In His Steps
No one in all Raymond, including the Rectangle, felt Loreen’s death more keenly than Virginia. It came like a distinct personal loss to her. That short week while the girl had been in her home had opened Virginia’s heart to a new life. She was talking it over with Rachel the day after the funeral. Thee were sitting in the hall of the Page mansion.
“I am going to do something with my money to help those women to a better life.” Virginia looked over to the end of the hall where, the day before, Loreen’s body had lain. “I have decided on a good plan, as it seems to me. I have talked it over with Rollin. He will devote a large part of his money also to the same plan.”
“How much money have you, Virginia, to give in this way?” asked Rachel. Once, she would never have asked such a personal question. Now, it seemed as natural to talk frankly about money as about anything else that belonged to God.
“I have available for use at least four hundred and fifty-thousand dollars. Rollin has as much more. It is one of his bitter regrets now that his extravagant habits of life before his conversion practically threw away half that father left him. We are both eager to make all the reparation in our power. What would Jesus do with this money?’ We want to answer that question honestly and wisely. The money I shall put into the NEWS is, I am confident, in a line with His probable action. It is as necessary that we have a Christian daily paper in Raymond, especially now that we have the saloon influence to meet, as it is to have a church or a college. So I am satisfied that the five hundred thousand dollars that Mr. Norman will know how to use so well will be a powerful factor in Raymond to do as Jesus would.
“About my other plan, Rachel, I want you to work with me. Rollin and I are going to buy up a large part of the property in the Rectangle. The field where the tent now is, has been in litigation for years. We mean to secure the entire tract as soon as the courts have settled the title. For some time I have been making a special study of the various forms of college settlements and residence methods of Christian work and Institutional church work in the heart of great city slums. I do not know that I have yet been able to tell just what is the wisest and most effective kind of work that can be done in Raymond.
But I do know this much. My money – I mean God’s, which he wants me to use – can build wholesome lodging-houses, refuges for poor women, asylums for shop girls, safety for many and many a lost girl like Loreen. And I do not want to be simply a dispenser of this money. God help me! I do want to put myself into the problem. But you know, Rachel, I have a feeling all the time that all that limitless money and limitless personal sacrifice can possibly do, will not really lessen very much the awful condition at the Rectangle as long as the saloon is legally established there. I think that is true of any Christian work now being carried on in any great city. The saloon furnishes material to be saved faster than the settlement or residence or rescue mission work can save it.”
Virginia suddenly rose and paced the hall. Rachel answered sadly, and yet with a note of hope in her voice:
“It is true. But, Virginia, what a wonderful amount of good can be done with this money! And the saloon cannot always remain here. The time must come when the Christian forces in the city will triumph.”
Virginia paused near Rachel, and her pale, earnest face lighted up.
“I believe that too. The number of those who have promised to do as Jesus would is increasing. If we once have, say, five hundred such disciples in Raymond, the saloon is doomed. But now, dear, I want you to look at your part in this plan for capturing and saving the Rectangle. Your voice is a power. I have had many ideas lately. Here is one of them. You could organize among the girls a Musical Institute; give them the benefit of your training. There are some splendid voices in the rough there. Did any one ever hear such singing as that yesterday by those women? Rachel, what a beautiful opportunity! You shall have the best of material in the way of organs and orchestras that money can provide, and what cannot be done with music to win souls there into higher and purer and better living?”
Before Virginia had ceased speaking Rachel’s face was perfectly transformed with the thought of her life work. It flowed into her heart and mind like a flood, and the torrent of her feeling overflowed in tears that could not be restrained. It was what she had dreamed of doing herself. It represented to her something that she felt was in keeping with a right use of her talent.
“Yes,” she said, as she rose and put her arm about Virginia, while both girls in the excitement of their enthusiasm paced the hall. “Yes, I will gladly put my life into that kind of service. I do believe that Jesus would have me use my life in this way. Virginia, what miracles can we not accomplish in humanity if we have such a lever as consecrated money to move things with!”
“Add to it consecrated personal enthusiasm like yours, and it certainly can accomplish great things,” said Virginia smiling. And before Rachel could reply, Rollin came in.
He hesitated a moment, and then was passing out of the hall into the library when Virginia called him back and asked some questions about his work.
Rollin came back and sat down, and together the three discussed their future plans. Rollin was apparently entirely free from embarrassment in Rachel’s presence while Virginia was with them, only his manner with her was almost precise, if not cold. The past seemed to have been entirely absorbed in his wonderful conversion. He had not forgotten it, but he seemed to be completely caught up for this present time in the purpose of his new life. After a while Rollin was called out, and Rachel and Virginia began to talk of other things.