Chapter 6, con’t.
Perhaps two persons could not be found anywhere less capable of understanding a girl like Virginia than Madam Page and Rollin. Rachel, who had known the family since she was a girl playmate of Virginia’s, could not help thinking of what confronted Virginia in her own home when she once decided on the course which she honestly believed Jesus would take. Today at lunch, as she recalled Virginia’s outbreak in the front room, she tried to picture the scene that would at some time occur between Madam Page and her granddaughter.
“I understand that you are going on the stage, Miss Winslow. We shall all be delighted, I’m sure,” said Rollin during the conversation, which had not been very animated.
Rachel colored and felt annoyed. “Who told you?” she asked, while Virginia, who had been very silent and reserved, suddenly roused herself and appeared ready to join in the talk.
“Oh! we hear a thing or two on the street. Besides, every one saw Crandall the manager at church two weeks ago. He doesn’t go to church to hear the preaching. In fact, I know other people who don’t either, not when there’s something better to hear.”
Rachel did not color this time, but she answered quietly, “You’re mistaken. I’m not going on the stage.”
“It’s a great pity. You’d make a hit. Everybody is talking about your singing.”
This time Rachel flushed with genuine anger. Before she could say anything, Virginia broke in: “Whom do you mean by everybody?’”
“Whom? I mean all the people who hear Miss Winslow on Sundays. What other time do they hear her? It’s a great pity, I say, that the general public outside of Raymond cannot hear her voice.”
“Let us talk about something else,” said Rachel a little sharply. Madam Page glanced at her and spoke with a gentle courtesy.
“My dear, Rollin never could pay an indirect compliment. He is like his father in that. But we are all curious to know something of your plans. We claim the right from old acquaintance, you know; and Virginia has already told us of your concert company offer.”
“I supposed of course that was public property,” said Virginia, smiling across the table. “I was in the NEWS office day before yesterday.”
“Yes, yes,” replied Rachel hastily. “I understand that, Madam Page. Well, Virginia and I have been talking about it. I have decided not to accept, and that is as far as I have gone at present.”
Rachel was conscious of the fact that the conversation had, up to this point, been narrowing her hesitation concerning the concert company’s offer down to a decision that would absolutely satisfy her own judgment of Jesus’ probable action. It had been the last thing in the world, however, that she had desired, to have her decision made in any way so public as this. Somehow what Rollin Page had said and his manner in saying it had hastened her decision in the matter.
“Would you mind telling us, Rachel, your reasons for refusing the offer? It looks like a great opportunity for a young girl like you. Don’t you think the general public ought to hear you? I feel like Rollin about that. A voice like yours belongs to a larger audience than Raymond and the First Church.”
Rachel Winslow was naturally a girl of great reserve. She shrank from making her plans or her thoughts public. But with all her repression there was possible in her an occasional sudden breaking out that was simply an impulsive, thoroughly frank, truthful expression of her most inner personal feeling. She spoke now in reply to Madam Page in one of those rare moments of unreserve that added to the attractiveness of her whole character.
“I have no other reason than a conviction that Jesus Christ would do the same thing,” she said, looking into Madam Page’s eyes with a clear, earnest gaze.
Madam Page turned red and Rollin stared. Before her grandmother could say anything, Virginia spoke. Her rising color showed how she was stirred. Virginia’s pale, clear complexion was that of health, but it was generally in marked contrast with Rachel’s tropical type of beauty.
“Grandmother, you know we promised to make that the standard of our conduct for a year. Mr. Maxwell’s proposition was plain to all who heard it. We have not been able to arrive at our decisions very rapidly. The difficulty in knowing what Jesus would do has perplexed Rachel and me a good deal.”
Madam Page looked sharply at Virginia before she said anything.
“Of course I understand Mr. Maxwell’s statement. It is perfectly impracticable to put it into practice. I felt confident at the time that those who promised would find it out after a trial and abandon it as visionary and absurd. I have nothing to say about Miss Winslow’s affairs, but,” she paused and continued with a sharpness that was new to Rachel, “I hope you have no foolish notions in this matter, Virginia.”
“I have a great many notions,” replied Virginia quietly. “Whether they are foolish or not depends upon my right understanding of what He would do. As soon as I find out I shall do it.”