She did think of it, and tears struggled to come with the thought.
"I am not going," she said, without looking in his eyes. "Don't ask me, George."
"And you have no pity on poor me, going without you?"
"No," she answered, smiling. "You will survive it."
"Cruel lady!" he said dramatically, and bore her slender fingers to his lips.
She withdrew her hand with a slight flush, and he bethought him to look at his watch.
"Oh," he exclaimed, "it's late. Mercer will think he has lost me, too."
He made hasty adieux and was off, his light, swinging step sounding pleasantly down the walk.
Winifred stood where he had left her, with a conflict of emotions in her heart. She still felt the tingle of his lips upon her hand, and still smiled at the airy nothings he said. But there was pain in the compound of her thoughts; pain at a difference between them that proclaimed its power to grow wider; pain at defeat in making a principle understood and appreciated; pain most of all from the subtle sense of something pure and sweet now sullied, as though too rude a breath had blown upon a sensitive flower, or as though pearls had been ignorantly trodden upon.
Meanwhile Frothingham, on his way to the handsome church, indulged in characteristic meditations of his own regarding Winifred's strange freak. He heartily hoped she would get over it. It was a stupid turn for affairs to take as regarded himself; for perpetual meetings at the choir, with the pleasant walks attached, and frequent private rehearsals in the Gray drawing-room had furnished admirable facilities for the courtship of whose issue he had not a doubt. But it was far from a misfortune that could not be mended. He should miss her immensely, of course, but there were other pleasant people in the choir and he held an easy popularity among them. Then he was too well ingratiated in her favor and as a frequent guest at her house to be displaced by this matter. He should still do the attentive in every available way. But he hoped she was not getting fanatical. It would be inexpressibly stupid to have a wife over pious, with extreme views about things. He should like her to be religious up to a certain point. He thought women ought to be that. It was a good thing to have somebody in a house who knew something about those things in case of trouble. Mr. Frothingham was himself in the insurance business—at the head of a prominent company's office for that city—and he was accustomed to take business-like account of life risks, and to recognize death as a hard factor to be dealt with. Just now he unconsciously erected a kind of spiritual lightning rod against his future house in the piety of its expected mistress. But he hoped she would not get too religious—not enough so to interfere with the life of gayety which he expected to continue for many a year. But it did not occur to him to relinquish her even if she should begin to show symptoms of extreme views. He was rather fond of Winifred—quite so, in fact; and he was not indifferent to "the old man's ducats," as he had confided to himself and to one or two most intimate friends. On the whole he congratulated himself on pleasant prospects ahead, and was not too much disconcerted by his own appearance alone at the rehearsal.
Winifred spent the evening rather ill at ease. Its pleasant habit was broken up. Had she been foolish? Was she not taking an unheard-of stand? Would it have been better to go along and conform her course to the popular conscience instead of her own, perhaps very silly, one? She should be laughed at, and it was miserable to be laughed at or thought eccentric. She tried to play the piano, but imagined strains from the Redemption interrupted her. She went to talk with her mother, but found her seated beside the library table with her embroidery while her father read aloud.
Mrs. Gray managed to utter an aside:
"I had forgotten, child, that you were not going to the rehearsal. How strange it seems!"
Winifred drifted away again, unable to listen to what her father was reading. Hubert was nowhere to be found. She went at last to her own room and did the best thing possible. She poured out her heart before God, telling Him with the simplicity that had characterized her first coming to Him her perplexity and unhappiness.
"I am miserable," she said to Him. "I don't know whether I have done right or not, and I miss the music so much. Please let me know if it is right to give it up? I do wish to worship Thee."
No flood of revelation poured at once upon her, but she took her Bible and read. She had learned no method of study, but read where she chanced to open. The portion did not say anything about choirs or rehearsals, but it led her mind away and soothed her. And its atmosphere was so pure and fragrant that when the debated thing rose again it was instantly judged by contrast. Very different was the spiritual air of her choir experience, as in imagination she stepped back into it; and the fellowship of George Frothingham, Mr. Mercer, and the drink-sodden organist, did not seem like the communion of the saints as she found it in the Acts of the Apostles.
With the vanishing of her doubts as to the wisdom of her course came back the gentle peace that she had known for five blessed days, and its price was above all musical delights.
A NEW SUNDAY
Sunday morning found four people seated in the comfortable pew which the iron merchant was able to pay for. And, by the way, what a comfortable thing is wealth in the various ramifications of life, even to one's church relationships! No fear of the unwelcome bidding, "Sit thou here under my footstool"—in the undesirable front seats where one's neck must be craned backward to admit of seeing the minister; nor of being relegated to the back pews when ears have become a little dull with age. How thankful should one be whose lot in life is thus favorably cast! But we have not admitted to our consciousness a thankfulness that the Epistle of James is not often read; or, if read, too literally dwelt upon. We have found a grateful oil to pour upon any rising waters of ill conscience in reflecting upon the beneficent adjustment of social relationships by a wise Providence and the divine right of money-kings.
Mrs. Gray and her neighbor, Mrs. Butterworth, exchanged serene glances of recognition across the shallow partition that separated them, but the latter added a look of inquiry as it was observed that Winifred was with her family. Mrs. Gray's heart sank at the thought of having to explain the phenomenon when once the service should be over. Winifred felt that many eyes must note her presence there instead of in the choir, and the embarrassment of the thought almost dissipated the spirit of true worship for which she had longed and prayed. But she had soon forgotten to a considerable degree the people about her, and gave herself diligently to the service. It was not altogether without self-consciousness, however, that she joined in the hymns, fearing lest her own voice should be heard above others. Mrs. Gray, too, wished that she would not sing quite so loudly, lest it should destroy the convenient fiction of the laryngitis.
Hubert realized that he took his place in the congregation on an entirely new basis this day, and he endeavored earnestly to put away all spirit of his former prejudice and to receive in meekness anything which his Lord might say to him from His place in the midst. He tried to forget how utterly hollow and meaningless the formalities of the service had heretofore seemed to him, and to discern, if possible, within the mold of man's fashioning the operation of the Spirit of God. With his own heart at peace with God and charged with His joy, it was easy to look upon all about him more kindly, with an eye as critical to find good and honor it as to discover evil. Upon even his long-time aversion, Doctor Schoolman, he looked with expectancy, for had he not, after all, known for these many years Him whom he—Hubert—had but just "begun to know," as Winifred would put it? With ears now open, should he not hear much which would cause his heart to burn within him?
Hubert and Winifred shared the same hymn-book, and together sang with deep gladness hymns which ascribe praises to Christ. But, intent upon truthfulness, Winifred paused before sentiments not understood, or the profession of experiences quite unfelt, and let the congregation sing on without her. The privilege of doing so gave her keen satisfaction, even though it was difficult to stop in the midst of a pleasant melody.
"Better a break in the melody than in sincerity," she said to herself, "since the Lord is here and taking note of everything."
The thought of His presence was very sweet; not at all the vision of terror which it had seemed to her a week ago. She found the fear of Him not incompatible with the purest confidence and love.
The choir rendered their accustomed service, and a new soprano, on trial, exploited her skill in solo parts. She sang without Winifred's refinement of artistic sense, but sang fashionably. She sang dramatically, and cast languishing glances at the unresponsive backs of the congregation, blinking over her notes as though invisible footlights dazzled her eyes. It was not easy to find the sentiment sung in the midst of the quavering notes, so the poor worshipers below could scarcely offer "amens" in their hearts; but they might perhaps consider thankfully that some sort of noise, "joyful" or otherwise, had been made unto the Lord by their paid proxy.
Doctor Schoolman's sermon was a typical one. Finished and elegant, his polished sentences reached his congregation gently; not like swift arrows from a tense bow, but rather like harmless darts taken from the preacher's quiver and laid without violence against the hearts of his listeners. Very good arrows they often were from the philosophic standpoint, but seldom fashioned from the rugged essential truths of the doctrine of Christ.
He had a text from Scripture certainly. But no slavish adherence to its evident meaning, as seen by its setting, hampered the orator in his thought. Indeed, was it not a kindness to the old Book that still somewhat from its pages was thought worthy to act as a peg upon which to hang the ripe and cultivated ideas of the twentieth century?
Hubert did not find his soul much fed by the discourse, but, keen and discriminating as his mind might be, he was not yet a Bible student and able to disentangle the original thoughts of the preacher from the teachings of revelation. He found much to assent to ethically, but, compared with the revelation in his laboratory when the pure light of heaven shone upon the pages of John's Gospel, the rhetorical utterances of Doctor Schoolman were as water unto wine. They were not so commanding but that he at last found time to glance at his neighbors to see how they were taking the sermon. Winifred was too near him to be looked at, likewise his father; but he could see his mother. Very elegant, very composed, very approving she looked. A calm contentment beamed upon her mobile face, and Hubert could not help it that his sharp eye, formed to detect minutiae, printed upon his mind even the details of the picture she made, sitting so quietly there. Soft, lustrous, black silk became well the figure which a life of gentle inactivity caused to incline to corpulence, while a modest show of exquisite lace relieved its somberness. There was just a tiny glitter of costly gems, not too vulgarly showy for church, and the most suitable of bonnets crowned the graceful head, whose waves of soft brown hair still repudiated silver.
The minister's text led him to heaven at this point, and he drew it in sentimental lines; a place whose essential light was not so much the Lamb as other things; a place of reunited friends, of congenial occupations, of tastes gratified, and of knowledge ever widening. He offered no uncomfortable suggestion that any of his hearers might fail of entering there.
Hubert saw among his hearers abstracted faces not a few; interested, studious faces; and hungry faces which looked their longing for meat not found as yet in the Lord's house. Among the last class he noticed in one of the front pews a man, evidently an artisan, whose deep, large eyes looked yearningly toward the pulpit with an appeal for bread, while from it there came, through fine and learned discourse, to his untutored mind a stone. His face smote Hubert with a sudden pity, and a hunger crept into his own heart, not alone to know Christ, but to make Him known. He wondered if this man had ever seen Him as he had. Oh, if he could only tell him of Him, and turn the misery of those longing eyes into joy!
The sermon ended. It was never very long; for Doctor Schoolman well knew that patience, that sits good-naturedly for hours at games or races, or in the seats of a packed theater, has very short limits at church. He never taxed it, nor himself, too far. So the closing hymn was punctually sung, and the benediction was pronounced in tender tones upon the congregation.
Mrs. Butterworth's curiosity blossomed afresh when the meeting was over and she had the opportunity of speaking with Winifred and her mother. She addressed herself to the former, to Mrs. Gray's mingled relief and terror; relief that she herself was not called upon to find excuses, and terror lest Winifred should make herself ridiculous.
"You were not in the choir this morning?" she said with a "why" in her voice.
"No," said Winifred, "I have left the choir."
"Really!" exclaimed Mrs. Butterworth in a shocked voice. "I hope not for good?"
"Yes—I think it is for good," Winifred confessed.
"Oh, please do not say so!" cried Mrs. Butterworth, but in a suppressed voice, for they had not yet left the church. "What shall we do? We have enjoyed your singing so very much!"
"I am afraid I have been too conscious of that fact," said Winifred frankly, while her mother looked alarmed. "I think I shall be able to worship God more sincerely in the congregation."
Mrs. Gray felt that the worst had come, now that Winifred had declared her position. She almost turned faint as she heard her speak to Mrs. Butterworth so simply and directly of worshiping God. To be sure they were still in the building supposably dedicated to that end, but to speak aloud of it in so many words seemed very bad form. Her daughter might sing protests of adoration in the ears of the whole congregation, with the loudest of affected fervor, and she found no fault with it. But the comfort of that was that nobody believed she meant it!
Mrs. Butterworth looked at Winifred keenly, and partially grasped her meaning.
"Oh, I hope you'll not look at it that way," she said half soothingly. "It might suit your own feelings better, but what about ours? I have often said," and her eyebrows arched plaintively, "that your singing did me more good than the sermon!"
Winifred looked at the worldly, fashionable woman and wondered, not at all cynically, how much good her combined efforts with Doctor Schoolman's had done toward a life-transformation.
"I am sorry not to sing," she said sympathetically, "since you enjoyed it so much, I would gladly continue if I could. I cannot. But there is already someone in my place—"
Mrs. Butterworth lifted her hand in silent protest. She looked at Winifred reproachfully, and settled her lips as one who should say nothing of the new singer in contrast with her favorite. She shook her head resignedly, and at this moment they were joined by someone else who proffered greetings. Winifred was glad to join Hubert and to slip out as quickly as possible, they both as usual preferring the walk home to the carriage. Frothingham saw them from afar, and inwardly commented upon Hubert's unwonted appearance at church for two consecutive Sundays, and his own consequent loss. He had no mind to join Winifred with Hubert for a third.
The two exchanged views of the sermon on the way home. It seemed very strange to hear Hubert speak of it sympathetically. He mentioned some admirable points which he found in the minister's reasoning, and refrained from saying that the change of heart he had himself experienced had not made less hateful to him Doctor Schoolman's affected style.
"How did you like the sermon?" he asked Winifred when he had expressed his own opinion.
"Oh, I don't know," said Winifred hesitatingly. "He said some lovely things. That illustration from Greek mythology was beautiful. I am sure I shall remember that. But I wish," she added innocently, "that he had said more about the Lord."
"So do I," said Hubert decidedly.
They walked on in silence for awhile and then Hubert spoke.
"I am not a qualified judge of sermons," he said, "but I would a hundred times rather read the Gospel of John."
"Are you still reading it?" said Winifred,
"I wish we might read it together," she said wistfully.
"We might," he said. "Shall we begin to-day?"
"By all means. But I can't read Greek," she added doubtfully. She had observed the Greek Testament with its fresh markings.
He laughed. "But fortunately I can read English," he said. And so it was arranged.
NOT OF THE WORLD
That afternoon found Hubert and Winifred with their books, looking about for the most suitable place to read. Somnolent sounds from the couch in the library warned them not to locate there. They decided on a cool window-seat in the drawing-room overlooking the garden. There they settled themselves and found their places. It was decided to begin at the point Hubert had reached, which was the seventeenth chapter. Before beginning to read Hubert shaded his eyes with his hand for a moment to ask, as had become his wont since he first sought to know God, for light upon the Word. Winifred understood the act and joined him silently.
He began reading reverently and slowly. The simple, stately words fell very sweetly upon their ears. They paused often, so as to understand more fully what they read. They read with the intent earnestness of those who explore new territory, and who have immense interests in things discovered. They lingered first over the second verse:
"As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given him."
"'As many as thou hast given him,'" repeated Winifred. "What do you think that means, Hubert?"
Hubert gazed into vacancy meditatively. "I don't know," he announced, very slowly; "there is a profound mystery here which I have seen in earlier chapters. I do not see the point of meeting between two laws that seem almost contradictory. But one point seems very clear, and it meets us very simply on our human side: that is, that the one who 'is willing to do His will' is the one whom the Father 'gives' to Jesus Christ."
"It is very sweet," said Winifred, "to think of being given by the Father to Him. It seems surer, somehow, than to just give oneself."
Hubert's deep eyes kindled and glowed with a liquid fire. "Yes," he said in a suppressed voice, "it is wonderful." He was standing on ground that had not by long habit grown coldly theological, but was instinct with life to him through a new and vital experience.
They read on:
"And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."
They paused to meditate, and Winifred was the first to break the silence.
"Hubert," she said in a low voice, "it must be we have entered upon eternal life. We have begun to know Him."
Her voice sank upon the last word, and her lips trembled. Instinctively she held out her hand to her brother, and he clasped it in his. Tears streamed down upon her book, and Hubert was not ashamed that his own eyes were moist. They were silent for some moments, while the young man beheld afresh that eternal, infinite realm out of which the Word had come forth, and he knew himself born into it. Earth seemed illusory—but the scene of a moment—in the glory of that vision.
They read on and Hubert explained to his sister what he saw in the request of the Lord Jesus to be given again the glory which He had with the Father "before the world was." Never in his reading of the Gospel had he lost sight of its beginning, and he read these words, as he had others, in its light. He turned back and read the opening verses of the first chapter to Winifred in explanation of the glory to be given back, and the very fact of its being asked for, as though having been surrendered for the time, shed a light upon passages poorly understood before, which had shown clearly His humanity and His subjection to the Father.
Again they read on, pondering as they read, but paused over the ninth verse:
"I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine."
"Do you think that means, Hubert," said Winifred, "that He does not pray for the world? It seems very exclusive. But we know that God loves the world?"
"I think," said Hubert, "that the discrimination is not against the world, but rather for those given Him out of it. He must care specially for them. Perhaps if we read on we shall see the special character of this prayer for us."
The words "for us" slipped out very naturally, and he did not recall them, so sweet and sure was the confidence of having been given into the hands of Jesus Christ.
So they read on, and noted the petitions of the priestly prayer for His own. They did not sound the depths of meaning in them, for they were yet but babes; but they observed the strong line of enclosure which separated them from the world and the Lord's reiterated statement that they were not of it, even as He.
"It is very strange," remarked Winifred to Hubert, "that Doctor Schoolman has never told us about this." But she amended quickly, "Perhaps he has many times and I have not listened. But I have always thought we were all very much alike, only that some people were better than others; never that there was such a sharp line drawn between those who are given to Christ and the rest of the world."
"I do not think we have heard much about it," said Hubert. "I have not been much of a church-goer, but I think for the most part we have been talked to as though we were all on the same plane as regards relationship to God and Jesus Christ."
"But this line is so very exclusive," said Winifred almost regretfully.
"So very inclusive, you mean," said Hubert, smiling.
"An inclusive line must be exclusive also, must it not?" she persisted.
"I suppose it must," he admitted. "The same walls that shut us in this house shut everybody else out. But there is a way in," he added, intent upon the doctrine of God's free grace found true by his own experiment.
"Yes," said Winifred, "'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.' That gave me great comfort when I read it, Hubert. But I was thinking now that if I had not come to know that I was outside, I should never have come inside."
They finished the chapter, dwelling upon the words:
"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
Their hearts burned at the love that longed for them to be with Him and to see His glory. And they should see it! The distant scene glowed with reality and seemed near. There was One with them whom they did not see, One who still draws near when loved disciples commune concerning Him, and it was He who made the Scriptures an open, radiant page. Very pure and fragrant was the spiritual air they breathed then, and it prepared them to judge of baser atmosphere. "Sanctify them through Thy truth," the Lord Jesus had asked, and as they pondered the Word of Truth the answer to His prayer began.
When they finished their reading Winifred surprised Hubert by what seemed an irrelevant remark.
"I do not think I shall go to Mrs. Butterworth's party, Hubert," she said.
Her brother had no need to add, "Nor shall I," for he was not a society man. But he looked at her inquiringly.
"I don't know why," she replied to his look, "but it seems very different from this. Don't you think so?"
"I do indeed," he answered, understanding what she meant by "this."
Winifred had not arrived at analytical reasons, but had intuitively reached a conclusion. Just a mental picture of the coming brilliant event at Mrs. Butterworth's; the gay scene, the intoxicating music, the hollow courtesies, flattering words and glances, the dancing—just an instant vision of the scene that arose in sheer contrast against the pure holiness of the things they had been considering, and Winifred turned from it quickly. To have spoken her impression, and Hubert's evident approval, helped her to hold to it in later hours of temptation.
The Japanese gong sounded musically for Sunday evening tea before they were aware that time had flown. They assembled with their elders who looked not so much refreshed by their slumbers as our young friends by their study. The repast over, Hubert, who wished to do all things required of a Christian, but who felt a secret repugnance to listening again to Doctor Schoolman, sounded Winifred's mind on the matter.
"Are you going to hear Doctor Schoolman?" he asked.
"Why, I suppose so," said she. "What else should one do?"
"What is he going to preach about?" he asked evasively.
"I don't know. Let's look in the paper and see."
So they found Saturday's paper and saw that this evening was to have the first of a series of discourses on "Poets and Their Teachings," with Tennyson as the first subject.
"I am not hungering for a literary lecture," said Hubert. "I should like to hear something clearly about Christ."
"We might go somewhere else," said Winifred, giving the suggestion which he wished.
They looked at the paper again to see the advertised subjects at various churches. They found some sensational, that might bear reference to the Lord or might not; some very promising, but at churches too far away; and finally they decided upon a little church in a street near them, whose modest announcement told simply of "preaching at 7:30."
It was with something of a spirit of adventure and an almost troubled conscience that Winifred deserted her usual place of attendance. They turned down a less fashionable street than their own and came to the church, a small brick structure, very fresh and new looking. A few young people still lingered about the door, loath to go in from the summer twilight. Within the newness rivaled that without. The pew backs shone with varnish, and the aisles glowed with fresh, red carpet. The simple pulpit was carefully polished and a bright bookmark hung from the gilt-edged leaves of the Bible. The choir occupied a platform at the right of the minister, facing the congregation, and each member held the visitors in view as they were shown to a seat. The evening congregation was scattering, so their advent was the more noticeable. They were early also, which gave the young girl organist some time to look at them fixedly across the back of the cabinet organ at which she was seated, before beginning her voluntary. Then she played "Alice, Where Art Thou?" with loud and ill-assorted stops. Had Winifred been less bent on sincere worship, or their quest for Christ-preaching been less serious, she would have found it difficult to keep from laughing with the sudden sense of humor which assailed her.
The service was nearly as elaborate as the statelier neighbor-church could boast. The choir rendered an anthem in process of time, and Winifred studied their faces earnestly, wondering if any thought of reality was in their hearts as they sang. They were nearly all young, with thoughtless, unspiritual faces, but they sang the sentiments of discipline and sorrow. There was no artistic value in their singing, and Winifred thought with a sigh, "It does not help any that the music should be poor. They have no more heart in it than had we with our trained skill."
The minister was a man of moderate abilities and somewhat ungraceful appearance. He was tall, sandy-haired, with a half-anxious countenance, as though the cares of the shining new edifice and of the flock rather troubled him. He preached with no striking originality, but with evident earnestness, mingled with abortive efforts at rhetoric. He spoke good words for Christ, extolling His power to save sinners; and the simple statements, however trite they may have sounded to others, were music in the eager ears of those who had just come to know Him.
At the close of the meeting he made his way to the door to shake hands with the departing hearers, and Hubert gave him his with a cordial grasp, and with thanks for his "excellent sermon." The minister's face brightened and he looked after his appreciative visitors with hope that they might come again.
"TWO OF ME"
Affairs moved quietly in the Gray household as the week advanced. Mr. Frothingham called one evening and made himself very entertaining to the two ladies. Mrs. Gray laughed gently at his jokes, for he was a tireless jester (sometimes a tiresome one), and he enjoyed seeing the serious light in Winifred's eyes change to mirth under his curious speeches.
The two sang together, and after that she played dreamy snatches from Beethoven while he leaned back in an easy chair and listened. What a harmonious and pleasant life stretched before the two together! Mrs. Gray lived over again through her daughter's heart days when Robert Gray and she were learning that life was sweetest when they were together, and she sighed in a pensive mingling of emotions as she mentally gave Winifred up to the reign of the ancient conqueror. She fell asleep over the fleecy shawl she was knitting as her daughter played, and was not aroused when Mr. Frothingham rose to go. Winifred and he exchanged smiling glances as they saw her closed eyes, and spoke in low tones together. Mr. Frothingham lingered just a perceptible moment over Winifred's hand in parting, and looked down into her face with an unspoken question she had never read before so clearly. Her eyes fell, and the flush in her fair face deepened into lovelier red.
"Good night," each said softly, and he went away.
Winifred drank in the luxury of her own sweet thoughts until his step ceased to sound, and then went over to her mother's chair. She stooped and kissed her forehead. Mrs. Gray opened her eyes.
"Dear me! I lost myself for a moment," she said. Then, "Is George gone?" she added.
Mrs. Gray looked at the clock. "And it's time," she said with parental duty. "You must go to bed at once, dear."
Winifred had had a happy evening, and the reflection that looked back at her from the glass in her dressing-room was radiant. But, after all, in the depths of her heart there was a tinge of something sad, an unsatisfied sense of some good thing wanting. What was it that the evening lacked? A little book upon the table suggested the answer with a mute reproach. In all the evening's pleasure there had been no sweet savor of Jesus Christ. Now as she took the book and tried to read her heart beat coldly toward Him. The words did not speak to her, but seemed like misty voices far away, spoken for other ears. The tide of another love had come sweeping in, strong and insistent. George Frothingham's face smiled before her, and instead of the words she was reading she heard his voice as they sang together:
"I would that my love could silently Flow in a single word."
She looked away from the book and gave herself to dreaming until the little clock reminded her of the hour. Then she roused from her reverie.
"It is too late," she thought. "I will not try to read now. In the morning I will make up for it."
She knelt beside the bed for her customary evening prayer, and found herself "saying" it as in former days. She stopped abruptly.
"Forgive me, Lord," she said, "I did not think what I was saying."
Then a feeling of remorse, of real unhappiness, seized her. Where was the true worship she had coveted and found? It had flown like a bird from her windows. In distress she prayed:
"O Lord, I have missed Thee! I cannot see Thy face, I do not hear Thee. Do not let me lose Thee!"
Her wandering thoughts came back to the supreme need. She was not versed in the theology of any school, and could not have stated her case to suit any. But her sensitive soul barometer registered danger in the atmosphere, and she had no rest until it changed. Being blessed with the grace of honesty—with "truth in the inward parts"—she poured out her heart before God, and found much relief in so doing. The whole subject did not clear at once. A process was required for that. But a simple understanding with her Lord that He was to be first at any cost was re-affirmed, and it gave rest. With the restored sense of His fellowship she slept.
Morning dawned with the sweet twittering of birds, the breath of syringas and roses, and a faultless sky. It was a joy to live.
Hubert was out for an early ride, and his black horse Sahib's satin coat shone brightly in the morning sunlight. He took the shortest way out of the city and was soon cantering gently down the country road beside a singing brook, filling his eyes with the beauty everywhere, worshiping its Maker, and wondering how he might best serve Him.
Winifred sang morning psalms to the Lord, with a corresponding melody in her heart. But sometimes the shadow of a question fell athwart the prospect that seemed so shining. It was about Mrs. Butterworth's party. Sunday it had seemed very clear that she should not go, but since, with the seventeenth of John not so fresh in her mind, the matter seemed not so settled. How should she excuse herself at this late day? What would Mrs. Butterworth think? More than that, what would her mother think? Would she not be much annoyed? There was another factor, too. When George Frothingham was there last evening she was so glad the party was not mentioned. How could she have told him she was not going? And when she thought of him she wished to go. He would be there, looking especially handsome in most careful evening dress. She could almost hear the strains of Werner's orchestra as she imagined herself floating over the polished floor with the best of dancers. There was still another factor. Hanging in her wardrobe, sheathed carefully in a protecting sheet, was the loveliest of white dresses. It had been worn but once, and that in another town. Both her mother and she agreed that it was the very thing for Mrs. Butterworth's party. What a pity not to wear it! And if staying away from Mrs. Butterworth's were a precedent to be followed, where should she ever wear it? A very small reason this, say you. But you are mistaken. Deeply intrenched in the feminine heart is the desire to be beautiful, and though "holy women" since the days of old have learned the supreme excellence of the inward adornment over the outward, the latter is slow to lose its appeal. Not yet, at least, had Winifred become indifferent to it.
This morning before descending the stairs she was beguiled into taking down the dress, just to look at it, spreading it out in fleecy, shining folds upon the bed. How beautiful it was! She had not learned for her soul's comfort that the wise man's counsel is very profound when he instructs, "Look not upon the wine when it is red"! Even in the daylight tiny brilliants flashed out from their setting in foamy lace about the neck. Well Winifred knew what a radiant picture would stand within her mirror-frame when the dress should be donned, and eyes bright with excited anticipation should rival the glow of diamonds. If she went, she should wear the slender gold necklace with its single pendant of diamonds which her father had given her. But she was not going—and for what an intangible reason!
Hubert had returned from his ride, and Winifred met him in the upper hall and confided to him her perplexity.
"I feel as though there were two of me instead of one," she said. "One of us would like to go to Mrs. Butterworth's party."
"And the other one?" asked Hubert.
"Decided last Sunday not to go," she answered.
"Which one do you think is on the Lord's side?" he queried.
"The one that says not to go," she replied, without hesitation.
"I should stand by that one if I were you," he advised.
"I will," she said, and slipped her hand in his as they went down the stairs.
At the breakfast table the dreaded discussion was precipitated. Mrs. Gray addressed her daughter.
"Winifred, dear," she said, "have you looked at your new white dress to see if it requires anything to be done before Mrs. Butterworth's party? Did we not think the girdle should be altered slightly?"
"I was looking at it this morning, mother," faltered Winifred, and Hubert shot a sympathetic glance across the table.
"Will it need altering, do you think?"
"N—no," she hesitated, "I think it is all right." Then she girded the loins of her intention and added: "But I think, mother, if you do not mind, I should prefer not to go to Mrs. Butterworth's party."
"Why, Winifred!" exclaimed her mother in surprise. "What can you be thinking of? The invitations were accepted long ago. You are not ill, certainly?"
"Oh, no!" said Winifred. "But I think I can excuse myself to Mrs. Butterworth so that she will not be offended. My chief regret will be if it disappoints you, mother."
"But what can be your reasons?" said Mrs. Gray. "They must be very good if you would decline the invitation at this late day. It will be very rude unless you are positively hindered."
"I know it," said Winifred humbly. "But the reasons seem very strong to me."
She was of a sympathetic nature, and it was easy to look at things through another's eyes. She saw the case clearly from her mother's standpoint, and it was difficult to muster her own defense. But she prayed inwardly that the One she sought to please would come to her aid, and He did. It was no small help, also, that Hubert, strong-minded and firm as a rock, was on her side. She went on bravely, but in a low voice and with downcast eyes:
"You know I have begun to try to worship God, mother; and to know Him just a little is the sweetest thing I ever knew. Hubert and I were reading the Bible together Sunday"—she glanced across at him appealingly, and his face encouraged her—"and we read some of the words of Jesus to His Father. He said that we—that is, those who were given to Him—were 'not of the world,' just as He is not. It impressed me very much. I could not help seeing Mrs. Butterworth's party, and it seemed to me like 'the world,' and that perhaps I did not belong there. It seemed so very, very different from what we were reading, that I thought I never could go again to such a place. I shall be very glad, if you don't mind it too much, mother, if I may stay at home?"
She stopped and waited for her answer. There was silence for a moment, and then Mrs. Gray, who had passed through various stages of apprehension and distress as her daughter spoke, replied as calmly as possible:
"I am sure I ought to be very glad, Winifred, to have you religiously inclined. But I should be extremely sorry to have you get any fanatical ideas. I never thought you were given to eccentric things, and I hope you will not become so. It seems to me that you and Hubert"—she hesitated to include her son in the remark, but ventured it—"are rather young Christians to decide such things for yourselves in such an extraordinary way. You should look at older persons. I suppose I am not an example"—and her tone was just a trifle icy for such a gentle lady—"but Mrs. Schoolman will be there with her daughters, and so will many of the most prominent members of our church. I really cannot approve of such an extraordinary idea!—extraordinary!" and she repeated the word which usually indicated the high water mark of her well-bred disapproval.
Winifred looked silently at her plate, and Mrs. Gray spoke again, looking at her husband.
"I wish, father," she said, "that you would try and set Winifred right on this matter. We cannot let her go on in such a mistake. Where will it lead to?" and with real distress she considered the calamity of her beautiful daughter's withdrawal from society, and the dashing her own fond pride to the ground.
Mr. Gray had been listening thoughtfully. Now, being appealed to, he spoke.
"To tell the truth, mother," he said, "I do not think the idea quite so extraordinary as you do. When I was a boy, where I lived, if young people were converted it made all sorts of difference as to the things they did and the places they went to. We didn't expect to see them at dances, or at the theater, or any such places. If we did, everybody reckoned that they had backslidden. Those things were called 'worldly.' We have almost lost the word now, but it must be descriptive of something, I should say. If Winifred instinctively takes a stand against such things, without being talked to about it, I shall think it is the old sort of religion that she has somehow discovered, and shall not be sorry. I would really prefer it to be a kind that can be distinguished without reference to the church records. That variety is scarce enough, in all conscience!"
Winifred was surprised at her father's defense, and it unnerved her. Tears sprang to her eyes, and she nearly choked over the coffee with which she sought to hide her quivering lips. Hubert looked gratefully at his father. Mrs. Gray looked much depressed. She expected wise words of reproach that would settle the matter with Winifred and perhaps save much trouble in the future. And now he really inclined to her view of the case! It was disappointing. But men, after all, did not always see social matters as women did. She was not accustomed to arguing with her husband, but this case required more resistance than usual.
"I am surprised, father," she said sorrowfully, "to hear you put it that way. I do not think you can realize what it means for a young woman to drop out of society. And I do not see how you can compare those times you speak of with the present. I am sure Doctor Schoolman frequently tells us what remarkable advance we have made over those times in every way. I hope you do not wish to go backward!" and Mrs. Gray felt a little flutter of triumph at her own unusual skill in argument. Nobody responded at once and she gathered courage to go on.
"I quite agree with that young man who spoke at our church in behalf of the Y.M.C.A. Gymnasium. You remember he said that the days had quite gone by for a 'long-faced Christianity.' I thought it a very sensible remark."
"Winifred has not troubled us with a very long face lately," remarked her father, glancing at her. "It has lengthened somewhat since we began our discussion, but I think it has been unusually cheerful for a week or so."
Winifred colored under these personal observations.
"I do not know what it will become," said her mother, "if she denies herself all gayety like those young persons you tell about."
"My memory of those young persons," said Mr. Gray, smiling, "is not a very melancholy one. Some of them were pretty severe upon themselves and other people too, I will admit. But the most of them seemed to have found something so very satisfactory that these diversions were not required. I think Winifred is like the latter sort. I hope so. But, Hubert," turning to his son, "you look very much interested in this matter, but have said nothing. I suppose you agree with Winifred?"
"I do, sir," said Hubert readily.
"I thought so—I thought so," said his father, far from displeased with the reply. He did not explain to the little company that he, himself, had been one of the "young persons" referred to, and that great had been his comfort in the early days of the new life; but that a series of decoys had gradually led him back to the world's excitements and ambitions, until his professed Christianity had crystallized into the formal, eminently respectable, but powerless mold of conventional religion. His memory of early, ardent days was stirred, and he gladly warmed himself by its fires.
"But, Hubert," he went on, "you are a thoughtful young man—how do you account for the fact that Christ, Himself, attended social functions? He was not a recluse. He was at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, at a dinner in the house of Simon the Pharisee, at a feast in Bethany, and I do not know at how many other social gatherings. Indeed it was charged against Him that He received sinners and ate with them. What do you make of it?"
"It is a difficult question, father," said Hubert. "But I should think if we consider in what capacity He went to those places, and what He did when He got there, it might give us light."
"That is so," said Mr. Gray. "In what capacity do you think He went?"
"He had come to give life to men," said Hubert with kindling eyes. "He must go wherever He might find them—wherever occasion presented itself. I do not think He sought His own gratification."
"Nor do I," said Mr. Gray. "What about 'what He did when He got there'?"
"He performed a miracle, for one thing, at Cana," replied Hubert, whose diligent study of the Gospel of John now served him well.
"So He did," assented Mr. Gray. "If our little girl could do that, now, it might do to let her go," and he glanced at her fondly.
"Yes," said Hubert, "and He evidently became the central figure there, manifesting His glory. If one of His followers could capture Mrs. Butterworth's ball for Him it would surely pay to go. If I thought Winnie were to do that I would certainly put on a dress suit and go myself."
Hubert could not resist a teasing glance at his mother. That lady was plainly horrified. The thought of Winifred's "preaching," as she mentally called it, to anyone at the party, or doing any other eccentric thing, was far more shocking than her staying away.
Mr. Gray secretly enjoyed the look upon his wife's face.
"And the other places?" he went on.
"I am not familiar with the incident in the house of Simon the Pharisee," said Hubert.
"It is very striking and beautiful," said Mr. Gray. "Christ forgave a sinner—a woman of the city—and He had somewhat to say to His host, the Pharisee, about it. He spoke a very telling parable at that dinner."
Mrs. Gray again looked uneasy. She hoped Winifred would not feel it her duty, finally, to go, if it involved a religious errand.
"And at Bethany?" Mr. Gray continued.
"He was anointed for His burial," said Hubert, gravely.
"Ah, yes!" said his father in a subdued voice.
Both men thought reverently of the scene when one who had been raised from the dead sat at meat with Him who, for his sake and for all others, was Himself to die; and where one of the company poured upon His blessed feet love's grateful, costly sacrifice. To such a feast the true worshiper might indeed gladly go.
It was tacitly agreed that Winifred was to follow her own inclination with regard to the party. Mrs. Gray was far too loyal and amiable a wife to seriously oppose her husband's wish, and the sudden fear that Winifred, if she went to the party, might feel called upon to bear some sort of unusual testimony to her Lord affected the case strongly. But she grieved much over her daughter's prospective withdrawal from the assemblies of the "best people."
Winifred wrote a simple, truthful note to Mrs. Butterworth, and was relieved when it was dispatched. A sensitive dread of criticism and of doing an unusual thing was offset by the sweet consciousness of a happy fellowship conserved. No rude breath from the gay assembly's sensuous delights was to blow upon this flower of communion, so pure, so fragrant. So Winifred rejoiced, only an occasional shadow falling athwart her peace when she thought of one whose increasingly intimate fellowship threatened the life of the fair flower as surely as could Mrs. Butterworth's party. It was an uneasy suggestion, not a recognized fact, and she put it hastily from her when it arose.
The evening of the party came and Mrs. Gray prepared herself and went, not too early and not too foolishly late. She had a faculty of striking the happy mean in life's proprieties. Winifred looked at her admiringly, with the candid conviction that no better dressed nor finer looking woman of her years would be there. She felt a pang of sorrow, too, in her mother's disappointment at leaving her behind, as she kissed her good-night. The carriage rolled away and presently bore its fair passenger to the door of her friend's brilliantly lighted house, where we will leave her.
THE CHURCH SOCIAL
Another social event followed hard on the heels of Mrs. Butterworth's party, and this Mrs. Gray succeeded in inducing both her son and daughter to attend, it being no less sacred a function than the quarterly Church Social. Hubert was not familiar with the institution, but so ardently burned his love for the Lord Jesus Christ that he now sought rather than avoided the company of those who knew Him, if so be some word of Him might be spoken. He longed for the fellowship of joy with those who, like himself, had been called out of darkness into "His marvelous light." This was denied in the formal services of the church, but surely the pent up devotion of the worshipers would find some avenue of expression when they met together socially without those restraints. Hubert was disposed to discount his own former estimate of church-members' sincerity, and did not doubt that many had found an experience as genuine as his own of the grace of God.
Mr. Gray did not care to go, preferring the library and the new number with its fascinating leaves uncut of a magazine, religio-worldly, that had solved for last days the problem beyond the Saviour's ken of how to serve God and mammon. Three went, however, in the comfortable carriage, to Mrs. Gray's great satisfaction, and drew up before the side entrance to the handsome church.
Bright light streamed from the parlor windows, illuminating exquisitely stained pictures of the Apostles. Strains from a select orchestra greeted them as they entered the house, and Hubert recognized with a queer feeling of incongruity the overture from a well-known opera. The appealing notes of the violins drew his memory instantly to the production he had lately enjoyed, but he thrust the mental vision from him as unworthy of Christ, and tried not to listen to the seductive strains.
"A very poor selection for a Christian gathering," he thought to himself. Hubert was inexperienced, and to him a gathering of Christians meant a "Christian gathering."
The parlors presented a gayly attractive scene. They were decorated in red and white. Flowers and foliage were profuse, and the handsome toilettes of the ladies added much to the brilliant effect. Doctor Schoolman and his wife were receiving, and our party joined the line of guests making their orderly way toward them. Doctor Schoolman was very amiable, and his wife, a vivacious little lady in satin and artificial curls, chatted volubly with the members of the flock as they were dutifully presented.
"You naughty child!" she cried playfully to Winifred. "How could you desert us with your charming voice? Dear Mrs. Gray, you really should chastise your daughter—you really should!" And she shook the false curls with mock severity.
Mrs. Gray began her own lament and disclaimer of any responsibility in Winifred's apostasy.
"But the dear child's voice," she said extenuatingly, "has really been very much taxed."
"It's not that," said Winifred, honestly. But Mrs. Schoolman's eye was caught by the guest next in line and further explanations were unnecessary.
Meanwhile Doctor Schoolman had been greeting Hubert.
"Mr. Hubert Gray!" he exclaimed, very blandly. "Really this is a pleasure. I am glad to see you."
"I am glad to come," said Hubert, looking in the Doctor's face frankly. He wished to tell him how the Lord's people had become so vitally his. But the reverend gentleman did not note his earnest look.
"We are honored if you can give us some of your valuable time. You are such a man of business, your father tells me; and of scientific research, too, as we all know. It is kind to let us tear you away a little while from stocks and bonds and experiments."
"I have concluded, Doctor Schoolman," said Hubert gravely, "that there are interests more important than business or science."
"Quite so—quite so," said Doctor Schoolman. "I am glad you see it. We cannot afford to give all our attention to the graver pursuits of life. We need relaxation. 'All work and no play'—you know the old adage, eh? Ha, ha!"
And the minister laughed an easy, social laugh, not at all boisterous, but of a mirth well in hand and suited to the occasion.
Hubert looked at him almost with a frown. But we of wider experience are prepared to forgive the Doctor that he did not recognize the spiritual as the more important interests which might lead a young man to a church social. While Hubert debated a reply which should illuminate Doctor Schoolman as to his real motive, others were pressing up to take the hand of the minister, and he passed on with his mother and Winifred. They drifted not far away, and Hubert glanced frequently at Doctor Schoolman, watching his suave smile, almost catching the smooth pleasantries that fell from his accustomed tongue—mild, clerical jests, wherewith he of the pulpit assures him of the pew, "I am as thou art." Very nice and proper it might all be, but to the one who longed to hear some word of Him whom he loved with such fresh, intense earnestness, it was as gall and wormwood.
He turned away and reviewed the whole scene about him. Mrs. Gray and Winifred were already in conversation with a group of people near him, and he heard his mother's soft, deprecating voice, as in reply to an eager storm of questioning. A flush was rising in his sister's face, and just a touch of iron determination, not unknown to the house of Gray, settled her shapely lips.
"Brave little soul!" he said to himself as he thought of the offenses, anent Mrs. Butterworth's party and the choir, for which she must answer in the court of popular opinion.
Not far from him a group of girls, very smartly dressed, standing in interesting proximity to a corresponding group of youths, flirted and giggled with evident enjoyment. A soberer group farther on Hubert found to be discussing the war situation in the East, as he drew near in a spirit of investigation. Some one in the party kindly drew him into their midst, where he joined the conversation for a time. Then there was a diversion, the new soprano having consented to sing. The murmur of voices subsided for the most part, save from a party of elderly people, hard of hearing, who continued their absorbing conversation throughout. Miss Trilling sang a love song with much expression, and responded to an encore with a humorous selection. The young people applauded loudly, and their elders smiled with indiligent pleasure. Hubert continued his search, now rather despairing, for that for which he had come. This time he proceeded under the guidance of a man who offered to introduce him to some whom he did not know. They passed a quiet little wall-flower in a sober dress and he looked at her wistfully, seeing something in her face which made him think she knew his Lord and would talk of Him if there were hut a chance. But his guide drew him on. He listened to bits of conversation, straining his ears in vain to hear one reference to Christ. The conversations were sometimes serious, more often gay, but none spoke of their Lord.
Hubert's heart withdrew within him, and he had no further inclination to speak to any of his new-found hope. A bitter theory was forming itself in his mind. This company was no different from any other in the world. Were they not all as he thought them in the days of his scepticism? If they knew Him whom he had come to see as the supremest Object of devotion in all the universe, could they forbear to speak of Him when they met together? Would they not be like flaming brands, igniting one another in their fervent zeal? He was not acquainted with the book of Malachi, and had perhaps never read the words: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name." Had he known the words they would have seemed a satire in this company.
"They do not know Him," he thought passionately, "and I—am I under a delusion? Is it all a farce?"
The suggestion was intense pain, and he put it from him. No, that One whom he had seen in his laboratory, the Man of the cross and of the glory, was no delusion. To admit Him to be such would be blackest midnight. He held on to his revelation with an iron clasp, but he longed to escape from an atmosphere that now stifled him. He made his way to his mother and Winifred.
"Shall I take you to the refreshment room?" he asked in a cold, strained voice.
Winifred looked at him anxiously, with eyes almost as troubled as his own.
"Yes," she said in an undertone, "and let us get away as soon as possible."
Mrs. Gray consented genially to be escorted to the room, elaborately decorated, where charmingly-gowned young women dispensed elegant refreshments. Several gentlemen, among whom Hubert recognized elders of the church, with their wives and other ladies, passed gay bandinage one to another as they sipped cooling ices. Hubert took nothing, but stood, silent and stern, while his mother, unconscious of the tempest in his breast, leisurely and daintily enjoyed her refreshment.
"Where are the poor people?" Hubert asked Winifred in something of his old sarcastic tone, as they left the room.
"I am afraid they are not here," said she, gently. Then she glanced around. "Yes, there are some, I see. There is Madge Nichol, that young woman in the stylish blue dress. She has done sewing for me, and seemed to need the money very much. But see how she is dressed! It must be much beyond her means."
Then a womanly intuition smote her, and she looked down at her own costly dress.
"I see how it is, Hubert," she said. "I think we are to blame. No girl would like to meet us in this way unless she were well dressed."
"I should advise them to stay away," said Hubert. "They would lose nothing valuable."
"That is what I shall do, I think," said Winifred with a sigh. "Do let us get away as soon as mother is ready."
"Shall I see if the carriage is waiting, mother?" said Hubert, interrupting when he could a discussion of the best places in which to spend the coming heated term.
"You might," Mrs. Gray replied, "I did not wish to stay late."
Hubert went out with alacrity to signal the faithful coachman, already in waiting.
They had soon departed, and both young people were glad to get out under the pure, gleaming stars and hasten the carriage to the dear home where the face of the Lord had first been seen by each, and was yet to be seen in increasing loveliness.
Hubert found his father still in the library, but asleep. He awoke as his son entered.
"Well, Hubert," he said, "did you have a good time?"
"No, sir," Hubert replied, "I had a wretched time."
"How was that?" his father asked. "What happened?"
"Nothing happened that I expected. I thought there would be some there who knew and loved Jesus Christ, and would wish to talk of Him. I did not hear Him mentioned. I might as well have been at Mrs. Butterworth's ball so far as that goes."
"Well," said Mr. Gray, apologetically, "it was a social time, you know."
"Yes, I know it, father. That is why I went. Are not people usually most sociable about the things that interest them most? There was a company of people, professedly born from above and expecting soon to see the very glory of God. They take it very coolly, at all events. I believe it is a sham."
"Oh, Hubert," groaned his father, "don't say that."
"I don't mean," said Hubert quickly, "that Jesus is a sham. I believe," and his deep eyes softened, "that He is the most real fact in the universe. But the belief of those people, father! That sort of gathering is what Doctor Schoolman calls 'relaxation,' and I think he is right. I am convinced that Christ is irksome to them; a subject to be endured on Sundays, but to enjoy relaxation from at other times. Am I right?"
"Hubert," said Mr. Gray, slowly, "I believe you are partly right. But be deliberate and generous in your conclusions. Do not judge us too hastily or hotly."
Hubert winced as his father included himself in his own sweeping indictment. Mr. Gray went on:
"Some of us have known Him, even as you do, in earlier days. But we have lost the brightness of our vision through"—he hesitated—"through sin. We have followed afar off, and are very poor representatives now. Be patient, and it may be the warm zeal of such as you will quicken us again."
He looked at his son appealingly. Hubert's generous heart melted.
"Forgive me, father," he said humbly. "I have no right to judge anybody. Forget my tirade if you can. And I," he added with a faint smile, "will try to forget the Social."
MR. BOND'S LECTURE
Hubert recovered from the cold bath into which he had been thrown like a Spartan babe by his first contact with church sociability. His, as a new creature, was a vigorous constitution, and was destined to out-live many a shock incident to the earthly career of a heaven-born man. Both he and Winifred returned to their joy and calm, and were looking forward eagerly to Mr. Bond's lectures.
On the day of his arrival Mr. Gray came home to luncheon with an announcement.
"My dear," he said to his wife, "Mr. Selton tells me that his wife has unexpectedly been called to Chicago by her mother's illness, and they will be unable to entertain Mr. Bond. He suggested that we might like to do so."
Winifred and Hubert looked up with animation.
"Indeed! And you told him?" asked Mrs. Gray, with a housewifely instinct of defense against invasion.
"I told him," said Mr. Gray, "that I knew no reason why we could not do so, and that it would be a great pleasure. I told him, however, that I should ask you about it, and 'phone him if there were any arrangement to prevent it."
Mrs. Gray considered. The chief guest room stood ready, immaculate in yellow and white, since the spring cleaning. There was no reason why it should be denied, but she had hoped that its repose would not be broken until Miss Virginia White, her most aristocratic friend, should make her promised visit. However, it would be manifestly unreasonable to refuse to receive Mr. Bond, and she could not offer him another room while that stood empty. Yes, the yellow-and-white room must be sacrificed.
"No, Father," she said amiably, "there is no reason why we cannot take him. When will he come?"
"He arrives this evening by the eight o'clock train from New York. Hubert, perhaps you would like to meet him?"
"I should," said Hubert. "I am glad he is coming here."
"So am I," said Winifred. "It will be lovely."
That afternoon Winifred "called up" her friend Adele, and the telephone transmitted a lively conversation. The result of it was that Adele promised to go with Winifred to Mr. Bond's Bible lectures; at least to one, to see if she liked it.
In the evening Hubert met Mr. Bond at the station. They were scarcely seated in the light trap and facing toward home when the young minister said:
"Well, Mr. Gray, have you found God demonstrable?"
"Yes!" Hubert almost shouted, and the two grasped each other's hands in the strong grip of a fraternity never formed by man.
"I thought so," said Mr. Bond.
"How did you know?" said Hubert.
"I thought it would be so," said the other, "and I saw it in your face as we met. Thank God for it."
"Amen," said Hubert fervently.
Mr. Bond led Hubert on with keen interest to tell of the process of his search after God, and of the illumination brighter than the light of day, that came to him when the Spirit shone with such clear luster on the Word. To Hubert it seemed the happiest hour of his life, as he conversed with a man who seemed to understand the processes of his own heart, and to be thoroughly at home in the new world into which he himself had entered.
The drive was all too brief, but later in the evening, when good-night had been spoken to the rest of the household, the two men sat in the unlighted veranda and talked until midnight of Christ and the matters of His realm.
The tout ensemble of the company gathered to hear Mr. Bond's first lecture was somewhat curious. It was not a large congregation, but it was representative, being drawn from the interested or curious of nearly every kind of church or religious coterie in the city. Keen Bible students were there, notebooks in hand, prepared to capture any new suggestion which might help them. The critical were there, representing various shades of belief and prejudice, from the quiet repressionist, who, disdaining emotion, views with dispassionate coldness the great tenets of the faith, to the irrepressible enthusiast whose spiritual understanding is often lost beneath a foam of feeling; from the instructed brother who reads his title clear with logical accuracy in the Scriptures and glories in his standing with belieing indifference to his state, to the anxious soul whose hope of heaven veers with every changing wind of fitful emotion. Each critic was bent on discovering if the stranger would hew faithfully to the line of his own demarcation.
There were Mr. Selton's friends, people of his own station, who responded to his personal invitation to come, prepared to listen courteously, to express polite thanks at the end for the pleasure conferred, and, for the most part, to find various lions in the way of attending again, profound as were their regrets!
Mr. Gray and Hubert both succeeded in getting the hour away from business, and the latter arrived at the hall just as his mother, with Winifred and Adele, was entering and joined them. Adele formed a singular figure in the midst of the assembly. No thought of unusual sobriety had toned down her usually stylish and somewhat striking costume, and a large red hat of the milliner's finest skill shaded becomingly her piquant face. Her keen, merry eyes studied the congregation, and she could not resist whispering a few impressions to Winifred before the lecture began.
"Isn't this a funny crowd?" she asked. "Such a combination! Look at that meek little body in the front row and the fat dowager behind her. And do see that anarchist-looking man at the side who is looking at Mr. Bond as though he would eat him up. Do you know who he is? I hope he hasn't a bomb in his pocket."
"I don't know him, but I'll ask Hubert," said Winifred, and she passed the question along.
"Hubert, who is that man yonder—the one with the high shoulders. Adele thinks he is an anarchist."
"I think so, too," said Hubert. "At least he is a socialist of a very virulent type. He has come as a critic, I suppose. He professes to study religionists, and writes scornful letters about them to a socialist paper."
Winifred communicated this intelligence to Adele, who was much pleased with her own acumen. Presently she resumed:
"Do look at that woman ahead of us!—the one in the little bonnet, and so distressingly neat. She has been surveying us. She doesn't approve of me, but she commiserates me. That's plain enough. Well, I am a sinner, no doubt, and she has found me out! If she looks around again do see what you think of her."
Mrs. Bland did look around again, and both young ladies observed her. A rather shapely mouth was settled in an expression of studied repose, and her eyes rested approvingly, or with patient toleration, on others who were minded to come to the Bible lecture. Her hair was parted with conscientious exactness, and upon her whole appearance there sat the picture of conscious piety.
"Oh, I can't stand her!" whispered Adele in an ecstasy of dislike. "I should fly if I had to look at her long! Sister Saint Serena—the Salubrious!"
Winifred choked down a laugh at Adele's suddenly inspired alliteration, while Hubert looked a dignified reproach. It was a poor preparation, certainly, for what was to follow. Adele's face straightened innocently, while Winifred still struggled to suppress her risibility.
There were few preliminaries before Mr. Bond proceeded to speak. His subject dealt with vital matters, with underlying truth upon which rests all lesser fact, and he spoke with a calm certainty, unlike "the Scribes." His lecture betrayed a familiarity with the Scriptures such as his auditors had seldom met with before, and a reverence for them born not of superstition but of some apprehension of their unfathomed depths. Our little party listened with fascinated interest. Especially was Hubert delighted when from the portions that had been the favorite debating ground of his sceptical friends riches of meaning were discovered that stamped unmistakably the divine imprimatur upon them. Winifred and Adele forgot Mrs. Bland and every one else listening; the one with sweet content in hearing anything that concerned the One she loved, and the other with an awakened interest in lines of thought she had never pursued before.
"He is splendid!" said Adele at the close of the lecture. "I am coming every day. Unless—there's that bothersome card party Thursday! Stupid affair! But I won't go. What's the use?"
And so Mr. Bond secured a regular attendant.
Many were the expressions of interest, some of them very genuine. Mrs. Gray had listened to her guest with valorous attempts to resist the habitual afternoon nap, and told him later how very good indeed the lecture was and hoped he would quite understand how manifold were the cares of a household, and how unavoidable her hindrances, should she be unable to be present every day. And Mr. Bond did understand his gentle hostess very well, and often as he saw her in her home his meditative eye rested upon her fair mother-face with an expression of chivalrous pity and of earnest longing.
The second day's lecture found the audience sifted to some degree of the idly curious and of a part of the critics unto whose standards the speaker had failed to attain. As Mr. Bond's language was remarkably free from the current phraseology of the schools of teaching, it was difficult for theological birds to discover at once whether indeed he were of their feather, and a second hearing, at least, was needed. But no uncertain note was sounded to the alarm of any advocate of the most orthodox written creed or of the severest unwritten code of belief, in answer to the pivotal question of all theology: Jesus, the Son of Man—Who is He? None gave more ardent honor to that Mystery of godliness, who
"Was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of the angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."
If some fell away from the gathering, there were new hearers, brought through the good report of those interested, and the company numbered rather more than before. Adele's "anarchist" was again there, fastening his pale, strange eyes upon the face of the lecturer whether he spoke or was quietly sitting; at times half crediting its look of candor, then relapsing into sneering hopelessness of finding an honest man among his class. He determined to try his favorite test of a benevolent scheme before Mr. Bond should go away, and see if he would abide by the Sermon on the Mount.
To-day the lecturer's theme was Redemption, and from all the cardinal divisions of the Scriptures he drew illustrations of their one consistent theme. It was when he reached the Day of Atonement under the Levitical institution, that Adele Forrester's interest reached its height. He drew a vivid, simple picture, as a teacher might present an object lesson to a child, of the offering, the priest, the waiting congregation, the presentation in the Holiest of All, and the blessing of the people.
Adele leaned forward in her seat as he proceeded. She had never seen it just like that before. She imagined herself one of the Jewish congregation, with a guilty score against her which needed to be wiped out. What if there were a flaw in the offering? What if the priest were not acceptable, and she were to go back with the debt uncanceled—with reconciliation not effected? Her mind leaped forward before the speaker could reach the point to the Lamb without spot or blemish and the High Priest who "ever liveth to make intercession" for His people. Was that what it meant? And was it already accomplished? The speaker was saying:
"There is both correspondence and contrast here. In the first case there was indeed remission of sins, because the Lord had covenanted to meet His people upon that ground. But it was temporary, and the work imperfect. The taking away of sins was not actual, but pictorial, each sacrifice pointing forward to the effective one to come. There was no vital relationship between the victim and the worshiper, and the death of one could not be made actually good to the other. Nor could a new life of righteousness be imparted. So the work was imperfect, unfinished, always looking forward to the perfect, eternal redemption which should be wrought by the One who has power to impart the virtue of His death and the power of His endless life."
Before Adele's mind there came the vision of a vain, empty, earthward life. But clearer still she saw the Lamb bearing away all offenses and her hopeless coming short, and the High Priest who with perfect acceptance presented the offering of His blood for her. Why had she never seen it before?
Oh, what grace! Oh, what a lightened soul!—to be free as a child unborn of any guilt of sins! She caught her breath with a little convulsive sob and sank back in her seat, grasping Winifred's hand with a tight, expressive grip. She trusted herself with no words when the meeting ended, but blinking back the tears that sparkled in her eyes made a hasty exit from the hall.
The days of Mr. Gerald Bond's visit to the Grays were all happy ones. Hubert and Winifred were living in a new world of revelation, and delighted exceedingly in the help one well instructed and "apt to teach" was able to give them in the mystery of the faith. Mr. Gray, too, enjoyed his guest's presence and brought knotty questions to him daily for solution. Mrs. Gray recognized the excellent spirit that was in him, and found herself quietly wondering more than once why the other ministers she knew did not seem equally interested in the matters of their calling when off duty, so to speak, but were so much at home in all the affairs of the world. Gerald Bond seemed to live in the atmosphere of the holy things in which he ministered, and Mrs. Gray looked upon him with an admiration akin to awe. But he was nevertheless so thoroughly a man, of finest sympathy, courteous, gentle, and withal possessed of a genial, penetrating wit which all enjoyed, that Mrs. Gray could not simply admire him from afar, but took him into her heart with a warm liking. She looked forward with real regret to the day when the yellow-and-white room would be without its occupant.
Hubert came in for the greater share of the young man's leisure hours, and evening often saw them pacing the garden walks, or lingering meditatively by its fountain, in deepest conversation. In Hubert's soul still the question was burning, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" and beyond a thin veil of time the answer was waiting him. "God . . . hath appointed thee to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from His mouth. For thou shalt be a witness for Him."
The Bible lectures came and went, having no more rapt listener than Adele Forrester, who marveled at the light that had come to her, illuminating all truth that she had formally learned and recited, and adding wondrous things out of the Law never hinted at before. When Sunday came she went to church a true worshiper, and sang with all her heart:
"O sing unto the Lord a new song For He hath done marvellous things."
She did not follow Winifred's course in retiring from the choir, and explained to her afterwards:
"It did not seem the right thing for me, dear, although I think you did just right. You see, I am not a star singer, for one thing, and never sing solos. So my temptation to show off would not be like yours with your exquisite voice. Though I do believe, Winifred," she said earnestly, "that one might do that some day—sing solos, I mean—with a sincere heart to the Lord, and not be vain about it. And oh, it would be so sweet! To praise Him with one's whole heart 'in the great congregation'—to try and tell about Him!—but, after all, there is no verse chaste enough and no melody sweet enough to describe Him! Oh, Winifred, when I see His wounds," and Adele covered her eyes as though, shutting out other things, she could see Him, while her voice sank to a sob—"it breaks my heart! What a silly girl I have been—and it was for me!"
Presently she resumed: "When I sang Sunday, I remembered something that Mr. Bond had said. I was afraid lest some inattention or failure to just grasp and mean the sentiments I sang might make my worship unacceptable. But I remembered that in the Tabernacle service after the priest had done all he could—at the brazen altar, and the laver, you know, having his heart set right and his conduct cleansed—still there was provided blood on the horns of the altar of incense beside which he worshiped. After all he could do he might still need it, I suppose. So I thought that although my poor service is very imperfect, and must come far short of what it ought to be, at best, still there will always be the blood and I shall take refuge in that."
Winifred looked at her friend wonderingly.
"That is very beautiful, Adele," she said. "I am glad to see it."
Adele's words had opened a dim vista of possibility, very precious, and had suggested arms wherewith to resist any shrinking self-fear or accusation that might attack her by the way. But though her "gift," as Mrs. Butterworth and her mother called it, might some day be transmuted into a true gift of the Spirit, she felt with instinctive spiritual repugnance that its sphere of use would not be the former theater of her vanity. Adele might still sing in the chancel the canticles of the church, but as for her the associations of the choir of Doctor Schoolman's church were far too unhallowed to admit of a return to them. To her it was so clear that she wondered a little why Adele and she should take no nearer ground as to their respective action.
"I suppose," she said aloud with a little perplexity, "that we must each do what seems right, according to the clearest light we have. We may not both see all the truth about anything at the same time."
"No," said Adele with a decisive shake of her head, "and we can't walk by each other's consciences. But talking about seeing 'all the truth' makes me think of something. You know I was in the Berkshire Hills last summer? Well, I saw Greylock from several points of view. From one it seemed a rather sharp spur; from another it was long and obtuse; and from the last,—when somebody pointed out an ordinary, featureless ascent and said: 'That's Greylock,' I could scarcely believe it. I imagine our views of the truth are somewhat like that. It will take time to walk all around it, I think."
"I think so," said Winifred reflectively. "Then if somebody had met you when you had seen but one view of the mountain, and had described simply another—"
"We should have quarreled!" said Adele.
THE SOUL HEARS A CAUSE
Midsummer heat was advancing and the fashionable residents of the city where our story is located—a city not too large, cleanly, healthful, and beautiful for situation—found it necessary to leave town. Mrs. Gray was among the number whose constitution demanded a change from the accustomed air and scene, and from the round of conventional home life to the equally conventional routine of life in a summer hotel. At least, she supposed she required it. And was it not the regular thing to do? And had she not arranged with Mrs. Dr. Greene long ago that they should secure quarters together in the Loftimore House overlooking the blue waters of Silverguile Lake? But when the last trunks were packed and, gone, and she looked around in the cool quiet of her own home, the soft eyes were troubled and she said to Winifred:
"I wish I were not going, dear. It is a trouble, after all. And you are not going! You will come for a little while, won't you, child?" And she gave her an already homesick caress.
Winifred promised, if it could be arranged. Mr. Gray and Hubert both found it impossible to leave but for a short time, and Winifred was glad of an excuse to stay with them, presiding in the quiet house with its summer lack of visitors and improved opportunity for her new and engrossing pursuit. She would go on to know God better, as she found Him mirrored in the clear, still waters of His Word.
The days sped by all too rapidly. Adele did not leave for the summer, and the two spent hours together, comparing impressions and experiences and the light gained upon the Scripture portions which they were reading simultaneously. Then Winifred rehearsed to Hubert at night their discoveries and difficulties, and he added the wisdom given to him to their own. Sometimes his sister quoted to him surprisingly original and apt comments from Adele and he wondered silently. If he had wished to hear from the "sensible interior," he now did so, and it spoke from the depths of a new spiritual insight.
George Frothingham continued to pay occasional court to his ladye faire. The time for his customary holidays drew near, and as he arranged for a flying European trip which he had promised himself this year, it entered his heart to close the anticipated compact with Winifred for the life journey together. Very sweet were the hopes which mingled with shrewd business calculations, and he congratulated himself on assured prospects.
But Winifred was not happy when she thought of him. His coming gave her pleasure always, and it was anticipated with a shy new consciousness since the night they had read each other's hearts more certainly through the tell-tale windows of their eyes. But though his coming gave her pleasure, it left her always with a disappointment. Concerning the one thing that had come to be the most vital interest in her life they were not in sympathy. Sometimes when the beauties in Christ Jesus seemed most patent to her own soul, it seemed that he must surely see them if represented to him. But the mention of that Name froze upon her lips when met with the usual bantering jest, or indifferent acquiescence, accompanied by a look at his watch or the sudden memory of an engagement. The conviction could not be denied that a wall as thick as that of a tomb stood between them in matters of the spirit.
"He is dead," she confessed to herself in honest grief, "as dead as I was before my quickening—just as it says in the Ephesians. He makes no more response to spiritual things than would one of the people in their graves in the cemetery if I talked to them. And what fellowship can life have with death? But—but—I love him!"
The Flesh cried out for the sovereignty of human love, but the Spirit argued for the reign of Christ. Between the two the Soul stood, a tortured arbiter, and heard the cause.
The Spirit pleaded:
"O Soul, if to you to live is Christ, why do you bring into your life's closest fellowship an alien to Him? Why do you give the supremest place of earthly relationship, pledging life-long loyalty and obedience, to one whose mind is foreign—even 'enmity'—to the law of Christ? Can you follow the course of life he would plan, and still serve Christ? Can two walk together except they be agreed?"
"You might win him," the Flesh pleaded. "A woman's power is very great. Remember he loves you."
"I have no power now," the Soul ruled.
"You might have eventually," the Flesh persisted. "The example of a godly life will win."
"You cannot live a godly life while you walk with him," interposed the Spirit. "'The friendship of the world is enmity with God.'"
Winifred was startled. "That is a very strong text," she thought. "But it probably doesn't mean that. Godly women have lived Christian lives with very ungodly husbands."
"But they did not walk together," argued a voice. "They were only in part united. In the realm of the spirit—the realm that should lead—they were divided."
"There is encouragement held out to believing wives in the Scripture," suggested one who knows how to quote Scripture for his purpose, "that they may win their unbelieving husbands by their chaste behavior."
"There is no encouragement given to believing women to marry unbelieving men," said the Spirit defensively. "A woman whose faith finds her so united may have hope. But can you expect the favor of God upon a mission undertaken in disobedience?"
"Is it quite disobedience?" pondered Winifred weakly. "I must look in the Bible to find all I can about it."
The Flesh resisted this course and suggested delay, at least in searching the Scriptures about it. She might not understand the Scriptures. It would be better to ask some Christian friend.
So the matter was delayed, but not for long. For the Soul grew unhappy with the weight of a matter withheld from the clear light of the Word, and a mist rose between it and the face of Christ. Any sorrow could be borne rather than lose vision of His face, and Winifred brought her cause at last with sobs and tears to the feet of Him who had been crucified, determined that His word should end the case at any cost. Then she searched the Book with what result each Bible student knows. She found permission for a Christian's marriage "in the Lord." But the whole testimony of the Scripture frowned darkly upon a yoking together with unbelievers; and what yoke was closer than the one she contemplated?
The Spirit said amen; and Winifred remembered how all her interviews with George Frothingham had left her not helped at all in the way of the spirit, but rather hindered. What would be a lifelong fellowship? She cast to the winds all thought of inaugurating a dubious mission for the young man's salvation through means of a forbidden fellowship, and so the Soul, led by the Spirit, took wood and fire and repaired to the mount of sacrifice.
The decisive evening came, and Frothingham, never more elegant nor more winning, appeared. He was not dismayed by Winifred's unusual constraint, for he had noticed a growing shyness and drew his own happy conclusion from it. He had brought a roll of music—a new love song, into which he poured the richness of his mellow voice while Winifred accompanied him. But her fingers trembled over the keys and she struck a false note occasionally.
Later they were standing beneath the chandelier, the light falling upon Winifred's pale face, as she answered words he had been speaking.
"No, I cannot marry you," she said, and her voice shrank from the words as ranch for the pain they must cause him as for her own. "It is impossible."
His handsome face clouded with surprise and alarm. He pleaded, expostulated, reasoned, but in vain. Winifred was firm, and a certain womanly dignity hid the grief that she felt, lest its display should afterward bring humiliating regret. She told him as clearly as she could the reason why she could not become his wife, and to his unspiritual judgment it seemed a petty cause. He was accustomed to seeing a type of religion that could exist in harmony with the world, and he did not see why the fact that Winifred was a Christian and had become uncommonly interested in that sort of thing should hinder her being the best of wives to a worldly man like himself. They need not quarrel about it. As to any scruples that might be entertained in her conscientious little head about all the gaiety he cared for, he inwardly credited himself with skill to overcome them when once she should be his. But Winifred made it clear to him at last that the matter was unmistakably and finally settled, and deep was his chagrin. Wounded pride rose with a sense of his rejection, and he straightened his fine figure in haughty coldness.
"Very well," he said. "I must abide by your decision, and we will part."
"We shall still be friends?" she asked timidly.
He did not look at the little hand she outstretched. "If we cannot be more than friends, we must be less now," he answered coldly.
He bade her an abrupt good-night and she watched him depart. Still standing where he had left her she looked through the graceful palms that from their setting of marble partially veiled the drawing-room from the hall and saw him standing, never so handsome as now in his pale sternness, fastidiously drawing on his gloves according to his wont.
Her heart made a final appeal. Was she mad, that she should drive him away when she loved him? Let her call him back! Love is sovereign. Let it rule.
As a very tiny object may blot out the widest view if it be near enough to the vision, so this glittering treasure of an earthly love swung before her eyes, and it hid the broader prospect of fair and eternal joys in Christ. "Command that these stones be made bread," one had said to her Lord when he hungered, and the same strong and subtle one counseled now: "Take the joy that is offered! Your heart will be starved and desolate if you let it go. Call him back!"
Almost her weak heart assented.
"George!" the cry rose, but it died, mercifully, in a whisper upon her dry lips.
Frothingham had quite prepared himself to emerge from the house—for the last time, probably—and he passed out, giving no backward glance at the figure that stood beneath the light in the drawing-room.
Winifred roused from her statue-like stillness as the door closed behind him. The heavy breath of odorous flowers stole in through an open window and sickened her. For years after she could not dissociate their fragrance from the sorrow of that hour. She turned to the piano. He had left his music—and he would never come back for it! She turned away and climbed the stairs with heavy steps to her own room. And there we will leave her, where, after the battle, a heavenly Visitor was to come forth with bread and wine for her refreshing.
Winifred's heart did not break. Or, if it broke, it was quickly healed, for there dwelt in the house One whose office it is to bind up the broken-hearted. It was not that she did not grieve, or that no void cried out again and again to be filled. But she learned a paradox as the days went on: of an inexplicable peace beneath the sharpest pain, and of a buoyant joy that would not be held down by sorrow. Hubert looked on, making mental notes as to what had happened, but asking no questions.
Our trio of young people who had entered a life of worship found their hearts impelling them toward fields of service also. Winifred sought in many quiet ways to make known to others Him whom she had come to know with such delight, and a casual visit from Adele one day threw light upon the occupation of the others.
"By the way, Winifred," Miss Forrester said, apropos of some topic discussed, "your brother gave a splendid talk at the Cleary Street Mission last night. Oh, you ought to have heard him! It was fine!"
Winifred opened her eyes widely. "Hubert at the Mission last night? He never told me."
"I suspect he doesn't let his left hand know what his right hand is doing," suggested Adele. "But he certainly was there. And when Mr. McBride asked him to speak he promptly did so. It was splendid! Not simply what he said, you know, but the fact that he said it—a business man talking in a matter-of-fact, business way to other men of something he evidently thought the most important matter in the world. Of course most of the people were of a far different class from his, but you would never guess it from his words. He didn't patronize them a bit. I liked that so much. And you should have seen how those men fastened their eyes on him and listened to what he said."
"How lovely!" cried Winifred. "I wish I had been there. But pray tell me, Adele, how happens it that you were there?"
"Oh, I am a regular attendant in Cleary Street," said Adele laughing. "At least I go regularly on certain nights in the week and play the organ—a wretched, squeaky, little thing—and raise my voice on Sankey hymns also."
"You do!" cried Winifred with a mixture of amusement, dismay and admiration in her voice. "Well, I declare!"
"I don't see why you should be so shocked," said Adele, enjoying her friend's astonishment. "Pray, why shouldn't I go? Do you doubt my qualifications? I am not the musician you are, dear, but my skill is quite up to those tunes, I assure you."
"I hope you don't wear that red hat of yours and your usual stunning costumes, Adele?"
"It occurred to me after I had gone a few times," said Adele quietly, "that it might be well to modify my gear. I think you would approve of my revised toilet. It is very simple."
"Adele, I know you can't help looking well, whatever you wear," said Winifred, who suddenly observed a somewhat altered "gear" in evidence. "If you should put on a Salvation Army bonnet it would look stylish. It couldn't help itself. But please tell me more about the Mission. How happened you to go at all?"
"I heard Mr. McBride speak at a meeting. He told of the work of the Mission, and of the need of helpers—especially of somebody to help in the music. It occurred to me that that was the kind of assistance I might give, and that it would be very nice to contribute in some small way, at least, to the work of the Mission. And," she continued very gravely, "I volunteered and was gladly accepted."
"That is very noble, I think," said Winifred. "But what did your friends think?"
"I did not ask them," Adele answered coolly. "I have fallen from caste, anyhow, and it doesn't matter much. You know since I have seen the Lord"—it was Adele's way of putting it—"I have tried to—to witness to Him in some way or other to my old friends; and the result has been a pretty liberal letting alone from them. His name does not seem a very welcome one—outside of a church!" Then she went on with a gleam of indignant sorrow in her bright eyes: "That is what breaks one's heart! That these very people may kneel beside you in church and recite His holy name as glibly as possible; but outside—it is unwelcome! Winifred, can it be a Christian life at all into any avenue of which Christ is an intrusion? Oh, if they loved Him—if they had ever seen Him at all!—they would be so glad of any mention of Him!"
After a moment a gleam of amused memory succeeded Adele's pained outburst. She went on:
"The other night I think I reached the climax of my fall into disfavor. You know these summer evenings at the Mission we take the organ and hymn books and go out before the door and have a street meeting. Well, on this occasion our open-air meeting was in full swing and our usual score of auditors were lined up in the gutters and everywhere to hear. Mr. McBride had announced 'The best Friend to have is Jesus,' and was himself swinging his arms and singing lustily, while I played and pumped the panting little instrument and sang as loudly as I could, too. Suddenly there turned down the street a handsome automobile (I don't know why, for they never go down that street) and in it the Misses Steele and Miss Proudfeather from Baltimore. To crown it all, with them was seated my precious Cousin Dick! Our poor little crowd huddled aside to let them pass. They all saw me and Dick took off his hat with great ceremony; but the ladies evidently thought they would spare me the mortification of a recognition under the circumstances. I couldn't help laughing within myself, though it was a bit embarrassing. Dick was hilarious over it. He evidently sees nothing improper in it, but a very good joke. He says he expects to hear me preaching there yet. I told him it might be to his benefit if he did."
Both laughed. "But just think, Adele," said Winifred, "how infinitely better to be in that little street crowd with the Lord, than driving about in the finest motor car without Him!"
"Yes!" cried Adele, "I wouldn't trade places for worlds!"
"I should think not," said Winifred, with scorn of the idea.
Adele was finding out, like her friend, that the way of the cross brings separation, and she had her own peculiar tests as to faithful witnessing. Her merry-hearted cousin drew her out in words more frequently than any other, and plied her with questions concerning this new type of religion.
"It's no new sort of religion at all," she insisted. "It's just the old sort you read of in the New Testament—and the prayer-book! Only I am afraid I never really had it before—or it had not really got me. If people would only be sincere, Dick, you would find it is the same sort."
"I do not think the ordinary sort is much good," said Dick, with the air of a connoisseur in religions.
It was to be lamented that the present incumbent at St. John's had not met with the young man's very hearty favor. The freshly introduced intoning struck him humorously. He imitated it in ordinary remarks about the house.
"Where's—my—hat?" he inquired in a whining chant, after the manner of the unfortunate rector's plaintively intoned "Let us pray."
Adele, always alive to the ridiculous, laughed; but still she wished he would not be irreverent.
"The way we go through the service," said Dick, "is so as to relieve it of as much sense as possible. No wonder some of us turn out hypocrites. But you don't, Adele. However, I'll reserve my estimate of your case till we see how you hold out at your new gait."