed him to
go upstairs.

"Ah, you are a woman," said Louis coolly, "that alters everything."

Did it alter everything? Evadne was pacing her floor with flashing eyes.
"Was there one rule of honor for Louis, another for herself? No! no! no!
How perfectly hateful he is!" and she stamped her foot with sudden
passion. "I despise him!"

Suddenly she fell on her knees beside the lounge and cowered among its
cushions, while the eyes of the Christ, reproachfully tender, seemed to
pierce her very soul. "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do
good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you
and persecute you,--that ye may be the children of your Father in
heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and
sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."

His sorrowful tones seemed to crush her into the earth. Was this her
Christ-likeness? And she had let Marion say she was better than them
all! What if she or Louis were to see her now? He would say again, as he
had said before, "There is not much of the 'meek and lowly' in evidence
at present." "And he would be right," she cried remorsefully. "Oh,
Jesus Christ, is this the way I am following thee!"

"You do right to feel annoyed," argued self. "It hurts you to disappoint
Gretchen and Hans."

"It is your own pride that is hurt," answered her inexorable conscience.
"You wanted to pose as a Lady Bountiful. It is humiliating to let these
poor people see that you are of no consequence in your uncle's house.
Christ kept no carriage. It is not what you do but what you are, that
proves your kinship with the Lord."

It was a very humble Evadne who, late in the afternoon, walked slowly
towards the German quarter. "I am very sorry," she said quietly, when
she had reached the spotless rooms where Gretchen made a home for her
crippled brother, "my cousin had made arrangements to use the sleigh
this afternoon, so we could not have our drive. I am _very_ sorry."

And they put their own disappointment out of sight, these kindly German
folk, and tried to make her think they cared as little as if they were
used to driving every day.

"Did you notice, Gretchen," said Hans, after Evadne had left them, "how
sweet our Fraulein was this afternoon? But her eyes looked as if she
had been crying. Do you suppose she had?"

"I think, Hans," said Gretchen slowly, "our Fraulein is learning to
dwell where God wipes all the tears away."

"Are your eyes no better, Frau Himmel?" Evadne was saying as she shook
hands with another friend who was patiently learning the bitter truth
that she would never be able to see her beloved Fatherland again. "Are
the doctors quite sure that nothing can be done?"

"Quite sure, Fraulein Hildreth," answered the woman with a smile, "but
there is one glorious hope they can't take from me."

"A hope, Frau Himmel, when you are blind! What can it be?"

"This, dear Fraulein," and the look on the patient face was beautiful to
see. "'Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty; they shall behold
the land that is very far off.'"

And Evadne, walking homeward, repeated the words which she had read that
morning with but a dim perception of their meaning. 'If limitation is
power that shall be, if calamities, opposition and weights are wings and
means--we are reconciled.'

CHAPTER XXIII.

"Uncle Lawrence, with your permission, I am going to study to be a
nurse."

Judge Hildreth started. So light had been the footsteps and so deeply
had he been absorbed in thought, he had not heard his niece enter the
library and cross the room until she stood before his desk. Very fair
was the picture which his eyes rested upon. What made his brows contract
as if something hurt him in the sight?

Evadne Hildreth was in all the sweetness of her young womanhood. She was
not beautiful, not even pretty, Isabelle said, but there was a strange
fascination about her earnest face, and the wonderful grey eyes
possessed a charm that was all their own. She had graduated with honors.
Now she stood upon the threshold of the unknown, holding her life in her
hands.

Louis was traveling in Europe. Isabelle and Marion were at a fashionable
French Conservatory, for the perfecting of their Parisian accent.
Evadne was alone. She had chosen to have it so. She wanted to follow up
a special course in physiology which was her favorite study.

"A nurse, Evadne! My dear, you are beside yourself. 'Much learning hath
made you mad.'"

"'I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and
soberness.' I feel called to do this thing."

"Who has called you, pray? We do not deal in supernaturalisms in this
prosaic century."

The lovely eyes glowed. "Jesus Christ." What an exultant ring there was
in her voice, and how tenderly she lingered over the name!

"Jesus Christ!" Judge Hildreth repeated the words in an awestruck tone.
Did she see him cower in his chair? It must have been an optical
illusion. The storm outside was making the house shiver and the lights
dance.

"You must consult your aunt," he said in a changed voice. She noticed
with a pang how old and careworn he looked.

"Kate," he called, as just then he heard his wife's step in the hall,
"come here."

"What do you wish, Lawrence?" and there was a soft _frou frou_ of silken
draperies as Mrs. Hildreth's dress swept over the carpet.

"Evadne wishes to become a nurse."

"Are you crazy?" There was a steely glitter in Mrs. Hildreth's eyes, and
her tone fell cold and measured through the room.

"She says not," said the Judge with a feeble smile.

"Why should you think so, Aunt Kate?" asked Evadne gently. "Look how the
world honors Florence Nightingale, and think how many splendid women
have followed her example."

"To earn your own living by the labor of your hands. A Hildreth!"

"All the people who amount to anything in the world have to work, Aunt
Kate. There is nothing degrading in it."

"Just try it and you will soon find out your mistake. If you do this
thing you will be ostracized by the world. People make a great talk
about the dignity of labor, but a girl who works has no footing in
polite society."

Evadne's sweet laugh fell softly through the silence. "I don't believe I
have any time for society, Aunt Kate. Life seems too real to be
frittered away over afternoon teas."

"Are you mad, Lawrence, to let her take this step? Think of the Hildreth
honor!"

Again Judge Hildreth laughed--that strange, feeble laugh. "Evadne is of
age, Kate; she must do as she thinks right. As to the rest--I think the
less we say about the Hildreth honor now the better for us all."

He was alone. Mrs. Hildreth had swept away in a storm of wrath. Evadne
had followed her, leaving a soft kiss upon his brow. He lifted his hand
to the place her lips had touched--he felt as if he had been stung--but
there was no outward wound.

The Hildreth honor! The letters in the drawer at his side seemed to
confront him with scorn blazing from every page. He put forth his hand
with a sudden determination. He would crush their impertinent
obtrusiveness under his heel; then, when their damaging evidence was
buried in the dust of oblivion, he would be safe and fret! Evadne knew
her father had left her something. He would make special mention of it
in his will--a Trust fund--enough to yield her maintenance and the
paltry pin money which was all the allowance he had ever seen his way
clear to make his brother's child. It was not his fault, he argued--he
had meant to do right--but gilt-edged securities were as waste, paper in
the unprecedented monetary depression which was sweeping stronger men
than himself to the verge of ruin. He could not foresee such a crisis.
Even the Solons of Wall Street had not anticipated it. It was not his
fault. He had meant to make all right in a few years. What was that
they said was paved with good intentions? He could not remember. He
seemed to have strange fits of forgetfulness lately. He must see that
everything was put in proper shape in the event of his death. People
died suddenly sometimes. One never knew.

It would be safer to make re-investments. Yes, that was a good thought.
He wondered it had never occurred to him before. His wisest plan was to
have all moneys and securities in his own name. It would make it so much
easier for the executors. It was not fair to burden any one with a
business so involved as his was now. Of course he would make a mental
note of just how much belonged to his brother. It would not be safe to
put it in black and white--executors had such an unpleasant habit of
going over one's private papers--but he would be sure to remember, and,
if he ever got out of this bog, as he expected to do of course shortly,
he would give Evadne back her own. It would leave him badly crippled for
funds, but one must expect to make sacrifices for the sake of principle.
Then, when these letters were destroyed, they would have no clue--he
frowned. What an unfortunate word for him to use! A clue wag suggestive
of criminality. What possible connection could there be between Judge
Hildreth and that?

He fitted the key in the lock and turned it, then his hand fell by his
side. No, no, he had not come to that--yet. He had always held that
tampering with the mails evinced the blackest turpitude. He was an
honorable gentleman. He started. What was that? A long, low,
blood-curdling laugh, as if a dozen mocking fiends stood at his
elbow,--or was it just the shrieking of the wind among the gables? It
was a wild night. The rain dashed against the window panes in sheets of
vengeful fury, and the howling of the storm made him shudder as he
thought of the ships at sea. Now and then a loose slate fell from an
adjoining roof and was shivered into atoms upon the pavement, while the
wind swept along the street and lashed the branches of the trees into a
panic of helpless, quivering rage. Could any poor beggars be without a
shelter on such a night as this? How did such people live?

He caught himself dozing. He felt strangely drowsy. He straightened
himself resolutely in his chair and drew a package of stock certificates
from one of the secret drawers of the desk. He would see about selling
the stock and making re-investments to-morrow.

It must be done,--to save the Hildreth honor.

CHAPTER XXIV.

Once more the Hildreth household was united, if such a thing as union
could be possible, among so many diverse elements.

Isabelle's chill hauteur had increased with the years and a peevish
discontent was carving indelible lines upon her face which was rapidly
losing its delicate contour and bloom. Marion's pink and white beauty
was at its zenith, and the social attentions she was beginning to
receive only served to render her elder sister more than ever irritable
and envious. Louis was his old nonchalant self, careless and listless,
with an ever deepening expression of _ennui_ which was pitiful in one so
young. His European travels had not improved him, in Evadne's opinion.

She saw but little of her cousins. They passed their days in pleasure,
she in work; but Marion, in her rare moments of reflection, as she
thought of the strangely peaceful face of the young nurse, wondered
sadly whether Evadne had not chosen the better part after all.

"Oh, Louis!" she cried one morning, and her voice was full of pain,
"how you are wasting this beautiful life that God has given you!"

Louis stretched himself lazily in his arm-chair and clasped his hands
behind his head. "Thanks for your high opinion, coz. Of what special
crime do I stand accused before the bar of your judgment?"

"Oh, it is nothing special, but you are just frittering away the days
that might be filled with such noble work, and you have nothing to show
for them but--smoke!" She swept her hand through the filmy cloud which
Louis just then blew into the air, with a gesture of disdain. "Now you
will think I am preaching, but indeed, indeed I am not, only, it hurts
me so!"

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