In His Steps, Reading #31

In His Steps


Chapter 15

 

“He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.”

The body of Loreen lay in state at the Page mansion on the avenue. It was Sunday morning and the clear sweet spring air, just beginning to breathe over the city the perfume of early blossoms in the woods and fields, swept over the casket from one of the open windows at the end of the grand hall. The church bells were ringing and people on the avenue going by to service turned curious, inquiring looks up at the great house and then went on, talking of the recent events which had so strangely entered into and made history in the city.

At the First Church, Mr. Maxwell, bearing on his face marks of the scene he had been through, confronted an immense congregation, and spoke to it with a passion and a power that came so naturally out of the profound experiences of the day before that his people felt for him something of the old feeling of pride they once had in his dramatic delivery. Only this was with a different attitude. And all through his impassioned appeal this morning, there was a note of sadness and rebuke and stern condemnation that made many of the members pale with self-accusation or with inward anger.

For Raymond had awakened that morning to the fact that the city had gone for license after all. The rumor at the Rectangle that the second and third wards had gone no-license proved to be false. It was true that the victory was won by a very meager majority. But the result was the same as if it had been overwhelming. Raymond had voted to continue for another year the saloon. The Christians of Raymond stood condemned by the result. More than a hundred professing Christian disciples had failed to go to the polls, and many more than that number had voted with the whiskey men. If all the church members of Raymond had voted against the saloon, it would today be outlawed instead of crowned king of the municipality. For that had been the fact in Raymond for years.

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In His Steps, Reading #30

In His Steps


Chapter 14

 

But more than any other feeling at this meeting rose the tide of fellowship for one another. Maxwell watched it, trembling for its climax which he knew was not yet reached. When it was, where would it lead them? He did not know, but he was not unduly alarmed about it. Only he watched with growing wonder the results of that simple promise as it was being obeyed in these various lives. Those results were already being felt all over the city. Who could measure their influence at the end of a year?

One practical form of this fellowship showed itself in the assurances which Edward Norman received of support for his paper. There was a general flocking toward him when the meeting closed, and the response to his appeal for help from the Christian disciples in Raymond was fully understood by this little company. The value of such a paper in the homes and in behalf of good citizenship, especially at the present crisis in the city, could not be measured. It remained to be seen what could be done now that the paper was endowed so liberally. But it still was true, as Norman insisted, that money alone could not make the paper a power. It must receive the support and sympathy of the Christians in Raymond before it could be counted as one of the great forces of the city.

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In His Steps, Reading #28

In His Steps


Chapter 13

 

When the bell rang for tea she went down and her grandmother did not appear. She sent a servant to her room who brought back word that Madam Page was not there. A few minutes later Rollin came in. He brought word that his grandmother had taken the evening train for the South. He had been at the station to see some friends off, and had by chance met his grandmother as he was coming out. She had told him her reason for going.

Virginia and Rollin comforted each other at the tea table, looking at each other with earnest, sad faces.

“Rollin,” said Virginia, and for the first time, almost, since his conversion she realized what a wonderful thing her brother’s changed life meant to her, “do you blame me? Am I wrong?”

“No, dear, I cannot believe you are. This is very painful for us. But if you think this poor creature owes her safety and salvation to your personal care, it was the only thing for you to do. O Virginia, to think that we have all these years enjoyed our beautiful home and all these luxuries selfishly, forgetful of the multitudes like this woman! Surely Jesus in our places would do what you have done.”

And so Rollin comforted Virginia and counseled with her that evening. And of all the wonderful changes that she henceforth was to know on account of her great pledge, nothing affected her so powerfully as the thought of Rollin’s change of life. Truly, this man in Christ was a new creature. Old things were passed away. Behold, all things in him had become new.

Dr. West came that evening at Virginia’s summons and did everything necessary for the outcast. She had drunk herself almost into delirium. The best that could be done for her now was quiet nursing and careful watching and personal love. So, in a beautiful room, with a picture of Christ walking by the sea hanging on the wall, where her bewildered eyes caught daily something more of its hidden meaning, Loreen lay, tossed she hardly knew how into this haven, and Virginia crept nearer the Master than she had ever been, as her heart went out towards this wreck which had thus been flung torn and beaten at her feet.

Meanwhile the Rectangle awaited the issue of the election with more than usual interest; and Mr. Gray and his wife wept over the poor, pitiful creatures who, after a struggle with surroundings that daily tempted them, too often wearied of the struggle and, like Loreen, threw up their arms and went whirling over the cataract into the boiling abyss of their previous condition.

The after-meeting at the First Church was now eagerly established. Henry Maxwell went into the lecture-room on the Sunday succeeding the week of the primary, and was greeted with an enthusiasm that made him tremble at first for its reality. He noted again the absence of Jasper Chase, but all the others were present, and they seemed drawn very close together by a bond of common fellowship that demanded and enjoyed mutual confidences. It was the general feeling that the spirit of Jesus was the spirit of very open, frank confession of experience. It seemed the most natural thing in the world, therefore, for Edward Norman to be telling all the rest of the company about the details of his newspaper.

“The fact is, I have lost a great deal of money during the last three weeks. I cannot tell just how much. I am losing a great many subscribers every day.”

“What do the subscribers give as their reason for dropping the paper?” asked Mr. Maxwell. All the rest were listening eagerly.

“There are a good many different reasons. Some say they want a paper that prints all the news; meaning, by that, the crime details, sensations like prize fights, scandals and horrors of various kinds. Others object to the discontinuance of the Sunday edition. I have lost hundreds of subscribers by that action, although I have made satisfactory arrangements with many of the old subscribers by giving them even more in the extra Saturday edition than they formerly had in the Sunday issue. My greatest loss has come from a falling off in advertisements, and from the attitude I have felt obliged to take on political questions. The last action has really cost me more than any other. The bulk of my subscribers are intensely partisan. I may as well tell you all frankly that if I continue to pursue the plan which I honestly believe Jesus would pursue in the matter of political issues and their treatment from a non-partisan and moral standpoint, the NEWS will not be able to pay its operating expenses unless one factor in Raymond can be depended on.”

He paused a moment and the room was very quiet. Virginia seemed specially interested. Her face glowed with interest. It was like the interest of a person who had been thinking hard of the same thing which Norman went on to mention.

“That one factor is the Christian element in Raymond. Say the NEWS has lost heavily from the dropping off of people who do not care for a Christian daily, and from others who simply look upon a newspaper as a purveyor of all sorts of material to amuse or interest them, are there enough genuine Christian people in Raymond who will rally to the support of a paper such as Jesus would probably edit? or are the habits of the church people so firmly established in their demand for the regular type of journalism that they will not take a paper unless it is stripped largely of the Christian and moral purpose? I may say in this fellowship gathering that owing to recent complications in my business affairs outside of my paper I have been obliged to lose a large part of my fortune. I had to apply the same rule of Jesus’ probable conduct to certain transactions with other men who did not apply it to their conduct, and the result has been the loss of a great deal of money.

As I understand the promise we made, we were not to ask any question about Will it pay?’ but all our action was to be based on the one question, What would Jesus do?’ Acting on that rule of conduct, I have been obliged to lose nearly all the money I have accumulated in my paper. It is not necessary for me to go into details. There is no question with me now, after the three weeks’ experience I have had, that a great many men would lose vast sums of money under the present system of business if this rule of Jesus was honestly applied. I mention my loss here because I have the fullest faith in the final success of a daily paper conducted on the lines I have recently laid down, and I had planned to put into it my entire fortune in order to win final success. As it is now, unless, as I said, the Christian people of Raymond, the church members and professing disciples, will support the paper with subscriptions and advertisements, I cannot continue its publication on the present basis.”