Part 4 out of 5
sprite refuses to go! I fancy Marion has been teasing her; you know she
is very susceptible to ridicule, and it suits Marion's fancy to amuse
herself at the expense of those people who weary of Chautauqua. She has
attempted something of the kind on me, but, of course I am indifferent
to any such shafts, having been in the habit of leading, rather than
following, all my life. It seems natural, I suppose, to do so still. I
think well of Chautauqua. It is a good place for people to come who have
not much money to spend, and who like to be in a pleasant place among
pleasant people; and who enjoy fine music, and fine lectures, and all
that sort of thing, and are so trammelled by work and small means at
home that they cannot cultivate these tastes. But, of course, all these
things are no treat to _me_, and I do not hesitate to tell you that I am
bored. There is too much preaching to suit my fancy--not real preaching,
either, for we haven't had what you could call a sermon until to-day,
but _lectures_, which constantly bring the same theme before you.
"Now you are not to conclude from this that I do not believe in
preaching, and Sunday, and all that sort of thing; on the contrary, I
believe more fully in them all than I did before I came. In fact I have
this very afternoon come to a determination which may surprise you, and
which is partly the occasion of my writing this letter, in order that
you may know at once what to expect. Harold, as soon as the season is
over, and I get back home, I am going to unite with the church? Have I
astonished you! I am going to do this from a conviction of duty. You
need not imagine that I have been wrought up to such a pitch of
excitement that I don't know what I am about. I assure you there is
nothing of the kind. I have simply concluded that it is an eminently
proper thing to do. So long as I believe fully in the church and in
religion, and wish to sustain both by my money and my influence, why
should I not say so? That is a very simple and altogether proper way of
saying it, and saves a good deal of troublesome explanation. I wonder
that I haven't thought of it before.
"I do not mind telling you that it was some remarks of Marion's that
first suggested the propriety of this thing to me. You know she is an
infidel and I am not; and she intimated what is true enough, that I
lived exactly as though I thought just as she did; so in thinking it
over I concluded it was true, and that my influence ought to be with the
church in this matter. Now you know, Harold, that with me to decide is
to do; so this is as good as done. I should like it very well if you
choose to come to the same conclusion and unite at the same time that I
do. I am sure Dr. Dennis would be gratified. I don't know why we
shouldn't be willing to have it known where we stand; and I know you
respect the church and trust her as well as I do myself.
"I told Marion to-day 'I did not see how a person with brains could be
an infidel,' or something to that effect--and I _don't_. I think that is
such a silly view to take of life. Just as if everything _could_ come by
chance! And if God did not make everything, who did? I have no patience
with that sort of thing, and I am glad to remember that you have no such
"By the way, are the Arnotts in Saratoga? I hope not, for they are such
fanatics there is no comfort in meeting them, and yet one has to be
"Seems to me you do not enjoy the opera as well as usual, nor the hops
either. What is the matter? Do you really miss me? If there is any such
foolish fancy in your heart as that, prepare to enjoy yourself next
week, for I shall be with you at every one of them after Tuesday. It
will take me until then to get something decent to wear.
"I hear the girls coming up the hill, and I must leave you.
Folding and addressing this epistle with a satisfied air, and still full
of the spirit which had prompted her to write a _religious_ letter,
Ruth, finding that Marion had come in alone, and that Flossy and Eurie
were still loitering up the hill, gave herself the satisfaction of
communicating her change of views.
"I have been thinking a good deal about what you said this afternoon,
Marion, and there is truth in it. I do not think as you do, and I ought
to take some measures to let people know it. I have the most perfect
respect for and confidence in religion, and I mean to prove it by
uniting with the church. I have decided to attend to that matter as soon
as I get home again after the season is over. I am surprised at myself
for not doing so before, for I certainly consider it eminently proper,
in fact a duty."
Now, it was very provoking to have so religious a sentence as this
received in the manner that it was. Marion tilted her stool back against
the bed, and gave herself up to the luxury of a ringing laugh.
"Really," Ruth said, "you have returned from church in a very hilarious
mood; something very funny must have happened; it can not be that
anything in my sentence had to do with your amusement."
"Yes, but it has," squealed Marion, holding her sides and laughing
still. "Oh, Ruthie, Ruthie, you will be the death of me! And so you
think that this is religion! You honestly suppose that standing up in
church and having your name read off constitutes Christianity! Don't do
it, Ruthie; you have never been a hypocrite, and I have always honored
you because you were not. If this is all the religion you can find, go
without it forever and ever, for I tell you there is not a single bit in
Her laughter had utterly ceased, and her voice was solemn in its
"I don't know what you mean in the least," Ruth said, testily. "You are
talking about something of which you know nothing."
"So are you. Oh, Ruthie, so are you! Yes, I know something about it; I
know that you haven't reached the A, B, C, of it. Why, Ruthie, do you
remember that story this afternoon? Do you remember that little boy in
the garret, how he turned his face to the wall and asked God to save
him? Have you done that? Do you honestly think that _you_, Ruth Erskine,
have anything to be saved from? Don't you know the little fellow said,
'_He answered_.' Has He answered you? Why, Ruth, do you never listen to
the church covenant? How does it read: 'That it is eminently fit and
proper for those who believe that God made them to join the church?'
Ruth Erskine, you can never take more solemn vows upon you than you will
have to take if you unite with the church, and I beg you not to do it. I
tell you it means more than that. I had a father who was a member of the
church and he prayed--oh, how he prayed! He was the best man who ever
lived on earth! Every one knew he was good; every one thought he was a
saint; and it seems to me as though I could never love any God who did
not give him a happier lot than he had as a reward for his holy life.
But do you think he thought himself good? I tell you he felt that no one
could be more weak and sinful and in need of saving than he was. Oh, I
know the people who make up churches have more than this in them. _I_
think it is all a deception, but it is a blessed one to have. I know
these people at Chautauqua have it, hundreds of them. I see the same
look in their faces that my father had in his, and if I could only get
the same delusion into my heart I would hug it for my blessed father's
sake; but don't you ever go into the church and subscribe to these
things that they will ask of you until you have felt the same need of
help and the same sense of being helped that they have. If you do, and
there is a God, I would rather stand my chance with him than to have
And Marion seized her hat and rushed out into the night, leaving Ruth
ONE MINUTE'S WORK.
Marion struck out into the darkness, caring little which way she went;
she had rarely been so wrought upon; her veins seemed to glow with fire.
What difference did it make? she asked herself. If there was nothing at
all in it, why not let Ruth amuse herself by joining the church and
playing at religion? It would add to her sense of dignity, and who would
be hurt by it?
There was a difficulty in the way. Turn where she would, it confronted
Marion during these days. There was a solemn haunting "if" that would
not be put down. What _if_ all these things were true? She by no means
felt so assured as she had once done: indeed, the foundations for her
disbelief seemed to have been shaken from under her during the last
Remember, she had never spent a week with Christians before in her life;
not, at least, a week during which she was made to realize all the time
that they were Christians; that they stood on a different platform from
Now, as she tramped about through the darkening woods, meeting
constantly groups of people on their way home from the meeting, hearing
from them snatches of what had been said and sung, she suddenly paused,
and so vivid was the impression that for long afterward she could not
think of it without feeling that a voice must certainly have spoken the
words in her ear. Yet she recognized them as a sentence which had struck
her from Dr. Pierce's sermon in the morning.
"God honors his gospel, even though preached by a bad man; honors it
sometimes to the saving of a soul. But think of a meeting between the
two! the sinner saved and the sinner lost, who was the means of the
other's salvation." It had thrilled Marion at the time, with her old
questioning thrill: What if such a thing were possible! Now it came
She stood perfectly still, all the blood seeming to recede from and
leave her faint with the strange solemnity of the thought! What if she
had this evening been preaching the gospel to Ruth! What if the words of
hers should lead Ruth to think, and to hunt, and to find this light that
those who were not blind--if there were any such--succeeded in finding!
What if, as a result of this, she should go to heaven! and what if it
were true that there was to be a judgment, and they two should meet, and
then and there she should realize that it was because of this evening's
talk that Ruth stood in glory on the other side of the great gulf of
separation! What kind of a feeling would that be?
"Oh, if I only knew," she said aloud, sitting suddenly down on a fallen
log, "if I _only_ knew that any of these things were so! or if I could
only get to imagining that they were, I would take them up and have the
comfort out of them that some of these people seem to get, for I have so
little comfort in my life. It can not be that it is all a farce, such as
Ruth's horrid resolve would lead one to think; that is not the way that
Dr. Vincent feels about it; it is not the way that Dr. Pierce preached
about it this morning; it is not the way that man Bliss sings about it.
There is more to it than that. My father had more than that. If he could
only look down to-night and tell me whether it is so, whether he is safe
and well and perfectly happy. Oh, it seems to me if I could only be
sure, _sure_ beyond a doubt that God did give an eternal heaven to my
father, I could love him forever for doing that, even though there is a
hell and I go to it."
Within the tent they were having talk that would seem to amount to very
little. Even Eurie appeared to be subdued, and to have almost nothing to
say. Ruth was roused from the half stupor of astonishment into which
Marion's unexpected words had thrown her by hearing Flossy say, "Oh,
Ruth, I forgot to tell you something; Mrs. Smythe stopped at the door on
Saturday evening before you came home; her party leave for Saratoga
to-morrow morning, and she wanted to know whether any of us would go
"Did you tell her I was going?" Ruth asked, quickly. It was utterly
distasteful to her to think of having Mrs. Smythe's company. She did not
stop to analyze her feelings; she simply shrank from contact with Mrs.
Smythe and from others who were sure to be of her stamp.
"No," Flossy said, "I did not know what you had decided upon; I said it
was possible that you might want to go, but some one joined us just then
and the conversation changed: I did not think of it again."
"I am glad you didn't," Ruth said, emphatically. "I don't want her
society. I won't go in the morning if I am to be bored with that party;
I would rather wait a week."
"They are going in the morning train," Eurie said; "I heard that tall
man who sometimes leads the singing say so. He said there was quite a
little party to go, among them a party from Clyde, who were _en route_
for Saratoga. That is them, you know; nearly all of them are from Clyde.
'Oh, yes,' the other man said; 'we must expect that. Of course there is
a froth to all these things that must evaporate toward Saratoga, or some
other resort. There is a class of mind that Chautauqua is too much for.'
Think of that, Ruthie, to be considered nothing but froth that is to
"Nonsense!" Ruth said, sharply. She seemed to consider that an
unanswerable argument, and in a sense it is. Nevertheless Eurie's words
had their effect; she began to wish that letter unwritten, and to wish
that she had not said so much about Saratoga, and to wish that there was
some quiet way of changing her plans.
In fact, an utter distaste for Saratoga seemed suddenly to have come
upon her. Conversation palled after this; Marion came in, and the four
made ready for the night in almost absolute silence. The next thing that
occurred was sufficiently startling in its nature to arouse them all. It
was one of those sudden, careless movements that this life of ours is
full of, taking only a moment of time, and involving consequences that
reached away beyond time, and death, and resurrection.
"Eurie," Ruth had said, "where is your head ache bottle that you boast
so much of? I believe I am going to have a sick headache."
"In my satchel," Eurie answered, sleepily. She was already in bed.
"There is a spoon on that box in the corner; take a tea-spoonful."
Another minute of silence, then Eurie suddenly raised her head from the
pillow and looked about her wildly. The dim light of the lamp showed
Ruth, slowly pulling the pins from her hair.
"Did you take it?" she asked, and her voice was full of eager, intense
fright. "Ruth, you didn't _take_ it!"
"Yes, I did, of course. What is the matter with you?"
"It was the wrong bottle. It was the liniment bottle in my satchel. I
forgot. Oh, Ruth, Ruth, what will we do? It is a deadly poison."
Then to have realized the scene that followed you should have been there
to sea. Ruth gave one loud shriek that seemed to re-echo through the
trees, and Eurie's moan was hardly less terrible. Marion sprang out of
bed, and was alert and alive in a moment.
"Ruth, lie down; Eurie, stop groaning and act. What was it? Tell me this
"Oh, I don't _know_ what it was, only he said that ten drops would kill
a person, and she took a tea-spoonful."
"I know where the doctor's cottage is," said Flossy, dressing rapidly.
"I can go for him." And almost as soon as the words were spoken she had
slipped out into the darkness.
Ruth had obeyed the imperative command of Marion and laid herself on the
bed. She was deadly pale, and Eurie, who felt eagerly for her pulse,
felt in vain. Whether it was gone, or whether her excitement was too
great to find it, she did not know. Meantime, Marion fumbled in Flossy's
trunk and came toward them with a bottle.
"Hold the light, Eurie; this is Flossy's hair-oil. I happen to know that
it is harmless, and oil is an antidote for half the poisons in the
world. Ruth, swallow this and keep up courage; we will save you."
Down went the horrid spoonful, and Marion was eagerly at work chafing
her limbs and rubbing her hands, hurrying Eurie meantime who had started
for the hotel in search of help and hot water.
That dreadful fifteen minutes! Not one of them but that thought it was
hours. They never forgot the time when they fought so courageously, and
yet so hopelessly, with death. Ruth did not seem to grow worse, but she
looked ghastly enough for death to have claimed her for his victim; and
Flossy did not return. Eurie came back to report a fire made and water
heating, and seizing a pail was about to start again, when her eye
caught the open satchel, and a bottle quietly reposing there, closely
corked and tied over the top with a bit of kid; she gave a scream as
loud as the first had been.
"What _is_ the matter now?" Marion said. "Eurie, do have a little common
"She didn't take it!" burst forth Eurie. "It is all a mistake. It _was_
the right bottle. Here is the other, corked, just as I put it."
Before this sentence was half concluded Ruth was sitting up in bed, and
Marion, utterly overcome by this sudden revulsion of feeling, was crying
hysterically. There is no use in trying to picture the rest of that
excitement. Suffice it to say that the events of the next hour are not
likely to be forgotten by those who were connected with them. Eurie came
back to her senses first, and met and explained to the people who had
heard the alarm, and were eagerly gathering with offers of help. There
was much talk, and many exclamations of thankfulness and much laughter,
and at last everything was growing quiet again.
"I can not find the doctor," Flossy had reported in despair. "He has
gone to Mayville, but Mr. Roberts will be here in a minute with a
remedy, and he is going right over to Mayville for the doctor."
"Don't let him, I beg," said Marion, who was herself again. "There is
nothing more formidable than a spoonful of your hair-oil. I don't know
but the poor child needs an emetic to get rid of that. Eurie, my dear,
can't you impress it on those dear people that we _don't want_ any hot
water? I hear the fourth pail coming."
It was midnight before this excited group settled down into anything
like quiet. But the strain had been so great, and the relief so
complete, that a sleep so heavy that it was almost a stupor at last held
the tired workers.
Now, what of it all? Why did this foolish mistake of bottles, which
might have been a tragedy, and was nothing but a causeless excitement,
reach so far with its results?
Let me tell you of one to whom sleep did not come. That was the one who
but half an hour before had believed herself face to face with death!
What mattered it to her that it was a mistake, and death no nearer to
her, so far as she knew, than to the rest of the sleeping world?
Death was not annihilated--he was only held at bay. She knew that he
_would_ come, and that there would be no slipping away when his hand
actually grasped hers. She believed in death; she had supposed herself
being drawn into his remorseless grasp. To her the experience, so far as
it had led her, was just as real as though there had been no mistake.
And the result? _She had been afraid_! All her proper resolutions, so
fresh in her mind, made only that very afternoon, had been of no more
help to her than so much foam. She had not so much as remembered in her
hour of terror whether there _was_ a church to join. But that there was
a God, and a judgment, and a Savior, who was not hers, had been as real
and vivid as she thinks it ever can be, even when she stands on the very
Oh, that long night of agony! when she tossed and turned and sought in
vain for an hour of rest. She was afraid to sleep. How like death this
sleeping was! Who could know, when they gave themselves up to the grasp
of this power, that he was not the very death angel himself in disguise,
and would give them no earthly awakening forever?
What should she do? Believe in religion? Yes. She knew it was true. What
then? What had Marion said? Was that all true? Aye, verily it was; she
knew that, too. Had she not stood side by side with death?
The hours went by and the conflict went on. There was a conflict. Her
conscience knew much more than her tongue had given it credit for
knowing that afternoon. Oh, she had seen Christians who had done more
than join the church! She had imagined that that act might have a
mysterious and gradual change on her tastes and feelings, so that some
time in her life, when she was old, and the seasons for her were over,
she might feel differently about a good many things.
But that hour of waiting for the messenger of death, who, she thought,
had called her, had swept away this film. "It is not teaching in
Sunday-school," said her brain. "It is not tract distributing; it is not
sewing societies for the poor; it is not giving or going. It is _none_
of these things, or _any_ of them, or _all_ of them, as the case may be,
and as they come afterward. But _first_ it is this question: Am I my own
mistress? do I belong to myself or to God? will I do as I please or as
he pleases? will I submit my soul to him, and ask him to keep it and to
show me what to do, or when and where to step?"
The night was utterly spent, and the gray dawn of the early sweet summer
morning was breaking into the grove, and still Ruth lay with wide-open
eyes, and thought. A struggle? Oh dear, yes! Such an one as she had
never imagined. That strong will of hers, which had led not only herself
but others, yield it, submit to other leadership, always to question: Is
this right? can I go here? ought I to say that? What a thing to do! But
it involved that; she knew it, felt it. She might have been blind during
the week past, but she was not deaf.
How they surged over her, the sentences from one and another to whom
she had listened! They were not at play, these great men. What did it
mean but that there was a life hidden away, belonging to Christ? She
felt no love in her heart, no longing for love, such as poor little
Flossy had yearned for. She felt instead that she was equal to life;
that the world was sufficient for her; that she wanted the world; but
that the world was at conflict with God, and that she belonged to God,
and that she _should_ give herself utterly into his hands.
Moreover, she knew there was coming a time when the world, and Saratoga,
and the season, with its pleasures, would not do. There was grim
death!--he would come. She could not always get away. He was coming
every hour for somebody around her. She must--yes, she _must_ get ready
for him. It would not do to be surprised again as she had been surprised
last night. It was not becoming in Ruth Erskine to live so that the
sound of death could palsy her limbs and blanch her cheek and make her
shudder with fear. She must get where she could say calmly: "Oh, are
_you_ here? Well, I am ready."
It was just as the sun which was rising in glory forced its smiles in
between the thick leaves of the Chautauqua birds' nests, and set all the
little birds in a twitter of delight, that Ruth raised herself on her
elbow and said aloud, and with the force that comes from a determined
will that has decided something in which there has been a struggle:
"I _will_ do it."
"I'VE BEEN REDEEMED."
"What about Saratoga?" was Eurie's first query as she awoke to life and
talk again on that summer morning. "Do you think you will take the 10:50
Ruth gave nothing more decided than a wan smile in answer, and in her
heart a wonder as to what Eurie would think of her if she could have
known the way in which her night was passed.
"She is more likely to stay in bed," Marion said, looking at her
critically. "You will never think of trying to travel to-day, will you,
Ruth? Dear me! how you look! I have always heard that hair oil was
weakening, but I did not know its effects were so sudden and
disastrous!" And then every one of these silly girls laughed. The
disaster of the night before had reached its irresistibly comic side--to
them. Only Ruth shivered visibly; it was not funny to her.
It was a very eventful day. She by no means relished the character of
invalid that the girls seemed determined ought to be forced upon her and
at the same time she had not the least idea of going to Saratoga.
Strangely enough, that desire seemed to have utterly gone from her. She
had not slept at all, but she arose and dressed herself as usual, with
only one feeling strong upon her, and that was a determination to carry
out the decision to which she had so recently come, and she had not the
least idea how to set to work to carry it out. She went with the rest to
the large tent to hear Mrs. Clark's address to primary class teachers.
"I'm not a primary class teacher, and not likely to be, but I am a
woman, and gifted with the natural curiosity of that sex to know what a
woman may have to say in so big a place as this. I don't see how she
dares to peep." This was Eurie's explanation of her desire to go to the
Ruth went because to go to meeting seemed to be the wisest way that she
knew of for carrying out her decision, and a good time she had. She had
not imagined that teaching primary classes was such an art, and involved
so much time and brain as it did. She listened eagerly to all Mrs. Clark
had to say; she followed her through the blackboard lessons with
surprise and delight, and she awoke at the close of the hour to the
memory that, although she had been interested as she had not imagined it
possible for her to be on such a theme, she had done nothing toward her
determination to make a Christian of herself, and that she knew no more
how to go to work than before.
"When I _do_ find out how to be one I know I will go to work in the
Sabbath-school; I have changed my mind on that point." This she told
herself softly as they went back to dinner.
It was a strange afternoon to her. She became unable to interest herself
heartily in the public services; her own heart claimed her thought. It
was noticeable also that for the first time Chautauqua chose this day in
which to be metaphysical and scientific, to the exclusion of personal
religion. Not that they were irreligious, not that they for a moment
forgot their position as a great religious gathering; but there was an
absence of that intense personal element in the talk which had so
offended Ruth's taste heretofore, and she missed it.
She wandered aimlessly up and down the aisles, listening to sentences
now and then, and sighing a little. They were eloquent, they were
helpful; she could imagine herself as being in a state to enjoy them
heartily, but just now she wanted nothing so much as to know what to do
in order to give herself a right to membership with that great religious
world. Why should Chautauqua suddenly desert her now when she so much
needed its help?
"If I knew a single one of these Christian people I would certainly ask
them what to do." This she said talking still to herself. She had come
quite away from the meeting, and was down in one of the rustic seats by
the lake side. It struck her as very strange that she had not intimate
acquaintance with a single Christian. She even traveled home and tried
to imagine herself in conversation on this subject with some of her
friends. To whom could she go? Mr. Wayne? Why, he wouldn't understand
her in the least. What a strange letter that was which she wrote him!
Could it be possible that it was written only yesterday? How strange
that she should have suggested to him to unite with the church! How
strange that she should have thought of it herself!
There came a quick step behind her, and a voice said, "Good-evening,
Miss Erskine." She turned and tried to recall the name that belonged to
the face of the young man before her.
"You do not remember me?" he said, inquiringly. "I was of the party who
went to Jamestown on the excursion."
"Oh, Mr. Flint," she said, smiling, and holding out her hand. "I beg
pardon for forgetting; that seems about a month ago."
"So it does to me; we live fast here. Miss Erskine, I have been looking
for your party; I couldn't find them. Isn't Miss Shipley in your tent?
Yes, I thought so. Well, I want to see her very much. I have something
to tell her that I know will give her pleasure. Perhaps you would take a
message for me. I want her to know that since last week, when she told
me of her Friend who had become so dear to her, I have found the truth
of it. He is my Friend now, and I want to thank her for so impressing me
with a desire to know him that I could not give it up."
Ruth looked utterly puzzled. Something in the young man's reverent tone,
when he used the word "Friend," suggested that he could mean only the
Friend for whom she herself was in looking; and yet--Flossy Shipley!
What had _she_ to do with him?
"Do you mean," she said, hesitatingly, and yet eagerly, for if he indeed
meant that here was one for whom she had been looking; "do you mean that
you have become a Christian?"
"It is such a new experience," he said, his face flushing, "that I have
hardly dared to call myself by that name; but if to be a Christian means
to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and to have given one's self, body and
soul, to his service, why then I am assuredly a Christian."
This was it. There was no time to be lost. She had spent one night of
horror, she could not endure another, and the day was drawing to its
end. To be sure she felt no terror now, but the night might bring it
"How did you do it?" she asked, simply. "How?" The very simplicity of
the question puzzled him. "Why, I just gave myself up to his keeping; I
resolved to take a new road and follow only where he led. Miss Shipley
was the one who first made me think seriously about this matter; and
then I went to the service that evening, and everything that was said
and sung, was said and sung right at me. I was just forced into the
belief that I had been a fool, and I wanted to be something else."
"Miss Shipley!" Ruth said, brought back by that name to the wonderment.
"You are mistaken. You can not mean Flossy. She isn't a Christian at
all. She never so much as thinks of such things."
"Oh, _you_ are mistaken." He said it eagerly and positively. "On the
contrary, she is the most earnest and straightforward little Christian
that I ever met in my life. Why, I never had anything so come to my soul
as that little sentence that she said about having found a _Friend_.' I
know it is the same one. I have seen her with you since, but not near
enough to address. Her name is Flossy; I heard her called so that day on
"Flossy!" Ruth said it again, in a bewildering tone, and rising as she
spoke. "I am going to find her; I want to understand this mystery. I
will give her your message, Mr. Flint, but I think there is a mistake."
Saying which she bade him a hasty good-afternoon, for the flutter of a
scarlet shawl had reached her eyes. No one but Flossy wore such a wrap
as that. She wanted to see her at once, and she _didn't_ want Mr.
Charlie Flint to be along. She went forward with rapid steps to meet
her, and slipping an arm within hers, they turned and went slowly back
over the mossy path.
"Flossy, I want you to tell me something. I have heard something so
strange; I think it is not so, but you can tell me. I want to know if
you think you are a Christian?"
I wonder if Flossy has any idea, even now, how strangely Ruth's heart
beat as she asked that simple question. It seemed to involve a great
deal to her. She waited for the answer.
There was no hesitation and no indecision about Flossy's answer. Her
cheeks took a pink tint, but her voice was clear.
"I _know_ I am, Ruth. I do not even have to speak with hesitancy. I am
so sure that Christ is my Friend, and I grow so much surer of it every
day, that I can not doubt it any more than I can doubt that I am walking
down this path with you."
And then, again, Ruth's astonishment was in part lost in that absorbing
"How did you get to be one?"
"It is a simple little story," Flossy said. And then she began at the
beginning and told her little bit of experience, fresh in her heart,
dating only a few days back, and full to the brim with peace and
gladness to her.
"But I don't see," Ruth said, perplexed. "I don't find out what to _do_.
I want to be told how to do it, and none of you tell me; you seem to
have just resolved about it, and not _done_ anything. I have gone so far
myself. Such a night as last night was, Flossy! Oh, you can never
And then she told her story, as much of it as _could_ be told; of the
horror and the thick darkness that had enveloped her she could only
What an eager flash there was in Flossy's bright eyes as she listened.
"When you said that!" she began, eagerly, as Ruth paused. "When you
said, 'I will do it.' What then? Did you feel just as you did before?"
"No," Ruth said, "not at all. The night had gone by that time. As I
looked about me I realized that it was daylight, and I fancied that my
feelings were the result of a highly excited state of nerves. But the
resolve was not to be accounted for in any such way. I meant that. The
horror, though, of which I had been telling you was quite gone. It was
as if there had been a fearful storm, with the constant roll of thunder,
and suddenly a calm. I hadn't the least feeling of fear or dread, and I
haven't had all day; but to-night I may have the very same experience."
"No, you will not," Flossy said, her voice aglow with feeling and with
joy. "Oh, Ruthie, Ruthie! There _is_ no night! You have got beyond it. I
tell you, you have come into God's light! And isn't it blessed? You are
a Christian now."
"But," protested Ruth, utterly bewildered, "I do not understand you,
and I don't think you understand yourself. In what way am I different
from what I was yesterday? How can I be lost in God's sight one moment
and accepted the next?"
"Easily; oh, _so_ easily! Don't you see? Why, if I had been coaxing you
for a year to give me something, and you had steadily refused, but if
suddenly you had said to me, 'Yes. I will; I have changed my mind; I
will give it to you,' wouldn't there be a difference? Wouldn't I know
that I was to have it? And couldn't I thank you then, and tell you how
glad I was, just the same as though I had it in my hand? It is a poor
little illustration, Ruthie, but it is true that God has been calling
you all your life, and if you have all the time been saying 'No,' up to
that moment when you said solemnly, meaning it with all your heart, 'I
will,' I tell you it makes a difference."
I can not describe to you how strangely all this sounded to Ruthie. Up
to this moment she had not realized in the least that the Lord was
asking her simply for a decision, and that having solemnly given it,
the work, so far as _she_ was concerned, was done, and the new relations
instantly commenced. She thought it over--that sudden calming of
heart--that sense of resolve--of determination, so strong, and yet so
quiet. She remembered what a strange day it had been. How she had tried
to keep before her mind the horror of the night, and had not been able.
She went on talking with Flossy, telling her about Charlie Flint,
noticing the happy tears that glistened in Flossy's eyes as she received
her message, taking in the murmured words, "To think that Christ would
honor such a feeble little witnessing as that!" and realizing even then
that it would be very blessed to have one say to her, "You have been the
means of leading me to think about this thing." Why should _she_ care,
though, whether people thought about this thing or not? Yesterday she
didn't. During all the talk she kept up this little undertone of
thought, this running commentary on her sudden change of views and
feelings, and wondered, and _wondered_, could it be possible that she
was utterly changed? And yet, when she came to think of it, wasn't she?
Didn't she love Christ? And then it struck her as the strangest thing
in the world _not_ to love him. How could any one be so devoid of heart
as that? Why, a mere man, to have done one-half of what Christ had done
for her, would have received undying love and service.
As they walked they neared the stand, and there came just at that moment
a burst of music, one of those strange, thrilling tunes such as none but
the African race ever sing. The words were familiar, and yet to Ruth
they were new:
"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins,
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood.
Lose all their guilty stains."
A sinner! Was _she_, Ruth Erskine, a sinner? Yesterday she had not liked
it to be called a prodigal. But to-day, oh yes. Was there a greater
sinner to be found than she? How long she had known this story! How long
she had known and believed of a certainty that Jesus Christ lived and
died that she might have salvation, and yet she had never in her life
thanked him for it! Nay, she had spurned and scorned his gift! So much
worse than though she had not believed it at all! For then at least she
could not have been said to have met him with the insult of
Then the chorus swelled out on the still air. Only those who heard it
under the trees at Chautauqua have the least idea how it sounded; only
those who hear it, as Ruth Erskine did, can have the least idea how it
sounded to her.
"I've been redeemed, I've been redeemed!"
Over and over the strain repeated. Now in clear soprano tones, and anon
rolled out from the grand bass voices. And then the swelling unison:
"I've been redeemed--
Been washed in the blood of the Lamb."
The girls had stopped, and almost held their breaths to listen. They
stood in silence while verse after verse with its triumphant swell of
chorus rolled out to them. The great tears gathered slowly in Ruth's
eyes, until, as the last echo died away, she turned to Flossy, and her
voice was clear and triumphant:
"I believe I _have_. Flossy, I believe I have. It is a glorious
thought, and a wonderful one. It almost frightens me. And yet it thrills
me with perfect delight. The fountain is deep enough for us all--for
them and for me. I have 'been redeemed,' and if God will help me I will
never forget it again."
By the next morning it became clear to our girls that a change of
programme was a necessity. Ruth had by no means recovered from her shock
and the sleepless night that followed, and some of the comforts of
invalidism must be found for her. At the same time she utterly
repudiated the idea of Saratoga, which was now urged upon her; it had
lost its charms; neither would she go home.
"I have decided to stay until the _very_ last meeting," she said, with
Flossy laughed softly; she knew what charms Chautauqua had taken on,
but the others supposed it to be a whim, resulting from the ridicule she
had suffered because of the Saratoga scheme.
After many plans were discussed it was finally decided that Flossy and
Ruth should seek quarters at the hotel in Mayville, Ruth coming over to
the meetings only when her strength and her fancy dictated, and having
some of the luxuries of home about her. It seemed to fall naturally to
Flossy's lot to accompany her; indeed, a barrier was in the way of
either of the others being chosen. The hotel arrangement, when one took
into consideration the numerous boat-rides to and from the ground, was
by no means an economical proceeding, and as Flossy and Ruth were the
only ones who were entirely indifferent to the demands of their purses,
it must of necessity be them.
Neither of them was disposed to demur; there had never been much
congeniality between these two, but they had been friendly, and now
there was a subtle bond of sympathy which made them long to be together.
So, during the next morning hours, those two were engaged in packing
their effects and preparing for a flitting to the Mayville House.
Meantime Marion and Eurie, having stood around and looked on until they
were tired, departed in search of something to interest them.
"It is too early for meeting," Marion said. "There is nothing of
interest until 11 o'clock. I'm sorry we missed Mrs. Clark. I like to
look at her and listen to her; she is just bubbling over with
enthusiasm. One can see that she thinks she means it. If I were a
Sunday-school teacher I should be glad I was here, to hear her. I think
it has been about the most helpful thing I have heard thus far; helpful
to those who indulge in that sort of work, I mean."
"I wonder what those normal classes are like?" Eurie said, studying her
programme. "We haven't been to one of those, have we? What do you
suppose they do?"
Marion shrugged her shoulders.
"They are like work," she said. "'Working hours,' they are named; and I
suppose some hard thinking is done. If I didn't have to teach school six
hours out of every day at home I might be tempted to go in and listen to
them; but I came here to play, you see, and to make money; they are not
good to report about. People who stay at home and read the reported
letters don't want to hear anything about the actual _work_; they want
to know who the speaker was and how he looked, and whether his gestures
were graceful, and--if it is a lady--above all, how she was dressed; if
they say anything remarkably sarcastic or irresistibly funny you may
venture to report it, but not otherwise, consequently reporting is easy
work, if you have not too much conscience, because what you didn't see
you can make up."
At the end of this harangue she paused suddenly before a tent, whence
came the sound of a firm and distinct voice.
"What is this?" she said, and then she lifted a bit of the canvas and
peeped in. "I'm going in here, after all," she said, withdrawing her
head and explaining. "This is a normal class, I guess. That man from
Philadelphia--what is his name? Tyler? Yes, that is it--J. Bennet
Tyler--is leading. I like him; I like his voice ever so much; he makes
you hear, whether you want to or not. Then, someway, you get a kind of
a notion that he not only believes what he says but that he _knows_ it
is so, and that is all there is about it. I like to meet such people now
and then, because they are so rare. Generally people act as though you
could coax them out of their notions in about twenty minutes if you
tried--when they are talking about religious subjects, I mean. Obstinacy
is not so rare a trait where other matters are concerned. Let's go in."
"What is the subject this morning?" Eurie asked, following her guide
around to the entrance, somewhat reluctantly. She was in no mood for
shutting herself inside a tent, and being obliged to listen whether she
wanted to or not. But Marion was in one of her positive moods this
morning, and must either be followed or deserted altogether.
Mr. Tyler was reading from a slip of paper as they entered. This was the
sentence he read:
"Difficulties in interpretation which arise from certain mental
peculiarities of the student. Some minds, and not by any means the
strongest or noblest, must always see the _reason_ for everything."
Marion gave Eurie a sagacious nod of the head.
"Don't you see?" she said. "Now, by the peculiar way in which he read
that, he made believe it was _me_ he meant. And, by the way, I'm not
sure but he is correct. I must say that I like a reason for things. But
what right has he to say that _that_ is an indication of a weak mind?"
"He didn't say so," whispered Eurie.
"Oh, yes he did; it amounted to that. There is where his peculiar use of
words comes in. That man has _studied_ words until he handles them as if
they were foot-balls, and were to go exactly where he sent them."
"He is looking this way. The next thing you know he will throw some at
us for whispering."
This was Ernie's attempt to quiet Marion's tongue. That or some other
influence had the desired effect. She whispered no more, and it was
apparent in a very few minutes that she had become intensely interested
in the theme and in the way it was being handled. An eager examination
of the programme disclosed what she began to suspect, that the subject
was, "Difficulties in the Bible." Her intellectual knowledge of the
Bible was considerable; and having read it ever since she could
remember, with the express purpose of finding difficulties, it was not
surprising that she had found them.
Something, either in the leader's manner of drawing out answers, or the
peculiar emphasis with which he contrived to invest certain words, had
the effect to cause Marion to feel as though she had been very
superficial in her reasoning and childish in her objections. She grew
eager her brain, accustomed to work rapidly and follow trains of thought
closely, enjoyed the keen play of thought that was being drawn forth.
But there was more than that; almost unconsciously to herself this
subject was assuming vital proportions to her; she did not even herself
realize the intensity of the cry in her heart, "If I only _knew_ whether
these were so!" Presently the voice which had once before struck her as
being so peculiar in its personality sounded distinctly down the long
"Remember the conditions under which the Bible promise clear
apprehension of the truth."
It chanced--at least that is the way in which we use language--it
chanced that Mr. Tyler's eyes as he repeated these words rested on
Marion. Speaking of it afterward she said:
"So far as the impression made on me was concerned, it was the same as
though he had said: 'Do you understand what an idiot you have been not
to take that cardinal point into consideration at all? Open your Bible
and read, and see how like a weak-minded babe you are.'"
Beside her lay a Bible just dropped by some one who had been called out.
Following out the impulse of the moment she turned to the reference, and
her clear voice gave it distinctly:
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it
be of God or whether I speak of myself."
The effect of this simple, straightforward and reasonable proposition,
on sounding back to her spoken by her own voice, was tremendous. Very
little more of the talk did she hear. A thrust, from God's own sword had
reached her. What a fool she had been! What right had she to presume to
give an opinion before applying the test? Had not the most common-place
statements a right to be tried by their own tests? Yet she had never
given this simple direction a thought.
So this was the Bible promise? "He _shall_ know." Not that these things
are so, but a more logical, more satisfactory statement to the natural
heart. He shall judge for himself whether these things be so; follow the
directions, and then judge by your experiences after that whether these
things be true or false. Could anything be more reasonable?
"I shall never dare to say that I don't believe the Bible again, for
fear some one will ask me whether I have applied the test, and if I have
not what business have I to judge. That man now, if I should come in
contact with him, which I shall endeavor not to do, would be sure to ask
me. He has almost the same as asked it now, before all these people. He
has a mysterious way of making me feel as though he was talking for my
confusion and for nobody else."
This Marion told to herself as she eyed the leader, half sullenly. He
had strangely disturbed her logic and set her refuge in ruins.
"Let's go," she said suddenly to Eurie. "I am tired of this; I have had
enough, and more than enough." But the hour was over, and she had had
all that was to be secured from that source.
All the younger portion of the congregation seemed to be rushing back up
the hill again, and inquiry developed the fact that Mrs. Clark was to
meet the primary workers in the large tent. It was wonderful how many
people chose to consider themselves primary workers? At least they
rushed to this meeting, a great army of them, as though their one object
in life, was to learn how successfully to teach the little ones. Our
girls all met together in the tent. Ruth and Flossy had finished their
preparations, but had concluded to wait until afternoon service.
"I declare if _you_ are not armed with a pencil and paper. Have you been
seized with a mania for taking notes?" This Eurie said to Ruth. "Now I'm
going to get out _my_ note book too. Here is a card--it will hold all I
care to write I dare say. Let me see, who knows but I shall go to
teaching in Sabbath-school one of these days! I am going to make a list
of the things which according to Mrs. Clark, we shall need."
True to her new fancy, she scribbled industriously during the session,
and showed her card with glee as they left the tent.
"I've a complete list," she said. "If any of you go into the business I
can supply you with the names of the necessary tools. Look!
"A picture roll.
"That last item," she said, reflectively, "is the hardest to find. I had
no idea so much of that material was necessary. Now let me see what is
on your papers." This even Marion stoutly resisted. And Flossy quietly
hid hers in her pocket, saying with a smile:
"Mine is simply a list of things needful for such work."
If she had shown her paper it would have astonished Eurie, and it might
have done her good. This was what she had written:
"What I need in order to be a successful teacher.
"Such a forgetfulness of self as shall lead me to think only of the
little ones and their needs.
"Such a love for Christ as shall lead me to long after every little soul
to lead it to him."
As for Marion her paper contained simply this sentence, carefully
written out in German text as if she had deliberated over each letter;
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it
be of God."
They went in a body to hear Dr. Hatfield.
"I want that lecture," Marion said, "'Perils of the Hour.' I'm very
anxious to know what my peril is. I know just what is hovering over
every one of you, but I can't quite make up my mind as to my own state.
Perhaps the distinguished gentleman can help me."
And he did. He had selected for one of the perils that which was
embodied in the following ringing sentence:
"The third peril is the prevelancy of skepticism. A class of scientists
have discovered that there is no God! What the fool said in his _heart_
they proclaimed on the house-top!"
Eurie looked over at her, smiling and mischievous, and said in anything
but a softly whisper, "That means you, my dear."
But Marion did not hear her; she was absorbed in the intense scathing
sentences that followed. Of one thing she presently felt assured, that
whoever was right or whoever was wrong in this matter, Dr. Hatfield
believed with all the intensity of an intense educated intellect that
God ruled. Was it probable that he had met the condition, done his will,
and so _knew_ of the doctrine? That was an hour to be remembered. Eurie
ceased to whisper or to frolic; there was too much intensity, about the
speaker's manner not to claim her attention. She listened as she was not
in the habit of listening. She could give you a detailed account even
now of that hour of thought; so could I, and I am awfully tempted; but,
you see, it is only Tuesday, and the girls have six more days to spend
Both Ruth and Flossy got their crumb to think over. They discussed it at
the hotel that evening.
"I tell you, Flossy, if Dr. Hatfield is correct you and I have
tremendous changes to make in our way of spending the Sabbath; and I
have actually prided myself on the way in which I respected the day!"
And Ruth laughed as if that were so strange a thought, now that it was
hardly possible to think that she could have entertained it.
"I know," Flossy said; "and he can not but be right, for he proved his
position. I am glad I heard that address. But for him, I know I should
never have thought of my influence in some places where I now see I can
use it. Ruth you will be struck with one thing. Now, Chautauqua is like
what Madame C's school might have been, so far as study is concerned.
Every day I have a new lesson, one that startles me so! I feel that
there must be some mistake, or I would have heard of or thought of some
of these things before. And yet they sound so reasonable when you come
to think them over, that presently I am surprised that I have not felt
them before. Ruthie, do you think Eurie and Marion have any interest at
"No," said Ruth, positively, "I know Marion hasn't. It was only the
other evening that she talked more wildly if anything than before."
About this time Marion, alone in her tent, said again, as she had said a
dozen times during the last few days: "If I _only knew_!" And this time
she added, "If I only knew _how_ to know!"
SERMONS IN CHALK.
Now, see here, Marion Wilbur, wake up and give me your attention. I want
to make a speech; I've caught the infection. It's queer in a place where
there is so much speech-making done that I can't have a chance to
express my views."
"I'm all attention," Marion answered, turning on her pillow, and giving
Eurie a sleepy stare. "What has moved you to be eloquent? Give me the
"The subject is the reflex influence of preaching! It may have
different effects on different natures. Its effect on mine has been
marked enough. I'm thoroughly surfeited. I don't want to hear another
sermon while I am here, and I don't _mean_ to. They are all sermons. The
subject may be scientific, literary or artistic, and it amounts to the
same thing; they contrive to row around to the same spot from whatever
point they start. Now, I came here for fun, and I'm being literally
cheated out of it. So the application of my remark is, I've learned
since I have been here always to have an application to everything, and
this time it is that I won't go any more. I've studied the programme
carefully, and I have selected just what I am going to do. That Mrs.
Knox has a reception this morning. I've heard about her before; she is
awfully in earnest, and awfully good. Oh, I haven't the least doubt of
it; but, you see, I don't want to be good, nor to have such an
uncomfortable amount of goodness about me."
"She is said to be one of the most successful Sabbath-school teachers
here; and I heard a gentleman say last night that her primary class was
a regular training school for young ladies in Christian work. You know
she has ever so many teachers under her."
"I can't help that. I am not one of them, I am thankful to say. What do
I care whether she is successful or not? That won't help me any. I know
all about her. They say the young ladies in her classes are invariably
converted before they have been under her influence long. So if you want
to be converted you have only to go to Elmira and join her class; but as
for me, I am not in the mood for that experience yet, and I am not going
"What _are_ you going to do then?"
"Just what I please! That is what I came for. Just think of the
absurdity of we four girls rushing to meeting at the rate we have been
doing for the last week. What do you suppose the people at home would
think of us? Why, I didn't expect to hear any of their sermons when I
came. I as good as promised Flossy that I would frolic about with her
all the time, and now the absurd little dunce acts as if she were under
a wager to be on the ground every time the bell rings! I've declared
off. I can tell you to an item just what I am going to hear. There is a
performance to come off this afternoon some time that I shall be ready
for. I loitered behind the King tent last night, and heard him say so.
That Frank Beard is going to give his chalk talk--caricatures: that I
shall hear, and especially _see_. It will be hard work to poke a sermon
into that. I guess that is to be this afternoon; it is to be some time
soon, anyway, and I shall watch for it. Then there is to be another
extra. Mrs. Miller is going to read a story. I can give you the title of
it. I didn't sit on that horrid stump in the dark listening to Dr.
Vincent for nothing. It is to be 'Three Blind Mice.' Now it stands to
reason that a story with such a title will not be very far above my
intellectual capacity, and it _can't_ very well develop into a sermon,
or close with a prayer-meeting. Then I'm going to the concert by the
Tennesseeans;' their jargon won't hurt me; and, of course, I shall
attend the President's reception. I must have a stare at him--and that
is every solitary meeting I am going to attend. I've heard the last
preaching that I mean to for some time."
Now this was what Eurie Mitchell _said_. Let me tell you a little bit
about what she _thought_. She was by no means so indifferent, nor so
bored as she would have Marion understand. She was by no means in the
state of mind that Ruth had been, or that Marion was. No doubts as to
the general truth of all the vital doctrines of Christianity had ever
troubled her. She accepted without question the belief of the so-called
Christian World. Neither was she bewildered as to what constituted
Christian life. No vague notion that to unite herself with some church
would let her into the charmed circle had ever befogged her brain.
On the contrary, she knew better than many a Christian does just what
the Christian profession involved, and just how narrow a path ought to
be walked by those professing to follow Christ. In proportion to the
keenness of her sarcasm over blundering, stumbling Christians, had her
eyes been open to what they ought to be.
There was just this the matter with Eurie. She knew so well what
religious professions involved that she wanted to make none. She hated
the thought of self-abnegation, of bridling her eager tongue, of going
only where her enlightened conscience said a Christian should go, of
looking out for and calling after others to go with her. She wished
deliberately to ignore it all. Not forever, she would have been shocked
at the thought. Some time she meant to give intense heed to these
things, and then indeed the church should see what a Christian _could_
be! But not now.
There were a hundred things laid down in her programme for the coming
winter that she knew perfectly well were not the things to do or say,
provided she were a Christian, and she deliberately wished to avoid the
fear of becoming one. Just here she was afraid of the influence of
How was it possible to attend these meetings, to listen to these daily,
hourly addresses, teeming either directly or indirectly with the same
thought, personal consecration, without feeling herself drawn within the
circle? She would _not_ be drawn. This was her deliberate conclusion,
therefore her determination.
It was almost well for her that she could not realize on what fearfully
dangerous ground she was treading! I wonder if those over whom the Lord
says, "Let them alone," are ever conscious at the time that the order
has gone forth, and that they are to feel their consciences pressing
home this matter no more?
"Well," said Marion, after turning this resolution over in her mind for
a few minutes, "I dare say you will lose a good many things worth
hearing; but I have nothing to do with that--only I want you to go with
me up to hear Mrs. Knox this morning. I've _got_ to go, for I promised
especially to report her for the teachers at home, and it is stupid to
go alone. _She_ won't preach, and she won't bore you, and I want you to
help me remember items."
So, much against her will, Eurie was coaxed into this departure from her
programme, and came back from the meeting in intense disgust.
"Talk about _her_ not preaching," she said, venting her annoyance on
Marion while she energetically brushed her hair. "Every fold of her
dress preached a sermon! She makes me ache all over, she is so
powerfully in earnest; and didn't she hint what angels of goodness those
girls of hers were--those teachers! I'd like to know how they could be
anything else but good with such an example at hand. Just think, Marion,
of having the brains that that woman has, and the energy and tact and
the skill of a general, and then forcing it into a Sunday-school class
room for the teaching of a hundred little dots that have just tumbled
out of their cradles!"
"Well, if she teaches them to tumble out on the right side so that they
will come up grand men and women, what then? Isn't that an ambition
worthy of her?"
"Stuff and nonsense! Don't you go to preaching. I shall go and drown
myself in the lake if I hear any more of it, and then one worthless
person will be out of the way. But don't you dare to ask me to go and
hear that woman again! I won't give up my plans in life for hers, and
she needn't hint it to me. And, Marion Wilbur, I am not going to listen
to another man or woman who has the least chance to fire words right at
me--now mark my words."
Full of this determination she carried it out during the afternoon,
until the hour for Frank Beard's caricatures; then, secure from fear of
a sermon, she came gayly down and considered herself fortunate to
secure a seat directly in front of the stand and in full view of the
blackboard. If you have never seen Frank Beard make pictures you know
nothing about what a good time she had. They were such funny pictures!
--just a few strokes of the magic crayon and the character described
would seem to start into life before you, and you would feel that you
could almost know what thoughts were passing in the heart of the
creature made of chalk. Eurie looked, and listened, and laughed. The old
deacon who thought the Sunday-school was being glorified too much had
his exact counterpart among her acquaintances, so far as his looks were
concerned. The three troublesome Sunday-school scholars fairly convulsed
her by their life-like appearance. There was the little scamp of a boy
who was revealed by the dozen to any one who took a walk down town
toward the close of the day; the argumentative old man, with his nose
pointing out a flaw in your reasoning or on the keen scent for a
mistake; and the pert fourteen-year-old girl whose very nose, as it
slightly turned upward, showed that she knew more than all the
logicians and theologians in the world.
This entertainment was exactly in Eurie's line. If there was anything in
the world that she was an adept at it was looking up weak points in the
characters of other people; and when the silly girl with but two
ideas--one of them bows and the other beaux--lived and breathed before
her on the blackboard her delight reached its climax.
"She is the very picture of Nettie Arnold!" she whispered to Marion.
"When I go home I mean to tell her that her photograph was displayed at
Chautauqua. She is just vain enough to believe it!"
Still the fun went on. Just a few bold, rapid strokes, and some
caricature breathed before them, so real that the character was guessed
before the explanation was given, and the ground rang with continued and
overpowering roars of laughter.
Into the midst of this entertainment came Dr. Vincent, his face aglow
with the exertion of hearty laughter, every feature of it expressive of
his hearty appreciation of this hour of recreation and yet every
feature alive and alert with a higher and more enduring feeling.
"Frank," he said, laying a friendly hand on the artist's arm, "our time
is almost up. Give us the symbol of the teacher's work."
There was an instant of rapid motion, a few skillful lines, and it
needed no word of explanation to recognize the great family Bible. "Now
the symbol of the teacher's hope," and on one page of the open Bible
there flashed an anchor.
"Now the symbol of his reward," and lo, there rose up before them the
solid wall, built brick by brick. Dr. Vincent's voice was almost husky
with feeling, so suddenly had the play of his emotions changed, as he
said: "Now we want the foundation."
How did Frank Beard do it with a dull colored crayon and a half-dozen
movements of his skillful arm? How can I tell, except that God has given
to the arm wondrous skill; but there appeared before that astonished
multitude a foundation as of granite, and there rose from it, as if
suddenly hewed out before them, a clean-cut solid shaft of gray,
imperishable granite. One more dash of the wondrous crayon and the
shaft was done--a solid cross!
Prof. Sherwin was sitting, for want of a better position, on the floor
of the stand. It was the only available space. He had been looking and
enjoying as only men like Prof. Sherwin can; and now, as he watched the
outgrowth of this wonderful cross, as the last stroke was given that
made it complete, and a sound like a subdued shout of joy and triumph
murmured through the crowd, moved as by a sudden mighty impulse that he
could not control, his splendid voice burst forth in the glorious words:
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me _hide_ myself in Thee."
And that great multitude took it up and rolled the tribute of praise
down those resounding aisles until people bowed themselves, and some of
them wept softly in the very excess of their joy and thanksgiving. It
was all so sudden, so unexpected; yet it was so surely the key-note to
the Chautauqua heart, and fitted in so aptly with their professions and
intentions. They could play for a few minutes--none could do it with
better hearts or more utter enjoyment than these same splendid
leaders--but how surely their hearts turned back to the main thought,
the main work, the main hope, in life and in death.
As for Eurie, she will not be likely to forget that sermon. It almost
overpowered her. There came over her such a sudden and eager longing to
understand the depths from whence such feeling sprung, to rest her feet
on the same foundation, that for the moment her heart gave a great bound
and said: "It is worth all the self-denial and all the change of life
and plans which it would involve. I almost think I want that rather than
anything else." That miserable "almost!" I wonder how many souls it has
shipwrecked? The old story. If Eurie had been familiar with her Bible it
would surely have reminded her of the foolish listener who said, while
he trembled under the truth, "_Almost_ thou persuadest me to be a
Shall I tell you what came in, just then and there, to influence her
decision? It was such a miserable little thing--nothing more than the
remembrance of certain private parties that were a standing institution
among "their set" at home, to meet fortnightly in each other's parlors
for a social dance. Not a ball! oh, no, not at all. These young ladies
did not attend _balls_, unless occasionally a charity ball, when a very
select party was made up. Simply quiet evenings among _special_ friends,
where the special amusement was dancing.
"Dear me!" you say, "I am a Christian, and I don't see anything wrong in
_dancing_. Why, I dance at private parties very often. What was there in
that thought that needed to influence her?"
Oh, well, we are not arguing, you know. This is simply a record of
matters and things as they occurred at Chautauqua. It can hardly be said
to be a story, except as records of real lives of course make stories.
But Eurie was _not_ a Christian, you see; and however foolish it may
have been in her she had picked out dancing as one of the amusements not
fitting to a Christian profession. It is a queer fact, for the cause of
which I do not pretend to account, but if you are curious, and will
investigate this subject, you will find that four fifths of the people
in this world who are not Christiana have tacitly agreed among
themselves that dancing is not an amusement that seems entirely suited
to church-members. If you want to get at the reason for this strange
prejudice, question some of them. Meantime the fact exists that Eurie
felt herself utterly unwilling to give up the leadership of those
fortnightly parties, and that the trivial question actually came in then
and there, while she stood looking at that picture of the cross; and in
proportion as her sudden conviction of desire lost itself in this whirl
of intended amusement did her disgust arise at the thought that she had
been actually betrayed into listening to another sermon!
"THEIR WORKS DO FOLLOW THEM."
Marion went alone to the services the next morning. It was in vain that
she assured Eurie that Miss Morris was going to conduct one of the
normal classes, and that she had heard her spoken of as unusually
sparkling. Eurie shook her head.
"Go and hear her sparkle, then, by all means I won't. Now that's a very
inelegant word to use, but it is expressive, and when _I_ use it you may
know that I mean it; I am tired of the whole story, and I have been
cheated times enough. Look at yesterday! It was a dozen prayer-meetings
combined. No, I don't get caught this morning."
"But the subject is one that will not admit of sermonizing and
prayer-meetings this morning," Marion pleaded; "I am specially
interested in it. It is 'How to win and hold attention.' If there is
anything earthly that a ward school-teacher needs to know it is those
two items. I expect to get practical help."
"You needn't expect anything _earthly_; this crowd have nothing to do
with matters this side of eternity. As for the subject not admitting of
sermonizing, look at the subject of blackboard caricatures. What came of
So she went her way, and Marion, who had seen Miss Morris and had been
attracted, looked her up with earnest work in view. She had an ambition
to be a power in her school-room. Why should not this subject help
The tent was quite full, but she made her way to a corner and secured a
seat. Miss Morris was apparently engaged in introducing herself and
apologizing for her subject.
"I tried to beg off," she said; "I told them that the subject and I had
nothing in common; that I was a primary class teacher, and in that line
lay my work. But there is no sort of use in trying to change Dr.
Vincent's mind about anything, so I had to submit. But for once in my
life I remind myself of Gough. I once overheard him in conversation with
a committee on lectures. They were objecting to having him lecture on
temperance, and pressing him to name some other subject. 'Choose what
subject you please, gentlemen,' he said at last, 'and I'll lecture on
it, but remember what I _say_ will be on temperance.' So they have given
me this subject and I have engaged to take it, but I want you to
remember that what I _say_ will be on primary class-teaching."
By this time Miss Morris had the sympathy of her audience, and had
awakened an interest to see how she would follow out her programme, and
from first to last she held their attention. Certain thoughts glowed
vividly. I don't know who else they influenced, but I knew they roused
and startled Marion, and will have much to do with her future methods of
"Remember," said the speaker, "that you can not live on skim-milk and
teach cream!" The thought embodied in that brief and telling sentence
was as old as time, and Marion had heard it as long ago as she
remembered anything, but it never flashed before her until that moment.
What an illustration! She saw herself teaching her class in botany to
analyze the flowers, to classify them, to tell every minute item
concerning them, and she taught them nothing to say concerning the
Creator. Was this "skim-milk" teaching? She knew so many ways in which,
did she but have this belief concerning heaven, and Christ, and the
judgment, in her heart, she could impress it upon her scholars. She had
aimed to be the very _cream_ of teachers. Was she? She came back from
her reverie, or, rather, her self-questioning, to hear Miss Morris say:
"Why, one move of your hand moves all creation! and as surely does one
thought of your soul grow and spread and roll through the universe. Why,
you can't sit in your room alone, and think a mean thought, or a false
thought, or an unchristian thought, without its influencing not only all
people around you, not only all people in all the universe, but nations
yet unborn must live under the shadow or the glory that the thought
Bold statements these! But Marion could follow her. Intellectually she
was thoroughly posted. Had she not herself used the illustration of the
tiny stream that simpered through the home meadow and went on, and on,
and on, until it helped to surge the beaches of the ocean? But here was
a principle involved that reached beyond the ocean, that ignored time,
that sought after eternity. Was she following the stream? Could she
honestly tell that it might not lead to a judgment that should call her
to account for her non-religious influence over her scholars? Marion was
growing heavy-hearted; she wanted at least to do no harm in the world if
she could do no good. But if all this mountain weight of evidence at
Chautauqua proved anything, it proved that she was living a life of
infidelity, for the influence of which she was to be called into
No sort of use to comfort herself with the thought that she talked of
her peculiar views to no one; it began to be evident that the things
which she did _not_ do were more startling than the things which she
On the whole, no comfort came to her troubled soul through this morning
session. To herself she seemed precisely where she was when she went
into that tent, only perhaps a trifle more impressed with the solemnity
of all things.
But, without knowing it, a great stride had been taken in her education.
She was not again to be able to say: "I injure no one with my belief; I
keep it to myself." "No Man liveth to himself."
The verse came solemnly to her as she went out, as though other than
human voice were reminding her of it, and life began to feel like an
overwhelming responsibility that she could not assume. When one begins
to _feel_ that thought in all its force the next step is to find one who
will assume the responsibility for us. She met Ruth on her way up the
"Flossy has deserted me," Ruth explained as they met; "Eurie carried her
away to take a walk. Are you going to hear about John Knox? I am
interested in him chiefly because of the voice that is to tell of him
to-day; I like Dr. Hurlburt."
Marion's only reply was: "I don't see but you come to meeting quite as
regularly, now that you are at the hotel, as you did when on the
Then they went to secure their seats. I am not to attempt to tell you
anything about the John Knox lecture; indeed I have given over telling
more about the Chautauqua addresses. It is of no sort of use. One only
feels like bemoaning a failure after any attempt to repeat such lectures
as we heard there. Besides, I am chiefly interested at present in their
effect on our girls.
They listened--these two, and enjoyed as people with brains must
necessarily have done. But there was more than that to it; there were
consequences that will surely be met again at the last great day.
Ruth, as she walked thoughtfully away, said to herself: "That is the
way. _Live_ the truth. It is a different day, and the trials and
experiences are different, but _life_ must be the same. It is not the
day for half-way Christianity nor for idling; I will be an earnest
Christian, or I will not dishonor the name and disgrace the memory of
such men as Knox by claiming to be of their faith."
While Marion, as she turned her flushed cheeks hastily away from Ruth,
not willing to show one who knew nothing about this matter, save that
it was expedient to join a church, had gotten one foot set firmly toward
"The power that enabled _that_ man to live _that_ life was certainly of
God," she thought. "It _must_ be true. God must be in communication with
some of the souls that have lived. Is he now, and can I be one of them?
Oh, I wonder if there are a favored few who have shone out as grand
lights in the world and have gone up from the world to their reward? And
I wonder if there is no such thing now? If the blundering creatures who
call themselves by his name are nothing but miserable imitations of what
was _once_ real?
"Such lives as that one can understand; but how can I ever believe that
Deacon Cole's life is molded by the same influence, or, indeed, that
mine can be? Must I be a Deacon Cole Christian if I am one at all?"
The afternoon clouded over, and a mincing little rain began to fall.
Marion stood in the tent door and grumbled over it.
"I wanted to hear that Mr. Hazard," she said; "I rather fancy his face,
and I fancy the name of his subject. I had a curiosity to see what he
would do with it, and here is this rain to hinder."
Ruth and Flossy had come over for the day, and were waiting in the tent.
"Haven't you been at Chautauqua long enough to catch one of its cardinal
rules, never to stay at home for rain?" Flossy said.
Marion looked around at her. She was putting on her rubbers.
"Are you really going?" She asked the question in great surprise. "Why,
Flossy, it is going to rain hard!"
"What of it?" said Flossy, lightly. "I have waterproof, and rubbers, and
umbrella, and if it gets to be too wet I can run to a tent."
"If you were at home you wouldn't think of going to church. Why, Flossy
Shipley, I never knew you to go out in the rain! I thought you were
always afraid you would spoil your clothes."
"That was because I had none already spoiled to wear," Flossy answered,
cheerily; "but that difficulty is obviated; I have spoiled two dresses
since I have been here. This one now is indifferent to the rain, and
will be for the future. I have an improvement on that plan, though; I
mean to have a rainy-day dress as soon as I get home. Come, it is time
we were off."
"I believe I am a dunce," Marion said, slowly. "I think it is going to
rain hard; but as I have to go, at home, whether it rains or shines, I
suppose I can do it here. But if this were a congregation of respectable
city Christians, instead of a set of lunatics, there wouldn't be a dozen
They found hundreds out, however. Indeed, it proved to be difficult to
secure seats. That address was heard under difficulties. In the first
place it _would_ rain; not an out-and-out hearty shower, that would at
once set at rest the attempt to hold an out-door meeting, but an
exasperating little drizzle, enlivened occasionally by a few smart drops
that seemed to hint business. There was a constant putting up of
umbrellas and putting them down again. There was a constant fidgeting
about, and getting up and sitting down again, to let some of the more
nervous ones who had resolved upon a decided rain escape to safer
quarters. Half of the people had their heads twisted around to get a
peep at the sky, to see what the clouds really _did_ mean, anyway.
Our girls had one of the uncomfortable posts. Arrived late, they had to
take what they could get, and it was some distance from the speaker, and
their sight and sound were so marred by the constant changes and the
whirl of umbrellas that Marion presently lost all patience and gave up
the attempt to listen. She would have deserted altogether but for the
look of eager attention on Flossy's face. Despite the annoyances, _she_
was evidently hearing and enjoying. It seemed a pity to disturb her and
suggest a return to the tent; besides, Marion felt half ashamed to do
It was not pleasant to give tacit acknowledgment to the fact that poor
little, unintellectual Flossy was much more interested than herself. She
gave herself up to an old and favorite employment of hers, that of
looking at faces and studying them, when a sudden hush that seemed to be
settling over the hither to fidgety audience arrested her attention.
The speaker's voice was full of pathos, and so quiet had the place
become that every word of his could be distinctly heard. He was
evidently in the midst of a story, the first of which she had not heard.
This was the sentence, as her ears took it up:
"Don't cry, father, don't cry! To-night I shall be with Jesus, and I
will tell him that you did all you could to bring me there!"
What a tribute for a child to give to a father's love! Flossy, with her
cheeks glowing and her eyes shining like stars, quietly wiped away the
tears, and in her heart the resolve grew strong to live so that some
one, dying, could say of her: "I will tell Jesus that you did all you
could to bring me there!"
Do you think that was what the sentence said to Marion? Quick as thought
her life flashed back to that old dingy, weather-beaten house, to that
pale-faced man, with his patched clothing and his gray hairs straggling
over on the coarse pillow. _Her_ father, dying--her one friend, who had
been her memory of love and care all these long years, dying--and these
were the last words his lips had said:
"Don't cry, little girl--father's dear little girl. I am going to Jesus.
I shall be there in a little while. I shall tell him that I tried to
have you come!"
Oh, blessed father! How hard he had tried in his feebleness and weakness
to teach her the way! How sure he had seemed to feel that she would
follow him! And how had she wandered! How far away she was! Oh, blessed
Spirit of God, to seek after her all these years, through all the weak
and foolish mazes of doubt, and indifference, and declared
unbelief--still coming with her down to this afternoon at Chautauqua,
and there renewing to her her father's parting word.
She had often and often thought of these words of her father's. In a
sense, they had been ever present with her. Just why they should come at
this time, bringing such a sense of certainty about them to her very
soul that all this was truth, God's solemn, _real_, unchangeable truth,
and force this conviction upon her in such a way that she was moved to
say, "Whereas I _was_ blind, now I see," I can not tell.
Why Mr. Hazard was used as the instrument of such a revelation of God to
her I can not tell. Perhaps he had prayed that his work at Chautauqua
that rainy afternoon might, in some way, be blessed to the help of some
struggling soul. Perhaps this was the answer to his prayer--unheard,
unseen by him, as many an answer to our pleading is, and yet the answer
as surely comes. Who can tell how this may be. I do not know. I know
this, that Marion's heart gave a great sobbing cry, as it said:
"Oh, father, father! if your God, if your Christ, will help me, I
will--I will _try_ to come."
It was her way of repeating the old cry, "Lord, I believe, help thou
mine unbelief." And I do know that it is written, "Blessed are the dead
which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they
may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." It was
fifteen years that the weary father had been resting from his labors,
and here were his works following him.
I have heard that Mr. Hazard said, as he folded his papers and came down
from the stand that afternoon, "It was useless to try to talk in such a
rain, with the prospect of more every minute. The people could not
listen. It would have been better to have adjourned. Nothing was
accomplished." Much _he_ knew about it, or will know until the day when
the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed!
Meantime, this day, which was to be so fraught with consequences to
Marion, was on Eurie's hands to dispose of as best she could. To be at
Chautauqua, and to be bent on having nothing whatever to do with any of
the Chautauqua life, was in itself a novel position. The more so as she
felt herself quite deserted. The necessity for reporting served Marion
as an excuse for attending even those meetings which she did not report;
and the others having gone to Mayville to live, this foolish sheep, who
was within the fold, and who would not be _of_ it, went wandering
whither she would in search of amusement.
After Marion left her she made her way to the museum, and a pleasant
hour she spent; one could certainly not desire a more attractive spot.
She went hither and thither, handling and admiring the books, the
pictures, the maps, the profusion of curiosities, and, at the end of the
hour, when the press of visitors became too great to make a longer stay
agreeable, she departed well pleased with herself that she had had the
wisdom to choose such a pleasant resort instead of a seat in some
crowded tent as a listener.
Coming out, she walked down the hill, and on and on, watching the crowds
of people who were gathering, and wishing she had a programme that she
might see what the special attraction was that seemed to be drawing so
At last she reached the wharf. The Assembly steamer was lying at her
dock, her jaunty flags flying, and the commotion upon her decks
betokening that she was making ready for a voyage. The crowd seemed
greater there than at any other point. It would appear that the special
attraction was here, after all. She understood it, and pushed nearer, as
the ringing notes of song suddenly rose on the air, and she recognized
the voices of the Tennesseeans.
This was a great treat; she delighted in hearing them. She allowed
herself to be elbowed and jostled by the throng, reaching every moment
by judicious pushing a place where she could not only hear but see, and
where escape was impossible. The jubilant chorus ceased and one of those
weird minor wails, such as their music abounds in, floated tenderly
It was a farewell song, so full of genuine pathos, and so tenderly sung,
that it was in vain to try to listen without a swelling of the throat
and a sense of sadness. Something in the way that the people pressed
nearer to listen suggested to Eurie that it must be designed as a
farewell tribute to somebody, and presently Prof. Sherwin mounted a seat
that served as a platform and gave them a tender informal farewell
address. In every sentence his great, warm heart shone.
"I am going away," he said, "before the blessed season at Chautauqua is
concluded. I am going with a sad heart, for I feel that opportunities
here for work for the Master have been great, and some of them I have
lost. And yet there is light in the sadness, for the work that I can not
do will yet be done. I once sat before my organ improvising a thought
that was in my heart, trying to give expression to it, and I could not.
I knew what I wanted, and I knew it was in my heart, but how to give it
expression I did not know. A celebrated organist came up the stairs and
stood beside me. I looked around to him. 'Can't you take this tune,' I
said, 'just where I leave it, and finish it for me as I have it in my
heart to do? I can't give it utterance. Don't you see what I want?'"
"'Perhaps I do,' he said, and he placed his fingers over my fingers, on
the same keys that mine were touching, and I slipped out of the seat and
back into the shadow, and he slipped into my place, and then the music
rolled forth. My tune, only I could not play it. He was doing it for me.
So, though I may have failed in my work that I have tried to do here,
the great Master is here, and I pray and I hope and I believe that he
will put his grand hand upon my unfinished work and in heaven I shall
meet it completed.'"
What was there in this to move Eurie to tears? She did not know Prof.
Sherwin--that is, she had never been introduced to him--but she had
heard him sing, she had heard him pray, she had met him in the walk and
asked where the Sunday-school lesson was, and he had in part directed
her--directed her in such a way that she had been led to seek further,
and in doing so had met Miss Ryder, and in meeting her had been
interested ever since in studying a Christian life. Was this one of
Prof. Sherwin's unfinished tunes? Would he meet it again in heaven?
A very tender spirit took possession of Eurie--an almost irresistible
longing to know more of this influence, or presence, or whatever name it
should be called, that so moved hearts, and made the friends of a week
say farewell with tears, and yet with hopeful smiles as they spoke in
joy and assurance of a future meeting.
Prof. Sherwin and his friends embarked, and the dainty little steamer
turned her graceful head toward Mayville, and slipped away over the
silver water. Eurie made no attempt to get away from the throng who
pressed to the edge of the dock to get the last bow, the last flutter of
his handkerchief. She even drew out her own handkerchief and fluttered
it after him, and received from him a special bow, and was almost
decided to resolve to be present in joy at that other meeting, and to
make sure this very day of her title to an inheritance there. Almost!
Going back she met Ruth and Flossy. She seized eagerly upon the latter.
"Come," she said, "you have been to meetings enough, and you haven't
taken a single walk with me since we have been here, and think of the
promises we made to entertain each other."
Flossy laughed cheerfully.
"We have been entertained, without any effort on our part," she said.
Nevertheless she suffered herself to be persuaded to go for a walk,
provided Eurie would go to Palestine.
"What nonsense!" Eurie said, disdainfully, when Flossy had explained to
her that she had a consuming desire to wander along the banks of the
Jordan, and view those ancient cities, historic now. "However, I would
just as soon walk in that direction as any other."
There was one other person who, it transpired, would as soon take a walk
as do anything else just then. He joined the girls as they turned toward
the Palestine road. That was Mr. Evan Roberts.
"Are you going to visit the Holy Land this morning, and may I be of your
party?" he asked.
"Yes," Flossy answered, whether to the first question, or to both in
one, she did not say. Then she introduced Eurie, and the three walked on
together, discussing the morning and the meetings with zest.
"Here we are, on 'Jordan's stormy banks,'" Mr. Roberts said, at last,
halting beside the grassy bank. "I suppose there was never a more
perfect geographical representation than this."
"Do you really think it has any practical value?" Eurie asked,
skeptically. Mr. Roberts looked at her curiously.
"Hasn't it to you?" he said. "Now, to me, it is just brimful of
interest and value; that is, as much value as geographical knowledge
ever is. I take two views of it. If I never have an actual sight of the
sacred land, by studying this miniature of it, I have as full a
knowledge as it is possible to get without the actual view, and if I at
some future day am permitted to travel there, why--well, you know of
course how pleasant it is to be thoroughly posted in regard to the
places of interest that you are about to visit; every European traveler
"But do you suppose it is really an accurate outline?" Eurie said,
again, quoting opinions that she had read until she fancied they were
Again Mr. Roberts favored her with that peculiar look from under heavy
eyebrows--a look half satirical, half amused.
"Some of the most skilled surveyors and traveled scholars have so
reported," he said, carelessly. "And when you add to that the fact that
they are Christian men, who have no special reason for getting up a
wholesale deception for us, and are supposed to be tolerably reliable
on all other subjects, I see no reason to doubt the statement."
On the whole, Eurie had the satisfaction of realizing that she had
appeared like a simpleton.
Flossy, meantime, was wandering delightedly along the banks, stopping
here and there to read the words on the little white tablets that marked
the places of special interest.
"Do you see," she said, turning eagerly, "that these are Bible
references on each tablet? Wouldn't it be interesting to know what they
selected as the scene to especially mark this place?"
Mr. Roberta swung a camp-chair from his arm, planted it firmly in the
ground, and drew a Bible from his pocket.
"Miss Mitchell," he said, "suppose you sit down here in this road,
leading from Jerusalem to Bethany, and tell us what is going on just now
in Bethany, while Miss Shipley and I supply you with chapter and verse."
"I am not very familiar with the text-book," Eurie said. "If you are
really in the village yourselves you might possibly inquire of the
inhabitants before I could find the account." But she took the chair
and the Bible.
"Look at Matthew xxi. 17, Eurie," Flossy said, stooping over the tablet,
and Eurie read:
"'And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged
"That was Jesus, wasn't it? Then he went this way, this very road,
Eurie, where you are sitting!" It was certainly very fascinating.
"And stopped at the house on which you have your hand, perhaps," Mr.
Roberts said, smiling at her eager face.
"That might have been Simon's house, for instance."
"Did _he_ live in Bethany? I don't know anything about these things."
"Eurie, look if you can find anything about him. The next reference is
And again Eurie read:
"'Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.'"
"The very place!" Flossy said, again. "Oh, I want so much to know what
"Won't Miss Mitchell read it to us?" Mr. Roberts said, and he arranged
his shawl along the ground for seats. "Since we have really come to
Bethany, let us have the full benefit of it. Now, Miss Shipley, take a
seat, and we will give ourselves up to the pleasure of being with Jesus
in Simon's house, and looking on at the scene."
So they disposed of themselves on the grass, and Eurie, hardly able to
restrain a laugh over the novelty of the situation, and yet wonderfully
fascinated by the whole scene, read to them the tender story of the
loving woman with her sweet-smelling ointment, growing more and more
interested, until in the closing verse her voice was full of feeling.
"'Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in
the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done be
told as a memorial of her.'"
"Think of that!" said Mr. Roberts. "And here are we, eighteen hundred
years afterward, sitting here in Bethany and talking of that same woman
still! Miss Mitchell, are you going to do something for Christ that
shall be talked over a thousand years from now? There is a chance for
"Doubtful!" Eurie said, but she did not smile; her face was grave.
"Or, better still, are you going to do such work for Christ that,
hundreds of years after, your influence will be silently living and
working out its fruit in human hearts?"
"It is altogether more likely that I shall do nothing at all."
"Out of the question," he said, with a grave smile. "Either for or
against, every life must be, whether we will it or not. 'He that is not
with me is against me,' was the word of the Master himself, and as long
as eternity lasts the fruit of the sowing will last."
"That is a fearfully solemn thought," Flossy said, earnestly.
Mr. Roberts turned toward her a face aglow with smiles now.
"And a wondrously precious one," he said, and Flossy answered him in a
"Yes, I can see that it might be."
Now, the actual fact is, that those three people wandered around that
far-away land until the morning vanished and the loud peal of the
Chautauqua bells announced the fact that the feast of intellect was
over, and it was time for dinner They went from Bethany to Bethel, and
from Bethel to Shechem, and they even climbed Mount Hermon's snowy peak,
and looked about on the lovely plain below. In every place there was
Bible reading, and Eurie was the reader, and it was such a morning that
she will remember for all time.
"Pray, who is this Mr. Roberts?" she asked, as they parted company at
the foot of the hill. "Where did you make his acquaintance?"
"He is Mrs. Smythe's nephew," Flossy said. "She introduced me to him the
"The other evening! You seemed to be as well acquainted as though you
had spent the summer together."
"Some people have a way of seeming like friends on short acquaintance,"
Flossy said, with grave face and smiling eyes.
"You two missed a good deal by your folly this morning," Ruth said, as
they met at dinner. "We had a grand lecture."
"So had we," answered Eurie, significantly, and that was every word she
vouchsafed concerning the trip to Palestine.
"Dr. Deems," said Ruth, looking up from her programme with a thoughtful
air. "I wonder if he is a man whom I have any special desire to hear?"
You must constantly remember the entire ignorance of these girls on all
names and topics that pertained to the religious world. Ruth knew indeed
that the gentleman in question was a New York clergyman; that was as far
as her knowledge extended.
"His subject is interesting," Flossy said.
"I don't think it is," said Eurie. "Not to me, anyhow. Nature and I
have nothing in common, except to have a good time together if we can
get it. She is a miserably disappointed jade, I know. What has she done
for us since we have been here except to arrange rainy weather? I'm
going to visit his honor the mummy this morning, and from there I am
going to the old pyramid; and I advise you to go with me, all of you.
Talk about nature when there is an old fellow to see who was acquainted
with it thousands of years ago. Nature is too common an affair to be
"Oh, are you going to the museum?" said Flossy. "Then please get me one
of the 'Bliss' singing books, will you? I want to secure one before they
are all gone. Girls, don't you each want one of them to take home? The
hymns are lovely."
"I don't," said Eurie, "unless he is for sale to go along and sing them.
I can't imagine anything tamer than to hear some commonplace voice
trying to do those songs that he roars out without any effort at all.
What has become of the man?"
"He has gone," said Marion. "Called home suddenly, some one told me.
His singing is splendid, isn't it? I don't know but I feel much as you
do about the book. Think of having Deacon Miller try to sing, 'Only an
armor-bearer!' I don't mind telling you that I felt very much as if I
were being lifted right off my feet and carried up somewhere, I hardly
know where, when I heard him sing that. I was coming down the hill, away
off, you know, by the post-office--no, away above the post-office, and
he suddenly burst forth. I stopped to listen, and I could hear every
single word as distinctly as I can hear you in this tent."
"Hear!" said Eurie, "I guess you could. I shouldn't be surprised if they
heard him over at Mayville, and that is what brings such crowds here
every day. Did you ever _see_ anything like the way the people come
"I don't feel at all as you do," said Flossy, going back to the question
of singing-books. "After we get let down a little, 'Only an
armor-bearer' will sound very well even from common singers. It has in
it what can't be taken out because a certain voice is lost; and the
book is full of other and simpler pieces, and lovely choruses, that
people can catch after one hearing."
"Flossy is going home to introduce it into the First Church," Eurie
Flossy's cheeks flushed.
"I had not thought of that," she said, simply; "perhaps we can. In any
case get me a couple, Eurie."
The discussion on the morning service ended in a division of the party.
Ruth, who had come over early on purpose to attend, was obliged to
succumb to a feeling of utter weariness and lie down.
Eurie steadily refused to go to the platform meeting, assuring them that
she knew Dr. Deems would be "as dry as a stick; all New York ministers
So Flossy and Marion went away together, Marion with her note-book in
the hope of getting an item for a newspaper letter that must be written
They were late, and almost abandoned in despair the hope of getting
within hearing, until a happy thought suggested a seat on the platform
stair at the speaker's back. There was a "crack" there, Marion said,
into which they presently crept.
The address was already commenced. Marion listened at first with that
indifferent air that a face wears when its owner perforce commences in
the middle of a thing, and has to _wait_ his way to a tangible idea of
what is being said.
There was not long waiting, however. Her eyes began to dilate and her
face to glow; she was almost a worshiper of eloquence, and surely no one
ever sat for two hours and listened to a more unbroken flow of rich,
glowing words, shining like diamonds, than fell lavishly around the
listeners that Friday morning at Chautauqua. But a few minutes and
Marion's pencil began to move with speed. This was the thought that had
"First, light; then liberation from chaos; then grass; and then God
stopped his work and gazed with delight on the picture he had drawn.
Think what a picture it must have been! There was nothing but rocks
ground down when God said, 'Earth, grow!' Then straightway the mother
power fell down upon the earth, life pulsed in her veins, and the baby
shoot of grass sprang up, and the rocky earth wrapped herself in her
garment of emerald, and God, stopping his work said, 'Useful,
When the speaker touched upon the doctrine of the resurrection Marion's
pencil paused, and she leaned eagerly forward to get a glimpse of his
face. That doctrine had seemed to her doubting heart the strangest,
wildest, most hopeless of the Christian theories. If clear light could
shine on that, could there not on _anything_? Her face was aglow with
interest not only, but with anxiety.
This morning, for the first time in her life, she could be called an
honest doubter. She had fancied herself able to believe any thing of
which her reason had been convinced; but she found, to her surprise and
dismay, that so fixed had the habit of unbelief become, it seemed
impossible to shake it off, and that she needed to be convinced and
reconvinced; that her questionings came in on every hand, seized upon
the smallest point, and tormented her without mercy. What about this
strange story of the resurrection?
As she listened a subdued smile broke over her face--a smile of
sarcasm. How very absurdly simple the argument from nature was, how
utterly unanswerable! And after the sentence, "Tell me how that