Rose went into the dining-room and began to eat from a plate of fruit and cakes on the sideboard.
“Are you going up to see mother?” asked Felicia after a while. She had remained in front of the drawing-room fireplace.
“No,” replied Rose from the other room. “I won’t trouble her tonight. If you go in tell her I am too tired to be agreeable.”
So Felicia turned into her mother’s room, as she went up the great staircase and down the upper hall. The light was burning there, and the servant who always waited on Mrs. Sterling was beckoning Felicia to come in.
“Tell Clara to go out,” exclaimed Mrs. Sterling as Felicia came up to the bed.
Felicia was surprised, but she did as her mother bade her, and then inquired how she was feeling.
“Felicia,” said her mother, “can you pray?”
The question was so unlike any her mother had ever asked before that she was startled. But she answered: “Why, yes, mother. Why do you ask such a question?”
“Felicia, I am frightened. Your father–I have had such strange fears about him all day. Something is wrong with him. I want you to pray–.”
“Now, here, mother?”
“Yes. Pray, Felicia.”
Felicia reached out her hand and took her mother’s. It was trembling. Mrs. Sterling had never shown such tenderness for her younger daughter, and her strange demand now was the first real sign of any confidence in Felicia’s character.
The girl kneeled, still holding her mother’s trembling hand, and prayed. It is doubtful if she had ever prayed aloud before. She must have said in her prayer the words that her mother needed, for when it was silent in the room the invalid was weeping softly and her nervous tension was over.
Felicia stayed some time. When she was assured that her mother would not need her any longer she rose to go.
“Good night, mother. You must let Clara call me if you feel badly in the night.”
“I feel better now.” Then as Felicia was moving away, Mrs. Sterling said: “Won’t you kiss me, Felicia?”
Felicia went back and bent over her mother. The kiss was almost as strange to her as the prayer had been. When Felicia went out of the room her cheeks were wet with tears. She had not often cried since she was a little child.
Sunday morning at the Sterling mansion was generally very quiet. The girls usually went to church at eleven o’clock service. Mr. Sterling was not a member but a heavy contributor, and he generally went to church in the morning. This time he did not come down to breakfast, and finally sent word by a servant that he did not feel well enough to go out. So Rose and Felicia drove up to the door of the Nazareth Avenue Church and entered the family pew alone.
When Dr. Bruce walked out of the room at the rear of the platform and went up to the pulpit to open the Bible as his custom was, those who knew him best did not detect anything unusual in his manner or his expression. He proceeded with the service as usual. He was calm and his voice was steady and firm. His prayer was the first intimation the people had of anything new or strange in the service. It is safe to say that the Nazareth Avenue Church had not heard Dr. Bruce offer such a prayer before during the twelve years he had been pastor there. How would a minister be likely to pray who had come out of a revolution in Christian feeling that had completely changed his definition of what was meant by following Jesus? No one in Nazareth Avenue Church had any idea that the Rev. Calvin Bruce, D. D., the dignified, cultured, refined Doctor of Divinity, had within a few days been crying like a little child on his knees, asking for strength and courage and Christlikeness to speak his Sunday message; and yet the prayer was an unconscious involuntary disclosure of his soul’s experience such as the Nazareth Avenue people had seldom heard, and never before from that pulpit.
“I AM just back from a visit to Raymond,” Dr. Bruce began, “and I want to tell you something of my impressions of the movement there.”
He paused and his look went out over his people with yearning for them and at the same time with a great uncertainty at his heart. How many of his rich, fashionable, refined, luxury-loving members would understand the nature of the appeal he was soon to make to them? He was altogether in the dark as to that. Nevertheless he had been through his desert, and had come out of it ready to suffer. He went on now after that brief pause and told them the story of his stay in Raymond. The people already knew something of that experiment in the First Church. The whole country had watched the progress of the pledge as it had become history in so many lives. Mr. Maxwell had at last decided that the time had come to seek the fellowship of other churches throughout the country. The new discipleship in Raymond had proved to be so valuable in its results that he wished the churches in general to share with the disciples in Raymond. Already there had begun a volunteer movement in many churches throughout the country, acting on their own desire to walk closer in the steps of Jesus. The Christian Endeavor Society had, with enthusiasm, in many churches taken the pledge to do as Jesus would do, and the result was already marked in a deeper spiritual life and a power in church influence that was like a new birth for the members.
All this Dr. Bruce told his people simply and with a personal interest that evidently led the way to the announcement which now followed. Felicia had listened to every word with strained attention. She sat there by the side of Rose, in contrast like fire beside snow, although even Rose was alert and as excited as she could be.
“Dear friends,” he said, and for the first time since his prayer the emotion of the occasion was revealed in his voice and gesture, “I am going to ask that Nazareth Avenue Church take the same pledge that Raymond Church has taken. I know what this will mean to you and me. It will mean the complete change of very many habits. It will mean, possibly, social loss. It will mean very probably, in many cases, loss of money. It will mean suffering. It will mean what following Jesus meant in the first century, and then it meant suffering, loss, hardship, separation from everything un-Christian. But what does following Jesus mean? The test of discipleship is the same now as then. Those of us who volunteer in this church to do as Jesus would do, simply promise to walk in His steps as He gave us commandment.”
Again he paused, and now the result of his announcement was plainly visible in the stir that went up over the, congregation. He added in a quiet voice that all who volunteered to make the pledge to do as Jesus would do, were asked to remain after the morning service.
Instantly he proceeded with his sermon. His text was, “Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.” It was a sermon that touched the deep springs of conduct; it was a revelation to the people of the definition their pastor had been learning; it took them back to the first century of Christianity; above all, it stirred them below the conventional thought of years as to the meaning and purpose of church membership. It was such a sermon as a man can preach once in a lifetime, and with enough in it for people to live on all through the rest of their lifetime.
The service closed in a hush that was slowly broken. People rose here and there, a few at a time. There was a reluctance in the movements of some that was very striking. Rose, however, walked straight out of the pew, and as she reached the aisle she turned her head and beckoned to Felicia. By that time the congregation was rising all over the church. “I am going to stay,” she said, and Rose had heard her speak in the same manner on other occasions, and knew that her resolve could not be changed. Nevertheless she went back into the pew two or three steps and faced her.
“Felicia,” she whispered, and there was a flush of anger on her cheeks, “this is folly. What can you do? You will bring some disgrace on the family. What will father say? Come!”
Felicia looked at her but did not answer at once. Her lips were moving with a petition that came from the depth of feeling that measured a new life for her. She shocked her head.
“No, I am going to stay. I shall take the pledge. I am ready to obey it. You do not know why I am doing this.”
Rose gave her one look and then turned and went out of the pew, and down the aisle. She did not even stop to talk with her acquaintances. Mrs. Delano was going out of the church just as Rose stepped into the vestibule.
“So you are not going to join Dr. Bruce’s volunteer company?” Mrs. Delano asked, in a queer tone that made Rose redden.
“No, are you? It is simply absurd. I have always regarded that Raymond movement as fanatical. You know cousin Rachel keeps us posted about it.”
“Yes, I understand it is resulting in a great deal of hardship in many cases. For my part, I believe Dr. Bruce has simply provoked disturbance here. It will result in splitting our church. You see if it isn’t so. There are scores of people in the church who are so situated that they can’t take such a pledge and keep it. I am one of them,” added Mrs. Delano as she went out with Rose.
When Rose reached home, her father was standing in his usual attitude before the open fireplace, smoking a cigar.
“Where is Felicia?” he asked as Rose came in.
“She stayed to an after-meeting,” replied Rose shortly. She threw off her wraps and was going upstairs when Mr. Sterling called after her.
“An after-meeting? What do you mean?”
“Dr. Bruce asked the church to take the Raymond pledge.”
Mr. Sterling took his cigar out of his mouth and twirled it nervously between his fingers.
“I didn’t expect that of Dr. Bruce. Did many of the members stay?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t,” replied Rose, and she went upstairs leaving her father standing in the drawing-room.
After a few moments he went to the window and stood there looking out at the people driving on the boulevard. His cigar had gone out, but he still fingered it nervously. Then he turned from the window and walked up and down the room. A servant stepped across the hall and announced dinner and he told her to wait for Felicia. Rose came downstairs and went into the library. And still Mr. Sterling paced the drawing-room restlessly.
He had finally wearied of the walking apparently, and throwing himself into a chair was brooding over something deeply when Felicia came in.
He rose and faced her. Felicia was evidently very much moved by the meeting from which she had just come. At the same time she did not wish to talk too much about it. Just as she entered the drawing-room, Rose came in from the library.
“How many stayed?” she asked. Rose was curious. At the same time she was skeptical of the whole movement in Raymond.
“About a hundred,” replied Felicia gravely. Mr. Sterling looked surprised. Felicia was going out of the room, but he called to her: “Do you really mean to keep the pledge?” he asked.
Felicia colored. Over her face and neck the warm blood flowed and she answered, “You would not ask such a question, father, if you had been at the meeting.” She lingered a moment in the room, then asked to be excused from dinner for a while and went up to see her mother.
No one but they two ever knew what that interview between Felicia and her mother was. It is certain that she must have told her mother something of the spiritual power that had awed every person present in the company of disciples who faced Dr. Bruce in that meeting after the morning service. It is also certain that Felicia had never before known such an experience, and would never have thought of sharing it with her mother if it had not been for the prayer the evening before. Another fact is also known of Felicia’s experience at this time. When she finally joined her father and Rose at the table she seemed unable to tell them much about the meeting. There was a reluctance to speak of it as one might hesitate to attempt a description of a wonderful sunset to a person who never talked about anything but the weather.
When that Sunday in the Sterling mansion was drawing to a close and the soft, warm lights throughout the dwelling were glowing through the great windows, in a corner of her room, where the light was obscure, Felicia kneeled, and when she raised her face and turned it towards the light, it was the face of a woman who had already defined for herself the greatest issues of earthly life.
That same evening, after the Sunday evening service, Dr. Bruce was talking over the events of the day with his wife. They were of one heart and mind in the matter, and faced their new future with all the faith and courage of new disciples. Neither was deceived as to the probable results of the pledge to themselves or to the church.
They had been talking but a little while when the bell rang and Dr. Bruce going to the door exclaimed, as he opened it: “It is you, Edward! Come in.”
There came into the hall a commanding figure. The Bishop was of extraordinary height and breadth of shoulder, but of such good proportions that there was no thought of ungainly or even of unusual size. The impression the Bishop made on strangers was, first, that of great health, and then of great affection.
He came into the parlor and greeted Mrs. Bruce, who after a few moments was called out of the room, leaving the two men together. The Bishop sat in a deep, easy chair before the open fire. There was just enough dampness in the early spring of the year to make an open fire pleasant.
“Calvin, you have taken a very serious step today,” he finally said, lifting his large dark eyes to his old college classmate’s face. “I heard of it this afternoon. I could not resist the desire to see you about it tonight.”
“I’m glad you came.” Dr. Bruce laid a hand on the Bishop’s shoulder. “You understand what this means, Edward?”
“I think I do. Yes, I am sure.” The Bishop spoke very slowly and thoughtfully. He sat with his hands clasped together. Over his face, marked with lines of consecration and service and the love of men, a shadow crept, a shadow not caused by the firelight. Once more he lifted his eyes toward his old friend.
“Calvin, we have always understood each other. Ever since our paths led us in different ways in church life we have walked together in Christian fellowship–.”
“It is true,” replied Dr. Bruce with an emotion he made no attempt to conceal or subdue. “Thank God for it. I prize your fellowship more than any other man’s. I have always known what it meant, though it has always been more than I deserve.”
The Bishop looked affectionately at his friend. But the shadow still rested on his face. After a pause he spoke again: “The new discipleship means a crisis for you in your work. If you keep this pledge to do all things as Jesus would do–as I know you will–it requires no prophet to predict some remarkable changes in your parish.” The Bishop looked wistfully at his friend and then continued: “In fact, I do not see how a perfect upheaval of Christianity, as we now know it, can be prevented if the ministers and churches generally take the Raymond pledge and live it out.” He paused as if he were waiting for his friend to say something, to ask some question. But Bruce did not know of the fire that was burning in the Bishop’s heart over the very question that Maxwell and himself had fought out.
“Now, in my church, for instance,” continued the Bishop, “it would be rather a difficult matter, I fear, to find very many people who would take a pledge like that and live up to it. Martyrdom is a lost art with us. Our Christianity loves its ease and comfort too well to take up anything so rough and heavy as a cross. And yet what does following Jesus mean? What is it to walk in His steps?”
The Bishop was soliloquizing now and it is doubtful if he thought, for the moment, of his friend’s presence. For the first time there flashed into Dr. Bruce’s mind a suspicion of the truth. What if the Bishop would throw the weight of his great influence on the side of the Raymond movement? He had the following of the most aristocratic, wealthy, fashionable people, not only in Chicago, but in several large cities. What if the Bishop should join this new discipleship!
The thought was about to be followed by the word. Dr. Bruce had reached out his hand and with the familiarity of lifelong friendship had placed it on the Bishop’s shoulder and was about to ask a very important question, when they were both startled by the violent ringing of the bell. Mrs. Bruce had gone to the door and was talking with some one in the hall. There was a loud exclamation and then, as the Bishop rose and Bruce was stepping toward the curtain that hung before the entrance to the parlor, Mrs. Bruce pushed it aside. Her face was white and she was trembling.
“O Calvin! Such terrible news! Mr. Sterling–oh, I cannot tell it! What a blow to those girls!” “What is it?” Mr. Bruce advanced with the Bishop into the hall and confronted the messenger, a servant from the Sterlings. The man was without his hat and had evidently run over with the news, as Dr. Bruce lived nearest of any intimate friends of the family.
“Mr. Sterling shot himself, sir, a few minutes ago. He killed himself in his bed-room. Mrs. Sterling–“
“I will go right over, Edward. Will you go with me? The Sterlings are old friends of yours.”‘
The Bishop was very pale, but calm as always. He looked his friend in the face and answered: “Aye, Calvin, I will go with you not only to this house of death, but also the whole way of human sin and sorrow, please God.”
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
WHEN Dr. Bruce and the Bishop entered the Sterling mansion everything in the usually well appointed household was in the greatest confusion and terror. The great rooms downstairs were empty, but overhead were hurried footsteps and confused noises. One of the servants ran down the grand staircase with a look of horror on her face just as the Bishop and Dr. Bruce were starting to go up.
“Miss Felicia is with Mrs. Sterling,” the servant stammered in answer to a question, and then burst into a hysterical cry and ran through the drawing-room and out of doors.
At the top of the staircase the two men were met by Felicia. She walked up to Dr. Bruce at once and put both hands in his. The Bishop then laid his hand on her head and the three stood there a moment in perfect silence. The Bishop had known Felicia since she was a little child. He was the first to break the silence.
“The God of all mercy be with you, Felicia, in this dark hour. Your mother–“
The Bishop hesitated. Out of the buried past he had, during his hurried passage from his friend’s to this house of death, irresistibly drawn the one tender romance of his young manhood. Not even Bruce knew that. But there had been a time when the Bishop had offered the incense of a singularly undivided affection upon the altar of his youth to the beautiful Camilla Rolfe, and she had chosen between him and the millionaire. The Bishop carried no bitterness with his memory; but it was still a memory.
For answer to the Bishop’s unfinished query, Felicia turned and went back into her mother’s room. She had not said a word yet, but both men were struck with her wonderful calm. She returned to the hall door and beckoned to them, and the two ministers, with a feeling that they were about to behold something very unusual, entered.
Rose lay with her arms outstretched upon the bed. Clara, the nurse, sat with her head covered, sobbing in spasms of terror. And Mrs. Sterling with “the light that never was on sea or land” luminous on her face, lay there so still that even the Bishop was deceived at first. Then, as the great truth broke upon him and Dr. Bruce, he staggered, and the sharp agony of the old wound shot through him. It passed, and left him standing there in that chamber of death with the eternal calmness and strength that the children of God have a right to possess. And right well he used that calmness and strength in the days that followed.
The next moment the house below was in a tumult. Almost at the same time the doctor who had been sent for at once, but lived some distance away, came in, together with police officers, who had been summoned by frightened servants. With them were four or five newspaper correspondents and several neighbors. Dr. Bruce and the Bishop met this miscellaneous crowd at the head of the stairs and succeeded in excluding all except those whose presence was necessary. With these the two friends learned all the facts ever known about the “Sterling tragedy,” as the papers in their sensational accounts next day called it.
Mr. Sterling had gone into his room that evening about nine o’clock and that was the last seen of him until, in half an hour, a shot was heard in the room, and a servant who was in the hall ran into the room and found him dead on the floor, killed by his own hand. Felicia at the time was sitting by her mother. Rose was reading in the library. She ran upstairs, saw her father as he was being lifted upon the couch by the servants, and then ran screaming into her mother’s room, where she flung herself down at the foot of the bed in a swoon. Mrs. Sterling had at first fainted at the shock, then rallied with a wonderful swiftness and sent for Dr. Bruce. She had then insisted on seeing her husband. In spite of Felicia’s efforts, she had compelled Clara to support her while she crossed the hall and entered the room where her husband lay. She had looked upon him with a tearless face, had gone back to her own room, was laid on her bed, and as Dr. Bruce and the Bishop entered the house she, with a prayer of forgiveness for herself and for her husband on her quivering lips, had died, with Felicia bending over her and Rose still lying senseless at her feet.
So great and swift had been the entrance of grim Death into that palace of luxury that Sunday night! But the full cause of his coming was not learned until the facts in regard to Mr. Sterling’s business affairs were finally disclosed.
Then it was learned that for some time he had been facing financial ruin owing to certain speculations that had in a month’s time swept his supposed wealth into complete destruction. With the cunning and desperation of a man who battles for his very life when he saw his money, which was all the life he ever valued, slipping from him, he had put off the evil day to the last moment. Sunday afternoon, however, he had received news that proved to him beyond a doubt the fact of his utter ruin. The very house that he called his, the chairs in which he sat, his carriage, the dishes from which he ate, had all been bought with money for which he himself had never really done an honest stroke of pure labor.
It had all rested on a tissue of deceit and speculation that had no foundation in real values. He knew that fact better than any one else, but he had hoped, with the hope such men always have, that the same methods that brought him the money would also prevent the loss. He had been deceived in this as many others have been. As soon as the truth that he was practically a beggar had dawned upon him, he saw no escape from suicide. It was the irresistible result of such a life as he had lived. He had made money his god. As soon as that god was gone out of his little world there was nothing more to worship; and when a man’s object of worship is gone he has no more to live for. Thus died the great millionaire, Charles R. Sterling. And, verily, he died as the fool dieth, for what is the gain or the loss of money compared with the unsearchable riches of eternal life which are beyond the reach of speculation, loss or change?
Mrs. Sterling’s death was the result of the shock. She had not been taken into her husband’s confidence for years, but she knew that the source of his wealth was precarious. Her life for several years had been a death in life. The Rolfes always gave an impression that they could endure more disaster unmoved than any one else. Mrs. Sterling illustrated the old family tradition when she was carried into the room where her husband lay. But the feeble tenement could not hold the spirit and it gave up the ghost, torn and weakened by long years of suffering and disappointment.
The effect of this triple blow, the death of father and mother, and the loss of property, was instantly apparent in the sisters. The horror of events stupefied Rose for weeks. She lay unmoved by sympathy or any effort to rally. She did not seem yet to realize that the money which had been so large a part of her very existence was gone. Even when she was told that she and Felicia must leave the house and be dependent on relatives and friends, she did not seem to understand what it meant.
Felicia, however, was fully conscious of the facts. She knew just what had happened and why. She was talking over her future plans with her cousin Rachel a few days after the funerals. Mrs. Winslow and Rachel had left Raymond and come to Chicago at once as soon as the terrible news had reached them, and with other friends of the family were planning for the future of Rose and Felicia.
“Felicia, you and Rose must come to Raymond with us. That is settled. Mother will not hear to any other plan at present,” Rachel had said, while her beautiful face glowed with love for her cousin, a love that had deepened day by day, and was intensified by the knowledge that they both belonged to the new discipleship.
“Unless I can find something to do here,” answered Felicia. She looked wistfully at Rachel, and Rachel said gently:
“What could you do, dear?”
“Nothing. I was never taught to do anything except a little music, and I do not know enough about it to teach it or earn my living at it. I have learned to cook a little,” Felicia added with a slight smile.
“Then you can cook for us. Mother is always having trouble with her kitchen,” said Rachel, understanding well enough she was now dependent for her very food and shelter upon the kindness of family friends. It is true the girls received a little something out of the wreck of their father’s fortune, but with a speculator’s mad folly he had managed to involve both his wife’s and his children’s portion in the common ruin.
“Can I? Can I?” Felicia responded to Rachel’s proposition as if it were to be considered seriously. “I am ready to do anything honorable to make my living and that of Rose. Poor Rose! She will never be able to get over the shock of our trouble.”
“We will arrange the details when we get to Raymond,” Rachel said, smiling through her tears at Felicia’s eager willingness to care for herself.
So in a few weeks Rose and Felicia found themselves a part of the Winslow family in Raymond. It was a bitter experience for Rose, but there was nothing else for her to do and she accepted the inevitable, brooding over the great change in her life and in many ways adding to the burden of Felicia and her cousin Rachel.
Felicia at once found herself in an atmosphere of discipleship that was like heaven to her in its revelation of companionship. It is true that Mrs. Winslow was not in sympathy with the course that Rachel was taking, but the remarkable events in Raymond since the pledge was taken were too powerful in their results not to impress even such a woman as Mrs. Winslow. With Rachel, Felicia found a perfect fellowship. She at once found a part to take in the new work at the Rectangle. In the spirit of her new life she insisted upon helping in the housework at her aunt’s, and in a short time demonstrated her ability as a cook so clearly that Virginia suggested that she take charge of the cooking at the Rectangle.
Felicia entered upon this work with the keenest pleasure. For the first time in her life she had the delight of doing something of value for the happiness of others. Her resolve to do everything after asking, “What would Jesus do?” touched her deepest nature. She began to develop and strengthen wonderfully. Even Mrs. Winslow was obliged to acknowledge the great usefulness and beauty of Felicia’s character. The aunt looked with astonishment upon her niece, this city-bred girl, reared in the greatest luxury, the daughter of a millionaire, now walking around in her kitchen, her arms covered with flour and occasionally a streak of it on her nose, for Felicia at first had a habit of rubbing her nose forgetfully when she was trying to remember some recipe, mixing various dishes with the greatest interest in their results, washing up pans and kettles and doing the ordinary work of a servant in the Winslow kitchen and at the rooms at the Rectangle Settlement. At first Mrs. Winslow remonstrated.
“Felicia, it is not your place to be out here doing this common work. I cannot allow it.”
“Why, Aunt? Don’t you like the muffins I made this morning?” Felicia would ask meekly, but with a hidden smile, knowing her aunt’s weakness for that kind of muffin.
“They were beautiful, Felicia. But it does not seem right for you to be doing such work for us.”
“Why not? What else can I do?”
Her aunt looked at her thoughtfully, noting her remarkable beauty of face and expression.
“You do not always intend to do this kind of work, Felicia?”
“Maybe I shall. I have had a dream of opening an ideal cook shop in Chicago or some large city and going around to the poor families in some slum district like the Rectangle, teaching the mothers how to prepare food properly. I remember hearing Dr. Bruce say once that he believed one of the great miseries of comparative poverty consisted in poor food. He even went so far as to say that he thought some kinds of crime could be traced to soggy biscuit and tough beefsteak. I’m sure I would be able to make a living for Rose and myself and at the same time help others.”
THREE months had gone by since the Sunday morning when Dr. Bruce came into his pulpit with the message of the new discipleship. They were three months of great excitement in Nazareth Avenue Church. Never before had Rev. Calvin Bruce realized how deep the feeling of his members flowed. He humbly confessed that the appeal he had made met with an unexpected response from men and women who, like Felicia, were hungry for something in their lives that the conventional type of church membership and fellowship had failed to give them.
But Dr. Bruce was not yet satisfied for himself. He cannot tell what his feeling was or what led to the movement he finally made, to the great astonishment of all who knew him, better than by relating a conversation between him and the Bishop at this time in the history of the pledge in Nazareth Avenue Church. The two friends were as before in Dr. Bruce’s house, seated in his study.
“You know what I have come in this evening for?” the Bishop was saying after the friends had been talking some time about the results of the pledge with the Nazareth Avenue people.
Dr. Bruce looked over at the Bishop and shook his head.
“I have come to confess that I have not yet kept my promise to walk in His steps in the way that I believe I shall be obliged to if I satisfy my thought of what it means to walk in His steps.”
Dr. Bruce had risen and was pacing his study. The Bishop remained in the deep easy chair with his hands clasped, but his eye burned with the blow that belonged to him before he made some great resolve.
“Edward,” Dr. Bruce spoke abruptly, “I have not yet been able to satisfy myself, either, in obeying my promise. But I have at last decided on my course. In order to follow it I shall be obliged to resign from Nazareth Avenue Church.”
“I knew you would,” replied the Bishop quietly. “And I came in this evening to say that I shall be obliged to do the same thing with my charge.”
Dr. Bruce turned and walked up to his friend. They were both laboring under a repressed excitement.
“Is it necessary in your case?” asked Bruce.
“Yes. Let me state my reasons. Probably they are the same as yours. In fact, I am sure they are.” The Bishop paused a moment, then went on with increasing feeling:
“Calvin, you know how many years I have been doing the work of my position, and you know something of the responsibility and care of it. I do not mean to say that my life has been free from burden-bearing or sorrow. But I have certainly led what the poor and desperate of this sinful city would call a very comfortable, yes, a very luxurious life. I have had a beautiful house to live in, the most expensive food, clothing and physical pleasures. I have been able to go abroad at least a dozen times, and have enjoyed for years the beautiful companionship of art and letters and music and all the rest, of the very best. I have never known what it meant to be without money or its equivalent. And I have been unable to silence the question of late: ‘What have I suffered for the sake of Christ?’ Paul was told what great things he must suffer for the sake of his Lord. Maxwell’s position at Raymond is well taken when he insists that to walk in the steps of Christ means to suffer. Where has my suffering come in? The petty trials and annoyances of my clerical life are not worth mentioning as sorrows or sufferings. Compared with Paul or any of the Christian martyrs or early disciples I have lived a luxurious, sinful life, full of ease and pleasure. I cannot endure this any longer. I have that within me which of late rises in overwhelming condemnation of such a following of Jesus. I have not been walking in His steps. Under the present system of church and social life I see no escape from this condemnation except to give the most of my life personally to the actual physical and soul needs of the wretched people in the worst part of this city.”
The Bishop had risen now and walked over to the window. The street in front of the house was as light as day, and he looked out at the crowds passing, then turned and with a passionate utterance that showed how deep the volcanic fire in him burned, he exclaimed:
“Calvin, this is a terrible city in which we live! Its misery, its sin, its selfishness, appall my heart. And I have struggled for years with the sickening dread of the time when I should be forced to leave the pleasant luxury of my official position to put my life into contact with the modern paganism of this century. The awful condition of the girls in some great business places, the brutal selfishness of the insolent society fashion and wealth that ignores all the sorrow of the city, the fearful curse of the drink and gambling hell, the wail of the unemployed, the hatred of the church by countless men who see in it only great piles of costly stone and upholstered furniture and the minister as a luxurious idler, all the vast tumult of this vast torrent of humanity with its false and its true ideas, its exaggeration of evils in the church and its bitterness and shame that are the result of many complex causes, all this as a total fact in its contrast with the easy, comfortable life I have lived, fills me more and more with a sense of mingled terror and self accusation. I have heard the words of Jesus many times lately: ‘Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least My brethren, ye did it not unto Me.’ And when have I personally visited the prisoner or the desperate or the sinful in any way that has actually caused me suffering? Rather, I have followed the conventional soft habits of my position and have lived in the society of the rich, refined, aristocratic members of my congregations. Where has the suffering come in? What have I suffered for Jesus’ sake? Do you know, Calvin,” he turned abruptly toward his friend, “I have been tempted of late to lash myself with a scourge. If I had lived in Martin Luther’s time I should have bared my back to a self-inflicted torture.”
Dr. Bruce was very pale. Never had he seen the Bishop or heard him when under the influence of such a passion. There was a sudden silence in the room. The Bishop sat down again and bowed his head.
Dr. Bruce spoke at last: “Edward, I do not need to say that you have expressed my feelings also. I have been in a similar position for years. My life has been one of comparative luxury. I do not, of course, mean to say that I have not had trials and discouragements and burdens in my church ministry. But I cannot say that I have suffered any for Jesus. That verse in Peter constantly haunts me: ‘Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps.’ I have lived in luxury. I do not know what it means to want. I also have had my leisure for travel and beautiful companionship. I have been surrounded by the soft, easy comforts of civilization. The sin and misery of this great city have beaten like waves against the stone walls of my church and of this house in which I live, and I have hardly heeded them, the walls have been so thick. I have reached a point where I cannot endure this any longer. I am not condemning the Church. I love her. I am not forsaking the Church. I believe in her mission and have no desire to destroy. Least of all, in the step I am about to take do I desire to be charged with abandoning the Christian fellowship. But I feel that I must resign my place as pastor of Nazareth Church in order to satisfy myself that I am walking as I ought to walk in His steps. In this action I judge no other minister and pass no criticism on others’ discipleship. But I feel as you do. Into a close contact with the sin and shame and degradation of this great city I must come personally. And I know that to do that I must sever my immediate connection with Nazareth Avenue Church. I do not see any other way for myself to suffer for His sake as I feel that I ought to suffer.”
Again that sudden silence fell over those two men. It was no ordinary action they were deciding. They had both reached the same conclusion by the same reasoning, and they were too thoughtful, too well accustomed to the measuring of conduct, to underestimate the seriousness of their position.
“What is your plan?” The Bishop at last spoke gently, looking with the smile that always beautified his face. The Bishop’s face grew in glory now every day.
“My plan,” replied Dr. Bruce slowly, “is, in brief, the putting of myself into the centre of the greatest human need I can find in this city and living there. My wife is fully in accord with me. We have already decided to find a residence in that part of the city where we can make our personal lives count for the most.”
“Let me suggest a place.” The Bishop was on fire now. His fine face actually glowed with the enthusiasm of the movement in which he and his friend were inevitably embarked. He went on and unfolded a plan of such far-reaching power and possibility that Dr. Bruce, capable and experienced as he was, felt amazed at the vision of a greater soul than his own.
They sat up late, and were as eager and even glad as if they were planning for a trip together to some rare land of unexplored travel. Indeed, the Bishop said many times afterward that the moment his decision was reached to live the life of personal sacrifice he had chosen he suddenly felt an uplifting as if a great burden were taken from him. He was exultant. So was Dr. Bruce from the same cause.
Their plan as it finally grew into a workable fact was in reality nothing more than the renting of a large building formerly used as a warehouse for a brewery, reconstructing it and living in it themselves in the very heart of a territory where the saloon ruled with power, where the tenement was its filthiest, where vice and ignorance and shame and poverty were congested into hideous forms. It was not a new idea. It was an idea started by Jesus Christ when He left His Father’s House and forsook the riches that were His in order to get nearer humanity and, by becoming a part of its sin, helping to draw humanity apart from its sin. The University Settlement idea is not modern. It is as old as Bethlehem and Nazareth. And in this particular case it was the nearest approach to anything that would satisfy the hunger of these two men to suffer for Christ.
There had sprung up in them at the same time a longing that amounted to a passion, to get nearer the great physical poverty and spiritual destitution of the mighty city that throbbed around them. How could they do this except as they became a part of it as nearly as one man can become a part of another’s misery? Where was the suffering to come in unless there was an actual self-denial of some sort? And what was to make that self-denial apparent to themselves or any one else, unless it took this concrete, actual, personal form of trying to share the deepest suffering and sin of the city?
So they reasoned for themselves, not judging others. They were simply keeping their own pledge to do as Jesus would do, as they honestly judged He would do. That was what they had promised. How could they quarrel with the result if they were irresistibly compelled to do what they were planning to do?
MEANWHILE, Nazareth Avenue Church was experiencing something never known before in all its history. The simple appeal on the part of its pastor to his members to do as Jesus would do had created a sensation that still continued. The result of that appeal was very much the same as in Henry Maxwell’s church in Raymond, only this church was far more aristocratic, wealthy and conventional. Nevertheless when, one Sunday morning in early summer, Dr. Bruce came into his pulpit and announced his resignation, the sensation deepened all over the city, although he had advised with his board of trustees, and the movement he intended was not a matter of surprise to them. But when it become publicly known that the Bishop had also announced his resignation and retirement from the position he had held so long, in order to go and live himself in the centre of the worst part of Chicago, the public astonishment reached its height.
“But why?” the Bishop replied to one valued friend who had almost with tears tried to dissuade him from his purpose. “Why should what Dr. Bruce and I propose to do seem so remarkable a thing, as if it were unheard of that a Doctor of Divinity and a Bishop should want to save lost souls in this particular manner? If we were to resign our charge for the purpose of going to Bombay or Hong Kong or any place in Africa, the churches and the people would exclaim at the heroism of missions. Why should it seem so great a thing if we have been led to give our lives to help rescue the heathen and the lost of our own city in the way we are going to try it? Is it then such a tremendous event that two Christian ministers should be not only willing but eager to live close to the misery of the world in order to know it and realize it? Is it such a rare thing that love of humanity should find this particular form of expression in the rescue of souls?”
And however the Bishop may have satisfied himself that there ought to be nothing so remarkable about it at all, the public continued to talk and the churches to record their astonishment that two such men, so prominent in the ministry, should leave their comfortable homes, voluntarily resign their pleasant social positions and enter upon a life of hardship, of self-denial and actual suffering. Christian America! Is it a reproach on the form of our discipleship that the exhibition of actual suffering for Jesus on the part of those who walk in His steps always provokes astonishment as at the sight of something very unusual?
Nazareth Avenue Church parted from its pastor with regret for the most part, although the regret was modified with a feeling of relief on the part of those who had refused to take the pledge. Dr. Bruce carried with him the respect of men who, entangled in business in such a way that obedience to the pledge would have ruined them, still held in their deeper, better natures a genuine admiration for courage and consistency. They had known Dr. Bruce many years as a kindly, conservative, safe man, but the thought of him in the light of sacrifice of this sort was not familiar to them. As fast as they understood it, they gave their pastor the credit of being absolutely true to his recent convictions as to what following Jesus meant. Nazareth Avenue Church never lost the impulse of that movement started by Dr. Bruce. Those who went with him in making the promise breathed into the church the very breath of divine life, and are continuing that life-giving work at this present time.
* * * * * *
It was fall again, and the city faced another hard winter. The Bishop one afternoon came out of the Settlement and walked around the block, intending to go on a visit to one of his new friends in the district. He had walked about four blocks when he was attracted by a shop that looked different from the others. The neighborhood was still quite new to him, and every day he discovered some strange spot or stumbled upon some unexpected humanity.
The place that attracted his notice was a small house close by a Chinese laundry. There were two windows in the front, very clean, and that was remarkable to begin with. Then, inside the window, was a tempting display of cookery, with prices attached to the various articles that made him wonder somewhat, for he was familiar by this time with many facts in the life of the people once unknown to him. As he stood looking at the windows, the door between them opened and Felicia Sterling came out.
“Felicia!” exclaimed the Bishop. “When did you move into my parish without my knowledge?”
“How did you find me so soon?” inquired Felicia.
“Why, don’t you know? These are the only clean windows in the block.”
“I believe they are,” replied Felicia with a laugh that did the Bishop good to hear.
“But why have you dared to come to Chicago without telling me, and how have you entered my diocese without my knowledge?” asked the Bishop. And Felicia looked so like that beautiful, clean, educated, refined world he once knew, that he might be pardoned for seeing in her something of the old Paradise. Although, to speak truth for him, he had no desire to go back to it.
“Well, dear Bishop,” said Felicia, who had always called him so, “I knew how overwhelmed you were with your work. I did not want to burden you with my plans. And besides, I am going to offer you my services. Indeed, I was just on my way to see you and ask your advice. I am settled here for the present with Mrs. Bascom, a saleswoman who rents our three rooms, and with one of Rachel’s music pupils who is being helped to a course in violin by Virginia Page. She is from the people,” continued Felicia, using the words “from the people” so gravely and unconsciously that her hearer smiled, “and I am keeping house for her and at the same time beginning an experiment in pure food for the masses. I am an expert and I have a plan I want you to admire and develop. Will you, dear Bishop?”
“Indeed I will,” he replied. The sight of Felicia and her remarkable vitality, enthusiasm and evident purpose almost bewildered him.
“Martha can help at the Settlement with her violin and I will help with my messes. You see, I thought I would get settled first and work out something, and then come with some real thing to offer. I’m able to earn my own living now.”
“You are?” the Bishop said a little incredulously. “How? Making those things?”
“Those things!” said Felicia with a show of indignation. “I would have you know, sir, that ‘those things’ are the best-cooked, purest food products in this whole city.”
“I don’t doubt it,” he replied hastily, while his eyes twinkled, “Still, ‘the proof of the pudding’–you know the rest.”
“Come in and try some!” she exclaimed. “You poor Bishop! You look as if you hadn’t had a good meal for a month.”
She insisted on his entering the little front room where Martha, a wide-awake girl with short, curly hair, and an unmistakable air of music about her, was busy with practice.
“Go right on, Martha. This is the Bishop. You have heard me speak of him so often. Sit down there and let me give you a taste of the fleshpots of Egypt, for I believe you have been actually fasting.”
So they had an improvised lunch, and the Bishop who, to tell the truth, had not taken time for weeks to enjoy his meals, feasted on the delight of his unexpected discovery and was able to express his astonishment and gratification at the quality of the cookery.
“I thought you would at least say it is as good as the meals you used to get at the Auditorium at the big banquets,” said Felicia slyly.
“As good as! The Auditorium banquets were simply husks compared with this one, Felicia. But you must come to the Settlement. I want you to see what we are doing. And I am simply astonished to find you here earning your living this way. I begin to see what your plan is. You can be of infinite help to us. You don’t really mean that you will live here and help these people to know the value of good food?”
“Indeed I do,” she answered gravely. “That is my gospel. Shall I not follow it?”
“Aye, Aye! You’re right. Bless God for sense like yours! When I left the world,” the Bishop smiled at the phrase, “they were talking a good deal about the ‘new woman.’ If you are one of them, I am a convert right now and here.”
“Flattery! Still is there no escape from it, even in the slums of Chicago?” Felicia laughed again. And the man’s heart, heavy though it had grown during several months of vast sin-bearing, rejoiced to hear it! It sounded good. It was good. It belonged to God.
Felicia wanted to visit the Settlement, and went back with him. She was amazed at the results of what considerable money an a good deal of consecrated brains had done. As they walked through the building they talked incessantly. She was the incarnation of vital enthusiasm, and he wondered at the exhibition of it as it bubbled up and sparkled over.
They went down into the basement and the Bishop pushed open a door from behind which came the sound of a carpenter’s plane. It was a small but well equipped carpenter’s shop. A young man with a paper cap on his head and clad in blouse and overalls was whistling and driving the plane as he whistled. He looked up as the two entered, and took off his cap. As he did so, his little finger carried a small curling shaving up to his hair and it caught there.
“Miss Sterling, Mr. Stephen Clyde,” said the Bishop. “Clyde is one of our helpers here two afternoons in the week.”
Just then the bishop was called upstairs and he excused himself a moment, leaving Felicia and the young carpenter together.
“We have met before,” said Felicia looking at Clyde frankly.
“Yes, ‘back in the world,’ as the Bishop says,” replied the young man, and his fingers trembled a little as they lay on the board he had been planing.
“Yes.” Felicia hesitated. “I am very glad to see you.”
“Are you?” The flush of pleasure mounted to the young carpenter’s forehead. “You have had a great deal of trouble since–since–then,” he said, and then he was afraid he had wounded her, or called up painful memories. But she had lived over all that.
“Yes, and you also. How is it that you’re working here?”
“It is a long story, Miss Sterling. My father lost his money and I was obliged to go to work. A very good thing for me. The Bishop says I ought to be very grateful. I am. I am very happy now. I learned the trade, hoping some time to be of use, I am night clerk at one of the hotels. That Sunday morning when you took the pledge at Nazareth Avenue Church, I took it with the others.”
“Did you?” said Felicia slowly. “I am glad.”
Just then the Bishop came back, and very soon he and Felicia went away leaving the young carpenter at his work. Some one noticed that he whistled louder than ever as he planed.
“Felicia,” said the Bishop, “did you know Stephen Clyde before?”
“Yes, ‘back in the world,’ dear Bishop. He was one of my acquaintances in Nazareth Avenue Church.”
“Ah!” said the Bishop.
“We were very good friends,” added Felicia.
“But nothing more?” the Bishop ventured to ask.
Felicia’s face glowed for an instant. Then she looked her companion in the eyes frankly and answered: “Truly and truly, nothing more.”
“It would be just the way of the world for these two people to come to like each other, though,” thought the man to himself, and somehow the thought made him grave. It was almost like the old pang over Camilla. But it passed, leaving him afterwards, when Felicia had gone back, with tears in his eyes and a feeling that was almost hope that Felicia and Stephen would like each other. “After all,” he said, like the sensible, good man that he was, “is not romance a part of humanity? Love is older than I am, and wiser.”
The week following, the Bishop had an experience that belongs to this part of the Settlement history. He was coming back to the Settlement very late from some gathering of the striking tailors, and was walking along with his hands behind him, when two men jumped out from behind an old fence that shut off an abandoned factory from the street, and faced him. One of the men thrust a pistol in his face, and the other threatened him with a ragged stake that had evidently been torn from the fence.
“Hold up your hands, and be quick about it!” said the man with the pistol.
“Righteousness shall go before him and shall set us in the way of his steps.”
THE Bishop was not in the habit of carrying much money with him, and the man with the stake who was searching him uttered an oath at the small amount of change he found. As he uttered it, the man with the pistol savagely said, “Jerk out his watch! We might as well get all we can out of the job!”
The man with the stake was on the point of laying hold of the chain where there was a sound of footsteps coming towards him.
“Get behind the fence! We haven’t half searched him yet! Mind you keep shut now, if you don’t want–“
The man with the pistol made a significant gesture with it and, with his companion, pulled and pushed the Bishop down the alley and through a ragged, broken opening in the fence. The three stood still there in the shadow until the footsteps passed.
“Now, then, have you got the watch?” asked the man with the pistol.
“No, the chain is caught somewhere!” and the other man swore again.
“Break it then!”
“No, don’t break it,” the Bishop said, and it was the first time he had spoken. “The chain is the gift of a very dear friend. I should be sorry to have it broken.”
At the sound of the Bishop’s voice the man with the pistol started as if he had been suddenly shot by his own weapon. With a quick movement of his other hand he turned the Bishop’s head toward’s what little light was shining from the alleyway, at the same time taking a step nearer. Then, to the amazement of his companion, he said roughly: “Leave the watch alone! We’ve got the money. That’s enough!”
“Enough! Fifty cents! You don’t reckon–“
Before the man with the stake could say another word he was confronted with the muzzle of the pistol turned from the Bishop’s head towards his own.
“Leave that watch be! And put back the money too. This is the Bishop we’ve held up–the Bishop–do you hear?”
“And what of it! The President of the United States wouldn’t be too good to hold up, if–“
“I say, you put the money back, or in five seconds I’ll blow a hole through your head that’ll let in more sense than you have to spare now!” said the other.
For a second the man with the stake seemed to hesitate at this strange turn in events, as if measuring his companion’s intention. Then he hastily dropped the money back into the rifled pocket.
“You can take your hands down, sir.” The man lowered his weapon slowly, still keeping an eye on the other man, and speaking with rough respect. The Bishop slowly brought his arms to his side, and looked earnestly at the two men. In the dim light it was difficult to distinguish features. He was evidently free to go his way now, but he stood there making no movement.
“You can go on. You needn’t stay any longer on our account.” The man who had acted as spokesman turned and sat down on a stone. The other man stood viciously digging his stake into the ground.
“That’s just what I am staying for,” replied the Bishop. He sat down on a board that projected from the broken fence.
“You must like our company. It is hard sometimes for people to tear themselves away from us,” and the man standing up laughed coarsely.
“Shut up!” exclaimed the other. “We’re on the road to hell, though, that’s sure enough. We need better company than ourselves and the devil.”
“If you would only allow me to be of any help,” the Bishop spoke gently, even lovingly. The man on the stone stared at the Bishop through the darkness. After a moment of silence he spoke slowly like one who had finally decided upon a course he had at first rejected.
“Do you remember ever seeing me before?”
“No,” said the Bishop. “The light is not very good and I have really not had a good look at you.”
“Do you know me now?” The man suddenly took off his hat and getting up from the stone walked over to the Bishop until they were near enough to touch each other.
The man’s hair was coal black except one spot on the top of his head about as large as the palm of the hand, which was white.
The minute the Bishop saw that, he started. The memory of fifteen years ago began to stir in him. The man helped him.
“Don’t you remember one day back in ’81 or ’82 a man came to your house and told a story about his wife and child having been burned to death in a tenement fire in New York?”
“Yes, I begin to remember now.” The other man seemed to be interested. He ceased digging his stake in the ground and stood still listening.
“Do you remember how you took me into your own house that night and spent all next day trying to find me a job? And how when you succeeded in getting me a place in a warehouse as foreman, I promised to quit drinking because you asked me to?”
“I remember it now. I hope you have kept your promise.”
The man laughed savagely. Then he struck his hand against the fence with such sudden passion that he drew blood.
“Kept it! I was drunk inside of a week! I’ve been drinking ever since. But I’ve never forgotten you nor your prayer. Do you remember the morning after I came to your house, after breakfast you had prayers and asked me to come in and sit with the rest? That got me! But my mother used to pray! I can see her now kneeling down by my bed when I was a lad. Father came in one night and kicked her while she was kneeling there by me. But I never forgot that prayer of yours that morning. You prayed for me just as mother used to, and you didn’t seem to take ‘count of the fact that I was ragged and tough-looking and more than half drunk when I rang your door bell. Oh, what a life I’ve lived! The saloon has housed me and homed me and made hell on earth for me. But that prayer stuck to me all the time. My promise not to drink was broken into a thousand pieces inside of two Sundays, and I lost the job you found for me and landed in a police station two days later, but I never forgot you nor your prayer. I don’t know what good it has done me, but I never forgot it. And I won’t do any harm to you nor let any one else. So you’re free to go. That’s why.”
The Bishop did not stir. Somewhere a church clock struck one. The man had put on his hat and gone back to his seat on the stone. The Bishop was thinking hard.
“How long is it since you had work?” he asked, and the man standing up answered for the other.
“More’n six months since either of us did anything to tell of; unless you count ‘holding up’ work. I call it pretty wearing kind of a job myself, especially when we put in a night like this and don’t make nothin’.”
“Suppose I found good jobs for both of you? Would you quit this and begin all over?”
“What’s the use?” the man on the stone spoke sullenly. “I’ve reformed a hundred times. Every time I go down deeper. The devil’s begun to foreclose on me already. It’s too late.”
“No!” said the Bishop. And never before the most entranced audience had he felt the desire for souls burn up in him so strongly. All the time he sat there during the remarkable scene he prayed, “O Lord Jesus, give me the souls of these two for Thee! I am hungry for them. Give them to me!”
“No!” the Bishop repeated. “What does God want of you two men? It doesn’t so much matter what I want. But He wants just what I do in this case. You two men are of infinite value to Him.” And then his wonderful memory came to his aid in an appeal such as no one on earth among men could make under such circumstances. He had remembered the man’s name in spite of the wonderfully busy years that lay between his coming to the house and the present moment.
“Burns,” he said, and he yearned over the men with an unspeakable longing for them both, “if you and your friend here will go home with me tonight I will find you both places of honorable employment. I will believe in you and trust you. You are both comparatively young men. Why should God lose you? It is a great thing to win the love of the Great Father. It is a small thing that I should love you. But if you need to feel again that there is love in the world, you will believe me when I say, my brothers, that I love you, and in the name of Him who was crucified for our sins I cannot bear to see you miss the glory of the human life. Come, be men! Make another try for it, God helping you. No one but God and you and myself need ever know anything of this tonight. He has forgiven it the minute you ask Him to. You will find that true. Come! We’ll fight it out together, you two and I. It’s worth fighting for, everlasting life is. It was the sinner that Christ came to help. I’ll do what I can for you. O God, give me the souls of these two men!” and he broke into a prayer to God that was a continuation of his appeal to the men. His pent-up feeling had no other outlet. Before he had prayed many moments Burns was sitting with his face buried in his hands, sobbing. Where were his mother’s prayers now? They were adding to the power of the Bishop’s. And the other man, harder, less moved, without a previous knowledge of the Bishop, leaned back against the fence, stolid at first. But as the prayer went on, he was moved by it. What force of the Holy Spirit swept over his dulled, brutal, coarsened life, nothing but the eternal records of the recording angel can ever disclose. But the same supernatural Presence that smote Paul on the road to Damascus, and poured through Henry Maxwell’s church the morning he asked disciples to follow in Jesus’ steps, and had again broken irresistibly over the Nazareth Avenue congregation, now manifested Himself in this foul corner of the mighty city and over the natures of these two sinful sunken men, apparently lost to all the pleadings of conscience and memory and God. The prayer seemed to red open the crust that for years had surrounded them and shut them off from divine communication. And they themselves were thoroughly startled by it.
The Bishop ceased, and at first he himself did not realize what had happened. Neither did they. Burns still sat with his head bowed between his knees. The man leaning against the fence looked at the Bishop with a face in which new emotions of awe, repentance, astonishment and a broken gleam of joy struggled for expression. The Bishop rose.
“Come, my brothers. God is good. You shall stay at the Settlement tonight, and I will make good my promise as to the work.”
The two men followed him in silence. When they reached the Settlement it was after two o’clock. He let them in and led them to a room. At the door he paused a moment. His tall, commanding figure stood in the doorway and his pale face was illuminated with the divine glory.
“God bless you, my brothers!” he said, and leaving them his benediction he went away.
IT WAS the afternoon of that morning when Burns was installed in his new position as assistant janitor that he was cleaning off the front steps of the Settlement, when he paused a moment and stood up to look about him. The first thing he noticed was a beer sign just across the alley. He could almost touch it with his broom from where he stood. Over the street immediately opposite were two large saloons, and a little farther down were three more.
Suddenly the door of the nearest saloon opened and a man came out. At the same time two more went in. A strong odor of beer floated up to Burns as he stood on the steps. He clutched his broom handle tightly and began to sweep again. He had one foot on the porch and another on the steps just below. He took another step down, still sweeping. The sweat stood on his forehead although the day was frosty and the air chill. The saloon door opened again and three or four men came out. A child went in with a pail, and came out a moment later with a quart of beer. The child went by on the sidewalk just below him, and the odor of the beer came up to him. He took another step down, still sweeping desperately. His fingers were purple as he clutched the handle of the broom.
Then suddenly he pulled himself up one step and swept over the spot he had just cleaned. He then dragged himself by a tremendous effort back to the floor of the porch and went over into the corner of it farthest from the saloon and began to sweep there. “O God!” he cried, “if the Bishop would only come back!” The Bishop had gone out with Dr. Bruce somewhere, and there was no one about that he knew. He swept in the corner for two or three minutes. His face was drawn with the agony of his conflict. Gradually he edged out again towards the steps and began to go down them. He looked towards the sidewalk and saw that he had left one step unswept. The sight seemed to give him a reasonable excuse for going down there to finish his sweeping.
He was on the sidewalk now, sweeping the last step, with his face towards the Settlement and his back turned partly on the saloon across the alley. He swept the step a dozen times. The sweat rolled over his face and dropped down at his feet. By degrees he felt that he was drawn over towards that end of the step nearest the saloon. He could smell the beer and rum now as the fumes rose around him. It was like the infernal sulphur of the lowest hell, and yet it dragged him as by a giant’s hand nearer its source.
He was down in the middle of the sidewalk now, still sweeping. He cleared the space in front of the Settlement and even went out into the gutter and swept that. He took off his hat and rubbed his sleeve over his face. His lips were pallid and his teeth chattered. He trembled all over like a palsied man and staggered back and forth as if he was already drunk. His soul shook within him.
He had crossed over the little piece of stone flagging that measured the width of the alley, and now he stood in front of the saloon, looking at the sign, and staring into the window at the pile of whiskey and beer bottles arranged in a great pyramid inside. He moistened his lips with his tongue and took a step forward, looking around him stealthily. The door suddenly opened again and someone came out. Again the hot, penetrating smell of liquor swept out into the cold air, and he took another step towards the saloon door which had shut behind the customer. As he laid his fingers on the door handle, a tall figure came around the corner. It was the Bishop.
He seized Burns by the arm and dragged him back upon the sidewalk. The frenzied man, now mad for a drink, shrieked out a curse and struck at his friend savagely. It is doubtful if he really knew at first who was snatching him away from his ruin. The blow fell upon the Bishop’s face and cut a gash in his cheek. He never uttered a word. But over his face a look of majestic sorrow swept. He picked Burns up as if he had been a child and actually carried him up the steps and into the house. He put him down in the hall and then shut the door and put his back against it.
Burns fell on his knees sobbing and praying. The Bishop stood there panting with his exertion, although Burns was a slightly-built man and had not been a great weight for a man of his strength to carry. He was moved with unspeakable pity.
“Pray, Burns–pray as you never prayed before! Nothing else will save you!”
“O God! Pray with me. Save me! Oh, save me from my hell!” cried Burns. And, the Bishop knelt by him in the hall and prayed as only he could pray.
After that they rose and Burns went to his room. He came out of it that evening like a humble child. And the Bishop went his way older from that experience, bearing on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Truly he was learning something of what it means to walk in His steps.
But the saloon! It stood there, and all the others lined the street like so many traps set for Burns. How long would the man be able to resist the smell of the damnable stuff? The Bishop went out on the porch. The air of the whole city seemed to be impregnated with the odor of beer. “How long, O Lord, how long?” he prayed. Dr. Bruce came out, and the two friends talked about Burns and his temptation.
“Did you ever make any inquiries about the ownership of this property adjoining us?” the Bishop asked.
“No, I haven’t taken time for it. I will now if you think it would be worth while. But what can we do, Edward, against the saloon in this great city? It is as firmly established as the churches or politics. What power can ever remove it?”
“God will do it in time, as He has removed slavery,” was the grave reply. “Meanwhile I think we have a right to know who controls this saloon so near the Settlement.”
“I’ll find out,” said Dr. Bruce.
Two days later he walked into the business office of one of the members of Nazareth Avenue Church and asked to see him a few moments. He was cordially received by his old parishioner, who welcomed him into his room and urged him to take all the time he wanted.
“I called to see you about that property next the Settlement where the Bishop and myself now are, you know. I am going to speak plainly, because life is too short and too serious for us both to have any foolish hesitation about this matter. Clayton, do you think it is right to rent that property for a saloon?”
Dr. Bruce’s question was as direct and uncompromising as he had meant it to be. The effect of it on his old parishioner was instantaneous.
The hot blood mounted to the face of the man who sat there beneath a picture of business activity in a great city. Then he grew pale, dropped his head on his hands, and when he raised it again Dr. Bruce was amazed to see a tear roll over his face.
“Doctor, did you know that I took the pledge that morning with the others?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“But you never knew how I have been tormented over my failure to keep it in this instance. That saloon property has been the temptation of the devil to me. It is the best paying investment at present that I have. And yet it was only a minute before you came in here that I was in an agony of remorse to think how I was letting a little earthly gain tempt me into a denial of the very Christ I had promised to follow. I knew well enough that He would never rent property for such a purpose. There is no need, Dr. Bruce, for you to say a word more.”
Clayton held out his hand and Dr. Bruce grasped it and shook it hard. After a little he went away. But it was a long time afterwards that he learned all the truth about the struggle that Clayton had known. It was only a part of the history that belonged to Nazareth Avenue Church since that memorable morning when the Holy Spirit sanctioned the Christ-like pledge. Not even the Bishop and Dr. Bruce, moving as they now did in the very presence itself of divine impulses, knew yet that over the whole sinful city the Spirit was brooding with mighty eagerness, waiting for the disciples to arise to the call of sacrifice and suffering, touching hearts long dull and cold, making business men and money-makers uneasy in their absorption by the one great struggle for more wealth, and stirring through the church as never in all the city’s history the church had been moved. The Bishop and Dr. Bruce had already seen some wonderful things in their brief life at the Settlement. They were to see far greater soon, more astonishing revelations of the divine power than they had supposed possible in this age of the world.
Within a month the saloon next the Settlement was closed. The saloon-keeper’s lease had expired, and Clayton not only closed the property to the whiskey men, but offered the building to the Bishop and Dr. Bruce to use for the Settlement work, which had now grown so large that the building they had first rented was not sufficient for the different industries that were planned.
One of the most important of these was the pure-food department suggested by Felicia. It was not a month after Clayton turned the saloon property over to the Settlement that Felicia found herself installed in the very room where souls had been lost, as head of the department not only of cooking but of a course of housekeeping for girls who wished to go out to service. She was now a resident of the Settlement, and found a home with Mrs. Bruce and the other young women from the city who were residents. Martha, the violinist, remained at the place where the Bishop had first discovered the two girls, and came over to the Settlement certain evenings to give lessons in music.
“Felicia, tell us your plan in full now,” said the Bishop one evening when, in a rare interval of rest from the great pressure of work, he was with Dr. Bruce, and Felicia had come in from the other building.
“Well, I have long thought of the hired girl problem,” said Felicia with an air of wisdom that made Mrs. Bruce smile as she looked at the enthusiastic, vital beauty of this young girl, transformed into a new creature by the promise she had made to live the Christ-like life. “And I have reached certain conclusions in regard to it that you men are not yet able to fathom, but Mrs. Bruce will understand me.”
“We acknowledge our infancy, Felicia. Go on,” said the Bishop humbly.
“Then this is what I propose to do. The old saloon building is large enough to arrange into a suite of rooms that will represent an ordinary house. My plan is to have it so arranged, and then teach housekeeping and cooking to girls who will afterwards go out to service. The course will be six months’ long; in that time I will teach plain cooking, neatness, quickness, and a love of good work.”
“Hold on, Felicia!” the Bishop interrupted, “this is not an age of miracles!”
“Then we will make it one,” replied Felicia. “I know this seems like an impossibility, but I want to try it. I know a score of girls already who will take the course, and if we can once establish something like an esprit de corps among the girls themselves, I am sure it will be of great value to them. I know already that the pure food is working a revolution in many families.”
“Felicia, if you can accomplish half what you propose it will bless this community,” said Mrs. Bruce. “I don’t see how you can do it, but I say, God bless you, as you try.”
“So say we all!” cried Dr. Bruce and the Bishop, and Felicia plunged into the working out of her plan with the enthusiasm of her discipleship which every day grew more and more practical and serviceable.
It must be said here that Felicia’s plan succeeded beyond all expectations. She developed wonderful powers of persuasion, and taught her girls with astonishing rapidity to do all sorts of housework. In time, the graduates of Felicia’s cooking school came to be prized by housekeepers all over the city. But that is anticipating our story. The history of the Settlement has never yet been written. When it is Felicia’s part will be found of very great importance.
The depth of winter found Chicago presenting, as every great city of the world presents to the eyes of Christendom the marked contrast between riches and poverty, between culture, refinement, luxury, ease, and ignorance, depravity, destitution and the bitter struggle for bread. It was a hard winter but a gay winter. Never had there been such a succession of parties, receptions, balls, dinners, banquets, fetes, gayeties. Never had the opera and the theatre been so crowded with fashionable audiences. Never had there been such a lavish display of jewels and fine dresses and equipages. And on the other hand, never had the deep want and suffering been so cruel, so sharp, so murderous. Never had the winds blown so chilling over the lake and through the thin shells of tenements in the neighborhood of the Settlement. Never had the pressure for food and fuel and clothes been so urgently thrust up against the people of the city in their most importunate and ghastly form. Night after night the Bishop and Dr. Bruce with their helpers went out and helped save men and women and children from the torture of physical privation. Vast quantities of food and clothing and large sums of money were donated by the churches, the charitable societies, the civic authorities and the benevolent associations. But the personal touch of the Christian disciple was very hard to secure for personal work. Where was the discipleship that was obeying the Master’s command to go itself to the suffering and give itself with its gift in order to make the gift of value in time to come? The Bishop found his heart sing within him as he faced this fact more than any other. Men would give money who would not think of giving themselves. And the money they gave did not represent any real sacrifice because they did not miss it. They gave what was the easiest to give, what hurt them the least. Where did the sacrifice come in? Was this following Jesus? Was this going with Him all the way? He had been to members of his own aristocratic, splendidly wealthy congregations, and was appalled to find how few men and women of that luxurious class in the churches would really suffer any genuine inconvenience for the sake of suffering humanity. Is charity the giving of worn-out garments? Is it a ten-dollar bill given to a paid visitor or secretary of some benevolent organization in the church? Shall the man never go and give his gift himself? Shall the woman never deny herself her reception or her party or her musicale, and go and actually touch, herself, the foul, sinful sore of diseased humanity as it festers in the great metropolis? Shall charity be conveniently and easily done through some organization? Is it possible to organize the affections so that love shall work disagreeable things by proxy?
All this the Bishop asked as he plunged deeper into the sin and sorrow of that bitter winter. He was bearing his cross with joy. But he burned and fought within over the shifting of personal love by the many upon the hearts of the few. And still, silently, powerfully, resistlessly, the Holy Spirit was moving through the churches, even the aristocratic, wealthy, ease-loving members who shunned the terrors of the social problem as they would shun a contagious disease.
THE breakfast hour at the settlement was the one hour in the day when the whole family found a little breathing space to fellowship together. It was an hour of relaxation. There was a great deal of good-natured repartee and much real wit and enjoyable fun at this hour. The Bishop told his best stories. Dr. Bruce was at his best in anecdote. This company of disciples was healthily humorous in spite of the atmosphere of sorrow that constantly surrounded them. In fact, the Bishop often said the faculty of humor was as God-given as any other and in his own case it was the only safety valve he had for the tremendous pressure put upon him.
This particular morning he was reading extracts from a morning paper for the benefit of the others. Suddenly he paused and his face instantly grew stern and sad. The rest looked up and a hush fell over the table.
“Shot and killed while taking a lump of coal from a car! His family was freezing and he had had no work for six months. Six children and a wife all packed into a cabin with three rooms, on the West Side. One child wrapped in rags in a closet!”
These were headlines that he read slowly. He then went on and read the detailed account of the shooting and the visit of the reporter to the tenement where the family lived. He finished, and there was silence around the table. The humor of the hour was swept out of existence by this bit of human tragedy. The great city roared about the Settlement. The awful current of human life was flowing in a great stream past the Settlement House, and those who had work were hurrying to it in a vast throng. But thousands were going down in the midst of that current, clutching at last hopes, dying literally in a land of plenty because the boon of physical toil was denied them.
There were various comments on the part of the residents. One of the new-comers, a young man preparing for the ministry, said: “Why don’t the man apply to one of the charity organizations for help? Or to the city? It certainly is not true that even at its worst this city full of Christian people would knowingly allow any one to go without food or fuel.”
“No, I don’t believe it would,” replied Dr. Bruce. “But we don’t know the history of this man’s case. He may have asked for help so often before that, finally, in a moment of desperation he determined to help himself. I have known such cases this winter.”
“That is not the terrible fact in this case,” said the Bishop. “The awful thing about it is the fact that the man had not had any work for six months.”
“Why don’t such people go out into the country?” asked the divinity student.
Some one at the table who had made a special study of the opportunities for work in the country answered the question. According to the investigator the places that were possible for work in the country were exceedingly few for steady employment, and in almost every case they were offered only to men without families. Suppose a man’s wife or children were ill. How would he move or get into the country? How could he pay even the meager sum necessary to move his few goods? There were a thousand reasons probably why this particular man did not go elsewhere.
“Meanwhile there are the wife and children,” said Mrs. Bruce. “How awful! Where is the place, did you say?”
“Why, it is only three blocks from here. This is the ‘Penrose district.’ I believe Penrose himself owns half of the houses in that block. They are among the worst houses in this part of the city. And Penrose is a church member.”
“Yes, he belongs to the Nazareth Avenue Church,” replied Dr. Bruce in a low voice.
The Bishop rose from the table the very figure of divine wrath. He had opened his lips to say what seldom came from him in the way of denunciation, when the bell rang and one of the residents went to the door.
“Tell Dr. Bruce and the Bishop I want to see them. Penrose is the name–Clarence Penrose. Dr. Bruce knows me.”
The family at the breakfast table heard every word. The Bishop exchanged a significant look with Dr. Bruce and the two men instantly left the table and went out into the hall.
“Come in here, Penrose,” said Dr. Bruce, and they ushered the visitor into the reception room, closed the door and were alone.
Clarence Penrose was one of the most elegant looking men in Chicago. He came from an aristocratic family of great wealth and social distinction. He was exceedingly wealthy and had large property holdings in different parts of the city. He had been a member of Dr. Bruce’s church many years. He faced the two ministers with a look of agitation on his face that showed plainly the mark of some unusual experience. He was very pale and his lips trembled as he spoke. When had Clarence Penrose ever before yielded to such a strange emotion?
“This affair of the shooting! You understand? You have read it? The family lived in one of my houses. It is a terrible event. But that is not the primary cause of my visit.” He stammered and looked anxiously into the faces of the two men. The Bishop still looked stern. He could not help feeling that this elegant man of leisure could have done a great deal to alleviate the horrors in his tenements, possibly have prevented this tragedy if he had sacrificed some of his personal ease and luxury to better the conditions of the people in his district.
Penrose turned toward Dr. Bruce. “Doctor!” he exclaimed, and there was almost a child’s terror in his voice. “I came to say that I have had an experience so unusual that nothing but the supernatural can explain it. You remember I was one of those who took the pledge to do as Jesus would do. I thought at the time, poor fool that I was, that I had all along been doing the Christian thing. I gave liberally out of my abundance to the church and charity. I never gave myself to cost me any suffering. I have been living in a perfect hell of contradictions ever since I took that pledge. My little girl, Diana you remember, also took the pledge with me. She has been asking me a great many questions lately about the poor people and where they live. I was obliged to answer her. One of her questions last night touched my sore! ‘Do you own any houses where these poor people live? Are they nice and warm like ours?’ You know how a child will ask questions like these. I went to bed tormented with what I now know to be the divine arrows of conscience. I could not sleep. I seemed to see the judgment day. I was placed before the Judge. I was asked to give an account of my deeds done in the body. ‘How many sinful souls had I visited in prison? What had I done with my stewardship? How about those tenements where people froze in winter and stifled in summer? Did I give any thought to them except to receive the rentals from them? Where did my suffering come in? Would Jesus have done as I had done and was doing? Had I broken my pledge? How had I used the money and the culture and the social influence I possessed? Had I used it to bless humanity, to relieve the suffering, to bring joy to the distressed and hope to the desponding? I had received much. How much had I given?’
“All this came to me in a waking vision as distinctly as I see you two men and myself now. I was unable to see the end of the vision. I had a confused picture in my mind of the suffering Christ pointing a condemning finger at me, and the rest was shut out by mist and darkness. I have not slept for twenty-four hours. The first thing I saw this morning was the account of the shooting at the coal yards. I read the account with a feeling of horror I have not been able to shake off. I am a guilty creature before God.”
Penrose paused suddenly. The two men looked at him solemnly. What power of the Holy Spirit moved the soul of this hitherto self-satisfied, elegant, cultured man who belonged to the social life that was accustomed to go its way placidly, unmindful of the great sorrows of a great city and practically ignorant of what it means to suffer for Jesus’ sake? Into that room came a breath such as before swept over Henry Maxwell’s church and through Nazareth avenue. The Bishop laid his hand on the shoulder of Penrose and said: “My brother, God has been very near to you. Let us thank Him.”
“Yes! yes!” sobbed Penrose. He sat down on a chair and covered his face. The Bishop prayed. Then Penrose quietly said: “Will you go with me to that house?”
For answer the two men put on their overcoats and went with him to the home of the dead man’s family.
That was the beginning of a new and strange life for Clarence Penrose. From the moment he stepped into that wretched hovel of a home and faced for the first time in his life a despair and suffering such as he had read of but did not know by personal contact, he dated a new life. It would be another long story to tell how, in obedience to his pledge he began to do with his tenement property as he knew Jesus would do. What would Jesus do with tenement property if He owned it in Chicago or any other great city of the world? Any man who can imagine any true answers to this question can easily tell what Clarence Penrose began to do.
Now before that winter reached its bitter climax many things occurred in the city which concerned the lives of all the characters in this history of the disciples who promised to walk in His steps.
It chanced by one of those coincidences that seem to occur preternaturally that one afternoon just as Felicia came out of the Settlement with a basket of food which she was going to leave as a sample with a baker in the Penrose district, Stephen Clyde opened the door of the carpenter shop in the basement and came out in time to meet her as she reached the sidewalk.
“Let me carry your basket, please,” he said.
“Why do you say ‘please’?” asked Felicia, handing over the basket while they walked along.
“I would like to say something else,” replied Stephen, glancing at her shyly and yet with a boldness that frightened him, for he had been loving Felicia more every day since he first saw her and especially since she stepped into the shop that day with the Bishop, and for weeks now they had been thrown in each other’s company.
“What else?” asked Felicia, innocently falling into the trap.
“Why–” said Stephen, turning his fair, noble face full toward her and eyeing her with the look of one who would have the best of all things in the universe, “I would like to say: ‘Let me carry your basket, dear Felicia’.”
Felicia never looked so beautiful in her life. She walked on a little way without even turning her face toward him. It was no secret with her own heart that she had given it to Stephen some time ago. Finally she turned and said shyly, while her face grew rosy and her eyes tender: “Why don’t you say it, then?”
“May I?” cried Stephen, and he was so careless for a minute of the way he held the basket, that Felicia exclaimed:
“Yes! But oh, don’t drop my goodies!”
“Why, I wouldn’t drop anything so precious for all the world, dear Felicia,” said Stephen, who now walked on air for several blocks, and what was said during that walk is private correspondence that we have no right to read. Only it is a matter of history that day that the basket never reached its destination, and that over in the other direction, late in the afternoon, the Bishop, walking along quietly from the Penrose district, in rather a secluded spot near the outlying part of the Settlement district, heard a familiar voice say:
“But tell me, Felicia, when did you begin to love me?”
“I fell in love with a little pine shaving just above your ear that day when I saw you in the shop!” said the other voice with a laugh so clear, so pure, so sweet that it did one good to hear it.
“Where are you going with that basket?” he tried to say sternly.
“We are taking it to–where are we taking it, Felicia?”
“Dear Bishop, we are taking it home to begin–“
“To begin housekeeping with,” finished Stephen, coming to the rescue.
“Are you?” said the Bishop. “I hope you will invite me to share. I know what Felicia’s cooking is.”
“Bishop, dear Bishop!” said Felicia, and she did not pretend to hide her happiness; “indeed, you shall be the most honored guest. Are you glad?”
“Yes, I am,” he replied, interpreting Felicia’s words as she wished. Then he paused a moment and said gently: “God bless you both!” and went his way with a tear in his eye and a prayer in his heart, and left them to their joy.
Yes. Shall not the same divine power of love that belongs to earth be lived and sung by the disciples of the Man of Sorrows and the Burden-bearer of sins? Yea, verily! And this man and woman shall walk hand in hand through this great desert of human woe in this city, strengthening each other, growing more loving with the experience of the world’s sorrows, walking in His steps even closer yet because of their love for each other, bringing added blessing to thousands of wretched creatures because they are to have a home of their own to share with the homeless. “For this cause,” said our Lord Jesus Christ, “shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.” And Felicia and Stephen, following the Master, love him with a deeper, truer service and devotion because of the earthly affection which Heaven itself sanctions with its solemn blessing.
But it was a little after the love story of the Settlement became a part of its glory that Henry Maxwell of Raymond came to Chicago with Rachel Winslow and Virginia Page and Rollin and Alexander Powers and President Marsh, and the occasion was a remarkable gathering at the hall of the Settlement arranged by the Bishop and Dr. Bruce, who had finally persuaded Mr. Maxwell and his fellow disciples in Raymond to come on to be present at this meeting.
There were invited into the Settlement Hall, meeting for that night men out of work, wretched creatures who had lost faith in God and man, anarchists and infidels, free-thinkers and no-thinkers. The representation of all the city’s worst, most hopeless, most dangerous, depraved elements faced Henry Maxwell and the other disciples when the meeting began. And still the Holy Spirit moved over the great, selfish, pleasure-loving, sin-stained city, and it lay in God’s hand, not knowing all that awaited it. Every man and woman at the meeting that night had seen the Settlement motto over the door blazing through the transparency set up by the divinity student: “What would Jesus do?”
And Henry Maxwell, as for the first time he stepped under the doorway, was touched with a deeper emotion than he had felt in a long time as he thought of the first time that question had come to him in the piteous appeal of the shabby young man who had appeared in the First Church of Raymond at the morning service.
“Now, when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me.”
WHEN Henry Maxwell began to speak to the souls crowded into the Settlement Hall that night it is doubtful if he ever faced such an audience in his life. It is quite certain that the city of Raymond did not contain such a variety of humanity. Not even the Rectangle at its worst could furnish so many men and women who had fallen entirely out of the reach of the church and of all religious and even Christian influences.
What did he talk about? He had already decided that point. He told in the simplest language he could command some of the results of obedience to the pledge as it had been taken in Raymond. Every man and woman in that audience knew something about Jesus Christ. They all had some idea of His character, and however much they had grown bitter toward the forms of Christian ecclesiasticism or the social system, they preserved some standard of right and truth, and what little some of them still retained was taken from the person of the Peasant of Galilee.
So they were interested in what Maxwell said. “What would Jesus do?” He began to apply the question to the social problem in general, after finishing the story of Raymond. The audience was respectfully attentive. It was more than that. It was genuinely interested. As Mr. Maxwell went on, faces all over the hall leaned forward in a way seldom seen in church audiences or anywhere except among workingmen or the people of the street when once they are thoroughly aroused. “What would Jesus do?” Suppose that were the motto not only of the churches but of the business men, the politicians, the newspapers, the workingmen, the society people–how long would it take under such a standard of conduct to revolutionize the world? What was the trouble with the world? It was suffering from selfishness. No one ever lived who had succeeded in overcoming selfishness like Jesus. If men followed Him regardless of results the world would at once begin to enjoy a new life.
Maxwell never knew how much it meant to hold the respectful attention of that hall full of diseased and sinful humanity. The Bishop and Dr. Bruce, sitting there, looking on, seeing many faces that represented scorn of creeds, hatred of the social order, desperate narrowness and selfishness, marveled that even so soon under the influence of the Settlement life, the softening process had begun already to lessen the bitterness of hearts, many of which had grown bitter from neglect and indifference.
And still, in spite of the outward show of respect to the speaker, no one, not even the Bishop, had any true conception of the feeling pent up in that room that night. Among those who had heard of the meeting and had responded to the invitation were twenty or thirty men out of work who had strolled past the Settlement that afternoon, read the notice of the meeting, and had come in out of curiosity and to escape the chill east wind. It was a bitter night and the saloons were full. But in that whole district of over thirty thousand souls, with the exception of the saloons, there was not a door open except the clean, pure Christian door of the Settlement. Where would a man without a home or without work or without friends naturally go unless to the saloon?
It had been the custom at the Settlement for a free discussion to follow any open meeting of this kind, and when Mr. Maxwell finished and sat down, the Bishop, who presided that night, rose and made the announcement that any man in the hall was at liberty to ask questions, to speak out his feelings or declare his convictions, always with the understanding that whoever took part was to observe the simple rules that governed parliamentary bodies and obey the three-minute rule which, by common consent, would be enforced on account of the numbers present.