In His Steps, Reading #24

In His Steps


Chapter 11

 

Donald Marsh, President of Lincoln College, walked home with Mr. Maxwell.

“I have reached one conclusion, Maxwell,” said Marsh, speaking slowly. “I have found my cross and it is a heavy one, but I shall never be satisfied until I take it up and carry it.” Maxwell was silent and the President went on.

“Your sermon today made clear to me what I have long been feeling I ought to do. What would Jesus do in my place?’ I have asked the question repeatedly since I made my promise. I have tried to satisfy myself that He would simply go on as I have done, attending to the duties of my college work, teaching the classes in Ethics and Philosophy. But I have not been able to avoid the feeling that He would do something more. That something is what I do not want to do. It will cause me genuine suffering to do it. I dread it with all my soul. You may be able to guess what it is.”

“Yes, I think I know. It is my cross too. I would almost rather do any thing else.”

Continue reading “In His Steps, Reading #24”

In His Steps, Reading #23

The people of Raymond awoke Sunday morning to a growing knowledge of events which were beginning to revolutionize many of the regular, customary habits of the town. Alexander Powers’ action in the matter of the railroad frauds had created a sensation not only in Raymond but throughout the country. Edward Norman’s daily changes of policy in the conduct of his paper had startled the community and caused more comment than any recent political event. Rachel Winslow’s singing at the Rectangle meetings had made a stir in society and excited the wonder of all her friends.

Virginia’s conduct, her presence every night with Rachel, her absence from the usual circle of her wealthy, fashionable acquaintances, had furnished a great deal of material for gossip and question. In addition to these events which centered about these persons who were so well known, there had been all through the city in very many homes and in business and social circles strange happenings. Nearly one hundred persons in Henry Maxwell’s church had made the pledge to do everything after asking: “What would Jesus do?” and the result had been, in many cases, unheard-of actions. The city was stirred as it had never been before. As a climax to the week’s events had come the spiritual manifestation at the Rectangle, and the announcement which came to most people before church time of the actual conversion at the tent of nearly fifty of the worst characters in that neighborhood, together with the con version of Rollin Page, the well-known society and club man.

It is no wonder that under the pressure of all this the First Church of Raymond came to the morning service in a condition that made it quickly sensitive to any large truth. Perhaps nothing had astonished the people more than the great change that had come over the minister, since he had proposed to them the imitation of Jesus in conduct. The dramatic delivery of his sermons no longer impressed them. The self-satisfied, contented, easy attitude of the fine figure and refined face in the pulpit had been displaced by a manner that could not be compared with the old style of his delivery. The sermon had become a message. It was no longer delivered. It was brought to them with a love, an earnestness, a passion, a desire, a humility that poured its enthusiasm about the truth and made the speaker no more prominent than he had to be as the living voice of God.

Continue reading “In His Steps, Reading #23”

In His Steps, Reading #15

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.”

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