Part 5 out of 5
wonderful field of waving grain came from the bare kernels of corn, and
I will tell you how my blessed baby shall rise an angel," Marion said in
tone so distinct that it struck on Flossy's ear like a knell, "What a
fool!" Not the speaker, as the dismayed and disappointed Flossy
supposed, but _herself_.
"The measure of every man is his faith," said Dr. Deems. "The greatest
thing a human being can do is not to perceive, nor to _compare_, not to
_reason_, but to _believe_." And again Marion smiled. If this were true
what a pigmy she must be! She began to more than suspect that she was.
"Don't waste time," said the Doctor, "in trying to reconcile science and
the Bible. Science wasn't intended to teach religion. The Bible wasn't
intended to teach science; but wherever they touch they agree. God sends
his servants--scientific men--all abroad through nature to gather facts
with which to illustrate the Bible."
Marion began to write again, but it was only in snatches here and
there; not that there was not that which she longed to catch, but she
could not write it--the sentences just poured forth; and how perfectly
aglow with light and beauty they were! This one sentence she presently
"In the black ink of his power God wrote the Book of nature; in the red
ink of his love he wrote the Bible; and all this _power_ is to bring us
all to this _love_. Oh, to rest in arms like these! Are they not strong
Suddenly Marion closed her book and slipped her pencil into her pocket;
she could not write. And although she thrilled through every nerve over
the majestic sentences that followed and was carried to a pitch of
enthusiasm almost beyond her control, when the jubilant thunder of
thousands of voices rang together in the matchless closing words,
"Blessing, and glory, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might,
be unto our God, forever and ever. Amen." She made no further attempt to
write; her heart was full; there rang in it this eager cry, "Oh, to rest
in arms like these!" Strong enough? Aye, indeed! Doubts were forever set
at rest. The Maker of all nature could be none other than God, and the
God of nature was the God of the Bible. It was as clear as the sunlight.
Reason was forever satisfied, but there lingered yet the hungering cry,
"Oh, to rest in arms like these!"
And Flossy said not a word to her of the resting place. Not because she
had not found it strong and safe; not because she did not long to have
her friend rest there, but because of that despairing murmur in her
heart. "What is the use in saying anything? Had she not heard with her
own ears Marion's sneering sentence in the face of the unanswerable
arguments that had been presented?" I wonder how often we turn away from
harvest fields that are ready for the reader because we mistake for a
sneer that which is the admission of a convicted soul?
By afternoon Ruth was rested and ready for meeting; if the truth be
known it was her troubled brain which had tired her body and obliged her
to rest. She had begun to take up that problem of "Christian work." The
platform meeting of the evening before, and, more than anything else,
Dr. Niles' address, had fanned her heart into a flame of desire to do
something for the Master. But what could she do? She and Flossy had
talked it over together after they reached their room at the hotel; in
fact they talked away into the night.
"I don't know," Flossy said, with a little laugh, "but I shall have to
depend on the 'unconscious influence' which I exert to do my work for
me. I don't know of anything which I can actually _do_. Dr. Niles made a
great deal of that."
"Yes," Ruth, said, "but you see, Flossy, the people whose unconscious
influence does any good are the ones after all who are moving around
_trying_ to do something. I don't feel sure that he lets the unconscious
influence of the drones amount to much, unless it is in the wrong scale.
Dr. Niles made a good deal of _that_, you remember."
"Don't you like him ever so much, Ruth?"
"Why, yes," Ruth said again, turning her pillow wearily. "I liked him of
course; how could I help it? But, after all, he made me very
uncomfortable. I seem to feel as though I _must_ find something to do. I
have a great deal of time to make up. I tell you what it is, Flossy, I
wish you and I could do something for those two girls. Isn't it strange
that they are not interested?"
"But they are not." Flossy said it as positively as if she could see
right into their hearts. "I think Marion is worse than ever; and as for
Eurie, she won't even go to the meetings, you know."
"I know. Perhaps we would only do harm to try. But what _can_ we do? I
am sure I don't see anything. And don't you know how clearly Dr. Niles
made it appear that there was a special work for each one?"
So they discussed the question, turning it over and over, and getting
almost no light, coming to feel themselves very useless and worthless
specks on the sea of life, until late in the night Flossy said:
"I'll tell you what it is, Ruth, we must just ask for work--little bits
of work, you know--and then keep our eyes open until it comes. I know of
things I can do when I get home."
"So do I," said Ruth, "but I want to begin now."
Silence for a few minutes, and then Flossy asked:
"Ruthie, have you written to Mr. Wayne?"
"No," said Ruth, her cheeks flushing even in the darkness. "I wrote a
long letter just before this came to me, but I burned it, and I am glad
Then they went to sleep. But the desire for the work did not fade with
the daylight. Flossy had even been tempted to say a humble little word
to Marion, but had been deterred by the sound of that sneer of which I
told you; and Ruth, lying on her bed, had revolved the subject and sent
up many an earnest prayer, and went out to afternoon service resolved
upon keeping her eyes very wide open.
The special attraction for the afternoon was a conference of primary
class teachers. They were out in full force, and were ready for any
questions that might fill the hearts and the mouths of eager learners.
Our girls had each their special favorites among these leaders. Ruth
found herself attracted and deeply interested in every word that Mrs.
Clark uttered. Marion was making a study of both Mrs. Knox and Miss
Morris, and found it difficult to tell which attracted her most. Even
Eurie was ready for this meeting. She had never been able to shake off
the thought of Miss Rider, and her eager enthusiasm in this work, while
Flossy had been fascinated and carried away captive by the magnetic
voice and manner of Mrs. Partridge.
"She makes me glow," Flossy said, in trying to explain the feeling to
the calmer Ruth. "Her life seems to quiver all through me, and make me
long to reach after it; to have the same power which she has over the
hearts of wild uncared-for children."
And Ruth looked down on the exquisite bit of flesh and blood beside her,
and thought of her elegant home and her elegant mother, and of all the
softening and enervating influences of her city life, and laughed. How
little had she in common with such a work as that to which Mrs.
Partridge had given her soul!
Keeping her eyes open, as she had planned to do, this same Flossy saw as
she was passing down the aisle the hungry face of one of her boys, as
she had mentally called the Arabs with whom her life had brushed on the
Sunday morning The word just described it still, a hungry face like one
hanging wistfully around the outskirts of a feast in which he had no
share. Flossy let go her hold of Ruth's arm and darted toward him.
"How do you do?" she said, in winning voice, before he had even seen
her. "I am real glad to see you again. If you will come with me I will
get a seat for you. A lady is going to speak this afternoon who has five
hundred boys in her class in Sunday-school."
Now the Flossy of two weeks ago, if she could have imagined herself in
any such business, would have been utterly disgusted with the result,
and gone away with her pretty nose very high.
The boy turned his dirty face toward her and said, calmly:
"What a whopper!"
The experience of a lifetime could not have answered more deftly:
"You come and see. I am almost certain she will tell us about some of
Still he stared, and Flossy waited with her pretty face very near to
his, and her pretty hand held coaxingly out.
"Come," she said again. And it could not have been more to the boy's
surprise than it was to hers that he presently said:
"Well, go ahead. I can send if I don't like it. I'll follow."
And he did.
It required Flossy's eyes and heart both to keep watch of her boy during
the progress of that meeting. The novelty of the scene, the strangeness
of seeing ladies occupying the speaker's stand, kept him quiet and
alert, until Mrs. Partridge, that woman with wonderful power over the
forgotten, neglected portion of the world, arrested all his bewildering
thoughts and centered them on the strange stories she had to tell.
Did you ever hear her tell that remarkable story of her first attempt at
controlling that remarkable class which came under her care, many years
ago, in St. Louis? It is full of wonder and pathos and terror and
fascination, even to those who are somewhat familiar with such
experiences. But Flossy and her boy had never heard, or dreamed of its
like. No, I am wrong; the boy had dreamed of scenes just so wild and
daring, but even he had not fancied that such people ever found their
way to Sunday-schools.
Peanuts, cigars, a pack of cards, and a bowie-knife! Imagine yourself,
teacher, to be seated before your orderly and courteous class of boys
next Sunday morning and find them transformed into beings represented by
such surroundings as these! It was Mrs. Partridge's experience. How
fascinating that story is! That one incorrigible boy, the one with the
bowie-knife, the one who would make no answer to her questions, show no
interest in her stories, ignore her very presence and go on with his
horrible mischief, until it even came to a stabbing affray right there
in the class-room!
Imagine her meeting that boy ten years afterward, when he was not only a
man, but a gentleman; not only that, but a Christian and not only that,
but a working Christian, superintending a mission Sunday-school, giving
his best energies and his best time to work like that! Think of being
told by him that the determination to amount to something was taken that
morning, ten years before, when he seemed not to be listening nor
caring! What is ten years of Christian work when we can hope for such
results as that!
Flossy had forgotten her charge; her face was all aglow; so was her
heart. She knew more about Christian work than she did an hour before.
She had learned that we must take the step that plainly comes next to be
taken, no matter for the darkness of the day and the apparent gloom of
the future. _Work_ is ours; _results_ are God's. This life business is
divided. Partnership with God. Nothing but _the work_ to do; so that it
is done to the utmost limit of our best, the responsibility is the
Lord's. That was blessed! She could dare to try.
Meantime the boy. He had listened in utmost silence, and with eyes that
never for an instant left the speaker's face! When the spell was broken
he drew a long sigh, and this was his mighty conclusion.
"That chap was enough sight meaner than I'd ever be, and yet he got to
be _some_! I'll be blamed if I don't see what can be done in that line!"
A small beginning; so small that on Flossy's face it excited only
smiles. She was ignorant, you know. To Mrs. Partridge that sentence
would have been worth a wedge of gold. But it is possible that Flossy's
first simple little reach after work may have fruit to bear.
It is difficult to begin to tell about that next day at Chautauqua.
There was so much crowded into it that it would almost make a little
book of itself. The morning was spent by a large class of people in a
state of excited unrest and expectancy. The sensible ones by the
hundreds, and indeed I suppose I may say by the thousands, went to the
morning service, as usual, and heard the children's sermon, delivered by
Dr. Newton; and those who did not, and who afterward had the misfortune
to fall in with those who did, bemoaned their folly in not doing
likewise. On the whole, the children, and those who had brains enough to
become children for the time being, were the only comfortable ones at
Chautauqua that Saturday morning.
The president was coming! So, apparently, was the rest of the world!
Oh, the throngs and throngs that continually arrived! It of itself was a
rare and never-to-be-forgotten novelty to those who had never in their
lives before seen such a vast army of human beings gathered into a small
space, and all perfectly quiet and correct, and even courteous in their
"Where are the drunken men?" said Marion, looking around curiously on
the constantly increasing throng. "We always read of them as being in
"Yes, and the people who swear," added Eurie. "I haven't heard an oath
this morning, and I have roamed around everywhere. I must say Chautauqua
will bear off the palm for getting together a most respectable-looking,
well-behaved 'rabble!' That is what I overheard a sour-looking old
gentleman, who doesn't approve of having a president--or of letting him
come to a religious meeting, I don't know which--say would rush in
to-day. It certainly is a remarkably orderly 'rush.' Girls, look at Dr.
Vincent! I declare, Chautauqua has paid, just to watch him! He ought to
be the president himself. I mean to vote for him when female suffrage
comes in. Or a king! Wouldn't he make a grand king? How he would enjoy
ordering the subjects and enforcing his laws!"
"All of which he seems able to do now," Marion said. "I don't believe he
would thank you for a vote. His realm is large enough, and he seems to
have willing subjects."
"He has go-ahead-a-tive-ness." Eurie said. "What is the proper word for
that, school-ma'am? Executive ability, that's it. Those are splendid
words, and they ought to be added to his name. I tell you what, girls, I
wish we could cut him up into seven men, and take him home with us.
Seven first-class men made out of him and distributed through the towns
about us would make a new order of things."
All this was being said while they were scrambling with the rest of the
world down to the auditorium to secure seats, for the grand afternoon
had arrived, and people had been advised to be "in their seats as soon
after one o'clock as they could make it convenient."
"How soon will that be, I wonder?" Marion said, quoting this sentence
from Dr. Vincent's advice given in the morning, and holding up her
watch to show that it was five minutes of one.
"It looks to me as though those deluded beings who arrive here at one
o'clock will have several hours of patient waiting before they will make
it convenient to secure seats. Just stand a minute, girls, and look! It
is worth seeing. Away back, just as far as I can see, there is nothing
but heads! The aisles are full, and space between the seats, and the
office is full, and the people are just pouring down from the hill in a
continuous stream. To look that way you wouldn't think that any had got
down here yet!"
Now I really wish I had a photograph of that gathering of people to put
right in here, on this page! Many of them would have looked much better
at this point than they did after four hours of patient waiting. How
that crowd did fidget and fix and change position, as far as it was
possible to change, when there was not an inch of unoccupied space. How
they talked and laughed and sang and grumbled and yawned, and sang
It _was_ a tedious waiting. It had its irresistibly comic side. There
were those among the Chautauqua girls who could see the comic side of
things with very little trouble. The material out of which they made
some of their fun might have appeared very meager to orderly, decorous
people. But they made it.
What infinite sport they got out of the fidgety lady before them, who
could not get herself and her three children seated to her mind! Those
ladies who labored so industriously in order that the nation's flags,
draping the stand, should float gracefully over the nation's chief, were
an almost inexhaustible source of amusement to our girls.
"Look!" said Eurie, "that arrangement doesn't suit; some of the stars
are hidden; see them twitch it; it will be down! Now that one has it
looped just to her fancy. No! I declare, there it comes down again! The
other one twitched it this time; they are not of the same mind. Girls,
do look! It is fun to watch them; they work as though the interests of
this meeting all turned on a right arrangement of that flag."
By this time the attention of the girls was engaged, and the number of
witty remarks that were made at the expense of those flags would no
doubt have disconcerted the earnest workers thereat could they have
The hours waned, and the president did not arrive. The waiters essayed
to sing, but to lead such an army of people was a difficult task,
especially when there was no one to lead. Such singing!
"We came out ahead, anyhow!" said Flossy, stopping to laugh.
Five or six thousand people had finished their verse, while five or six
thousand in the rear were in the third line of it.
"We need Mr. Bliss or Mr. Sherwin or _somebody_," said Ruth. "What a
pity that they have all gone, and Dr. Tourjee hasn't come! I thought he
was to be here."
Presently came a singer to their rescue. The girls did not know who he
was, but he led well, and the singing became decidedly enjoyable.
Suddenly he disappeared, and they went back again into utter confusion.
They stopped singing and began to grumble.
"Queer arrangements, anyhow," said a surly-looking man in front. "Why
didn't they have a speaker ready to address this throng, instead of
keeping us waiting here with nothing to entertain us?"
"I know it," said Marion, briskly addressing herself to her party. "Dr.
Vincent has not used his accustomed foresight. He ought to have known
that the presidential party would be three hours late, and filled up the
programme with speeches, especially since there has been such a dearth
of speech-making during the past two weeks. We are really hungry for an
address! I don't know who would have undertaken the task, however,
unless they sent for Gabriel or some other celestial. I know _I_ have no
desire to listen to a common mortal."
Before them sat a lady absorbed in a book. During the singing she joined
heartily, and when Dr. Vincent came, on one of his numerous journeys to
try to encourage the crowd with the information that the party waited
for had not yet arrived, she looked and listened with the rest, but
always with her finger between the leaves, as if the place was too
interesting to be lost.
Eurie's curiosity rose to such a pitch that she leaned forward for a
peep at the title-page, and drew back suddenly. It was a copy of the
A silence fell upon the company near the front, broken suddenly by an
old lady who leaned lovingly toward her chubby-faced grandson, and said:
"Frankie, you must look in a few minutes and you will see the President
of the United States."
"That is good news, anyhow," spoke forth a rough-looking, good-natured
man near by, and the listeners, who were in that excited state of
weariness and waiting that they were ready to laugh or cry as the
slightest occasion offered, burst forth into roars of laughter, which
rang back among the crowds behind and enticed them to join, though I
suppose not twenty of the laughers knew what the joke was, if indeed
there _was_ one.
A sudden rush. Some one occupied the stand. A notice.
"A telegram!" said a ringing voice. "For Mrs. C.G. Hammond.
A sympathetic murmur ran through the great company, as they moved and
wedged and fell back, and did almost impossible things, to make a road
out of that dense throng of humanity for the one to whom the president
had suddenly become an insignificance.
Just then came the "Wyoming Trio." Blessings on them, whoever they are.
Nothing ever could have fitted in more splendidly than they did just
there and then. And the singing rested and helped them all.
Now a sensation came in the shape of a poem that had been written for
the occasion, and was to be learned to sing in greeting to the
president. How they rang those jubilant words through those old trees!
Tender, touching words, with the Chautauqua key-note quivering all
"Greet him! Let the air around him
Let the hearts of all the people
Circle him with prayer.'
"I wonder if he realizes what a blessed thing it is to be circled with
prayer?" said she of the Teacher's Bible, turning a thoughtful face upon
the four girls who had attracted her attention.
"I wonder who Mary A. Lathbury is?" said Eurie, reading from the poem.
"She is a poet, whoever she is. There isn't a line in this that is
simply _rhyme_. I doubt if the president ever had such a rhythmical
tribute as that."
"She is the lady with blue eyes and curls who designs the pictures in
that charming child's paper which flutters around here. I have forgotten
the name of it, but the pictures are little poems themselves."
This was Flossy's bit of information.
"Which designs them, the blue eyes or the curls?" Marion asked, gravely.
And then these four simpletons burst into a merry laugh.
Still the president did not appear. The audience had exhausted their
resources and their good humor. Ominous grumblings and cross faces began
to predominate. Some darkly hinted that he was not coming at all, and
that this was a design to draw the immense crowd together. Nobody
believed it, but many were in a mood to pretend that they did.
"I never believed in this thing," said a tall, dark-faced,
solemn-featured man, speaking in a voice loud enough to interest the
crowd in front "This sensation business I don't believe in. What do we
want of the president here! Who cares to see him? I don't like it; I
believe it is all wrong, turning a religious meeting upside down for a
sensation, and I told them so."
Our friend Marion, you will remember, was gifted with a clear voice and
a saucy tongue.
"If he doesn't like it," she said, quickly, "and doesn't want to see the
president, why do you suppose he has kept one of the best chairs for
four mortal hours? Don't you think that is selfish?"
Which sentence caused ripples of laughter all about them, and quenched
the solemn-visaged man.
But it was growing serious, this waiting. It was a great army of people
to be kept at rest, and though they had been quiet and decorous enough
thus far, it was not to be presumed that they were all people governed
by nice shades of propriety. Would the disappointment break forth into
any disagreeable demonstrations? Dr. Vincent had done what he could; he
had appeared promptly on the arrival of dispatches, and given the
latest news that the telegraph and the telescope would send. But what
can any mortal man do who has arranged for people to come who do not
come, except wait for them with what patience he can command.
At this ominous moment he appeared before them again. Not a notice this
time; something which shone in his eyes and quivered in every vein and
rang in his trumpet-like voice. This was what he said.
Dear Friends: I should bear a burden on my conscience, if I did not come
to you to-day with the 'old, old story.'
"Over the tent which has been prepared for the President of the United
States there glows, done in evergreen, this single word, '_rest_.'
"As I pass it, I am reminded of another and a different rest: the rest
from every burden, every anxiety, every pain, every sin; who has rested
in those everlasting arms? There is coming a day when all this throng of
human life gathered here shall wait for the coming of the King. Yea,
even the 'King of kings.' Should that time be to-day, who is ready? Do
you know his power? Do you know his grace? Do you know his love? Through
the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, every one of you may have that
King for your father; I am commissioned, this day, to bring this
invitation to each one of you; 'Come unto me all ye that are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.' Will you come?------Pardon this
interruption--no, I will not ask your pardon: it is never an
interruption to bring good news from the King to his subjects. I will
not weary you with a long presentation; I have only this message: you
are all invited to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved from
every possible calamity; you are all invited to come now. I am going to
ask the Tennesseeans to sing one of my favorites:
"'Brother, don't stay away;
For my Lord says there's room enough,
Room enough in the heaven for you.'"
Never were tender words more tenderly sung! Never did they steal out
upon the hearts of a more hushed and solemn audience. That matchless
word of gospel had touched home. There were those in the crowd who had
never realized before that the invitation was for them.
Following the hymn came another, suggested also by Dr. Vincent: "Steal
away to Jesus." It is one of the sweetest as well as one of the
strangest of African melodies; and as the tender message floated up
among the trees, a strange hush settled over the listeners; many tears
were quietly wiped away from eyes unused to weeping.
"Now sing 'Almost persuaded,'" said Dr. Vincent, his own voice tremulous
with his highly wrought feeling. Many voices took that up. Even the
Chautauqua girls sang, all but Eurie. With the sentence:
"Seems now some soul to say,
Go, spirit, go thy way;
Some more convenient day
On thee I'll call."
Flossy tamed her anxious, appealing eyes on Eurie, but she was laughing
merrily over the attempt of a feeble old man near her to join in the
song, and Flossy whispered sadly to Ruth: "Eurie has not even as much
interest as that."
The spell of the message and the music lingered, even after Dr. Vincent
had gone again. There was no more grumbling; there was very little
laughing; a subdued spirit seemed to brood over the great company.
"We could almost have a revival, right here," said one thoughtful man,
looking with searching eyes, up and down the sea of faces.
"I tell you, no grander opportunity was ever more grandly improved than
by those few words of Dr. Vincent's. They touched bottom. He will meet
those words again with joy, or I am mistaken."
But the waiting was over; suddenly the Chautauqua bells began to peal;
strains of martial music, and the roll of drums, mingled with the
booming of cannon; and almost before they were aware, even after all
their waiting, twenty thousand people stood face to face with their
"When the president's head appears above this platform, I hope it will
thunder here," had been Dr. Vincent's suggestion several hours before.
Thunder! That was no comparison! I hope even _he_ was satisfied. Then
how that song of greeting rung out; tender still, even in its power:
"Let the hearts of all the people circle him with prayer." No better
gift for him than that.
After the cheering and the singing, and the very brief speech from the
president himself, came the address of welcome by Dr. Fowler of Chicago.
His first sentence sent the multitude into another storm of cheers. Said
he: "The work that I thought to do, has been done by twenty thousand
people." How could they help doing it again after that? Chautauqua had
not dropped her colors in this plan of an afternoon given to the
The address of welcome from first to last rang with the gospel
invitation, "come;" no better word than that even for their chief;
"honor to whom honor is due," quoted the speaker, and then followed his
graceful tribute, but it closed with a tender, dignified, earnest appeal
to the President of the United States to 'rest' in the same refuge, to
enlist under the same flag, to be loyal to the same Chief, whom they
were met to serve.
"Out of my heart," said he: "as a man who recognizes God as the supreme
ruler of us all, I bid you come with us, and we will do you good, for
the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel."
Poor Eurie! What a place she had chosen if she desired to hear no more
preaching. What were all these exercises, but sermons, one after the
other, strong warm unanswerable appeals to be loyal to the Great Chief?
Certainly Dr. Deems was not the man to forget the Greater in his
greeting to the under ruler; nor did he.
"Let me speak to you in closing," said he, "to you and to this assembly,
out of my heart. We shall never all stand together again, until that
great white throne shall stop in mid heavens, and we shall stand to meet
the Chiefest of all chiefs. O men and brethren, shall we not all prepare
to meet there? Mr. President, every day prayer is made for you; we are
hoping to meet with you in heaven. Brave men who stood beside you in the
late war, and have gone on ahead, are hoping to greet you there. May you
have a good life, a happy life, a blessed life; and may other tongues
more eloquent than mine, more eloquent than even my brother's who
preceded me, bid you welcome one day to the general assembly of the
first born. Amen and amen."
What could better close the matchless greetings than to have the
Tennesseeans circle round their president and sing again that ringing
"I've been redeemed,
Been washed in the blood of the Lamb."
"I don't know what will become of the grumblers," Marion said as they
rested in various stages of dishabille, and talked the exciting scenes
over. "They have been shamefully left in the lurch; they were going to
have this affair a demoralizing dissipation from first to last, unworthy
of the spirit of Chautauqua. And if more solemn, or more searching, or
more effective preaching could be crowded into an afternoon than has
been done here, I should like to be shown how. What do you think of your
choice of entertainments, Eurie? You thought it would be safe to attend
the president's reception, you remember."
"I don't tell all I think," Eurie answered, and then she went out among
Truth to tell, Eurie had heard that from which she could not get away.
Dr. Vincent's words were still sounding, "you are invited to come to
Jesus and be saved; you are invited to come _now_." There had been
nothing to dissipate that impression, everything to deepen it, and the
thought that clung and repeated itself to her heart was that plaintive
"Almost persuaded, now to believe."
That was certainly herself; she felt it, knew it; in the face of that
knowledge think how solemn the words grew:
"Almost will not prevail,
Almost is but to fail;
Sad, sad that bitter wail,
Was that for her, too? In short, Eurie out there alone, among the silent
trees, felt and admitted this fact: that the time had actually come to
her when this question must be decided, either for or against, and
Sunday morning at Chautauqua! A white day. There can be none of all
that throng who spent the 15th day of August, 1875, in that sacred
place, who remember it without a thrill. A perfect day! Glorious and
glowing sunshine everywhere; and beauty, such perfect beauty of lake and
grove! The God of nature smiled lovingly on Chautauqua that morning.
Our girls seemed to think that the perfect day required perfection of
attire, and it was noticeable that the taste of each settled on spotless
white, without color or ornament, other than a spray of leaves and
grasses, which one and another of them gathered almost without knowing
it, and placed in belt or hair. Outward calm, but inward unrest, at
least so far as some were concerned; Marion Wilbur among the number.
It was a very heavy heart that she carried that day. There was no
unbelief; that demon was conquered. Instead there was an overpowering,
terrible _certainty_. And now came Satan with the whole of her past life
which had turned to sin before her, and hurled it on her poor shrinking
shoulders, until she felt almost to faint beneath the load; she lay
miserably on her bed, and thought that she would not add to her burden
by going to the service, that she knew already too much. But an appeal
from Flossy to keep her company, as the others had gone, had the effect
of changing her mind.
Armed each with a camp-chair, they made their way to the stand, after
the great congregation were seated. A fortunate thought those
camp-chairs had been; there was not a vacant seat anywhere.
Marion placed her chair out of sight both of stand and speaker, but
within hearing, and gave herself up to her own troubled thoughts, until
the opening exercises were concluded and the preacher announced his
text: "The place that is called Calvary."
She roused a little and tried to determine whose voice it was, it had a
familiar sound, but she could not be sure, and she tried to go back to
the useless questionings of her own heart; but she could not. She could
never be deaf to eloquence; whoever the speaker was, there was that in
his very opening sentences which roused and held her. Whatever he had to
say, whether or not it was anything that had to do with her, she _must_
listen. Still the wonderment existed as to which voice it was.
But when he reached the sentences: "Jump the ages! Come down here to
Chautauqua Lake to-day, O Son of God! O Son of Man! O Son of Mary! When
the prophet of old said, 'He shall see of the travail of his soul and
shall be satisfied,' did he look along the centuries and see the
gathered thousands here, who have just sung, 'Tell me the old, old
story'? What story? Why, the story of the place that is called
Calvary!"--Marion leaned forward and addressed the person next to her.
"Isn't that Dr. Deems?" she said.
"Yes indeed!" was the answer, spoken with enthusiasm.
And Marion drew back, and listened. That sermon! Marion tried to report
it, but it was like trying to report the roll of the waves on the
Atlantic; she could only listen with beating heart and flushing cheek.
Presently she listened with a new interest, for the divisions of the
subject were: "God's thought of sin," and "God's thought of mercy."
Though the morning was warm, she shivered and drew her wrap closer
about her. "God's thought of sin! She was in a mood to comprehend in a
measure what a fearful thought it might be.
"Some men," said the speaker, "make light of sin." Yes, she had done it
herself. "Where shall we learn what God thinks of it? On Sinai? No. God
spoke there in thunder and lightning, till the very _hills_ shook and
"And what were they doing down below? Dancing around a golden calf! I
tell you it is only at Calvary that we can learn God's idea of sin. For
at Calvary, because of sin, God the Father surrendered his communion
with God the Son, and on Calvary God _died_! Will God ever forgive sin?
Many a one has carried that question around in his soul until it burned
Now you can imagine how Marion tried no more to write; thought no more
about eloquence; this question, which had become to her the one terrible
question of life, was being looked into.
"How will we find out? Go by science into nature, and there's no proof
of it; God never forgives what seems to be the mistake of even a
I cannot tell you about the rest of that sermon. I took no notes of it;
my notes ended abruptly in the middle of a sentence; one cannot write
out words that are piercing to their hearts. I doubt if even Marion
Wilbur can give you any satisfactory account of the wording of the
sentences. And yet Marion Wilbur rose up at its close, with cheeks aglow
not only with tears, but smiles; and the question, "Will God ever
forgive sin?" she could answer.
There was a place where the burden would roll away. "At the place called
Calvary." She knew it, believed it, felt it,--why should she not? She
had been there in very deed, that summer morning. He had seen again of
the travail of his soul, he was one soul nearer to being satisfied.
There were other matters of interest: those two Bibles, symbol of the
Chautauqua pulse,--that were presented to the nation's highest officer;
the address which accompanied them--simple, earnest gospel; the hymn
they sang,--_everything_ was full of interest. But Marion let it pass by
her like the sound of music, and the words in her heart that kept time
to it all were the closing words of that sermon:
"Here I could forever stay,
Sit and _sing_ my life away.
This is more than life to me,
Lovely, mournful Calvary."
It was so, all day. She went to the afternoon service; she listened to
Dr. Fowler's sermon, not as she had ever listened to one before; the
sermon for the first time was for her. When people listen for
_themselves_, there is a difference. She felt fed and strengthened; she
joined in the singing as her voice had never joined before; they were
singing about _her_ Saviour. Then she went back to her tent.
"I am not going to-night," she said to the girls. "I am full, I want
nothing more to-day."
"Preached out, I declare!" said Eurie. "Are you going to write out your
report for the paper? I wouldn't, Marion. I would go to the meeting. I
"No," said Marion in answer to the question, and smiling at the thought.
How strange it would seem to her to spend _this_ Sabbath evening thus.
How many had she so spent!
"I am glad to-morrow is the last day," she said, sinking into a chair;
"I want to go home."
And Flossy and Ruth looked at each other, and sighed. How well these
girls understood one another! Why can't people be frank and speak so
that they can be understood?
Suppose Marion had said: "No, I am _not_ going to write my report, I am
going to pray." Suppose she had said; "Yes, I want to go home to
THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
It is a troublesome fact that, even when people are very much
interested, and very eager over important themes, commonplace and
comparatively trivial duties, will intrude, and insist upon being done
at that moment. For instance, our girls were obliged to spend the whole
of Monday morning in packing their trunks and satchels, returning their
furniture, settling for their tents, and the like; in short, breaking up
housekeeping and getting ready to go back to the civilized world. Flossy
and Ruth dispatched their part at the hotel promptly and came over to
the grounds to help the others. They discussed the meeting while they
"If we hadn't been idiots," Marion said, "we should have attended that
normal class and been graduating, this morning, instead of being down
here, at work at our trunks and unknown to fame."
"Well, you wouldn't go," Ruth answered. "Don't you know you declared
that was too much like work, and you hadn't an idea of learning
"Oh, yes," said Marion. "I remember a great many things I have said,
that I would quite as soon forget."
By dint of eager bustling from one point to another, the work was
accomplished by noon, and all the girls were ready for the afternoon
service, which all seemed equally eager to attend. When they reached the
stand they looked about them in surprise and dismay.
"Everybody is gone!" said Flossy, "only look! There are ever so many
"And ever so many that are occupied," she said. "My child, you have
been so used to counting audiences by the thousands, that sixteen or
seventeen hundred people look rather commonplace to you. However, there
are more than that number here, I think."
It soon became a matter of small importance, whether there were few or
many, so long as they had the good fortune to be there themselves, and
to have the company of Dr. Eben Tourjee.
Now it so happened that among these four girls there were two to whom
God had given special gifts: though neither of them had ever considered
that there were such things as gifts from God, which they were bound to
use in his service.
There was Ruth Erskine, who had capabilities for music in the ends of
her fingers, that would have almost entranced the angels. What did she
do with her talent? Almost nothing. She hated the sickly
sentimentalities which, set to music, find their way into fashionable
parlors by the score. She was not in the society that knew of, or
craved, the higher, grander kind of music; and because she did, and did
not know it, she simply palled of the kind within her reach and let her
gift lie waste.
Then there was Marion, whose voice was simply grand, both in power and
tone. What had she done with her voice? Sung by the hour to the old
father whose tender memory lingered with her to-day; less than nothing
with it since; no one knew she could sing; she hated singing in school,
she never went anywhere else; so only occasionally could the four walls
of her upper back room have testified that there was a talent buried
Did Dr. Tourjee travel from Boston to Chautauqua for the purpose of
inspiring and educating these two girls. I don't suppose he knew of
their existence, but that makes no difference, they are working out his
lecture all the same; in fact it is nearly a year since these Chautauqua
girls came home, and if you have any sort of desire to know what
Chautauqua theories develop into, when put to the test, please keep a
sharp lookout for "_The Chautauqua Girls at Home_."
As the familiar talk on music went on, Ruth, with her eyes aglow, began
to plan in her own heart, first what she _might_ do, and presently what
she _would_ do. And Marion, at the other end of the seat, went through
the same process neither imagining that these same 'doings' would bring
them together, and lead to endless other doings. But that is just the
way in which life is going on every where, who imagined that what you
did yesterday, would lead your neighbor to do what he _has_ done to-day?
"Luther said: 'Next to theology, I place sacred music.'" This was the
sentence that started a train of thought for Ruth. After that, she
listened in order that she might work.
"Never use an interlude in church, I pray God that I may be forgiven for
the fiddle-faddle that I have strummed on organs, in the name of
This, delighted Marion, she hated interludes. She hated quartette
choirs. She had steadily refused to be beguiled into one, by the few who
knew that she could sing, so, when Dr. Tourjee said: "Think of the grand
old hymn, 'From all that dwell below the skies, let the Creator's praise
arise,' being warbled by one voice, a grand chorus of four coming in on
the third line!"
Marion was entirely in sympathy with him, and eager for work in the way
in which he pointed out. It was an enjoyable afternoon in every respect.
But to "our girls" it was much more than that, it was an education.
Every one of them got ideas which they were eager to put in practice;
and they saw their ways clear to practise them to some purpose. When the
service was over, and the audience moved away, a sense of sadness and
lonliness began to creep over many, snatches of remark could be heard on
"Where is Dr. Fowler?"
"Gone: went this morning."
"Where is the Miller party?"
"Oh, they went some time ago."
"When did the president leave?"
"It's all about 'go,'" Eurie said: "Look! How they are crowding down to
the boat; and only a stray one now and then coming up from there. Who
would have supposed it could make us feel so forlorn? I am glad we are
not to be at the morning meeting. I am not sure but I should cry of
homesickness. I say, girls, let's go to Palestine."
Which suggestion was greeted with delight, and they immediately went. A
great many were of the same mind. Mr. Vanlennep in full Turkish dress,
was leading the way, and giving his familiar lecture on the--to
him--familiar spots. The girls stood near him by the sea of Galilee, and
heard his tender farewell words, and his hope that they would all meet
on the other side of Jordon. It was hard to keep back the quiet tears
They climbed Mount Hermon in silence, and looked over at Mount Lebanon,
they came back by the way of Cesarea, and turned aside to take a last
look at Joppa, down by the sea. In almost total silence this walk back
was accomplished. What was the matter with them all?
Mr. Roberts had joined them, and he and Flossy walked on ahead. But
their voices were subdued and their subject--to judge from their faces,
_quieting_, to say the least. Then they all went to take their last
supper at Chautauqua. Not one of them grumbled over anything. Indeed,
they all agreed that the board had certainly improved very much during
the last few days, and that it was really remarkable that such a throng
of people could have been served so promptly and courteously, and on
the whole, so well, as had been done there. Still, it was strange to
have plenty of elbow room, and to see the waiters moving leisurely up
and down the long halls; no one in haste, no one kept waiting.
As they rose from table, a gentleman passed through; they had passed
each other every day for a week; they had no idea what his name was, and
I suppose he knew as little about them. But he paused before them:
"Good-bye," he said. And held out his hand, "I hope we shall all meet at
the assembly up there!"
"Good-bye," they answered, and they shook hands. None of them smiled,
none of them thought it strange; though they had never been introduced!
It was the Chautauqua brotherhood of feeling. But after two weeks of
experience and much practice in that line, it was impossible to rid
onesself of the feeling that one must hurry down to the stand in order
to secure seats; so they hurried, and had a new experience; they were
among the first twenty on the ground.
"The audience will be utterly lost to-night in this immense array of
seats;" Flossy said in dismay. "Doesn't it feel forlorn?" But they took
their seats, and presently came Miss Ryder and seated herself at the
piano in the twilight, and the tunes she played were soft and tender and
"Every note says 'goodbye,'" said Ruth, and she gave a little sigh.
Presently, the calcium lights began to glow, as usual, and meantime
though everybody was supposed to have left; still, the people came from
somewhere; and at last, dismayed voices began to say:
"Why! Did you ever see the like! I thought we should surely get good
seats to-night? Where _do_ all the people come from."
"Look! Marion," said Eurie. "What would Dr. Harris think of such a
congregation as this! They could not get into our church, could they?"
But just then the hymn claimed attention:
"My days are gliding swiftly by."
How swiftly these days had glided away. How full they had been! During
the prayer that followed, all heads bowed, and the silence that fell
upon them made it seem that all hearts joined. Dr. Vincent was the
first speaker. His manner and voice had changed. Both were subdued; he
looked like a man who had been lifted up for a great mental strain and
was gradually letting down again to earth.
"We are coming toward the close," he said. "We are more quiet than we
have been here before. Familiar faces and forms that have moved in and
out among these trees, for two weeks past, have gone. Only a few hours
and we are going; only a few hours and utter silence will fall upon
"Oh dear!" murmured Eurie, "why _will_ he be so forlorn! I don't see why
I need care so much! Who would have supposed I could!"
"Hush!" said Marion, and she surreptitiously wiped away a tear. "A love
feast," Dr. Vincent said they were going to have, for that last evening;
it was very much like that. The farewell from Canada came next; the
speaker said he had been "thawed out," meant to have America annexed to
Canada! Indeed they had already been annexed; in heart and soul! "Who's
who?" said he, and "what's what? Who knows?" There was just enough of
the comical mixed with the pathetic in this address to steady many a
Dr. Presbry followed in much the same strain, closing, though, with such
a tender tribute to some who had been at the assembly the year before,
and had since gone to join the assembly that never breaks up, that the
tears came to the surface again. But those blessed Tennesseeans just at
that point made the grounds ring with the chorus, "Oh jubilee! jubilee!
the Christian religion is jubilee!" and followed it with: "I've been a
long time in the house of God, and I ain't got weary yet."
By that time our girls looked at each other with faces on which tears
and smiles struggled for the mastery.
"Shall we laugh, or cry?" whispered Eurie, and then they giggled
outright. But they sobered instantly and sat upright, ready to listen,
for the next one who appeared on the platform was Dr. Deems.
He, too, commenced as if the spell of the parting was upon him. "He was
too tired," he said, "to make a short speech. Some one asked Walter
Scott why he didn't put a certain book of his into one volume instead
of five. And he said he hadn't time. It took five weeks to prepare a
speech three minutes long. And then he warmed, and grew with his subject
until the beautiful thoughts fell around them like pearls. Not only
beautiful, but searching.
"No man," said he, "_dares_ to make a careless speech at Chautauqua,
there are too many to treasure it up, to plant it again." Of course he
knew nothing about those girls, and how much seed they were gathering
which they meant to plant; but they gathered it, all the same. He
dropped his seeds with lavish hand. This was one that took root in
Marion's brain and heart:
"There are so many side influences that are unconscious, that the only
safe way for one to do is to let no part of himself ravel, but to keep
himself round and thorough, and healthy to the core."
After that, Marion's pencil, on which I have to depend for my notes,
gave up in despair. "I _couldn't_ keep track of that man!" she said,
when I complained. "There was no more use to try than there would be to
count these apple blossoms," for it was this spring, and we were
standing in an apple orchard, and a perfect shower of the white,
sweet-smelling things came fluttering round our heads. But after he
'calmed down a little,' as she called it, she tried to write again; and
I copy this:
"Brethren: This meeting will convert some of the most thoughtful people
of this generation: men who come here not knowing by personal experience
the power of this thing, men who walk thoughtfully up and down these
aisles, looking on, will say: 'There are scholars here, there are men of
genius, of great brain power, there are men and women here of every
variety of temperament, and attainment, held together for fourteen days
by one common bond,' and the perseverance, the solemnity, the hilarity,
the freedom, the naturalness, the earnestness of this meeting will so
impress them that they will know that there is a miracle holding us, a
"May I give you to-night one word more of gospel invitation? Come, go
with us, you who do not understand this matter for yourselves, go with
us, and we _will_ do you good. Will you go to your rooms to-night and
make the resolve that shall write your names in God's book of life? The
recording angel has a trembling hand this minute, waiting for your
answer. Weary one, _so_ young and yet so tired, come, come, come now."
Marion, with cheeks burning, and eyes very bright and earnest, looked
around her: Eurie sat next to her, she seemed unmoved, there was no sign
of tears to her bright eyes, but she was looking steadily at the
"Never mind!" Marion said within herself, and there came to her an eager
desire to begin her practice, to do something; what if it were utter
failure, would the fault be hers?
Following the sudden leading that she had learned no better than to call
'impulse' she said in a quick low whisper: "Eurie, _won't you_?" And she
held her breath for the answer, and could distinctly feel the beating of
her own heart. Eurie turned great gray astonished eyes on her friend,
and said in a firm quiet voice: "I have. I settled that matter on
Saturday. Have you?"
And then those two girls, each with the wonderful surprise ringing music
in her heart, were willing to have that meeting over.
THE END OF THE BEGINNING.
It was almost over. Dr. Deems sat down amid the hush of hearts, and all
the people seemed to feel that no more words were needed. Yet, the next
moment, they greeted Frank Beard with joy, and prepared themselves with
great satisfaction to listen to what he had to say. Frank Beard was one
of Chautauqua's favorites.
People had not the least idea that they could be beguiled into laughter;
hearts were too tender for that; yet you should have heard the bursts of
mirth that rang there for the next five minutes! Frank Beard was so
quaint, so original, so innocent in his originality, so pure and
high-toned, even in his fun, and they liked him so much that every
heart there responded to his mirth. The roars of laughter reached as
high as the music had done, but a little while before.
Yet, when people's hearts are tender, and full, it is strange how near
laughter is to tears! Just a sentence from the same lips and the hush
fell on them again.
Frank Beard had brought his heart with him to Chautauqua, and he was
evidently leaving some of it there. The touching little story of his
dream about his mother brought out a flutter of handkerchiefs, and made
tear-stained faces. And when he, simply as a child, tenderly as a
large-souled man, trustfully as only a Christian can, said his farewell,
and told of his joyful hope of meeting them all in the eternal morning,
absolute stillness settled over them.
So many last words--one and another came--just a word, just "good-bye,"
until we meet again; maybe here, next year, maybe there, where good-byes
are never heard. Finally came Dr. Vincent, his strong decided voice
breaking the spell, and helping them to realize that they ware men and
women with work to do:
"Now, my friends," he said, "we really _must_ go home; it is hard to
close; I know that, no one knows it better: we _have_ closed a good many
times, and it won't _stay_ closed. The last word has been said over and
over again. I said it myself, some time ago, and here I am again: we
must just _stop_, never mind the closing; we will ring a hymn, and go
away, and next year we will begin right here, where we left it."
But he didn't "stop," and no one wanted him to. His voice grew tender,
and his words were solemn. The last words that he would ever speak to
many a soul within sound of his voice; it could not be otherwise. You
can imagine better than I could tell you what Dr. Vincent's message
would be at such a time as that.
Breaking into it, came the shrill sound of the whistle. The Col.
Phillips--the last boat for the night--was giving out its warning. The
Chautauqua bells began their parting peal. Not even for his own
convenience would that marvel of punctuality have the bells tarry a
moment behind the hour appointed.
Our girls looked at each other and made signs, and nodded, and began to
slip quietly out. They had arranged to spend the night at the Mayville
House, and take an early train. Many others were softly and reluctantly
moving away. They were very quiet during that last walk down to the
wharf. Glorious moonlight was abroad, and the water shone like a sheet
As they walked, the evening wind brought to them the notes of the last
song which the throng at the stand were singing. A clear, ringing, yet
tender farewell. It floated sweetly down to them, growing fainter and
fainter as the distance lengthened, until, as they stepped on board the
boat, they lost its sound. There were many people going the same way,
but there was little talking. There are times when people, though they
may be very far from unhappiness, have no desire to talk. Once on deck,
Marion turned and clasped both of Eurie's hands.
"I have had such a blessed surprise to-night!" she said, with glowing
face. "I did not think of such a thing! O Eurie, why didn't you tell
"You cannot begin to be as surprised as I am," Eurie said. "I thought
you were miles away from such a thing. Why didn't you tell _me_?"
Ruth and Flossy were leaning over, watching the play of the water
against the boat's side.
"What about those two?" Eurie said, nodding her head toward them.
"Ruth is very far from understanding anything about it," she said; "at
least the last time I talked with her she knew as little about the
Christian life as the veriest heathen so far at least as personal duty
"When was that?"
"Why, a week ago; more than a week."
"How long is it since you settled this question for yourself?"
"Since yesterday," Marion said, blushing and laughing. "Eurie, you would
do for a cross-questioner."
"And I have been on this side since Saturday,'" Eurie answered,
significantly. "A great many things can happen in a week."
At this point, Ruth turned and came towards them. She looked quiet and
"It is a year, isn't it? since we stood here together for the first
time," she said. "At least I seem to have had a year of life and
experience. Do you know, girls, I have something to tell you: I thought
to wait until we reached home, but I have decided to-night that I will
not. I am sorry that I have not told you before. Marion, don't you know
how like a simpleton I talked, a week ago last Saturday night? I want to
tell you that I was a fool; and was talking about that of which I knew
nothing at all. I want to assure you that there is a safe place, that I
know it now by actual experience, I have gone to the mountain and it is
sure and safe; and, oh, girls, I want you both to come so much."
"I know the mountain;" Marion said, reaching out, and clasping Ruth's
hand. "The name of it is Calvary, it _is_ safe, and it is sufficient for
us all. Ruthie, we three are together in this thing."
What those girls said to each other then and there is sacred to them.
But if I could, I would tell you something of the joy they felt.
Flossy still leaned over the railing, a small quiet speck in the
moonlight. Marion kept turning her head in her direction. "Our poor
little Flossy would not understand much about this experience, I
suppose," she said at last; "she is such a child, and yet, I don't
know--sometimes I have fancied that she thinks more than we give her
credit for. That at least she has lately."
"Let us tell her, anyway," Eurie, said, "we can't know what good it may
do. If we had not been so dreadfully afraid of each other, during the
last few days, we might have helped each other a good deal; for my part,
I have learned a lesson on which I mean to practice."
Ruth looked up quickly, a rare smile in her eyes; she opened her lips to
speak to them, then seemed to change her mind and raised her voice:
"Flossy!" And Flossy came at her call.
"Come here," Ruth said, withdrawing her hand from Marion's, and winding
her arm around the small figure beside her.
"Flossy, the girls have had our very experience all by themselves, and
they want to know how long it is since you began to think about this
matter for yourself."
Flossy turned her soft blue eyes on Marion.
"The very night we came, Marion, and you made me come to the meeting in
the rain, you remember? I heard that which I knew would never let me
rest again, until I understood it and had it for my own. But I was very
ignorant, and foolish, and I blundered along in the dark for three
mortal days! After that Jesus found me, and I have known since what it
is to live in the light."
"A Christian experience of ten whole days!" Eurie said. Of course she
was the first one to rise from her surprise and get possession of her
"Flossy, you have had a chance to get a good way ahead instead of being
behind, as we thought. You will have to show us the way."
"Isn't this just wonderful!" broke forth Marion, suddenly, an
overwhelming sense coming over her, of the new relations that they four
would henceforth bear to each other. "Why, girls, what would they say up
there at the stand, if they could know what has come to each of us! I
almost feel like going back and telling them all. Just think what a
delight it would be to Dr. Vincent, and Dr. Deems, and, oh, to all of
them. Isn't it queer to think how well we know them all, and they are
not aware of our existence?"
"I don't believe people will have to wait to be introduced to each
other when they get to heaven," Eurie said; "that is one of the first
things I am going to do when I get there; hunt up some of these
Chautauqua people and cultivate their acquaintance."
This sentence gave Flossy a new thought:
"We are really _all_ going to heaven!"
She said it precisely as you might speak of a trip to Europe on which
your heart had long been set.
"We are just as sure of it as though we were there this minute! Girls,
don't you know how nice we thought it would be to be together at
Chautauqua for two whole weeks? Now think of being together, there, for
a million years!" But the thought which filled Flossy's heart with a
sweet song of melody, and wreathed her face in glad smiles, was such an
overwhelming one to Marion, so immense with power and possibility, that
it seemed to her to take her very breath; she turned abruptly from the
rest and walked to the Teasel's side to still the throbbing of her
Meantime the boat had been filling with passengers, and now she was
getting under way. Still the hush continued; the people stood closely
around the railing, on the Chautauqua side, and looked lovingly back at
the fair point of land that lay before them in glowing moonlight.
Presently a leading voice began to sing:
"There's a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling-place there.
We shall meet in the sweet by and by,
On that beautiful shore in the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore."
Before the chorus was reached, every voice that could sing at all must
have taken up the strain. Marion, for the first time in years gave a
hint of the full compass of her powers, making Ruth turn suddenly
towards her, with a brightening face, for she saw how the singing and
the playing could fit into each other, and do good service.
On and on stole the vessel through the silver water. The courteous
captain came around quietly for his tickets, and to one and another
with whose faces he had grown familiar he said: "We shall miss you; the
Col. Phillips has been proud of carrying you all safely back and forth."
One said to him in return: "I hope, captain, we shall all land at last
safe in the harbor." And the captain bowed his answer in silence. It
would have been hard to speak words just then.
But ever and anon that leading voice took up words of song.
Still the song that best seemed to suit all hearts was that tender "By
and by," and as the lights along the Chautauqua shore grew dim it rose
again in swelling volume:
"We shall meet, we shall sing, we shall reign,
In the land where the saved never die;
We shall rest free from sorrow and pain,
Safe at home in the sweet by and by."
Then the refrain, repeated and re-repeated, until, as the last lingering
note of it died away, the boat touched at the wharf, and looking back,
they saw that the Chautauqua lights were out, and silence and darkness
"Good-bye," Marion said, and she bowed towards the distant shore; she
was smiling, but her lips were quivering.
"We shall meet in the sweet by and by," Flossy quoted, but her voice
"There is a chance to do grand work first, that the final meeting may be
infinitely larger, because of us."
This the leading voice in the singing said, as he held out his hand to
say good-bye. And as they took it some of the girls noticed for the
first time that it was Mr. Roberts; as for Flossy, she had known it all
"We are going to try to do some of the work, Mr. Roberts," Eurie said;
"I have found the road to Bethany since I saw you, the _real_ road, and
we are going to try and keep it well trodden."
He was shaking hands with Flossy, as Eurie spoke, and he still held her
hand while he answered: "Good news! There is plenty of work to do. It is
well that Chautauqua has gathered in new reapers. I am coming to your
city, next winter; I shall want to help you. Good-bye."