Part 2 out of 5
It was a merry dinner, after all, eaten with steel forks and without
napkins, and with plated spoons, if you were so fortunate as to secure
one. The rush of people was very great, and, with their inconvenient
accommodations, the process of serving was slow.
Marion, her eyes being opened, went to studying the people about her.
She found that courteous good-humor was the rule, and selfishness and
ungraciousness the exception. Inconveniences were put up with and
merrily laughed over by people who, from their dress and manners, could
be accustomed to only the best.
Marion took mental notes.
"They do not act in the least like the mass of people who stop at
railroad eating-houses for their dinner; they are patient and courteous
under difficulties; they did not come here for the purpose of being
entertained; if they did the accommodations wouldn't satisfy."
There was another little thing that interested Marion. As the tables
kept filling, and those who had been served made room for those who had
not, she found herself watching curiously what proportion of the guests
observed that instant of silent thanks with covered eyes. It was so
brief, so slight a thing, I venture that scarcely a person there noticed
it, much less imagined that there was a pair of keen gray eyes over in
the corner looking and calculating concerning them.
"What if they all had to wear badges," she said to herself, "badges that
read 'I am a Christian,' I wonder how many of them it would influence
to different words than they are speaking, or to different acts? I
wonder if they _do_ all wear them? I wonder if the distinction is really
marked, so one looking on could detect the difference, though all of
them are strangers? I mean to watch during these two weeks. 'The proper
study of mankind is man.' Very well, Brother Pope, a convenient place
for the study of man is Chautauqua. I'll take it up. Who knows but I may
learn a new branch to teach the graded infants in Ward No. 4."
Ruth did not recover her equanimity. She was rasped on every side. Those
two-tined steel forks were a positive sting to her. She shuddered as the
steel touched her lips. She had no spoon at all, and she looked on in
utter disgust while Eurie merrily stirred her tea with her fork. When
the waiter came at last, with hearty apologies for keeping them waiting
for their spoons, and the old gentleman said cordially, "All in good
time. We shall not starve even if we get no spoons," she curled her lip
disdainfully, and murmured that she had always been accustomed to the
conveniences of life, and found it somewhat difficult to do without
When one is in the mood for grumbling there is no easier thing in the
world than to find food for that spirit, and Ruth continued her pastime,
waxing louder and more decided after the genial old man had left their
"What is the use in fault-finding?" Eurie said at last, half petulantly.
She was growing very tired of this exhibition. "What did you expect?
They are doing as well as they can, without any doubt. Just imagine what
it must be to get conveniences together for this vast crowd. They did
not expect anything like such a large attendance at first; I heard them
say so and that makes it harder to wait upon them. But of course they
are doing just as well as they can, and we fare as well as any of them."
"Don't you be so foolish as to believe that," Ruth said, with a curling
lip. "If you could see behind the scenes you would soon discover
something very different. That is why it is so provoking to me. Let
people who cannot afford to pay any better take such as they can get.
But what right had they to suppose that we had not the money to pay for
what we wish? I'm sure _I'm_ not a pauper! You will find that there is
a place where the select few can get what they want, and have it served
in a respectable manner, and I say I don't like it; I have been
accustomed to the decencies of life."
Just behind them the talk was going on unceasingly, and one voice, at
this point, rising higher than the others, caught the attention of our
girls. Eurie turned suddenly and tried to catch a glimpse of the
speaker. Something in the voice sounded natural. A sudden movement on
the part of the gentleman between them and she caught a glimpse of the
face. She turned back eagerly.
"Girls, that is Mrs. Schuyler Germain!"
"Where?" Ruth asked, with sudden interest in her voice.
"Over at that table, in a water-proof cloak and black straw hat, and
eating boiled potatoes with a steel fork. What about being behind the
scenes now, Ruthie?"
To fully appreciate this you must understand that even among the
Erskines to get as high as Mrs. Schulyer Germain was to get as high as
the aristocracy of this world reached; not that she lived in any grander
style than the Erskines, or showed that she had more money, but every
one knew that her bank accounts were very heavy, and, besides, she was
the daughter of Gen. Wadsworth Hillyer, of Washington, and the
great-granddaughter, by direct descent, of one of England's noblemen.
She was traveled and cultivated, and all but titled through her youngest
Could American ambition reach higher? And there she sat, at a table made
of pine boards, eating boiled potatoes with a two-tined steel fork!
Could English nobility sink lower! Ruth looked over at her in quiet
surprise for a moment, and then gave her head its haughty toss as she
met Eurie's mischievous eyes, and said:
"It is not an aristocracy of position here, then. The leaders keep all
their nice things and places for themselves. That is smaller than I
supposed them to be."
At this particular moment there was an uprising from the table just
behind them. Half a dozen gentlemen leaving their empty plates, and in
full tide of talk, making their way down the hall. The girls looked and
nudged each other as they recognized them. The younger of the two
foremost had a face that can not easily be mistaken, and Eurie, having
seen it once, did not need Marion's low-toned, "That is Mr. Vincent."
And Ruth herself, thrown off her guard, recognized and exclaimed over
This climax was too much for Eurie. She threw down her fork to clap her
hands in softly glee.
"Oh, Ruthie, Ruthie! How has your dismal castle of favoritism faded!
Yonder is the Queen of American society eating pie at this very instant
with the very fork which did duty on her potato, and here goes the King
of the feast, wiping his lips on his own handkerchief instead of a
It was at this moment, when Ruth's follies and ill humors were rising to
an almost unbearable height, that her higher nature asserted itself, and
shone forth in a rich, full laugh. Then, in much glee and good feeling,
they followed the crowd down the hill to the auditorium.
For the benefit of such poor benighted beings as have never seen
Chautauqua, let me explain that the auditorium was the great temple
where the congregation assembled for united service. Such a grand
temple as it was! The pillars thereof were great solemn trees, with
their green leaves arching overhead in festoons of beauty. I don't know
how many seats there were, nor how many could be accommodated at the
auditorium. Eurie set out to walk up and down the long aisles one day
and count the seats, but she found that which so arrested her attention
before she was half-way down the central aisle that she forgot all about
it, and there was never any time afterward for that work. I mean to tell
you about that day when I get to it. The grand stand was down here in
front of all these seats, spacious and convenient, the pillars thereof
festooned with flags from many nations. The large piano occupied a
central point; the speaker's desk at its feet, in the central of the
stand; the reporters' tables and chairs just below.
"I ought to have one of those chairs," Marion said, as they passed the
convenient little space railed off from the rest of the audience. "Just
as if I were not a real reporter because I write in plain good English,
instead of racing over the paper and making queer little tracks that
only one person in five thousand can read. If I were not the most
modest and retiring of mortals I would go boldly up and claim a seat."
"What is to be next?" Ruth asked. "Are we supposed to be devoted to all
these meetings? I thought we were only going to one now and then. We
won't be alive in two weeks from now if we pin ourselves down here."
"In the way that we have been doing," chimed in Eurie. "Just think here
we have been to every single meeting they have had yet, except the one
last night and one this morning."
"We are going to skip every one that we possibly can," said Marion. "But
the one that is to come just now is decidedly the one that we can't. The
speaker is Dr. Calkins, of Buffalo. I heard him four years ago, and it
is one of the few sermons that I remember to this day. I always said if
I ever had another chance I should certainly hear him again. I like his
subject this afternoon, too. It is appropriate to my condition."
"What is the subject?" Flossy asked, with a sudden glow of interest.
"It is what a Christian can learn from a heathen. I'm the heathen, and
I presume Dr Calkins is the Christian. So he is to see what he can learn
from me, I take it, and naturally I am anxious to know. Flossy isn't
interested in that; I can see it from her face. She knows she isn't a
heathen--she is a good proper little Christian. But it is your duty, my
dear, to find what you can learn from me."
"What can he possibly make of such a subject as that?" Ruth asked,
curiously. "I don't believe I want to hear him. Is he so very talented,
"I don't know. Haven't the least idea whether he is what you call
talented or not. He says things exactly as though he knew they were so,
and for the time being he makes you feel as though you were a perfect
simpleton for not knowing it, too."
"And you like to be made to feel like a 'perfect simpleton?' Is that the
reason you resolved to hear him again?"
"I like to meet a man once in a while who knows how to do it, and for
the matter of that I wouldn't mind being made to feel the truth of the
things that he says, if one could only _stay_ made. It isn't the fault
of the preaching that it all feels like a pretty story and nothing else;
it is the fault of the wretched practicing that the sheep go home and
do. It makes one feel like being an out-and-out goat, and done with it,
instead of being such a perfect idiot of a sheep."
At this point the talk suddenly ceased, for the leaders began to
assemble, and the service commenced. Ruth and Marion exchanged comic
glances when they discovered the "heathen" of the afternoon to be
Socrates. And Marion presently whispered that she was evidently to play
the character of the old fellow's wife, and Eurie whispered to them
"Now I want to know if that horrid Zantippe was Socrates' wife! Upon my
word I never knew it before. She wasn't to blame, after all, for being
such a wretch."
"What do you mean?" Marion whispered back, with scornful eyes. "Socrates
was the grandest old man that ever lived."
"Pooh! He wasn't. He didn't know any more than little mites of
Sunday-school children do nowdays. I never could understand why his
philosophy was so remarkable, only that he lived in a heathen country
and got ahead of all the rest, but if he were living now he would be a
"I wish he were," Marion said, with her eyes still flashing. "I would
like to see such a life as he lived."
This girl was a hero worshiper. Her cheeks could burn and her eyes glow
over the grand stories of old heathen characters, and she could melt to
tears over their trials and wrongs. And yet she passed by in haughty
silence the sublime life that of all others is the only perfect one on
record, and she had no tears to shed over the shameful and pitiful story
of the cross. What a strange girl she was! I wonder if it be possible
that there are any others like her?
"AT EVENING TIME IT SHALL BE BRIGHT."
Meantime Flossy Shipley came to no place where her heart could rest. She
went through that first day at Chautauqua in a sort of maze, hearing and
yet not hearing, and longing in her very soul for something that she did
not hear--that is, she did not hear it distinctly and fairly stated, so
that she could grasp it and act upon it; and yet it was shadowed all
around her, and hinted at in every word that was uttered, so that it was
impossible to forget that there was a great something in which the most
of these people were eagerly interested, and which was sealed to her.
She felt it dimly all the while that Dr. Eggleston was speaking; she
felt it sensibly when they sang; she felt it in the chance words that
caught her ear on every side as the meeting closed--bright, fresh words
of greeting, of gladness, of satisfaction, but every one of them
containing a ring that she could hear but not copy. What did it mean?
And, above all, why did she care what it meant, when she had been happy
all her life before without knowing or thinking anything about it?
As they went down the hill to dinner, she loitered somewhat behind the
others, thinking while they talked. As the throng pressed down around
them there came one whose face she instantly recognized; it belonged to
the young man who had spoken to her on the boat the evening before. The
face recalled the earnest words that he had spoken, and the tone of
restful satisfaction in which they were spoken. His face wore the same
look now--interested, alert, but _at rest_. She coveted rest. It was
clear that he also recognized her, and something in her wistful eyes
recalled the words _she_ had spoken.
"Have you found the Father's presence yet?" he asked, with a reverent
tone to his voice when he said "the Father," and yet with such evident
trust and love that the tears started to her eyes.
She answered quickly:
"No, I haven't. I cannot feel that he is my Father."
They went down the steps just then, and the crowd rushed in between
them, so that neither knew what had become of the other; only that
chance meeting; he might never see her again. Chautauqua was peculiarly
a place where people met for a moment, then lost each other, perhaps for
all the rest of the time.
"I may never see her again," Evan Roberts thought, "but I am glad that I
said a word to her. I hope in my soul that she will let Him find her."
If Flossy could have heard this unspoken sentence she would have
marveled. "Let Him find her!" Why, she was dimly conscious that she was
seeking for Him, but no such thought had presented itself as that God
was really seeking after her.
She went on, still falling behind, and trying to hide the rush of
feeling that the simple question had called forth. She was very quiet
at the dinner table; she was oblivious to steel forks or the want of
spoons; these things that had hitherto filled her life and looked of
importance to her had strangely dwindled; she was miserably
disappointed; she had looked forward to Chautauqua as a place where she
could have such a "nice" time. That word "nice" was a favorite with her,
and surely no one could be having a more wretched time than this; and it
was not the rain, either, over which she had been miserable all day
yesterday, nor her cashmere dress; she didn't care in the least now
whether it cleared or not; and as to her dress, she had torn her silk
twice, and it was sadly drabbled, but she did not even care for that;
she wanted--what? Alas for the daughter of nominally Christian parents,
living among all the privileges of a cultured Christian society, she
_did not know what the wanted_.
Dr. Calkins had one eager listener. If he could have picked out her
earnest, wistful eyes among that crowd of upturned faces he would have
let old Socrates go, and given himself heart and soul to the leading of
this groping soul into the light. As it was he hovered around it,
touching the subject here and there, thrilling her with the
possibilities stretching out before her; but he was thinking of and
talking all the while to those who had reached after and secured this
"something" that to her was still a shadow. Now and then the speaker
brought the quick tears to her eyes as he referred to those who had
followed the teaching of his lips with sympathetic faces and answered
the appeal to their hearts with tears; but her tears were different from
those--they were the tears of a sick soul, longing for light and help.
The entire party ignored the evening meeting. Marion declared that her
brain whirled now, so great had been the mental strain; Ruth was loftily
indifferent to any plan that could be gotten up, and Eurie's wits were
ripe for mischief; Flossy's opinion, of course, was not asked, nobody
deeming it possible that she could have the slightest desire to go to
meeting. In fact, Eurie put their desertion on the ground that Flossy
had been exhausted by the mental effort of the day, and needed to be
cheered and petted. She on her part was silent and wearily indifferent;
she did not know what to do with her heavy heart, and felt that she
might as soon walk down by the lake shore as do anything else; so down
to the shore they went, and gave themselves up to the full enjoyment of
the novel scene--an evening in the woods, great, glowing lights on every
side, great companies of people passing to and fro, boats touching at
the wharves and sending up group after group to the central attraction,
the grand stand; singing, music by thousands of voices ringing down to
them as they loitered under the trees on the rustic seats.
"I declare, it must be nice in heaven for a little while."
It was Eurie who made this somewhat startling discovery and announcement
after a lull had fallen upon their mirth.
"Have you been there to see?" illogically asked Marion, as she threw a
tiny stone into the water and watched the waves quiver and ripple.
"Not quite, but this must be a little piece of it--this music, I mean. I
am almost tempted to make an effort after the real thing. How
exquisitely those voices sound! I'm very certain I should enjoy the
music, whether I should be able to get along with the rest of the
programme or not. What on earth do you suppose they do there all the
"Why, in heaven, of course; that is what I was talking about. I believe
you are half asleep, Flossy Shipley; you mustn't go to sleep out here;
it isn't quite heaven yet, and you will take cold. Honestly, girls,
isn't it a sort of wonderment to you how the people up there can employ
their time? In spite of me I cannot help feeling that it must be rather
stupid; think of never being able to lie down and take a nap!"
"Or read a novel," added Marion. "Isn't that your favorite employment
when you are awake, Eurie? I'm sure I don't know much about the
occupations of the place; I'm not posted; there is nothing about it laid
down in our geography; and, in fact, the people who seem to be expecting
to spend their lives there are unaccountably mum about it. I don't at
this moment remember hearing any one ever express a downright opinion,
and I have always thought it rather queer. I asked Nellie Wheden about
it one day when she was going on about her expected tour in Europe. She
had bored me to death, making me produce all my geographic and historic
lore for her benefit; and suddenly I thought of an expedient for giving
myself a little peace and a chance to talk about something else. 'Come,
Nellie,' I said, 'one good turn deserves another. I have told you
everything I can think of that can possibly be of interest to you about
Europe; now give me some information about the other place where you are
going. You must have laid up a large stock of information in all these
"What on earth did she say?" Ruth asked, curiously, while Eurie was in
great glee over the story.
"She was as puzzled as if I had spoken to her in Greek. 'What in the
world can you be talking about?' she said. 'I'm not going anywhere else
that I know of. My head has been full of Europe for the last year, and I
haven't talked nor thought about any other journey.' Well, I enlightened
her as to her expectations, and what do you think she said? You wouldn't
be able to guess, so I'll tell you. She said I was irreverent, and that
no one who respected religion would ask such questions as that, and she
actually went off in a huff over my wickedness. So, naturally, I have
been chary of trying to get information on such 'reverent' subjects ever
Whereupon all these silly young ladies laughed long and heartily over
this silly talk. Flossy laughed with the rest, partly from the force of
habit and partly because this recital struck her as very foolish. Every
one of them saw its inconsistent side as plainly as though they had been
Christians for years; more plainly, perhaps, for it is very strange what
blinded eyes we can get under certain systems of living the religious
Presently the society of these young ladies palled upon themselves, and
they agreed one with another that they had been very silly not to go to
meeting, and that another evening they would at least discover what was
being said before they lost the opportunity for getting seats.
"Stupid set!" said Eurie "who imagined that the crowd would do such a
silly thing as to rush to that meeting, as if there were nothing else
to do but to go flying off for a seat the moment the bell rings? I
thought there would be crowds out here, and we would make some pleasant
acquaintances, and perhaps get a chance to take a boat ride."
And so, in some disgust, they voted to bring the first day at Chautauqua
to a sudden close and try tent life.
Silence and darkness reigned in the tent where our girls had disposed of
themselves. It was two hours since they had come in. It took more than
an hour, and much talking and more laughter, not to mention considerable
grumbling on Ruth's part, before everything was arranged to their
satisfaction--or, as Ruth expressed it, "to their endurance" for the
Three of the girls were sleeping quietly, their fun and their
discontents alike forgotten, but Flossy tossed wearily on her bed,
turned her pillow and turned it back again, and sought in vain for a
quiet spot. With the silence and the darkness her unrest had come upon
her again with tenfold force. She felt no nearer a solution of her
trouble than she had in the morning; in fact, the pain had deepened all
day, and the only definite feeling she had about it now was that she
could not live so; that something must be done; that she must get back
to her home and her old life, where she might hope to forged it all and
be at peace again.
Into the quiet of the night came a firm, manly step, and the movement of
chairs right by her side, so at least it seemed to her. All unused to
tent life as she was a good deal startled she raised herself on one
elbow and looked about her in a frightened way before she realized that
the sounds came from the tent next to theirs. Before her thoughts were
fairly composed they were startled anew; this time with the voice of
Very distinct the words were on this still night air; every sentence as
clear as though it had really been spoken in the same tent. Now, there
was something peculiar in the voice; clearly cut and rounded the words
were, like that of a man very decided, very positive in his views, and
very earnest in his life. There was also a modulation to the syllables
that Flossy could not describe, but that she felt And she knew that she
had heard that voice twice before, once on the boat the evening before
and once as they jostled together in the crowd on their way to dinner.
She felt sorry to be unwittingly a listener to a prayer that the maker
evidently thought was being heard only by his Savior. But she could not
shut out the low and yet wonderfully distinct sentences, and presently
she ceased to wish to, for it became certain that he was praying for
her. He made it very plain. He called her "that young girl who said
to-day that she could not think of thee as her Father; who seems to want
to be led by the hand to thee."
Did you ever hear yourself prayed for by an earnest, reverent, pleading
voice? Then perhaps you know something of Flossy's feelings as she lay
there in the darkness. She had never heard any one pray for her before.
So destitute was she of real friends that she doubted much whether there
were one person living who had ever before earnestly asked God to make
her his child.
That was what this prayer was asking. She lifted the white sleeve of her
gown, and wiped away tear after tear as the pleading voice went on.
Very still she was. It seemed to her that she must not lose a syllable
of the prayer, for here at last was the help she had been seeking,
blindly, and without knowing that she sought, all this long, heavy day.
Help? Yes, plain, clear, simple help. How small a thing it seemed to do!
"Show her her need of thee, blessed Jesus," thus the prayer ran. And oh!
_hadn't_ he showed her that? It flashed over her troubled brain then and
there: "It is Jesus that I need. It is he who can help me. I believe he
can. I believe he is the only one who can." This was her confession of
faith. "Then lead her to ask the help of thee that she needs. Just to
come to thee as the little child would go to her mother, and say,
'Jesus, take me; make me thy child.'" Only that? Was it such a little,
_little_ thing to do? How wonderful!
The praying ceased, and the young man who had remembered the stranger to
whom God had given him a chance to speak during the day, all unconscious
that other ear than God's had heard his words of prayer, laid himself
down to quiet sleep. Flossy lay very still. The rain had ceased during
the afternoon, and now some solemn stars were peeping in through the
chinks in the tent and the earth was moon-lighted. She raised herself on
one elbow and looked around on her companions. How soundly asleep they
Another few minutes of stillness and irresolution. Then a white-robed
figure slipped softly and quietly to the floor and on her knees, and a
low-whispered voice repeated again and again these words:
"Jesus, take me; make me thy child."
It wasn't very long afterward that she lay quietly down on her pillow,
and earth went on exactly as if nothing at all had happened--knew
nothing at all about it--even the sleeper by her side was totally
ignorant of the wonderful tableau that had been acted all about her that
evening. But if Eurie Mitchell could have had one little peep into
heaven just then what _would_ her entranced soul have thought of the
music and the enjoyment there? For what _must_ it be like when there is
"joy in the presence of the angels in heaven"?
The next morning every one of them ran away from the meeting. The way of
it was this: as they came up from breakfast and stood at the tent-door
discussing the question whether they would go to the early meeting, Mrs.
Duane Smithe passed, glanced up at them carelessly, then looked back
curiously, and at last turned and came back to them.
"I beg pardon," she said, "but isn't this Miss Erskine? It surely is! I
thought I recognized your face, but couldn't be sure in these strange
surroundings. And you have a party with you? How delightful! We were
just wishing for more ladies. I really don't think it is going to rain
much to-day, and we have a lovely prospect in view. You must certainly
Then followed introductions and explanations, Mrs. Duane Smithe was a
Saratoga acquaintance of Ruth Erskine, and was _en route_ for Jamestown
for the day.
"Where is Jamestown?" queried Eurie, who was a very useful member of
society, in that she never pretended knowledge that she did not possess,
so that you had only to keep still and listen to the answers that were
made to her questions in order to know a good deal.
"It is at the head of this lovely little lake, or at the foot, I'm sure
I don't know which way to call it, and it is nothing of consequence, of
course, but the ride thither is said to be charming, and we are going to
take a lunch, and picnic in a private way, just for the fun of getting
together, you know, in a more social manner than one can accomplish in
this wilderness of people. Isn't it a queer place, Miss Erskine? I am
dying to know how you happened to come here."
Ruth arched her eyebrows.
"I confess it is almost as strange as what brought _you_ here," she
"I can answer that in an instant. I have a ridiculous nephew here, who
thought that a week of meetings from morning to night would be just a
trifle short of paradise, so what did he do but smuggle us all off this
way. I shall find it a bore, of course, and the only way to get through
with it is to have little pleasure excursions like the one we propose
Now you know as much about Mrs. Duane Smithe as though I should write
about her for a week. It is strange how little we have to say before we
have explained to people not only our intellectual but our moral status.
Our girls, you will remember, had as little regard for the meetings as
girls could have, and they had by this time begun to feel themselves in
a strange atmosphere, without acquaintances or gentlemanly attentions,
so it took almost no persuasion at all to induce them to join Mrs.
Smithe's party, composed of two young ladies and four young gentlemen.
It would be difficult to explain to you what a disappointment the
decision to spend the day in frolic, instead of going to the meetings,
was to Flossy. All the morning her heart had been in a great flutter of
happiness over the beautiful day that stretched out before her. To meet
those earnest, eager people again, to hear those hymns, to hear the
voice of prayer all about her, to hear the constant allusions that were
so strange and so saddening to her yesterday, and that now she
understood, how blessed it would be! She had gone about the
bewilderments of her toilet in a tent with a serenely happy face, and
almost unawares had hummed the refrain of a tune that had already shown
itself a favorite at Chautauqua.
"Flossy is like herself this morning," Eurie said, as she heard the
happy little song. "I think she has recovered from her home-sickness."
Tents are not convenient places in which to make private remarks. Flossy
overheard this one and smiled to herself. Yes, she had gotten over her
home-sickness--she had found home. She gave a little exclamation of
dismay as she heard the plannings for the day, and said:
"But, Ruth, what about the meetings?"
"Well," Ruth had said, with her most provokingly nonchalant air, "I
haven't made any inquiry, but I presume they will continue them all day
just the same as if we were here. I don't _think_ they will change the
programme on our account."
And Eurie had added, mischievously:
"Flossy is afraid it is not the aristocratic thing to do, not to stay to
all the meetings."
"Oh, as to that," Mrs. Smithe had said (she was one of those interesting
people who always take remarks seriously), "I assure you it is what the
first people on the ground are doing. Of course none of them would be so
absurd as to think of attending meetings all the time. The brain
wouldn't endure such a strain."
"Of course not," Marion had answered with gravity, "My brain is already
very tired. I think yours must be exhausted."
Flossy meditated a daring resolution to stay behind and take her "rest"
in the way she coveted; but the impossibility of explaining what would
appear to the others as merely an ill-natured freak, and occasion no end
of talk, deterred her, and with slow, reluctant steps she followed the
merry group down to the wharf.
If those people had stopped long enough to think of it, this disposal of
themselves would have had its ludicrous side. Certainly it was a
strange fancy to run away twenty miles with lunches done up in paper in
search of a picnic, when Chautauqua was one great picnic ground,
stretching out before them in beauty and convenience. But the entire
group belonged to that class of people for whom the fancy of the moment,
whatever it may be, has infinite charms.
There was plenty of room on the Colonel Phillips. Very few people were
traveling in that direction.
"It is really queer," the Captain was overheard to say, "to take a party
_away_ from the grounds at this hour of the day."
"What an enthusiastic set of people they are about here," Eurie said to
Mr. Rawson, one of Mrs. Smithe's party, as they paced the deck together.
"The people all talk and act as though there was nowhere to go and
nothing to do but attend those meetings. For my part it is a real relief
to have a change in the programme."
"Do you find it so?" he asked. "Well, now, I don't agree with you. I
think this proceeding is a real bore. My respected aunt is always
getting up absurd freaks, and this is one of them, and the worst one, in
my opinion, that she has had for some time. I wanted to go to those
meetings to-day--some of them, at least. One isn't obliged to be there
every minute. But it looks badly to run away."
Eurie eyed him closely.
"Are you the 'good nephew' that your aunt said thought these meetings
only a step below paradise?" she asked, at last. "I wonder you would
consent to come."
Mr. Rawson flushed deeply.
"I am not the 'good nephew' at all," he said, trying to laugh. "The
'good one' wouldn't come. My aunt tried all her powers of persuasion on
him in vain. But the truth is her eloquence, or her persistence, proved
too much for me, though I don't like the looks of it, and I don't feel
the pleasure of it, and I am afraid I shall make anything but an
agreeable addition to the party. Now that is being frank, isn't it, when
I am walking the deck with a young lady?"
"I don't see why that circumstance should make it a surprising thing
that you are frank. But I am very sorry for you; perhaps you might
prevail on the Captain to put you off now, and let you swim back; you
could get there in time for the sermon. Is there to be a sermon? What
_is_ it you are so anxious to hear?"
"All of it," he said gloomily. "I beg your pardon for being in so
disagreeable a mood; it is defrauding you out of some of your expected
pleasure to have a dismal companion. But as I have commenced by being
frank I may as well continue. I am dissatisfied with myself. I ought not
to have come on this excursion. The truth is, I meant to make Chautauqua
a help to me. I need the help badly enough. I am in the rush and whirl
of business all the time at home. This is the only two weeks in the year
that I am free, and I wanted to make it a great spiritual help to me. I
know very well that merely hovering around in such an atmosphere as that
at Chautauqua is a help to the Christian, and I came with the full
intention of taking in all that I could get of this sort of inspiration,
and it chafes me that so early in the meeting I have been led away
against my inclinations by a little pressure that I might have resisted,
and done no harm to any one. My cousin had the same sort of influence
brought to bear on him, and it had no more effect on him than it would
on a stone."
He stopped, and seemed to give Eurie a chance to answer, but she was not
inclined, and he added, as if he had just thought his words an implied
reproach: "I can understand how, to you young ladies of comparative
leisure, with plenty of time to cultivate the spiritual side of your
natures, it should seem an unnecessary and perhaps a wearisome thing to
attend all these meetings; but you can not understand what it is to be
in the whirl of business life, never having time to think, hardly having
time to pray, and to get away from it all and go to heaven, as it were,
for a fortnight, is something to be coveted by us as a great help."
Once more he waited for Eurie's answer, but it was very different from
what he had seemed to expect.
"You might just as well talk to me in the Greek language; I should
understand quite as well what you have been saying; I don't think _I
have_ any spiritual side to my nature; at least it has never been
cultivated if I have; and Chautauqua to me is just the place in which
to have a good free easy time; go where I like and stay as long as I
like; and for once in my life not be bound by conventional forms. If
heaven is anything like that I shouldn't object to it; but I'm sure your
and my idea of it would differ. There, I've been frank now, and shocked
you, I know. I see it in every line of your face. Poor fellow! I don't
know what you will do, for there isn't a single one of us who has the
least idea what you mean by that sort of talk, unless you have some
young ladies of a different type in your party, and from their manner I
rather doubt it."
She had shocked him. He looked not only pained but puzzled.
"I am very sorry," he stammered. "I mean surprised. Yes, and
disappointed. Of course I am that. I think I had imagined that it was
only Christians who could be attracted to Chautauqua at all; I meant to
come to stay through all the services."
"Your aunt, for instance?" Eurie said, inquiringly.
"My aunt is a Christian," he answered, "and a sincere one, too, though I
see for some reason you don't think so. There are degrees in
Christianity, Miss Mitchell, just as there are in amiability, or
culture, or beauty."
"Mr. Rawson!" called a voice from the other end at this moment, and he
in obedience to the call found Eurie a seat near some of her party and
went away, only stopping to say, in low tones:
"I am sorry it is all 'Greek' to you; you would enjoy understanding it,
I am sure."
It so happened that those two people did not exchange another word
together that day, but Eurie had got her thrust when and where she least
expected it. She had taken it for granted that not a single fanatic was
of their party. In the secret of her wise heart she denominated all the
earnest people at Chautauqua fanatics, and all the half-hearted people
hypocrites. Only she, who stood outside and felt nothing, was sincere
Meantime Marion had undertaken a strange task. Mr. Charlie Flint was the
gentleman who had drawn his chair near her, and said, as he drew a long
"It is exceedingly pleasant to breathe air once more that isn't heavy
with psalm singing I think they are running that thing a little too
steep over there. Who imagined that they were going to have meeting
every minute in the day and evening, and give nobody a chance to
"Have they exhausted you already?" Marion asked. "Let me see, this is
the morning of the second day, is it not?"
"Oh, as to myself, I was exhausted before I commenced it. I am only
speaking a word for the lunatics who think they enjoy it. I am one of
the victims to our cousin's whim. He expects to get me converted here, I
think, or something of that sort."
"I wouldn't be afraid of it," Marion said, in disgust. "I don't believe
there is the least danger."
Mr. Charlie chose to consider this as a compliment, and bowed and
smiled, and said:
"Thanks. Now tell me why, please."
"You don't look like that class of people who are affected in that way."
He was wonderfully interested, and begged at once to know why. Marion
had it in her heart to say, "Because they all look as though they had
some degree of brain as well as body," but even she had a little regard
left for feelings; so she contented herself with saying, savagely:
"Oh, they, as a rule, are the sort of people who think there is
something in life worth doing and planning for, and you look as though
that would be too much trouble."
Now, Mr. Charlie by no means liked to be considered devoid of energy, so
"Oh, you mistake. I think there are several things worth doing. But this
eternal going to meeting, and whining over one's soul, is not to my
"You think that it is more worth your while to take ladies out to ride
and walk, and carry their parasols and muffs for them, and things of
that sort. Since we are made for the purpose of staying here and showing
our fine clothes for all eternity, of course it is foolish to have
anything to do with one's soul, that can only last for a few years or
She hardly realized herself the intense scorn there was in her voice,
and as for Charlie Flint he muttered to himself:
"Upon my word, she is one of them; of the bitterest sort, too! What in
creation is she doing here? Why didn't she stay there and preach?"
HOW THE "FLITTING" ENDED.
As for Ruth Erskine, if she had been asked whether she was enjoying the
day, she would hardly have known what answer to make; she could not even
tell why the excursion was not in every respect all that it had promised
in the morning. She had no realization of how much the atmosphere of the
day before lingered around her, and made her notice the contrast between
the people of yesterday and the people of to-day. Mrs. Smithe, if she
were a Christian, as her nephew insisted, was one of the most
unfortunate specimens of that class for Ruth Erskine to meet; because
she was a woman who entered into pleasure and fashion, and
entertainments of all sorts, with zest and energy and only in matters
of religious interest seemed to lose all life and zeal.
Now Ruth Erskine, calm as a summer morning herself over all matters
pertaining to the souls of people in general, and her own in particular,
was yet exceedingly fond of seeing other people act in a manner that she
chose to consider consistent with their belief; therefore she despised
Mrs. Smithe for what she was pleased to term her "hypocrisy." At the
same time, while at Saratoga, she had quite enjoyed her society. They
rode together on fine mornings, sipped their "Congress" together before
lunch, and attended hops together in the evenings. Now the reason why
Mrs. Smithe's society had so suddenly palled upon her, and the words
that she was pleased to call "conversation" become such vapid things,
Ruth did not know, and did not for one instant attribute to Chautauqua;
and yet that meeting had already stamped its impression upon her. From
serene, indifferent heights she liked to look down upon and admire
earnestness; therefore Chautauqua, despite all her disgust over the
common surroundings and awkward accommodations, had pleased her fancy
and arrested her attention more than she herself realized. It was her
fate to be thrown almost constantly with Mrs. Smithe during the day, and
before the afternoon closed she was surfeited. She heartily wished
herself back to the grounds, and found herself wondering what they were
singing, and whether the service of song was really very interesting.
One episode in her day had interested her, and she could not tell
whether it had most amused or annoyed her. One of their party was
conversing with a gentleman as she came up. She had just time to observe
that he was young and fine-looking, when the two turned to her, and she
was introduced to the stranger.
"You are from Chautauqua?" he said, speaking rapidly and earnestly.
"Grand meeting, isn't it? Going to be better than last year, I think.
Were you there? No? Then you don't know what a treat you are to have.
I'm very sorry to lose to-day. It has been a good day, I know. The
programme was rich; but a matter of business made it necessary to be
away. It is unfortunate for me that I am so near home. If I were two or
three hundred miles away where the business couldn't reach me, I should
get more benefit. Miss Erskine, what is your opinion of the direct
spiritual results of this gathering? I do not mean upon Christians. No
one, of course, can doubt its happy influence upon our hearts and lives.
But I mean, are you hopeful as to the reaching of many of the
unconverted, or do you consider its work chiefly among us?"
Such a volley of words? They fairly poured forth! And the speaker was so
intensely in earnest, and so assured in his use of that word "we," as if
it were a matter that was entirely beyond question that she was one of
the magic "we." She did not know how to set out to work to enlighten
him. In fact, she gave little thought to that part of the matter, but,
instead, fell to wondering what _was_ her idea--whether she did expect
to see results of any sort from the great gathering, and that being the
case, what she expected? "Spiritual results," she said to herself, and a
smile hovered over her face--what _were_ "spiritual results?" She knew
nothing about them. _Were_ there any such things? Eurie Mitchell, had
such a question occurred to her, would have asked it aloud at once and
enjoyed the sense of shocking her auditor. But Ruth did not like to
shock people; she was too much of a lady for that.
"What proportion of that class of people are here, do you think?" she
said, at last. "Are not the most of them professing Christians?"
"Precisely the question that interests me. I should really like to know.
I wonder if there is no way of coming at it? We might call for a rising
vote of all who loved the Lord; could we not? Wouldn't it be a beautiful
sight?--a great army standing up for him! I incline to your opinion that
the most of them are Christians, or at least a large proportion. But I
should very much like to know just how far this idea had touched the
popular heart, so as to call out those who are not on the Lord's side."
"They would simply have come for the fun of the thing, or the novelty of
it," she said, feeling amused again that almost of necessity she was
speaking of herself and using the pronoun "they." What would this
gentleman think if he should bring about that vote of which he spoke and
happen to see her among the seated ones?
"'A wolf in sheep's clothing' he would suppose me to be," she said to
herself. "But I am sure I have not told him that I belong to the 'we' at
all. If he chooses to assume things in that way, it is not my fault."
Apparently he answered both her expressed sentence and her thought:
"I do not think so," he said, earnestly. "I doubt if any have come
simply for fun or for novelty. There are better places in which to
gratify both tastes. I believe there is more actual interest in this
subject, even among the unconverted, than many seem to think. They are
reasonable beings. They must think, and many of them, no doubt, think to
good purpose. It may not be clear even to themselves for what they have
come; But I believe in some instances, to say the least, it will prove
to have been the call of the Spirit."
Again Ruth felt herself forced to smile, not at the earnestness--she
liked that, but there was her party, and she rapidly reviewed
them--Marion, with her calm, composed, skeptical views, indifferent
alike to the Christian or unchristian way of doing things; Eurie, who
lived and breathed for the purpose of having what in wild moments she
called "a high time;" Flossy with her dainty wardrobe, and her dainty
ways, and her indifference to everything that demanded thought or care.
Which of them had been "called by the Spirit"? There was herself, and
for the time she gave a little start. What had _she_ come to Chautauqua
for? After all she was the only one who seemed to be absolutely without
a reason for being there. Marion's avowed intention had been to make
some money; Eurie's to have a free and easy time; Flossy had come as she
did everything else, because "they" did. But now, what about Ruth
Erskine? She was not wont to do as others did, unless it happened to
please her. What had been her motive? It was strange to feel that she
really did not know. What if this strange speaking young man were right,
and she had been singled out by the Spirit of God! The thought gave her
a thrill, not of pleasure, but of absolute, nervous fear. What did she
know of that gracious Spirit? What did she know of Christ? To her there
was no beauty in him. She desired simply to be left alone. She was
silent so long that her companion gave her a very searching review from
under his heavy eyebrows, and then his face suddenly lighted as if he
had solved a problem.
"May I venture to prophesy that you have some friend here whom you would
give much to feel had been drawn here by the very Spirit of God?" He
spoke the words eagerly and with earnestness, but with utmost respect,
and added, "If I am right I will add the name to my list for special
prayer. Do not think me rude, please. I know how pleasant it is to feel
there is a union of desire in prayer. I have enjoyed that help often. We
do not always need to know who those are for whom we pray. God knows
them, and that is the needful thing. Good-evening. I am glad to have met
you. It is pleasant to have additions to our list of fellow-heirs."
How bright his smile was as he said those words! And how thoroughly
manly and yet how strikingly childlike had been his words and his trust!
Ruth watched him as he walked rapidly away to overtake a friend who had
just passed them. Do you remember a certain gentleman, Harold Wayne by
name, who had walked with them, walked especially with Ruth, down to
the depot on the morning of departure, who had toyed with her fan and
complained that he could not imagine what they were going to bury
themselves out there for? Ruth thought of him now, and the contrast
between his lazily exquisite air and drawling words and the fresh,
earnest life that glowed in this young man's veins brought a positive
quiver of disgust over her handsome face. There was no shadow of a smile
upon it now. Instead, she felt a nameless dread. How strange the talk
had been! To what had she committed herself by her silence and his
blunders? _She_ pray for any one! What a queer thing that would be to
do. _She_ anxious that any one should be led by the spirit of God! The
spirit of God frightened her. For whom would this young man pray? Not
certainly for any friend of hers; yet he would put the name of some
stranger in his prayers. He was thoroughly in earnest, and he was the
sort of a man to do just what he said. God, he had said, would
understand whom he meant. For whom would God count those prayers? For
her? And that thought also frightened her.
"They are all lunatics, I verily believe, from the leaders to the
followers," she said in irritation, and then she wished herself at home.
During the remainder of the day she was engaged in trying to shake off
the impression that the stranger had left upon her. Go where she would,
say what she might, and she really exerted herself to be brilliant and
entertaining, there followed her around the memory of those great,
earnest eyes when he said, "I will add the name to my list for special
prayer." What name? He knew hers. He would say, doubtless, "Her friend
for whom she was anxious." But the one to whom he prayed would know
there was no such person. What would _He_ do with that earnest prayer?
For she knew it would be earnest. She was not used to theological mazes,
and if ever a girl was heartily glad when a day of pleasuring was over,
and the boat had touched again at the Chautauqua wharf, it was Ruth
As for Flossy, it so happened that Charlie Flint, after Marion had
startled and disgusted him, sought refuge with her. She was pretty and
dainty, and did not look strong-minded; not in the least as if her
forte was to preach, so he made ready to have a running fire of small
talk with her.
This had been Flossy's power in conversation for several years. He had
judged her rightly there. But do you remember with whom her morning had
commenced? Do you know that all the day thus far she had seemed to
herself to be shadowed by a glorious presence, who walked steadily
beside her, before her, on either hand, to shield, and help and bless?
It was very sweet to Flossy, and she was very happy; happier than she
had ever been in her life. She smiled to herself as the others chatted,
she hummed in undertone the refrain of a hymn that she had caught in a
near tent that morning:
"I am so glad that Jesus loves me."
_Wasn't_ she glad! Was there anything better to find in all this world
than the assurance of this truth? She felt that the thought was large
enough to fill heaven itself. After that, what hope was there for
Charlie Flint and his small talk? Still, he tried it, and if ever he did
hard work it was during that talk. Flossy was sweet and cheery, but
preoccupied. There was a tantalizingly pleasant smile on her face, as if
her thoughts might be full of beauty, but none of them seemed to appear
in her words. She did not flush over his compliments, nor was she
disturbed at his bantering.
He got out of all patience.
"I beg pardon," he said, in his flippantly gallant way, "but I'm
inclined to think you are very selfish; you are having your enjoyment
all to yourself. To judge by the face which you have worn all day your
heart is bubbling over with it, and yet you think about it instead of
giving me a bit."
Flossy looked up with a shy, sweet smile that was very pleasant to see,
and the first blush he had been able to call forth that day glowed on
her cheeks. Was it true? she questioned within herself. Was she being
selfish in this, her new joy? Ought she to try to tell him about it?
Would he understand? and could she speak about such things, anyway? She
didn't know how. She shrank from it, and yet perhaps it would be so
pleasant to him to know. No, on the whole, she did not think it would be
pleasant. They had not talked of the meetings nor of religious matters
at all; but for all that the subtle magnetism that there is about some
people had told her that Charlie Flint would not sympathize in her new
hopes and joys.
Well, if that were so, ought she not all the more to tell him, so that
he might know that to one more person Christ had proved himself a
reality, and not the spiritual fancy that he used to seem to her?
Flossy, you see, was taking long strides that first day of her Christian
experience, and was reaching farther than some Christians reach who have
been practicing for years. Something told her that here was a chance of
witnessing for the one who had just saved her. She thought these
thoughts much more quickly than it has taken me to write them, and then
"Have I been selfish? I do not know but I have. It is all so utterly new
that I hardly know how I am acting; but it is true that my heart has
been as light as a bird's all day. The truth is, I have found a friend
here at Chautauqua who has just satisfied me."
"Have you indeed!" said Mr. Charlie, giving, in spite of his well-bred
effort to quell it, an amused little laugh. And in his heart he said,
"What a ridiculous little mouse she is! I wonder if they have the
wedding day set already, and if she will announce it to me?" Then aloud:
"How very fortunate you have been! I wish I could find a friend so
easily as that! I wonder if I am acquainted with him? Would you mind
telling me his name?"
And then Flossy answered just one word in a low voice that was tremulous
with feeling, and at the same time wonderfully clear, and with a touch
of joy in it that would not be suppressed, "Jesus."
Then it was that the exquisite young fop at her side was utterly
dumbfounded. He could not remember ever before in his life being so
completely taken by surprise and dismay that he had not a word to
answer. But this time he said not a single word. He did not even attempt
an answer, but paced the length of the deck beside her in utter and
confused silence, then abruptly seated her, still in silence, and went
hurriedly away. Flossy, occupied with the rush of feeling that this
first witnessing for the new name called forth, gave little heed to his
manner, and was indifferent to his departure. He was right as to one
thing. Her love was still selfish: it was so new and sweet to her that
it occupied all her heart, and left no room as yet for the outside world
who knew not this friend of hers. They were almost at the dock now, and
the glimmer of the Chautauqua lights was growing into a steady
brightness. As she stood leaning over the boat's side and watching the
play of the silver waves, there brushed past her one who seemed to be
very quietly busy. One hand was full of little leaflets, and he was
dropping one on each chair and stool as he passed. She glanced at the
one nearest her and read the title: "The True Friend," and it brought an
instant flush of brightness to her face to understand those words and
feel that the Friend was hers. Then she glanced at the worker and
recognized his face. He had prayed for her. She could not forget _that_
face. It was plain also that his eyes fell on her. He knew her, and
something in her face prompted the low-toned sentence as be paused
before her: "You have found the Father, I think."
And Flossy, with brightening eyes, answered, quickly, "Yes, I have."
And then the boat touched at the wharf, and the crowd elbowed their way
There were two opinions expressed about that excursion by two gentlemen
as they made their way up the avenue. One of the gentleman was clerical,
and spectacled, and solemn.
"There go a boat-load of excursionists," he said to his companion.
"They come, as likely as not delegates, from some church or
Sabbath-school, and the way they do their work is to go off for a frolic
and be gone all day. I saw them when I left this morning. That is a
specimen of a good deal of the dissipation that is going on here under
the guise of religion. I don't know about it; sometimes I am afraid more
harm than good will be done."
The other speaker was Mr. Charlie Flint, and as he rushed past these two
he said to _his_ companion, "Confound it all! Talk about getting away
from these meetings! It's no use; it can't be done. A fellow might just
as well stay here and run every time the bell rings. I heard more
preaching to-day on this excursion than I did yesterday; and a good deal
more astonishing preaching, too."
Marion gave her hair an energetic twist as she made her toilet the next
morning, and announced her determination.
"This day is to be devoted conscientiously to the legitimate business
that brought me to this region. Yesterday's report will have to be
copied from the Buffalo papers, or made out of my own brain. But I'm
going to work to-day. I have a special interest in the programme for
this morning. The subject for the lecture just suits me."
"What is it?" Eurie asked, yawning, and wishing there was another
picnic in progress. Neither heart nor brain were particularly interested
"Why, it is 'The Press and the Sunday-school.' Of course the press
attracts me, as I intend to belong to the staff when I get through
teaching young ideas."
"But what about the Sunday-school?" Ruth questioned, with a calm voice.
"You can not be expected to have any special interest in that. You never
go to such an institution, do you?"
"I was born and brought up in one. But that isn't the point. The subject
to-day is Sunday-school literature, I take it. The subject is strung
together, 'The Press and the Sunday-school,' without any periods between
them, and I'm exceedingly interested in that, for just as soon as I get
time I'm going to write a Sunday-school book."
This announcement called forth bursts of laughter from all the girls.
"Why not?" Marion said, answering the laugh. "I hope you don't intimate
that I can't do it. I don't know anything easier to do. You just have
to gather together the most improbable set of girls and boys, and rack
your brains for things that they never _did_ do, or _could_ do, or
_ought_ to do, and paste them all together with a little 'good talk,'
and you have your book, as orthodox as possible. Do any of you know
anything about Dr. Walden? He is the speaker. I presume he is as dry as
a stick, and won't give me a single idea that I can weave into my book.
I'm going to begin it right away. Girls, I'm going to put you all in,
only I can't decide which shall be the good one. Flossy, do you suppose
there is enough imagination in me to make you into a book saint? They
always have a saint, you know."
There was a pretty flush on Flossy's cheek, but she answered, brightly:
"You might try, Marion, and I'll engage to practice on the character, if
it is really and truly a good one."
"I had a glimpse of Dr. Walden," Eurie said, answering the question. "He
was pointed out to me yesterday. He looked dignified enough to write a
theological review. _I'm_ not going to hear him. What's the use? I came
for fun, and I'm going in search of it all this day. I have studied the
programme, and there is just one thing that I'm going to attend, and
that is Frank Beard's 'chalk talk.' I know that will be capital, and he
won't bore one with a sermon poked in every two minutes."
So the party divided for the day. Marion and Ruth went to the stand, and
Flossy strayed to a side tent, and what happened to her you shall
presently hear. Eurie wandered at her fancy, and enjoyed a "stupid
time," so she reported.
Marion's pencil moved rapidly over the paper almost as soon as Dr.
Walden commenced, until presently she whispered in dismay to Ruth:
"I do wish he would say something to leave out! This letter will be
fearfully long. How sharp he is, isn't he?"
Then she scribbled again. Ruth had the benefit of many side remarks.
"My!" Marion said, with an accompanying grimace. "What an army of books!
All for Sunday-schools. Three millions given out every Sunday! Does that
seem possible! Brother Hart, I'm afraid you are mistaken. Didn't he say
that was Dr. Hart's estimate, Ruthie? There is certainly a good chance
for mine, if so many are needed every week. I shall have to go right to
work at it. What if I _should_ write one, Ruth, and what if it should
_take_, and all the millions of Sunday-schools want it at once! Just as
likely as not. I am a genius. They never know it until afterward. I
shall certainly put you in, Ruthie, in some form. So you are destined to
"I wish you wouldn't whisper so much," whispered back Ruth. "People are
looking at us in an annoyed way. What is the matter with you, Marion? I
never knew you to run on in such an absurd way. That is bad enough for
"I'm developing," whispered Marion. "It is the 'reflex influence of
Chautauqua' that you hear so much about."
Then she wrote this sentence from Dr. Walden's lips:
"Every author whose books go into the Sabbath-school is as much a
teacher in that school as though he had classes there. A good book is a
book that will aid the teacher in his work of bringing souls to Christ.
I have known the earnest teaching of months to be defeated by one
single volume of the wrong kind being placed in the hands of the
Suddenly Marion sat upright, slipped her pencil and note-book into her
pocket, and wrote no more. A sentence in that address had struck home.
This determination to enter the lists as a writer was not all talk. She
had long ago decided to turn her talents in that direction as the
easiest thing in the line of literature, whither her taste ran. She had
read many of the standard Sunday-school books; read them with amused
eyes and curling lips, and felt entirely conscious that she could match
them in intellectual power and interest, and do nothing remarkable then.
But there rang before her this sentence:
"Every author whose books go into the Sabbath-school is as much a
teacher in that school as though he had classes there." A teacher in the
Sabbath-school! Actually a _teacher_. She had never intended that. She
had no desire to be a hypocrite. She had no desire to lead astray.
_Could_ she write a book that young people ought to bring from the
Sabbath-school with them, and have it say nothing about Christ and
heaven and the Christian life? Surely she could not be a teacher
without teaching of these things. _Must_ she teach them incidentally?
Was saying nothing about them speaking against them? Dr. Walden more
than intimated this.
"After all," she said, speaking to Ruth as the address closed, "I don't
think I shall commence my book yet."
"Oh, because I am sacred." Then, impatiently, after a moment's silence,
during which they changed their seats, "I'm disgusted with Chautauqua!
It is going to spoil me. I feel my ambition oozing out at the ends of my
toes, instead of my fingers as I had designed. Everybody is so awfully
solemn, and has so much to say about eternity, it seems we can't whisper
to each other without starting something that doesn't even end in
eternity. But, wasn't he logical and eloquent?"
"I don't know," Ruth said, absently. And she wondered if Marion knew how
true her words were. Ruth had heard scarcely a word of Dr. Walden's
address since that last whisper, "So you are destined to immortality,
remember." Words spoken in jest, and yet thrilling her through and
through with a solemn meaning. She had always known and always believed
this. She was no skeptic, yet her heart had never taken it in, with a
great throb of anxiety, as it did at that moment. _Was_ she being led of
the Spirit of God?
The two merely changed their positions and looked about them a little,
and then prepared to give attention to the next entertainment, which was
a story from Emily Huntington Miller. Marion was the only one who was in
the least familiar with her, she being the only one who had felt that
absorbing interest in juvenile literature that had led her to keep pace
with the times.
"I'm disposed to listen to _her_ with all due respect and attention,"
she said, as she rearranged herself and got out her note-book. "She is
one of the few people who seem not to have bidden a solemn farewell to
their common sense when they set out to entertain the children. I have
read everything she ever wrote, and liked it, too. I set out to make an
idol of her in my more juvenile days. I used to think that the height of
my ambition would be attained if I could have a long look at her. I'm
going to try it to-day, and see if it satisfies me; though we are such
aspiring and unsatisfied creatures that I strongly suspect I shall go on
reaching out for something else even after _this_ experience."
Very little whispering was done after that for some time. Although
Marion made light of her youthful dreams, there was a strong feeling of
excitement and interest clustering around this first sight of the woman
whose name she had known so long; and something in the fair, sweet face
and cultured voice fascinated and held her, much as she had fancied in
her earlier days would be the case. She frowned when she heard the
request to reporters to "lay aside their pencils." She had meant to earn
laurels by reporting this delicious bit of imagery, set in between the
graver sermons and lectures; but, after all, it was a rest to give
herself up to the uninterrupted enjoyment of taking in every word and
tone--taking it in for her own private benefit. "The Parish of Fair
Haven." How heartily she enjoyed it. The refined and delicate, and yet
keen and intense satire underlying the whole quaint original story, was
of just the nature to hold and captivate her. She was just in the mood
to enjoy it, too. For was it not aimed at that class of people who
awakened her own keenest sense of satire--the so-called "Christian
world"? She did not belong to it, you know; in her own estimation was
entirely without the pale of its sarcasm; stranded on a high and
majestic rock of unbelief in everything, and in a condition to be amused
at the follies of people who played at belief; and treated what they
_played_ was solemn realities as if they were cradle stories or nicely
woven fiction. There was no listener in all that crowd who so enjoyed
the keen play of wit and the sharp home thrusts as did Marion Wilbur.
Ruth was a little undecided what to think; she did not belong to the
class who were hit, to be sure, but her father always gave largely to
missions whenever the solicitor called on him: she had heard his name
mentioned with respect as one of the most benevolent men of the day; she
did not quite like the very low and matter-of-course place which Mrs.
Miller's view of the mission question gave him. According to the people
of Fair Haven, to give one's thousands to the cause was the most
commonplace thing in the world--not to do so was to be an inhuman
wretch. Ruth didn't quite like it--in truth she was just enough within
the circle of modern Christianity to feel herself slightly grazed by the
"It is absurd," she said to Marion as they went up the hill. "What is
the sense in a woman talking in that way? As if people, were they ever
so good and benevolent, could get themselves up in that ridiculous
manner! If we live in the world at all we have to have a little regard
for propriety. I wonder if she thinks one's entire time and money should
be devoted to the heathen?"
Marion answered her with spirit.
"Oh, don't try to apologize for the folly that is going on in this world
in the name of religion! It can't be done, and sensible people only make
fools of themselves if they attempt it. There is nothing plainer or more
impossible to deny than that church-members give and work and pray for
the heathen as though they were a miserable and abominable set of
brutes, who ought to be exterminated from the face of the earth, but
for whom some ridiculous fanatics called 'missionaries' had projected a
wild scheme to do something; and _they_, forsooth, must be kept from
starving somehow, even though they had been unmitigated fools; so the
paltry collections are doled out, with sarcastic undertones about the
'waste of money,' and the sin of missionaries wearing clothes, and
expecting to have things to eat after throwing themselves away. Don't
talk to me! I've been to missionary societies; I know all about it. The
whole system is one that is exactly calculated to make infidels. I
believe Satan got it up, because he knew in just what an abominable way
the dear Christians would go at it, and what a horrid farce they would
make of it all."
"It is a great pity you are not a Christian, Marion. I never come in
contact with any one who understands their duty so thoroughly as you
appear to, and I think you ought to be practicing."
Ruth said this calmly enough. She was not particularly disturbed; she
did not belong to them, you know; but for all that she was remotely
connected with those who did, and was just enough jarred to make her
give this quiet home thrust. Oddly enough it struck Marion as it never
had before, although the same idea had been suggested to her by other
nettled mortals. It was true that she had realized how the practicing
ought to be done, and a vague wish that she _did_ believe in it all, and
could work by their professed standard with _all her soul_, flitted over
Meantime Flossy was being educated. The morning work had touched her
from a different standpoint. She had not heard Dr. Walden; instead she
had wandered into a bit of holy ground. She began by losing her way. It
is one of the easiest things to do at Chautauqua. The avenues cross and
recross in an altogether bewildering manner to one not accustomed to
newly laid-out cities; and just when one imagines himself at the goal
for which he started, lo! there is woods, and nothing else anywhere.
Another attempt patiently followed for an hour has the exasperating
effect of bringing him to the very point from which he started. Such an
experience had Flossy, when by reason of her loitering propensities she
became detached from her party, and tried to find her own way to the
stand. A whole hour of wandering, then a turn into perfect chaos. She
had no more idea where she was than if she had been in the by-ways of
London. Clearly she must inquire the way. She looked about her. It was
queer to be lost in the woods, and yet be surrounded by tents and
people. She stooped and peeped timidly into a tent, the corner of which
was raised to admit air, and from which the sound of voices issued.
"Come in," said a pleasant voice, and the bright-faced hostess arose
from the foot of her bed and came forward with greeting, exactly as
though they had been waiting for Flossy all the morning. "Would you like
to rest? Come right in, we have plenty of room and the most lovely
accommodations," and a silvery laugh accompanied the words, while the
little lady whisked a tin basin from a low stool, and dusting it rapidly
with her handkerchief proffered her guest a seat, with as graceful an
air as though the stool had been an easy-chair upholstered in velvet.
The only other sitting-place, the low bed, was full, there being three
ladies tucked about on it in various stages of restful work, for they
had books and papers strewn about, and each held a pencil poised as if
ready for action at a moment.
"I'm afraid I intrude," Flossy said, sweetly; "but the truth is, I have
lost my friends and my way, and I really am an object of pity, for I
have been wandering up hill and down, till my strength is less than it
"Poor child!" came sympathetically from the bed, spoken by the eldest of
the ladies, while another rapidly improvised a fan out of the
_Sunday-School Times_, and passed it to her.
Meantime Flossy looked about her in secret delight. Something about the
air of the tent and the surroundings, and an indefinite something about
every one of the ladies, told her as plainly as words could have done
that she was among the workers; that she had unwittingly and gracefully
slipped behind the scenes, and had been cordially admitted to one of the
work-shops of Chautauqua; and there were _so_ many things she wanted to
FLOSSY AT SCHOOL.
She hadn't the least idea who they were, but, like an earnest little
diplomatist, she set to work to find out.
"I started for the auditorium," she said. "I wanted to hear Dr. Walden,
but he has had time to make a long speech and get through since I first
started. I think it must be nearly eleven."
"No," they said laughing, "it is only half past ten." Her wanderings had
not been so long as they seemed; but it was hardly worth while to try to
hear anything from him now, she would not be at all likely to get a
seat; and, besides, his time was nearly over. She would better wait and
go down with them in time for Mrs. Miller.
"We were obliged to miss Dr. Walden," the elder lady explained. "We
disliked to very much; probably it was as instructive as anything we
shall get; but we had work that had to be done, so we ran away."
"Do you have to bring work to Chautauqua with you?" Flossy asked, with
insinuating sweetness. "How very busy you must be! I would have tried to
run away from my work for two weeks if I had been you."
The bright little hostess laughed.
"Chautauqua _makes_ work," she said, "and somebody has to get ready for
it. This lady beside me expects an overwhelming Sabbath class here, and
much time has to be given to the lesson. We lesser mortals are
ostensibly going to help her, but in reality we are going to look and
see how she does it."
"Have you found out?" Flossy asked in a little tremor of delight. This
was what she wanted, to know how to do it all.
The lady who had been pointed out as teacher answered her quickly, so
far as her words could be said to be an answer:
"Are you a Sabbath-school teacher?"
"No," Flossy said, flushing and feeling like a naughty child whose
curiosity had led her into mischief. "No, I am not _anything_, but I
want to be; I don't know how to work at all in any way, but I want to
"Are you looking for work to do for the Master?" the same lady asked,
with a sweet cheery voice and smile, not at all as if this were a
subject which she must touch cautiously.
"Yes," Flossy said, her cheeks all in a glow. "She did not know how to
work, she had but just found out that she wanted to; indeed she had but
yesterday known anything of Him."
Then this unusual company of ladies came with one consent and eager eyes
and voices and took her hand, and said how glad they were to welcome her
to the ranks. They knew she would love the work, and the rewards were so
sure and so precious. All this was new and strange and delightful to
Flossy. Then they began each eagerly to tell about their work; they were
all infant or primary class teachers, and all enthusiasts. Who that has
to do with the teaching of little children and attains to any measure of
success but is largely gifted with this same element? They had been
talking over and preparing their lesson together, and they talked it
over again before the bewildered Flossy, who had no idea that there was
such a wonderful story in all the Bible as they were developing out of a
few bare details.
"We had just reached the vital point of the entire lesson," explained
the leader, "the place where every true teacher needs most help; where,
having arranged all her facts and got them in martial order in her
brain, she wants to know the best way of making those facts of practical
_present_ service to the little children who will be before her, and at
this point I think every teacher needs to go to the fountain head for
help. We were just going to pray; you would like, perhaps, to join us
for just a few moments."
"If she wouldn't intrude," Flossy said, timidly, in a tremor of
satisfaction; and then for the first time in her life she bowed with a
company of her own sex, and heard the simple earnest voice of prayer.
The words were startlingly direct and simple, and Flossy, who had been
full of mysterious awe on this question, and who much doubted whether
her timid whispers alone in her tent could have been called prayer, was
reassured and comforted.
If _this_ were prayer, it was simply talking in a sweet, natural voice,
and in the most simple and natural language, with a dear and wise
friend. It was the most quiet and yet the most confident way of asking
for just what one wanted, and nothing more. It was what Flossy needed.
She took long strides in her religious education there on her knees; and
as they went out from that tent and down the hill to the meeting, there
was born in her heart an eager determination to enter the lists as a
Sabbath-school teacher the very first opportunity, and to pray her
lessor into her heart, having done what she could to get it into her
head. If her anxious and well-nigh discouraged pastor could have been
gifted with supernatural and prophetic vision, and could have seen that
resolve, and, looking ahead, the fruit that was to be borne from it, how
would his anxious soul have thanked God and taken courage!
In this mood came Flossy to listen to the story of "The Parish of Fair
Haven," as it flowed down to her in Mrs. Miller's smooth-toned musical
voice. One who comes from her knees to listen is sure to find the seed
if it has been put in. Flossy found hers.
Often in the course of her young life she had been at church and sat in
the attitude of listener while a missionary sermon was preached. She had
heard, perhaps, ten sentences from those sermons, not ten consecutive
sentences, but words scattered here and there through the whole; from
these she had gathered that there was to be a collection taken for the
cause of Missions. Just where the money was to go, and just what was to
be done with it when it arrived, what had been accomplished by
missionary effort, what the Christian world was hoping for in that
direction--all these things Flossy Shipley knew no more about than her
Perhaps it was not strange then, that although abundantly supplied with
pin-money, she had never in her life given anything to the work of
Missions. Not that she would not willingly have deposited some of her
money in the box for whatever use the authorities chose to make of it
had she happened to have any; but young ladies as a rule have been
educated to imagine that there is one day in the week in which their
portmonnaies can be off duty. There being no shopping to be done, no
worsteds to match, no confectionary to tempt what earthly use for money?
So it was locked up at home. This, at least, is the way in which Flossy
Shipley had argued, without knowing that she argued at all.
Now she was looking at things with new eyes; the same things that she
had heard of hundreds of times, but how different they were! What a
remarkable scheme it was, this carrying the story of Jesus to those
miserable ignorant ones, getting them ready for the heaven that had been
made ready for them! The people of "Fair Haven" did not appear to her
like lunatics, as they did to Ruth Erskine. She was not, you will
remember, of the class who had argued this question in their ignorance,
and quieted their consciences with the foolish assertion that the church
collections went to pay secretaries and treasurers and erect splendid
public buildings. She belonged, rather, to that less hopeless class who
had never thought at all. Now, as she listened, her eyes brightened with
feeling and her cheeks glowed. The whole sublime _romance_ of Missions
was being mapped out to her on the face of that quaint allegory, and her
heart responded warmly.
Curiously enough, her first throbs of conscience were not for herself
but for her father. The portly gentleman who occasionally sat at the
head of the Shipley pew, and who certainly never parted company with his
pocket-book on Sabbath or on any other day, did _he_ give liberally to
She could not determine as to the probabilities of the case. He was
counted a liberal man--people liked to come to him to start
subscriptions; but Flossy felt instinctively that a subscription paper
with her father's name leading it was different, someway, from a quiet,
baize-lined box, and no noise nor words. She doubted whether the cause
had been materially helped by him.
She lost some sentences of the story while she planned ways for
interesting her father and securing liberal donations from him; and then
she was suddenly startled back to personality by hearing some astounding
statements from the reader.
"It would be _so_ easy to drop into a household box the price of an
apple, or a paper, or a glass of peanuts, and yet who does it? Why,
there are young ladies who will actually not give two cents a week from
the money that they waste!"
The rich blood mounted in waves to Flossy's forehead. Apples and papers
were not in her line, but _peanuts_! wasn't there a certain stand which
she passed almost daily on her way down town, and did she ever pass it
without indulging in a glass of peanuts? Neither was that the end. Why,
once started on that list, and her wastes were almost numberless. How
fond she was of cream dates, and how expensive they were; and oranges,
the tempting yellow globes were always shining at her from certain
windows as she passed.
Oh, they were just endless, her temptations and her falls in that
direction--only who had ever supposed that there was any harm in this
lavish treatment of herself and of any friends whom she happened to
meet? Yet it was true that she had never given any money at all to the
work of sending the Bible to those who are without it.
"They will not give two cents a week," said Mrs. Miller. It was true:
she had not given "two cents a week," or even two cents a year--she had
simply ignored the existence of such a need for money. True, she had not
been a Christian; but she was surprised to see how little this refuge
"I have been a human being," she told herself, with a flush on her face,
"and I ought to have had sufficient interest in humanity to have wanted
those poor creatures civilized."
But there was another thrust preparing for Flossy. The reader presently
touched upon one item of expenditure common to ladies, namely, kid
gloves; and made the bewildering statement that economy in this matter,
to the degree that needless purchases should be avoided, would treble
the fund in the missionary treasury! It could not be that from among
that sea of faces the speaker had singled out Flossy Shipley, and yet
that is the way it seemed to her. If there was any one expense which
stood out glaringly above another in her list of luxuries it was kid
gloves. They must be absolutely immaculate as to quality, shade and fit,
and she remorselessly consigned them to the waste-bag at the first hint
of rip or change of color. How strange that Mrs. Miller should have
pitched upon just that item, and what an amazing declaration to make
It was very strange, had any one been looking on to observe it, the
manner in which this young girl was being educated. It is doubtful if a
whole year of church work in the regular home routine, listening to the
stated, statistical sermon of her pastor, that sermon which presupposes
so much more knowledge than people possess, would have _begun_ to do for
Flossy what the strange, fanciful, pungent story of "Fair Haven" did.
* * * * *
Before that hour was closed she had settled within her resolute little
heart a plan that should henceforth put her in close communion and
sympathy with mission work--not exactly the plans of operation, except
that kid gloves and peanuts took stern places in the background, but
this was simply the foundation for a resolute system of education,
carried all through her future life.
What a pity it seems sometimes that people cannot read the hearts and
watch the springs of action of those around them. If Mrs. Miller, as
she closed her paper and moved away from the platform, could have seen
the earnest purpose glowing and throbbing in Flossy's heart, and have
known that it was born of words of hers, what a glad and thankful heart
would she have carried back to her tent!
Also, if the much troubled pastor at home could have taken peeps into
the future and seen what Flossy Shipley's resolves would do for
Missions, how glad he would have been!
Perhaps it would be better to lay all the troubles and the tangles down
in the Hand that overrules it all, and say, in peace and restfulness,
"He knoweth the end from the beginning."
When people start out with the express design of having a good time,
irrespective of other people's plans or feelings--in short, with a
general forgetfulness of the existence of others--they are very likely
to find at the close of the day that a failure has been made.
It did not take the entire day to convince Eurie Mitchell that
Chautauqua was not the synonym for absolute, unalloyed _pleasure_. You
will remember that she detached herself from her party in the early
morning, and set out to find pleasure, or, as she phrased it, "fun." She
imagined them to be interchangeable terms. She had not meant to be
deserted, but had hoped to secure Ruth for her companion, she not
having the excuse of wishing to report the meetings to call her to them.
Failing in her, in case she should have a fit of obstinacy, and choose
to attend the meetings, Eurie counted fully upon Flossy as an ally. Much
to her surprise, and no little to her chagrin, Flossy proved decidedly
the more determined of the two. No amount of coaxing--and Eurie even
descended to the employment of that weapon--had the least effect. To be
sure, Flossy presented no more powerful argument than that it did not
look well to come to the meeting and then not attend it. But she carried
her point and left the young searcher for fun with a clear field.
Now fun rarely comes for the searching; it is more likely to spring upon
one unawares. So, though Eurie walked up and down, and stared about her,
and lost herself in the labyrinths of the intersecting paths, and tore
her dress in a thicket, and caught her foot in a bog, to the great
detriment of shoe and temper, she still found not what she was searching
for. Several times she came in sight of the stand; once or twice in
sound of the speaker's voice; but having so determinately carried her
point in the morning, she did not choose to abandon her position and
appear among the listeners, though sorely tempted to do so. She wandered
into several side tents in hope of finding something to distract her
attention; but she only found that which provoked her.
In one of them a young lady and gentleman were bending eagerly over a
book and talking earnestly. They were interesting looking people, and
she hovered near, hoping that she had at last found the "children" who
would "play" with her--a remembrance of one of her nursery stories
coming to her just then, and a ludicrous sense of her resemblance to the
truant boy who spent the long, bright day in the woods searching for one
not too busy to play.
But these two were discussing nothing of more importance than the lesson
for the coming Sabbath; and though she hovered in their vicinity for
some time, she caught only stray words--names of places in the far away
Judean land, that seemed to her like a name in the Arabian Nights; or an
eager dissertation on the different views of eminent commentators on
this or that knotty point; and so engrossed were they in their work
that they bestowed on her only the slightest passing glance, and then
bent over their books.
She went away in disgust. At the next tent half a dozen ladies were
sitting. She halted there. Here at last were some people who, like
herself, were bored with this everlasting meeting, and had escaped to
have a bit of gossip. Who knew but she might creep into the circle and
find pleasant acquaintances? So she drew nearer and listened a moment to
catch the subject under discussion. She heard the voice of prayer; and a
nearer peep showed her that every head was bowed on the seat in front,
and one of the ladies, in a low voice, was asking for enlightenment _on
the lesson for the coming Sabbath_!
"What wonderful lesson can it be that is so fearfully important?" she
muttered, as she plunged recklessly into the mud and made her way in all
haste up the hill without attempting any more tents. "Who ever heard
such an ado made about a Sunday-school lesson? These people all act as
though there was nothing of any consequence anywhere but
Sunday-schools. I guess it is the first time that such a _furor_ was
ever gotten up over teaching a dozen verses to a parcel of children. I
wonder if the people at home ever make such a uproar about the lesson? I
know some teachers who own up, on the way to church, that they don't
know where the lesson is. This must be a peculiar one. I wonder how I
shall contrive to discover where it is? The girls won't know, of course.
With all their boasted going to meeting they know no more about lessons
than I do myself. I would really like to find out. I mean to ask the
next person I meet. It will be in accordance with the fashion of the
place. Think of my walking down Broadway of a sunny morning and stopping
a stranger with the query, 'Will you tell me where the lesson is,
please?'" And at this point Eurie burst into a laugh over the absurdity
of the picture she had conjured.
"But this is not Broadway," she said a moment afterward, "and I mean to
try it. Here comes a man who looks as if he ought to know everything. I
wonder who he is? I've seen his face a dozen times since I have been
here. He led the singing yesterday. Perhaps he knows nothing but sing.
They are not apt to; but his face looks as though he might have a few
other ideas. Anyway, I'll try him, and if he knows nothing about it, he
will go away with a confused impression that I am a very virtuous young
lady, and that he ought to have known all about it; and who knows what
good seed may be sown by my own wicked hand?"
Whereupon she halted before the gentleman who was going with rapid
strides down the hill, and said, in her clearest and most respectful
"Will you be so kind as to tell me where the lesson for next Sabbath
commences? I have forgotten just where it is."
There was no hesitation, no query in his face as to what she was talking
about, or uncertainty as to the answer.
"It is the fifth chapter, from the fifth to the fifteenth verse," he
said, glibly. "All fives, you see. Easy to remember. It is a grand
lesson. Hard to teach, though, because it is all there. Are you a
teacher for next Sunday? You must come to the teachers' meeting
to-morrow morning; you will get good help there. Glorious meeting,
isn't it? I'm so glad you are enjoying it." And away he went.
Every trace of ill-humor had vanished from Eurie's face. Instead, it was
twinkling with laughter.
"The fifth chapter and fifteenth verse" of what? Certainly she had no
more idea than the birds had who twittered above her head. How entirely
certain he had been that of course she knew the general locality of the
lesson. _She_ a teacher and coming to the teachers' meeting for
enlightenment as to how to teach the lesson!
"I wonder who he is?" she said again, as these thoughts flashed through
her brain, and, following out the next impulse that came to her, she
stopped an old gentleman who was walking leisurely down, and said, as
she pointed out her late informant:
"What is that man's name, please? I can't recall it."
"That," said the old gentleman, "is Prof. Sherwin, of Newark. Have you
heard him sing?"
"Well, that is worth hearing; and have you heard him talk?"
"Well, he can talk; you will hear him, and enjoy it, too; see if you
don't. But I'll tell you what it is, young lady, to know him thoroughly
you ought to hear him pray! There is the real power in a man. Let me
know how a man can pray and I'll risk his talking."
Eurie had got much more information now than she had asked for. She
ventured on no more questions, but made all haste to her tent, where,
seated upon a corner of the bed, one foot tucked under her while the
unfortunate shoe tried to dry, she sewed industriously on the zig-zag
tear in her dress, and tried to imagine what she could do next.
Certainly they had long days at Chautauqua. "I shall go to meeting this
afternoon," she said, resolutely, "if they have three sermons, each an
hour long; and what is more, I shall find out where that Sunday-school
The next thing she did was to write a letter to her brother Nellis, a
dashing boy two years her senior and her favorite companion in her
search for pleasure. Here is a copy of the letter:
"DEAR NEL: I wish you were here. Chautauqua isn't so funny as it might
be. There are some things that are done here continually. In the first
place, it rains. Why, you never saw anything like it! It just can't help
it. The sun puts on a bland face and looks glowing intentions, and while
you are congratulating your next neighbor on the prospect, she is
engaged in clutching frantically after her umbrella to save her hat from
the first drops of the new shower. Next, they have meetings, and there
is literally no postponement on account of the weather. It is really
funny to see the way in which the people rush when the bell rings, rain
or shine. Nel, only think of Flossy Shipley going in the rain to hear a
man preach of the 'Influence of the Press,' or something of that sort!
It was good though, worth hearing. I went myself, because, of course,
one must do something, and the frantic fashion of the place is to go to
meeting. At the same time I don't understand Flossy: she is different
from what she ever was at home. I suppose it is the force of the many
shining examples all around her. You know she always was a good little
sheep about following somebody's lead.
"Marion is reporting, and has to be industrious. She is queer, Nel; she
professes infidelity, you know; and you have no idea how mad she gets
over anything that seems to be casting reproach on Christianity (unless
indeed she says it herself, which is often enough, but then she seems to
think it is all right).
"Ruth keeps on the even tenor of her way. It would take an earthquake to
move that girl.
"I have had the greatest fun this morning. I have been mistaken for a
Sabbath-school teacher who had the misfortune to forget at what verse
her lesson commenced! You see I was cultivating new acquaintances, and a
Prof. Sherwin gave me good advice. That and some other things aroused my
curiosity concerning that same lesson, and I am going to find out where
"Did you know that Sunday-school lessons were such remarkable affairs?
The one for next Sunday must comprise the most wonderful portion of
Scripture that there is, for hundreds of people on these grounds are
talking about it, and I stumbled upon a party of ladies this morning who
were actually praying over it!
"Another thing I overheard this morning, which is news to me, that all
the world was at work on the same lesson. That is rather fascinating,
isn't it, to think of so many hundreds and thousands of people all
pitching into the same verses on Sunday morning? It is quite
sentimental, too, or capable of being made so, for instance, by a great
stretch of your imagination. Suppose you and me to be very dear friends,
separated by miles of ocean we will say, and both devoted Sabbath-school
teachers, isn't that a stretch now? Such being the astonishing case,
wouldn't it be pleasant to be at work on the same lesson? Don't you see?
Lets play do it. You look up the lesson for next Sabbath and so will I.
Won't that have all the charm of novelty? Then give me the benefit of
your ideas acquired on that important subject, and I'll do the same to
you. Really, the more I think of it the more the plan delights me. I
wonder how you will carry it out? Shall you go to Sunday-school? What
will the dear Doctor say if he sees you walk into his Bible-class? I
really wish I were there to enjoy the sensation. Meantime I'm going to
look up an altogether wonderful teacher for myself, and then for
comparing notes. My spirits begin to rise, they have been rather damp
all the morning, but I see fun in the distance.
"We are to have a sensation this afternoon in the shape of a troupe of
singers called the Tennesseeans--negroes, you know, and they are to give
slave-cabin songs and the like. I expect to enjoy it thoroughly, but you
ought to see Ruth curl her aristocratic nose at the thought.
"'Such a vulgar idea! and altogether inappropriate to the occasion. She
likes to see things in keeping. If it is a religious gathering let them
keep it such, and not introduce negro minstrels for the sake of calling
a low crowd together, and making a little more money.'
"Marion, too, shoots arrows from her sharp tongue at it, but she rather
enjoys the idea, just as she does every other thing that she chooses to
call inconsistent when she happens to be the one to discover it; but woe
to the one who comments on it further than she chooses to go.
"Flossy and I now look with utmost toleration on the dark element that
is to be introduced. I tell Ruth that I am really grateful to the
authorities for introducing something that a person of my limited
capacities can appreciate, and Flossy, with her sweet little charitable
voice, has 'no doubt they will choose proper things to sing.' That
little mouse is really more agreeable than she ever was in her life; and
I am amazed at it, too. I expected the dear baby would make us all
uncomfortable with her finified whims; but don't you think it is our
lofty Ruth who is decidedly the most disagreeable of our party, save and
This interesting epistle was brought to a sudden close by an
interruption. A gentleman came with rapid steps, and halted before her
tent door, which was tied hospitably back.
"I beg pardon," he said, speaking rapidly, "but this is Miss Rider?"
"It is not," Eurie answered, with promptness at which information he
looked surprised and bewildered.
"Isn't this her tent? I am sorry to trouble you, but I have been sent
in haste for her. She is wanted for a consultation, and I was told I
would find her here. Perhaps I might leave a message with you for her?"
"It certainly isn't her tent," Eurie said, trying to keep down the
desire to laugh, "and I haven't the least idea where she is. I should be
glad to give her your message if I could, but I never saw the lady in my
life, and have no reason to expect that pleasure."
Whereupon her questioner laughed outright.
"That is a dilemma," he said. "I appreciate your feelings, for I am
precisely in the same position; but the lady was described minutely to
me, and I certainly thought I had found her. I am sorry to have
interrupted you," and he bowed himself away.
A new curiosity seized upon Eurie--the desire to see Miss Rider. "She
must be one of them," she soliloquized, falling into Flossy's way of
speaking of the workers at Chautauqua. "He said she was wanted for a
consultation. I wonder if she can be one of those who are to take part
in the primary exercises? She must be young for such prominent work if
she looks like me; but how could he know that since he never saw her?
It is very evident that I am to go to Sunday-school next Sabbath anyhow,
if I never did before, for now I have two items of interest to look
up--a lesson that is in the 'fifth chapter, from the fifth to the
fifteenth verse of _something_,' and a being called 'Miss Rider.'" So
thinking she hastily concluded and folded her letter, ready for the
afternoon mail, without a thought or care as to the seed that she had
been sending away in it, or as to the fruit it might bear; without the
slightest insight into the way she was being led through seeming
mistakes and accidents up to a point that was to influence all her
THE NEW LESSON.
Eurie turned her pillow, thumped the scant feathers into little heaps,
and gave a dismal groan as she laid her head back on it.
"It is very queer," she said, "that as soon as ever I make up my mind to
be orthodox, and go to meeting every time the bell rings, I should be
dumped into a heap on this hard bed with the headache. I haven't had a
touch of it before."
"'The way of transgressors is hard,'" quoted Marion, going on calmly
with her writing. "If you hadn't taken that horrid tramp yesterday
instead of going to meeting like a Christian, you would have been all
"I believe you sit up nights to read your Bible, so as to have verses
to fling at people who are overtaken in any possible trial or
inconvenience. You always have them ready. Didn't you bring it with you,
and don't you prepare a list for each day's use?" This was Eurie's half
merry, half petulant reply to the Bible verse that had been "flung" at
Marion carefully erased a word that seemed to her fastidious taste too
inexpressive before she answered:
"I don't own such an article as a Bible, my child; so your suspicions
are entirely unfounded. My early education was not defective in that
respect, however, and I confess that I find many verses that seem to
very aptly describe the ways of sinful mortals like yourself."
Eurie raised herself on one elbow, regardless of headache and the cloth
wet in vinegar that straightway fell off.
"You don't own a Bible!" she said, in utter surprise, and with a touch
of actual dismay in her voice.
"I am depraved to that degree, my dear little saint. I conclude that you
are more devoutly inclined, and have one of your own. Pray how many
chapters a day do you read in it?"
Eurie lay down again, and Flossy came with the vinegar cloth and bound
it securely on her forehead.
"I don't read in it very often, to be sure," Eurie murmured. "In fact I
suppose I may as well say that I never do. But then I own one, and
always have. I am not a heathen; and really and truly it seems almost
queer not to have a Bible of one's own. It is a sort of mark of
civilization, you know."
Marion laughed good-naturedly.
"I never make a great deal of pretense in that line," she said, gayly.
"As for being a heathen, that is only a relative term. According to Dr.
Calkins, they were more or less in advance of us. I am one of the
'advanced' sort. Ruth, your toilet ought to be nearly completed; I hear
that indefatigable bell."
"You are very foolish not to go this morning and let your writing wait.
We shall be certain to have something worth listening to; it is a
strange time to select for absence." This was Ruth's quiet answer, as
she pinned her lace ruffle with a gleaming little diamond.
"'Diligent in business.' There is another verse for you, my heathen,"
Marion said, with a merry glance toward Eurie. "When you get home and
get the dust of years swept off from your Bible, you take a look at it,
and see if I have not quoted correctly. And a good, sensible verse it
is. I have found it the only way in which to keep my head above water.
Ruthie, the trouble is not with me, it lies with those selfish and
obstinate newspaper men. If they would have the sense to let their
papers wait over another day I could go to the lecture this morning. As
it is, I am a victim to their indifference. If I miss a blessing the sin
will be at _their_ door, not mine."
Eurie opened her heavy eyes and looked at Flossy.
"Come," she said, "don't stand there mopping me in vinegar any longer.
Are you ready? I am really disappointed. I've always wanted to hear that
man. I want to tell Nel about him."
Flossy washed her hands, shook back the yellow curls with an indifferent
and preoccupied air, and went to the door to wait for Ruth. She had
taken no part in the war of words that had been passing between Marion
and Eurie, but she had heard. And like almost everything else that she
heard during these days, it had awakened a new thought and desire.
Flossy was growing amazed at herself. It seemed to her that she must
have spent her seventeen years of life taking long naps, and this
Chautauqua was a stiff breeze from the ocean that was going to shake her
awake. The special thought that had dashed itself at her this morning
was that she, too, had no Bible. Not that she did not own one, elegantly
done in velvet and clasped in gold, so effectually clasped that it had
been sealed to her all her life. She positively had no recollection of
having ever sat down deliberately to read the Bible. She had "looked