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Title: Inside of the Cup, the — Complete
Author: Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Inside of the Cup, the — Complete" ***

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THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Volume 1.
I.     THE WARING PROBLEMS
II.    MR. LANGMAID'S MISSION
III.   THE PRIMROSE PATH
IV.    SOME RIDDLES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Volume 2.
V.     THE RECTOR HAS MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
VI.    "WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT"
VII.   THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD
VIII.  THE LINE of LEAST RESISTANCE.

Volume 3.
IX.    THE DIVINE DISCONTENT
X.     THE MESSENGER IN THE CHURCH
XI.    THE LOST PARISHIONER
XII.   THE WOMAN OF THE SONG

Volume 4.
XIII.  WINTERBOURNE
XIV.   A SATURDAY AFTERNOON
XV.    THE CRUCIBLE
XVI.   AMID THE ENCIRCLING GLOOM

Volume 5.
XVII.  RECONSTRUCTION
XVIII. THE RIDDLE OF CAUSATION
XIX.   MR. GOODRICH BECOMES A PARTISAN

Volume 6.
XX.    THE ARRAIGNMENT
XXI.   ALISON GOES TO CHURCH
XXII.  WHICH SAY TO THE SEERS, SEE NOT!

Volume 7.
XXIII.  THE CHOICE
XXIV.   THE VESTRY MEETS
XXV.   "RISE, CROWNED WITH LIGHT!"
XXVI.   THE CURRENT OF LIFE

Volume 8.
XXVII.  RETRIBUTION
XXVIII. LIGHT



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

Volume 1.


CHAPTER I

THE WARING PROBLEMS


I

With few exceptions, the incidents recorded in these pages take place in
one of the largest cities of the United States of America, and of that
portion called the Middle West,--a city once conservative and provincial,
and rather proud of these qualities; but now outgrown them, and linked by
lightning limited trains to other teeming centers of the modern world: a
city overtaken, in recent years, by the plague which has swept our
country from the Atlantic to the Pacific--Prosperity. Before its advent,
the Goodriches and Gores, the Warings, the Prestons and the Atterburys
lived leisurely lives in a sleepy quarter of shade trees and spacious
yards and muddy macadam streets, now passed away forever. Existence was
decorous, marriage an irrevocable step, wives were wives, and the
Authorized Version of the Bible was true from cover to cover. So Dr.
Gilman preached, and so they believed.

Sunday was then a day essentially different from other days--you could
tell it without looking at the calendar. The sun knew it, and changed
the quality of his light the very animals, dogs and cats and horses, knew
it: and most of all the children knew it, by Sunday school, by Dr.
Gilman's sermon, by a dizzy afternoon connected in some of their minds
with ceramics and a lack of exercise; by a cold tea, and by church bells.
You were not allowed to forget it for one instant. The city suddenly
became full of churches, as though they had magically been let down from
heaven during Saturday night. They must have been there on week days,
but few persons ever thought of them.

Among the many church bells that rang on those bygone Sundays was
that of St. John's, of which Dr. Gilman, of beloved memory, was rector.
Dr. Gilman was a saint, and if you had had the good luck to be baptized
or married or buried by him, you were probably fortunate in an earthly as
well as heavenly sense. One has to be careful not to deal exclusively in
superlatives, and yet it is not an exaggeration to say that St. John's
was the most beautiful and churchly edifice in the city, thanks chiefly
to several gentlemen of sense, and one gentleman, at least, of taste--Mr.
Horace Bentley. The vicissitudes of civil war interrupted its building;
but when, in 1868, it stood completed, its stone unsoiled as yet by
factory smoke, its spire delicately pointing to untainted skies, its rose
window glowing above the porch, citizens on Tower Street often stopped to
gaze at it diagonally across the vacant lot set in order by Mr. Thurston
Gore, with the intent that the view might be unobstructed.

Little did the Goodriches and Gores, the Warings and Prestons and
Atterburys and other prominent people foresee the havoc that prosperity
and smoke were to play with their residential plans! One by one, sooty
commerce drove them out, westward, conservative though they were, from
the paradise they had created; blacker and blacker grew the gothic facade
of St. John's; Thurston Gore departed, but leased his corner first for a
goodly sum, his ancestors being from Connecticut; leased also the vacant
lot he had beautified, where stores arose and hid the spire from Tower
Street. Cable cars moved serenely up the long hill where a panting third
horse had been necessary, cable cars resounded in Burton Street, between
the new factory and the church where Dr. Gilman still preached of peace
and the delights of the New-Jerusalem. And before you could draw your
breath, the cable cars had become electric. Gray hairs began to appear
in the heads of the people Dr. Gilman had married in the '60's and their
children were going East to College.



II

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Asa, Waring still clung to
the imposing, early Victorian mansion in Hamilton Street. It presented
an uncompromising and rather scornful front to the sister mansions with
which it had hitherto been on intimate terms, now fast degenerating into
a shabby gentility, seeking covertly to catch the eye of boarders, but as
yet refraining from open solicitation. Their lawns were growing a little
ragged, their stone steps and copings revealing cracks.

Asa Waring looked with a stern distaste upon certain aspects of modern
life. And though he possessed the means to follow his friends and
erstwhile neighbours into the newer paradise five miles westward, he had
successfully resisted for several years a formidable campaign to uproot
him. His three married daughters lived in that clean and verdant
district surrounding the Park (spelled with a capital), while Evelyn and
Rex spent most of their time in the West End or at the Country Clubs.
Even Mrs. Waring, who resembled a Roman matron, with her wavy white hair
parted in the middle and her gentle yet classic features, sighed secretly
at times at the unyielding attitude of her husband, although admiring him
for it. The grandchildren drew her.

On the occasion of Sunday dinner, when they surrounded her, her heart was
filled to overflowing.

The autumn sunlight, reddened somewhat by the slight haze of smoke,
poured in at the high windows of the dining-room, glinted on the silver,
and was split into bewildering colors by the prisms of the chandelier.
Many precious extra leaves were inserted under the white cloth, and Mrs.
Waring's eyes were often dimmed with happiness as she glanced along the
ranks on either side until they rested on the man with whom she had
chosen to pass her life. Her admiration for him had gradually grown into
hero-worship. His anger, sometimes roused, had a terrible moral quality
that never failed to thrill her, and the Loyal Legion button on his black
frock coat seemed to her an epitome of his character. He sat for the
most part silent, his remarkable, penetrating eyes, lighting under his
grizzled brows, smiling at her, at the children, at the grandchildren.
And sometimes he would go to the corner table, where the four littlest
sat, and fetch one back to perch on his knee and pull at his white,
military mustache.

It was the children's day. Uproar greeted the huge white cylinder of
ice-cream borne by Katie, the senior of the elderly maids; uproar greeted
the cake; and finally there was a rush for the chocolates, little tablets
wrapped in tinfoil and tied with red and blue ribbon. After that, the
pandemonium left the dining-room, to spread itself over the spacious
house from the basement to the great playroom in the attic, where the
dolls and blocks and hobby-horses of the parental generation stoically
awaited the new.

Sometimes a visitor was admitted to this sacramental feat, the dearest
old gentleman in the world, with a great, high bridged nose, a slight
stoop, a kindling look, and snow white hair, though the top of his head
was bald. He sat on Mrs. Waring's right, and was treated with the
greatest deference by the elders, and with none at all by the children,
who besieged him. The bigger ones knew that he had had what is called a
history; that he had been rich once, with a great mansion of his own, but
now he lived on Dalton Street, almost in the slums, and worked among the
poor. His name was Mr. Bentley.

He was not there on the particular Sunday when this story opens,
otherwise the conversation about to be recorded would not have taken
place. For St. John's Church was not often mentioned in Mr. Bentley's
presence.

"Well, grandmother," said Phil Goodrich, who was the favourite
son-in-law, "how was the new rector to-day?"

"Mr. Hodder is a remarkable young man, Phil," Mrs. Waring declared,
"and delivered such a good sermon. I couldn't help wishing that you
and Rex and Evelyn and George had been in church."

"Phil couldn't go," explained the unmarried and sunburned Evelyn, "he had
a match on of eighteen holes with me."

Mrs. Waring sighed.

"I can't think what's got into the younger people these days that they
seem so indifferent to religion. Your father's a vestryman, Phil, and
I believe it has always been his hope that you would succeed him. I'm
afraid Rex won't succeed his father," she added, with a touch of regret
and a glance of pride at her husband. "You never go to church, Rex.
Phil does."

"I got enough church at boarding-school to last me a lifetime, mother,"
her son replied. He was slightly older than Evelyn, and just out of
college. "Besides, any heathen can get on the vestry--it's a financial
board, and they're due to put Phil on some day. They're always putting
him on boards."

His mother looked a little distressed.

"Rex, I wish you wouldn't talk that way about the Church--"

"I'm sorry, mother," he said, with quick penitence. "Mr. Langmaid's a
vestryman, you know, and they've only got him there because he's the best
corporation lawyer in the city. He isn't exactly what you'd call
orthodox. He never goes."

"We are indebted to Mr. Langmaid for Mr. Hodder." This was one of Mr.
Waring's rare remarks.

Eleanor Goodrich caught her husband's eye, and smiled.

"I wonder why it is," she said, "that we are so luke-warm about church in
these days? I don't mean you, Lucy, or Laureston," she added to her
sister, Mrs. Grey. "You're both exemplary." Lucy bowed ironically.
"But most people of our ages with whom we associate. Martha Preston, for
instance. We were all brought up like the children of Jonathan Edwards.
Do you remember that awful round-and-round feeling on Sunday afternoons,
Sally, and only the wabbly Noah's Ark elephant to play with, right in
this house? instead of THAT!" There was a bump in the hall without, and
shrieks of laughter. "I'll never forget the first time it occurred to
me--when I was reading Darwin--that if the ark were as large as Barnum's
Circus and the Natural History Museum put together, it couldn't have held
a thousandth of the species on earth. It was a blow."

"I don't know what we're coming to," exclaimed Mrs. Waring gently.

"I didn't mean to be flippant, mother," said Eleanor penitently, "but I
do believe the Christian religion has got to be presented in a different
way, and a more vital way, to appeal to a new generation. I am merely
looking facts in the face."

"What is the Christian religion?" asked Sally's husband, George Bridges,
who held a chair of history in the local flourishing university. "I've
been trying to find out all my life."

"You couldn't be expected to know, George," said his wife. "You were
brought up an Unitarian, and went to Harvard."

"Never mind, professor," said Phil Goodrich, in a quizzical, affectionate
tone. "Take the floor and tell us what it isn't."

George Bridges smiled. He was a striking contrast in type to his
square-cut and vigorous brother-in-law; very thin, with slightly
protruding eyes the color of the faded blue glaze of ancient pottery, and
yet humorous.

"I've had my chance, at any rate. Sally made me go last Sunday and hear
Mr. Hodder."

"I can't see why you didn't like him, George," Lucy cried. "I think he's
splendid."

"Oh, I like him," said Mr. Bridges.

"That's just it!" exclaimed Eleanor. "I like him. I think he's sincere.
And that first Sunday he came, when I saw him get up in the pulpit and
wave that long arm of his, all I could think of was a modern Savonarola.
He looks one. And then, when he began to preach, it was maddening. I
felt all the time that he could say something helpful, if he only would.
But he didn't. It was all about the sufficiency of grace,--whatever that
may be. He didn't explain it. He didn't give me one notion as to how to
cope a little better with the frightful complexities of the modern lives
we live, or how to stop quarrelling with Phil when he stays at the office
and is late for dinner."

"Eleanor, I think you're unjust to him," said Lucy, amid the laughter of
the men of the family. "Most people in St. John's think he is a
remarkable preacher."

"So were many of the Greek sophists," George Bridges observed.

"Now if it were only dear old Doctor Gilman," Eleanor continued, "I could
sink back into a comfortable indifference. But every Sunday this new man
stirs me up, not by what he says, but by what he is. I hoped we'd get a
rector with modern ideas, who would be able to tell me what to teach my
children. Little Phil and Harriet come back from Sunday school with all
sorts of questions, and I feel like a hypocrite. At any rate, if Mr.
Hodder hasn't done anything else, he's made me want to know."

"What do you mean by a man of modern ideas, Eleanor?" inquired Mr.
Bridges, with evident relish.

Eleanor put down her coffee cup, looked at him helplessly, and smiled.

"Somebody who will present Christianity to me in such a manner that it
will appeal to my reason, and enable me to assimilate it into my life."

"Good for you, Nell," said her husband, approvingly. "Come now,
professor, you sit up in the University' Club all Sunday morning and
discuss recondite philosophy with other learned agnostics, tell us what
is the matter with Mr. Hodder's theology. That is, if it will not shock
grandmother too much."

"I'm afraid I've got used to being shocked, Phil," said Mrs. Waring, with
her quiet smile.

"It's unfair," Mr. Bridges protested, "to ask a prejudiced pagan like me
to pronounce judgment on an honest parson who is labouring according to
his lights."

"Go on, George. You shan't get out of it that way."

"Well," said George, "the trouble is, from the theological point of view,
that your parson is preaching what Auguste Sabatier would call a
diminished and mitigated orthodoxy."

"Great heavens!" cried Phil. "What's that?"

"It's neither fish, flesh, nor fowl, nor good red herring," the professor
declared. "If Mr. Hodder were cornered he couldn't maintain that he, as
a priest, has full power to forgive sins, and yet he won't assert that he
hasn't. The mediaeval conception of the Church, before Luther's day, was
consistent, at any rate, if you once grant the premises on which it was
based."

"What premises?"

"That the Almighty had given it a charter, like an insurance company,
of a monopoly of salvation on this portion of the Universe, and agreed to
keep his hands off. Under this conception, the sale of indulgences,
masses for the soul, and temporal power are perfectly logical
--inevitable. Kings and princes derive their governments from the Church.
But if we once begin to doubt the validity of this charter, as the
Reformers did, the whole system flies to pieces, like sticking a pin into
a soap bubble.

"That is the reason why--to change the figure--the so-called Protestant
world has been gradually sliding down hill ever since the Reformation.
The great majority of men are not willing to turn good, to renounce the
material and sensual rewards under their hands without some definite and
concrete guaranty that, if they do so, they are going, to be rewarded
hereafter. They demand some sort of infallibility. And when we let go
of the infallibility of the Church, we began to slide toward what looked
like a bottomless pit, and we clutched at the infallibility of the Bible.
And now that has begun to roll.

"What I mean by a mitigated orthodoxy is this: I am far from accusing Mr.
Hodder of insincerity, but he preaches as if every word of the Bible were
literally true, and had been dictated by God to the men who held the pen,
as if he, as a priest, held some supernatural power that could definitely
be traced, through what is known as the Apostolic Succession, back to
Peter."

"Do you mean to say, George," asked Mrs. Waring, with a note of pain in
her voice, "that the Apostolic Succession cannot be historically proved?"

"My dear mother," said George, "I hope you will hold me innocent of
beginning this discussion. As a harmless professor of history in our
renowned University (of which we think so much that we do not send our
sons to it) I have been compelled by the children whom you have brought
up to sit in judgment on the theology of your rector."

"They will leave us nothing!" she sighed.

"Nothing, perhaps, that was invented by man to appeal to man's
superstition and weakness. Of the remainder--who can say?"

"What," asked Mrs. Waring, "do they say about the Apostolic Succession?"

"Mother is as bad as the rest of us," said Eleanor.

"Isn't she, grandfather?"

"If I had a house to rent," said Mr. Bridges, when the laughter had
subsided, "I shouldn't advertise five bath rooms when there were only
two, or electricity when there was only gas. I should be afraid my
tenants might find it out, and lose a certain amount of confidence in me.
But the orthodox churches are running just such a risk to-day, and if any
person who contemplates entering these churches doesn't examine the
premises first, he refrains at his own cost.

"The situation in the early Christian Church is now a matter of history,
and he who runs may read. The first churches, like those of Corinth and
Ephesus and Rome, were democracies: no such thing as a priestly line to
carry on a hierarchy, an ecclesiastical dynasty, was dreamed of. It may
be gathered from the gospels that such an idea was so far from the mind
of Christ that his mission was to set at naught just such another
hierarchy, which then existed in Israel. The Apostles were no more
bishops than was John the Baptist, but preachers who travelled from place
to place, like Paul. The congregations, at Rome and elsewhere, elected
their own 'presbyteri, episcopoi' or overseers. It is, to say the least,
doubtful, and it certainly cannot be proved historically, that Peter ever
was in Rome."

"The professor ought to have a pulpit of his own," said Phil.

There was a silence. And then Evelyn, who had been eating quantities of
hothouse grapes, spoke up.

"So far as I can see, the dilemma in which our generation finds itself is
this,--we want to know what there is in Christianity that we can lay hold
of. We should like to believe, but, as George says, all our education
contradicts the doctrines that are most insisted upon. We don't know
where to turn. We have the choice of going to people like George, who
know a great deal and don't believe anything, or to clergymen like Mr.
Hodder, who demand that we shall violate the reason in us which has been
so carefully trained."

"Upon my word, I think you've put it rather well, Evelyn," said Eleanor,
admiringly.

"In spite of personalities," added Mr. Bridges.

"I don't see the use of fussing about it," proclaimed Laureston Grey, who
was the richest and sprucest of the three sons-in-law. "Why can't we let
well enough alone?"

"Because it isn't well enough," Evelyn replied. "I want the real thing
or nothing. I go to church once a month, to please mother. It doesn't
do me any good. And I don't see what good it does you and Lucy to go
every Sunday. You never think of it when you're out at dinners and
dances during the week. And besides," she added, with the arrogance of
modern youth, "you and Lucy are both intellectually lazy."

"I like that from you, Evelyn," her sister flared up.

"You never read anything except the sporting columns and the annual rules
of tennis and golf and polo."

"Must everything be reduced to terms?" Mrs. Waring gently lamented.
"Why can't we, as Laury suggests, just continue to trust?"

"They are the more fortunate, perhaps, who can, mother," George Bridges
answered, with more of feeling in his voice than he was wont to show.
"Unhappily, truth does not come that way. If Roger Bacon and Galileo and
Newton and Darwin and Harvey and the others had 'just trusted,' the
world's knowledge would still remain as stationary as it was during the
thousand-odd years the hierarchy of the Church was supreme, when theology
was history, philosophy, and science rolled into one. If God had not
meant man to know something of his origin differing from the account in
Genesis, he would not have given us Darwin and his successors.
Practically every great discovery since the Revival we owe to men who,
by their very desire for truth, were forced into opposition to the
tremendous power of the Church, which always insisted that people should
'just trust,' and take the mixture of cosmogony and Greek philosophy,
tradition and fable, paganism, Judaic sacerdotalism, and temporal power
wrongly called spiritual dealt out by this same Church as the last word
on science, philosophy, history, metaphysics, and government."

"Stop!" cried Eleanor. "You make me dizzy."

"Nearly all the pioneers to whom we owe our age of comparative
enlightenment were heretics," George persisted. "And if they could have
been headed off, or burned, most of us would still be living in mud caves
at the foot of the cliff on which stood the nobleman's castle; and kings
would still be kings by divine decree, scientists--if there were any
--workers in the black art, and every phenomenon we failed to understand,
a miracle."

"I choose the United States of America," ejaculated Evelyn.

"I gather, George," said Phil Goodrich, "that you don't believe in
miracles."

"Miracles are becoming suspiciously fewer and fewer. Once, an eclipse of
the sun was enough to throw men on their knees because they thought it
supernatural. If they were logical they'd kneel today because it has
been found natural. Only the inexplicable phenomena are miracles; and
after a while--if the theologians will only permit us to finish the job
--there won't be any inexplicable phenomena. Mystery, as I believe William
James puts it may be called the more-to-be-known."

"In taking that attitude, George, aren't you limiting the power of God?"
said Mrs. Waring.

"How does it limit the power of God, mother," her son-in-law asked, "to
discover that he chooses to work by laws? The most suicidal tendency in
religious bodies today is their mediaeval insistence on what they are
pleased to call the supernatural. Which is the more marvellous--that God
can stop the earth and make the sun appear to stand still, or that he can
construct a universe of untold millions of suns with planets and
satellites, each moving in its orbit, according to law; a universe
wherein every atom is true to a sovereign conception? And yet this
marvel of marvels--that makes God in the twentieth century infinitely
greater than in the sixteenth--would never have been discovered if the
champions of theology had had their way."

Mrs. Waring smiled a little.

"You are too strong for me, George," she said, "but you mustn't expect
an old woman to change."

"Mother, dear," cried Eleanor, rising and laying her hand on Mrs.
Waring's cheek, "we don't want you to change. It's ourselves we wish to
change, we wish for a religious faith like yours, only the same teaching
which gave it to you is powerless for us. That's our trouble. We have
only to look at you," she added, a little wistfully, "to be sure there is
something--something vital in Christianity, if we could only get at it,
something that does not depend upon what we have been led to believe is
indispensable. George, and men like him, can only show the weakness in
the old supports. I don't mean that they aren't doing the world a
service in revealing errors, but they cannot reconstruct."

"That is the clergyman's business," declared Mr. Bridges. "But he must
first acknowledge that the old supports are worthless."

"Well," said Phil, "I like your rector, in spite of his anthropomorphism
--perhaps, as George would say, because of it. There is something manly
about him that appeals to me."

"There," cried Eleanor, triumphantly, "I've always said Mr. Hodder had a
spiritual personality. You feel--you feel there is truth shut up inside
of him which he cannot communicate. I'll tell you who impresses me in
that way more strongly than any one else--Mr. Bentley. And he doesn't
come to church any more."

"Mr. Bentley," said her, mother, "is a saint. Your father tried to get
him to dinner to-day, but he had promised those working girls of his, who
live on the upper floors of his house, to dine with them. One of them
told me so. Of course he will never speak of his kindnesses."

"Mr. Bentley doesn't bother his head about theology," said Sally. "He
just lives."

"There's Eldon Parr," suggested George Bridges, mentioning the name of
the city's famous financier; "I'm told he relieved Mr. Bentley of his
property some twenty-five years ago. If Mr. Hodder should begin to
preach the modern heresy which you desire, Mr Parr might object. He's
very orthodox, I'm told."

"And Mr. Parr," remarked the modern Evelyn, sententiously, "pays the
bills, at St. John's. Doesn't he, father?"

"I fear he pays a large proportion of them," Mr. Waring admitted, in a
serious tone.

"In these days," said Evelyn, "the man who pays the bills is entitled to
have his religion as he likes it."

"No matter how he got the money to pay them," added Phil.

"That suggests another little hitch in the modern church which will have
to be straightened out," said George Bridges.

"'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the
outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of
extortion and excess.'"

"Why, George, you of all people quoting the Bible!" Eleanor exclaimed.

"And quoting it aptly, too," said Phil Goodrich.

"I'm afraid if we began on the scribes and Pharisees, we shouldn't stop
with Mr. Parr," Asa Wiring observed, with a touch of sadness.

"In spite of all they say he has done, I can't help feeling sorry for
him," said Mrs. Waring. "He must be so lonely in that huge palace of
his beside the Park, his wife dead, and Preston running wild around the
world, and Alison no comfort. The idea of a girl leaving her father
as she did and going off to New York to become a landscape architect!"

"But, mother," Evelyn pleaded, "I can't see why a woman shouldn't lead
her own life. She only has one, like a man. And generally she doesn't
get that."

Mrs. Waring rose.

"I don't know what we're coming to. I was taught that a woman's place
was with her husband and children; or, if she had none, with her family.
I tried to teach you so, my dear."

"Well," said Evelyn, "I'm here yet. I haven't Alison's excuse. Cheer
up, mother, the world's no worse than it was."

"I don't know about that," answered Mrs. Waring.

"Listen!" ejaculated Eleanor.

Mrs. Waring's face brightened. Sounds of mad revelry came down from the
floor above.



CHAPTER II

MR. LANGMAID'S MISSION


I

Looking back over an extraordinary career, it is interesting to attempt
to fix the time when a name becomes a talisman, and passes current for
power. This is peculiarly difficult in the case of Eldon Parr. Like
many notable men before him, nobody but Mr. Parr himself suspected his
future greatness, and he kept the secret. But if we are to search what
is now ancient history for a turning-point, perhaps we should find it
in the sudden acquisition by him of the property of Mr. Bentley.

The transaction was a simple one. Those were the days when gentlemen, as
matters of courtesy, put their names on other gentlemen's notes; and
modern financiers, while they might be sorry for Mr. Bentley, would
probably be unanimous in the opinion that he was foolish to write on the
back of Thomas Garrett's. Mr. Parr was then, as now, a business man, and
could scarcely be expected to introduce philanthropy into finance. Such
had been Mr. Bentley's unfortunate practice. And it had so happened,
a few years before, for the accommodation of some young men of his
acquaintance that he had invested rather generously in Grantham mining
stock at twenty-five cents a share, and had promptly forgotten the
transaction. To cut a long story short, in addition to Mr. Bentley's
house and other effects, Mr. Parr became the owner of the Grantham stock,
which not long after went to one hundred dollars. The reader may do the
figuring.

Where was some talk at this time, but many things had happened since.
For example, Mr. Parr had given away great sums in charity. And it may
likewise be added in his favour that Mr. Bentley was glad to be rid of
his fortune. He had said so. He deeded his pew back to St. John's, and
protesting to his friends that he was not unhappy, he disappeared from
the sight of all save a few. The rising waters of Prosperity closed over
him. But Eliza Preston, now Mrs. Parr, was one of those who were never
to behold him again,--in this world, at least.

She was another conspicuous triumph in that career we are depicting.
Gradual indeed had been the ascent from the sweeping out of a store to
the marrying of a Preston, but none the less sure inevitable. For many
years after this event, Eldon Parr lived modestly in what was known as a
"stone-front" house in Ransome Street, set well above the sidewalk, with
a long flight of yellow stone steps leading to it; steps scrubbed with
Sapoho twice a week by a negro in rubber boots. There was a stable with
a tarred roof in the rear, to be discerned beyond the conventional side
lawn that was broken into by the bay window of the dining-room. There,
in that house, his two children were born: there, within those inartistic
walls, Eliza Preston lived a life that will remain a closed book forever.
What she thought, what she dreamed, if anything, will never be revealed.
She did not, at least, have neurasthenia, and for all the world knew, she
may have loved her exemplary and successful husband, with whom her life
was as regular as the Strasburg clock. She breakfasted at eight and
dined at seven; she heard her children's lessons and read them Bible
stories; and at half past ten every Sunday morning, rain or shine, walked
with them and her husband to the cars on Tower Street to attend service
at St. John's, for Mr. Parr had scruples in those days about using the
carriage on the Sabbath.

She did not live, alas, to enjoy for long the Medicean magnificence of
the mansion facing the Park, to be a companion moon in the greater orbit.
Eldon Part's grief was real, and the beautiful English window in the
south transept of the church bears witness to it. And yet it cannot be
said that he sought solace in religion, so apparently steeped in it had
he always been. It was destiny that he should take his place on the
vestry; destiny, indeed, that he should ultimately become the vestry
as well as the first layman of the diocese; unobtrusively, as he had
accomplished everything else in life, in spite of Prestons and Warings,
Atterburys, Goodriches, and Gores. And he was wont to leave his weighty
business affairs to shift for themselves while he attended the diocesan
and general conventions of his Church.

He gave judiciously, as becomes one who holds a fortune in trust, yet
generously, always permitting others to help, until St. John's was a very
gem of finished beauty. And, as the Rothschilds and the Fuggera made
money for grateful kings and popes, so in a democratic age, Eldon Parr
became the benefactor of an adulatory public. The university, the
library, the hospitals, and the parks of his chosen city bear witness.



II

For forty years, Dr. Gilman had been the rector of St. John's. One
Sunday morning, he preached his not unfamiliar sermon on the text, "For
now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face," and when the
next Sunday dawned he was in his grave in Winterbourne Cemetery,
sincerely mourned within the parish and without. In the nature of mortal
things, his death was to be expected: no less real was the crisis to be
faced At the vestry meeting that followed, the problem was tersely set
forth by Eldon Parr, his frock coat tightly buttoned about his chest, his
glasses in his hand.

"Gentlemen," he said, "we have to fulfil a grave responsibility to the
parish, to the city, and to God. The matter of choosing a rector to-day,
when clergymen are meddling with all sorts of affairs which do not
concern them, is not so simple as it was twenty years ago. We have, at
St. John's, always been orthodox and dignified, and I take it to be the
sense of this vestry that we remain so. I conceive it our duty to find
a man who is neither too old nor too young, who will preach the faith
as we received it, who is not sensational, and who does not mistake
socialism for Christianity."

By force of habit, undoubtedly, Mr. Parr glanced at Nelson Langmaid as he
sat down. Innumerable had been the meetings of financial boards at which
Mr. Parr had glanced at Langmaid, who had never failed to respond. He
was that sine qua non of modern affairs, a corporation lawyer,--although
he resembled a big and genial professor of Scandinavian extraction. He
wore round, tortoise-shell spectacles, he had a high, dome-like forehead,
and an ample light brown beard which he stroked from time to time. It is
probable that he did not believe in the immortality of the soul.

His eyes twinkled as he rose.

"I don't pretend to be versed in theology, gentlemen, as you know," he
said, and the entire vestry, even Mr. Parr, smiled. For vestries, in
spite of black coats and the gravity of demeanour which first citizens
are apt to possess, are human after all. "Mr. Parr has stated, I
believe; the requirements, and I agree with him that it is not an easy
order to fill. You want a parson who will stick to his last, who will
not try experiments, who is not too high or too low or too broad or too
narrow, who has intellect without too much initiative, who can deliver a
good sermon to those who can appreciate one, and yet will not get the
church uncomfortably full of strangers and run you out of your pews. In
short, you want a level-headed clergyman about thirty-five years old who
will mind his own business"

The smiles on the faces of the vestry deepened. The ability to put a
matter thus humorously was a part of Nelson Langmaid's power with men
and juries.

"I venture to add another qualification," he continued, "and that is
virility. We don't want a bandbox rector. Well, I happen to have in
mind a young man who errs somewhat on the other side, and who looks a
little like a cliff profile I once saw on Lake George of George
Washington or an Indian chief, who stands about six feet two.
He's a bachelor--if that's a drawback. But I am not at all sure he can
be induced to leave his present parish, where he has been for ten years."

"I am," announced Wallis Plimpton, with his hands in his pockets,
"provided the right man tackles him."



III

Nelson Langmaid's most notable achievement, before he accomplished the
greater one of getting a new rector for St. John's, had been to construct
the "water-tight box" whereby the Consolidated Tractions Company had
become a law-proof possibility. But his was an esoteric reputation,
--the greater fame had been Eldon Parr's. Men's minds had been dazzled
by the breadth of the conception of scooping all the street-car lines of
the city, long and short, into one big basket, as it were; and when the
stock had been listed in New York, butcher and baker, clerk and
proprietor, widow and maid, brought out their hoardings; the great
project was discussed in clubs, cafes, and department stores, and by
citizens hanging on the straps of the very cars that were to be
consolidated--golden word! Very little appeared about Nelson Langmaid,
who was philosophically content. But to Mr. Parr, who was known to
dislike publicity, were devoted pages in the Sunday newspapers, with
photographs of the imposing front of his house in Park Street, his altar
and window in St. John's, the Parr building, and even of his private car,
Antonia.

Later on, another kind of publicity, had come. The wind had whistled
for a time, but it turned out to be only a squall. The Consolidated
Tractions Company had made the voyage for which she had been constructed,
and thus had fulfilled her usefulness; and the cleverest of the rats who
had mistaken her for a permanent home scurried ashore before she was
broken up.

All of which is merely in the nature of a commentary on Mr. Langmaid's
genius. His reputation for judgment--which by some is deemed the highest
of human qualities--was impaired; and a man who in his time had selected
presidents of banks and trust companies could certainly be trusted to
choose a parson--particularly if the chief requirements were not of a
spiritual nature. . .

A week later he boarded an east-bound limited train, armed with plenary
powers.

His destination was the hill town where he had spent the first fifteen
years of his life, amid the most striking of New England landscapes, and
the sight of the steep yet delicately pastoral slopes never failed to
thrill him as the train toiled up the wide valley to Bremerton. The
vision of these had remained with him during the years of his toil in the
growing Western city, and embodied from the first homesick days an ideal
to which he hoped sometime permanently to return. But he never had. His
family had shown a perversity of taste in preferring the sea, and he had
perforce been content with a visit of a month or so every other summer,
accompanied usually by his daughter, Helen. On such occasions, he stayed
with his sister, Mrs. Whitely.

The Whitely mills were significant of the new Bremerton, now neither
village nor city, but partaking of the characteristics of both. French
Canadian might be heard on the main square as well as Yankee; and that
revolutionary vehicle, the automobile, had inspired there a great brick
edifice with a banner called the Bremerton House. Enterprising Italians
had monopolized the corners with fruit stores, and plate glass and
asphalt were in evidence. But the hills looked down unchanged, and in
the cool, maple-shaded streets, though dotted with modern residences,
were the same demure colonial houses he had known in boyhood.

He was met at the station by his sister, a large, matronly woman who
invariably set the world whizzing backward for Langmaid; so completely
did she typify the contentment, the point of view of an age gone by. For
life presented no more complicated problems to the middle-aged Mrs.
Whitely than it had to Alice Langmaid.

"I know what you've come for, Nelson," she said reproachfully, when she
greeted him at the station. "Dr. Gilman's dead, and you want our Mr.
Hodder. I feel it in my bones. Well, you can't get him. He's had ever
so many calls, but he won't leave Bremerton."

She knew perfectly well, however, that Nelson would get him, although her
brother characteristically did not at once acknowledge his mission.
Alice Whitely had vivid memories of a childhood when he had never failed
to get what he wanted; a trait of his of which, although it had before
now caused her much discomfort, she was secretly inordinately proud. She
was, therefore, later in the day not greatly surprised to find herself
supplying her brother with arguments. Much as they admired and loved Mr.
Hodder, they had always realized that he could not remain buried in
Bremerton. His talents demanded a wider field.

"Talents!" exclaimed Langmaid, "I didn't know he had any."

"Oh, Nelson, how can you say such a thing, when you came to get him!"
exclaimed his sister."

"I recommended him because I thought he had none," Langmaid declared.

"He'll be a bishop some day--every one says so," said Mrs. Whitely,
indignantly.

"That reassures me," said her brother.

"I can't see why they sent you--you hardly ever go to church," she cried.
"I don't mind telling you, Nelson, that the confidence men place in you
is absurd."

"You've said that before," he replied. "I agree with you. I'm not going
on my judgment--but on yours and Gerald's, because I know that you
wouldn't put up with anything that wasn't strictly all-wool orthodox."

"I think you're irreverent," said his sister, "and it's a shame that the
canons permit such persons to sit on the vestry . . . ."

"Gerald," asked Nelson Langmaid of his brother-in-law that night, after
his sister and the girls had gone to bed, "are you sure that this young
man's orthodox?"

"He's been here for over ten years, ever since he left the seminary, and
he's never done or said anything radical yet," replied the mill owner of
Bremerton. "If you don't want him, we'd be delighted to have him stay.
We're not forcing him on you, you know. What the deuce has got into you?
You've talked to him for two hours, and you've sat looking at him at the
dinner table for another two. I thought you were a judge of men."

Nelson Langmaid sat silent.

"I'm only urging Hodder to go for his own good," Mr. Whitely continued.
"I can take you to dozens of people to-morrow morning who worship him,
--people of all sorts; the cashier in the bank, men in the mills, the hotel
clerk, my private stenographer--he's built up that little church from
nothing at all. And you may write the Bishop, if you wish."

"How has he built up the church?" Langmaid demanded

"How? How does any clergyman buildup a church

"I don't know," Langmaid confessed. "It strikes me as quite a tour de
force in these days. Does he manage to arouse enthusiasm for orthodox
Christianity?"

"Well," said Gerard Whitely, "I think the service appeals. We've made it
as beautiful as possible. And then Mr. Hodder goes to see these people
and sits up with them, and they tell him their troubles. He's reformed
one or two rather bad cases. I suppose it's the man's personality."

Ah! Langmaid exclaimed, "now you're talking!"

"I can't see what you're driving at," confessed his brother-in-law.
"You're too deep for me, Nelson."

If the truth be told, Langmaid himself did not quits see. On behalf
of the vestry, he offered next day to Mr. Hodder the rectorship of St.
John's and that offer was taken under consideration; but there was in
the lawyer's mind no doubt of the acceptance, which, in the course of
a fortnight after he had returned to the West, followed.

By no means a negligible element in Nelson Langmaid's professional
success had been his possession of what may called a sixth sense, and
more than once, on his missions of trust, he had listened to its
admonitory promptings.

At times he thought he recognized these in his conversation with the
Reverend John Hodder at Bremerton,--especially in that last interview in
the pleasant little study of the rectory overlooking Bremerton Lake. But
the promptings were faint, and Langmaid out of his medium. He was not
choosing the head of a trust company.

He himself felt the pull of the young clergyman's personality, and
instinctively strove to resist it: and was more than ever struck by Mr.
Hodder's resemblance to the cliff sculpture of which he had spoken at the
vestry meeting.

He was rough-hewn indeed, with gray-green eyes, and hair the color of
golden sand: it would not stay brushed. It was this hair that hinted
most strongly of individualism, that was by no means orthodox. Langmaid
felt an incongruity, but he was fascinated; and he had discovered on the
rector's shelves evidences of the taste for classical authors that he
himself possessed. Thus fate played with him, and the two men ranged
from Euripides to Horace, from Horace to Dante and Gibbon. And when
Hodder got up to fetch this or that edition, he seemed to tower over the
lawyer, who was a big man himself.

Then they discussed business, Langmaid describing the parish, the people,
the peculiar situation in St. John's caused by Dr. Gilman's death, while
Hodder listened. He was not talkative; he made no promises; his reserve
on occasions was even a little disconcerting; and it appealed to the
lawyer from Hodder as a man, but somehow not as a clergyman. Nor did
the rector volunteer any evidences of the soundness of his theological
or political principles.

He gave Langmaid the impression--though without apparent egotism--that
by accepting the call he would be conferring a favour on St. John's; and
this was when he spoke with real feeling of the ties that bound him to
Bremerton. Langmaid felt a certain deprecation of the fact that he was
not a communicant.

For the rest, if Mr. Hodder were disposed to take himself and his
profession seriously, he was by no means lacking in an appreciation of
Langmaid's humour . . . .

The tempering of the lawyer's elation as he returned homeward to report
to Mr. Parr and the vestry may be best expressed by his own exclamation,
which he made to himself:

"I wonder what that fellow would do if he ever got started!" A parson
was, after all, a parson, and he had done his best.



IV

A high, oozing note of the brakes, and the heavy train came to a stop.
Hodder looked out of the window of the sleeper to read the sign 'Marcion'
against the yellow brick of the station set down in the prairie mud, and
flanked by a long row of dun-colored freight cars backed up to a factory.

The factory was flimsy, somewhat resembling a vast greenhouse with its
multitudinous windows, and bore the name of a firm whose offices were in
the city to which he was bound.

"We 'most in now, sah," the negro porter volunteered. "You kin see the
smoke yondah."

Hodder's mood found a figure in this portentous sign whereby the city's
presence was betrayed to travellers from afar,--the huge pall seemed an
emblem of the weight of the city's sorrows; or again, a cloud of her own
making which shut her in from the sight of heaven. Absorbed in the mad
contest for life, for money and pleasure and power she felt no need to
lift her eyes beyond the level of her material endeavours.

He, John Hodder, was to live under that cloud, to labour under it. The
mission on which he was bound, like the prophets of old, was somehow to
gain the ears of this self-absorbed population, to strike the fear of the
eternal into their souls, to convince them that there was Something above
and beyond that smoke which they ignored to their own peril.

Yet the task, at this nearer view, took on proportions overwhelming--so
dense was that curtain at which he gazed. And to-day the very skies
above it were leaden, as though Nature herself had turned atheist.
In spite of the vigour with which he was endowed, in spite of the belief
in his own soul, doubts assailed him of his ability to cope with this
problem of the modern Nineveh--at the very moment when he was about to
realize his matured ambition of a great city parish.

Leaning back on the cushioned seat, as the train started again, he
reviewed the years at Bremerton, his first and only parish. Hitherto
(to his surprise, since he had been prepared for trials) he had found the
religious life a primrose path. Clouds had indeed rested on Bremerton's
crests, but beneficent clouds, always scattered by the sun. And there,
amid the dazzling snows, he had on occasions walked with God.

His success, modest though it were, had been too simple. He had loved
the people, and they him, and the pang of homesickness he now experienced
was the intensest sorrow he had known since he had been among them. Yes,
Bremerton had been for him (he realized now that he had left it) as near
an approach to Arcadia as this life permits, and the very mountains by
which it was encircled had seemed effectively to shut out those monster
problems which had set the modern world outside to seething. Gerald
Whitely's thousand operatives had never struck; the New York newspapers,
the magazines that discussed with vivid animus the corporation-political
problems in other states, had found Bremerton interested, but unmoved;
and Mrs. Whitely, who was a trustee of the library, wasted her energy in
deploring the recent volumes on economics, sociology, philosophy, and
religion that were placed on the shelves. If Bremerton read them--and a
portion of Bremerton did--no difference was apparent in the attendance at
Hodder's church. The Woman's Club discussed them strenuously, but made
no attempt to put their doctrines into practice.

Hodder himself had but glanced at a few of them, and to do him justice
this abstention had not had its root in cowardice. His life was full
--his religion "worked." And the conditions with which these books dealt
simply did not exist for him. The fact that there were other churches in
the town less successful than his own (one or two, indeed, virtually
starving) he had found it simple to account for in that their
denominations had abandoned the true conception of the Church, and were
logically degenerating into atrophy. What better proof of the barrenness
of these modern philosophical and religious books did he need than the
spectacle of other ministers--who tarried awhile on starvation salaries
--reading them and preaching from them?

He, John Hodder, had held fast to the essential efficacy of the word of
God as propounded in past ages by the Fathers. It is only fair to add
that he did so without pride or bigotry, and with a sense of thankfulness
at the simplicity of the solution (ancient, in truth!) which, apparently
by special grace, had been vouchsafed him. And to it he attributed the
flourishing condition in which he had left the Church of the Ascension at
Bremerton.

"We'll never get another rector like you," Alice Whitely had exclaimed,
with tears in her eyes, as she bade him good-by. And he had rebuked her.
Others had spoken in a similar strain, and it is a certain tribute to his
character to record that the underlying hint had been lost on Hodder.
His efficacy, he insisted, lay in the Word.

Hodder looked at his watch, only to be reminded poignantly of the chief
cause of his heaviness of spirit, for it represented concretely the
affections of those whom he had left behind; brought before him vividly
the purple haze of the Bremerton valley, and the garden party, in the
ample Whitely grounds, which was their tribute to him. And he beheld,
moving from the sunlight to shadow, the figure of Rachel Ogden. She
might have been with him now, speeding by his side into the larger life!

In his loneliness, he seemed to be gazing into reproachful eyes. Nothing
had passed between them. It, was he who had held back, a fact that in
the retrospect caused him some amazement. For, if wifehood were to be
regarded as a profession, Rachel Ogden had every qualification. And Mrs.
Whitely's skilful suggestions had on occasions almost brought him to
believe in the reality of the mirage,--never quite.

Orthodox though he were, there had been times when his humour had borne
him upward toward higher truths, and he had once remarked that promising
to love forever was like promising to become President of the United
States.

One might achieve it, but it was independent of the will. Hodder's
ideals--if he had only known--transcended the rubric. His feeling for
Rachel Ogden had not been lacking in tenderness, and yet he had recoiled
from marriage merely for the sake of getting a wife, albeit one with easy
qualification. He shrank instinctively from the humdrum, and sought the
heights, stormy though these might prove. As yet he had not analyzed
this craving.

This he did know--for he had long ago torn from his demon the draperies
of disguise--that women were his great temptation. Ordination had not
destroyed it, and even during those peaceful years at Bremerton he had
been forced to maintain a watchful guard. He had a power over women, and
they over him, that threatened to lead him constantly into wayside paths,
and often he wondered what those who listened to him from the pulpit
would think if they guessed that at times, he struggled with suggestion
even now. Yet, with his hatred of compromises, he had scorned marriage.

The yoke of Augustine! The caldron of unholy loves! Even now, as he sat
in the train, his mind took its own flight backward into that remoter
past that was still a part of him: to secret acts of his college days the
thought of which made him shudder; yes, and to riots and revels. In
youth, his had been one of those boiling, contagious spirits that carry
with them, irresistibly, tamer companions. He had been a leader in
intermittent raids into forbidden spheres; a leader also in certain more
decorous pursuits--if athletics may be so accounted; yet he had capable
of long periods of self-control, for a cause. Through it all a spark had
miraculously been kept alive. . . .

Popularity followed him from the small New England college to the Harvard
Law School. He had been soberer there, marked as a pleader, and at last
the day arrived when he was summoned by a great New York lawyer to
discuss his future. Sunday intervened. Obeying a wayward impulse, he
had gone to one of the metropolitan churches to hear a preacher renowned
for his influence over men. There is, indeed, much that is stirring to
the imagination in the spectacle of a mass of human beings thronging into
a great church, pouring up the aisles, crowding the galleries, joining
with full voices in the hymns. What drew them? He himself was singing
words familiar since childhood, and suddenly they were fraught with a
startling meaning!

          "Fill me, radiancy divine,
          Scatter all my unbelief!"

Visions of the Crusades rose before him, of a friar arousing France, of a
Maid of Orleans; of masses of soiled, war-worn, sin-worn humanity groping
towards the light. Even after all these ages, the belief, the hope would
not down.

Outside, a dismal February rain was falling, a rain to wet the soul.
The reek of damp clothes pervaded the gallery where he sat surrounded by
clerks and shop girls, and he pictured to himself the dreary rooms from
which they had emerged, drawn by the mysterious fire on that altar. Was
it a will-o'-the-wisp? Below him, in the pews, were the rich. Did they,
too, need warmth?

Then came the sermon, "I will arise and go to my father."

After the service, far into the afternoon, he had walked the wet streets
heedless of his direction, in an exaltation that he had felt before, but
never with such intensity. It seemed as though he had always wished to
preach, and marvelled that the perception had not come to him sooner.
If the man to whom he had listened could pour the light into the dark
corners of other men's souls, he, John Hodder, felt the same hot spark
within him,--despite the dark corners of his own!

At dusk he came to himself, hungry, tired, and wet, in what proved to be
the outskirts of Harlem. He could see the place now: the lonely, wooden
houses, the ramshackle saloon, the ugly, yellow gleam from the street
lamps in a line along the glistening pavement; beside him, a towering
hill of granite with a real estate sign, "This lot for sale." And he had
stood staring at it, thinking of the rock that would have to be cut away
before a man could build there,--and so read his own parable.

How much rock would have to be cut away, how much patient chipping before
the edifice of which he had been dreaming could be reared! Could he ever
do it? Once removed, he would be building on rock. But could he remove
it? . . . To help revive a faith, a dying faith, in a material age,
--that indeed were a mission for any man! He found his way to an
elevated train, and as it swept along stared unseeing at the people who
pushed and jostled him. Still under the spell, he reached his room and
wrote to the lawyer thanking him, but saying that he had reconsidered
coming to New York. It was not until he had posted the letter, and was
on his way back to Cambridge that he fully realized he had made the
decision of his life.

Misgivings, many of them, had come in the months that followed,
misgivings and struggles, mocking queries. Would it last? There was
the incredulity and amazement of nearest friends, who tried to dissuade
him from so extraordinary a proceeding. Nobody, they said, ever became
a parson in these days; nobody, at least, with his ability. He was
throwing himself away. Ethics had taken the place of religion;
intelligent men didn't go to church. And within him went on an endless
debate. Public opinion made some allowance for frailties in other
professions; in the ministry, none: he would be committing himself to
be good the rest of his life, and that seemed too vast an undertaking
for any human.

The chief horror that haunted him was not failure,--for oddly enough he
never seriously distrusted his power, it was disaster. Would God give
him the strength to fight his demon? If he were to gain the heights,
only to stumble in the sight of all men, to stumble and fall.

Seeming echoes of the hideous mockery of it rang in his ears: where is
the God that this man proclaimed? he saw the newspaper headlines,
listened in imagination to cynical comments, beheld his name trailed
through the soiled places of the cities, the shuttlecock of men and
women. "To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna,
and I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written,
which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it." Might he ever win that
new name, eat of the hidden manna of a hidden power, become the possessor
of the morning star?

Unless there be in the background a mother, no portrait of a man is
complete. She explains him, is his complement. Through good mothers are
men conceived of God: and with God they sit, forever yearning, forever
reaching out, helpless except for him: with him, they have put a man into
the world. Thus, into the Supreme Canvas, came the Virgin.

John Hodder's mother was a widow, and to her, in the white, gabled house
which had sheltered stern ancestors, he travelled in the June following
his experience. Standing under the fan-light of the elm-shaded doorway,
she seemed a vision of the peace wherein are mingled joy and sorrow,
faith and tears! A tall, quiet woman, who had learned the lesson of
mothers,--how to wait and how to pray, how to be silent with a clamouring
heart.

She had lived to see him established at Bremerton, to be with him there
awhile . . . .

He awoke from these memories to gaze down through the criss-cross of a
trestle to the twisted, turbid waters of the river far below. Beyond was
the city. The train skirted for a while the hideous, soot-stained
warehouses that faced the water, plunged into a lane between humming
factories and clothes-draped tenements, and at last glided into
semi-darkness under the high, reverberating roof of the Union Station.



CHAPTER III

THE PRIMROSE PATH


I

Nelson Langmaid's extraordinary judgment appeared once more to be
vindicated.

There had been, indeed, a critical, anxious moment, emphasized by the
agitation of bright feminine plumes and the shifting of masculine backs
into the corners of the pews. None got so far as to define to themselves
why there should be an apparent incompatibility between ruggedness and
orthodoxy--but there were some who hoped and more who feared. Luther had
been orthodox once, Savonarola also: in appearance neither was more
canonical than the new rector.

His congregation, for the most part, were not analytical. But they felt
a certain anomaly in virility proclaiming tradition. It took them
several Sundays to get accustomed to it.

To those who had been used for more than a quarter of a century to seeing
old Dr. Gilman's gentle face under the familiar and faded dove of the
sounding-board, to the deliberation of his walk, and the hesitation of
his manner, the first impression of the Reverend John Hodder was somewhat
startling. They felt that there should be a leisurely element in
religion. He moved across the chancel with incredible swiftness, his
white surplice flowing like the draperies of a moving Victory, wasted
no time with the pulpit lights, announced his text in a strong and
penetrating, but by no means unpleasing voice, and began to speak with
the certainty of authority.

Here, in an age when a new rector had, ceased to be an all-absorbing
topic in social life, was a new and somewhat exhilarating experience.
And it may be privately confessed that there were some who sat in St.
John's during those first weeks of his incumbency who would indignantly
have repudiated the accusation that they were not good churchmen and
churchwomen, and who nevertheless had queer sensations in listening to
ancient doctrines set forth with Emersonian conviction. Some were
courageous enough to ask themselves, in the light of this forceful
presentation, whether they really did believe them as firmly as they
supposed they had.

Dear old Dr. Gilman had been milder--much milder as the years gained upon
him. And latterly, when he had preached, his voice had sounded like the
unavailing protest of one left far behind, who called out faintly with
unheeded warnings. They had loved him: but the modern world was a busy
world, and Dr. Gilman did not understand it. This man was different.
Here was what the Church taught, he said, and they might slight it at
their peril!

It is one thing to believe one's self orthodox, and quite another to have
that orthodoxy so definitely defined as to be compelled, whether or no,
to look it squarely in the face and own or disown it. Some indeed, like
Gordon Atterbury, stood the test; responded to the clarion call for which
they had been longing. But little Everett Constable, who also sat on the
vestry, was a trifle uncomfortable in being reminded that absence from
the Communion Table was perilous, although he would have been the last to
deny the efficacy of the Sacrament.

The new rector was plainly not a man who might be accused of policy in
pandering to the tastes of a wealthy and conservative flock. But if,
in the series of sermons which lasted from his advent until well after
Christmas, he had deliberately consulted their prejudices, he could not
have done better. It is true that he went beyond the majority of them,
but into a region which they regarded as preeminently safe,--a region the
soil of which was traditional. To wit: St. Paul had left to the world
a consistent theology. Historical research was ignored rather than
condemned. And it might reasonably have been gathered from these
discourses that the main proofs of Christ's divinity lay in his Virgin
Birth, his miracles, and in the fact that his body had risen from the
grave, had been seen by many, and even touched. Hence unbelief had no
excuse. By divine commission there were bishops, priests, and deacons in
the new hierarchy, and it was through the Apostolic Succession that he,
their rector, derived his sacerdotal powers. There were, no doubt,
many obscure passages in the Scripture, but men's minds were finite;
a catholic acceptance was imperative, and the evils of the present day
--a sufficiently sweeping statement--were wholly due to deplorable lapses
from such acceptance. The Apostolic teaching must be preserved, since it
transcended all modern wanderings after truth. Hell, though not
definitely defined in terms of flames, was no less a state of torture
(future, by implication) of which fire was but a faint symbol. And
he gave them clearly to understand that an unbaptized person ran no
inconsiderable risk. He did not declare unqualifiedly that the Church
alone had the power to save, but such was the inference.



II

It was entirely fitting, no doubt, when the felicitations of certain of
the older parishioners on his initial sermon were over, that Mr. Hodder
should be carried westward to lunch with the first layman of the diocese.
But Mr. Parr, as became a person of his responsibility, had been more
moderate in his comment. For he had seen, in his day, many men whose
promise had been unfulfilled. Tightly buttoned, silk hatted, upright,
he sat in the corner of his limousine, the tasselled speaking-tube in
his hand, from time to time cautioning his chauffeur.

"Carefully!" he cried. "I've told you not to drive so fast in this part
of town. I've never got used to automobiles," he remarked to Hodder,
"and I formerly went to church in the street-cars, but the distances
have grown so great--and I have occasionally been annoyed in them."

Hodder was not given to trite acquiescence. His homely composure belied
the alertness of his faculties; he was striving to adapt himself to the
sudden broadening and quickening of the stream of his life, and he felt a
certain excitement--although he did not betray it--in the presence of the
financier. Much as he resented the thought, it was impossible for him
not to realize that the man's pleasure and displeasure were important;
for, since his arrival, he had had delicate reminders of this from many
sources. Recurrently, it had caused him a vague uneasiness, hinted at a
problem new to him. He was jealous of the dignity of the Church, and he
seemed already to have detected in Mr. Parr's manner a subtle note of
patronage. Nor could Hodder's years of provincialism permit him to
forget that this man with whom he was about to enter into personal
relations was a capitalist of national importance.

The neighbourhood they traversed was characteristic of our rapidly
expanding American cities. There were rows of dwelling houses, once
ultra-respectable, now slatternly, and lawns gone grey; some of these
houses had been remodelled into third-rate shops, or thrown together to
make manufacturing establishments: saloons occupied all the favourable
corners. Flaming posters on vacant lots announced, pictorially, dubious
attractions at the theatres. It was a wonderful Indian summer day, the
sunlight soft and melting; and the smoke which continually harassed this
district had lifted a little, as though in deference to the Sabbath.

Hodder read the sign on a lamp post, Dalton Street. The name clung in
his memory.

"We thought, some twenty years ago, of moving the church westward," said
Mr. Parr, "but finally agreed to remain where we were."

The rector had a conviction on this point, and did not hesitate to state
it without waiting to be enlightened as to the banker's views.

"It would seem to me a wise decision," he said, looking out of the
window, and wholly absorbed in the contemplation of the evidences of
misery and vice, "with this poverty at the very doors of the church."

Something in his voice impelled Eldon Parr to shoot a glance at his
profile.

"Poverty is inevitable, Mr. Hodder," he declared. "The weak always
sink."

Hodder's reply, whatever it might have been, was prevented by the sudden
and unceremonious flight of both occupants toward the ceiling of the
limousine, caused by a deep pit in the asphalt.

"What are you doing, Gratton?" Mr. Parr called sharply through the tube.

Presently, the lawns began to grow brighter, the houses more cheerful,
and the shops were left behind. They crossed the third great transverse
artery of the city (not so long ago, Mr. Parr remarked, a quagmire), now
lined by hotels and stores with alluring displays in plate glass windows
and entered a wide boulevard that stretched westward straight to the
great Park. This boulevard the financier recalled as a country road of
clay. It was bordered by a vivid strip, of green; a row of tall and
graceful lamp posts, like sentinels, marked its course; while the
dwellings, set far back on either side, were for the most part large and
pretentious, betraying in their many tentative styles of architecture the
reaching out of a commercial nation after beauty. Some, indeed, were
simple of line and restful to the trained eye.

They came to the wide entrance of the Park, so wisely preserved as a
breathing place for future generations. A slight haze had gathered over
the rolling forests to the westward; but this haze was not smoke. Here,
in this enchanting region, the autumn sunlight was undiluted gold, the
lawns, emerald, and the red gravel around the statesman's statue
glistening. The automobile quickly swung into a street that skirted the
Park,--if street it might be called, for it was more like a generous
private driveway,--flanked on the right by fences of ornamental ironwork
and high shrubbery that concealed the fore yards of dominating private
residences which might: without great exaggeration, have been called
palaces.

"That's Ferguson's house," volunteered Mr. Parr, indicating a marble
edifice with countless windows. "He's one of your vestrymen, you know.
Ferguson's Department Store." The banker's eyes twinkled a little for
the first time. "You'll probably find it convenient. Most people do.
Clever business man, Ferguson."

But the rector was finding difficulty in tabulating his impressions.

They turned in between two posts of a gateway toward a huge house of
rough granite. And Hodder wondered whether, in the swift onward roll
of things, the time would come when this, too, would have been deemed
ephemeral. With its massive walls and heavy, red-tiled roof that sloped
steeply to many points, it seemed firmly planted for ages to come. It
was surrounded, yet not hemmed in, by trees of a considerable age. His
host explained that these had belonged to the original farm of which all
this Park Street property had made a part.

They alighted under a porte-cochere with a glass roof.

"I'm sorry," said Mr. Parr, as the doors swung open and he led the way
into the house, "I'm sorry I can't give you a more cheerful welcome, but
my son and daughter, for their own reasons, see fit to live elsewhere."

Hodder's quick ear detected in the tone another cadence, and he glanced
at Eldon Parr with a new interest . . . .

Presently they stood, face to face, across a table reduced to its
smallest proportions, in the tempered light of a vast dining-room,
an apartment that seemed to symbolize the fortress-like properties of
wealth. The odd thought struck the clergyman that this man had made his
own Tower of London, had built with his own hands the prison in which he
was to end his days. The carved oaken ceiling, lofty though it was, had
the effect of pressing downward, the heavy furniture matched the heavy
walls, and even the silent, quick-moving servants had a watchful air.

Mr. Parr bowed his head while Hodder asked grace. They sat down.

The constraint which had characterized their conversation continued,
yet there was a subtle change in the attitude of the clergyman. The
financier felt this, though it could not be said that Hodder appeared
more at his ease: his previous silences had been by no means awkward.
Eldon Parr liked self-contained men. But his perceptions were as keen as
Nelson Langmaid's, and like Langmaid, he had gradually become conscious
of a certain baffling personality in the new rector of St. John's. From
time to time he was aware of the grey-green eyes curiously fixed on him,
and at a loss to account for their expression. He had no thought of
reading in it an element of pity. Yet pity was nevertheless in the
rector's heart, and its advent was emancipating him from the limitations
of provincial inexperience.

Suddenly, the financier launched forth on a series of shrewd and
searching questions about Bremerton, its church, its people, its
industries, and social conditions. All of which Hodder answered to his
apparent satisfaction.

Coffee was brought. Hodder pushed back his chair, crossed his knees,
and sat perfectly still regarding his host, his body suggesting a repose
that did not interfere with his perceptive faculties.

"You don't smoke, Mr. Hodder?"

The rector smiled and shook his head. Mr. Parr selected a diminutive,
yellow cigar and held it up.

"This," he said, "has been the extent of my indulgence for twenty years.
They are made for me in Cuba."

Hodder smiled again, but said nothing.

"I have had a letter from your former bishop, speaking of you in the
highest terms," he observed.

"The bishop is very kind."

Mr. Parr cleared his throat.

"I am considerably older than you," he went on, "and I have the future of
St. John's very much at heart, Mr. Hodder. I trust you will remember
this and make allowances for it as I talk to you.

"I need not remind you that you have a grave responsibility on your
shoulders for so young a man, and that St. John's is the oldest parish
in the diocese."

"I think I realize it, Mr. Parr," said Hodder, gravely. "It was only the
opportunity of a larger work here that induced me to leave Bremerton."

"Exactly," agreed the banker. "The parish, I believe, is in good running
order--I do not think you will see the necessity for many--ahem--changes.
But we sadly needed an executive head. And, if I may say so, Mr. Hodder,
you strike me as a man of that type, who might have made a success in a
business career."

The rector smiled again.

"I am sure you could pay me no higher compliment," he answered.

For an instant Eldon Parr, as he stared at the clergyman, tightened his
lips,--lips that seemed peculiarly formed for compression. Then they
relaxed into what resembled a smile. If it were one, the other returned
it.

"Seriously," Mr. Parr declared, "it does me good in these days to hear,
from a young man, such sound doctrine as you preach. I am not one of
those who believe in making concessions to agnostics and atheists. You
were entirely right, in my opinion, when you said that we who belong to
the Church--and of course you meant all orthodox Christians--should stand
by our faith as delivered by the saints. Of course," he added, smiling,
"I should not insist upon the sublapsarian view of election which I was
taught in the Presbyterian Church as a boy."

Hodder laughed, but did not interrupt.

"On the other hand," Mr. Parr continued, "I have little patience with
clergymen who would make religion attractive. What does it amount to
--luring people into the churches on one pretext or another, sugar-coating
the pill? Salvation is a more serious matter. Let the churches stick
to their own. We have at St. John's a God-fearing, conservative
congregation, which does not believe in taking liberties with sound and
established doctrine. And I may confess to you, Mr. Hodder, that we were
naturally not a little anxious about Dr. Gilman's successor, that we
should not get, in spite of every precaution, a man tinged with the new
and dangerous ideas so prevalent, I regret to say, among the clergy.
I need scarcely add that our anxieties have been set at rest."

"That," said Hodder, "must be taken as a compliment to the dean of the
theological seminary from which I graduated."

The financier stared again. But he decided that Mr. Hodder had not meant
to imply that he, Mr. Parr, was attempting to supersede the dean. The
answer had been modest.

"I take it for granted that you and I and all sensible men are happily.
agreed that the Church should remain where she is. Let the people come
to her. She should be, if I may so express it, the sheet anchor of
society, our bulwark against socialism, in spite of socialists who call
themselves ministers of God. The Church has lost ground--why? Because
she has given ground. The sanctity of private property is being menaced,
demagogues are crying out from the house-tops and inciting people against
the men who have made this country what it is, who have risked their
fortunes and their careers for the present prosperity. We have no longer
any right, it seems, to employ whom we will in our factories and our
railroads; we are not allowed to regulate our rates, although the risks
were all ours. Even the women are meddling,--they are not satisfied to
stay in the homes, where they belong. You agree with me?"

"As to the women," said the rector, "I have to acknowledge that I have
never had any experience with the militant type of which you speak."

"I pray God you may never have," exclaimed Mr. Parr, with more feeling
than he had yet shown.

"Woman's suffrage, and what is called feminism in general, have never
penetrated to Bremerton. Indeed, I must confess to have been wholly out
of touch with the problems to which you refer, although of course I have
been aware of their existence."

"You will meet them here," said the banker, significantly.

"Yes," the rector replied thoughtfully, "I can see that. I know that
the problems here will be more complicated, more modern,--more difficult.
And I thoroughly agree with you that their ultimate solution is dependent
on Christianity. If I did not believe,--in spite of the evident fact
which you point out of the Church's lost ground, that her future will
be greater than her past, I should not be a clergyman."

The quiet but firm note of faith was, not lost on the financier, and yet
was not he quite sure what was to be made of it? He had a faint and
fleeting sense of disquiet, which registered and was gone.

"I hope so," he said vaguely, referring perhaps to the resuscitation of
which the rector spoke. He drummed on the table. "I'll go so far as to
say that I, too, think that the structure can be repaired. And I believe
it is the duty of the men of influence--all men of influence--to assist.
I don't say that men of influence are not factors in the Church to-day,
but I do say that they are not using the intelligence in this task which
they bring to bear, for instance, on their business."

"Perhaps the clergy might help," Hodder suggested, and added more
seriously, "I think that many of them are honestly trying to do so."

"No doubt of it. Why is it," Mr. Parr continued reflectively, "that
ministers as a whole are by no means the men they were? You will pardon
my frankness. When I was a boy, the minister was looked up to as an
intellectual and moral force to be reckoned with. I have heard it
assigned, as one reason, that in the last thirty years other careers have
opened up, careers that have proved much more attractive to young men of
ability."

"Business careers?" inquired the rector.

"Precisely!"

"In other words," said Hodder, with his curious smile, "the ministry
gets the men who can't succeed at anything else."

"Well, that's putting it rather strong," answered Mr. Parr, actually
reddening a little. "But come now, most young men would rather be a
railroad president than a bishop,--wouldn't they?"

"Most young men would," agreed Hodder, quickly, "but they are not the
young men who ought to be bishops, you'll admit that."

The financier, be it recorded to his credit, did not lack appreciation
of this thrust, and, for the first time, he laughed with something
resembling heartiness. This laughter, in which Hodder joined, seemed
suddenly to put them on a new footing--a little surprising to both.

"Come," said the financier, rising, "I'm sure you like pictures, and
Langmaid tells me you have a fancy for first editions. Would you care
to go to the gallery?"

"By all means," the rector assented.

Their footsteps, as they crossed the hardwood floors, echoed in the empty
house. After pausing to contemplate a Millet on the stair landing, they
came at last to the huge, silent gallery, where the soft but adequate
light fell upon many masterpieces, ancient and modern. And it was here,
while gazing at the Corots and Bonheurs, Lawrences, Romneys, Copleys, and
Halses, that Hodder's sense of their owner's isolation grew almost
overpowering Once, glancing over his shoulder at Mr. Parr, he surprised
in his eyes an expression almost of pain.

"These pictures must give you great pleasure," he said.

"Oh," replied the banker, in a queer voice, "I'm always glad when any one
appreciates them. I never come in here alone."

Hodder did not reply. They passed along to an upstairs sitting-room,
which must, Hodder thought, be directly over the dining-room. Between
its windows was a case containing priceless curios.

"My wife liked this room," Mr. Parr explained, as he opened the case.
When they had inspected it, the rector stood for a moment gazing out at
a formal garden at the back of the house. The stalks of late flowers lay
withering, but here and there the leaves were still vivid, and clusters
of crimson berries gleamed in the autumn sunshine. A pergola ran down
the middle, and through denuded grape-vines he caught a glimpse, at the
far end, of sculptured figures and curving marble benches surrounding a
pool.

"What a wonderful spot!" he exclaimed.

"My daughter Alison designed it."

"She must have great talent," said the rector.

"She's gone to New York and become a landscape architect," said his host
with a perceptible dryness. "Women in these days are apt to be
everything except what the Lord intended them to be."

They went downstairs, and Hodder took his leave, although he felt an odd
reluctance to go. Mr. Parr rang the bell.

"I'll send you down in the motor," he said.

"I'd like the exercise of walking," said the rector. "I begin to miss it
already, in the city."

"You look as if you had taken a great deal of it," Mr. Parr declared,
following him to the door. "I hope you'll drop in often. Even if I'm
not here, the gallery and the library are at your disposal."

Their eyes met.

"You're very good," Hodder replied, and went down the steps and through
the open doorway.

Lost in reflection, he walked eastward with long and rapid strides,
striving to reduce to order in his mind the impressions the visit had
given him, only to find them too complex, too complicated by unlooked-for
emotions. Before its occurrence, he had, in spite of an inherent common
sense, felt a little uneasiness over the prospective meeting with the
financier. And Nelson Langmaid had hinted, good-naturedly, that it was
his, Hodder's, business, to get on good terms with Mr. Parr--otherwise
the rectorship of St. John's might not prove abed of roses. Although the
lawyer had spoken with delicacy, he had once more misjudged his man--the
result being to put Hodder on his guard. He had been the more determined
not to cater to the banker.

The outcome of it all had been that the rector left him with a sense of
having crossed barriers forbidden to other men, and not understanding how
he had crossed them. Whether this incipient intimacy were ominous or
propitious, whether there were involved in it a germ (engendered by a
radical difference of temperament) capable of developing into future
conflict, he could not now decide. If Eldon Parr were Procrustes he,
Hodder, had fitted the bed, and to say the least, this was extraordinary,
if not a little disquieting. Now and again his thoughts reverted to the
garden, and to the woman who had made it. Why had she deserted?

At length, after he had been walking for nearly an hour, he halted and
looked about him. He was within a few blocks of the church, a little to
one side of Tower Street, the main east and west highway of the city,
in the midst of that district in which Mr. Parr had made the remark that
poverty was inevitable. Slovenly and depressing at noonday, it seemed
now frankly to have flung off its mask. Dusk was gathering, and with it
a smoke-stained fog that lent a sickly tinge to the lights. Women slunk
by him: the saloons, apparently closed, and many houses with veiled
windows betrayed secret and sinister gleams. In the midst of a block
rose a tall, pretentious though cheaply constructed building with the
words "Hotel Albert" in flaming electric letters above an archway. Once
more his eye read Dalton Street on a lamp . . . .

Hodder resumed his walk more slowly, and in a few minutes reached his
rooms in the parish house.



CHAPTER IV

SOME RIDDLES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY


I
Although he found the complications of a modern city parish somewhat
bewildering, the new rector entered into his duties that winter with
apostolic zeal. He was aware of limitations and anomalies, but his faith
was boundless, his energy the subject of good-natured comment by his
vestry and parishioners, whose pressing invitations' to dinners he was
often compelled to refuse. There was in John Hodder something
indefinable that inflamed curiosity and left it unsatisfied.

His excuse for attending these dinners, which indeed were relaxing and
enjoyable, he found in the obvious duty of getting to know the most
important members of his congregation. But invariably he came away from
them with an inner sense of having been baffled in this object. With a
few exceptions, these modern people seemed to have no time for friendship
in the real meaning of the word, no desire to carry a relationship beyond
a certain point. Although he was their spiritual pastor, he knew less
about most of them at the end of the winter than their butlers and their
maids.

They were kind, they were delightful, they were interested in him--he
occasionally thought--as a somewhat anachronistic phenomenon. They
petted, respected him, and deferred to him. He represented to them an
element in life they recognized, and which had its proper niche. What
they failed to acknowledge was his point of view--and this he was wise
enough not to press at dinner tables and in drawing-rooms--that religion
should have the penetrability of ether; that it should be the absorbent
of life. He did not have to commit the banality of reminding them of
this conviction of his at their own tables; he had sufficient humour and
penetration to credit them with knowing it. Nay, he went farther in his
unsuspected analysis, and perceived that these beliefs made one of his
chief attractions for them. It was pleasant to have authority in a black
coat at one's board; to defer, if not to bend to it. The traditions of
fashion demanded a clergyman in the milieu, and the more tenaciously he
clung to his prerogatives, the better they liked it.

Although they were conscious of a certain pressure, which they gently
resisted, they did not divine that the radiating and rugged young man
cherished serious designs upon them. He did not expect to transform the
world in a day, especially the modern world. He was biding his time,
awaiting individual opportunities.

They talked to him of the parish work, congratulated him on the vigour
with which he had attacked it, and often declared themselves jealous of
it because it claimed too much of him. Dear Dr. Gilman, they said, had
had neither the strength nor the perception of 'modern needs; and McCrae,
the first assistant clergyman, while a good man, was a plodder and
lacking in imagination. They talked sympathetically about the problems
of the poor. And some of them--particularly Mrs. Wallis Plimpton were
inclined to think Hodder's replies a trifle noncommittal. The trouble,
although he did not tell them so, was that he himself had by no means
solved the problem. And he felt a certain reluctance to discuss the
riddle of poverty over champagne and porcelain.

Mrs. Plimpton and Mrs. Constable, Mrs. Ferguson, Mrs. Langmaid, Mrs.
Larrabbee, Mrs. Atterbury, Mrs. Grey, and many other ladies and their
daughters were honorary members of his guilds and societies, and found
time in their busy lives to decorate the church, adorn the altar, care
for the vestments, and visit the parish house. Some of them did more:
Mrs. Larrabbee, for instance, when she was in town, often graced the
girls' classes with her presence, which was a little disquieting to
the daughters of immigrants: a little disquieting, too, to John Hodder.
During the three years that had elapsed since Mr. Larrabbee's death, she
had, with characteristic grace and ease, taken up philanthropy; become,
in particular, the feminine patron saint of Galt House, non-sectarian,
a rescue home for the erring of her sex.

There were, too, in this higher realm of wealth in and out of which
Hodder plunged, women like Mrs. Constable (much older than Mrs.
Larrabbee) with whom philanthropy and what is known as "church work"
had become second nature in a well-ordered life, and who attended with
praiseworthy regularity the meetings of charitable boards and committees,
not infrequently taking an interest in individuals in Mr. Hodder's
classes. With her, on occasions, he did discuss such matters,
only to come away from her with his bewilderment deepened.

It was only natural that he should have his moods of depression. But
the recurrent flow of his energy swept them away. Cynicism had no place
in his militant Christianity, and yet there were times when he wondered
whether these good people really wished achievements from their rector.
They had the air of saying "Bravo!" and then of turning away. And he did
not conceal from himself that he was really doing nothing but labour.
The distances were great; and between his dinner parties, classes,
services, and visits, he was forced to sit far into the night preparing
his sermons, when his brain was not so keen as it might have been.
Indeed--and this thought was cynical and out of character--he asked
himself on one occasion whether his principal achievement so far had not
consisted in getting on unusual terms with Eldon Parr. They were not
lacking who thought so, and who did not hesitate to imply it. They
evidently regarded his growing intimacy with the banker with approval,
as in some sort a supreme qualification for a rector of St. John's, and
a proof of unusual abilities. There could be no question, for instance,
that he had advanced perceptibly in the estimation of the wife of another
of his vestrymen, Mrs. Wallis Plimpton.

The daughter of Thurston Gore, with all her astuteness and real estate,
was of a naivete in regard to spiritual matters that Hodder had grown to
recognize as impermeable. In an evening gown, with a string of large
pearls testing on her firm and glowing neck, she appeared a concrete
refutation of the notion of rebirth, the triumph of an unconscious
philosophy of material common-sense. However, in parish house affairs,
Hodder had found her practical brain of no slight assistance.

"I think it quite wonderful," she remarked, on the occasion at which he
was the guest of honour in what was still called the new Gore mansion,
"that you have come to know Mr. Parr so well in such a short time. How
did you do it, Mr. Hodder? Of course Wallis knows him, and sees a great
deal of him in business matters. He relies on Wallis. But they tell me
you have grown more intimate with him than any one has been since Alison
left him."

There is, in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, a formula for answering people
in accordance with their point of view. The rector modestly disclaimed
intimacy. And he curbed his curiosity about Alison for the reason that
he preferred to hear her story from another source.

"Oh, but you are intimate!" Mrs. Plimpton protested. "Everybody says
so--that Mr. Parr sends for you all the time. What is he like when he's
alone, and relaxed? Is he ever relaxed?" The lady had a habit of
not waiting for answers to her questions. "Do you know, it stirs my
imagination tremendously when I think of all the power that man has.
I suppose you know he has become one of a very small group of men who
control this country, and naturally he has been cruelly maligned. All he
has to do is to say a word to his secretary, and he can make men or ruin
them. It isn't that he does ruin them--I don't mean that. He uses his
wealth, Wallis says, to maintain the prosperity of the nation! He feels
his trusteeship. And he is so generous! He has given a great deal to
the church, and now," she added, "I am sure he will give more."

Hodder was appalled. He felt helpless before the weight of this
onslaught.

"I dare say he will continue to assist, as he has in the past," he
managed to say.

"Of course it's your disinterestedness," she proclaimed, examining him
frankly. "He feels that you don't want anything. You always strike me
as so splendidly impartial, Mr. Hodder."

Fortunately, he was spared an answer. Mr. Plimpton, who was wont to
apply his gifts as a toastmaster to his own festivals, hailed him from
the other end of the table.

And Nelson Langmaid, who had fallen into the habit of dropping into
Hodder's rooms in the parish house on his way uptown for a chat about
books, had been struck by the rector's friendship with the banker.

"I don't understand how you managed it, Hodder, in such a short time,"
he declared. "Mr. Parr's a difficult man. In all these years, I've been
closer to him than any one else, and I don't know him today half as well
as you do."

"I didn't manage it," said Hodder, briefly.

"Well," replied the lawyer, quizzically, "you needn't eat me up.
I'm sure you didn't do it on purpose. If you had,--to use a Hibernian
phrase,--you never would have done it. I've seen it tried before. To
tell you the truth, after I'd come back from Bremerton, that was the one
thing I was afraid of--that you mightn't get along with him."

Hodder himself was at a loss to account for the relationship. It
troubled him vaguely, for Mr. Parr was the aggressor; and often at dusk,
when Hodder was working under his study lamp, the telephone would ring,
and on taking down the receiver he would hear the banker's voice. "I'm
alone to-night, Mr. Hodder. Will you come and have dinner with me?"

Had he known it, this was a different method of communication than that
which the financier usually employed, one which should have flattered
him. If Wallis Plimpton, for instance, had received such a personal
message, the fact would not have remained unknown the next day at his
club. Sometimes it was impossible for Hodder to go, and he said so; but
he always went when he could.

The unwonted note of appeal (which the telephone seemed somehow to
enhance) in Mr. Parr's voice, never failed to find a response in the
rector's heart, and he would ponder over it as he walked across to Tower
Street to take the electric car for the six-mile trip westward.

This note of appeal he inevitably contrasted with the dry, matter-of-fact
reserve of his greeting at the great house, which loomed all the greater
in the darkness. Unsatisfactory, from many points of view, as these
evenings were, they served to keep whetted Hodder's curiosity as to the
life of this extraordinary man. All of its vaster significance for the
world, its tremendous machinery, was out of his sight.

Mr. Parr seemed indeed to regard the rest of his fellow-creatures with
the suspicion at which Langmaid had hinted, to look askance at the
amenities people tentatively held out to him. And the private watchman
whom Hodder sometimes met in the darkness, and who invariably scrutinized
pedestrians on Park Street, seemed symbolic, of this attitude. On rare
occasions, when in town, the financier dined out, limiting himself to a
few houses.

Once in a long while he attended what are known as banquets, such as
those given by the Chamber of Commerce, though he generally refused to
speak. Hodder, through Mr. Parr's intervention, had gone to one of
these, ably and breezily presided over by the versatile Mr. Plimpton.

Hodder felt not only curiosity and sympathy, but a vexing sense of the
fruitlessness of his visits to Park Street. Mr. Parr seemed to like to
have him there. And the very fact that the conversation rarely took
any vital turn oddly contributed to the increasing permanence of
the lien. To venture on any topic relating to the affairs of the day
were merely to summon forth the banker's dogmatism, and Hodder's own
opinions on such matters were now in a strange and unsettled state. Mr.
Parr liked best to talk of his treasures, and of the circumstances during
his trips abroad that had led to their acquirement. Once the banker had
asked him about parish house matters.

"I'm told you're working very hard--stirring up McCrae. He needs it."

"I'm only trying to study the situation," Hodder replied. "I don't think
you quite do justice to McCrae," he added; "he's very faithful, and seems
to understand those people thoroughly."

Mr. Parr smiled.

"And what conclusions have you come to? If you think the system should
be enlarged and reorganized I am willing at any time to go over it with
you, with a view to making an additional contribution. Personally, while
I have sympathy for the unfortunate, I'm not at all sure that much of the
energy and money put into the institutional work of churches isn't
wasted."

"I haven't come to any conclusions--yet," said the rector, with a touch
of sadness. "Perhaps I demand too much--expect too much."

The financier, deep in his leather chair under the shaded light, the tips
of his fingers pressed together, regarded the younger man thoughtfully,
but the smile lingered in his eyes.

"I told you you would meet problems," he said.



II

Hodder's cosmos might have been compared, indeed, to that set forth in
the Ptolemaic theory of the ancients. Like a cleverly carved Chinese
object of ivory in the banker s collection, it was a system of spheres,
touching, concentric, yet separate. In an outer space swung Mr. Parr;
then came the scarcely less rarefied atmosphere of the Constables and
Atterburys, Fergusons, Plimptons, Langmaids, Prestons, Larrabbees, Greys,
and Gores, and then a smaller sphere which claims but a passing mention.
There were, in the congregation of St. John's, a few people of moderate
means whose houses or apartments the rector visited; people to whom
modern life was increasingly perplexing.

In these ranks were certain maiden ladies and widows who found in church
work an outlet to an otherwise circumscribed existence. Hodder met them
continually in his daily rounds. There were people like the Bradleys,
who rented half a pew and never missed a Sunday; Mr. Bradley, an elderly
man whose children had scattered, was an upper clerk in one of Mr. Parr's
trust companies: there were bachelors and young women, married or single,
who taught in the Sunday school or helped with the night classes. For
the most part, all of these mentioned above belonged to an element that
once had had a comfortable and well-recognized place in the community,
yet had somehow been displaced. Many of them were connected by blood
with more fortunate parishioners, but economic pressure had scattered
them throughout new neighbourhoods and suburbs. Tradition still bound
them to St. John's.

With no fixed orbit, the rector cut at random through all of these
strata, and into a fourth. Not very far into it, for this apparently
went down to limitless depths, the very contemplation of which made him
dizzy. The parish house seemed to float precariously on its surface.

Owing partly to the old-fashioned ideas of Dr. Gilman, and partly to
the conservatism of its vestry, the institutionalism of St. John's was
by no means up to date. No settlement house, with day nurseries, was
maintained in the slums. The parish house, built in the, early nineties,
had its gymnasium hall and class and reading rooms, but was not what in
these rapidly moving times would be called modern. Presiding over its
activities, and seconded by a pale, but earnest young man recently
ordained, was Hodder's first assistant, the Reverend Mr. McCrae.

McCrae was another puzzle. He was fifty and gaunt, with a wide flat
forehead and thinning, grey hair, and wore steel spectacles. He had a
numerous family. His speech, of which he was sparing, bore strong traces
of a Caledonian accent. And this, with the addition of the fact that he
was painstaking and methodical in his duties, and that his sermons were
orthodox in the sense that they were extremely non-committal, was all
that Hodder knew about him for many months. He never doubted, however,
the man's sincerity and loyalty.

But McCrae had a peculiar effect on him, and as time went on, his
conviction deepened that his assistant was watching him. The fact that
this tacit criticism did not seem unkindly did not greatly alleviate
the impatience that he felt from time to time. He had formed a higher
estimate of McCrae's abilities than that generally prevailing throughout
the parish; and in spite of, perhaps because of his attitude, was drawn
toward the man. This attitude, as Hodder analyzed it from the
expressions he occasionally surprised on his assistant's face, was one
of tolerance and experience, contemplating, with a faint amusement and
a certain regret, the wasteful expenditure of youthful vitality. Yet
it involved more. McCrae looked as if he knew--knew many things that
he deemed it necessary for the new rector to find out by experience.

But he was a difficult man to talk to.

If the truth be told, the more Hodder became absorbed in these activities
of the parish house, the greater grew his perplexity, the more acute his
feeling of incompleteness; or rather, his sense that the principle was
somehow fundamentally at fault. Out of the waters of the proletariat
they fished, assiduously and benignly, but at random, strange specimens!
brought them, as it were, blinking to the light, and held them by sheer
struggling. And sometimes, when they slipped away, dived after them.
The young curate, Mr. Tompkinson, for the most part did the diving; or,
in scriptural language, the searching after the lost sheep.

The results accomplished seemed indeed, as Mr. Parr had remarked,
strangely disproportionate to the efforts, for they laboured abundantly.
The Italian mothers appeared stolidly appreciative of the altruism of
Miss Ramsay, who taught the kindergarten, in taking their charges off
their hands for three hours of a morning, and the same might be said of
the Jews and Germans and Russians. The newsboys enjoyed the gymnasium
and reading-rooms: some of them were drafted into the choir, yet the
singing of Te Deums failed somehow to accomplish the miracle of
regeneration. The boys, as a rule, were happier, no doubt; the new
environments not wholly without results. But the rector was an idealist.

He strove hard to become their friend, and that of the men; to win their
confidence, and with a considerable measure of success. On more than one
occasion he threw aside his clerical coat and put on boxing-gloves, and
he gave a series of lectures, with lantern slides, collected during the
six months he had once spent in Europe. The Irish-Americans and the
Germans were the readiest to respond, and these were for the most part
young workingmen and youths by no means destitute. When they were out
of a place, he would often run across them in the reading-room or sitting
among the lockers beside the gymnasium, and they would rise and talk to
him cordially and even familiarly about their affairs. They liked and
trusted him--on a tacit condition. There was a boundary he might not
cross. And the existence of that boundary did not seem to trouble
McCrae.

One night as he stood with his assistant in the hall after the men had
gone, Hodder could contain himself no longer.

"Look here, McCrae," he broke out, "these men never come to church--or
only a very few of them."

"No more they do," McCrae agreed.

"Why don't they?"

"Ye've asked them, perhaps."

"I've spoken to one or two of them," admitted the rector.

"And what do they tell you?"

Hodder smiled.

"They don't tell me anything. They dodge."

"Precisely," said McCrae.

"We're not making Christians of them," said Hodder, beginning to walk up
and down. "Why is it?"

"It's a big question."

"It is a big question. It's the question of all questions, it seems to
me. The function of the Church, in my opinion, is to make Christians."

"Try to teach them religion," said McCrae--he almost pronounced it
releegion--"and see what happens. Ye'll have no classes at all. They
only come, the best of them, because ye let them alone that way, and they
get a little decency and society help. It's somewhat to keep them out of
the dance-halls and saloons maybe."

"It's not enough," the rector asserted. "You've had a great deal of
experience with them. And I want to know why, in your view, more of them
don't come into the Church."

"Would ye put Jimmy Flanagan and Otto Bauer and Tony Baldassaro in Mr.
Parr's pew?" McCrae inquired, with a slight flavour of irony that was
not ill-natured. "Or perhaps Mrs. Larrabbee would make room for them?"

"I've considered that, of course," replied Hodder, thoughtfully, though
he was a little surprised that McCrae should have mentioned it. "You
think their reasons are social, then,--that they feel the gap. I feel it
myself most strongly. And yet none of these men are Socialists. If they
were, they wouldn't come here to the parish house."

"They're not Socialists," agreed McCrae.

"But there is room in the back and sides of the church, and there is the
early service and the Sunday night service, when the pews are free. Why
don't they come to these?"

"Religion doesn't appeal to them."

"Why not?"

"Ye've asked me a riddle. All I know is that the minute ye begin to
preach, off they go and never come back."

Hodder, with unconscious fixity, looked into his assistant's honest face.
He had an exasperating notion that McCrae might have said more, if he
would.

"Haven't you a theory?"

"Try yourself," said McCrae. His manner was abrupt, yet oddly enough,
not ungracious.

"Don't think I'm criticizing," said the rector, quickly.

"I know well ye're not."

"I've been trying to learn. It seems to me that we are only
accomplishing half our task, and I know that St. John's is not unique
in this respect. I've been talking to Andrews, of Trinity, about their
poor."

"Does he give you a remedy?"

"No," Hodder said. "He can't see any more than I can why Christianity
doesn't appeal any longer. The fathers and mothers of these people went
to church, in the old country and in this. Of course he sees, as you and
I do, that society has settled into layers, and that the layers won't
mix. And he seems to agree with me that there is a good deal of energy
exerted for a comparatively small return."

"I understand that's what Mr. Parr says."

These references to Mr. Parr disturbed Hodder. He had sometimes
wondered, when he had been compelled to speak about his visits to the
financier, how McCrae regarded them. He was sure that McCrae did regard
them.

"Mr. Parr is willing to be even more generous than he has been," Hodder
said. "The point is, whether it's wise to enlarge our scope on the
present plan. What do you think?"

"Ye can reach more," McCrae spoke without enthusiasm.

"What's the use of reaching them, only to touch them? In addition to
being helped materially and socially, and kept away from the dance-halls
and saloons, they ought to be fired by the Gospels, to be remade. They
should be going out into the highways and byways to bring others into the
church."

The Scotchman's face changed a little. For an instant his eyes lighted
up, whether in sympathy or commiseration or both, Hodder could not tell.

"I'm with ye, Mr. Hodder, if ye'll show me the way. But oughtn't we to
begin at both ends?"

"At both ends?" Hodder repeated.

"Surely. With the people in the pews? Oughtn't we to be firing them,
too?"

"Yes," said the rector. "You're right."

He turned away, to feel McCrae's hand on his sleeve.

"Maybe it will come, Mr. Hodder," he said. "There's no telling when the
light will strike in."

It was the nearest to optimism he had ever known his assistant to
approach.

"McCrae," he asked, "have you ever tried to do anything with Dalton
Street?"

"Dalton Street?"

The real McCrae, whom he had seemed to see emerging, retired abruptly,
presenting his former baffling and noncommittal exterior.

"Yes," Hodder forced himself to go on, and it came to him that he had
repeated virtually the same words to Mr. Parr, "it is at our very doors,
a continual reproach. There is real poverty in those rooming houses, and
I have never seen vice so defiant and shameless."

"It's a shifty place, that," McCrae replied. "They're in it one day
and gone the next, a sort of catch-basin for all the rubbish of the city.
I can recall when decent people lived there, and now it's all light
housekeeping and dives and what not."

"But that doesn't relieve us of responsibility," Hodder observed.

"I'm not denying it. I think ye'll find there's very little to get hold
of."

Once more, he had the air of stopping short, of being able to say more.
Hodder refrained from pressing him.

Dalton Street continued to haunt him. And often at nightfall, as he
hurried back to his bright rooms in the parish house from some of the
many errands that absorbed his time, he had a feeling of self-accusation
as he avoided women wearily treading the pavements, or girls and children
plodding homeward through the wet, wintry streets. Some glanced at him
with heavy eyes, others passed sullenly, with bent heads. At such
moments his sense of helplessness was overpowering. He could not follow
them to the dreary dwellings where they lodged.

Eldon Parr had said that poverty was inevitable.



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 2.
V.    THE RECTOR HAS MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
VI.    "WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT"
VII.   THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD
VIII.   THE LINE of LEAST RESISTANCE.



CHAPTER V

THE RECTOR HAS MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT


I

Sunday after Sunday Hodder looked upon the same picture, the winter light
filtering through emblazoned windows, falling athwart stone pillars, and
staining with rich colours the marble of the centre aisle. The organ
rolled out hymns and anthems, the voices of the white robed choir echoed
among the arches. And Hodder's eye, sweeping over the decorous
congregation, grew to recognize certain landmarks: Eldon Parr, rigid at
one end of his empty pew; little Everett Constable, comfortably, but
always pompously settled at one end of his, his white-haired and
distinguished-looking wife at the other. The space between them had once
been filled by their children. There was Mr. Ferguson, who occasionally
stroked his black whiskers with a prodigious solemnity; Mrs. Ferguson,
resplendent and always a little warm, and their daughter Nan, dainty and
appealing, her eyes uplifted and questioning.

The Plimptons, with their rubicund and aggressively healthy offspring,
were always in evidence. And there was Mrs. Larrabbee. What between
wealth and youth, independence and initiative, a widowhood now emerged
from a mourning unexceptionable, an elegance so unobtrusive as to border
on mystery, she never failed to agitate any atmosphere she entered, even
that of prayer. From time to time, Hodder himself was uncomfortably
aware of her presence, and he read in her upturned face an interest
which, by a little stretch of the imagination, might have been deemed
personal . . . .

Another was Gordon Atterbury, still known as "young Gordon," though his
father was dead, and he was in the vestry. He was unmarried and
forty-five, and Mrs. Larrabbee had said he reminded her of a shrivelling
seed set aside from a once fruitful crop. He wore, invariably, checked
trousers and a black cutaway coat, eyeglasses that fell off when he
squinted, and were saved from destruction by a gold chain. No wedding or
funeral was complete without him. And one morning, as he joined Mr. Parr
and the other gentlemen who responded to the appeal, "Let your light so
shine before men," a strange, ironical question entered the rector's
mind--was Gordon Atterbury the logical product of those doctrines which
he, Hodder, preached with such feeling and conviction?

None, at least, was so fervent a defender of the faith, so punctilious
in all observances, so constant at the altar rail; none so versed in
rubrics, ritual, and canon law; none had such a knowledge of the Church
fathers. Mr. Atterbury delighted to discuss them with the rector at the
dinner parties where they met; none was more zealous for foreign
missions. He was the treasurer of St. John's.

It should undoubtedly have been a consolation to any rector to possess
Mr. Atterbury's unqualified approval, to listen to his somewhat delphic
compliments,--heralded by a clearing of the throat. He represented
the faith as delivered to the saints, and he spoke for those in the
congregation to whom it was precious. Why was it that, to Hodder,
he should gradually have assumed something of the aspect of a Cerberus?
Why was it that he incited a perverse desire to utter heresies?

Hodder invariably turned from his contemplation of Gordon Atterbury to
the double blaring pew, which went from aisle to aisle. In his heart, he
would have preferred the approval of Eleanor Goodrich and her husband,
and of Asa Waring. Instinct spoke to him here; he seemed to read in
their faces that he failed to strike in them responsive chords. He was
drawn to them: the conviction grew upon him that he did not reach them,
and it troubled him, as he thought, disproportionately.

He could not expect to reach all. But they were the type to which he
most wished to appeal; of all of his flock, this family seemed best to
preserve the vitality and ideals of the city and nation. Asa Waring was
a splendid, uncompromising survival; his piercing eyes sometimes met
Hodder's across the church, and they held for him a question and a
riddle. Eleanor Goodrich bore on her features the stamp of true nobility
of character, and her husband, Hodder knew, was a man among men. In
addition to a respected lineage, he possessed an unusual blending of
aggressiveness and personal charm that men found irresistible.

The rector's office in the parish house was a businesslike room on the
first floor, fitted up with a desk, a table, straight-backed chairs, and
a revolving bookcase. And to it, one windy morning in March, came
Eleanor Goodrich. Hodder rose to greet her with an eagerness which,
from his kindly yet penetrating glance, she did not suspect.

"Am I interrupting you, Mr. Hodder?" she asked, a little breathlessly.

"Not at all," he said, drawing up a chair. "Won't you sit down?"

She obeyed. There was an awkward pause during which the colour slowly
rose to her face.

"I wanted to ask you one or two things," she began, not very steadily.
"As perhaps you may know, I was brought up in this church, baptized and
confirmed in it. I've come to fear that, when I was confirmed, I wasn't
old enough to know what I was doing."

She took a deep breath, amazed at her boldness, for this wasn't in the
least how she had meant to begin. And she gazed at the rector anxiously.
To her surprise, he did not appear to be inordinately shocked.

"Do you know any better now?" he asked.

"Perhaps not," she admitted. "But the things of which I was sure at that
time I am not sure of now. My faith is--is not as complete."

"Faith may be likened to an egg, Mrs. Goodrich," he said. "It must be
kept whole. If the shell is chipped, it is spoiled."

Eleanor plucked up her courage. Eggs, she declared, had been used as
illustrations by conservatives before now.

Hodder relieved her by smiling in ready appreciation.

"Columbus had reference to this world," he said. "I was thinking of a
more perfect cue."

"Oh!" she cried, "I dare say there is a more perfect one. I should hate
to think there wasn't--but I can't imagine it. There's nothing in the
Bible in the way of description of it to make me really wish to go there.
The New Jerusalem is too insipid, too material. I'm sure I'm shocking
you, but I must be honest, and say what I feel."

"If some others were as honest," said the rector, "the problems of
clergymen would be much easier. And it is precisely because people will
not tell us what they feel that we are left in the dark and cannot help
them. Of course, the language of St. John about the future is
figurative."

"Figurative,--yes," she consented, "but not figurative in a way that
helps me, a modern American woman. The figures, to be of any use, ought
to appeal to my imagination--oughtn't they? But they don't. I can't see
any utility in such a heaven--it seems powerless to enter as a factor
into my life."

"It is probable that we are not meant to know anything about the future."

"Then I wish it hadn't been made so explicit. Its very definiteness is
somehow--stultifying. And, Mr. Hodder, if we were not meant to know its
details, it seems to me that if the hereafter is to have any real value
and influence over our lives here, we should know something of its
conditions, because it must be in some sense a continuation of this.
I'm not sure that I make myself clear."

"Admirably clear. But we have our Lord's example of how to live here."

"If we could be sure," said Eleanor, "just what that example meant."

Hodder was silent a moment.

"You mean that you cannot accept what the Church teaches about his life?"
he asked.

"No, I can't," she faltered. "You have helped me to say it. I want to
have the Church's side better explained,--that's why I'm here." She
glanced up at him, hesitatingly, with a puzzled wonder, such a positive,
dynamic representative of that teaching did he appear. "And my husband
can't,--so many people I know can't, Mr. Hodder. Only, some of them
don't mention the fact. They accept it. And you say things with such a
certainty--" she paused.

"I know," he replied, "I know. I have felt it since I have come here
more than ever before." He did not add that he had felt it particularly
about her, about her husband: nor did he give voice to his instinctive
conviction that he respected and admired these two more than a hundred
others whose professed orthodoxy was without a flaw. "What is it in
particular," he asked, troubled, "that you cannot accept? I will do my
best to help you."

"Well--" she hesitated again.

"Please continue to be frank," he begged.

"I can't believe in the doctrine of the virgin birth," she responded in a
low voice; "it seems to me so--so material. And I feel I am stating a
difficulty that many have, Mr. Hodder. Why should it have been thought
necessary for God to have departed from what is really a sacred and
sublime fact in nature, to resort to a material proof in order to
convince a doubting humanity that Jesus was his Son? Oughtn't the proof
of Christ's essential God-ship to lie in his life, to be discerned by the
spiritual; and wasn't he continually rebuking those who demanded material
proof? The very acceptance of a material proof, it seems to me, is a
denial of faith, since faith ceases to have any worth whatever the moment
the demand for such proof is gratified. Knowledge puts faith out of
the question, for faith to me means a trusting on spiritual grounds.
And surely the acceptance of scriptural statements like that of the
miraculous birth without investigation is not faith--it is mere
credulity. If Jesus had been born in a miraculous way, the disciples
must have known it. Joseph must have known it when he heard the answer
'I must be about my father's business,' and their doubts are
unexplained."

"I see you have been investigating," said the rector.

"Yes," replied Eleanor, with an unconscious shade of defiance, "people
want to know, Mr. Dodder,--they want to know the truth. And if you
consider the preponderance of the evidence of the Gospels themselves--my
brother-in-law says--you will find that the miraculous birth has very
little to stand on. Take out the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke,
and the rest of the four Gospels practically contradict it. The
genealogies differ, and they both trace through Joseph."

"I think people suffer in these days from giving too much weight to
the critics of Christianity," said the rector, "from not pondering more
deeply on its underlying truths. Do not think that I am accusing you
of superficiality, Mrs. Goodrich; I am sure you wish to go to the bottom,
or else you would be satisfied with what you have already read and
heard."

"I do," she murmured.

"And the more one reflects on the life of our Lord, the more one is
convinced that the doctrine of the virgin birth is a vital essential;
without it Christianity falls to pieces. Let us go at the matter the
other way round. If we attribute to our Lord a natural birth, we come at
once to the dilemma of having to admit that he was merely an individual
human person,--in an unsurpassed relationship with God, it is true, but
still a human person. That doctrine makes Christ historical, some one
to go back to, instead of the ever-present, preexistent Son of God and
mankind. I will go as far as to assert that if the virgin birth had
never been mentioned in the Gospels, it would nevertheless inevitably
have become a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. Such a truth
is too vast, too far-reaching to have been neglected, and it has a much
higher significance than the mere record of a fact. In spite of the
contradictions of science, it explains as nothing else can the mystery
of the divinity as well as the humanity of the Saviour."

Eleanor was unconvinced. She felt, as she listened, the pressure of his
sincerity and force, and had to strive to prevent her thoughts from
becoming confused.

"No, Mr. Hodder, I simply can't see any reason for resorting to a
physical miracle in order to explain a spiritual mystery. I can see why
the ancients demanded a sign of divinity as it were. But for us it has
ceased even to be that. It can't be proved. You ask me, in the face of
overwhelming evidence against it, to teach my children that the
Incarnation depends on it, but when they grow up and go to college and
find it discredited they run the risk of losing everything else with it.
And for my part, I fail utterly to see why, if with God all things are
possible, it isn't quite as believable, as we gather from St. Mark's
Gospel, that he incarnated himself in one naturally born. If you reach
the conclusion that Jesus was not a mere individual human person, you
reach it through the contemplation of his life and death."

"Then it isn't the physical miracle you object to, especially?" he asked.

"It's the uselessness of it, for this age," she exclaimed. "I think
clergymen don't understand the harm it is doing in concentrating the
attention on such a vulnerable and non-essential point. Those of us who
are striving to reorganize our beliefs and make them tenable, do not
bother our heads about miracles. They may be true, or may not, or some
of them may be. We are beginning to see that the virgin birth does not
add anything to Christ. We are beginning to see that perfection and
individuality are not incompatible,--one is divine, and the other human.
And isn't it by his very individuality that we are able to recognize
Jesus to-day?"

"You have evidently thought and read a great deal," Dodder said,
genuinely surprised. "Why didn't you come to me earlier?"

Eleanor bit her lip. He smiled a little.

"I think I can answer that for you," he went on; "you believe we are
prejudiced,--I've no doubt many of us are. You think we are bound to
stand up for certain dogmas, or go down, and that our minds are
consequently closed. I am not blaming you," he added quickly, as she
gave a sign of protest, "but I assure you that most of us, so far as my
observation has gone, are honestly trying to proclaim the truth as we see
it."

"Insincerity is the last thing I should have accused you of, Mr. Hodder,"
she said flushing. "As I told you, you seem so sure."

"I don't pretend to infallibility, except so far as I maintain that the
Church is the guardian of certain truths which human experience has
verified. Let me ask you if you have thought out the difference your
conception of the Incarnation;--the lack of a patently divine commission,
as it were,--makes in the doctrine of grace?"

"Yes, I have," she answered, "a little. It gives me more hope. I cannot
think I am totally depraved. I do not believe that God wishes me to
think so. And while I am still aware of the distance between Christ's
perfection and my own imperfection, I feel that the possibility is
greater of lessening that distance. It gives me more self-respect, more
self-reliance. George Bridges says that the logical conclusion of that
old doctrine is what philosophers call determinism--Calvinistic
predestination. I can't believe in that. The kind of grace God gives me
is the grace to help myself by drawing force from the element of him in
my soul. He gives me the satisfaction of developing."

"Of one thing I am assured, Mrs. Goodrich," Hodder replied, "that the
logical result of independent thinking is anarchy. Under this modern
tendency toward individual creeds, the Church has split and split again
until, if it keeps on, we shall have no Church at all to carry on the
work of our Lord on earth. History proves that to take anything away from
the faith is to atrophy, to destroy it. The answer to your arguments is
to be seen on every side, atheism, hypocrisy, vice, misery, insane and
cruel grasping after wealth. There is only one remedy I can see," he
added, inflexibly, yet with a touch of sadness, "believe."

"What if we can't believe?" she asked.

"You can." He spoke with unshaken conviction.

"You can if you make the effort, and I am sure you will. My experience
is that in the early stages of spiritual development we are impervious to
certain truths. Will you permit me to recommend to you certain books
dealing with these questions in a modern way?"

"I will read them gladly," she said, and rose.

"And then, perhaps, we may have another talk," he added, looking down at
her. "Give my regards to your husband."

Yet, as he stood in the window looking after her retreating figure, there
gradually grew upon him a vague and uncomfortable feeling that he had not
been satisfactory, and this was curiously coupled with the realization
that the visit had added a considerable increment to his already
pronounced liking for Eleanor Goodrich. She was, paradoxically, his
kind of a person--such was the form the puzzle took. And so ably had
she presented her difficulties that, at one point of the discussion,
it had ironically occurred to him to refer her to Gordon Atterbury.
Mr. Atterbury's faith was like an egg, and he took precious care not
to have it broken or chipped.

Hodder found himself smiling. It was perhaps inevitable that he began at
once to contrast Mrs. Goodrich with other feminine parishioners who had
sought him out, and who had surrendered unconditionally. They had
evinced an equally disturbing tendency,--a willingness to be overborne.
For had he not, indeed, overborne them? He could not help suspecting
these other ladies of a craving for the luxury of the confessional. One
thing was certain,--he had much less respect for them than for Eleanor
Goodrich . . . .

That afternoon he sent her the list of books. But the weeks passed,
and she did not come back. Once, when he met her at a dinner of Mrs.
Preston's, both avoided the subject of her visit, both were conscious
of a constraint. She did not know how often, unseen by her, his eyes had
sought her out from the chancel. For she continued to come to church as
frequently as before, and often brought her husband.



II

One bright and boisterous afternoon in March, Hodder alighted from an
electric car amid a swirl of dust and stood gazing for a moment at the
stone gate-houses of that 'rus in urbe', Waverley Place, and at the gold
block-letters written thereon, "No Thoroughfare." Against those gates
and their contiguous grill the rude onward rush of the city had beaten in
vain, and, baffled, had swept around their serene enclosure, westward.

Within, a silvery sunlight lit up the grass of the island running down
the middle, and in the beds the softening earth had already been broken
by the crocus sheaves. The bare branches of the trees swayed in the
gusts. As Hodder penetrated this hallowed precinct he recognized, on
either hand, the residences of several of his parishioners, each in its
ample allotted space: Mrs. Larrabbee's; the Laureston Greys'; Thurston
Gore's, of which Mr. Wallis Plimpton was now the master,--Mr. Plimpton,
before whose pertinacity the walls of Jericho had fallen; and finally the
queer, twisted Richardson mansion of the Everett Constables, whither he
was bound, with its recessed doorway and tiny windows peeping out from
under mediaeval penthouses.

He was ushered into a library where the shades were already drawn, where
a-white-clothed tea-table was set before the fire, the red rays dancing
on the silver tea-kettle. On the centre-table he was always sure to
find, neatly set in a rack, the books about which the world was talking,
or rather would soon begin to talk; and beside them were ranged
magazines; French, English, and American, Punch, the Spectator, the
Nation, the 'Revue des deux Mondes'. Like the able general she was,
Mrs. Constable kept her communications open, and her acquaintance was by
no means confined to the city of her nativity. And if a celebrity were
passing through, it were pretty safe, if in doubt, to address him in her
care.

Hodder liked and admired her, but somehow she gave him the impression of
having attained her ascendancy at a price, an ascendancy which had
apparently been gained by impressing upon her environment a new note
--literary, aesthetic, cosmopolitan. She held herself, and those she
carried with her, abreast of the times, and he was at a loss to see how
so congenial an effort could have left despite her sweetness--the little
mark of hardness he discerned, of worldliness. For she was as well born
as any woman in the city, and her husband was a Constable. He had
inherited, so the rector had been informed, one of those modest fortunes
that were deemed affluence in the eighties. His keeping abreast of the
times was the enigma, and Hodder had often wondered how financial genius
had contrived to house itself in the well-dressed, gently pompous little
man whose lack of force seemed at times so painfully evident. And yet he
was rated one of the rich men of the city, and his name Hodder had read
on many boards with Mr. Parr's!

A person more versed in the modern world of affairs than the late rector
of Bremerton would not have been so long in arriving at the answer to
this riddle. Hodder was astute, he saw into people more than they
suspected, but he was not sophisticated.

He stood picturing, now, the woman in answer to whose summons he had
come. With her finely chiselled features, her abundant white hair, her
slim figure and erect carriage she reminded him always of a Vigee Lebrun
portrait. He turned at the sound of her voice behind him.

"How good of you to come, Mr. Hodder, when you were so busy," she said,
taking his hand as she seated herself behind the tea-kettle. "I wanted
the chance to talk to you, and it seemed the best way. What is that you
have, Soter's book?"

"I pinked it up on the table," he explained.

"Then you haven't read it? You ought to. As a clergyman, it would
interest you. Religion treated from the economic side, you know, the
effect of lack of nutrition on character. Very unorthodox, of course."

"I find that I have very little time to read," he said. "I sometimes
take a book along in the cars."

"Your profession is not so leisurely as it once was, I often think it
such a pity. But you, too, are paying the penalty of complexity." She
smiled at him sympathetically. "How is Mr. Parr? I haven't seen him for
several weeks."

"He seemed well when I saw him last," replied Hodder.

"He's a wonderful man; the amount of work he accomplishes without
apparent effort is stupendous." Mrs. Constable cast what seemed a
tentative glance at the powerful head, and handed him his tea.
"I wanted to talk to you about Gertrude," she said.

He looked unenlightened.

"About my daughter, Mrs. Warren. She lives in New York, you know
--on Long Island."

Then he had remembered something he had heard.

"Yes," he said.

"She met you, at the Fergusons', just for a moment, when she was out here
last autumn. What really nice and simple people the Fergusons are, with
all their money!"

"Very nice indeed," he agreed, puzzled.

"I have been sorry for them in the past," she went on evenly. "They had
rather a hard time--perhaps you may have heard. Nobody appreciated them.
They were entombed, so to speak, in a hideous big house over on the South
Side, which fortunately burned down, and then they bought in Park Street,
and took a pew in St. John's. I suppose the idea of that huge department
store was rather difficult to get used to. But I made up my mind it was
nonsense to draw the line at department stores, especially since Mr.
Ferguson's was such a useful and remarkable one, so I went across and
called. Mrs. Ferguson was so grateful, it was almost pathetic. And
she's a very good friend--she came here everyday when Genevieve had
appendicitis."

"She's a good woman," the rector said.

"And Nan,--I adore Nan, everybody adores Nan. She reminds me of one of
those exquisite, blue-eyed dolls her father imports. Now if I were a
bachelor, Mr. Hodder--!" Mrs. Constable left the rest to his
imagination.

He smiled.

"I'm afraid Miss Ferguson has her own ideas." Running through Hodder's
mind, a troubled current, were certain memories connected with Mrs.
Warren. Was she the divorced daughter, or was she not?

"But I was going to speak to you about Gertrude. She's had such a
hard time, poor dear, my heart has bled for her." There was a barely
perceptible tremor in Mrs. Constable's voice. "All that publicity, and
the inevitable suffering connected with it! And no one can know the
misery she went through, she is so sensitive. But now, at last, she has
a chance for happiness--the real thing has come."

"The real thing!" he echoed.

"Yes. She's going to marry a splendid man, Eldridge Sumner. I know the
family well. They have always stood for public spirit, and this Mr.
Summer, although he is little over thirty, was chairman of that Vice
Commission which made such a stir in New York a year ago. He's a lawyer,
with a fine future, and they're madly in love. And Gertrude realizes
now, after her experience, the true values in life. She was only a child
when she married Victor Warren."

"But Mr. Warren," Hodder managed to say, "is still living."

"I sometimes wonder, Mr. Hodder," she went on hurriedly, "whether we can
realize how different the world is today from what it was twenty years
ago, until something of this kind is actually brought home to us.
I shall never forget how distressed, how overwhelmed Mr. Constable and I
were when Gertrude got her divorce. I know that they are regarding such
things differently in the East, but out here!--We never dreamed that such
a thing could happen to us, and we regarded it as a disgrace. But
gradually--" she hesitated, and looked at the motionless clergyman
--"gradually I began to see Gertrude's point of view, to understand that
she had made a mistake, that she had been too young to comprehend what
she was doing. Victor Warren had been ruined by money, he wasn't
faithful to her, but an extraordinary thing has happened in his case.
He's married again, and Gertrude tells me he's absurdly happy, and has
two children."

As he listened, Hodder's dominating feeling was amazement that such a
course as her daughter had taken should be condoned by this middle-aged
lady, a prominent member of his congregation and the wife of a vestryman,
who had been nurtured and steeped in Christianity. And not only that:
Mrs. Constable was plainly defending a further step, which in his opinion
involved a breach of the Seventh Commandment! To have invaded these
precincts, the muddy, turbulent river of individualism had risen higher
than he would have thought possible . . . .

"Wait!" she implored, checking his speech,--she had been watching him
with what was plainly anxiety, "don't say anything yet. I have a letter
here which she wrote me--at the time. I kept it. Let me read a part of
it to you, that you may understand more fully the tragedy of it."

Mrs. Constable thrust her hand into her lap and drew forth a thickly
covered sheet.

"It was written just after she left him--it is an answer to my protest,"
she explained, and began to read:

"I know I promised to love Victor, mother, but how can one promise to
do a thing over which one has no control? I loved him after he stopped
loving me. He wasn't a bit suited to me--I see that now--he was
attracted by the outside of me, and I never knew what he was like until I
married him. His character seemed to change completely; he grew morose
and quick-tempered and secretive, and nothing I did pleased him. We led
a cat-and-dog life. I never let you know--and yet I see now we might
have got along in any other relationship. We were very friendly when we
parted, and I'm not a bit jealous because he cares for another woman who
I can see is much better suited to him.

"'I can't honestly regret leaving him, and I'm not conscious of having
done anything wrong. I don't want to shock you, and I know how terribly
you and father must feel, but I can see now, somehow, that I had to go
through this experience, terrible as it was, to find myself. If it were
thirty years ago, before people began to be liberal in such matters,
I shudder to think what might have become of me. I should now be one of
those terrible women between fifty and sixty who have tried one frivolity
and excess after another--but I'm not coming to that! And my friends
have really been awfully kind, and supported me--even Victor's family.
Don't, don't think that I'm not respectable! I know how you look at such
things.'" Mrs. Constable closed the letter abruptly.

"I did look at such things in that way," she added, "but I've changed.
That letter helped to change me, and the fact that it was Gertrude who
had been through this. If you only knew Gertrude, Mr. Hodder, you
couldn't possibly think of her as anything but sweet and pure."

Although the extent of Hodder's acquaintance with Mrs. Warren had been
but five minutes, the letter had surprisingly retouched to something like
brilliancy her faded portrait, the glow in her cheeks, the iris blue in
her eyes. He recalled the little shock he had experienced when told that
she was divorced, for her appeal had lain in her very freshness, her
frank and confiding manner. She was one of those women who seem to say,
"Here I am, you can't but like me:" And he had responded--he remembered
that--he had liked her. And now her letter, despite his resistance, had
made its appeal, so genuinely human was it, so honest, although it
expressed a philosophy he abhorred.

Mrs. Constable was watching him mutely, striving to read in his grave
eyes the effect of her pleadings.

"You are telling me this, Mrs. Constable--why?" he asked.

"Because I wished you to know the exact situation before I asked you, as
a great favour to me, to Mr. Constable, to--to marry her in St. John's.
Of course," she went on, controlling her rising agitation, and
anticipating a sign of protest, "we shouldn't expect to have any people,
---and Gertrude wasn't married in St. John's before; that wedding was at
Passumset our seashore place. Oh, Mr. Hodder, before you answer, think
of our feelings, Mr. Constable's and mine! If you could see Mr.
Constable, you would know how he suffers--this thing has upset him more
than the divorce. His family have such pride. I am so worried about
him, and he doesn't eat anything and looks so haggard. I told him I
would see you and explain and that seemed to comfort him a little.
She is, after all, our child, and we don't want to feel, so far as our
church is concerned, that she is an Ishmaelite; we don't want to have the
spectacle of her having to go around, outside, to find a clergyman--that
would be too dreadful! I know how strict, how unflinching you are, and I
admire you for it. But this is a special case."

She paused, breathing deeply, and Hodder gazed at her with pity. What he
felt was more than pity; he was experiencing, indeed, but with a deeper
emotion, something of that same confusion of values into which Eleanor
Goodrich's visit had thrown him. At the same time it had not escaped his
logical mind that Mrs. Constable had made her final plea on the score of
respectability.

"It gives me great pain to have to refuse you," he said gently.

"Oh, don't," she said sharply, "don't say that! I can't have made the
case clear. You are too big, too comprehending, Mr. Hodder, to have a
hard-and-fast rule. There must be times--extenuating circumstances--and
I believe the canons make it optional for a clergyman to marry the
innocent person."

"Yes, it is optional, but I do, not believe it should be. The question
is left to the clergyman's' conscience. According to my view, Mrs.
Constable, the Church, as the agent of God, effects an indissoluble bond.
And much as I should like to do anything in my power for you and Mr.
Constable, you have asked the impossible,--believing as I do, there can
be no special case, no extenuating circumstance. And it is my duty to
tell you it is because people to-day are losing their beliefs that we
have this lenient attitude toward the sacred things. If they still held
the conviction that marriage is of God, they would labour to make it a
success, instead of flying apart at the first sign of what they choose to
call incompatibility."

"But surely," she said, "we ought not to be punished for our mistakes!
I cannot believe that Christ himself intended that his religion should be
so inelastic, so hard and fast, so cruel as you imply. Surely there is
enough unhappiness without making more. You speak of incompatibility
--but is it in all cases such an insignificant matter? We are beginning
to realize in these days something of the effects of character on
character,--deteriorating effects, in many instances. With certain
persons we are lifted up, inspired to face the battle of life and
overcome its difficulties. I have known fine men and women whose lives
have been stultified or ruined because they were badly mated. And I
cannot see that the character of my own daughter has deteriorated because
she has got a divorce from a man with whom she was profoundly out of
sympathy--of harmony. On the contrary, she seems more of a person than
she was; she has clearer, saner views of life; she has made her mistake
and profited by it. Her views changed--Victor Warren's did not. She
began to realize that some other woman might have an influence over his
life--she had none, simply because he did not love her. And love is not
a thing we can compel."

"You are making it very hard for me, Mrs. Constable," he said.
"You are now advocating an individualism with which the Church can have
no sympathy. Christianity teaches us that life is probationary, and if
we seek to avoid the trials sent us, instead of overcoming them, we find
ourselves farther than ever from any solution. We have to stand by our
mistakes. If marriage is to be a mere trial of compatibility, why go
through a ceremony than which there is none more binding in human and
divine institutions? One either believes in it, or one does not. And,
if belief be lacking, the state provides for the legalization of
marriages."

"Oh!" she exclaimed.

"If persons wish to be married in church in these days merely because it
is respectable, if such be their only reason, they are committing a great
wrong. They are taking an oath before God with reservations, knowing
that public opinion will release them if the marriage does not fulfil
their expectations."

For a moment she gazed at him with parted lips, and pressing her
handkerchief to her eyes began silently to cry. The sudden spectacle,
in this condition, of a self-controlled woman of the world was infinitely
distressing to Hodder, whose sympathies were even more sensitive than
(in her attempt to play upon them) she had suspected. . . She was
aware that he had got to his feet, and was standing beside her, speaking
with an oddly penetrating tenderness.

"I did not mean to be harsh," he said, "and it is not that I do not
understand how you feel. You have made my duty peculiarly difficult."

She raised up to him a face from which the mask had fallen, from which
the illusory look of youth had fled. He turned away. . . And
presently she began to speak again; in disconnected sentences.

"I so want her to be happy--I cannot think, I will not think that she has
wrecked her life--it would be too unjust, too cruel. You cannot know
what it is to be a woman!"

Before this cry he was silent.

"I don't ask anything of God except that she shall have a chance, and it
seems to me that he is making the world better--less harsh for women."

He did not reply. And presently she looked up at him again, steadfastly
now, searchingly. The barriers of the conventions were down, she had
cast her pride to the winds. He seemed to read in her a certain relief.

"I am going to tell you something, Mr. Hodder, which you may think
strange, but I have a reason for saying it. You are still a young man,
and I feel instinctively that you have an unusual career before you. You
interested me the first time you stepped into the pulpit of St. John's
--and it will do me good to talk to you, this once, frankly. You have
reiterated to-day, in no uncertain terms, doctrines which I once
believed, which I was brought up to think infallible. But I have
lived since then, and life itself has made me doubt them.

"I recognize in you a humanity, a sympathy and breadth which you are
yourself probably not aware of, all of which is greater than the rule
which you so confidently apply to fit all cases. It seems to me that
Christ did not intend us to have such rules. He went beyond them, into
the spirit.

"Under the conditions of society--of civilization to-day, most marriages
are merely a matter of chance. Even judgment cannot foresee the
development of character brought about by circumstances, by environment.
And in many marriages I have known about intimately both the man and the
woman have missed the most precious thing that life can give something I
cannot but think--God intends us to have. You see,"--she smiled at him
sadly--"I am still a little of an idealist.

"I missed--the thing I am talking about, and it has been the great sorrow
of my life--not only on my account, but on my husband's. And so far as I
am concerned, I am telling you the truth when I say I should have been
content to have lived in a log cabin if--if the gift had been mine. Not
all the money in the world, nor the intellect, nor the philanthropy--the
so-called interests of life, will satisfy me for its denial. I am a
disappointed woman, I sometimes think a bitter woman. I can't believe
that life is meant to be so. Those energies have gone into ambition
which should have been absorbed by--by something more worth while.

"And I can see so plainly now that my husband would have been far, far
happier with another kind of woman. I drew him away from the only work
he ever enjoyed--his painting. I do not say he ever could have been a
great artist, but he had a little of the divine spark, in his enthusiasm
at least--in his assiduity. I shall never forget our first trip abroad,
after we were married--he was like a boy in the galleries, in the
studios. I could not understand it then. I had no real sympathy with
art, but I tried to make sacrifices, what I thought were Christian
sacrifices. The motive power was lacking, and no matter how hard I
tried, I was only half-hearted, and he realized it instinctively--no
amount of feigning could deceive him. Something deep in me, which was a
part of my nature, was antagonistic, stultifying to the essentials of his
own being. Of course neither of us saw that then, but the results were
not long in developing. To him, art was a sacred thing, and it was
impossible for me to regard it with equal seriousness. He drew into
himself,--closed up, as it were,--no longer discussed it. I was hurt.
And when we came home he kept on in business--he still had his father's
affairs to look after--but he had a little workroom at the top of the
house where he used to go in the afternoon . . . .

"It was a question which one of us should be warped,--which personality
should be annihilated, so to speak, and I was the stronger. And as I
look back, Mr. Hodder, what occurred seems to me absolutely inevitable,
given the ingredients, as inevitable as a chemical process. We were both
striving against each other, and I won--at a tremendous cost. The
conflict, one might say, was subconscious, instinctive rather than
deliberate. My attitude forced him back into business, although we had
enough to live on very comfortably, and then the scale of life began to
increase, luxuries formerly unthought of seemed to become necessities.
And while it was still afar off I saw a great wave rolling toward us, the
wave of that new prosperity which threatened to submerge us, and I seized
the buoy fate had placed in our hands,--or rather, by suggestion, I
induced my husband to seize it--his name.

"I recognized the genius, the future of Eldon Parr at a time when he was
not yet independent and supreme, when association with a Constable meant
much to him. Mr. Parr made us, as the saying goes. Needless to say;
money has not brought happiness, but a host of hard, false ambitions
which culminated in Gertrude's marriage with Victor Warren. I set my
heart on the match, helped it in every, way, and until now nothing but
sorrow has come of it. But my point--is this,--I see so clearly, now
that it is too late, that two excellent persons may demoralize each other
if they are ill-mated. It may be possible that I had the germs of false
ambition in me when I was a girl, yet I was conscious only of the ideal
which is in most women's hearts . . . .

"You must not think that I have laid my soul bare in the hope of changing
your mind in regard to Gertrude. I recognize clearly, now, that that is
impossible. Oh, I know you do not so misjudge me," she added, reading
his quick protest in his face.

"Indeed, I cannot analyze my reasons for telling you something of which I
have never spoken to any one else."

Mrs. Constable regarded him fixedly. "You are the strongest reason.
You have somehow drawn it out of me . . . . And I suppose I wish some
one to profit by it. You can, Mr. Hodder,--I feel sure of that. You may
insist now that my argument against your present conviction of the
indissolubility of marriage is mere individualism, but I want you to
think of what I have told you, not to answer me now. I know your
argument by heart, that Christian character develops by submission,
by suffering, that it is the woman's place to submit, to efface herself.
But the root of the matter goes deeper than that. I am far from
deploring sacrifice, yet common-sense tells us that our sacrifice should
be guided by judgment, that foolish sacrifices are worse than useless.
And there are times when the very limitations of our individuality
--necessary limitation's for us--prevent our sacrifices from counting.

"I was wrong, I grant you, grievously wrong in the course I took, even
though it were not consciously deliberate. But if my husband had been an
artist I should always have remained separated from his real life by a
limitation I had no power to remove. The more I tried, the more apparent
my lack of insight became to him, the more irritated he grew. I studied
his sketches, I studied masterpieces, but it was all hopeless. The thing
wasn't in me, and he knew it wasn't. Every remark made him quiver.

"The Church, I think, will grow more liberal, must grow more liberal, if
it wishes to keep in touch with people in an age when they are thinking
out these questions for themselves. The law cannot fit all cases, I am
sure the Gospel can. And sometimes women have an instinct, a kind of
second sight into persons, Mr. Hodder. I cannot explain why I feel that
you have in you elements of growth which will eventually bring you more
into sympathy with the point of view I have set forth, but I do feel it."

Hodder did not attempt to refute her--she had, indeed, made discussion
impossible. She knew his arguments, as she had declared, and he had the
intelligence to realize that a repetition of them, on his part, would be
useless. She brought home to him, as never before, a sense of the
anomalistic position of the Church in these modern days, of its
appallingly lessened weight even with its own members. As a successor of
the Apostles, he had no power over this woman, or very little; he could
neither rebuke her, nor sentence her to penance. She recognized his
authority to marry her daughter, to baptize her daughter's children,
but not to interfere in any way with her spiritual life. It was as a
personality he had moved her--a personality apparently not in harmony
with his doctrine. Women had hinted at this before. And while Mrs.
Constable had not, as she perceived, shaken his conviction, the very
vividness and unexpectedness of a confession from her--had stirred him to
the marrow, had opened doors, perforce, which he, himself had marked
forbidden, and given him a glimpse beyond before he could lower his eyes.
Was there, after all, something in him that responded in spite of
himself?

He sat gazing at her, his head bent, his strong hands on the arms of the
chair.

"We never can foresee how we may change," he answered, a light in his
eyes that was like a smile, yet having no suggestion of levity. And his
voice--despite his disagreement--maintained the quality of his sympathy.
Neither felt the oddity, then, of the absence of a jarring note. "You
may be sure, at least, of my confidence, and of my gratitude for what you
have told me."

His tone belied the formality of his speech. Mrs. Constable returned his
gaze in silence, and before words came again to either, a step sounded on
the threshold and Mr. Constable entered.

Hodder looked at him with a new vision. His face was indeed lined and
worn, and dark circles here under his eyes. But at Mrs. Constable's
"Here's Mr. Hodder, dear," he came forward briskly to welcome the
clergyman.

"How do you do?" he said cordially. "We don't see you very often."

"I have been telling Mr. Hodder that modern rectors of big parishes have
far too many duties," said his wife.

And after a few minutes of desultory conversation, the rector left.



CHAPTER VI

"WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?"

It was one of those moist nights of spring when the air is pungent with
the odour of the softened earth, and the gentle breaths that stirred
the curtains in Mr. Parr's big dining-room wafted, from the garden,
the perfumes of a revived creation,--delicious, hothouse smells.
At intervals, showers might be heard pattering on the walk outside.
The rector of St. John's was dining with his great parishioner.

Here indeed were a subject for some modern master, a chance to picture
for generations to come an aspect of a mighty age, an age that may some
day be deemed but a grotesque and anomalistic survival of a more ancient
logic; a gargoyle carved out of chaos, that bears on its features a
resemblance to the past and the future.

Our scene might almost be mediaeval with its encircling gloom, through
which the heavy tapestries and shadowy corners of the huge apartment may
be dimly made out. In the center, the soft red glow of the candles, the
gleaming silver, the shining cloth, the Church on one side--and what on
the other? No name given it now, no royal name, but still Power. The
two are still in apposition, not yet in opposition, but the discerning
may perchance read a prophecy in the salient features of the priest.

The Man of Power of the beginning of the twentieth century demands
a subtler analysis, presents an enigma to which the immortal portraits
of forgotten Medicis and Capets give no clew. Imagine, if you can,
a Lorenzo or a Grand Louis in a tightly-buttoned frock coat! There must
be some logical connection between the habit and the age, since crimson
velvet and gold brocade would have made Eldon Parr merely ridiculous.

He is by no means ridiculous, yet take him out of the setting and put him
in the street, and you might pass him a dozen times without noticing him.
Nature, and perhaps unconscious art, have provided him with a protective
exterior; he is the colour of his jungle. After he has crippled you
--if you survive--you will never forget him. You will remember his eye,
which can be unsheathed like a rapier; you will recall his lips as the
expression of a relentless negative. The significance of the slight
bridge on the narrow nose is less easy to define. He is neither tall
nor short; his face is clean-shaven, save for scanty, unobtrusive
reddish tufts high on the cheeks; his hair is thin.

It must be borne in mind, however, that our rector did not see him in his
jungle, and perhaps in the traditional nobility of the lion there is a
certain truth. An interesting biography of some of the powerful of this
earth might be written from the point of view of the confessor or the
physician, who find something to love, something to pity, and nothing to
fear--thus reversing the sentiments of the public.

Yet the friendship between John Hodder and Eldon Parr defied any definite
analysis on the rector's part, and was perhaps the strangest--and most
disquieting element that had as yet come into Hodder's life. The nature
of his intimacy with the banker, if intimacy it might be called, might
have surprised his other parishioners if they could have been hidden
spectators of one of these dinners. There were long silences when the
medium of communication, tenuous at best, seemed to snap, and the two sat
gazing at each other as from mountain peaks across impassable valleys.
With all the will in the world, their souls lost touch, though the sense
in the clergyman of the other's vague yearning for human companionship
was never absent. It was this yearning that attracted Hodder, who found
in it a deep pathos.

After one of these intervals of silence, Eldon Parr looked up from his
claret.

"I congratulate you, Hodder, on the stand you took in regard to
Constable's daughter," he said.

"I didn't suppose it was known," answered the rector, in surprise.

"Constable told me. I have reason to believe that he doesn't sympathize
with his wife in her attitude on this matter. It's pulled him down,
--you've noticed that he looks badly?"

"Yes," said the rector. He did not care to discuss the affair; he had
hoped it would not become known; and he shunned the congratulations of
Gordon Atterbury, which in such case would be inevitable. And in spite
of the conviction that he had done his duty, the memory of his talk with
Mrs. Constable never failed to make him, uncomfortable.

Exasperation crept into Mr. Pares voice.

"I can't think what's got into women in these times--at Mrs. Constable's
age they ought to know better. Nothing restrains them. They have
reached a point where they don't even respect the Church. And when that
happens, it is serious indeed. The Church is the governor on our social
engine, and it is supposed to impose a restraint upon the lawless."

Hodder could not refrain from smiling a little at the banker's
conception.

"Doesn't that reduce the Church somewhere to the level of the police
force?" he asked.

"Not at all," said Eldon Parr, whose feelings seemed to be rising.
"I am sorry for Constable. He feels the shame of this thing keenly,
and he ought to go away for a while to one of these quiet resorts.
I offered him my car. Sometimes I think that women have no morals.
At any rate, this modern notion of giving them their liberty is sheer
folly. Look what they have done with it! Instead of remaining at home,
where they belong, they are going out into the world and turning it
topsy-turvy. And if a man doesn't let them have a free hand, they get
a divorce and marry some idiot who will."

Mr. Parr pushed back his chair and rose abruptly, starting for the door.
The rector followed him, forcibly struck by the unusual bitterness in his
tone.

"If I have spoken strongly, it is because I feel strongly," he said in a
strange, thickened voice. "Hodder, how would you like to live in this
house--alone?"

The rector looked down upon him with keen, comprehending eyes, and saw
Eldon Parr as he only, of all men, had seen him. For he himself did not
understand his own strange power of drawing forth the spirit from its
shell, of compelling the inner, suffering thing to reveal itself.

"This poison," Eldon Parr went on unevenly, "has eaten into my own
family. My daughter, who might have been a comfort and a companion,
since she chose not to marry, was carried away by it, and thought it
incumbent upon her to have a career of her own. And now I have a choice
of thirty rooms, and not a soul to share them with. Sometimes, at night,
I make up my mind to sell this house. But I can't do it--something holds
me back, hope, superstition, or whatever you've a mind to call it.
You've never seen all of the house, have you?" he asked.

The rector slowly shook his head, and the movement might have been one
that he would have used in acquiescence to the odd whim of a child. Mr.
Parr led the way up the wide staircase to the corridor above, traversing
chamber after chamber, turning on the lights.

"These were my wife's rooms," he said, "they are just as she left them.
And these my daughter Alison's, when she chooses to pay me a visit.
I didn't realize that I should have to spend the last years of my life
alone. And I meant, when I gave my wife a house, to have it the best in
the city. I spared nothing on it, as you see, neither care nor money.
I had the best architect I could find, and used the best material.
And what good is it to me? Only a reminder--of what might have been.
But I've got a boy, Hodder,--I don't know whether I've ever spoken of him
to you--Preston. He's gone away, too. But I've always had the hope that
he might come back and get decently married, and live, here. That's why
I stay. I'll show you his picture."

They climbed to the third floor, and while Mr. Parr way searching for
the electric switch, a lightning flash broke over the forests of the
park, prematurely revealing the room. It was a boy's room, hung with
photographs of school and college crews and teams and groups of
intimates, with deep window seats, and draped pennons of Harvard
University over the fireplace. Eldon Parr turned to one of the groups on
the will, the earliest taken at school.

"There he is," he said, pointing out a sunny little face at the bottom,
a boy of twelve, bareheaded, with short, crisping yellow hair, smiling
lips and laughing eyes. "And here he is again," indicating another
group. Thus he traced him through succeeding years until they came to
those of college.

"There he is," said the rector. "I think I can pick him out now."

"Yes; that's Preston," said his father, staring hard at the picture. The
face had developed, the body had grown almost to man's estate, but the
hint of crispness was still in the hair, the mischievous laughter in the
eyes. The rector gazed earnestly at the face, remembering his own
boyhood, his own youth, his mind dwelling, too, on what he had heard
of the original of the portrait. What had happened to the boy, to bring
to naught the fair promise of this earlier presentment?

He was aroused by the voice of Eldon Parr, who had sunk into one of the
leather chairs.

"I can see him now," he was saying, "as he used to come running down that
long flight of stone steps in Ransome Street to meet me when I came home.
Such laughter! And once, in his eagerness, he fell and cut his forehead.
I shall never forget how I felt. And when I picked him up he tried to
laugh still, with the tears rolling down his face. You know the way a
child's breath catches, Hodder? He was always laughing. And how he used
to cling to me, and beg me to take him out, and show such an interest in
everything! He was a bright boy, a remarkable child, I thought, but I
suppose it was my foolishness. He analyzed all he saw, and when he used
to go off in my car, Brennan, the engineer, would always beg to have
him in the cab. And such sympathy! He knew in an instant when I was
worried. I had dreams of what that boy would become, but I was too sure
of it. I went on doing other things--there were so many things, and I
was a slave to them. And before I knew it, he'd gone off to school.
That was the year I moved up here, and my wife died. And after that,
all seemed to go wrong. Perhaps I was too severe; perhaps they didn't
understand him at boarding-school; perhaps I didn't pay enough attention
to him. At any rate, the first thing I knew his whole nature seemed to
have changed. He got into scrape after scrape at Harvard, and later he
came within an ace of marrying a woman.

"He's my weakness to-day. I can say no to everybody in the world but to
him, and when I try to remember him as he used to come down those steps
on Ransome Street . . . .

"He never knew how much I cared--that what I was doing was all for him,
building for him, that he might carry on my work. I had dreams of
developing this city, the great Southwest, and after I had gone Preston
was to bring them to fruition.

"For some reason I never was able to tell him all this--as I am telling
you. The words would not come. We had grown apart. And he seemed to
think--God knows why!--he seemed to think I disliked him. I had Langmaid
talk to him, and other men I trusted--tell him what an unparalleled
opportunity he had to be of use in the world. Once I thought I had him
started straight and then a woman came along--off the streets, or little
better. He insisted on marrying her and wrecking his life, and when
I got her out of the way, as any father would have done, he left me. He
has never forgiven me. Most of the time I haven't even the satisfaction
of knowing were he is--London, Paris, or New York. I try not to think
of what he does. I ought to cut him off,--I can't do it--I can't do it,
Hodder--he's my one weakness still. I'm afraid--he'd sink out of sight
entirely, and it's the one hold I have left on him."

Eldon Parr paused, with a groan that betokened not only a poignant
sorrow, but also something of relief--for the tortures of not being able
to unburden himself had plainly become intolerable. He glanced up and
met the compassionate eyes of the rector, who stood leaning against the
mantel.

"With Alison it was different," he said. "I never understood her--even
when she was a child--and I used to look at her and wonder that she could
be my daughter. She was moody, intense, with a yearning for affection
I've since sometimes thought--she could not express. I did not feel the
need of affection in those days, so absorbed was I in building up,
--so absorbed and driven, you might say. I suppose I must accept my
punishment as just. But the child was always distant with me, and I
always remember her in rebellion; a dark little thing with a quivering
lip, hair awry, and eyes that flashed through her tears. She would take
any amount of punishment rather than admit she had been in the wrong.
I recall she had once a fox terrier that never left her, that fought all
the dogs in the neighbourhood and destroyed the rugs and cushions in the
house. I got rid of it one summer when she was at the sea, and I think
she never forgave me. The first question she asked when she came home
was for that dog--Mischief, his name was--for Mischief. I told her what
I had done. It took more courage than I had thought. She went to her
room, locked herself in, and stayed there, and we couldn't get her to
come out for two days; she wouldn't even eat.

"Perhaps she was jealous of Preston, but she never acknowledged it. When
she was little she used once in a while to come shyly and sit on my lap,
and look at me without saying anything. I hadn't the slightest notion
what was in the child's mind, and her reserve increased as she grew
older. She seemed to have developed a sort of philosophy of her own even
before she went away to school, and to have certain strongly defined
tastes. She liked, for instance, to listen to music, and for that very
reason would never learn to play. We couldn't make her, as a child.

"Bad music, she said, offended her. She painted, she was passionately
fond of flowers, and her room was always filled with them. When she came
back from school to live with me, she built a studio upstairs. After
the first winter, she didn't care to go out much. By so pronounced a
character, young men in general were not attracted, but there were a few
who fell under a sort of spell. I can think of no other words strong
enough, and I used to watch them when they came here with a curious
interest. I didn't approve of all of them. Alison would dismiss them
or ignore them or be kind to them as she happened to feel, yet it didn't
seem to make any difference. One I suspect she was in love with
--a fellow without a cent.

"Then there was Bedloe Hubbell. I have reason enough to be thankful
now that she didn't care for him. They've made him president, you know,
of this idiotic Municipal League, as they call it. But in those days he
hadn't developed any nonsense, he was making a good start at the bar,
and was well off. His father was Elias Hubbell, who gave the Botanical
Garden to the city. I wanted her to marry Gordon Atterbury. He hung on
longer than any of them--five or six years; but she wouldn't hear of it.
That was how the real difference developed between us, although the
trouble was deep rooted, for we never really understood each other. I
had set my heart on it, and perhaps I was too dictatorial and insistent.
I don't know. I meant the best for her, God knows . . . . Gordon
never got over it. It dried him up." . . . . Irritation was creeping
back into the banker's voice.

"Then it came into Alison's head that she wanted to 'make something of
her life,'--as she expressed it. She said she was wasting herself, and
began going to lectures with a lot of faddish women, became saturated
with these nonsensical ideas about her sex that are doing so much harm
nowadays. I suppose I was wrong in my treatment from the first. I never
knew how to handle her, but we grew like flint and steel. I'll say this
for her, she kept quiet enough, but she used to sit opposite me at the
table, and I knew all the time what she was thinking of, and then I'd
break out. Of course she'd defend herself, but she had her temper under
better control than I. She wanted to go away for a year or two and study
landscape gardening, and then come back and establish herself in an
office here. I wouldn't listen to it. And one morning, when she was
late to breakfast, I delivered an ultimatum. I gave her a lecture on a
woman's place and a woman's duty, and told her that if she didn't marry
she'd have to stay here and live quietly with me, or I'd disinherit her."

Hodder had become absorbed in this portrait of Alison Parr, drawn by her
father with such unconscious vividness.

"And then?" he asked.

In spite of the tone of bitterness in which he had spoken, Eldon Parr
smiled. It was a reluctant tribute to his daughter.

"I got an ultimatum in return," he said. "Alison should have been a
man." His anger mounted quickly as he recalled the scene. "She said she
had thought it all out: that our relationship had become impossible; that
she had no doubt it was largely her fault, but that was the way she was
made, and she couldn't change. She had, naturally, an affection for me
as her father, but it was very plain we couldn't get along together: she
was convinced that she had a right to individual freedom,--as she spoke
of it,--to develop herself. She knew, if she continued to live with me
on the terms I demanded, that her character would deteriorate. Certain
kinds of sacrifice she was capable of, she thought, but what I asked
would be a useless one. Perhaps I didn't realize it, but it was slavery.
Slavery!" he repeated, "the kind of slavery her mother had lived . . . ."

He took a turn around the room.

"So far as money was concerned, she was indifferent to it. She had
enough from her mother to last until she began to make more. She
wouldn't take any from me in any case. I laughed, yet I have never been
so angry in my life. Nor was it wholly anger, Hodder, but a queer tangle
of feelings I can't describe. There was affection mixed up in it--I
realized afterward--but I longed to take her and shake her and lock her
up until she should come to her senses: I couldn't. I didn't dare. I
was helpless. I told her to go. She didn't say anything more, but there
was a determined look in her eyes when she kissed me as I left for the
office. I spent a miserable day. More than once I made up my mind to go
home, but pride stopped me. I really didn't think she meant what she
said. When I got back to the house in the afternoon she had left for New
York.

"Then I began to look forward to the time when her money would give out.
She went to Paris with another young woman, and studied there, and then
to England. She came back to New York, hired an apartment and a studio,
and has made a success."

The rector seemed to detect an unwilling note of pride at the magic word.

"It isn't the kind of success I think much of, but it's what she started
out to do. She comes out to see me, once in a while, and she designed
that garden."

He halted in front of the clergyman.

"I suppose you think it's strange, my telling you this," he said. "It
has come to the point," he declared vehemently, "where it relieves me to
tell somebody, and you seem to be a man of discretion and common-sense."

Hodder looked down into Mr. Parr's face, and was silent. Perhaps he
recognized, as never before, the futility of the traditional words of
comfort, of rebuke. He beheld a soul in torture, and realized with
sudden sharpness how limited was his knowledge of the conditions of
existence of his own time. Everywhere individualism reared its ugly
head, everywhere it seemed plausible to plead justification; and once
more he encountered that incompatibility of which Mrs. Constable had
spoken! He might blame the son, blame the daughter, yet he could not
condemn them utterly . . . . One thing he saw clearly, that Eldon
Parr had slipped into what was still, for him, a meaningless hell.

The banker's manner suddenly changed, reverted to what it had been. He
arose.

"I've tried to do my duty as I saw it, and it comes to this--that we
who have spent the best years of our lives in striving to develop this
country have no thanks from our children or from any one else."

With his hand on the electric switch, he faced Hodder almost defiantly as
he spoke these words, and suddenly snapped off the light, as though the
matter admitted of no discussion. In semi-darkness they groped down the
upper flight of stairs . . . .



CHAPTER VII

THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD


I

When summer arrived, the birds of brilliant plumage of Mr. Hodder's
flock arose and flew lightly away, thus reversing the seasons. Only the
soberer ones came fluttering into the cool church out of the blinding
heat, and settled here and there throughout the nave. The ample Mr.
Bradley, perspiring in an alpaca coat, took up the meagre collection on
the right of the centre aisle; for Mr. Parr, properly heralded, had gone
abroad on one of those periodical, though lonely tours that sent
anticipatory shivers of delight down the spines of foreign
picture-dealers. The faithful Gordon Atterbury was worshipping at the
sea, and even Mr. Constable and Mr. Plimpton, when recalled to the city
by financial cares, succumbed to the pagan influence of the sun, and were
usually to be found on Sunday mornings on the wide veranda of the country
club, with glasses containing liquid and ice beside them, and surrounded
by heaps of newspapers.

To judge by St. John's, the city was empty. But on occasions, before
he himself somewhat tardily departed,--drawn thither by a morbid though
impelling attraction, Hodder occasionally walked through Dalton Street
of an evening. If not in St. John's, summer was the season in Dalton
Street. It flung open its doors and windows and moved out on the steps
and the pavements, and even on the asphalt; and the music of its cafes
and dance-halls throbbed feverishly through the hot nights. Dalton
Street resorted neither to country club nor church.

Mr. McCrae, Hodder's assistant, seemed to regard these annual phenomena
with a grim philosophy,--a relic, perhaps, of the Calvinistic determinism
of his ancestors. He preached the same indefinite sermons, with the same
imperturbability, to the dwindled congregations in summer and the
enlarged ones in winter. But Hodder was capable of no such resignation
--if resignation it were, for the self-contained assistant continued to be
an enigma; and it was not without compunction that he left, about the
middle of July, on his own vacation. He was tired, and yet he seemed to
have accomplished nothing in this first year of the city parish whereof
he had dreamed. And it was, no doubt, for that very reason that he was
conscious of a depressing exhaustion as his train rolled eastward over
that same high bridge that spanned the hot and muddy waters of the river.
He felt a fugitive. In no months since he had left the theological
seminary, had he seemingly accomplished so little; in no months had he
had so magnificent an opportunity.

After he had reached the peaceful hills at Bremerton--where he had gone
on Mrs. Whitely's invitation--he began to look back upon the spring and
winter as a kind of mad nightmare, a period of ceaseless, distracted,
and dissipated activity, of rushing hither and thither with no results.
He had been aware of invisible barriers, restricting, hemming him in on
all sides. There had been no time for reflection; and now that he had a
breathing space, he was unable to see how he might reorganize his work in
order to make it more efficient.

There were other perplexities, brought about by the glimpses he had had
into the lives and beliefs--or rather unbeliefs--of his new parishioners.
And sometimes, in an unwonted moment of pessimism, he asked himself why
they thought it necessary to keep all that machinery going when it had so
little apparent effect on their lives? He sat wistfully in the chancel
of the little Bremerton church and looked into the familiar faces of
those he had found in it when he came to it, and of those he had brought
into it, wondering why he had been foolish enough to think himself
endowed for the larger work. Here, he had been a factor, a force in the
community, had entered into its life and affections. What was he there?

Nor did it tend to ease his mind that he was treated as one who has
passed on to higher things.

"I was afraid you'd work too hard," said Mrs. Whitely, in her motherly
way. "I warned you against it, Mr. Hodder. You never spared yourself,
but in a big city parish it's different. But you've made such a success,
Nelson tells me, and everybody likes you there. I knew they would, of
course. That is our only comfort in losing you, that you have gone to
the greater work. But we do miss you."



II

The air of Bremerton, and later the air of Bar Harbor had a certain
reviving effect. And John Hodder, although he might be cast down, had
never once entertained the notion of surrender. He was inclined to
attribute the depression through which he had passed, the disappointment
he had undergone as a just punishment for an overabundance of ego,--only
Hodder used the theological term for the same sin. Had he not, after
all, laboured largely for his own glory, and not Gods? Had he ever
forgotten himself? Had the idea ever been far from his thoughts that it
was he, John Hodder, who would build up the parish of St. John's into a
living organization of faith and works? The curious thing was that he
had the power, and save in moments of weariness he felt it in him. He
must try to remember always that this power was from God. But why had
he been unable to apply it?

And there remained disturbingly in his memory certain phrases of Mrs.
Constable's, such as "elements of growth."

He would change, she had said; and he had appeared to her as one with
depths. Unsuspected depths--pockets that held the steam, which was
increasing in pressure. At Bremerton, it had not gathered in the
pockets, he had used it all--all had counted; but in the feverish,
ceaseless activity of the city parish he had never once felt that intense
satisfaction of emptying himself, nor, the sweet weariness that follows
it. His seemed the weariness of futility. And introspection was
revealing a crack--after so many years--in that self that he had believed
to be so strongly welded. Such was the strain of the pent-up force. He
recognized the danger-signal. The same phenomenon had driven him into
the Church, where the steam had found an outlet--until now. And yet,
so far as his examination went, he had not lost his beliefs, but the
power of communicating them to others.

Bremerton, and the sight of another carrying on the work in which he had
been happy, weighed upon him, and Bar Harbor offered distraction. Mrs.
Larrabbee had not hesitated to remind him of his promise to visit her.
If the gallery of portraits of the congregation of St. John's were to be
painted, this lady's, at the age of thirty, would not be the least
interesting. It would have been out of place in no ancestral hall, and
many of her friends were surprised, after her husband's death, that she
did not choose one wherein to hang it. She might have. For she was the
quintessence of that feminine product of our country at which Europe has
never ceased to wonder, and to give her history would no more account for
her than the process of manufacture explains the most delicate of scents.
Her poise, her quick detection of sham in others not so fortunate, her
absolute conviction that all things were as they ought to be; her
charity, her interest in its recipients; her smile, which was kindness
itself; her delicate features, her white skin with its natural bloom;
the grace of her movements, and her hair, which had a different color in
changing lights--such an ensemble is not to be depicted save by a skilled
hand.

The late Mr. Larrabbee's name was still printed on millions of bright
labels encircling cubes of tobacco, now manufactured by a Trust.
However, since the kind that entered Mrs. Larrabbee's house, or houses,
was all imported from Egypt or Cuba, what might have been in the nature
of an unpleasant reminder was remote from her sight, and she never drove
into the northern part of the city, where some hundreds of young women
bent all day over the cutting-machines. To enter too definitely into
Mrs. Larrabbee's history, therefore, were merely to be crude, for she is
not a lady to caricature. Her father had been a steamboat captain--once
an honoured calling in the city of her nativity--a devout Presbyterian
who believed in the most rigid simplicity. Few who remembered the
gaucheries of Captain Corington's daughter on her first presentation
to his family's friends could recognize her in the cosmopolitan Mrs.
Larrabbee. Why, with New York and London at her disposal, she elected to
remain in the Middle West, puzzled them, though they found her answer,
"that she belonged there," satisfying Grace Larrabbee's cosmopolitanism
was of that apperception that knows the value of roots, and during her
widowhood she had been thrusting them out. Mrs. Larrabbee followed by
"of" was much more important than just Mrs. Larrabbee. And she was,
moreover, genuinely attached to her roots.

Her girlhood shyness--rudeness, some called it, mistaking the effect for
the cause--had refined into a manner that might be characterized as
'difficile', though Hodder had never found her so. She liked direct men;
to discover no guile on first acquaintance went a long way with her, and
not the least of the new rector's social triumphs had been his simple
conquest.

Enveloped in white flannel, she met his early train at the Ferry; an
unusual compliment to a guest, had he but known it, but he accepted it
as a tribute to the Church.

"I was so afraid you wouldn't come," she said, in a voice that conveyed
indeed more than a perfunctory expression. She glanced at him as he sat
beside her on the cushions of the flying motor boat, his strange eyes
fixed upon the blue mountains of the island whither they were bound, his
unruly hair fanned by the wind.

"Why?" he asked, smiling at the face beneath the flying veil.

"You need the rest. I believe in men taking their work seriously, but
not so seriously as you do."

She was so undisguisedly glad to see him that he could scarcely have been
human if he had not responded. And she gave him, in that fortnight, a
glimpse of a life that was new and distracting: at times made him forget
--and he was willing to forget--the lower forms of which it was the
quintessence,--the factories that hummed, the forges that flung their
fires into the night in order that it might exist; the Dalton Streets
that went without. The effluvia from hot asphalt bore no resemblance to
the salt-laden air that rattled the Venetian blinds of the big bedroom to
which he was assigned. Her villa was set high above the curving shore,
facing a sheltered terrace-garden resplendent in its August glory; to
seaward, islands danced in the haze; and behind the house, in the
sunlight, were massed spruces of a brilliant arsenic green with purple
cones. The fluttering awnings were striped cardinal and white.

Nature and man seemed to have conspired to make this place vividly
unreal, as a toy village comes painted from the shop. There were no
half-tones, no poverty--in sight, at least; no litter. On the streets
and roads, at the casino attached to the swimming-pool and at the golf
club were to be seen bewildering arrays of well-dressed, well-fed women
intent upon pleasure and exercise. Some of them gave him glances that
seemed to say, "You belong to us," and almost succeeded in establishing
the delusion. The whole effect upon Hodder, in the state of mind in
which he found himself, was reacting, stimulating, disquieting. At
luncheons and dinners, he was what is known as a "success"--always that
magic word.

He resisted, and none so quick as women to scent resistance. His very
unbending attitude aroused their inherent craving for rigidity in his
profession; he was neither plastic, unctuous, nor subservient; his very
homeliness, redeemed by the eyes and mouth, compelled their attention.
One of them told Mrs. Larrabbee that that rector of hers would "do
something."

But what, he asked himself, was he resisting? He was by no means a
Puritan; and while he looked upon a reasonable asceticism as having its
place in the faith that he professed, it was no asceticism that prevented
a more complete acquiescence on his part in the mad carnival that
surrounded him.

"I'm afraid you don't wholly approve of Bar Harbor," his hostess
remarked; one morning.

"At first sight, it is somewhat staggering to the provincial mind," he
replied.

She smiled at him, yet with knitted brows.

"You are always putting me off--I never can tell what you think.
And yet I'm sure you have opinions. You think these people frivolous,
of course."

"Most of them are so," he answered, "but that is a very superficial
criticism. The question is, why are they so? The sight of Bar Harbor
leads a stranger to the reflection that the carnival mood has become
permanent with our countrymen, and especially our countrywomen."

"The carnival mood," she repeated thoughtfully, "yes, that expresses it.
We are light, we are always trying to get away from ourselves, and
sometimes I wonder whether there are any selves to get away from. You
ought to atop us," she added, almost accusingly, "to bring us to our
senses."

"That's just it," he agreed, "why don't we? Why can't we?"

"If more clergymen were like you, I think perhaps you might."

His tone, his expression, were revelations.

"I--!" he exclaimed sharply, and controlled himself. But in that moment
Grace Larrabbee had a glimpse of the man who had come to arouse in her an
intense curiosity. For an instant a tongue of the fires of Vulcan had
shot forth, fires that she had suspected.

"Aren't you too ambitious?" she asked gently. And again, although she
did not often blunder, she saw him wince. "I don't mean ambitious for
yourself. But surely you have made a remarkable beginning at St. John's.
Everybody admires and respects you, has confidence in you. You are so
sure of yourself," she hesitated a moment, for she had never ventured to
discuss religion with him, "of your faith. Clergymen ought not to be
apologetic, and your conviction cannot fail, in the long run, to have its
effect."

"Its effect,--on what?" he asked.

Mrs. Larrabbee was suddenly, at sea. And she prided herself on a lack of
that vagueness generally attributed to her sex.

"On--on everything. On what we were talking about,--the carnival feeling,
the levity, on the unbelief of the age. Isn't it because the control has
been taken off?"

He saw an opportunity to slip into smoother waters.

"The engine has lost its governor?"

"Exactly!" cried Mrs. Larrabbee. "What a clever simile!"

"It is Mr. Pares," said Hodder. "Only he was speaking of other symptoms,
Socialism, and its opposite, individualism,--not carnivalism."

"Poor man," said Mrs. Larrabbee, accepting the new ground as safer, yet
with a baffled feeling that Hodder had evaded her once more, "he has had
his share of individualism and carnivalism. His son Preston was here
last month, and was taken out to the yacht every night in an unspeakable
state. And Alison hasn't been what might be called a blessing."

"She must be unusual," said the rector, musingly.

"Oh, Alison is a Person. She has become quite the fashion, and has more
work than she can possibly attend to. Very few women with her good looks
could have done what she has without severe criticism, and something
worse, perhaps. The most extraordinary thing about her is her contempt
for what her father has gained, and for conventionalities. It always
amuses me when I think that she might have been the wife of Gordon
Atterbury. The Goddess of Liberty linked to--what?"

Hodder thought instinctively of the Church. But he remained silent.

"As a rule, men are such fools about the women they wish to marry," she
continued. "She would have led him a dance for a year or two, and then
calmly and inexorably left him. And there was her father, with all his
ability and genius, couldn't see it either, but fondly imagined that
Alison as Gordon Atterbury's wife, would magically become an Atterbury
and a bourgeoise, see that the corners were dusted in the big house, sew
underwear for the poor, and fast in Lent."

"And she is happy--where she is?" he inquired somewhat naively.

"She is self-sufficient," said Mrs. Larrabbee, with unusual feeling,
"and that is just what most women are not, in these days. Oh, why has
life become such a problem? Sometimes I think, with all that I have,
I'm not, so well off as one of those salesgirls in Ferguson's, at home.
I'm always searching for things to do--nothing is thrust on me. There
are the charities--Galt House, and all that, but I never seem to get at
anything, at the people I'd like to help. It's like sending money to
China. There is no direct touch any more. It's like seeing one's
opportunities through an iron grating."

Hodder started at the phrase, so exactly had she expressed his own case.

"Ah," he said, "the iron grating bars the path of the Church, too."

And just what was the iron grating?

They had many moments of intimacy during that fort night, though none in
which the plumb of their conversation descended to such a depth. For he
was, as she had said, always "putting her off." Was it because he
couldn't satisfy her craving? give her the solution for which--he began
to see--she thirsted? Why didn't that religion that she seemed outwardly
to profess and accept without qualification--the religion he taught set
her at rest? show her the path?

Down in his heart he knew that he feared to ask.



That Mrs. Larrabbee was still another revelation, that she was not at
rest, was gradually revealed to him as the days passed. Her spirit, too,
like his own, like 'Mrs Constable's, like Eldon Parr's, like Eleanor
Goodrich's, was divided against itself; and this phenomenon in Mrs.
Larrabbee was perhaps a greater shock to him, since he had always
regarded her as essentially in equilibrium. One of his reasons, indeed,
--in addition to the friendship that had grown up between them,--for
coming to visit her had been to gain the effect of her poise on his own.
Poise in a modern woman, leading a modern life. It was thus she
attracted him. It was not that he ignored her frivolous side; it was
nicely balanced by the other, and that other seemed growing. The social,
she accepted at what appeared to be its own worth. Unlike Mrs. Plimpton,
for instance, she was so innately a lady that she had met with no
resistance in the Eastern watering places, and her sense of values had
remained the truer for it.

He did not admire her the less now he had discovered that the poise was
not so adjusted as he had thought it, but his feeling about her changed,
grew more personal, more complicated. She was showing an alarming
tendency to lean on him at a time when he was examining with some concern
his own supports. She possessed intelligence and fascination, she was a
woman whose attentions would have flattered and disturbed any man with a
spark of virility, and Hodder had constantly before his eyes the
spectacle of others paying her court. Here were danger-signals again!

Mrs. Plaice, a middle-aged English lady staying in the house, never
appeared until noon. Breakfast was set out in the tiled and sheltered
loggia, where they were fanned by the cool airs of a softly breathing
ocean. The world, on these mornings, had a sparkling unreality, the
cold, cobalt sea stretching to sun-lit isles, and beyond, the vividly
painted shore,--the setting of luxury had never been so complete. And
the woman who sat opposite him seemed, like one of her own nectarines,
to be the fruit that crowned it all.

Why not yield to the enchantment? Why rebel, when nobody else
complained? Were it not more simple to accept what life sent in its
orderly course instead of striving for an impossible and shadowy ideal?
Very shadowy indeed! And to what end were his labours in that smoky,
western city, with its heedless Dalton Streets, which went their
inevitable ways? For he had the choice.

To do him justice, he was slow in arriving at a realization that seemed
to him so incredible, so preposterous. He was her rector! And he had
accepted, all unconsciously, the worldly point of view as to Mrs.
Larrabbee,--that she was reserved for a worldly match. A clergyman's
wife! What would become of the clergyman? And yet other clergymen had
married rich women, despite the warning of the needle's eye.

She drove him in her buckboard to Jordan's Pond, set, like a jewel in the
hills, and even to the deep, cliff bordered inlet beyond North East,
which reminded her, she said, of a Norway fiord. And sometimes they
walked together through wooded paths that led them to beetling shores,
and sat listening to the waves crashing far below. Silences and
commonplaces became the rule instead of the eager discussions with which
they had begun,--on such safer topics as the problem of the social work
of modern churches. Her aromatic presence, and in this setting,
continually disturbed him: nature's perfumes, more definable,
--exhalations of the sea and spruce,--mingled with hers, anaesthetics
compelling lethargy. He felt himself drowning, even wished to drown,
--and yet strangely resisted.

"I must go to-morrow," he said.

"To-morrow--why? There is a dinner, you know, and Mrs. Waterman wished
so particularly to meet you."

He did not look at her. The undisguised note of pain found an echo
within him. And this was Mrs. Larrabbee!

"I am sorry, but I must," he told her, and she may not have suspected the
extent to which the firmness was feigned.

"You have promised to make other visits? The Fergusons,--they said they
expected you."

"I'm going west--home," he said, and the word sounded odd.

"At this season! But there is nobody in church, at least only a few,
and Mr. McCrae can take care of those--he always does. He likes it."

Hodder smiled in spite of himself. He might have told her that those
outside the church were troubling him. But he did not, since he had
small confidence in being able to bring them in.

"I have been away too long, I am getting spoiled," he replied, with an
attempt at lightness. He forced his eyes to meet hers, and she read in
them an unalterable resolution.

"It is my opinion you are too conscientious, even for a clergyman," she
said, and now it was her lightness that hurt. She protested no more.
And as she led the way homeward through the narrow forest path, her head
erect, still maintaining this lighter tone, he wondered how deeply she
had read him; how far her intuition had carried her below the surface;
whether she guessed the presence of that stifled thing in him which
was crying feebly for life; whether it was that she had discovered,
or something else? He must give it the chance it craved. He must get
away--he must think. To surrender now would mean destruction. . .

Early the next morning, as he left the pier in the motor boat, he saw a
pink scarf waving high above him from the loggia. And he flung up his
hand in return. Mingled with a faint sense of freedom was intense
sadness.



CHAPTER VIII

THE LINE OF LEAST RESISTANCE

From the vantage point of his rooms in the parish house, Hodder reviewed
the situation. And despite the desires thronging after him in his flight
he had the feeling of once who, in the dark, has been very near to
annihilation. What had shaken him most was the revelation of an old
enemy which, watching its chance, had beset him at the first opportunity;
and at a time when the scheme of life, which he flattered himself to have
solved forever, was threatening once more to resolve itself into
fragments. He had, as if by a miracle, escaped destruction in some
insidious form.

He shrank instinctively from an analysis of the woman in regard to
whom his feelings were, so complicated, and yet by no means lacking in
tenderness. But as time went on, he recognized more and more that she
had come into his life at a moment when he was peculiarly vulnerable.
She had taken him off his guard. That the brilliant Mrs. Larrabbee
should have desired him--or what she believed was him--was food enough
for thought, was an indication of an idealism in her nature that he would
not have suspected. From a worldly point of view, the marriage would
have commended itself to none of her friends. Yet Hodder perceived
clearly that he could not have given her what she desired, since the
marriage would have killed it in him. She offered him the other thing.
Once again he had managed somehow to cling to his dream of what the
relationship between man and woman should be, and he saw more and more
distinctly that he had coveted not only the jewel, but its setting. He
could not see her out of it--she faded. Nor could he see himself in it.

Luxury,--of course,--that was what he had spurned. Luxury in contrast
to Dalton Street, to the whirring factories near the church which
discharged, at nightfall, their quotas of wan women and stunted children.
And yet here he was catering to luxury, providing religion for it!
Religion!

Early in November he heard that Mrs. Larrabbee had suddenly decided to go
abroad without returning home. . . .

That winter Hodder might have been likened to a Niagara for energy; an
unharnessed Niagara--such would have been his own comment. He seemed to
turn no wheels, or only a few at least, and feebly. And while the
spectacle of their rector's zeal was no doubt an edifying one to his
parishioners, they gave him to understand that they would have been
satisfied with less. They admired, but chided him gently; and in
February Mr. Parr offered to take him to Florida. He was tired, and it
was largely because he dreaded the reflection inevitable in a period of
rest, that he refused. . . . And throughout these months, the feeling
recurred, with increased strength, that McCrae was still watching him,
--the notion persisted that his assistant held to a theory of his own,
if he could but be induced to reveal it. Hodder refrained from making
the appeal. Sometimes he was on the point of losing patience with this
enigmatic person.

Congratulations on the fact that his congregation was increasing brought
him little comfort, since a cold analysis of the newcomers who were
renting pews was in itself an indication of the lack of that thing he
so vainly sought. The decorous families who were now allying themselves
with St. John's did so at the expense of other churches either more
radical or less fashionable. What was it he sought? What did he wish?
To fill the church to overflowing with the poor and needy as well as the
rich, and to enter into the lives of all. Yet at a certain point he met
a resistance that was no less firm because it was baffling. The Word, on
his lips at least, seemed to have lost it efficacy. The poor heeded it
not, and he preached to the rich as from behind a glass. They went on
with their carnival. Why this insatiate ambition on his part in an age
of unbelief? Other clergymen, not half so fortunate, were apparently
satisfied; or else--from his conversation with them--either oddly
optimistic or resigned. Why not he?

It was strange, in spite of everything, that hope sprang up within him,
a recurrent geyser.

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, he found himself turning more and
more towards that line of least resistance which other churches were
following, as the one Modern Solution,--institutional work. After all,
in the rescuing of bodies some method might yet be discovered to revive
the souls. And there were the children! Hodder might have been likened
to an explorer, seeking a direct path when there was none--a royal road.
And if this were oblique it offered, at least, a definite outlet for his
energy.

Such was, approximately, the state of his mind early in March when Gordon
Atterbury came back from a conference in New York on institutional work,
and filled with enthusiasm. St. John's was incredibly behind the times,
so he told Hodder, and later the vestry. Now that they had, in Mr.
Hodder, a man of action and ability--ahem! there was no excuse for a
parish as wealthy as St. John's, a parish with their opportunities,
considering the proximity of Dalton Street neighbourhood, not enlarging
and modernizing the parish house, not building a settlement house with
kindergartens, schools, workshops, libraries, a dispensary and day
nurseries. It would undoubtedly be an expense--and Mr. Atterbury looked
at Mr. Parr, who drummed on the vestry table. They would need extra
assistants, deaconesses, trained nurses, and all that. But there were
other churches in the city that were ahead of St. John's--a reproach
--ahem!

Mr. Parr replied that he had told the rector that he stood ready to
contribute to such a scheme when he, the rector; should be ready to
approve it. And he looked at Mr. Hodder.

Mr. Hodder said he had been considering the matter ever since his
arrival. He had only one criticism of institutional work, that in his
observation it did not bring the people whom it reached into the Church
in any great numbers. Perhaps that were too much to ask, in these days.
For his part he would willingly assume the extra burden, and he was far
from denying the positive good such work accomplished through association
and by the raising of standards.

Mr. Ferguson declared his readiness to help. Many of his salesgirls, he
said, lived in this part of the city, and he would be glad to do anything
in his power towards keeping them out of the dance-halls and such places.

A committee was finally appointed consisting of Mr. Parr, Mr. Atterbury,
and the rector, to consult architects and to decide upon a site.

Hodder began a correspondence with experts in other cities,
collected plans, pamphlets, statistics; spent hours with the great
child-specialist, Dr. Jarvis, and with certain clergymen who believed
in institutionalism as the hope of the future.

But McCrae was provokingly non-committal.

"Oh, they may try it," he assented somewhat grudgingly, one day when the
rector had laid out for his inspection the architects' sketch for the
settlement house. "No doubt it will help many poor bodies along."

"Is there anything else?" the rector asked, looking searchingly at his
assistant.

"It may as well be that," replied McCrae.

The suspicion began to dawn on Hodder that the Scotch man's ideals were
as high as his own. Both of them, secretly, regarded the new scheme as a
compromise, a yielding to the inevitable . . . .

Mr. Ferguson's remark that an enlarged parish house and a new settlement
house might help to keep some of the young women employed in his
department store out of the dance-halls interested Hodder, who conceived
the idea of a dance-hall of their own. For the rector, in the course of
his bachelor shopping, often resorted to the emporium of his vestryman,
to stand on the stairway which carried him upward without lifting his
feet, to roam, fascinated, through the mazes of its aisles, where he
invariably got lost, and was rescued by suave floor-walkers or pert young
women in black gowns and white collars and cuffs. But they were not all
pert--there were many characters, many types. And he often wondered
whether they did not get tired standing on their feet all day long,
hesitating to ask them; speculated on their lives--flung as most of them
were on a heedless city, and left to shift for themselves. Why was it
that the Church which cared for Mr. Ferguson's soul was unable to get
in touch with, or make an appeal to, those of his thousand employees?

It might indeed have been said that Francis Ferguson cared for his own
soul, as he cared for the rest of his property, and kept it carefully
insured,--somewhat, perhaps, on the principle of Pascal's wager. That
he had been a benefactor to his city no one would deny who had seen the
facade that covered a whole block in the business district from Tower to
Vine, surmounted by a red standard with the familiar motto, "When in
doubt, go to Ferguson's." At Ferguson's you could buy anything from a
pen-wiper to a piano or a Paris gown; sit in a cool restaurant in summer
or in a palm garden in winter; leave your baby--if you had one--in charge
of the most capable trained nurses; if your taste were literary, mull
over the novels in the Book Department; if you were stout, you might be
reduced in the Hygiene Department, unknown to your husband and intimate
friends. In short, if there were any virtuous human wish in the power of
genius to gratify, Ferguson's was the place. They, even taught you how
to cook. It was a modern Aladdin's palace: and, like everything else
modern, much more wonderful than the original. And the soda might be
likened to the waters of Trevi,--to partake of which is to return.

"When in doubt, go to Ferguson!" Thus Mrs. Larrabbee and other ladies
interested in good works had altered his motto. He was one of the
supporters of Galt House, into which some of his own young saleswomen had
occasionally strayed; and none, save Mr. Parr alone, had been so liberal
in his gifts. Holder invariably found it difficult to reconcile the
unassuming man, whose conversation was so commonplace, with the titanic
genius who had created Ferguson's; nor indeed with the owner of the
imposing marble mansion at Number 5, Park Street.

The rector occasionally dined there. He had acquired a real affection
for Mrs. Ferguson, who resembled a burgomaster's wife in her evening
gowns and jewels, and whose simple social ambitions had been gratified
beyond her dreams. Her heart had not shrunken in the process, nor had
she forgotten her somewhat heterogeneous acquaintances in the southern
part of the city. And it was true that when Gertrude Constable had
nearly died of appendicitis, it was on this lady's broad bosom that Mrs.
Constable had wept. Mrs. Ferguson had haunted the house, regardless of
criticism, and actually quivering with sympathy. Her more important
dinner parties might have been likened to ill-matched fours-in-hand, and
Holder had sometimes felt more of pity than of amusement as she sat with
an expression of terror on her face, helplessly watching certain unruly
individuals taking their bits in their teeth and galloping madly
downhill. On one occasion, when he sat beside her, a young man, who
shall be nameless, was suddenly heard to remark in the midst of an
accidental lull:

"I never go to church. What's the use? I'm afraid most of us don't
believe in hell any more."

A silence followed: of the sort that chills. And the young man, glancing
down the long board at the clergyman, became as red as the carnation in
his buttonhole, and in his extremity gulped down more champagne.

"Things are in a dreadful state nowadays!" Mrs. Ferguson gasped to
a paralyzed company, and turned an agonized face to Holder. "I'm so
sorry," she said, "I don't know why I asked him to-night, except that
I have to have a young man for Nan, and he's just come to the city,
and I was sorry for him. He's very promising in a business way;
he's in Mr. Plimpton's trust company."

"Please don't let it trouble you." Holder turned and smiled a little,
and added whimsically: "We may as well face the truth."

"Oh, I should expect you to be good about it, but it was unpardonable,"
she cried . . . .

In the intervals when he gained her attention he strove, by talking
lightly of other things, to take her mind off the incident, but somehow
it had left him strangely and--he felt--disproportionately depressed,
--although he had believed himself capable of facing more or less
philosophically that condition which the speaker had so frankly
expressed. Yet the remark, somehow, had had an illuminating effect
like a flashlight, revealing to him the isolation of the Church as never
before. And after dinner, as they were going to the smoking-room, the
offender accosted him shamefacedly.

"I'm awfully sorry, Mr. Holder," he stammered.

That the tall rector's regard was kindly did not relieve his discomfort.
Hodder laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Don't worry about it," he answered, "I have only one regret as to what
you said--that it is true."

The other looked at him curiously.

"It's mighty decent of you to take it this way," he laid. Further speech
failed him.

He was a nice-looking young man, with firm white teeth, and honesty was
written all over his boyish face. And the palpable fact that his regret
was more on the clergyman's account than for the social faux pas drew
Holder the more, since it bespoke a genuineness of character.

He did not see the yearning in the rector's eyes as he turned away. . .
Why was it they could not be standing side by side, fighting the same
fight? The Church had lost him, and thousands like him, and she needed
them; could not, indeed, do without them.

Where, indeed, were the young men? They did not bother their heads about
spiritual matters any more. But were they not, he asked himself, franker
than many of these others, the so-called pillars of the spiritual
structure?

Mr. Plimpton accosted him. "I congratulate you upon the new plans, Mr.
Hodder,--they're great," he said. "Mr. Parr and our host are coming down
handsomely, eh? When we get the new settlement house we'll have a plant
as up-to-date as any church in the country. When do you break ground?"

"Not until autumn, I believe," Hodder replied. "There are a good many
details to decide upon yet."

"Well, I congratulate you."

Mr. Plimpton was forever congratulating.

"Up-to-date"--"plant"! More illuminating words, eloquent of Mr.
Plimpton's ideals. St. John's down at the heels, to be brought up to the
state of efficiency of Mr. Plimpton's trust company! It was by no means
the first time he had heard modern attributes on Mr. Plimpton's lips
applied to a sacred institution, but to-night they had a profoundly
disquieting effect. To-night, a certain clairvoyance had been vouchsafed
him, and he beheld these men, his associates and supporters, with a
detachment never before achieved.

They settled in groups about the room, which was square and high, and
panelled in Italian walnut, with fluted pilasters,--the capitals of which
were elaborately carved. And Hodder found himself on a deep leather sofa
in a corner engaged in a desultory and automatic conversation with
Everett Constable. Mr. Plimpton, with a large cigar between his lips,
was the radiating centre of one of the liveliest groups, and of him
the rector had fallen into a consideration, piecing together bits of
information that hitherto had floated meaninglessly in his mind.
It was Mrs. Larrabbee who had given character to the career of the still
comparatively youthful and unquestionably energetic president of the
Chamber of Commerce by likening it to a great spiral, starting somewhere
in outer regions of twilight, and gradually drawing nearer to the centre,
from which he had never taken his eyes. At the centre were Eldon Parr
and Charlotte Gore. Wallis Plimpton had made himself indispensable to
both.

His campaign for the daughter of Thurston Gore had been comparable to one
of the great sieges of history, for Mr. Plimpton was a laughing-stock
when he sat down before that fortress. At the end of ten years,
Charlotte had capitulated, with a sigh of relief, realizing at last her
destiny. She had become slightly stout, revealing, as time went on, no
wrinkles--a proof that the union was founded on something more enduring
than poetry: Statesmanship--that was the secret! Step by step, slowly
but surely, the memoranda in that matrimonial portfolio were growing
into accomplished facts; all events, such as displacements of power, were
foreseen; and the Plimptons, like Bismarck, had only to indicate, in case
of sudden news, the pigeonhole where the plan of any particular campaign
was filed.

Mrs. Larrabbee's temptation to be witty at the expense of those for whom
she had no liking had led Hodder to discount the sketch. He had not
disliked Mr. Plimpton, who had done him many little kindnesses. He was
good-natured, never ruffled, widely tolerant, hail-fellow-well-met with
everybody, and he had enlivened many a vestry meeting with his stories.
It were hypercritical to accuse him of a lack of originality. And if by
taking thought, he had arrived, from nowhere, at his present position of
ease and eminence, success had not turned to ashes in his mouth. He
fairly exhaled well-being, happiness, and good cheer. Life had gone well
with him, he wished the same to others.

But to-night, from his corner, Hodder seemed to see Mr. Plimpton with new
eyes. Not that he stood revealed a villain, which he was far from being;
it was the air of sophistication, of good-natured if cynical acceptance
of things as they were--and plenty good enough, too!--that jarred upon
the rector in his new mood, and it was made manifest to him as never
before why his appeals from the pulpit had lacked efficacy. Mr. Plimpton
didn't want the world changed! And in this desire he represented the
men in that room, and the majority of the congregation of St. John's.
The rector had felt something of this before, and it seemed to him
astonishing that the revelation had not come to him sooner. Did any one
of them, in his heart, care anything for the ideals and aspirations of
the Church?

As he gazed at them through the gathering smoke they had become
strangers, receded all at once to a great distance. . . . Across
the room he caught the name, Bedloe Hubbell, pronounced with peculiar
bitterness by Mr. Ferguson. At his side Everett Constable was alert,
listening.

"Ten years ago," said a stout Mr. Varnum, the President of the Third
National Bank, "if you'd told me that that man was to become a demagogue
and a reformer, I wouldn't have believed you. Why, his company used to
take rebates from the L. & G., and the Southern--I know it." He
emphasized the statement with a blow on the table that made the liqueur
glasses dance. "And now, with his Municipal League, he's going to clean
up the city, is he? Put in a reform mayor. Show up what he calls the
Consolidated Tractions Company scandal. Pooh!"

"You got out all right, Varnum. You won't be locked up," said Mr.
Plimpton, banteringly.

"So did you," retorted Varnum.

"So did Ferguson, so did Constable."

"So did Eldon Parr," remarked another man, amidst a climax of laughter.

"Langmaid handled that pretty well."

Hodder felt Everett Constable fidget.

"Bedloe's all right, but he's a dreamer," Mr. Plimpton volunteered.

"Then I wish he'd stop dreaming," said Mr. Ferguson, and there was more
laughter, although he had spoken savagely.

"That's what he is, a dreamer," Varnum ejaculated. "Say, he told George
Carter the other day that prostitution wasn't necessary, that in fifty
years we'd have largely done away with it. Think of that, and it's as
old as Sodom and Gomorrah!"

"If Hubbell had his way, he'd make this town look like a Connecticut
hill village--he'd drive all the prosperity out of it. All the railroads
would have to abandon their terminals--there'd be no more traffic, and
you'd have to walk across the bridge to get a drink."

"Well," said Mr. Plimpton, "Tom Beatty's good enough for me, for a
while."

Beatty, Hodder knew, was the "boss," of the city, with headquarters in a
downtown saloon.

"Beatty's been maligned," Mr. Varnum declared. "I don't say he's a
saint, but he's run the town pretty well, on the whole, and kept the vice
where it belongs, out of sight. He's made his pile, but he's entitled to
something we all are. You always know where you stand with Beatty. But
say, if Hubbell and his crowd--"

"Don't worry about Bedloe,--he'll get called in, he'll come home to roost
like the rest of them," said Mr. Plimpton, cheerfully. "The people can't
govern themselves,--only Bedloe doesn't know it. Some day he'll find it
out." . . .

The French window beside him was open, and Hodder slipped out, unnoticed,
into the warm night and stood staring at the darkness. His one desire
had been to get away, out of hearing, and he pressed forward over the
tiled pavement until he stumbled against a stone balustrade that guarded
a drop of five feet or so to the lawn below. At the same time he heard
his name called.

"Is that you, Mr. Hodder?"

He started. The voice had a wistful tremulousness, and might almost
have been the echo of the leaves stirring in the night air. Then he
perceived, in a shaft of light from one of the drawing-room windows near
by, a girl standing beside the balustrade; and as she came towards him,
with tentative steps, the light played conjurer, catching the silvery
gauze of her dress and striking an aura through the film of her hair.

"It's Nan Ferguson," she said.

"Of course," he exclaimed, collecting himself. "How stupid of me not to
have recognized you!"

"I'm so glad you came out," she went on impulsively, yet shyly, "I wanted
to tell you how sorry I was that that thing happened at the table."

"I like that young man," he said.

"Do you?" she exclaimed, with unexpected gratitude. So do I. He really
isn't--so bad as he must seem."

"I'm sure of it," said the rector, laughing.

"I was afraid you'd think him wicked," said Nan. "He works awfully hard,
and he's sending a brother through college. He isn't a bit like--some
others I know. He wants to make something of himself. And I feel
responsible, because I had mother ask him to-night."

He read her secret. No doubt she meant him to do so.

"You know we're going away next week, for the summer--that is, mother and
I," she continued. "Father comes later. And I do hope you'll make us
a visit, Mr. Hodder--we were disappointed you couldn't come last year."
Nan hesitated, and thrusting her hand into her gown drew forth an
envelope and held it out to him. "I intended to give you this to-night,
to use--for anything you thought best."

He took it gravely. She looked up at him.

"It seems so little--such a selfish way of discharging one's obligations,
just to write out a cheque, when there is so much trouble in the world
that demands human kindness as well as material help. I drove up Dalton
Street yesterday, from downtown. You know how hot it was! And I
couldn't help thinking how terrible it is that we who have everything
are so heedless of all that misery. The thought of it took away all
my pleasure.

"I'd do something more, something personal, if I could. Perhaps I shall
be able to, next winter. Why is it so difficult for all of us to know
what to do?"

"We have taken a step forward, at any rate, when we know that it is
difficult," he said.

She gazed up at him fixedly, her attention caught by an indefinable
something in his voice, in his smile, that thrilled and vaguely disturbed
her. She remembered it long afterwards. It suddenly made her shy again;
as if, in faring forth into the darkness, she had come to the threshold
of a mystery, of a revelation withheld; and it brought back the sense of
adventure, of the palpitating fear and daring with which she had come to
meet him.

"It is something to know," she repeated, half comprehending. The
scraping of chairs within alarmed her, and she stood ready to fly.

"But I haven't thanked you for this," he said, holding up the envelope.
"It may be that I shall find some one in Dalton Street--"

"Oh, I hope so," she faltered, breathlessly, hesitating a moment. And
then she was gone, into the house.



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 3.

IX.    THE DIVINE DISCONTENT
X.    THE MESSENGER IN THE CHURCH
XI.    THE LOST PARISHIONER
XII.   THE WOMAN OF THE SONG



CHAPTER IX

THE DIVINE DISCONTENT

I

It was the last Sunday in May, and in another week the annual flight to
the seashore and the mountains would have begun again. The breezes
stealing into the church through the open casements wafted hither and
thither the odours of the chancel flowers, and mingled with those fainter
and subtler perfumes set free by the rustling of summer gowns.

As on this day he surveyed his decorous and fashionable congregation,
Hodder had something of that sense of extremity which the great apostle
to the Gentiles himself must have felt when he stood in the midst of the
Areopagus and made his vain yet sublime appeal to Athenian indifference
and luxury. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now
commandeth all men everywhere to repent." . . Some, indeed, stirred
uneasily as the rector paused, lowering their eyes before the intensity
of his glance, vaguely realizing that the man had flung the whole passion
of his being into the appeal.

Heedlessness--that was God's accusation against them, against the age.
Materialism, individualism! So absorbed were they in the pursuit of
wealth, of distraction, so satisfied with the current philosophy, so
intent on surrounding themselves with beautiful things and thus shutting
out the sterner view, that they had grown heedless of the divine message.
How few of them availed themselves of their spiritual birthright to renew
their lives at the altar rail! And they had permitted their own children
to wander away . . . . Repent!

There was a note of desperation in his appeal, like that of the hermit
who stands on a mountain crag and warns the gay and thoughtless of the
valley of the coming avalanche. Had they heard him at last? There were
a few moments of tense silence, during which he stood gazing at them.
Then he raised his arm in benediction, gathered up his surplice,
descended the pulpit steps, and crossed swiftly the chancel . . . .

He had, as it were, turned on all the power in a supreme effort to reach
them. What if he had failed again? Such was the misgiving that beset
him, after the service, as he got out of his surplice, communicated by
some occult telepathy . . . . Mr. Parr was awaiting him, and
summoning his courage, hope battling against intuition, he opened the
door into the now empty church and made his way toward the porch, where
the sound of voices warned him that several persons were lingering. The
nature of their congratulations confirmed his doubts. Mrs. Plimpton,
resplendent and looking less robust than usual in one of her summer Paris
gowns, greeted him effusively.

"Oh, Mr. Hodder, what a wonderful sermon!" she cried. "I can't express
how it made me feel--so delinquent! Of course that is exactly the effect
you wished. And I was just telling Wallis I was so glad I waited until
Tuesday to go East, or I should have missed it. You surely must come on
to Hampton and visit us, and preach it over again in our little stone
church there, by the sea. Good-by and don't forget! I'll write you,
setting the date, only we'd be glad to have you any time."

"One of the finest I ever heard--if not the finest," Mr. Plimpton
declared, with a kind of serious 'empressement', squeezing his hand.

Others stopped him; Everett Constable, for one, and the austere Mrs.
Atterbury. Hodder would have avoided the ever familiar figure of her
son, Gordon, in the invariable black cutaway and checked trousers,
but he was standing beside Mr. Parr.

"Ahem! Why, Mr. Hodder," he exclaimed, squinting off his glasses,
"that was a magnificent effort. I was saying to Mr. Parr that it isn't
often one hears a sermon nowadays as able as that, and as sound. Many
clergymen refrain from preaching them, I sometimes think, because they
are afraid people won't like them."

"I scarcely think it's that," the rector replied, a little shortly.
"We're afraid people won't heed them."

He became aware, as he spoke, of a tall young woman, who had cast an
enigmatic glance first at Gordon Atterbury, and then at himself.

"It was a good sermon," said Mr. Parr. "You're coming to lunch, Hodder?"

The rector nodded. "I'm ready when you are," he answered.

"The motor's waiting," said the banker, leading the way down the steps to
the sidewalk, where he turned. "Alison, let me introduce Mr. Hodder.
This is my daughter," he added simply.

This sudden disclosure of the young woman's identity had upon Hodder a
certain electric effect, and with it came a realization of the extent to
which--from behind the scenes, so to speak--she had gradually aroused him
to a lively speculation. She seemed to have influenced, to a greater or
less degree, so many lives with which he had come into touch! Compelled
persons to make up their minds about her! And while he sympathized
with Eldon Parr in his abandonment, he had never achieved the full
condemnation which he felt--an impartial Christian morality would have
meted out.

As he uttered the conventional phrase and took her hand, he asked himself
whether her personality justified his interest. Her glance at Gordon
Atterbury in the midst of that gentleman's felicitations on the sermon
had been expressive, Hodder thought, of veiled amusement slightly
tinctured with contempt; and he, Hodder, felt himself to have grown warm
over it. He could not be sure that Alison Parr had not included, in her
inner comment, the sermon likewise, on which he had so spent himself.
What was she doing at church? As her eyes met his own, he seemed to
read a challenge. He had never encountered a woman--he decided--who
so successfully concealed her thought, and at the same time so incited
curiosity about it.

The effect of her reappearance on Gordon Atterbury was painfully
apparent, and Mrs. Larrabbee's remark, "that he had never got over it,"
recurred to Hodder. He possessed the virtue of being faithful, at least,
in spite of the lady's apostasy, and he seemed to be galvanized into a
tenfold nervousness as he hustled after them and handed her, with the
elaborate attention little men are apt to bestow upon women, into the
motor.

"Er--how long shall you be here, Alison?" he asked. "I don't know," she
answered, not unkindly, but with a touch of indifference.

"You treat us shamefully," he informed her, "upon my word! But I'm
coming to call."

"Do," said Alison. Hodder caught her eye again, and this time he was
sure that she surprised in him a certain disdain of Mr. Atterbury's zeal.
Her smile was faint, yet unmistakable.

He resented it. Indeed, it was with a well-defined feeling of antagonism
that he took his seat, and this was enhanced as they flew westward, Mr.
Parr wholly absorbed with the speaking trumpet, energetically rebuking at
every bounce. In the back of the rector's mind lay a weight, which he
identified, at intervals, with what he was now convinced was the failure
of his sermon. . . Alison took no part in the casual conversation that
began when they reached the boulevard and Mr. Parr abandoned the trumpet,
but lay back in silence and apparently with entire comfort in a corner of
the limousine.

At the lunch-table Mr. Parr plunged into a discussion of some of the
still undecided details of the new settlement house, in which, as the
plan developed, he had become more and more interested. He had made
himself responsible, from time to time, for additional sums, until the
original estimate had been almost doubled. Most of his suggestions had
come from Hodder, who had mastered the subject with a thoroughness that
appealed to the financier: and he had gradually accepted the rector's
idea of concentrating on the children. Thus he had purchased an
adjoining piece of land that was to be a model playground, in connection
with the gymnasium and swimming-pool. The hygienic department was to be
all that modern science could desire.

"If we are going to do the thing," the banker would, remark, "we may as
well do it thoroughly; we may as well be leaders and not followers."

So, little by little, the scheme had grown to proportions that sometimes
appalled the rector when he realized how largely he had been responsible
for the additions,--in spite of the lukewarmness with which he had begun.
And yet it had occasionally been Mr. Parr who, with a sweep of his hand,
had added thousands to a particular feature: thus the dance-hall had
become, in prospect, a huge sun-parlour at the top of the building, where
the children were to have their kindergartens and games in winter; and
which might be shaded and opened up to the breezes in summer. What had
reconciled Hodder to the enterprise most of all, however, was the chapel
--in the plan a beautiful Gothic church--whereby he hoped to make the
religious progress keep pace with the social. Mr. Parr was decidedly in
sympathy with this intention, and referred to it now.

"I was much impressed by what you said in your sermon to-day as to the
need of insisting upon authority in religious matters," he declared, "and
I quite agree that we should have a chapel of some size at the settlement
house for that reason. Those people need spiritual control. It's what
the age needs. And when I think of some of the sermons printed in the
newspapers to-day, and which are served up as Christianity, there is only
one term to apply to them--they are criminally incendiary."

"But isn't true Christianity incendiary, in your meaning of the word?"

It was Alison who spoke, in a quiet and musical voice that was in
striking contrast to the tone of Mr. Parr, which the rector had thought
unusually emphatic. It was the first time she had shown an inclination
to contribute to the talk. But since Hodder had sat down at the table
her presence had disturbed him, and he had never been wholly free from an
uncomfortable sense that he was being measured and weighed.

Once or twice he had stolen a glance at her as she sat, perfectly at
ease, and asked himself whether she had beauty, and it dawned upon him
little by little that the very proportion she possessed made for physical
unobtrusiveness. She was really very tall for a woman. At first he
would have said her nose was straight, when he perceived that it had a
delicate hidden curve; her eyes were curiously set, her dark hair parted
in the middle, brought down low on each side of the forehead and tied in
a Grecian knot. Thus, in truth, he observed, were seemingly all the
elements of the classic, even to the firm yet slender column of the neck.
How had it eluded him?

Her remark, if it astonished Hodder, had a dynamic effect on Eldon Parr.
And suddenly the rector comprehended that the banker had not so much been
talking to him as through him; had been, as it were, courting opposition.

"What do you mean by Christianity being incendiary?" he demanded.

"Incendiary, from your point of view--I made, the qualification,"
Alison replied, apparently unmoved by his obvious irritation. "I don't
pretend to be a Christian, as you know, but if there is one element
in Christianity that distinguishes it, it is the brotherhood of man.
That's pure nitroglycerin, though it's been mixed with so much sawdust.
Incendiary is a mild epithet. I never read the sermons you refer to;
I dare say they're crude, but they're probably attempts to release an
explosive which would blow your comfortable social system and its
authority into atoms."

Hodder, who had listened in amazement, glanced at the banker. He had
never before heard him opposed, or seen him really angry.

"I've heard that doctrine," cried Mr. Parr. "Those who are dissatisfied
with things as they are because they have been too stupid or too weak
or self-indulgent to rise, find it easy to twist the principles of
Christianity into revolutionary propaganda. It's a case of the devil
quoting Scripture. The brotherhood of man! There has never been an age
when philanthropy and organized charity were on such a scale as to-day."

A certain gallant, indomitable ring crept into Alison's voice; she did
not seem in the least dismayed or overborne.

"But isn't that just where most so-called Christians make their mistake?"
she asked. "Philanthropy and organized charity, as they exist to-day,
have very little to do with the brotherhood of man. Mightn't it be you
who are fooling yourselves instead of the incendiaries fooling themselves
So long as you can make yourselves believe that this kind of charity is
a logical carrying out of the Christian principles, so long are your
consciences satisfied with the social system which your class, very
naturally, finds so comfortable and edifying. The weak and idiotic ought
to be absurdly grateful for what is flung to them, and heaven is gained
in the throwing. In this way the rich inevitably become the elect, both
here and hereafter, and the needle's eye is widened into a gap."

There was on Mr. Parr's lips a smile not wholly pleasant to see. Indeed,
in the last few minutes there had been revealed to Hodder a side of the
banker's character which had escaped him in the two years of their
acquaintance.

"I suppose," said Mr. Parr, slowly, drumming on the table, "you would say
that of the new settlement house of St. John's, whereby we hope to raise
a whole neighbourhood."

"Yes, I should," replied Alison, with spirit. "The social system by
which you thrive, and which politically and financially you strive to
maintain, is diametrically opposed to your creed, which is supposed to be
the brotherhood of man. But if that were really your creed, you would
work for it politically and financially. You would see that your Church
is trying to do infinitesimally what the government, but for your
opposition, might do universally. Your true creed is the survival of the
fittest. You grind these people down into what is really an economic
slavery and dependence, and then you insult and degrade them by inviting
them to exercise and read books and sing hymns in your settlement house,
and give their children crackers and milk and kindergartens and sunlight!
I don't blame them for not becoming Christians on that basis. Why, the
very day I left New York a man over eighty, who had been swindled out
of all he had, rather than go to one of those Christian institutions
deliberately forged a check and demanded to be sent to the penitentiary.
He said he could live and die there with some self-respect."

"I might have anticipated that you would ultimately become a Socialist,
Alison," Mr. Parr remarked--but his voice trembled.

"I don't know whether I'm a Socialist or an Anarchist," she answered.
Hodder thought be detected a note of hopelessness in her voice, and the
spirit in it ebbed a little. Not only did she seem indifferent to her
father's feeling--which incidentally added fuel to it--but her splendid
disregard of him, as a clergyman, had made an oddly powerful appeal.
And her argument! His feelings, as he listened to this tremendous
arraignment of Eldon Parr by his daughter, are not easily to be
described. To say that she had compelled him, the rector of St. John's,
at last to look in the face many conditions which he had refused to
recognize would be too definite a statement. Nevertheless, some such
thing had occurred. Refutations sprang to his lips, and died there,
though he had no notion of uttering them. He saw that to admit her
contentions would be to behold crumble into ruins the structure that
he had spent a life in rearing; and yet something within him responded
to her words--they had the passionate, convincing ring of truth.

By no means the least of their disturbing effects was due to the fact
that they came as a climax to, as a fulfilment of the revelation he had
had at the Fergusons', when something of the true nature of Mr. Plimpton
and others of his congregation had suddenly been laid bare. And now
Hodder looked at Eldon Parr to behold another man from the one he had
known, and in that moment realized that their relationship could never
again be the same. . . Were his sympathies with the daughter?

"I don't know what I believe," said Alison, after a pause. "I've ceased
trying to find out. What's the use!" She appeared now to be addressing
no one in particular.

A servant entered with a card, and the banker's hand shook perceptibly
as he put down his claret and adjusted his glasses.

"Show him into my office upstairs, and tell him I'll see him at once," he
said, and glanced at the rector. But it was Alison whom he addressed.
"I must leave Mr. Hodder to answer your arguments," he added, with an
attempt at lightness; and then to the rector: "Perhaps you can convince
her that the Church is more sinned against than sinning, and that
Christians are not such terrible monsters after all. You'll excuse me?"

"Certainly." Hodder had risen.



II

"Shall we have coffee in the garden?" Alison asked. "It's much nicer
outside this time of year."

For an instant he was at a loss to decide whether to accede, or to make
an excuse and leave the house. Wisdom seemed to point to flight. But
when he glanced at her he saw to his surprise that the mood of
abstraction into which she had fallen still held her; that the discussion
which had aroused Eldon Parr to such dramatic anger had left her serious
and thoughtful. She betrayed no sense of triumph at having audaciously
and successfully combated him, and she appeared now only partially to be
aware of Hodder's presence. His interest, his curiosity mounted suddenly
again, overwhelming once more the antagonism which he had felt come and
go in waves; and once more his attempted classification of her was swept
away. She had relapsed into an enigma.

"I like the open air," he answered, "and I have always wished to see the
garden. I have admired it from the windows."

"It's been on my mind for some years," she replied, as she led the way
down a flight of steps into the vine-covered pergola. "And I intend to
change parts of it while I am out here. It was one of my first attempts,
and I've learned more since."

"You must forgive my ignorant praise," he said, and smiled. "I have
always thought it beautiful: But I can understand that an artist is never
satisfied."

She turned to him, and suddenly their eyes met and held in a momentary,
electric intensity that left him warm and agitated. There was nothing
coquettish in the glance, but it was the first distinct manifestation
that he was of consequence. She returned his smile, without levity.

"Is a clergyman ever satisfied?" she asked.

"He ought not to be," replied Hodder, wondering whether she had read him.

"Although you were so considerate, I suppose you must have thought it
presumptuous of me to criticize your, profession, which is religion."

"Religion, I think, should be everybody's," he answered quietly.

She made no reply. And he entered, as into another world, the circular
arbour in which the pergola ended, so complete in contrast was its
atmosphere to that of the house. The mansion he had long since grown to
recognize as an expression of the personality of its owner, but this
classic bower was as remote from it as though it were in Greece. He was
sensitive to beauty, yet the beauty of the place had a perplexing
quality, which he felt in the perfect curves of the marble bench, in the
marble basin brimming to the tip with clear water,--the surface of which,
flecked with pink petals, mirrored the azure sky through the leafy
network of the roof. In one green recess a slender Mercury hastily
adjusted his sandal.

Was this, her art, the true expression of her baffling personality? As
she had leaned back in the corner of the automobile she had given him the
impression of a languor almost Oriental, but this had been startlingly
dispelled at the lunch-table by the revelation of an animation and a
vitality which had magically transformed her. But now, as under the
spell of a new encompassment of her own weaving, she seemed to revert to
her former self, sinking, relaxed, into a wicker lounge beside the basin,
one long and shapely hand in the water, the other idle in her lap. Her
eyes, he remarked, were the contradiction in her face. Had they been
larger, and almond-shaped, the illusion might have been complete. They
were neither opaque nor smouldering,--but Western eyes, amber-coloured,
with delicately stencilled rays and long lashes. And as they gazed up at
him now they seemed to reflect, without disclosing the flitting thoughts
behind them. He felt antagonism and attraction in almost equal degree
--the situation transcended his experience.

"You don't intend to change this?" he asked, with an expressive sweep of
his hand.

"No," she said, "I've always liked it. Tell me what you feel about it."

He hesitated.

"You resent it," she declared.

"Why do you say that?" he demanded quickly.

"I feel it," she answered calmly, but with a smile.

"'Resent' would scarcely be the proper word," he contended, returning her
smile, yet hesitating again.

"You think it pagan," she told him.

"Perhaps I do," he answered simply, as though impressed by her felicitous
discovery of the adjective.

Alison laughed.

"It's pagan because I'm pagan, I suppose."

"It's very beautiful--you have managed to get an extraordinary
atmosphere," he continued, bent on doing himself an exact justice. But
I should say, if you pressed me, that it represents to me the deification
of beauty to the exclusion of all else. You have made beauty the Alpha
and Omega."

"There is nothing else for me," she said.

The coffee-tray arrived and was deposited on a wicker table beside her.
She raised herself on an elbow, filled his cup and handed it to him.

"And yet," he persisted, "from the manner in which you spoke at the
table--"

"Oh, don't imagine I haven't thought? But thinking isn't--believing."

"No," he admitted, with a touch of sadness, "you are right. There were
certain comments you made on the Christian religion--"

She interrupted him again.

"As to the political side of it, which is Socialism, so far as I can
see. If there is any other side, I have never been able to discover it.
It seems to me that if Christians were logical, they should be
Socialists. The brotherhood of man, cooperation--all that is Socialism,
isn't it? It's opposed to the principle of the survival of the fittest,
which so many of these so-called Christians practise. I used to think,
when I came back from Paris, that I was a Socialist, and I went to a lot
of their meetings in New York, and to lectures. But after a while I saw
there was something in Socialism that didn't appeal to me, something
smothering,--a forced cooperation that did not leave one free. I wanted
to be free, I've been striving all my life to be free," she exclaimed
passionately, and was silent an instant, inspecting him. "Perhaps I owe
you an apology for speaking as I did before a clergyman--especially
before an honest one."

He passed over the qualification with a characteristic smile.

"Oh, if we are going to shut our ears to criticism we'd better give up
being clergymen," he answered. "I'm afraid there is a great deal of
truth in what you said."

"That's generous of you!" she exclaimed, and thrilled him with the
tribute. Nor was the tribute wholly in the words: there had come
spontaneously into her voice an exquisite, modulated note that haunted
him long after it had died away . . . .

"I had to say what I thought," she continued earnestly; "I stood it as
long as I could. Perhaps you didn't realize it, but my father was
striking at me when he referred to your sermon, and spiritual control
--and in other things he said when you were talking about the
settlement-house. He reserves for himself the right to do as he pleases,
but insists that those who surround him shall adopt the subserviency
which he thinks proper for the rest of the world. If he were a Christian
himself, I shouldn't mind it so much."

Hodder was silent. The thought struck him with the force of a great
wind.

"He's a Pharisee," Alison went on, following the train of her thought.
"I remember the first time I discovered that--it was when I was reading
the New Testament carefully, in the hope of finding something in
Christianity I might take hold of. And I was impressed particularly by
the scorn with which Christ treated the Pharisees. My father, too, if he
had lived in those days, would have thought Christ a seditious person, an
impractical, fanatical idealist, and would have tried to trip him up with
literal questions concerning the law. His real and primary interest--is
in a social system that benefits himself and his kind, and because this
is so, he, and men like him, would have it appear that Christianity is
on the side of what they term law and order. I do not say that they are
hypocritical, that they reason this out. They are elemental; and they
feel intuitively that Christianity contains a vital spark which, if
allowed to fly, would start a conflagration beyond their control. The
theologians have helped them to cover the spark with ashes, and naturally
they won't allow the ashes to be touched, if they can help it."

She lay very still.

The rector had listened to her, at first with amazement, then with more
complicated sensations as she thus dispassionately discussed the foremost
member of his congregation and the first layman of the diocese, who was
incidentally her own father. In her masterly analysis of Eldon Parr, she
had brought Hodder face to face with the naked truth, and compelled him
to recognize it. How could he attempt to refute it, with honesty?

He remembered Mr. Parr's criticism of Alison. There had been hardness in
that, though it were the cry of a lacerated paternal affection. In that,
too, a lack of comprehension, an impotent anger at a visitation not
understood, a punishment apparently unmerited. Hodder had pitied him
then--he still pitied him. In the daughter's voice was no trace of
resentment. No one, seemingly, could be farther removed from him (the
rector of St. John's) in her opinions and views of life, than Allison
Parr; and yet he felt in her an undercurrent, deep and strong, which
moved him strangely, strongly, irresistibly; he recognized a passionate
desire for the truth, and the courage to face it at any cost, and a
capacity for tenderness, revealed in flashes.

"I have hurt you," she exclaimed. "I am sorry."

He collected himself.

"It is not you who have hurt me," he replied. "Reflections on the
contradictions and imperfections of life are always painful. And since
I have been here, I have seen a great deal of your father."

"You are fond of him!"

He hesitated. It was not an ordinary conversation they were dealing with
realities, and he had a sense that vital issues were at stake. He had,
in that moment, to make a revaluation of his sentiments for the
financier--to weigh the effect of her indictment.

"Yes," he answered slowly, "I am fond of him. He has shown me a side of
himself, perhaps, that other men have not seen,--and he is very lonely."

"You pity him." He started at her word. "I guessed that from an
expression that crossed your face when we were at the table. But surely
you must have observed the incongruity of his relationship with your
Church! Surely, in preaching as you did this morning against
materialism, individualism, absorption in the pursuit of wealth, you must
have had my father in mind as the supreme example! And yet he listened
to you as serenely as though he had never practised any of these things!

"Clergymen wonder why Christianity doesn't make more progress to-day;
well, what strikes the impartial observer who thinks about the subject at
all, as one reason, is the paralyzing inconsistency of an alliance
between those who preach the brotherhood of man and those who are opposed
to it. I've often wondered what clergymen would say about it, if they
were frank--only I never see any clergymen."

He was strongly agitated. He did not stop--strangely enough--to reflect
how far they had gone, to demand by what right she brought him to the
bar, challenged the consistency of his life. For she had struck, with a
ruthless precision, at the very core of his trouble, revealed it for what
it was.

"Yes," he said, "I can see how we may be accused of inconsistency, and
with much justice."

His refusal to excuse and vindicate himself impressed her as no attempt
at extenuation could have done. Perhaps, in that moment, her quick
instinct divined something of his case, something of the mental suffering
he strove to conceal. Contrition shone in her eyes.

"I ought not to have said that," she exclaimed gently. "It is so easy
for outsiders to criticize those who are sincere--and I am sure you are.
We cannot know all the perplexities. But when we look at the Church, we
are puzzled by that--which I have mentioned--and by other things."

"What other things?" he demanded.

She hesitated in her turn.

"I suppose you think it odd, my having gone to church, feeling as I do,"
she said. "But St. John's is now the only place vividly associated with
my mother. She was never at home here, in this house. I always go at
least once when I am out here. And I listened to your sermon intently."

"Yes."

"I wanted to tell you this: you interested me as I had not been
interested since I was twenty, when I made a desperate attempt to become
a Christian--and failed. Do you know how you struck me? It was as a man
who actually had a great truth which he was desperately trying to impart,
and could not. I have not been in a church more than a dozen times in
the last eight years, but you impressed me as a man who felt something
--whatever it is."

He did not speak.

"But why," she cried, "do you insist on what you cell authority? As a
modern woman who has learned to use her own mind, I simply can't believe,
if the God of the universe is the moral God you assert him to be, that he
has established on earth an agency of the kind you infer, and delegated
to it the power of life and death over human souls. Perhaps you do not
go so far, but if you make the claim at all you must make it in its
entirety. There is an idea of commercialism, of monopoly in that
conception which is utterly repugnant to any one who tries to approach
the subject with a fresh mind, and from an ideal point of view. And
religion must be idealism--mustn't it?

"Your ancient monks and saints weren't satisfied until they had
settled every detail of the invisible world, of the past and future.
They mapped it out as if it were a region they had actually explored,
like geographers. They used their reason, and what science they had, to
make theories about it which the churches still proclaim as the catholic
and final truth. You forbid us to use our reason. You declare, in order
to become Christians, that we have to accept authoritative statements.
Oh, can't you see that an authoritative statement is just what an
ethical person doesn't want? Belief--faith doesn't consist in the mere
acceptance of a statement, but in something much higher--if we can
achieve it. Acceptance of authority is not faith, it is mere credulity,
it is to shirk the real issue. We must believe, if we believe at all,
without authority. If we knew, there would be no virtue in striving.
If I choose a God," she added, after a pause, "I cannot take a consensus
of opinion about him,--he must be my God."

Hodder did not speak immediately. Strange as it may seem, he had
never heard the argument, and the strength of it, reenforced by the
extraordinary vitality and earnestness of the woman who had uttered it,
had a momentary stunning effect. He sat contemplating her as she lay
back among the cushions, and suddenly he seemed to see in her the
rebellious child of which her father had spoken. No wonder Eldon Parr
had misunderstood her, had sought to crush her spirit! She was to be
dealt with in no common way, nor was the consuming yearning he discerned
in her to be lightly satisfied.

"The God of the individualist," he said at length--musingly, not
accusingly.

"I am an individualist," she admitted simply. "But I am at least logical
in that philosophy, and the individualists who attend the churches to-day
are not. The inconsistency of their lives is what makes those of us who
do not go to church doubt the efficacy of their creed, which seems to
have no power to change them. The majority of people in St. John's are
no more Christians than I am. They attend service once a week, and the
rest of the time they are bent upon getting all they can of pleasure
and profit for themselves. Do you wonder that those who consider this
spectacle come inevitably to the conclusion that either Christianity
is at fault, is outworn, or else that it is presented in the wrong way?"

The rector rose abruptly, walked to the entrance of the arbour, and stood
staring out across the garden. Presently he turned and came back and
stood over her.

"Since you ask me," he said slowly, "I do not wonder at it."

She raised her eyes swiftly.

"When you speak like that," she exclaimed with an enthusiasm that
stirred him, despite the trouble of his mind, "I cannot think of you as
a clergyman,--but as a man. Indeed," she added, in the surprise of her
discovery, "I have never thought of you as a clergyman--even when I first
saw you this morning. I could not account then for a sense of duality
about you that puzzled me. Do you always preach as earnestly as that?"

"Why?"

"I felt as if you were throwing your whole soul into the effort-=oh,
I felt it distinctly. You made some of them, temporarily, a little
uncomfortable, but they do not understand you, and you didn't change
them. It seemed to me you realized this when Gordon Atterbury spoke to
you. I tried to analyze the effect on myself--if it had been in the
slightest degree possible for my reason to accept what you said you
might, through sheer personality, have compelled me to reconsider.
As it was, I found myself resisting you."

With his hands clasped behind him, he paced across the arbour and back
again.

"Have you ever definitely and sincerely tried to put what the Church
teaches into practice?" he asked.

"Orthodox Christianity? penance, asceticism, self-abnegation--repression
--falling on my knees and seeking a forgiveness out of all proportion to
the trespass, and filled with a sense of total depravity? If I did that
I should lose myself--the only valuable thing I've got."

Hodder, who had resumed his pacing, glanced at her involuntarily, and
fought an inclination to agree with her.

"I see no one upon whom I can rely but myself," she went on with the
extraordinary energy she was able to summon at will, "and I am
convinced that self-sacrifice--at least, indiscriminate, unreasoning
self-sacrifice--is worse than useless, and to teach it is criminal
ignorance. None of the so-called Christian virtues appeals to me: I hate
humility. You haven't it. The only happiness I can see in the world lies
in self-expression, and I certainly shouldn't find that in sewing
garments for the poor.

"The last thing that I could wish for would be immortality as orthodox
Christianity depicts it! And suppose I had followed the advice of my
Christian friends and remained here, where they insisted my duty was,
what would have happened to me? In a senseless self-denial I should
gradually have, withered into a meaningless old maid, with no opinions
of my own, and no more definite purpose in life than to write checks for
charities. Your Christianity commands that women shall stay at home, and
declares that they are not entitled to seek their own salvation, to have
any place in affairs, or to meddle with the realm of the intellect.
Those forbidden gardens are reserved for the lordly sex. St. Paul, you
say, put us in our proper place some twenty centuries ago, and we are to
remain there for all time."

He felt sweeping through him the reverse current of hostility.

"And what I preach," he asked, "has tended to confirm you in such a mean
conception of Christianity?"

Her eye travelled over the six feet of him--the kindling, reflecting eye
of the artist; it rested for a moment on the protesting locks of his
hair, which apparently could not be cut short enough to conform; on the
hands, which were strong and sinewy; on the wide, tolerant mouth, with
its rugged furrows, on the breadth and height of the forehead. She lay
for a moment, inert, considering.

"What you preach--yes," she answered, bravely meeting his look. "What
you are--no. You and your religion are as far apart as the poles. Oh,
this old argument, the belief that has been handed down to the man, the
authority with which he is clothed, and not the man himself! How can one
be a factor in life unless one represents something which is the fruit of
actual, personal experience? Your authority is for the weak, the timid,
the credulous,--for those who do not care to trust themselves, who run
for shelter from the storms of life to a 'papier-mache' fortress, made to
look like rock. In order to preach that logically you should be a white
ascetic, with a well-oiled manner, a downcast look lest you stumble in
your pride; lest by chance you might do something original that sprang
out of your own soul instead of being an imitation of the saints. And if
your congregation took your doctrine literally, I can see a whole army of
white, meek Christians. But you are not like that. Can't you see it for
yourself?" she exclaimed.

"Can't you feel that you are an individual, a personality, a force that
might be put to great uses? That will be because you are open-minded,
because there is room in you for growth and change?"

He strove with all his might to quell the inner conflagration which she
had fanned into leaping flames. Though he had listened before to doubt
and criticism, this woman, with her strange shifting moods of calm and
passion, with her bewildering faculty of changing from passive to active
resistance, her beauty (once manifest, never to be forgotten), her unique
individuality that now attracted, now repelled, seemed for the moment the
very incarnation of the forces opposed to him and his religion. Holder,
as he looked at her, had a flash of fierce resentment that now, of all
times, she should suddenly have flung herself across his path. For she
was to be reckoned with. Why did he not tell her she was an egoist? Why
didn't he speak out, defend his faith, denounce her views as prejudiced
and false?

"Have I made you angry?" he heard her say. "I am sorry."

It was the hint of reproach in her tone to which the man in him instantly
responded. And what he saw now was his portrait she had painted. The
thought came to him: was he indeed greater, more vital than the religion
he professed? God forbid! Did he ring true, and it false?

She returned his gaze. And gradually, under her clear olive skin, he saw
the crimson colour mounting higher . . . . She put forth her hand,
simply, naturally, and pressed his own, as though they had been friends
for a lifetime . . . .



CHAPTER X

THE MESSENGER IN THE CHURCH


I

The annual scourge of summer had descended pitilessly upon the city once
more, enervating, depressing, stagnating, and people moved languidly in
the penetrating heat that steamed from the pores of the surrounding river
bottoms.

The rector of St. John's realized that a crisis had come in his life,
--a crisis he had tried to stave off in vain. And yet there was a period
during which he pursued his shrunken duties as though nothing had
happened to him; as a man who has been struck in battle keeps on, loath
to examine, to acknowledge the gravity of his wound; fearing to, perhaps.
Sometimes, as his mind went back to the merciless conflict of his past,
his experience at the law school, it was the unchaining of that other man
he dreaded, the man he believed himself to have finally subdued. But
night and day he was haunted by the sorrowful and reproachful face of
Truth.

Had he the courage, now, to submit the beliefs which had sustained him
all these years to Truth's inexorable inspection? Did he dare to turn
and open those books which she had inspired,--the new philosophies, the
historical criticisms which he had neglected and condemned, which he had
flattered himself he could do without,--and read of the fruit of
Knowledge? Twice, thrice he had hesitated on the steps of the big
library, and turned away with a wildly beating heart.

Day by day the storm increased, until from a cloud on the horizon it
grew into a soul-shaking tempest. Profoundly moved Parr's he had been on
that Sunday afternoon, in Eldon Parr's garden, he had resolutely resolved
to thrust the woman and the incident from his mind, to defer the
consideration of the questions she had raised--grave though they were--to
a calmer period. For now he was unable to separate her, to eliminate the
emotion--he was forced to acknowledge--the thought of her aroused, from
the problems themselves. Who was she? At moments he seemed to see her
shining, accusing, as Truth herself, and again as a Circe who had drawn
him by subtle arts from his wanderings, luring him to his death; or, at
other times, as the mutinous daughter of revolt. But when he felt, in
memory, the warm touch of her hand, the old wildness of his nature
responded, he ceased to speculate or care, and he longed only to crush
and subdue her by the brute power of the man in him. For good or bad,
she had woven her spell.

Here was the old, elemental, twofold contest, carnal and spiritual,
thoroughly revived! . . .

He recalled, in his musings, the little theological school surrounded
by southern woods and fields, where he had sometime walked under autumn
foliage with the elderly gentleman who had had such an influence on his
life--the dean. Mild-mannered and frail, patient in ordinary converse,
--a lion for the faith. He would have died for it as cheerfully as any
martyr in history. By the marvels of that faith Holder had beheld, from
his pew in the chapel, the little man transformed. He knew young men,
their perplexities and temptations, and he dealt with them personally,
like a father. Holder's doubts were stilled, he had gained power of his
temptations and peace for his soul, and he had gone forth inspired by the
reminder that there was no student of whom the dean expected better
things. Where now were the thousands of which he had dreamed, and which
he was to have brought into the Church? . . .

Now, he asked himself, was it the dean, or the dean's theology through
which his regeneration had come? Might not the inherent goodness of the
dean be one thing, and his theology quite another? Personality again!
He recalled one of the many things which Alison Parr had branded on his
memory,--"the belief, the authority in which the man is clothed, and not
the man!" The dean's God had remained silent on the subject of
personality. Or, at the best, he had not encouraged it; and there were
--Hodder could not but perceive--certain contradictions in his character,
which were an anomalistic blending of that of the jealous God of Moses
and of the God of Christ. There must be continuity--God could not
change. Therefore the God of infinite love must retain the wrath which
visited sins of the fathers on the children, which demanded sacrifice,
atonement,--an exact propitiation for his anger against mankind. An
innocent life of sorrow and suffering!

And again, "You and your religion are as far apart as the poles!" Had
he, Hodder, outgrown the dean's religion, or had it ever been his own?
Was there, after all, such a thing as religion? Might it not be merely a
figment of the fertile imagination of man? He did not escape the terror
of this thought when he paused to consider his labour of the past two
years and the vanity of its results. And little by little the feeling
grew upon him, such being the state of his mind, that he ought not to
continue, for the present at least, to conduct the services. Should he
resign, or go away for a while to some quiet place before he made such a
momentous decision? There was no one to whom he could turn; no layman,
and no clergyman; not even the old bishop, whom he had more than once
mentally accused of being, too broad and too tolerant! No, he did not
wish a clergyman's solution. The significance of this thought flashed
through him--that the world itself was no longer seeking clergymen's
solutions. He must go off alone, and submit his faith to the impartial
test.

It was in a vigil of the night, when he lay in the hot darkness, unable
to sleep, that he came at length to this resolve. And now that he had
cut the knot he was too just to blame Alison Parr for having pointed out
--with what often had seemed a pitiless cruelty--something of which he
had had a constantly growing perception yet had continually sought to
evade. And he reviewed, as the church bells recorded the silent hours,
how, little by little, his confidence had crumbled before the shocks of
the successive revelations--some of them so slight that they had passed
unnoticed: comparisons, inevitably compelled; Dalton Street; the
confessions of Eleanor Goodrich and Mrs. Constable; Mr. Plimpton and his
views of life--Eldon Parr! Even the slamming of the carriage doors in
Burton Street had had a significance!

Might it not prove that this woman had let fall into the turbid waters of
his soul the drop that was to clear them forever? He would go away. He
would not see her again.

Over the sleeping city, unapprehended, stole the dawn.

He arose, but instead of falling on his knees he went to the window and
lifted his face to the whitening sky . . . . Slowly out of the
obscurity of the earth's shadow emerged the vague outlines of familiar
things until they stood sharply material, in a silence as of death. A
sparrow twittered, and suddenly the familiar, soot-grimed roofs were
bathed in light, and by a touch made beautiful . . . .

Some hours later the city was wide awake. And Hodder, bathed and
dressed, stood staring down from his study window into the street below,
full now of young men and girls; some with set faces, hurrying, intent,
others romping and laughing as they dodged the trucks and trolley cars;
all on their way to the great shoe factory around the corner, the huge
funnels of which were belching forth smoke into the morning air. The
street emptied, a bell rang, a whistle blew, the hum of distant machinery
began . . . .



II

Later that morning Hodder sat in his study. The shutters were closed,
and the intensity of the tropical glare without was softened and diffused
by the slanting green slats. His eye wandered over the long and
comfortable room which had been his sanctuary in the feverish days of
his ministry, resting affectionately on the hospitable chairs, the wide
fireplace before which he had been wont to settle himself on winter
nights, and even on the green matting--a cooling note in summer. And
there, in the low cases along the walls, were the rows of his precious
books,--his one hobby and extravagance. He had grown to love the room.
Would he ever come back to it?

A step sounded in the hall, a knock, and the well-known gaunt form and
spectacled face of McCrae appeared in the doorway.

"Ye wished to see me?" he asked.

"McCrae," said the rector, "I am going off for a while."

His assistant regarded him a moment in silence. Although Hodder had no
intention of explaining his reasons, he had a curious conviction that it
were superfluous to do so, that McCrae had guessed them.

"Why shouldn't ye? There's but a handful left to preach to in this
weather."

"I wouldn't go, in this sudden way, if it were not imperative," Hodder
added, trying to speak calmly.

"Why shouldn't ye?" McCrae repeated, almost fiercely.

Hodder smiled in spite of himself.

"There's no reason," he said, "except the added work put on you without
warning, and in this heat."

"Ye'll not need to worry," his assistant assured him, "the heat's nothing
to me." McCrae hesitated, and then demanded abruptly, "Ye'll not be
visiting?"

The question took Hodder by surprise.

"No," he answered quickly, and not quite steadily, and hesitated in his
turn, "I shan't be visiting."

"It's a rest ye need, I've been wanting to say it." McCrae took a step
forward, and for a moment it seemed as though he were at last about to
break the bonds of his reserve. Perhaps he detected an instinctive
shrinking on the rector's part. At any rate, there was another instant
of silence, in which the two men faced each other across the desk, and
McCrae held out his hand. "Good luck to ye," he said, as Hodder took it,
"and don't have the pariah on your mind. Stay till ye're rested, and
come back to us."

He left the room abruptly. Hodder remained motionless, looking after
him, and then, moved apparently by a sudden impulse, started toward the
door,--only to halt and turn before he got to it. Almost he had opened
his lips to call his assistant back. He could not do it--the moment had
come and fled when it might have been possible. Did this man hide, under
his brusqueness and brevity of speech, the fund of wisdom and the wider
sympathy and understanding he suspected? Hodder could have vouched for
it, and yet he had kept his own counsel. And he was struck suddenly by
the significance of the fact, often remarked, that McCrae in his brief
and common-sense and by no means enlivening sermons had never once
referred in any way to doctrine or dogma!

He spent half an hour in collecting and bestowing in two large valises
such articles as his simple needs would demand, and then set out for a
railroad office in the business portion of the city, where he bought his
ticket and berth. Then, after a moment of irresolution on the threshold
of the place, he turned to the right, thrusting his way through the
sluggish crowds on Tower Street until he came to the large bookstore
where he had been want to spend, from time to time, some of his leisure
moments. A clerk recognized him, and was about to lead the way to the
rear, where the precious editions were kept, when Hodder stopped him.

In casting about for a beginning in his venture over unknown seas, there
had naturally come into his mind three or four works which were anathema
to the orthodox; one of which, in seven volumes, went back to his
seminary days, and had been the subject of a ringing, denunciatory sermon
by the dean himself. Three of them were by Germans of established
reputations, another by a professor of the University of Paris. The
habit of years is strong.

And though he knew that many clergymen read these books, Hodder found it
impossible to overcome a nervous sense of adventure,--nay (knowing his
resolution), of apostasy, almost of clandestine guilt when he mentioned
them. And it seemed to him that the face of the clerk betrayed surprise.
One of the works was not in stock; he would send the others that
afternoon. Mr. Hodder would take them? They made a formidable parcel,
but a little handle was supplied and the rector hurried out, swinging
himself on a Tower Street car.

It must not be thought that the whole of what is called modern criticism
was new to Hodder. This would indeed be too much of a reflection on the
open-mindedness of the seminary from which he had graduated.
But he found himself, now, pondering a little cynically on that
"open-mindedness"; on that concession--if it had been a concession--to the
methods of science. There had been in truth a course of lectures on this
subject; but he saw now, very clearly, what a concerted effort had been
put forward in the rest of the teaching to minimize and discredit it.
Even the professor who gave the lectures had had the air of deploring
them. Here it is, but on the whole one would better let it alone,--such
was the inference. And he had let it alone, through all these years.

In the seminary, too, volumes by semi-learned clergymen had been thrust
into his hands, efforts which Hodder recalled now, in spite of his mental
state, with a smile. These invariably championed the doctrine of the
virgin birth as the pillar on which the Incarnation depended.
A favourite argument declared that although the Gospel texts in regard to
it might be proven untrustworthy, the miraculous birth must have happened
anyway! And one of these clerical authors whom he had more recently
read, actually had had the audacity to turn the weapons of the archenemy,
science, back upon itself. The virgin birth was an established fact in
nature, and had its place in the social economy of the bee. And did not
parthenogenesis occur in the silk moth?

In brief, the conclusion impressed upon him by his seminary instruction
was this: that historical criticism had corrected some ideas and put
some things in their right place. What these things were remained
sufficiently vague. But whenever it attacked a cherished dogma it was,
on general principles, wrong.

Once again in his cool study, he cut the cord with a trembling hand, and
while he was eating the lunch his housekeeper had prepared, dipped into
one of the larger volumes. As he read again the critical disproofs he
felt an acute, almost physical pain, as though a vital part of him were
being cut away, as his mind dwelt upon those beautiful legends to which
he had so often turned, and which had seemed the very fountain of his
faith. Legends! . . . .

He closed the book. The clock on the mantel struck three; his train was
to leave at five. He rose and went down into the silent church he had
grown to love, seating himself in one of the carved stalls of the choir,
his eye lingering in turn on each beautiful object: on the glowing
landscape in the window in memory of Eliza Parr, portraying the
delectable country, with the bewildered yet enraptured faces of the
pilgrims in the foreground; on the graceful, shining lectern, the
aspiring arches, the carved marble altar behind the rail, and above
it the painting of the Christ on the cross.

The hours of greatest suffering are the empty hours. 'Eloi, Eloi, lama
sabachthani?' The hours when the mysterious sustaining and driving force
is withdrawn, and a lassitude and despair comes over us like that of a
deserted child: the hours when we feel we have reached the limit of
service, when our brief span of usefulness is done. Had God brought him,
John Hodder, to the height of the powers of his manhood only to abandon
him, to cast him adrift on the face of the waters--led him to this great
parish, with all its opportunities, only that he might fail and flee?

He sat staring at the face of the Man on the cross. Did he, in his
overwrought state, imagine there an expression he had never before
remarked, or had the unknown artist of the seventies actually risen above
the mediocrity of the figure in his portrayal of the features of the
Christ? The rector started, and stared again. There was no weakness in
the face, no meekness, no suggestion of the conception of the sacrificed
Lamb, no hint of a beatific vision of opening heavens--and yet no
accusation, no despair. A knowing--that were nearer--a knowing of all
things through the experiencing of all things, the suffering of all
things. For suffering without revelation were vain, indeed! A perfected
wisdom that blended inevitably with a transcendent love. Love and wisdom
were one, then? To reach comprehension through conquering experience was
to achieve the love that could exclaim, "they know not what they do!"

Human or divine? Man or God? Hodder found himself inwardly repeating
the words, the controversy which had raged for nineteen hundred years,
and not yet was stilled. Perfection is divine. Human! Hodder repeated
the word, as one groping on the threshold of a great discovery . . . .



III

He was listening--he had for a long time been listening to a sound which
had seemed only the natural accompaniment of the drama taking place in
his soul, as though some inspired organist were expressing in exquisite
music the undercurrent of his agony. Only gradually did he become aware
that it arose from the nave of the church, and, turning, his eyes fell
upon the bowed head and shoulders of a woman kneeling in one of the pews.
She was sobbing.

His movement, he recalled afterward, did not come of a conscious
volition, as he rose and descended the chancel steps and walked toward
her; he stood for what seemed a long time on the white marble of the
aisle looking down on her, his heart wrung by the violence of her grief,
which at moments swept through her like a tempest. She seemed still
young, but poverty had marked her with unmistakable signs. The white,
blue-veined hands that clung to the railing of the pew were thin; and the
shirtwaist, though clean, was cheap and frayed. At last she rose from
her knees and raised a tear-stained face to his, staring at him in a dumb
bewilderment.

"Can I do anything for you?" he said gently, "I am the rector here."
She did not answer, but continued to stare uncomprehendingly. He sat
down beside her in the pew.

"You are in trouble," he said. "Will you let me try to help you?"
A sob shook her--the beginning of a new paroxysm. He waited patiently
until it was over. Suddenly she got rather wildly and unsteadily to her
feet.

"I must go!" she cried. "Oh, God, what would I do if--if he wasn't
there?"

Hodder rose too. She had thrust herself past him into the aisle, but if
he had not taken her arm she would have fallen. Thus they went together
to the door of the church, and out into the white, burning sunlight. In
spite of her weakness she seemed actually to be leading him, impelled by
a strange force and fled down the steps of the porch to the sidewalk.
And there she paused, seeing him still beside her. Fortunately he had
his hat in his hand.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"To take you home," he replied firmly, "you ought not to go alone."

A look of something like terror came into her eyes.

"Oh, no!" she protested, with a vehemence that surprised him. "I am
strong. Oh, thank you, sir,--but I can go alone. It's Dicky--my little
boy. I've never left him so long. I had gone for the medicine and I saw
the church. I used to go to church, sir, before we had our troubles--and
I just went in. It suddenly came over me that God might help me--the
doctor can do nothing."

"I will go with you," he said.

She ceased to resist, as one submitting to the fatality of a superior
will.

The pavements that afternoon, as Hodder and the forlorn woman left the
cool porticoes of St. John's, were like the floor of a stone oven, and
the work horses wore little bonnets over their heads. Keeping to the
shady side, the rector and his companion crossed Tower Street with its
trolley cars and its awninged stores, and came to that depressing
district which had reproached him since the first Sunday of his ministry
when he had traversed it with Eldon Parr. They passed the once
prosperous houses, the corner saloons pandering to two vices, decked with
the flamboyant signs of the breweries. The trees were dying along the
asphalt and in the yards, the iron fences broken here and there, the
copings stained with rust and soot. Hodder's thoughts might have been
likened to the heated air that simmered above the bricks.

They were in Dalton Street! She seemed to have forgotten his presence,
her pace quickened as she turned into a gate and flew up a flight of
dirty stone steps, broken and sagging. Hodder took in, subconsciously,
that the house was a dingy grey, of three stories and a Mansard roof,
with a bay window on the yard side, and a fly-blown sign, "Rooms to Rent"
hanging in one window. Across the street, on a lot that had once held a
similar dignified residence, was the yellow brick building of the "Albert
Hotel," and next door, on the east, a remodelled house of "apartments"
with speaking tubes in the doorway.

The woman led him up another flight of steps to the open door of
the house, through a hallway covered with a ragged carpet, where a
dilapidated walnut hat-rack stood, up the stairs, threading a dark
passage that led into a low-ceiled, stifling room at the very back.
A stout, slatternly person in a wrapper rose as they entered, but the
mother cast herself down beside the lounge where the child was. Hodder
had a moment of fear that she was indeed too late, so still the boy lay,
so pathetically wan was the little face and wasted the form under the
cotton nightgown. The mother passed her hand across his forehead.

"Dicky!" she whispered fearfully, "Dicky!"

He opened his eyes and smiled at her; feebly.

The, stout woman, who had been looking on with that intensity of sympathy
of which the poor are capable, began waving gently the palm-leaf fan.
She was German.

"He is so good, is Dicky. He smile at me when I fan him--once, twice.
He complains not at all."

The mother took the fan from her, hand.

"Thank you for staying with him, Mrs. Breitmann. I was gone longer than
I expected." The fact that the child still lived, that she was again in
his presence, the absorbing act of caring for him seemed to have calmed
her.

"It is nothing, what I do," answered Mrs. Breitmann, and turned away
reluctantly, the tears running on her cheeks. "When you go again, I come
always, Mrs. Garvin. Ach!"

Her exclamation was caused by the sight of the tall figure and black coat
of the rector, and as she left the room, Mrs. Garvin turned. And he
noticed in her eyes the same expression of dread they had held when she
had protested against his coming.

"Please don't think that I'm not thankful--" she faltered.

"I am not offering you charity," he said. "Can you not take from other
human beings what you have accepted from this woman who has just left?"

"Oh, sir, it isn't that!" she cried, with a look of trust, of appeal that
was new, "I would do anything--I will do anything. But my husband--he is
so bitter against the church, against ministers! If he came home and
found you here--"

"I know--many people feel that way," he assented, "too many. But you
cannot let a prejudice stand in the way of saving the boy's life, Mrs.
Garvin."

"It is more than that. If you knew, sir--"

"Whatever it is," he interrupted, a little sternly, "it must not
interfere. I will talk to your husband."

She was silent, gazing at him now questioningly, yet with the dawning
hope of one whose strength is all but gone, and who has found at last a
stronger to lean upon.

The rector took the fan from her arrested hand and began to ply it.

"Listen, Mrs. Garvin. If you had come to the church half an hour later,
I should have been leaving the city for a place far distant."

"You were going away? You stayed on my account?"

"I much prefer to stay, if I can be of any use, and I think I can. I am
sure I can. What is the matter with the child?"

"I don't know, sir--he just lies there listless and gets thinner and
thinner and weaker and weaker. Sometimes he feels sick, but not often.
The doctor don't seem to know."

What doctor have you?"

"His name is Welling. He's around the corner."

"Exactly," said the rector. "This is a case for Dr. Jarvis, who is the
best child specialist in the city. He is a friend of mine, and I intend
to send for him at once. And the boy must go to a hospital--"

"Oh, I couldn't, sir."

He had a poignant realization of the agony behind the cry. She breathed
quickly through her parted lips, and from the yearning in her tired eyes
--as she gazed at the poor little form--he averted his glance.

"Now, Mrs. Garvin, you must be sensible," he said. "This is no place for
a sick child. And it is such a nice little hospital, the one I have in
mind, and so many children get well and strong there," he added,
cheerfully.

"He wouldn't hear of it." Hodder comprehended that she was referring to
her husband. She added inconsequently: "If I let him go, and he never
came back! Oh, I couldn't do it--I couldn't."

He saw that it was the part of wisdom not to press her, to give her time
to become accustomed to the idea. Come back--to what? His eye wandered
about the room, that bespoke the last shifts of poverty, for he knew that
none but the desperate were driven to these Dalton Street houses, once
the dwellings of the well-to-do, and all the more pitiful for the
contrast. The heated air reeked with the smell of stale cooking.
There was a gas stove at one side, a linoleum-covered table in the
centre, littered with bottles, plates, and pitchers, a bed and chairs
which had known better days, new obviously bruised and battered by many
enforced movings. In one corner was huddled a little group of toys.

He was suddenly and guiltily aware that the woman had followed his
glance.

"We had them in Alder Street," she said. "We might have been there yet,
if we hadn't been foolish. It's a pretty street, sir--perhaps you know
it--you take the Fanshawe Avenue cars to Sherman Heights. The air is
like the country there, and all the houses are new, and Dicky had a yard
to play in, and he used to be so healthy and happy in it. . . We were
rich then,--not what you'd call rich," she added apologetically, "but we
owned a little home with six rooms, and my husband had a good place as
bookkeeper in a grocery house, and every year for ten years we put
something by, and the boy came. We never knew how well off we were,
until it was taken away from us, I guess. And then Richard--he's my
husband--put his savings into a company--he thought it was so safe, and
we were to get eight per cent--and the company failed, and he fell sick
and lost his place, and we had to sell the house, and since he got well
again he's been going around trying for something else. Oh, he's tried
so hard,--every day, and all day long. You wouldn't believe it, sir.
And he's so proud. He got a job as porter, but he wasn't able to hold
it--he wasn't strong enough. That was in April. It almost broke my
heart to see him getting shabby--he used to look so tidy. And folks
don't want you when you're shabby." . . .

There sprang to Hodder's mind a sentence in a book he had recently read:
"Our slums became filled with sick who need never have been sick; with
derelicts who need never have been abandoned."

Suddenly, out of the suffocating stillness of the afternoon a woman's
voice was heard singing a concert-hall air, accompanied by a piano played
with vigour and abandon. And Hodder, following the sound, looked out
across the grimy yard--to a window in the apartment house opposite.

"There's that girl again," said the mother, lifting her head. "She does
sing nice, and play, poor thing! There was a time when I wouldn't have
wanted to listen. But Dicky liked it so . . . . It's the very tune
he loved. He don't seem to hear it now. He don't even ask for Mr.
Bentley any more."

"Mr. Bentley?" the rector repeated. The name was somehow familiar to
him.

The piano and the song ceased abruptly, with a bang.

"He lives up the street here a way--the kindest old gentleman you ever
saw. He always has candy in his pockets for the children, and it's a
sight to see them follow him up and down the sidewalk. He takes them to
the Park in the cars on Saturday afternoons. That was all Dicky could
think about at first--would he be well enough to go with Mr. Bentley by
Saturday? And he was forever asking me to tell Mr. Bentley he was sick.
I saw the old gentleman on the street to-day, and I almost went up to
him. But I hadn't the courage."

The child moaned, stirred, and opened his eyes, gazing at them
feverishly, yet without seeming comprehension. She bent over him,
calling his name . . . . Hodder thrust the fan into her hand, and
rose.

"I am going to telephone Dr. Jarvis," he said, "and then I shall come
back, in order to be here when he arrives."

She looked up at him.

"Oh, thank you, sir,--I guess it's for the best--"

Her voice died away, and the rector, seeking for the cause, saw that a
man had entered the room. He walked up to the couch and stood for a
moment staring moodily at the child, while the woman watched him,
transfixed.

"Richard!" she said.

He paid no attention to her. She turned to Hodder. "This is my husband,
sir. . . . Richard, I went into the church--just for a moment--I--I
couldn't help it, and this gentleman--the minister--came home with me.
He wanted to--he thought I was sick. And now he's going out to get the
best doctor in the city for Dicky."

The man turned suddenly and confronted the rector.

"Why don't you let him die, you and your church people?" he asked.
"You've done your worst to kill him."

The woman put her hand fearfully, imploringly on the man's arm.

"Richard!" she whispered.

But as Hodder glanced from the derelict beside him a wave of
comprehension passed through him that swept him clean of indignation,
of resentment. And this man had been prosperous and happy!

"There is but one way to save the boy's life, Mr. Garvin," he said, "and
that is to put him in charge of Dr. Jarvis."

The man made no reply, but went over to the window, staring out into the
yard. There was something vaguely ominous in his attitude. The rector
watched him a moment, and then turned to the mother.

"You must not lose hope," he told her.

She looked at him with terror-stricken eyes that sought to be grateful.
He had picked up his hat from a corner of the littered table, and started
to leave, when Garvin, by a sudden movement, planted himself in the
doorway. Whether he had been drinking, or whether he were merely crazed
by misfortune and the hopeless search in the heat for employment, and by
lack of proper nourishment, Hodder could not say. There was a light in
his eyes like that in a wounded animal's; and although he was thin and
slight, he had the concentrated power of desperation.

"Say, what church do you come from?" he demanded.

"From St. John's," said the rector.

"Eldon Parr's church?"

Hodder started, in spite of himself, at the name.

"Mr. Parr is a member of the congregation."

"Come off! He owns it and runs it, the same as he does everything else
in this town. Maybe you don't think I read the Sunday papers. Say, I
was respectable once, and had a good place. You wouldn't believe it,
would you?"

Hodder hesitated. There was obviously no way to pass the man except by
using physical force.

"If you have anything to say to me, Mr. Garvin, I shall be glad to talk
to you later. You must not stop me now," he said with a touch of
severity.

"You'll listen to me, right here and now," cried Garvin. "If you think I
am going to let Eldon Parr's minister, or any one else belonging to him,
save that boy's life, you've got another guess comin'. That's all. I'd
rather have him die--d'ye hear? I'd rather have him die."

The woman behind them whimpered . . . . The name was ringing like a
knell in Hodder's head--Eldon Parr! Coming, as it had, like a curse from
the lips of this wretched, half-demented creature, it filled his soul
with dismay. And the accusation had in it the profound ring of truth.
He was Eldon Parr's minister, and it was Eldon Parr who stood between him
and his opportunity.

"Why do you speak of Mr. Parr?" he asked, though the question cost him a
supreme effort.

"Why do I speak of him? My God, because he ruined me. If it hadn't been
for him, damn him, I'd have a home, and health and happiness to-day, and
the boy would be well and strong instead of lying there with the life all
but gone out of him. Eldon Parr did for me, and now he's murdered my
son--that's why I mention him."

In the sudden intensity of his feeling, Hodder seized Garvin by the arms
--arms that were little more than skin and bone. The man might be
crazed, he might be drunk: that he believed what he was saying there
could be no question. He began to struggle violently, but the rector was
strong.

"Be still," he commanded. And suddenly, overcome less by the physical
power than by the aspect of the clergyman, an expression of bewilderment
came into his eyes, and he was quiet. Hodder dropped his arms. "I do
not intend to go until I hear what you have to say. It would be useless,
at any rate, since your child's life is at stake. Tell me how Mr. Parr
has ruined you."

Garvin stared at him, half in suspicion, half in amazement.

"I guess you never knew of his ruining anybody, did you?" he demanded
sullenly. "Well, I'll tell you all right, and you can go and tell him.
He won't care much--he's used to it by this time, and he gets square with
God by his churches and charities. Did you ever hear of a stock called
Consolidated Tractions?"

Consolidated Tractions! In contrast to the sordid misery and degradation
of this last refuge of the desperate Hodder saw the lofty, panelled
smoking room at Francis Ferguson's, and was listening again to Wallis
Plimpton's cynical amusement as to how he and Everett Constable and Eldon
Parr himself had "gat out" before the crash; "got out" with all the money
of the wretch who now stood before him! His parishioners! his
Christians! Oh God!

The man was speaking in his shrill voice.

"Well, I was a Traction sucker, all right, and I guess you wouldn't have
to walk more than two blocks to find another in this neighbourhood. You
think Eldon Parr's a big, noble man, don't you? You're proud to run his
church, ain't you? You wouldn't believe there was a time when I thought
he was a big man, when I was kind of proud to live in the same city with
him. She'll tell you how I used to come home from the store and talk
about him after supper, and hope that the kid there would grow up into a
financier like Eldon Parr. The boys at the store talked about him: he
sort of laid hold on our imaginations with the library he gave, and
Elmwood Park, and the picture of the big organ in your church in the
newspapers--and sometimes, Mary and me and the boy, in the baby carriage,
on Sunday afternoons we used to walk around by his house, just to look at
it. You couldn't have got me to believe that Eldon Parr would put his
name to anything that wasn't straight.

"Then Consolidated Tractions came along, with Parr's, name behind it.
Everybody was talking about it, and how it was payin' eight per cent.
from the start, and extra dividends and all, and what a marvel of finance
it was. Before the kid came, as soon as I married her, we began to save
up for him. We didn't go to the theatres or nothing. Well, I put it
all, five thousand dollars, into Consolidated. She'll tell you how we
sat up half the night after we got the first dividend talking about how
we'd send the kid to college, and after we went to bed we couldn't sleep.
It wasn't more than a year after that we began to hear things--and we
couldn't sleep for sure, and the dividends stopped and the stock tumbled.
Even then I wouldn't believe it of him, that he'd take poor people's
money that way when he had more than he knew what to do with. I made up
my mind if I went down to see him and told him about it, he'd make it
right. I asked the boss for an hour off, and headed for the Parr
building--I've been there as much as fifty times since--but he don't
bother with small fry. The clerks laugh when they see me comin' . . .
I got sick worryin', and when I was strong enough to be around they'd
filled my job at the grocery, and it wasn't long before we had to move
out of our little home in Alder Street. We've been movin' ever since,"
he cried, and tears of weakness were in his eyes, "until we've come to
this, and we'll have to get out of here in another week. God knows where
we'll go then."

Hodder shuddered.

"Then I found out how he done it--from a lawyer. The lawyer laughed at
me, too. Say, do you wonder I ain't got much use for your church people?
Parr got a corporation lawyer named Langmaid--he's another one of your
millionnaire crooks--to fix it up and get around the law and keep him out
of jail. And then they had to settle with Tim Beatty for something like
three hundred thousand. You know who Beatty is--he owns this city--his
saloon's around here on Elm Street. All the crooks had to be squared.
Say," he demanded aggressively, "are Parr and Langmaid any better than
Beatty, or any of the hold-up men Beatty covers? There's a street-walker
over there in those flats that's got a million times more chance to get
to heaven--if there is any--than those financiers, as they call 'emselves
--I ain't much on high finance, but I've got some respect for a second
story man now--he takes some risks! I'll tell you what they did, they
bought up the short car lines that didn't pay and sold 'em to themselves
for fifty times as much as they were worth; and they got controlling
interests in the big lines and leased 'em to themselves with dividends
guaranteed as high as eighteen per cent. They capitalized the
Consolidated for more millions than a little man like me can think of,
and we handed 'em our money because we thought they were honest. We
thought the men who listed the stock on the Exchange were honest. And
when the crash came, they'd got away with the swag, like any common
housebreakers. There were dummy directors, and a dummy president. Eldon
Parr didn't have a share--sold out everything when she went over two
hundred, but you bet he kept his stock in the leased lines, which
guarantee more than they earn. He cleaned up five million, they say....
My money--the money that might give that boy fresh air, and good doctors
....Say, you believe in hell, don't you? You tell Eldon Parr to keep his
charity,--he can't send any of it in here. And you'd better go back to
that church of his and pray to keep his soul out of hell." . . .

His voice, which had risen even to a higher pitch, fell silent. And all
at once, without warning, Garvin sank, or rather tumbled upon the bed,
sobbing in a way that was terrible to see. The wife stole across the
room, sat down beside him, and laid her hand on his shoulder. . . .

In spite of the intensity of his own anguish, Hodder was conscious of a
curious detachment; and for months afterward particular smells, the sight
of a gasoline stove, a certain popular tune gave him a sharp twinge of
pain. The acid distilling in his soul etched the scene, the sounds, the
odours forever in his memory: a stale hot wind from the alley rattled the
shutter-slats, and blew the door to; the child stirred; and above the
strident, irregular weeping rose main, in ironical contrast, the piano
and the voice across the yard. In that glimpse he had into the heart of
life's terrible mystery he momentarily understood many things: he knew
that behind the abandon of the woman's song was the same terror which
reigned in the room in which he stood . . . .

There were voices in the passageway without, a woman saying in a German
accent,--"It is here, sir."

There was a knock at the door . . . .



CHAPTER XI

THE LOST PARISHIONER


I

Hodder opened the door. In the dingy passageway he perceived a tall
figure which immediately turned out to be that of an old gentleman. In
spite of the heat, he wore a long coat and an old-fashioned, high collar,
a black tie, under which was exposed a triangle of immaculate, pleated
linen. In one hand he held a gold-headed stick, a large tall hat of
which the silk nap was a little rubbed, a string sustaining a parcel, the
brown paper wrapping of which was soaked: in the other, a manila bag
containing lemons.

His head was bent forward a little, the high dome of it was bald,
but the white hair clustered thickly behind the temples. The face was
clean-shaven, the cheeks touched with red, the nose high and dominating,
distinctly philanthropic. And the blue eyes rested on the clergyman with
a benevolence unfeigned.

"Good afternoon, sir," the old gentleman said; "I am told Mrs. Garvin
lives here."

Before the rector could reply Mrs. Garvin herself stood between them.

"It's Mr. Bentley!" she exclaimed.

"I fear I'm intruding, ma'am," he said. "But some of Dicky's little
friends have just informed me that he is ill, and I have taken the
liberty of calling to inquire."

Mr. Bentley entered the room,--simple words to express that which was
in some sort an event. He laid his parcels on the table, his hat and
stick on a chair, and stood looking down in silence at the thin little
form on the couch. Presently he turned.

"I'm afraid he's very ill, ma'am," he said gently. "You have your own
doctor, no doubt. But if you will permit me, as a friend, to make a
suggestion, we have in the city one of the best child specialists in the
United States, who is never weary of curing these little ones,--Dr.
Jarvis, and I shall be happy to ask him to come and see Dicky."

Mrs. Garvin glanced at Hodder, who came forward.

"I was just about to telephone for Dr. Jarvis, Mr. Bentley, when you
arrived. I am Mr. Hodder, of St. John's."

"How do you do, sir?" The kindly eyes, alight with a gentle flame, rested
upon the rugged figure of the rector. "I am glad that you, too, agree
that Dr. Jarvis is advisable, Mr. Hodder."

There was a sound from the bed. Garvin had got to his feet and was
staring wildly, with reddened lids.

"Are you Horace Bentley?" he demanded.

"That is my name, sir," Mr. Bentley replied. His expression of surprise
was only momentary. And in all his life Hodder had never beheld a
greater contrast in human beings than between that gracious and courtly
old man and the haggard, unkempt, unshaved, and starving outcast facing
him. Something like a film came over Garvin's eyes.

"He ruined you, too, twenty years back--Eldon Parr did for you, too. Oh,
I know his record, I've followed his trail--he got all the Grantham stock
that would have made you a millionnaire!"

"Ah," replied Mr. Bentley, smiling to humour him, "that's something I
have no wish to be, sir,--a millionaire." He met the frightened gaze of
the wife. "Good day, ma'am. If you will allow me, I'll come to-morrow
morning to learn what Dr. Jarvis will have had to say. Have courage,
ma'am, have courage. You may have faith in Dr. Jarvis."

The poor woman was incapable of speech. Mr. Bentley picked up his hat
and stick.

"I've taken the liberty of bringing Dicky a little ice and a few lemons."
His eyes rested again on the couch by the window. Then he turned to
Garvin, who stood mutely, staring. "Good evening, sir," he said.
"We must look for the best."



II

They went down the stairs of the shabby and battered house, stairs by the
side of which holes had been knocked through the faded wall-paper--scars
of frequent movings. The sound and smell of frying came out of the open
door of what once had been the parlour, and on the front steps a little
girl darted past them with a pitcher of beer. When they reached the
sidewalk Mr. Bentley halted.

"If you were intending to telephone Dr. Jarvis, Mr. Hodder, there is a
public station in the drug store just above here. I know that clergymen
are busy persons, and I am passing it, if you are pressed for time."

"My only concern is to get Jarvis here," said the rector.
"If I may go with you--"

Once again in the hot sunlight, reaction had set in. Hodder was suddenly
unstrung, and the kindly old gentleman beside him seemed for the instant
the only fixture in a chaotic universe. It was not until later
reflection that he realized Mr. Bentley might, by an intuitive sympathy,
a depth of understanding, have drained something of his state, since the
incidents which followed were to be accounted for on no other grounds.
In such elemental moments the frail conventions are swept away: Mr.
Bentley, whoever he might be, was no longer a stranger; and it seemed
wholly natural to be walking with him up the street, to hear him saying,
--not with perfunctory politeness but in a tone that was itself an
invitation,--"With pleasure, sir, we'll go together. And let us trust
that the doctor will be at home."

Nor did Hodder stop to wonder, then, why Mr. Bentley should have sought
in his conversation to dissipate something of the hideous blackness of a
tragedy which must have moved him profoundly. How fortunate, he
declared, that they should have arrived before it was too late! For
it was plain to be seen that these Garvins were good people who had been
broken by adversity . . . . The boy had struck him particularly--a
lovable, merry little fellow whose clothes, Mr. Bentley observed, were
always neatly mended, betokening a mother with self-respect and
character. He even spoke of Garvin: adversity, worry, the heat, constant
brooding over a happier past and an uncertain future--was it surprising
that the poor man's mind had become unhinged? They must make some plan
for Garvin, said Mr. Bentley, get the man and his wife into the country
for a while amongst kindly people. This might no doubt be arranged....

"Here we are, sir."

The familiar smell of drugs, the sound of the trickling water in the soda
fountain roused Hodder to reality, to action, and he hurried into the
telephone booth, fumbled in the dog-eared book, got Dr. Jarvis's number
and called it. An eternity seemed to elapse before he had a reply, heard
his coin jangling in the bog, recognized the voice of the great doctor's
secretary. Yes, the doctor was in would he speak to Mr. Hodder, of St.
John's? . . . An interval, during which Hodder was suddenly struck
with this designation of himself. Was he still of St. John's, then? An
aeon might have elapsed since he had walked down the white marble of its
aisle toward the crouching figure in the pew. He was not that man, but
another--and still Mr. Hodder, of St. John's. . . . Then he heard the
specialist say, "Hello, Mr. Hodder, what can I do for you?" Heard his
own voice in reply, explaining the case. Could the doctor find time?
The doctor could: he was never too busy to attend to the poor,--though he
did not say so: he would be there--by half-past six. The rector hung up
the receiver, opened the door of the booth and mopped his brow, for the
heat was stifling.

"The doctor will go," he explained in answer to Mr. Bentley's inquiring
look.

"Now, sir," said the old gentleman, when they were out of the store, "we
have done all that we can for the time being. I do not live far from
here. Perhaps you would give me the pleasure of taking supper with me,
if you have no other engagement."

No other engagement! Not until then did Hodder remember his empty rooms
in the parish house, and the train which was to have borne him away from
all this already speeding northward. He accepted gratefully, nor did he
pause to speculate upon the mystery by which the stream of his life
seemed so suddenly to have been diverted. He had, indeed, no sense of
mystery in the presence of this splendidly sane, serene old man, any more
than the children who ran after him from the dingy yards and passages,
calling his name, clinging to the skirts of his coat. These accepted
him simply as an anomalous fact in their universe, grinned at his
pleasantries, and held up grimy little hands for the kidney-shaped candy
beans he drew forth from his capacious pockets. In the intervals he
reminisced to the rector about the neighbourhood.

"It seems but a short while ago when the trees met overhead--magnificent
trees they were. The asphalt and the soot killed them. And there were
fruit trees in that yard"--he pointed with his stick to a littered sun
parched plot adjoining a battered mansion--"all pink and white with
blossoms in the spring. Mr. Hadley lived there--one of our forgotten
citizens. He is dead and gone now and his family scattered. That other
house, where the boy lies, belonged to Mr. Villars, a relation of the
Atterbury family, and I can recall very well a little girl with a pink
sash and a white dress who used to come running out to meet me with
flowers in her hands. Incredible as it may seem, she picked them in that
yard. I thought of her as I went in, how fresh and happy she used to be,
and what a different place this was for children then. She must have
some of her own by this time."

The character of the street had changed to what might be called
shabby-genteel, and they stopped before a three-story brick house--one
of a row--that showed signs of scrupulous care. The steps were newly
scrubbed, the woodwork neatly painted.

"This is where I live, sir," said Mr. Bentley, opening the door with a
latchkey and leading the way into a high room on the right, darkened and
cool, and filled with superb, old-fashioned rosewood furniture. It was
fitted up as a library, with tall shelves reaching almost to the ceiling.

An old negro appeared, dressed in a swallow-tailed coat. His hair was as
white as his master's, and his face creased with age.

"Sam," said Mr. Bentley, "I have brought home a gentleman for supper."

"Yassah, Misteh Ho'ace. I was jest agwine to open up de blin's."

He lifted the wire screens and flung back the shutters, beamed
on the rector as he relieved him of his hat, and noiselessly retired.
Curiosity, hitherto suppressed by more powerful feelings, awoke in Hodder
speculations which ordinarily would have been aroused before: every
object in the room bespoke gentility, was eloquent of a day when wealth
was honoured and respected: photographs, daguerreotypes in old-fashioned
frames bore evidence of friendships of the past, and over the marble
mantel hung a portrait of a sweet-faced woman in the costume of the
thirties, whose eyes reminded Hodder of Mr. Bentley's. Who was she?

Hodder wondered. Presently he found himself before a photograph on the
wall beyond, at which he had been staring unconsciously.

"Ah, you recognize it," said Mr. Bentley.

"St. John's!"

"Yes," Mr. Bentley repeated, "St. John's." He smiled at Hodder's glance
of bewilderment, and put his hand on the younger man's arm. "That
picture was taken before you were born, sir, I venture to say--in 1869.
I am very fond of it, for it gives the church in perspective, as you see.
That was Mr. Gore's house"--he indicated a square, heavily corniced
mansion--"where the hotel now stands, and that was his garden, next the
church, where you see the trees above the wall."

The rector turned again and looked at his host, who, was gazing at the
picture thoughtfully.

"I ought to have remembered," he said. "I have seen your name in the
church records, sir, and I have heard Mr. Waring speak of you."

"My dear Mr. Hodder, there is no reason why you should have known me.
A great many years have passed since I was a parishioner of St. John's
--a great many years."

"But it was you," the rector began, uncertainly, and suddenly spoke with
conviction, "it was you who chose the architect, who did more than other
men to make the church what it is."

"Whatever I may have done," replied Mr. Bentley, with simple dignity,
"has brought its reward. To this day I have not ceased to derive
pleasure from it, and often I go out of my way, through Burton Street,
although the view is cramped. And sometimes," he added, with the hint of
a twinkle in his eye, "I go in. This afternoon is not the first time I
have seen you, Mr. Hodder."

"But--?" said the rector. He stared at the other's face, and the
question died on his lips.

"You wonder why I am no longer a parishioner. The time came when
I could not afford to be." There was no hint of reproach in his voice,
of bitterness. He spoke regretfully, indeed, but as one stating an
incontrovertible fact. "I lost my fortune, I could not keep my pew,
so I deeded it back to the church. My old friends, Mrs. Dimock and Asa
Waring, and others, too, were very kind. But I could not accept their
hospitality."

Hodder bowed his head in silence. What thundered indictment of the
Church of Christ could have been as severe, as wholly condemning as these
few words so dispassionately uttered by the man beside him?

The old darky entered, and announced supper.

Hodder had lost his way, yet a hand had been held out to him, and he
seized it. With a sense of being led, psychically as well as physically,
he followed Mr. Bentley into a large bedroom, where a high, four-posted
bed lifted a pleated canopy toward the ceiling. And after he had washed
his hands they entered a dining-room looking out upon a little yard in
the rear, which had been transformed into a garden. Roses, morning
glories, and nasturtiums were growing against the walls; a hose lay
coiled upon the path; the bricks, baked during the day, were splashed
with water; the leaves and petals were wet, and the acrid odour of moist
earth, mingling with perfumes, penetrated the room. Hodder paused in the
window.

"Sam keeps our flowers alive," he heard Mr. Bentley say, "I don't know
how."

"I scrubs 'em, sah," said Sam. "Yassah, I washes 'em like chilluns."

He found himself, at Mr. Bentley's request, asking grace, the old darky
with reverently bent head standing behind his master; sitting down at a
mahogany table that reflected like a mirror the few pieces of old silver,
to a supper of beaten biscuits that burned one's fingers, of 'broiled
chicken and coffee, and sliced peaches and cream. Mr. Bentley was
talking of other days--not so long gone by when the great city had been a
village, or scarcely more. The furniture, it seemed, had come from his
own house in what was called the Wilderness Road, not far from the river
banks, over the site of which limited trains now rolled on their way
eastward toward the northernmost of the city's bridges. He mentioned
many names, some remembered, some forgotten, like his own; dwelt on
pleasures and customs gone by forever.

"A little while after I moved in here, I found that one old man could not
fill the whole of this house, so I let the upper floors," he explained,
smilingly. "Some day I must introduce you to my tenants, Mr. Hodder."

By degrees, as Hodder listened, he became calm. Like a child, he found
himself distracted, talking, asking questions: and the intervals grew
longer between the recurrent surges of fear when the memory rose before
him of the events of the day,--of the woman, the child, and the man: of
Eldon Parr and this deed he had done; hinting, as it did, of closed
chambers of other deeds yet to be opened, of countless, hidden miseries
still to be revealed: when he heard once more the tortured voice of the
banker, and the question: "How would you like to live in this house
--alone?" In contrast, now he beheld the peace in the face of the man
whose worldly goods Eldon Parr had taken, and whom he had driven out of
the church. Surely, this man had found a solution! . . . What was it?

Hodder thought of the child, of the verdict of Dr. Jarvis, but he
lingered on, loth to leave,--if the truth be told--afraid to leave;
drawing strength from his host's calm, wondering as to the source of it,
as to the life which was its expression; longing, yet not presuming, to
question. The twilight deepened, and the old darky lit a lamp and led
the way back to the library.

"Sam," said Mr. Bentley, "draw up the armchair for Mr. Hodder beside the
window. It is cooler there."

"I ought to go," Hodder said. "I ought to see how the child is. Jarvis
will have been there by this time, and there may be necessaries--"

"Jarvis will have attended to that," Mr. Bentley replied. "Sit down, Mr.
Hodder. I am not sure that, for the present, we have not done all in
this case that is humanly possible."

"You mean," said the rector, "that they will accept nothing from me."
It came from him, spontaneously, like a cry. He had not meant to say it.
"I don't blame them. I don't blame them for losing their faith in God
and man, in the Church. I ought to have seen it before, but I was blind,
incredibly blind--until it struck me in the face. You saw it, sir, and
you left a church from which the poor are thrust out, which refuses to
heed the first precept of its Master."

"I saw it," answered Mr. Bentley, "but I could do nothing. Perhaps you
can do--something."

"Ah!" Hodder exclaimed sharply, "why do you say that? The Church is
paralyzed, chained. How can she reach these wretched people who are the
victims of the ruthless individualism and greed of those who control her?
You know--that man, Mr. Bentley." (Hodder could not bring himself to
pronounce Eldon Parr's name.) "I had an affection for him, I pitied him,
because he suffers--"

"Yes," echoed Mr. Bentley, "he suffers."

Hodder was momentarily arrested by the sadness of his tone.

"But he doesn't know why he suffers--he cannot be made to see," the
rector went on. "And he is making others suffer,--hideously, while he
imagines himself a Christian. He is the Church to that miserable,
hopeless wretch we saw to-day, and to hundreds of the same kind whom he
has driven to desperation. And I--who am supposed to be the vicar of
God--I am powerless. They have a contempt for me, a just contempt. They
thrust me out of their doors, bid me to return and minister to their
oppressors. You were right to leave, and I should have left long since."

He had not spoken with violence, or with a lack of control. He seemed
rather to have regained a mastery of himself, and felt as a man from whom
the shackles have been struck, proclaiming his freedom. Mr. Bentley's
eyes lighted in involuntary response as he gazed at the figure and face
before him. He pressed his hands together.

"If you will forgive a curiosity, Mr. Hodder, that is somewhat due to my
interest in a church with which I have many precious associations, may I
ask if this is a sudden determination on your part?"

"No," Hodder said. "I have known ever since I came here that something
was wrong, but at first I couldn't see it, and after that I wouldn't see
it. That is about what happened, as I look back on it.

"But the farther in I went," Hodder continued, "the more tangled and
bewildered I became. I was hypnotized, I think," he added with a
gesture,--"hypnotized, as a man is who never takes his eyes from a
pattern. I wanted to get at this neighbourhood--Dalton Street--I mean,
and finally I agreed to the establishment of a settlement house over
here, to be paid for largely by Eldon Parr and Francis Ferguson. I
couldn't see the folly of such an undertaking--the supreme irony of it,
until--until it was pointed out to me." He hesitated; the remembrance of
Alison Parr ran through him, a thread of pain. "And even then I tried to
dodge the issue, I tried to make myself believe that good might flow out
of evil; that the Church, which is supposed to be founded on the highest
ideal ever presented to man, might compromise and be practical, that
she might accept money which had been wrung from a trusting public by
extortion, by thinly disguised thievery such as this Consolidated
Tractions Company fraud, and do good with it! And at last I made up
my mind to go away, to-day, to a quiet place where I might be alone,
and reflect, when by a singular circumstance I was brought into contact
with this man, Garvin. I see now, clearly enough, that if I had gone,
I should never have come back."

"And you still intend to go?" Mr. Bentley asked.

Hodder leaned his elbow against the mantel. The lamplight had a curious
effect on Mr. Bentley's face.

"What can I do?" he demanded. The question was not aimed directly at his
host--it was in the nature of a renewed appeal to a tribunal which had
been mute, but with which he now seemed vaguely aware of a certain
contact. "Even supposing I could bring myself to accept the compromise
--now that I see it clearly, that the end justifies the means--what good
could I accomplish? You saw what happened this afternoon--the man would
have driven me out if, it hadn't been for you. This whole conception of
charity is a crime against civilization--I had to have that pointed out
to me, too,--this system of legalized or semi-legalized robbery and the
distribution of largesse to the victims. The Church is doing wrong,
is stultifying herself in encouraging it. She should set her face
rigidly against it, stand for morality and justice and Christianity in
government, not for pauperizing. It is her mission to enlighten these
people, all people--to make them self-respecting, to give them some
notion of the dignity of their souls and their rights before God and
man."

"Aren't you yourself suggesting," said Mr. Bentley, "the course which
will permit you to remain?"

Hodder was silent. The thought struck him with tremendous force. Had he
suggested it? And how--why? Could it be done? Could he do it or begin
it?

"We have met at last in a singular way," he heard Mr. Bentley going on,
"in a way that has brushed aside the conventions, in a way--I am happy to
say--that has enabled you to give me your confidence. And I am an old
man,--that has made it easier. I saw this afternoon, Mr. Hodder, that
you were troubled, although you tried to hide it."

"I knew that you saw it," Hodder said.

"Nor was it difficult for me to guess something of the cause of it. The
same thing has troubled me."

"You?"

"Yes," Mr. Bentley answered. "I left St. John's, but the habits and
affections of a lifetime are not easily severed. And some time before
I left it I began to have visions of a future for it. There was a
question, many years ago, as to whether a new St. John's should not be
built in the West End, on a site convenient to the parishioners, and this
removal I opposed. Mr. Waring stood by me. We foresaw the day when
this district would be--what it is now--the precarious refuge of the
unfortunate in the battle of life, of just such unhappy families as the
Garvins, of miserable women who sell themselves to keep alive. I thought
of St. John's, as you did, as an oasis in a desert of misery and vice.
At that time I, too, believed in the system of charities which you have
so well characterized as pauperizing."

"And now?"

Mr. Bentley smiled, as at a reminiscence.

"My eyes were opened," he replied, and in these simple words summed up
and condemned it all. "They are craving bread, and we fling them atones.
I came here. It was a house I owned, which I saved from the wrecks, and
as I look back upon what the world would call a misfortune, sir, I can
see that it was a propitious event, for me. The street 'ran down,'
as the saying goes. I grew gradually to know these people, my new
neighbours, largely through their children, and I perceived many things
I had not dreamed of--before then. I saw how the Church was hampered,
fettered; I saw why they disliked and distrusted it."

"And yet you still believed that it had a mission?" Hodder interrupted.
He had been listening with rapt attention.

"I still believed it," said Mr. Bentley. "My conception of that mission
changed, grew, and yet it seemed further and further from fulfilment.
And then you came to St. John's."

"I!" The cry was involuntary.

"You," Mr. Bentley repeated. "Sometimes," he added whimsically, "I go
there, as I have told you. I saw you, I heard you preach. I talked to
my friend Waring about you. I saw that your eyes were not opened, but I
think I had a certain presentiment, for which I do not pretend to
account, that they would be opened."

"You mean," said the rector, "that if I believe in the mission of the
Church as I have partially stated it here tonight, I--should stay and
fight for it."

"Precisely," Mr. Bentley replied.

There was a note of enthusiasm, almost of militancy in the old
gentleman's tone that surprised and agitated Hodder. He took a turn
up and down the room before he answered.

"I ought to tell you that the view I expressed a moment ago is new to me.
I had not thought of it before, and it is absolutely at variance with any
previous ideas I have held. I can see that it must involve, if carried
to its logical conclusion, a change in the conception of Christianity I
have hitherto held."

He was too intent upon following up the thought to notice Mr. Bentley's
expression of assent.

"And suppose," he asked, "I were unable to come to any conclusion?
I will be frank, Mr. Bentley, and confess to you that at present I cannot
see my way. You have heard me preach--you know what my beliefs have
been. They are shattered. And, while I feel that there is some definite
connection between the view of the Church which I mentioned and her
message to the individual, I do not perceive it clearly. I am not
prepared at present to be the advocate of Christianity, because I do
not know what Christianity is. I thought I knew.

"I shall have to begin all over again, as though I had never taken
orders, submit to a thorough test, examine the evidence impartially. It
is the only way. Of this much I am sure, that the Church as a whole has
been engaged in a senseless conflict with science and progressive
thought, that she has insisted upon the acceptance of facts which are in
violation of reason and which have nothing to do with religion. She has
taught them to me--made them, in fact, a part of me. I have clung to
them as long as I can, and in throwing them over I don't know where I
shall land."

His voice was measured, his words chosen, yet they expressed a withering
indignation and contempt which were plainly the culmination of months of
bewilderment--now replaced by a clear-cut determination.

"I do not blame any individual," he continued, "but the system by which
clergymen are educated.

"I intend to stay here, now, without conducting any services, and find
out for myself what the conditions are here in Dalton Street. You know
those people, Mr. Bentley, you understand them, and I am going to ask you
to help me. You have evidently solved the problem."

Mr. Bentley rose. And he laid a hand, which was not quite steady, on the
rector's shoulder.

"Believe me, sir," he replied, "I appreciate something of what such a
course must mean to you--a clergyman." He paused, and a look came upon
his face, a look that might scarce have been called a smile--Hodder
remembered it as a glow--reminiscent of many things. In it a life was
summed ups in it understanding, beneficence, charity, sympathy, were all
expressed, yet seemingly blended into one. "I do not know what my
testimony may be worth to you, my friend, but I give it freely. I
sometimes think I have been peculiarly fortunate. But I have lived a
great many years, and the older I get and the more I see of human nature
the firmer has grown my conviction of its essential nobility and
goodness."

Hodder marvelled, and was silent.

"You will come here, often,--every day if you can. There are many men
and women, friends of mine, whom I should like you to know, who would
like to know you."

"I will, and thank you," Hodder answered. Words were inadequate for the
occasion . . . .



CHAPTER XII

THE WOMAN OF THE SONG

On leaving Mr. Bentley, Hodder went slowly down Dalton Street, wondering
that mere contact with another human being should have given him the
resolution to turn his face once again toward the house whither he was
bound. And this man had given him something more. It might hardly have
been called faith; a new courage to fare forth across the Unknown--that
was it; hope, faint but revived.

Presently he stopped on the sidewalk, looked around him, and read a sign
in glaring, electric letters, Hotel Albert. Despite the heat, the place
was ablaze with lights. Men and women were passing, pausing--going in.
A motor, with a liveried chauffeur whom he remembered having seen before,
was standing in front of the Rathskeller. The nightly carousal was
beginning.

Hodder retraced his steps, crossed the street diagonally, came to the
dilapidated gate he remembered so well, and looked up through the dusk at
the house. If death had entered it, there was no sign: death must be a
frequent visitor hereabouts. On the doorsteps he saw figures outlined,
slatternly women and men in shirt-sleeves who rose in silence to make way
for him, staring at him curiously. He plunged into the hot darkness of
the hall, groped his way up the stairs and through the passage, and
hesitated. A single gas jet burned low in the stagnant air, and after a
moment he made out, by its dim light, a woman on her knees beside the
couch, mechanically moving the tattered palm-leaf over the motionless
little figure. The child was still alive. He drew a deep breath, and
entered; at the sound of his step Mrs. Garvin suddenly started up.

"Richard!" she cried, and then stood staring at the rector. "Have you
seen my husband, sir? He went away soon after you left."

Hodder, taken by surprise, replied that he had not. Her tone, her
gesture of anxiety he found vaguely disquieting.

"The doctor has been here?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered absently. "I don't know where he can be--Richard.
He didn't even wait to see the doctor. And he thinks so much of Dicky,
sir, he sits here of an evening--"

Hodder sat down beside her, and taking the palm-leaf from her hand, began
himself to fan the child. Something of her misgiving had communicated
itself to him.

"Don't worry," he said. "Remember that you have been through a great
deal, and it is natural that you should be overwrought. Your husband
feels strongly. I don't blame him. And the sight of me this afternoon
upset him. He has gone out to walk."

"Richard is proud," she answered simply. "He used to say he'd rather
die than take charity--and now he's come to it. And it's--that man, sir,
who's got on his brain, and changed him. He wasn't always like this, but
now he can't seem to think of anything else. He wakes up in the night
. . . . And he used to have such a sweet nature--you wouldn't have
known him . . . and came home so happy in the evenings in Alder
Street, often with a little fruit, or something he'd bought for us, and
romp with Dicky in the yard, and I'd stand and laugh at them. Even after
we'd lost our money, when he was sick that time, he didn't feel this way.
It grew on him when he couldn't get work, and then he began to cut things
out of the papers about Mr. Parr. And I have sometimes thought that
that's kept him from getting work. He talks about it, and people don't
know what to make of him. They don't know how hard he'd try if they'd
give him something.". . . .

"We shall find something," said the rector, striving to throw into his
voice confidence and calm. He did not dare to look at her, but continued
to move the fan.

The child stirred a little. Mrs. Garvin put out her hand.

"Yes, the doctor was here. He was very kind. Oh, sir," she exclaimed,
"I hope you won't think us ungrateful--and that Mr. Bentley won't.
Dr. Jarvis has hopes, sir,--he says--I forget the name he called it, what
Dicky has. It's something uncommon. He says it was--brought on by the
heat, and want of food--good food. And he's coming himself in the
morning to take him out to that hospital beyond the park--in an
automobile, sir. I was just thinking what a pity it is Dicky wouldn't
realize it. He's always wanted to ride in one." Suddenly her tears
flowed, unheeded, and she clung to the little hand convulsively.
"I don't know what I shall do without him, Sir, I don't . . . . I've
always had him . . . and when he's sick, among strangers." . . .

The rector rose to the occasion.

"Now, Mrs. Garvin," he said firmly, "you must remember that there is only
one way to save the boy's life. It will be easy to get you a room near
the hospital, where you can see him constantly."

"I know--I know, sir. But I couldn't leave his father, I couldn't leave
Richard." She looked around distractedly. "Where is he?"

"He will come back presently," said the rector. "If not, I will look for
him."

She did not reply, but continued to weep in silence. Suddenly, above the
confused noises of the night, the loud notes of a piano broke, and the
woman whose voice he had heard in the afternoon began once more with
appalling vigour to sing. The child moaned.

Mrs. Garvin started up hysterically.

"I can't stand it--I can't stand her singing that now," she sobbed.

Thirty feet away, across the yard, Hodder saw the gleaming window from
which the music came. He got to his feet. Another verse began, with
more of the brazen emphasis of the concert-hall singer than ever.
He glanced at the woman beside him, irresolutely.

"I'll speak to her," he said.

Mrs. Garvin did not appear to hear him, but flung herself down beside the
lounge. As he seized his hat and left the room he had the idea of
telephoning for a nurse, when he almost ran into some one in the upper
hall, and recognized the stout German woman, Mrs. Breitmann.

"Mrs. Garvin"--he said, "she ought not to be left--"

"I am just now going," said Mrs. Breitmann. "I stay with her until her
husband come."

Such was the confidence with which, for some reason, she inspired him,
that he left with an easier mind.

It was not until the rector had arrived at the vestibule of the apartment
house next door that something--of the difficulty and delicacy of the
errand he had undertaken came home to him. Impulse had brought him thus
far, but now he stood staring helplessly at a row of bells, speaking
tubes, and cards. Which, for example, belonged to the lady whose soprano
voice pervaded the neighbourhood? He looked up and down the street, in
the vain hope of finding a messenger. The song continued: he had
promised to stop it. Hodder accused himself of cowardice.

To his horror, Hodder felt stealing over him, incredible though it seemed
after the depths through which he had passed, a faint sense of
fascination in the adventure. It was this that appalled him--this
tenacity of the flesh,--which no terrors seemed adequate to drive out.
The sensation, faint as it was, unmanned him. There were still many
unexplored corners in his soul.

He turned, once more contemplated the bells, and it was not until
then he noticed that the door was ajar. He pushed it open, climbed the
staircase, and stood in the doorway of what might be called a sitting
room, his eyes fixed on a swaying back before an upright piano against
the wall; his heart seemed to throb with the boisterous beat of the
music. The woman's hair, in two long and heavy plaits falling below her
waist, suddenly fascinated him. It was of the rarest of russet reds.
She came abruptly to the end of the song.

"I beg your pardon--" he began.

She swung about with a start, her music dropping to the floor, and stared
at him. Her tattered blue kimono fell away at her elbows, her full
throat was bare, and a slipper she had kicked off lay on the floor beside
her. He recoiled a little, breathing deeply. She stared at him.

"My God, how you scared me!" she exclaimed. Evidently a second glance
brought to her a realization of his clerical costume. "Say, how did you
get in here?"

"I beg your pardon," he said again, "but there is a very sick child in
the house next door and I came to ask you if you would mind not playing
any more to-night."

She did not reply at once, and her expression he found unsolvable. Much
of it might be traced to a life which had contracted the habit of taking
nothing on trust, a life which betrayed itself in unmistakable traces
about the eyes. And Hodder perceived that the face, if the stamp of this
expression could have been removed, was not unpleasing, although
indulgence and recklessness were beginning to remould it.

"Quit stringin' me," she said.

For a moment he was at a loss. He gathered that she did not believe him,
and crossed to the open window.

"If you will come here," he said, "I will show you the room where he
lies. We hope to be able to take him to the hospital to-morrow." He
paused a moment, and added: "He enjoyed your music very much when he was
better."

The comment proved a touchstone.

"Say," she remarked, with a smile that revealed a set of surprisingly
good teeth, "I can make the box talk when I get a-goin'. There's no
stopping me this side of grand opera,--that's no fable. I'm not so bad
for an enginoo, am I?"

Thus directly appealed to, in common courtesy he assented.

"No indeed," he said.

"That's right," she declared. "But the managers won't have it at any
price. Those jays don't know anything, do they? They've only got a
dream of what the public wants. You wouldn't believe it, but I've sung
for 'em, and they threw me out. You wouldn't believe it, would you?"

"I must own," said the rector, "that I have never had any experience with
managers."

She sat still considering him from the piano stool, her knees apart, her
hands folded in her lap. Mockery came into her eyes.

"Say, what did you come in here for, honest injun?" she demanded.

He was aware of trying to speak sternly, and of failing. To save his
life he could not, then, bring up before himself the scene in the little
back room across the yard in its full terror and reality, reproduce his
own feelings of only a few minutes ago which had impelled him hither.
A month, a year might have elapsed. Every faculty was now centred on
the woman in front of him, and on her life.

"Why do you doubt me?" he asked.

She continued to contemplate him. Her eyes were strange, baffling,
smouldering, yellow-brown, shifting, yet not shifty: eyes with a history.
Her laugh proclaimed both effrontery and uneasiness.

"Don't get huffy," she said. "The kid's sick--that's on the level, is
it? You didn't come 'round to see me?" The insinuation was in her voice
as well as in her words. He did not resent it, but felt an odd thrill of
commingled pity and--fear.

"I came for the reason I have given you," he replied; and added, more
gently: "I know it is a good deal to ask, but you will be doing a great
kindness. The mother is distracted. The child, as I told you, will be
taken to the hospital in the morning."

She reached out a hand and closed the piano softly.

"I guess I can hold off for to-night," she said. "Sometimes things get
kind of dull--you know, when there's nothing doing, and this keeps me
lively. How old is the kid?"

"About nine," he estimated.

"Say, I'm sorry." She spoke with a genuineness of feeling that surprised
him. He went slowly, almost apologetically toward the door.

"Good night," he said, "and thank you."

Her look halted him.

"What's your hurry?" she demanded.

"I'm sorry," he said hastily, "but I must be going." He was, in truth,
in a panic to leave.

"You're a minister, ain't you?"

"Yes," he said.

"I guess you don't think much of me, do you?" she demanded.

He halted abruptly, struck by the challenge, and he saw that this woman
had spoken not for herself, but for an entire outlawed and desperate
class. The fact that the words were mocking and brazen made no
difference; it would have been odd had they not been so. With a shock
of surprise he suddenly remembered that his inability to reach this
class had been one of the causes of his despair! And now? With the
realization, reaction set in, an overpowering feeling of weariness, a
desire--for rest--for sleep. The electric light beside the piano danced
before his eyes, yet he heard within him a voice crying out to him to
stay. Desperately tired though he was, he must not leave now. He walked
slowly to the table, put his hat on it and sat down in a chair beside it.

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"Oh, cut it out!" said the woman. "I'm on to you church folks." She
laughed. "One of 'em came in here once, and wanted to pray. I made a
monkey of him."

"I hope," said the rector, smiling a little, "that is not the reason why
you wish me to stay."

She regarded him doubtfully.

"You're not the same sort," she announced at length.

"What sort was he?"

"He was easy,--old enough to know better--most of the easy ones are. He
marched in sanctimonious as you please, with his mouth full of salvation
and Bible verses." She laughed again at the recollection.

"And after that," said the rector, "you felt that ministers were a lot of
hypocrites."

"I never had much opinion of 'em," she admitted, "nor of church people,
either," she added, with emphasis.

"There's Ferguson, who has the department store,--he's 'way up' in church
circles. I saw him a couple of months ago, one Sunday morning, driving
to that church on Burton Street, where all the rich folks go. I forget
the name--"

"St. John's," he supplied. He had got beyond surprise.

"St. John's--that's it. They tell me he gives a lot of money to it
--money that he steals from the girls he hires. Oh, yes, he'll get to
heaven--I don't think."

"How do you mean that he steals money from the girls?"

"Say, you are innocent--ain't you! Did you ever go down to that store?
Do you know what a floorwalker is? Did you ever see the cheap guys
hanging around, and the young swells waiting to get a chance at the girls
behind the counters? Why do you suppose so many of 'em take to the easy
life? I'll put you next--because Ferguson don't pay 'em enough to live
on. That's why. He makes 'em sign a paper, when he hires 'em, that they
live at home, that they've got some place to eat and sleep, and they sign
it all right. That's to square up Ferguson's conscience. But say, if
you think a girl can support herself in this city and dress on what he
pays, you've got another guess comin'."

There rose up before him, unsummoned, the image of Nan Ferguson, in all
her freshness and innocence, as she had stood beside him on the porch in
Park Street. He was somewhat astonished to find himself defending his
parishioner.

"May it not be true, in order to compete with other department stores,
that Mr. Ferguson has to pay the same wages?" he said.

"Forget it. I guess you know what Galt House is? That's where women
like me can go when we get all played out and there's nothing left in the
game--it's on River Street. Maybe you've been there."

Hodder nodded.

"Well," she continued, "Ferguson pays a lot of money to keep that going,
and gets his name in the papers. He hands over to the hospitals where
some of us die--and it's all advertised. He forks out to the church.
Now, I put it to you, why don't he sink some of that money where it
belongs--in living wages? Because there's nothing in it for him
--that's why."

The rector looked at her in silence. He had not suspected her of so much
intellect. He glanced about the apartment, at the cheap portiere flung
over the sofa; at the gaudy sofa cushions, two of which bore the names
and colours of certain colleges. The gas log was almost hidden by dried
palm leaves, a cigarette stump lay on the fender; on the mantel above
were several photographs of men and at the other side an open door
revealed a bedroom.

"This is a nice place, ain't it?" she observed. "I furnished it when I
was on velvet--nothing was too good for me. Money's like champagne when
you take the cork out, it won't keep. I was rich once. It was lively
while it lasted," she added, with a sigh: "I've struck the down trail.
I oughtn't, by rights, to be here fooling with you. There's nothing in
it." She glanced at the clock. "I ought to get busy."

As the realization of her meaning came to him, he quivered.

"Is there no way but that?" he asked, in a low voice.

"Say, you're not a-goin' to preach, are you?"

"No," he answered, "God forbid! I was not asking the question of you."

She stared at him.

"Of who, then?"

He was silent.

"You've left me at the station. But on the level, you don't seem to know
much, that's a fact. You don't think the man who owns these flats is in
it for charity, do you? 'Single ladies,' like me, have to give up. And
then there are other little grafts that wouldn't interest you. What
church do you come from anyway?"

"You mentioned it a little while ago."

"St. John's!" She leaned back against the piano and laughed
unrestrainedly. "That's a good one, to think how straight I've been
talking to you."

"I'm much obliged to you," he said.

Again she gazed at him, now plainly perplexed.

"What are you giving me?"

"I mean what I say," he answered. "I am obliged to you for telling me
things I didn't know. And I appreciate--your asking me to stay."

She was sitting upright now, her expression changed, her breath came more
rapidly, her lips parted as she gazed at him.

"Do you know," she said, "I haven't had anybody speak to me like that
for four years." Her voice betrayed excitement, and differed in tone,
and she had cast off unconsciously the vulgarity of speech. At that
moment she seemed reminiscent of what she must once have been; and he
found himself going through an effort at reconstruction.

"Like what?" he asked.

"Like a woman," she answered vehemently.

"My name is John Hodder," he said, "and I live in the parish house, next
door to the church. I should like to be your friend, if you will let me.
If I can be of any help to you now, or at any other time, I shall feel
happy. I promise not to preach," he added.

She got up abruptly, and went to the window. And when she turned to him
again, it was with something of the old bravado.

"You'd better leave me alone, I'm no good;" she said. "I'm much obliged
to you, but I don't want any charity or probation houses in mine. And
honest work's a thing of the past for me--even if I could get a job.
Nobody would have me. But if they would, I couldn't work any more.
I've got out of the hang of it." With a swift and decisive movement she
crossed the room, opened a cabinet on the wall, revealing a bottle and
glasses.

"So you're bent upon going--downhill?" he said.

"What can you do to stop it?" she retorted defiantly, "Give me religion
---I guess you'd tell me. Religion's all right for those on top, but
say, it would be a joke if I got it. There ain't any danger. But if I
did, it wouldn't pay room-rent and board."

He sat mute. Once more the truth overwhelmed, the folly of his former
optimism arose to mock him. What he beheld now, in its true aspect, was
a disease of that civilization he had championed. . .

She took the bottle from the cupboard and laid it on the table.

"What's the difference?" she demanded. "It's all over in a little while,
anyway. I guess you'd tell me there was a hell. But if that's so, some
of your church folks'll broil, too. I'll take my chance on it, if they
will." She looked at him, half in defiance, half in friendliness, across
the table. "Say, you mean all right, but you're only wastin' time here.
You can't do me any good, I tell you, and I've got to get busy."

"May we not at least remain friends?" he asked, after a moment.

Her laugh was a little harsh.

"What kind of friendship would that be? You, a minister, and me a woman
on the town?"

"If I can stand it, I should think you might."

"Well, I can't stand it," she answered.

He got up, and held out his hand. She stood seemingly irresolute, and
then took it.

"Good night," he said.

"Good night," she repeated nonchalantly.

As he went out of the door she called after him:

"Don't be afraid I'll worry the kid!"

The stale odour of cigarette smoke with which the dim corridor was
charged intoxicated, threatened to overpower him. It seemed to be the
reek of evil itself. A closing door had a sinister meaning. He hurried;
obscurity reigned below, the light in the lower hall being out; fumbled
for the door-knob, and once in the street took a deep breath and mopped
his brow; but he had not proceeded half a block before he hesitated,
retraced his steps, reentered the vestibule, and stooped to peer at the
cards under the speaking tubes. Cheaply printed in large script, was the
name of the tenant of the second floor rear,--MISS KATE MARCY. . . .

In crossing Tower Street he was frightened by the sharp clanging of a
great electric car that roared past him, aflame with light. His brain
had seemingly ceased to work, and he stumbled at the curb, for he was
very tired. The events of the day no longer differentiated themselves
in his mind but lay, a composite weight, upon his heart. At length he
reached the silent parish house, climbed the stairs and searched in his
pocket for the key of his rooms. The lock yielded, but while feeling for
the switch he tripped and almost fell over an obstruction on the floor.

The flooding light revealed his travelling-bags, as he had piled them,
packed and ready to go to the station.



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 4.

XIII.   WINTERBOURNE
XIV.   A SATURDAY AFTERNOON
XV.    THE CRUCIBLE
XVI.   AMID THE ENCIRCLING GLOOM



CHAPTER XIII

WINTERBOURNE


I

Hodder fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, awaking during the night at
occasional intervals to recall chimerical dreams in which the events of
the day before were reflected, but caricatured and distorted. Alison
Parr was talking to the woman in the flat, and both were changed, and yet
he identified both: and on another occasion he saw a familiar figure
surrounded by romping, ragged children--a figure which turned out to be
Eldon Parr's!

Finally he was aroused by what seemed a summons from the unknown--the
prolonged morning whistle of the shoe factory. For a while he lay as one
benumbed, and the gradual realization that ensued might be likened to the
straining of stiffened wounds. Little by little he reconstructed, until
the process became unbearable, and then rose from his bed with one object
in mind,--to go to Horace Bentley. At first--he seized upon the excuse
that Mr. Bentley would wish to hear the verdict of Dr. Jarvis, but
immediately abandoned it as dishonest, acknowledging the true reason,
that in all the--world the presence of this one man alone might assuage
in some degree the terror in his soul. For the first time in his life,
since childhood, he knew a sense of utter dependence upon another human
being. He felt no shame, would make no explanation for his early visit.

He turned up Tower, deliberately avoiding Dalton Street in its lower
part, reached Mr. Bentley's door. The wrinkled, hospitable old darky
actually seemed to radiate something of the personality with which he had
so long been associated, and Hodder was conscious of a surge of relief,
a return of confidence at sight of him. Yes, Mr. Bentley was at home,
in the dining room. The rector said he would wait, and not disturb him.

"He done tole me to bring you out, sah, if you come," said Sam.

"He expects me?" exclaimed Hodder, with a shock of surprise.

"That's what he done tole me, sah, to ax you kindly for to step out when
you come."

The sun was beginning to penetrate into the little back yard, where the
flowers were still glistening with the drops of their morning bath; and
Mr. Bentley sat by the window reading his newspaper, his spectacles on
his nose, and a great grey cat rubbing herself against his legs. He rose
with alacrity.

"Good morning, sir," he said, and his welcome implied that early morning
visits were the most common and natural of occurrences. "Sam, a plate
for Mr. Hodder. I was just hoping you would come and tell me what Dr.
Jarvis had said about the case."

But Hodder was not deceived. He believed that Mr. Bentley understood
perfectly why he had come, and the knowledge of the old gentleman's
comprehension curiously added to his sense of refuge. He found himself
seated once more at the mahogany table, permitting Sam to fill his cup
with coffee.

"Jarvis has given a favourable report, and he is coming this morning
himself, in an automobile, to take the boy out to the hospital."

"That is like Jarvis," was Mr. Bentley's comment. "We will go there,
together, after breakfast, if convenient for you," he added.

"I hoped you would," replied the rector. "And I was going to ask
you a favour. I have a check, given me by a young lady to use at my
discretion, and it occurred to me that Garvin might be willing to accept
some proposal from you." He thought of Nan Ferguson, and of the hope he
lead expressed of finding some one in Dalton Street.

"I have been considering the matter," Mr. Bentley said. "I have a friend
who lives on the trolley line a little beyond the hospital, a widow. It
is like the country there, you know, and I think Mrs. Bledsoe could be
induced to take the Garvins. And then something can be arranged for him.
I will find an opportunity to speak to him this morning."

Hodder sipped his coffee, and looked out at the morning-glories opening
to the sun.

"Mrs. Garvin was alone last night. He had gone out shortly after we
left, and had not waited for the doctor. She was greatly worried."

Hodder found himself discussing these matters on which, an hour before,
he had feared to permit his mind to dwell. And presently, not without
feeling, but in a manner eliminating all account of his personal
emotions, he was relating that climactic episode of the woman at the
piano. The old gentleman listened intently, and in silence.

"Yes," he said, when the rector had finished, "that is my observation.
Most of them are driven to the life, and held in it, of course, by a
remorseless civilization. Individuals may be culpable, Mr. Hodder--are
culpable. But we cannot put the whole responsibility on individuals."

"No," Hodder assented, "I can see that now." He paused a moment, and as
his mind dwelt upon the scene and he saw again the woman standing before
him in bravado, the whole terrible meaning of her life and end flashed
through him as one poignant sensation. Her dauntless determination to
accept the consequence of her acts, her willingness to look her future in
the face, cried out to him in challenge.

"She refused unconditionally," he said.

Mr. Bentley seemed to read his thought, divine his appeal.

"We must wait," he answered.

"Do you think?--" Hodder began, and stopped abruptly.

"I remember another case, somewhat similar," said Mr. Bentley. "This
woman, too, had the spirit you describe--we could do nothing with her.
We kept an eye on her--or rather Sally Grover did--she deserves credit
--and finally an occasion presented itself."

"And the woman you speak of was--rehabilitated?" Hodder asked.
He avoided the word "saved."

"Yes, sir. It was one of the fortunate cases. There are others which
are not so fortunate."

Hodder nodded.

"We are beginning to recognize that we are dealing, in, many instances,
with a disease," Mr. Bentley went on. "I am far from saying that it
cannot be cured, but sometimes we are forced to admit that the cure is
not within our power, Mr. Hodder."

Two thoughts struck the rector simultaneously, the: revelation of what
might be called a modern enlightenment in one of Mr. Bentley's age, an
indication of uninterrupted growth, of the sense of continued youth which
had impressed him from the beginning; and, secondly, an intimation from
the use of the plural pronoun we, of an association of workers (informal,
undoubtedly) behind Mr. Bentley. While he was engaged in these
speculations the door opened.

"Heah's Miss Sally, Marse Ho'ace," said Sam.

"Good morning, Sally," said Mr. Bentley, rising from the table with his
customary courtesy, "I'm glad you came in. Let me introduce Mr. Hodder,
of St. John's."

Miss Grover had capability written all over her. She was a young woman
of thirty, slim to spareness, simply dressed in a shirtwaist and a dark
blue skirt; alert, so distinctly American in type as to give a suggestion
of the Indian. Her quick, deep-set eyes searched Hodder's face as she
jerked his hand; but her greeting was cordial, and, matter-of-fact. She
stimulated curiosity.

"Well, Sally, what's the news?" Mr. Bentley asked.

"Gratz, the cabinet-maker, was on the rampage again, Mr. Bentley. His
wife was here yesterday when I got home from work, and I went over with
her. He was in a beastly state, and all the niggers and children in the
neighbourhood, including his own, around the shop. Fusel oil, labelled
whiskey," she explained, succinctly.

"What did you do?"

"Took the bottle away from him," said Miss Grower. The simplicity of
this method, Holder thought, was undeniable. "Stayed there until he came
to. Then I reckon I scared him some."

"How?" Mr. Bentley smiled.

"I told him he'd have to see you. He'd rather serve three months than do
that--said so. I reckon he would, too," she declared grimly. "He's
better than he was last year, I think." She thrust her hand in the
pocket of her skirt and produced some bills and silver, which she
counted. "Here's three thirty-five from Sue Brady. I told her she
hadn't any business bothering you, but she swears she'd spend it."

"That was wrong, Sally."

Miss Grower tossed her head.

"Oh, she knew I'd take it, well enough."

"I imagine she did," Mr. Bentley replied, and his eyes twinkled. He rose
and led the way into the library, where he opened his desk, produced a
ledger, and wrote down the amount in a fine hand.

"Susan Brady, three dollars and thirty-five cents. I'll put it in the
savings bank to-day. That makes twenty-two dollars and forty cents for
Sue. She's growing rich."

"Some man'll get it," said Sally.

"Sally," said Mr. Bentley, turning in his chair, "Mr. Holder's been
telling me about a rather unusual woman in that apartment house just
above Fourteenth Street, on the south side of Dalton."

"I think I know her--by sight," Sally corrected herself. She appealed.
to Holder. "Red hair, and lots of it--I suppose a man would call it
auburn. She must have been something of a beauty, once."

The rector assented, in some astonishment.

"Couldn't do anything with her, could you? I reckoned not. I've noticed
her up and down Dalton Street at night."

Holder was no longer deceived by her matter-of-fact tone.

"I'll tell you what, Mr. Holder," she went on, energetically, "there's
not a particle of use running after those people, and the sooner you find
it out the less worry and trouble you give yourself."

"Mr. Holder didn't run after her, Sally," said Mr. Bentley, in gentle
reproof.

Holder smiled.

"Well," said Miss Grower, "I've had my eye on her. She has a history
--most of 'em have. But this one's out of the common. When they're brazen
like that, and have had good looks, you can nearly always tell. You've.
got to wait for something to happen, and trust to luck to be on the spot,
or near it. It's a toss-up, of course. One thing is sure, you can't
make friends with that kind if they get a notion you're up to anything."

"Sally, you must remember--" Mr. Bentley began.

Her tone became modified. Mr. Bentley was apparently the only human of
whom she stood in awe.

"All I meant was," she said, addressing the rector, "that you've got to
run across 'em in some natural way."

"I understood perfectly, and I agree with you," Holder replied. "I have
come, quite recently, to the same conclusion myself."

She gave him a penetrating glance, and he had to admit, inwardly, that a
certain satisfaction followed Miss Grower's approval.

"Mercy, I have to be going," she exclaimed, glancing at the black marble
clock on the mantel. "We've got a lot of invoices to put through to-day.
See you again, Mr. Holder." She jerked his hand once more. "Good
morning, Mr. Bentley."

"Good morning, Sally."

Mr. Bentley rose, and took his hat and gold-headed stick from the rack in
the hall.

"You mustn't mind Sally," he said, when they had reached the sidewalk.
"Sometimes her brusque manner is not understood. But she is a very
extraordinary woman."

"I can see that," the rector assented quickly, and with a heartiness
that dispelled all doubt of his liking for Miss Grower. Once more many
questions rose to his lips, which he suppressed, since Mr. Bentley
volunteered no information. Hodder became, in fact, so lost in
speculation concerning Mr. Bentley's establishment as to forget the
errand on which--they were bound. And Sally Grower's words, apropos of
the woman in the flat, seemed but an energetic driving home of the severe
lessons of his recent experiences. And how blind he had been, he
reflected, not to have seen the thing for himself! Not to have realized
the essential artificiality of his former method of approach! And then
it struck him that Sally Grower herself must have had a history.

Mr. Bentley, too, was preoccupied.

Presently, in the midst of these thoughts, Hodder's eyes were arrested by
a crowd barring the sidewalk on the block ahead; no unusual sight in that
neighbourhood, and yet one which aroused in him sensations of weakness
and nausea. Thus were the hidden vice and suffering of these sinister
places occasionally brought to light, exposed to the curious and morbid
stares of those whose own turn might come on the morrow. It was only by
degrees he comprehended that the people were gathered in front of the
house to which they were bound. An ambulance was seen to drive away: it
turned into the aide street in front of them.

"A city ambulance!" the rector exclaimed.

Mr. Bentley did not reply.

The murmuring group which overflowed the uneven brick pavement to the
asphalt was characteristic: women in calico, drudges, women in wrappers,
with sleepy, awestricken faces; idlers, men and boys who had run out of
the saloons, whose comments were more audible and caustic, and a fringe
of children ceaselessly moving on the outskirts. The crowd parted at
their approach, and they reached the gate, where a burly policeman, his
helmet in his hand, was standing in the morning sunlight mopping his face
with a red handkerchief. He greeted Mr. Bentley respectfully, by name,
and made way for them to pass in.

"What is the trouble, Ryan?" Mr. Bentley asked.

"Suicide, sir," the policeman replied. "Jumped off the bridge this
morning. A tug picked him up, but he never came to--the strength wasn't
in him. Sure it's all wore out he was. There was a letter on him, with
the home number, so they knew where to fetch him. It's a sad case, sir,
with the woman in there, and the child gone to the hospital not an hour
ago."

"You mean Garvin?" Mr. Bentley demanded.

"It's him I mean, sir."

"We'd like to go in," said Mr. Bentley. "We came to see them."

"You're welcome, air, and the minister too. It's only them I'm holdin'
back," and the policeman shook his stick at the people.

Mr. Bentley walked up the steps, and took off his hat as he went through
the battered doorway. Hodder followed, with a sense of curious faces
staring at them from the thresholds as they passed; they reached the
upper passage, and the room, and paused: the shutters were closed, the
little couch where the child had been was empty. On the bed lay a form
--covered with a sheet, and beside it a woman kneeling, shaken by sobs,
ceaselessly calling a name . . . .

A stout figure, hitherto unperceived, rose from a corner and came
silently toward them--Mrs. Breitmann. She beckoned to them, and they
followed her into a room on the same floor, where she told them what she
knew, heedless of the tears coursing ceaselessly down her cheeks.

It seemed that Mrs. Garvin had had a premonition which she had not wholly
confided to the rector. She had believed her husband never would come
back; and early in the morning, in spite of all that Mrs. Breitmann could
do, had insisted at intervals upon running downstairs and scanning the
street. At half past seven Dr. Jarvis had come and himself carried down
the child and put him in the back of his automobile. The doctor had had
a nurse with him, and had begged the mother to accompany them to the
hospital, saying that he would send her back. But she would not be
persuaded to leave the house. The doctor could not wait, and had finally
gone off with little. Dicky, leaving a powder with Mrs. Breitmann for
the mother. Then she had become uncontrollable.

"Ach, it was terrible!" said the kind woman. "She was crazy, yes--she
was not in her mind. I make a little coffee, but she will not touch it.
All those things about her home she would talk of, and how good he was,
and how she lofed him more again than the child.

"Und then the wheels in the street, and she makes a cry and runs to see
--I cannot hold her . . . ."

"It would be well not to disturb her for a while," said Mr. Bentley,
seating himself on one of the dilapidated chairs which formed apart of
the German woman's meagre furniture. "I will remain here if you, Mr.
Hodder, will make the necessary arrangements for the funeral. Have you
any objections, sir?"

"Not at all," replied the rector, and left the house, the occupants of
which had already returned to the daily round of their lives: the rattle
of dishes and the noise of voices were heard in the 'ci devant' parlour,
and on the steps he met the little waif with the pitcher of beer; in the
street the boys who had gathered around the ambulance were playing
baseball. Hodder glanced up, involuntarily, at the window of the woman
he had visited the night before, but it was empty. He hurried along the
littered sidewalks to the drug store, where he telephoned an undertaker;
and then, as an afterthought, telephoned the hospital. The boy had
arrived, and was seemingly no worse for the journey.

All this Hodder performed mechanically. Not until he was returning--not,
indeed, until he entered the house did the whiff of its degrading, heated
odours bring home to him the tragedy which it held, and he grasped the
banister on the stairs. The thought that shook him now was of the
cumulative misery of the city, of the world, of which this history on
which he had stumbled was but one insignificant incident. But he went on
into Mrs. Breitmann's room, and saw Mr. Bentley still seated where he had
left him. The old gentleman looked up at him.

"Mrs. Breitmann and I are agreed, Mr. Hodder, that Mrs. Garvin ought not
to remain in there. What do you think?"

"By all means, no," said the rector.

The German woman burst into a soliloquy of sympathy that became
incoherent.

"She will not leave him,--nein--she will not come. . . ."

They went, the three of them, to the doorway of the death chamber and
stood gazing at the huddled figure of the woman by the bedside. She had
ceased to cry out: she was as one grown numb under torture; occasionally
a convulsive shudder shook her. But when Mrs. Breitmann touched her,
spoke to her, her grief awoke again in all its violence, and it was more
by force than persuasion that she was finally removed. Mrs. Breitmann
held one arm, Mr. Bentley another, and between them they fairly carried
her out, for she was frail indeed.

As for Hodder, something held him back--some dread that he could not at
once define. And while he groped for it, he stood staring at the man on
the bed, for the hand of love had drawn back the sheet from the face.
The battle was over of this poor weakling against the world; the torments
of haunting fear and hate, of drink and despair had triumphed. The sight
of the little group of toys brought up the image of the home in Alder
Street as the wife had pictured it. Was it possible that this man, who
had gone alone to the bridge in the night, had once been happy, content
with life, grateful for it, possessed of a simple trust in his
fellow-men--in Eldon Parr? Once more, unsummoned, came the memory of that
evening of rain and thunder in the boy's room at the top of the great
horse in Park Street. He had pitied Eldon Parr then. Did he now?

He crossed the room, on tiptoe, as though he feared to wake once more
this poor wretch to his misery and hate, Gently he covered again the face
with the sheet.

Suddenly he knew the reason of his dread,--he had to face the woman!
He was a minister of Christ, it was his duty to speak to her, as he had
spoken to others in the hour of sorrow and death, of the justice and
goodness of the God to whom she had prayed in the church. What should he
say, now? In an agony of spirit, he sat down on the little couch beside
the window and buried his face in his hands. The sight of poor Garvin's
white and wasted features, the terrible contrast between this miserable
tenement and the palace with its unseen pictures and porcelains and
tapestries, brought home to him with indescribable poignancy his own
predicament. He was going to ask this woman to be comforted by faith and
trust in the God of the man who had driven her husband to death! He
beheld Eldon Parr in his pew complacently worshipping that God, who had
rewarded him with riches and success--beheld himself as another man in
his white surplice acquiescing in that God, preaching vainly . . . .

At last he got to his feet, went out of the room, reached the doorway of
that other room and looked in. Mr. Bentley sat there; and the woman,
whose tears had ceased to flow, was looking up into his face.



II

"The office ensuing," says the Book of Common Prayer, meaning the Burial
of the Dead, "is not to be used for any Unbaptized adult, any who die
excommunicate, or who have laid violent hands on themselves."

Hodder had bought, with a part of Nan Ferguson's money, a tiny plot in a
remote corner of Winterbourne Cemetery. And thither, the next morning,
the body of Richard Garvin was taken.

A few mourners had stolen into the house and up the threadbare stairs
into the miserable little back room, somehow dignified as it had never
been before, and laid their gifts upon the coffin. An odd and pitiful
assortment they were--mourners and gifts: men and women whose only bond
with the man in life had been the bond of misery; who had seen him as he
had fared forth morning after morning in the hopeless search for work,
and slunk home night after night bitter and dejected; many of whom had
listened, jeeringly perhaps, to his grievance against the world, though
it were in some sort their own. Death, for them, had ennobled him. The
little girl whom Hodder had met with the pitcher of beer came tiptoeing
with a wilted bunch of pansies, picked heaven knows where; stolen, maybe,
from one of the gardens of the West End. Carnations, lilies of the
valley, geraniums even--such were the offerings scattered loosely on the
lid until a woman came with a mass of white roses that filled the room
with their fragrance,--a woman with burnished red hair. Hodder started
as he recognized her; her gaze was a strange mixture of effrontery and
--something else; sorrow did not quite express it. The very lavishness of
her gift brought to him irresistibly the reminder of another offering.
. . . . She was speaking.

"I don't blame him for what he done--I'd have done it, too, if I'd been
him. But say, I felt kind of bad when I heard it, knowing about the kid,
and all. I had to bring something--"

Instinctively Hodder surmised that she was in doubt as to the acceptance
of her flowers. He took them from her hand, and laid them at the foot of
the coffin.

"Thank you," he said, simply.

She stared at him a moment with the perplexity she had shown at times on
the night he visited her, and went out. . .

Funerals, if they might be dignified by this name, were not infrequent
occurrences in Dalton Street, and why this one should have been looked
upon as of sufficient importance to collect a group of onlookers at the
gate it is difficult to say. Perhaps it was because of the seeming
interest in it of the higher powers--for suicide and consequent widows
and orphans were not unknown there. This widow and this orphan were to
be miraculously rescued, were to know Dalton Street no more. The rector
of a fashionable church, of all beings, was the agent in the miracle.
Thus the occasion was tinged with awe. As for Mr. Bentley, his was a
familiar figure, and had been remarked in Dalton Street funerals before.

They started, the three mourners, on the long drive to the cemetery,
through unfrequented streets lined with mediocre dwellings, interspersed
with groceries and saloons--short cuts known only to hearse drivers: they
traversed, for some distance, that very Wilderness road where Mr.
Bentley's old-fashioned mansion once had stood on its long green slope,
framed by ancient trees; the Wilderness road, now paved with hot blocks
of granite over which the carriage rattled; spread with car tracks,
bordered by heterogeneous buildings of all characters and descriptions,
bakeries and breweries, slaughter houses and markets, tumble-down
shanties, weedy corner lots and "refreshment-houses" that announced
"Lager Beer, Wines and Liquors." At last they came to a region which was
neither country nor city, where the road-houses were still in evidence,
where the glass roofs of greenhouses caught the burning rays of the sun,
where yards filled with marble blocks and half-finished tombstones
appeared, and then they turned into the gates of Winterbourne.

Like the city itself, there was a fashionable district in Winterbourne:
unlike the city, this district remained stationary. There was no soot
here, and if there had been, the dead would not have minded it. They
passed the Prestons and the Parrs; the lots grew smaller, the tombstones
less pretentious; and finally they came to an open grave on a slope where
the trees were still young, and where three men of the cemetery force
lifted the coffin from the hearse--Richard Garvin's pallbearers.

John Hodder might not read the service, but there was none to tell him
that the Gospel of John was not written for this man. He stood an the
grass beside the grave, and a breeze from across the great river near by
stirred the maple leaves above his head. "I am the resurrection and the
life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live." Nor was there any canon to forbid the words of Paul:
"It is sown in corruption; it is raised in in corruption; it is sown in
dishonour; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in
power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body."

They laid the flowers on the fresh earth, even the white roses, and then
they drove back to the city.



CHAPTER XIV

A SATURDAY AFTERNOON


I

The sight of a certain old gentleman as he walked along the shady side of
Twenty-second Street about two o'clock on a broiling Saturday afternoon
in midsummer was one not easily to be forgotten. A younger man, tall and
vigorous, clad in a thin suit of blue serge, walked by his side. They
were followed by a shouting troop of small boys who overran the
pavements, and some of whom were armed with baseball bats. The big
trolley car was hailed by a dozen dirty little hands.

Even the grumpy passengers were disarmed. The conductor took Mr.
Bentley's bill deprecatingly, as much as to say that the newly organized
Traction Company--just out of the receivers' hands--were the Moloch, not
he, and rang off the fares under protest. And Mr. Bentley, as had been
his custom for years, sat down and took off his hat, and smiled so
benignly at those around him that they immediately began to talk, to him.
It was always irresistible, this desire to talk to Mr. Bentley. If you
had left your office irritated and out of sorts, your nerves worn to an
edge by the uninterrupted heat, you invariably got off at your corner
feeling better. It was Phil Goodrich who had said that Horace Bentley
had only to get on a Tower Street car to turn it into a church. And if
he had chosen to establish that 'dernier cri' of modern civilization
where ladies go who have 'welt-schmerz' without knowing why,
--a sanitarium, he might have gained back again all the money he had lost
in giving his Grantham stock to Eldon Parr.

Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, he could have emptied Dalton Street of
its children. In the first place, there was the irresistible inducement
to any boy to ride several miles on a trolley without having this right
challenged by the irate guardian of the vehicle, without being summarily
requested to alight at twenty-five miles an hour: in the second place,
there was the soda water and sweet biscuit partaken of after the baseball
game in that pavilion, more imposing in one's eyes than the Taj Mahal.
Mr. Bentley would willingly have taken all Dalton Street. He had his own
'welt-schmerz', though he did not go to a sanitarium to cure it; he was
forced to set an age limit of ten, and then establish a high court of
appeal; for there were boys whose biographies, if they are ever written,
will be as hazy as those of certain world-wide celebrities who might be
mentioned concerning the date and exact spot of the entrance of their
heroes into the light. The solemn protestations, the tears,
the recrimination even, brought pangs to the old gentleman's heart,
for with all the will in the world he had been forced in the nature
of things, to set a limit.

This limit had recently been increased by the unlooked-for appearance on
these excursions of the tall man in the blue serge suit, whose knowledge
of the national game and of other matters of vital import to youth was
gratifying if sometimes disconcerting; who towered, an unruffled
Gulliver, over their Lilliputian controversies, in which bats were waved
and fists brought into play and language used on the meaning of which
the Century dictionary is silent. On one former occasion, indeed,
Mr. Bentley had found moral suasion, affection, and veneration of no
avail, and had had to invoke the friendly aid of a park policeman to
quell one of these incipient riots. To Mr. Bentley baseball was as a
sealed book. The tall man's justice, not always worthy of the traditions
of Solomon, had in it an element of force. To be lifted off the ground
by strong arms at the moment you are about to dust the home plate with
your adversary is humiliating, but effective. It gradually became
apparent that a decision was a decision. And one Saturday this
inexplicable person carried in his hand a mysterious package which, when
opened, revealed two pairs of diminutive boxing gloves. They instantly
became popular.

By the time they had made the accidental and somewhat astounding
discovery that he was a parson, they were willing to overlook it; in
view, perhaps, of his compensating accomplishments. Instead of advising
them to turn the other cheek, he taught them uppercuts, feints, and jabs,
and on the proof of this unexpected acquaintance with a profession all of
them openly admired, the last vestige of reserve disappeared. He was
accepted without qualifications.



II

Although the field to which they resorted was not in the most frequented
section of the park, pedestrians often passed that way, and sometimes
lingered. Thus, towards the close of a certain Saturday in July, a young
woman walked out of the wood path and stood awhile gazing intently at the
active figure striding among the diminutive, darting forms. Presently,
with an amused expression, she turned her head to discover Mr. Bentley,
who sat on a green bench under a tree, his hat and stick on the grass
beside him. She was unaware that he had been looking at her.

"Aren't they having a good time!" she said, and the genuine thrill in her
voice betrayed a rare and unmistakable pleasure.

"Ah," replied Mr. Bentley, smiling back at her, "you like to see them,
too. Most persons do. Children are not meant for the city, my dear
young lady, their natural home is in the woods and fields, and these
little fellows are a proof of it. When they come out here, they run
wild. You perceive," he added with a twinkle, as an expletive of
unquestionable vigour was hurled across the diamond, "they are not
always so polite as they might be."

The young woman smiled again, but the look she gave him was a puzzled
one. And then, quite naturally, she sank, down on the grass, on the
other side of Mr. Bentley's hat, watching the game for a while in
silence.

"What a tyrant!" she exclaimed. Another uproar had been quelled,
and two vigorously protesting runners sent back to their former bases.

"Oh, a benevolent tyrant," Mr. Bentley corrected her. "Mr. Hodder has
the gift of managing boys,--he understands them. And they require a
strong hand. His generation has had the training which mine lacked. In
my day, at college, we worked off our surplus energy on the unfortunate
professors, and we carried away chapel bells and fought with the
townspeople."

It required some effort, she found, to imagine this benevolent looking
old gentleman assaulting professors.

"Nowadays they play baseball and football, and box!" He pointed to the
boxing gloves on the grass. "Mr. Hodder has taught them to settle their
differences in that way; it is much more sensible."

She picked off the white clover-tops.

"So that is Mr. Hodder, of St. John's," she said.

"Ah, you know him, then?"

"I've met him," she answered quietly. "Are these children connected with
his church?"

"They are little waifs from Dalton Street and that vicinity," said Mr.
Bentley. "Very few of them, I should imagine, have ever been inside of a
church."

She seemed surprised.

"But--is it his habit to bring them out here?" The old gentleman beamed
on her, perhaps with the hint of a smile at her curiosity.

"He has found time for it, this summer. It is very good of him."

She refrained from comment on this remark, falling into reflection,
leaning back, with one hand outstretched, on the grass. The game went on
vociferously, the shrill lithe voices piercing the silence of the summer
afternoon. Mr. Bentley's eyes continued to rest on her.

"Tell me," he inquired, after a while, "are you not Alison Parr?"

She glanced up at him, startled. "Yes."

"I thought so, although I have not seen you since you were a little girl.
I knew your mother very well indeed, but it is too much to expect you to
remember me, after all this time. No doubt you have forgotten my name.
I am Mr. Bentley."

"Mr. Bentley!" she cried, sitting upright and gazing at him. "How stupid
of me not to have known you! You couldn't have been any one else."

It was the old gentleman's turn to start. She rose impulsively and sat
down on the bench beside him, and his hand trembled as he laid it in
hers.

"Yes, my dear, I am still alive. But surely you cannot remember me,
Alison?"

The old look of almost stubborn honesty he recalled in the child came
into her eyes.

"I do--and I don't," she said, perplexed. "It seemed to me as if I ought
to have recognized you when I came up, and yet I hadn't the slightest
notion who you were. I knew you were somebody."

He shook his head, but did not speak.

"But you have always been a fact in my existence--that is what I want to
say," she went on. "It must be possible to remember a person and not
recognize him, that is what I feel. I can remember you coming to our
house in Ransome Street, and how I looked forward to your visits. And
you used to have little candy beans in your pockets," she cried. "Have
you now?"

His eyes were a little dimmed as he reached, smilingly, into the skirts
of a somewhat shiny but scrupulously brushed coat and produced a brightly
colored handful. She took one, and put it in her mouth:

"Oh," she said, "how good they were--Isn't it strange how a taste brings
back events? I can remember it all as if it were yesterday, and how I
used to sit on your knee, and mother would tell me not to bother you."

"And now--you are grown," he said.

"Something more than grown," she smiled. "I was thirty-one in May.
Tell me," she asked, choosing another of the beans which he still
absently held, "do you get them for these?" And she nodded toward the
Dalton Street waifs.

"Yes," he said, "they are children, too."

"I can remember," she said, after a pause, "I can remember my mother
speaking of you to me the year she died. I was almost grown, then. It
was after we had moved up to Park Street, and her health had already
begun to fail. That made an impression on me, but I have forgotten what
she said--it was apropos of some recollection. No--it was a photograph
--she was going over some old things." Alison ceased speaking abruptly,
for the pain in Mr. Bentley's remarkable grey eyes had not escaped her.
What was it about him? Why could she not recall? Long-forgotten,
shadowy episodes of the past tormented her, flitted provokingly through
her mind--ungrasped: words dropped in her presence which had made their
impression, but the gist of which was gone. Why had Mr. Bentley ceased
coming to the house? So strongly did she feel his presence now that the
thought occurred to her,--perhaps her mother had not wished her to forget
him!

"I did not suspect," she heard him saying, "that you would go out into
the world and create the beautiful gardens of which I have heard. But
you had no lack of spirit in those days, too."

"I was a most disagreeable child, perverse,--cantankerous--I can hear my
mother saying it! As for the gardens--they have given me something to
do, they have kept me out of mischief. I suppose I ought to be thankful,
but I still have the rebellious streak when I see what others have done,
what others are doing, and I sometimes wonder what right I ever had to
think that I might create something worth while."

He glanced at her quickly as she sat with bent head.

"Others put a higher value on what you have done."

"Oh, they don't know--" she exclaimed.

If something were revealed to him by her tone, he did not betray it, but
went on cheerfully.

"You have been away a long time, Alison. It must interest you to come
back, and see the changes in our Western civilization. We are moving
very rapidly--in certain directions," he corrected himself.

She appraised his qualification.

"In certain directions,--yes. But they are little better in the East.
I have scarcely been back," she added, "since I went to Paris to study.
I have often thought I should like to return and stay awhile, only
--I never seemed to get time. Now I am going over a garden for my father
which was one of my first efforts, and which has always reproached me."

"And you do not mind the heat?" he asked. "Those who go East to live
return to find our summers oppressive."

"Oh, I'm a salamander, I think," Alison laughed.

Thus they sat chatting, interrupted once or twice by urchins too small
to join in the game, who came running to Mr. Bentley and stood staring
at Alison as at a being beyond the borders of experience: and she would
smile at them quite as shyly,--children being beyond her own. Her
imagination was as keen, as unspoiled as a child's, and was stimulated by
a sense of adventure, of the mystery which hung about this fine old
gentleman who betrayed such sentiment for a mother whom she had loved and
admired and still secretly mourned. Here, if there had been no other,
was a compelling bond of sympathy . . . .

The shadows grew longer, the game broke up. And Hodder, surrounded by
an argumentative group keeping pace with him, came toward them from the
field; Alison watched him curiously as he turned this way and that to
answer the insistent questions with which he was pelted, and once she saw
him stride rapidly after a dodging delinquent and seize him by the collar
amidst piercing yells of approval, and derision for the rebel.

"It's remarkable how he gets along with them," said Mr. Bentley, smiling
at the scene. "Most of them have never known what discipline is."

The chorus approached. And Hodder, recognizing her, dropped the collar
he held: A young woman conversing with Mr. Bentley--was no unusual sight,
--he had made no speculations as to this one's identity. He left the
boys, and drew near.

"You know Miss Parr, I believe," the old gentleman said.

Hodder took her hand. He had often tried to imagine his feelings if he
should meet her again: what he should do and say,--what would be their
footing. And now he had no time to prepare . . . .

"It is so strange," she said, with that note of wonder at life in her
voice which he recalled so well, "that I should have come across Mr.
Bentley here after so many years. How many years, Mr. Bentley?"

"Ah, my dear," he protested, "my measurements would not be yours."

"It is better for both of us not to say, Alison declared, laughingly.

"You knew Mr. Bentley?" asked Hodder, astonished.

"He was a very dear friend of my mother's, although I used to appropriate
him when he came to our house. It was when we lived in Ransome Street,
ages ago. But I don't think Mr. Bentley has grown a bit older."

"He is one of the few who have found the secret of youth," said the
rector.

But the old gentleman had moved off into the path, or perhaps it would be
more accurate to say that he was carried off by the swarm which clustered
around him, two smaller ones tugging at his hand, and all intent upon
arriving at the soda-water pavilion near the entrance. They had followed
him with their eyes, and they saw him turn around and smile at them,
helplessly. Alison presented a perplexed face to Hodder.

"Does he bring them here,--or you?" she asked.

"I--" he hesitated. "Mr. Bentley has done this every Saturday afternoon
for years," he said, "I am merely one of them."

She looked at him quickly. They had started to follow, in the cool path
beneath the forest trees. Restraint fell upon them, brought about by the
memory of the intimacy of their former meeting, further complicated on
Hodder's part by his new attitude toward her father, and his finding her
in the company, of all persons, of Mr. Bentley. Unuttered queries
pressed on the minds of both.

"Tell me about Mr. Bentley," she said.

Hodder hesitated.

"I scarcely know where to begin," he replied, yet smiling at the
characteristic abruptness of her question. The modulations of her voice
revealed again the searching, inquisitive spirit within her, and his
responded to the intensity of the interest in Mr. Bentley.

"Begin anywhere."

"Anywhere?" he repeated, seeking to gain time.

"Yes--anywhere," she said impatiently.

"Well, he lives in Dalton Street, if you recall what kind of a place that
is" (she nodded), "and he is known from one end of it to the other."

"I see what he is--he is the most extraordinary person I have ever known.
Just to talk to him gives one such a queer feeling of--of dissatisfaction
with one's self, and seeing him once more seems to have half revived in
me a whole series of dead memories. And I have been trying to think, but
it is all so tantalizing. There is some mystery about him," she
insisted. "He disappeared suddenly, and my mother never mentioned him
but once afterward, but other persons have spoken of him since--I forget
who. He was so well known, and he used to go to St. John's."

"Yes, he used to go to St. John's."

"What happened to him--do you know? The reason he stopped coming to our
house was some misunderstanding with my father, of course. I am positive
my mother never changed her feelings toward him."

"I can only tell you what he has told me, which is all I know
--authoritatively," Hodder replied. How could he say to her that her
father had ruined Mr. Bentley? Indeed, with a woman of her fearlessness
and honesty--and above all, her intuition,--he felt the cruelty of his
position keenly. Hodder did not relish half truths; and he felt
that, however scant his intercourse in the future might be with Alison
Parr, he would have liked to have kept it on that basis of frankness in
which it had begun. But the exact stage of disillusionment she had
reached in regard to Eldon Parr was unknown to him, and he feared that
a further revelation might possibly sever the already precarious tie
between father and daughter.

He recounted, therefore, that Mr. Bentley had failed; and how he had
before that given much of his estate away in charity, how he had been
unable to keep his pew in St. John's, and had retired to the house in
Dalton Street.

For some moments after he had finished Alison did not reply.

"What is his number in Dalton Street?" she asked.

Hodder informed her.

He could not read in her face whether she suspected that he could have
told her more. And in spite of an inordinate, human joy in being again
in her presence, his desire to hide from her that which had taken place
within him, and the inability he felt to read his future, were
instinctive: the more so because of the very spontaneity they had
achieved at their first meeting. As a man, he shrank from confessing
to her, however indirectly, the fact that she herself was so vital an
element in his disillusionment. For the conversation in the garden had
been the immediate cause of the inner ferment ending in his resolution to
go away, and had directed him, by logical steps, to the encounter in the
church with Mrs. Garvin.

"You have not yet finished the garden?" he asked. "I imagined you back
in the East by this time."

"Oh, I am procrastinating," she replied. "It is a fit of sheer laziness.
I ought to be elsewhere, but I was born without a conscience. If I had
one I should try to quiet it by reminding it that I am fulfilling a
long-delayed promise--I am making a garden for Mrs. Larrabbee. You know
her, of course, since she is a member of your congregation."

"Yes, I know her," he assented. And his mind was suddenly filled with
vivid colour,--cobalt seas, and arsenic-green spruces with purple cones,
cardinal-striped awnings that rattled in the salt breeze, and he saw once
more the panorama of the life which had passed from him and the woman in
the midst of it. And his overwhelming thought was of relief that he had
somehow escaped. In spite of his unhappiness now, he would not have gone
back. He realized for the first time that he had been nearer
annihilation then than to-day.

"Grace isn't here to bother me with the ideas she has picked up in Europe
and catalogued," Alison continued.

"Catalogued!" Hodder exclaimed, struck by the pertinency of the word.

"Yes. Did you ever know anybody who had succeeded half so well in
piecing together and absorbing into a harmonized whole all the divergent,
artificial elements that enter into the conventional world to-day? Her
character might be called a triumph of synthesis. For she has actually
achieved an individuality--that is what always surprises me when I think
of her. She has put the puzzle picture together, she has become a
person."

He remembered, with a start, that this was the exact word Mrs. Larrabbee
had used about Alison Parr. If he had searched the world, he could not
have found a greater contrast than that between these two women. And
when she spoke again, he was to be further struck by her power of logical
insight.

"Grace wants me because she thinks I have become the fashion--for the
same reason that Charlotte Plimpton wants me. Only there is this
difference--Grace will know the exact value of what I shall have done.
Not that she thinks me a Le Notre"--Alison laughed--"What I mean is, she
sees behind, she sees why it is fashionable to have a garden, since she
has worked out the values of that existence. But there!" Alison added,
with a provocative touch that did not escape him, "I am picking your
parishioners to pieces again."

"You have more right than I," he replied, "they have been your friends
since childhood."

"I thought you had gone away," she said.

"Why?" he demanded. Had she been to church again?

"My father told me before he left that you were to take a cruise with him
on the yacht he has chartered."

"He wrote me from New York--I was unable to go," Hodder said slowly.

He felt her gaze upon him, but resolutely refused to meet it. . . .
They walked on in silence until they came to the more open spaces near
the edge of the Park, thronged that Saturday evening by crowds which had
sought the, city's breathing space. Perfect trees cast long, fantastic
shadows across the lawns, fountains flung up rainbows from the midst of
lakes; children of the tenements darted hither and thither, rolled and
romped on the grass; family parties picnicked everywhere, and a very
babel of tongues greeted the ear--the languages of Europe from Sweden to
Italy.

Suddenly an exclamation from her aroused and thrilled him.

"Isn't it wonderful how happy they are, and with what simple pleasures
they are satisfied! I often come over here on Saturdays and Sundays,
just to talk to them."

"Talk to them!" he echoed stupidly. "In their own languages?"

"Oh, I know a little German and Italian, though I can't lay claim to
Czech," she answered gayly. "Why are you so surprised that I should
possess such modest accomplishments?"

"It's not the accomplishments." He hesitated.

"No. You are surprised that I should be interested in humanity." She
stood facing him. "Well, I am," she said, half humorously, half
defiantly. "I believe I am more interested in human beings than in
anything else in the world--when they are natural, as these people are
and when they will tell one their joys and their troubles and their
opinions."

"Enthusiasm, self-assertion, had as usual, transformed her, and he saw
the colour glowing under her olive skin. Was she accusing him of a lack
of frankness?

"And why," he asked, collecting himself, "did you think--" he got no
further.

"It's because you have an idea that I'm a selfish Epicurean, if that
isn't tautology--because I'm interested in a form of art, the rest of the
world can go hang. You have a prejudice against artists. I wish I
really were one, but I'm not."

This speech contained so many surprises for him that he scarcely knew how
to answer it.

"Give me a little time," he begged, "and perhaps I'll get over my
prejudices. The worst of them, at any rate. You are helping me to do
so." He tried to speak lightly, but his tone was more serious in the
next sentence. "It seems to me personally that you have proved your
concern for your fellow-creatures."

Her colour grew deeper, her manner changed.

"That gives me the opportunity to say something I have hoped to say, ever
since I saw you. I hoped I should see you again."

"You are not going away soon?" he exclaimed.

The words were spoken before he grasped their significance.

"Not at once. I don't know how long I shall stay," she answered
hurriedly, intent upon what was in her mind. "I have thought a great
deal about what I said to you that afternoon, and I find it more than
ever difficult to excuse myself. I shan't attempt to. I merely mean to
ask you to forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive," he assured her, under the influence of the
feeling she had aroused.

"It's nice of you to say so, and to take it as you did--nicer than I can
express. I am afraid I shall never learn to appreciate that there may be
other points of view toward life than my own. And I should have realized
and sympathized with the difficulties of your position, and that you were
doing the best under the circumstances."

"No," he exclaimed, "don't say that! Your other instinct was the truer
one, if indeed you have really changed it--I don't believe you have." He
smiled at her again. "You didn't hurt my feelings, you did me a service.
I told you so at the time, and I meant it. And, more than that, I
understood."

"You understood--?"

"You were not criticizing me, you were--what shall I say?--merely trying
to iron out some of the inconsistencies of life. Well, you helped me to
iron out some of the inconsistencies of my own. I am profoundly
grateful."

She gazed at him, puzzled. But he did not, he could not enlighten her.
Some day she would discover what he meant.

"If so, I am glad," she said, in a low voice.

They were standing in the midst of the crowd that thronged around the
pavilion. An urchin caught hold of the rector's coat.

"Here he is! Say, Mr. Hodder, ain't you going to have any sody?"

"Certainly we are," he replied, returning Alison's faint smile . . . .
In the confusion that followed he caught a glimpse of her talking to Mr.
Bentley; and later, after he had taken her hand, his eyes followed her
figure wending its way in the evening light through the groups toward
Park Street, and he saw above the tree-tops the red tiled roof of the
great house in which she was living, alone.



CHAPTER XV

THE CRUCIBLE


I

For better or worse John Hodder had flung his treasured beliefs into the
crucible, and one by one he watched them crumble and consume away. None
but his own soul knew what it cost him to make the test; and some times,
in the early stages of it, he would cast down his book under the lamp and
walk for hours in the night. Curiosity, and the despair of one who is
lost impelled him to persist.

It had been said of him that he had a talent for the law, and he now
discovered that his mind, once freed, weighed the evidence with a
pitiless logic, paid its own tribute--despite the anguish of the heart
--to the pioneers of truth whose trail it followed into the Unknown, who
had held no Mystery more sacred than Truth itself, who had dared to
venture into the nothingness between the whirling worlds.

He considered them, those whirling worlds, at night. Once they had been
the candles of Jehovah, to light the path of his chosen nation, to herald
the birth of his Son. And now? How many billions of blind, struggling
creatures clung to them? Where now was this pin-point of humanity, in
the midst of an appalling spectacle of a grinding, remorseless nature?

And that obscure Event on which he had staked his hopes? Was He, as John
had written, the First Born of the Universe, the Word Incarnate of a
system that defied time and space, the Logos of an outworn philosophy?
Was that Universe conscious, as Berkeley had declared, or the blind
monster of substance alone, or energy, as some modern scientists brutally
and triumphantly maintained? Where was the Spirit that breathed in it of
hope?

Such were some of the questions that thronged for solution. What was
mind, what spirit? an attenuated vapour of the all-pervading substance?

He could not permit himself to dwell on these thoughts--madness lay that
way. Madness, and a watching demon that whispered of substance, and
sought to guide his wanderings in the night. Hodder clung to the shell
of reality, to the tiny panorama of the visible and the finite, to the
infinitesimal gropings that lay recorded before him on the printed page.
Let him examine these first, let him discover--despite the price--what
warrant the mind of man (the only light now vouchsafed to him in his
darkness) gave him to speculate and to hope concerning the existence
of a higher, truer Reality than that which now tossed and wounded him.
It were better to know.

Scarcely had the body been lifted from the tree than the disputes
commenced, the adulterations crept in. The spontaneity, the fire and
zeal of the self-sacrificing itinerant preachers gave place to the
paralyzing logic then pervading the Roman Empire, and which had sent its
curse down the ages to the modern sermon; the geometrical rules of Euclid
were made to solve the secrets of the universe. The simple faith of the
cross which had inspired the martyr along the bloody way from Ephesus to
the Circus at Rome was formalized by degrees into philosophy: the faith
of future ages was settled by compromises, by manipulation, by bribery in
Councils of the Church which resembled modern political conventions, and
in which pagan Emperors did not hesitate to exert their influence over
the metaphysical bishops of the factions. Recriminations, executions,
murders--so the chronicles ran.

The prophet, the idealist disappeared, the priest with his rites and
ceremonies and sacrifices, his power to save and damn, was once more in
possession of the world.

The Son of Man was degraded into an infant in his mother's arms. An
unhealthy, degenerating asceticism, drawn from pagan sources, began with
the monks and anchorites of Egypt and culminated in the spectacle of
Simeon's pillar. The mysteries of Eleusis, of Attis, Mithras, Magna
Mater and Isis developed into Christian sacraments--the symbol became
the thing itself. Baptism the confession of the new life, following
the customs of these cults, became initiation; and from the same
superstitious origins, the repellent materialistic belief that to eat
of the flesh and drink of the blood of a god was to gain immortality:
immortality of the body, of course.


Ah, when the superstitions of remote peoples, the fables and myths, were
taken away; when the manufactured history and determinism of the
Israelites from the fall of man to the coming of that Messiah, whom the
Jews crucified because he failed to bring them their material Kingdom,
were discredited; when the polemic and literal interpretations of
evangelists had been rejected, and the pious frauds of tampering monks;
when the ascetic Buddhism was removed; the cults and mysteries, the
dogmas of an ancient naive philosophy discarded; the crude science of a
Ptolemy who conceived the earth as a flat terrestrial expanse and hell
as a smoking pit beneath proved false; the revelation of a Holy City of
jasper and gold and crystal, the hierarchy with its divine franchise to
save and rule and conquer,--when all these and more were eliminated from
Christianity, what was left?

Hodder surveyed the ruins. And his mind recalled, that Sunday of rain in
New York which had been the turning-point in his life, when he had
listened to the preacher, when he had walked the streets unmindful of the
wet, led on by visions, racked by fears. And the same terror returned to
him now after all the years of respite, tenfold increased, of falling in
the sight of man from the topmost tower.

What was to become of him, now that the very driving power of life was
gone? Where would he go? to what might he turn his hand, since all were
vanity and illusion? Careers meant nothing, had any indeed been possible
to a man forty, left staring at stark reality after the rainbow had
vanished. Nineveh had mocked and conquered him who had thought himself
a conqueror. Self flew back and swung on its central pivot and took
command. His future, his fate, what was to become of him. Who else now
was to be considered? And what was to restrain him from reaching out his
hand to pluck the fruit which he desired? . . .



II

What control from the Unknown is this which now depresses and now
releases the sensitive thing called the soul of man, and sends it upward
again until the green light of hope shines through the surface water?
He might have grown accustomed, Holder thought, to the obscurity of the
deeps; in which, after a while, the sharp agony of existence became
dulled, the pressure benumbing. He was conscious himself, at such times,
of no inner recuperation. Something drew him up, and he would find
himself living again, at length to recognize the hand if not to
comprehend the power.

The hand was Horace Bentley's.

What was the source of that serenity which shone on the face of his
friend? Was it the light of faith? Faith in--what? Humanity, Mr.
Bentley had told him on that first evening when they had met: faith in a
world filled with cruelties, disillusionments, lies, and cheats! On what
Authority was it based? Holder never asked, and no word of theology ever
crossed Mr. Bentley's lips; not by so much as a sign did he betray any
knowledge he may have had of the drama taking place in Holder's soul; no
comment escaped him on the amazing anomalies of the life the rector was
leading, in the Church but not of it.

It was only by degrees Holder came to understand that no question would
be asked, and the frequency of his visits to Dalton Street increased.
He directed his steps thither sometimes hurriedly, as though pursued, as
to a haven from a storm. And a haven it was indeed! At all hours of the
day he came, and oftener in the night, in those first weeks, and if Mr.
Bentley were not at home the very sight of the hospitable old darky
brought surging up within him a sense of security, of, relief; the
library itself was filled with the peace of its owner. How many others
had brought their troubles here, had been lightened on the very threshold
of this sanctuary!

Gradually Hodder began to realize something of their numbers. Gradually,
as he was drawn more and more into the network of the relationships of
this extraordinary man,--nay, as he inevitably became a part of that
network,--a period of bewilderment ensued. He found himself involved,
and quite naturally, in unpremeditated activities, running errands,
forming human ties on a human basis. No question was asked, no
credentials demanded or rejected. Who he was made no difference
--he was a friend of Horace Bentley's. He had less time to read, less
time to think, to scan the veil of his future.

He had run through a score of volumes, critical, philosophical,
scientific, absorbing their contents, eagerly anticipating their
conclusions; filled, once he had begun, with a mania to destroy,
a savage determination to leave nothing,--to level all . . . .

And now, save for the less frequent relapsing moods, he had grown
strangely unconcerned about his future, content to live in the presence
of this man; to ignore completely the aspects of a life incomprehensible
to the few, besides Mr. Bentley, who observed it.

What he now mostly felt was relief, if not a faint self-congratulation
that he had had the courage to go through with it, to know the worst.
And he was conscious even, at times, of a faint reviving sense of freedom
he had not known since the days at Bremerton. If the old dogmas were
false, why should he regret them? He began to see that, once he had
suspected their falsity, not to have investigated were to invite decay;
and he pictured himself growing more unctuous, apologetic, plausible.
He had, at any rate, escaped the more despicable fate, and if he went to
pieces now it would be as a man, looking the facts in the face,--not as
a coward and a hypocrite.

Late one afternoon, when he dropped in at Mr. Bentley's house, he was
informed by Sam that a lady was awaiting Mr. Bentley in the library.
As Hodder opened the door he saw a tall, slim figure of a woman with her
back toward him. She was looking at the photographs on the mantel.

It was Alison Parr!

He remembered now that she had asked for Mr. Bentley's number, but it had
never occurred to him that he might one day find her here. And as she
turned he surprised in her eyes a shyness he had never seen in them
before. Thus they stood gazing at each other a moment before either
spoke.

"Oh, I thought you were Mr. Bentley," she said.

"Have you been waiting long?" he asked.

"Three quarters of an hour, but I haven't minded it. This is such an
interesting room, with its pictures and relics and books. It has a
soothing effect, hasn't it? To come here is like stepping out of the
turmoil of the modern world into a peaceful past."

He was struck by the felicity of her description.

"You have been here before?" he asked.

"Yes." She settled herself in the armchair; and Hodder, accepting the
situation, took the seat beside her. "Of course I came, after I had found
out who Mr. Bentley was. The opportunity to know him again--was not to
be missed."

"I can understand that," he assented.

"That is, if a child can even be said to know such a person as Mr.
Bentley. Naturally, I didn't appreciate him in those days--children
merely accept, without analyzing. And I have not yet been able to
analyze,--I can only speculate and consider."

Her enthusiasm never failed to stir and excite Hodder. Nor would he have
thought it possible that a new value could be added to Mr. Bentley in his
eyes. Yet so it was.

He felt within him, as she spoke, the quickening of a stimulus.

"When I came in a little while ago," Alison continued, "I found a woman
in black, with such a sweet, sad face. We began a conversation. She had
been through a frightful experience. Her husband had committed suicide,
her child had been on the point of death, and she says that she lies
awake nights now thinking in terror of what might have happened to her
if you and Mr. Bentley hadn't helped her. She's learning to be a
stenographer. Do you remember her?--her name is Garvin."

"Did she say--anything more?" Hodder anxiously demanded.

"No," said Alison, surprised by his manner, "except that Mr. Bentley had
found her a place to live, near the hospital, with a widow who was a
friend of his. And that the child was well, and she could look life in
the face again. Oh, it is terrible to think that people all around us
are getting into such straits, and that we are so indifferent to it!"

Hodder did not speak at once. He was wondering, now that she had renewed
her friendship with Mr. Bentley, whether certain revelations on her part
were not inevitable . . . .

She was regarding him, and he was aware that her curiosity was aflame.
Again he wondered whether it were curiosity or--interest.

"You did not tell me, when we met in the Park, that you were no longer
at St. John's."

Did Mr. Bentley tell you?"

"No. He merely said he saw a great deal of you. Martha Preston told me.
She is still here, and goes to church occasionally. She was much
surprised to learn that you were in the city.

"I am still living in the parish house," he said. "I am--taking my
vacation."

"With Mr. Bentley?" Her eyes were still on his face.

"With Mr. Bentley," he replied.

He had spoken without bitterness. Although there had indeed been
bitterness in his soul, it passed away in the atmosphere of Mr. Bentley's
house. The process now taking place in him was the same complication of
negative and positive currents he had felt in her presence before. He
was surprised to find that his old antipathy to agnosticism held over,
in her case; to discover, now, that he was by no means, as yet, in view
of the existence of Horace Bentley, to go the full length of unbelief!
On the other hand, he saw that she had divined much of what had happened
to him, and he felt radiating from her a sympathetic understanding which
seemed almost a claim. She had a claim, although he could not have said
of what it was constituted. Their personal relationship bore
responsibilities. It suddenly came over him, in fact, that the two
persons who in all the world were nearest him were herself and Mr.
Bentley! He responded, scarce knowing why he did so, to the positive
current.

"With Mr. Bentley," he repeated, smiling, and meeting her eyes, "I have
been learning something about the actual conditions of life in a modern
city."

She bent a little toward him in one of those spontaneous movements that
characterized her.

"Tell me--what is his life?" she asked. "I have seen so little of it,
and he has told me nothing himself. At first, in the Park, I saw only a
kindly old gentleman, with a wonderful, restful personality, who had been
a dear friend of my mother's. I didn't connect those boys with him. But
since then--since I have been here twice, I have seen other things which
make me wonder how far his influence extends." She paused.

"I, too, have wondered," said the rector, thoughtfully. "When I met him,
I supposed he were merely living in simple relationships with his
neighbours here in Dalton Street, but by degrees I have discovered that
his relationships are as wide as the city itself. And they have grown
naturally--by radiation, as it were. One incident has led to another,
one act of kindness to another, until now there seems literally no end to
the men and women with whom he is in personal touch, who are ready to do
anything in their power for him at any time. It is an institution, in
fact, wholly unorganized, which in the final analysis is one man. And
there is in it absolutely nothing of that element which has come to be
known as charity."

Alison listened with parted lips.

"To give you an example," he went on, gradually be coming fired by his
subject, by her absorption, "since you have mentioned Mrs. Garvin, I will
tell you what happened in that case. It is typical of many. It was a
question of taking care of this woman, who was worn out and crushed,
until she should recover sufficiently to take care of herself. Mr.
Bentley did not need any assistance from me to get the boy into the
hospital--Dr. Jarvis worships him. But the mother. I might possibly
have got her into an institutional home--Mr. Bentley did better than
that, far better. On the day of the funeral we went directly from the
cemetery to the house of a widow who owns a little fruit farm beyond the
Park. Her name is Bledsoe, and it is not an exaggeration to say that her
house, small as it is, contains an endowed room always at Mr. Bentley's
disposal.

"Mrs. Garvin is there now. She was received as a friend, as a guest
--not as an inmate, a recipient of charity. I shall never forget how that
woman ran out in the sun when she saw us coming, how proud she was to be
able to do this thing, how she ushered us into the little parlour, that
was all swept and polished, and how naturally and warmly she welcomed the
other woman, dazed and exhausted, and took her hat and veil and almost
carried her up the stairs. And later on I found out from Miss Grower,
who lives here, Mrs. Bledsoe's history. Eight or nine years ago her
husband was sent to prison for forgery, and she was left with four small
children, on the verge of a fate too terrible to mention. She was
brought to Mr. Bentley's attention, and he started her in life.

"And now Mrs. Garvin forms another link to that chain, which goes on
growing. In a month she will be earning her own living as stenographer
for a grain merchant whom Mr. Bentley set on his feet several years ago.
One thing has led to the next. And--I doubt if any neighbourhood could
be mentioned, north or south or west, or even in the business portion
of the city itself, where men and women are not to be found ready and
eager to do anything in their power for him. Of course there have been
exceptions, what might be called failures in the ordinary terminology
of charity, but there are not many."

When he had finished she sat quite still, musing over what he had told
her, her eyes alight.

"Yes, it is wonderful," she said at length, in a low voice. "Oh, I can
believe in that, making the world a better place to live in, making
people happier. Of course every one cannot be like Mr. Bentley, but all
may do their share in their own way. If only we could get rid of this
senseless system of government that puts a premium on the acquisition of
property! As it is, we have to depend on individual initiative. Even
the good Mr. Bentley does is a drop in the ocean compared to what might
be done if all this machinery--which has been invented, if all these
discoveries of science, by which the forces of an indifferent nature have
been harnessed, could be turned to the service of all mankind. Think of
how many Mrs. Garvins, of how many Dalton Streets there are in the world,
how many stunted children working in factories or growing up into
criminals in the slums! I was reading a book just the other day on the
effect of the lack of nutrition on character. We are breeding a million
degenerate citizens by starving them, to say nothing of the effect of
disease and bad air, of the constant fear of poverty that haunts the
great majority of homes. There is no reason why that fear should not be
removed, why the latest discoveries in medicine and science should not be
at the disposal of all."

The genuineness of her passion was unmistakable. His whole being
responded to it.

"Have you always felt like this?" he asked. Like what?"

"Indignant--that so many people were suffering."

His question threw her into reflection.

"Why, no," she answered, at length, "I never thought----I see what you
mean. Four or five years ago, when I was going to socialist lectures,
my sense of all this--inequality, injustice was intellectual. I didn't
get indignant over it, as I do now when I think of it."

"And why do you get indignant now?"

"You mean," she asked, "that I have no right to be indignant, since I do
nothing to attempt to better conditions?--"

"Not at all," Hodder disavowed. "Perhaps my question is too personal,
but I didn't intend it to be. I was merely wondering whether any event
or series of events had transformed a mere knowledge of these conditions
into feeling."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, but not in offence. Once more she relapsed into
thought. And as he watched her, in silence, the colour that flowed and
ebbed in her cheeks registered the coming and going of memories; of
incidents in her life hidden from him, arousing in the man the torture
of jealousy. But his faculties, keenly alert, grasped the entire field;
marked once more the empirical trait in her that he loved her unflinching
willingness to submit herself to an experiment.

"I suppose so," she replied at length, her thoughts naturally assuming
speech. "Yes, I can see that it is so. Yet my experience has not been
with these conditions with which Mr. Bentley, with which you have been
brought in contact, but with the other side--with luxury. Oh, I am sick
of luxury! I love it, I am not at all sure that I could do without it,
but I hate it, too, I rebel against it. You can't understand that."

"I think I can," he answered her.

"When I see the creatures it makes," she cried, "I hate it. My
profession has brought me in such close contact with it that I rebelled
at last, and came out here very suddenly, just to get away from it in the
mass. To renew my youth, if I could. The gardens were only an excuse.
I had come to a point where I wanted to be quiet, to be alone, to think,
and I knew my father would be going away. So much of my girlhood was
spent in that Park that I know every corner of it, and I--obeyed the
impulse. I wanted to test it."

"Yes," he said, absorbed.

"I might have gone to the mountains or the sea, but some one would have
come and found me, and I should have been bound again--on the wheel.
I shouldn't have had the strength to resist. But here--have you ever
felt," she demanded, "that you craved a particular locality at a certain
time?"

He followed her still.

"That is how I felt. These associations, that Park, the thought of my
girlhood, of my mother, who understood me as no one else has since,
assumed a certain value. New York became unbearable. It is just
there, in the very centre of our modern civilization, that one sees
the crudest passions. Oh, I have often wondered whether a man, however
disillusioned, could see New York as a woman sees it when the glamour is
gone. We are the natural prey of the conqueror still. We dream of
independence--"

She broke off abruptly.

This confession, with the sudden glimpse it gave him of the fires within
her that would not die down, but burned now more fiercely than ever,
sent the blood to his head. His face, his temples, were hot with the
fierceness of his joy in his conviction that she had revealed herself to
him. Why she had done so, he could not say. . . This was the woman
whom the world thought composed; who had triumphed over its opposition,
compelled it to bow before her; who presented to it that self-possessed,
unified personality by which he had been struck at their first meeting.
Yet, paradoxically, the personality remained,--was more elusive than
before. A thousand revelations, he felt, would not disclose it.

He was no nearer to solving it now. . Yet the fires burned! She, too,
like himself, was aflame and unsatisfied! She, too, had tasted success,
and had revolted!

"But I don't get anywhere," she said wearily. "At times I feel this
ferment, this anger that things are as they are, only to realize what
helpless anger it is. Why not take the world as it appears and live and
feel, instead of beating against the currents?"

"But isn't that inconsistent with what you said awhile ago as to a new
civilization?" Hodder asked.

"Oh, that Utopia has no reality for me. I think it has, at moments, but
it fades. And I don't pretend to be consistent. Mr. Bentley lives in a
world of his own; I envy him with all my heart, I love and admire him,
he cheers and soothes me when I am with him. But I can't see--whatever
he sees. I am only aware of a remorseless universe grinding out its
destinies. We Anglo-Saxons are fond of deceiving ourselves about life,
of dressing it up in beautiful colours, of making believe that it
actually contains happiness. All our fiction reflects this--that is
why I never cared to read English or American novels. The Continental
school, the Russians, the Frenchmen, refuse to be deluded. They are
honest."

"Realism, naturalism," he mused, recalling a course in philosophy, "one
would expect the Russian, in the conditions under which he lives,
possessing an artistic temperament combined with a paralysis of the
initiative and a sense of fate, to write in that way. And the Frenchmen,
Renan, Zola, and the others who have followed, are equally deterministic,
but viewing the human body as a highly organized machine with which we
may amuse ourselves by registering its sensations. These literatures are
true in so far as they reflect the characteristics of the nations from
which they spring. That is not to say that the philosophies of which
they are the expressions are true. Nor is it to admit that such a
literature is characteristic of the spirit of America, and can be applied
without change to our life and atmosphere. We have yet, I believe, to
develop our own literature; which will come gradually as we find
ourselves."

"Find ourselves?" she repeated.

"Yes. Isn't that what we are trying to do? We are not determinists or
fatalists, and to condemn us to such a philosophy would be to destroy us.
We live on hope. In spite of our apparent materialism, we are idealists.
And is it not possible to regard nature as governed by laws--remorseless,
if you like the word--and yet believe, with Kant and Goethe, that there
is an inner realm? You yourself struggle--you cling to ideals."

"Ideals!" she echoed. "Ideals are useless unless one is able to see, to
feel something beyond this ruthless mechanism by which we are surrounded
and hemmed in, to have some perception of another scheme. Why struggle,
unless we struggle for something definite? Oh, I don't mean heavenly
rewards. Nothing could be more insipid and senseless than the orthodox
view of the hereafter. I am talking about a scheme of life here and
now."

"So am I," answered Hodder. "But may there not be a meaning in this very
desire we have to struggle against the order of things as it appears to
us?"

"A meaning?"

"A little while ago you spoke of your indignation at the inequalities and
injustices of the world, and when I asked you if you had always felt
this, you replied that this feeling had grown upon you. My question is
this: whether that indignation would be present at all if it were not
meant to be turned into action."

"You believe that an influence is at work, an influence that impels us
against our reason?"

"I should like to think so," he said. "Why should so many persons be
experiencing such a feeling to-day, persons who, like yourself, are the
beneficiaries of our present system of privilege? Why should you, who
have every reason to be satisfied, materially, with things as they are,
be troubling yourself with thoughts of others who are less-fortunate?
And why should we have the spectacle, today, of men and women all over
this country in social work, in science and medicine and politics,
striving to better conditions while most of them might be much more
comfortable and luxurious letting well enough alone?"

"But it's human to care," she objected.

"Ah--human!" he said, and was silent. "What do we mean by human, unless
it is the distinguishing mark of something within us that the natural
world doesn't possess? Unless it is the desire and willingness to strive
for a larger interest than the individual interest, work and suffer for
others? And you spoke of making people happier. What do you mean by
happiness? Not merely the possession of material comforts, surely. I
grant you that those who are overworked and underfed, who are burning
with the consciousness of wrongs, who have no outlook ahead, are
essentially hopeless and miserable. But by 'happiness' you, mean
something more than the complacency and contentment which clothing and
food might bring, and the removal of the economic fear,--and even the
restoration of self-respect."

"That their lives should be fuller!" she exclaimed.

"That drudgery and despair should be replaced by interest and hope," he
went on, "slavery by freedom. In other words, that the whole attitude
toward life should be changed, that life should appear a bright thing
rather than a dark thing, that labour should be willing vicarious instead
of forced and personal. Otherwise, any happiness worth having is out of
the question."

She was listening now with parted lips, apparently unconscious of the
fixity of her gaze.

"You mean it is a choice between that or nothing," she said, in a low
voice. "That there is no use in lifting people out of the treadmill
--and removing the terror of poverty unless you can give them something
more--than I have got."

"And something more--than I have got,"--he was suddenly moved to reply...

Presently, while the silence still held between them, the door opened and
startled them into reality. Mr. Bentley came in.

The old gentleman gave no sign, as they rose to meet him, of a sense of
tension in the atmosphere he had entered--yet each felt--somehow, that he
knew. The tension was released. The same thought occurred to both as
they beheld the peaceful welcome shining in his face, "Here is what we
are seeking. Why try to define it?"

"To think that I have been gossiping with Mrs. Meyer, while you were
waiting for me!" he said. "She keeps the little florist's shop at the
corner of Tower Street, and she gave me these. I little guessed what
good use I should have for them, my dear."

He held out to her three fragrant, crimson roses that matched the
responsive colour in her cheeks as she thanked him and pinned them on her
gown. He regarded her an instant.

"But I'm sure Mr. Hodder has entertained you," Mr. Bentley turned, and
laid his hand on the rector's shoulder.

"Most successfully," said Alison, cutting short his protest. And she
smiled at Hodder, faintly.



CHAPTER XVI

AMID THE ENCIRCLING GLOOM


I

Hodder, in spite of a pressing invitation to remain for supper, had left
them together. He turned his face westward, in the opposite direction
from the parish house, still under the spell of that moment of communion
which had lasted--he knew not how long, a moment of silent revelation to
them both. She, too, was storm-tossed! She, too, who had fared forth so
gallantly into life, had conquered only to be beaten down--to lose her
way.

This discovery strained the very fibres of his being. So close he had
been to her--so close that each had felt, simultaneously, complete
comprehension of the other, comprehension that defied words, overbore
disagreements. He knew that she had felt it. He walked on at first in a
bewildered ecstasy, careless of aught else save that in a moment they two
had reached out in the darkness and touched hands. Never had his
experience known such communion, never had a woman meant what this woman
meant, and yet he could not define that meaning. What need of religion,
of faith in an unseen order when this existed? To have this woman in the
midst of chaos would be enough!

Faith in an unseen order! As he walked, his mind returned to the
argument by which he had sought to combat her doubts--and his own.
Whence had the argument come? It was new to him--he had never formulated
it before--that pity and longing and striving were a justification and a
proof. Had she herself inspired, by some unknown psychological law, this
first attempt of his to reform the universe, this theory which he had
rather spoken than thought? Or had it been the knowledge of her own
longing, and his desire to assuage it? As twilight fell, as his spirits
ebbed, he could not apply it now--it meant nothing to him, evaded him,
there was in it no solace. To regain his footing once more, to climb
again without this woman whom he needed, and might not have! Better to
fall, to be engulfed. . . The vision of her, tall and straight, with
the roses on her breast, tortured him.

Thus ecstasy ebbed to despondency. He looked around him in the fading
day, to find himself opposite the closed gates of the Botanical Gardens,
in the southwestern portion of the city . . . . An hour later he had
made his way back to Dalton Street with its sputtering blue lights and
gliding figures, and paused for a moment on the far sidewalk to gaze at
Mr. Bentley's gleaming windows. Should he go in? Had that personality
suddenly lost its power over him? How strange that now he could see
nothing glowing, nothing inspiring within that house,--only a kindly old
man reading a newspaper!

He walked on, slowly, to feel stealing on him that desperate longing for
adventure which he had known so well in his younger days. And he did not
resist. The terror with which it had once inspired him was gone, or
lingered only in the form of a delicious sense of uncertainty and
anticipation. Anything might happen to him--anything would be grateful;
the thought of his study in the parish house was unbearable; the Dalton
Street which had mocked and repelled him suddenly became alluring with
its champaigns of light and inviting stretches of darkness. In the block
ahead, rising out of the night like a tower blazing with a hundred
beacons, Hodder saw a hotel, heard the faint yet eager throbbing of
music, beheld silhouetted figures flitting from automobiles and carriages
across the white glare of the pavement,--figures of men and women.

He hastened his steps, the music grew louder and louder in his ears, he
gained the ornamental posts crowned by their incandescent globes, made
his way through the loiterers, descended the stone steps of the
restaurant, and stood staring into it as at a blurred picture. The band
crashed a popular two-step above the mingled voices and laughter. He sat
down at a vacant table near the door, and presently became aware that a
waiter had been for some time at his elbow.

"What will you have, sir?"

Then he remembered that he had not eaten, discovered that he was hungry,
and ordered some sandwiches and beer. Still staring, the figures began
to differentiate themselves, although they all appeared, somehow, in
perpetual motion; hurrying, though seated. It was like gazing at a
quivering cinematograph. Here and there ribbons of smoke curled upward,
adding volume to the blue cloud that hung over the tables, which in turn
was dissipated in spots by the industrious electric fans. Everywhere he
looked he met the glances of women; even at the table next him, they were
not so absorbed in their escorts as to be able to resist flinging
him covert stares between the shrieks of laughter in which they
intermittently indulged. The cumulative effect of all these faces was
intoxicating, and for a long time he was unable to examine closely any
one group. What he saw was a composite woman with flushed cheeks and
soliciting eyes, becomingly gowned and hatted--to the masculine judgment.
On the walls, heavily frescoed in the German style, he read, in Gothic
letters:

          "Wer liebt nicht Wein, Weib, and Gesang,
          Er bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang."

The waiter brought the sandwiches and beer, yet he did not eat. In the
middle distance certain figures began insistently to stand out,--figures
of women sitting alone wherever he looked he met a provoking gaze. One
woman, a little farther away than the rest, seemed determinedly bent on
getting a nod of recognition, and it was gradually borne in upon Hodder's
consciousness that her features were familiar. In avoiding her eyes he
studied the men at the next table,--or rather one of them, who loudly
ordered the waiters about, who told brief anecdotes that were
uproariously applauded; whose pudgy, bejewelled fingers were continually
feeling for the bottle in the ice beside his chair, or nudging his
companions with easy familiarity; whose little eyes, set in a heavy face,
lighted now and again with a certain expression . . . . .

Suddenly Hodder pushed back his chair and got to his feet, overcome by a
choking sensation like that of being, asphyxiated by foul gases. He must
get out at once, or faint. What he had seen in the man's eyes had
aroused in him sheer terror, for it was the image of something in his
own soul which had summarily gained supremacy and led him hither,
unresisting, to its own abiding-place. In vain he groped to reconstruct
the process by which that other spirit--which he would fain have believed
his true spirit--had been drugged and deadened in its very flight.

He was aware, as he still stood uncertainly beside the table, of the
white-aproned waiter looking at him, and of some one else!--the woman
whose eyes had been fastened on him so persistently. She was close
beside him, speaking to him.

"Seems to me we've met before."

He looked at her, at first uncomprehendingly, then with a dawning
realization of her identity. Even her name came to him, unexpectedly,
--Kate Marcy,--the woman in the flat!

"Ain't you going to invite me to have some supper?" she whispered
eagerly, furtively, as one accustomed to be rebuffed, yet bold in spite
of it. "They'll throw me out if they think I'm accosting you."

How was it that, a moment ago, she had appeared to him mysterious,
inviting? At this range he could only see the paint on her cheeks, the
shadows under her burning eyes, the shabby finery of her gown. Her
wonderful bronze hair only made the contrast more pitiful. He acted
automatically, drawing out for her the chair opposite his own, and sat
down again.

"Say, but I'm hungry!" she exclaimed, pulling off her gloves. She smiled
at him, wanly, yet with a brazen coquettishness become habit.

"Hungry!" he repeated idly.

"I guess you'd be, if you'd only had a fried egg and a cup of coffee
to-day, and nothing last night."

He pushed over to her, hastily, with a kind of horror, the plate of
sandwiches. She began eating them ravenously; but presently paused, and
thrust them back toward him. He shook his head.

"What's the matter with you?" she demanded.

"Nothing," he replied.

"You ordered them, didn't you? Ain't you eating anything?"

"I'm not hungry," he said.

She continued eating awhile without comment. And he watched her as one
fascinated, oblivious to his surroundings, in a turmoil of thought and
emotion.

"I'm dry," she announced meaningly.

He hesitated a moment, and then gave her the bottle of beer. She made a
wry face as she poured it out.

"Have they run out of champagne?" she inquired.

This time he did not hesitate. The women of his acquaintance, at the
dinner parties he attended, drank champagne. Why should he refuse it to
this woman? A long-nosed, mediaeval-looking waiter was hovering about,
one of those bizarre, battered creatures who have long exhausted the
surprises of life, presiding over this amazing situation with all the
sang froid of a family butler. Hodder told him to bring champagne.

"What kind, sir?" he asked, holding out a card.

"The best you have."

The woman stared at him in wonder.

"You're what an English Johnny I know would call a little bit of all
right!" she declared with enthusiastic approval.

"Since you are hungry," he went on, "suppose you have something more
substantial than sandwiches. What would you like?"

She did not answer at once. Amazement grew in her eyes, amazement and a
kind of fear.

"Quit joshing!" she implored him, and he found it difficult to cope with
her style of conversation. For a while she gazed helplessly at the bill
of fare.

"I guess you'll think it's funny," she said hesitatingly, "but I feel
just like a good beefsteak and potatoes. Bring a thick one, Walter."

The waiter sauntered off.

"Why should I think it strange?" Hodder asked.

"Well, if you knew how many evenings I've sat up there in my room and
thought what I'd order if I ever again got hold of some rich guy who'd
loosen up. There ain't any use trying to put up a bluff with you.
Nothing was too good for me once, caviar, pate de foie gras" (her
pronunciation is not to be imitated), "chicken casserole, peach Melba,
filet of beef with mushrooms,--I've had 'em all, and I used to sit up and
say I'd hand out an order like that. You never do what you think you're
going to do in this life."

The truth of this remark struck him with a force she did not suspect;
stung him, as it were, into a sense of reality.

"And now," she added pathetically, "all t want is a beefsteak! Don't
that beat you?"

She appeared so genuinely surprised at this somewhat contemptible trick
fate had played her that Hodder smiled in spite of himself.

"I didn't recognize you at first in that get-up," she observed, looking
at his blue serge suit. "So you've dropped the preacher business, have
you? You're wise, all right."

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"Didn't I tell you when you came 'round that time that you weren't like
the rest of 'em? You're too human."

Once more the word, and on her lips, startled him.

"Some of the best men I have ever known, the broadest and most
understanding men, have been clergymen," he found himself protesting.

"Well, they haven't dropped in on me. The only one I ever saw that
measured up to something like that was you, and now you've chucked it."

Had he, as she expressed the matter, "chucked it"? Her remark brought
him reluctantly, fearfully, remorselessly--agitated and unprepared as
he was--face to face with his future.

"You were too good for the job," she declared. "What is there in it?
There ain't nobody converted these days that I can see, and what's the
use of gettin' up and preach into a lot of sapheads that don't know what
religion is? Sure they don't."

"Do you?" he asked.

"You've called my bluff." She laughed. "Say, do YOU?" If there was
anything in it you'd have kept on preachin' to that bunch and made some
of 'em believe they was headed for hell; you'd have made one of 'em that
owns the flat house I live in, who gets fancy rents out of us poor girls,
give it up. That's a nice kind of business for a church member, ain't
it?"

"Owns the house in which you live!"

"Sure." She smiled at him compassionately, pitying his innocence and
ignorance. "Now I come to think of it, I guess he don't go to your
church,--it's the big Baptist church on the boulevard. But what's the
difference?"

"None," said Hodder, despondently.

She regarded him curiously.

"You remember when you dropped in that night, when the kid was sick?"

He nodded.

"Well, now you ain't in the business any more, I may as well tell you you
kind of got in on me. I was sorry for you--honest, I was. I couldn't
believe at first you was on the level, but it didn't take me long to see
that they had gold-bricked you, too. I saw you weren't wise to what they
were."

"You thought--" he began and paused dumfounded.

"Why not?" she retorted. "It looked easy to me,--your line. How was I
to know at first that they had you fooled? How was I to know you wasn't
in the game?"

"The game?"

"Say, what else is it but a game? You must be on now, ain't you? Why.
do they put up to keep the churches going? There ain't any coupons
coming out of 'em.

"Maybe some of these millionaires think they can play all the horses and
win,--get into heaven and sell gold bricks on the side. But I guess most
of 'em don't think about heaven. They just use the church for a front,
and take in strangers in the back alley,--downtown."

Hodder was silent, overwhelmed by the brutal aptness of her figures. Nor
did he take the trouble of a defence, of pointing out that hers was not
the whole truth. What really mattered--he saw--was what she and those
like her thought. Such minds were not to be disabused by argument; and
indeed he had little inclination for it then.

"There's nothing in it."

By this expression he gathered she meant life. And some hidden impulse
bade him smile at her.

"There is this," he answered.

She opened her mouth, closed it and stared at him, struck by his
expression, striving uneasily to fathom hidden depths in his remark.

"I don't get on to you," she said lamely. "I didn't that other time.
I never ran across anybody like you."

He tried to smile again.

"You mustn't mind me," he answered.

They fell into an oasis of silence, surrounded by mad music and laughter.
Then came the long-nosed waiter carrying the beefsteak aloft, followed by
a lad with a bucket of ice, from which protruded the green and gold neck
of a bottle. The plates were put down, the beefsteak carved, the
champagne opened and poured out with a flourish. The woman raised her
glass.

"Here's how!" she said, with an attempt at gayety. And she drank to him.
"It's funny how I ran across you again, ain't it?" She threw back her
head and laughed.

He raised his glass, tasted the wine, and put it down again. A sheet of
fire swept through him.

"What's the matter with it? Is it corked?" she demanded. "It goes to
the right spot with me."

"It seems very good," he said, trying to smile, and turning to the food
on his plate. The very idea of eating revolted him--and yet he made the
attempt: he had a feeling, ill defined, that consequences of vital
importance depended upon this attempt, on his natural acceptance of the
situation. And, while he strove to reduce the contents of his plate,
he racked his brain for some subject of conversation. The flamboyant
walls of the room pressed in on every side; comment of that which lay
within their limits was impossible,--but he could not, somehow, get
beyond them. Was there in the whole range of life one easy topic which
they might share in common? Yet a bond existed between this woman and
himself--a bond of which he now became aware, and which seemed strangely
to grow stronger as the minutes passed and no words were spoken. Why was
it that she, too, to whom speech came so easily, had fallen dumb? He
began to long for some remark, however disconcerting. The tension
increased.

She put down her knife and fork. Tears sprang into her eyes,--tears of
anger, he thought.

"Say, it's no use trying to put up a bluff with me," she cried.

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"You know what I mean, all right. What did you come in here for,
anyway?"

"I don't know--I couldn't tell you," he answered.

The very honesty of his words seemed, for an instant, to disconcert her;
and she produced a torn lace handkerchief, which she thrust in her eyes.

"Why can't you leave me alone?" she demanded. "I'm all right."

If he did not at once reply, it was because of some inner change which
had taken place in himself; and he seemed to see things, suddenly, in
their true proportions. He no longer feared a scene and its
consequences. By virtue of something he had cast off or taken on,
he was aware of a newly acquired mastery of the situation, and by a
hidden and unconscious process he had managed to get at the real woman
behind the paint: had beaten down, as it were without a siege, her
defences. And he was incomparably awed by the sight of her quivering,
frightened self.

Her weeping grew more violent. He saw the people at the next table turn
and stare, heard the men laughing harshly. For the spectacle was
evidently not an uncommon one here. She pushed away her unfinished
glass, gathered up her velvet bag and rose abruptly.

"I guess I ain't hungry after all," she said, and started toward the
door. He turned to the waiter, who regarded him unmoved, and asked for a
check.

"I'll get it," he said.

Hodder drew out a ten dollar bill, and told him to keep the change. The
waiter looked at him. Some impulse moved him to remark, as he picked up
the rector's hat:

"Don't let her put it over you, sir."

Hodder scarcely heard him. He hurried up the steps and gained the
pavement, and somewhere in the black shadows beyond the arc-lights he saw
her disappearing down the street. Careless of all comment he hastened
on, overtook her, and they walked rapidly side by side. Now and again he
heard a sob, but she said nothing. Thus they came to the house where the
Garvins had lived, and passed it, and stopped in front of the dimly
lighted vestibule of the flats next door. In drawing the key from her
bag she dropped it: he picked it up and put it in the lock himself. She
led the way without comment up the darkened stairs, and on the landing
produced another key, opened the door of her rooms, fumbled for the
electric button, and suddenly the place was flooded with light. He
glanced in, and recoiled.



II

Oddly enough, the first thing he noticed in the confusion that reigned
was the absence of the piano. Two chairs were overturned, and one of
them was broken; a siphon of vichy lay on the floor beside a crushed
glass and two or three of the cheap ornaments that had been swept off
the mantel and broken on the gaudy tiles of the hearth. He glanced at
the woman, who had ceased crying, and stood surveying the wreckage with
the calmness, the philosophic nonchalance of a class that comes to look
upon misfortune as inevitable.

"They didn't do a thing to this place, did they?" was her comment.
"There was two guys in here to-night who got a notion they were funny."

Hodder had thought to have fathomed all the horrors of her existence, but
it was not until he looked into this room that the bottomless depths of
it were brought home to him. Could it be possible that the civilization
in which he lived left any human being so defenceless as to be at the
mercy of the ghouls who had been here? The very stale odours of the
spilled whiskey seemed the material expression of the essence of degraded
souls; for a moment it overpowered him. Then came the imperative need of
action, and he began to right one of the chairs. She darted forward.

"Cut it out!" she cried. "What business have you got coming in here and
straightening up? I was a fool to bring you, anyway."

It was in her eyes that he read her meaning, and yet could not credit it.
He was abashed--ashamed; nay, he could not define the feeling in his
breast. He knew that what he read was the true interpretation of her
speech, for in some manner--he guessed not how--she had begun to idealize
him, to feel that the touch of these things defiled him.

"I believe I invited myself," he answered, with attempted cheerfulness.
Then it struck him, in his predicament, that this was precisely what
others had done!

"When you asked me a little while ago whether I had left the Church, I
let you think I had. I am still connected with St. John's, but I do not
know how long I shall continue to be."

She was on her knees with dustpan and whiskbroom, cleaning up the
fragments of glass on the stained carpet. And she glanced up at him
swiftly, diviningly.

"Say--you're in trouble yourself, ain't you?"

She got up impulsively, spilling some of the contents of the pan. A
subtle change had come in her, and under the gallantly drooping feathers
of her hat he caught her eye--the human eye that so marvellously reflects
the phases of the human soul: the eye which so short a time before
hardily and brazenly had flashed forth its invitation, now actually shone
with fellowship and sympathy. And for a moment this look was more
startling, more appalling than the other; he shrank from it, resented it
even more. Was it true that they had something in common? And if so,
was it sin or sorrow, or both?

"I might have known," she said, staring at him. In spite of his gesture
of dissent, he saw that she was going over the events of the evening from
her new point of view.

"I might have known, when we were sitting there in Harrods, that you were
up against it, too, but I couldn't think of anything but the way I was
fixed. The agent's been here twice this week for the rent, and I was
kind of desperate for a square meal."

Hodder took the dustpan from her hand, and flung its contents into the
fireplace.

"Then we are both fortunate," he said, "to have met each other."

"I don't see where you come in," she told him.

He turned and smiled at her.

"Do you remember when I was here that evening about two months ago I said
I should like to be your friend? Well, I meant it. And I have often
hoped, since then, that some circumstance might bring us together again.
You seemed to think that no friendship was possible between us, but I
have tried to make myself believe that you said so because you didn't
know me."

"Honest to God?" she asked. "Is that on the level?"

"I only ask for an opportunity to prove it," he replied, striving to
speak naturally. He stooped and laid the dustpan on the hearth.
"There! Now let's sit down."

She sank on the sofa, her breast rising and falling, her gaze dumbly
fixed on him, as one under hypnosis. He took the rocker.

"I have wanted to tell you how grateful Mrs. Garvin, the boy's mother
--was for the roses you brought. She doesn't know who sent them, but I
intend to tell her, and she will thank you herself. She is living out
in the country. And the boy--you would scarcely recognize him."

"I couldn't play the piano for a week after--that thing happened." She
glanced at the space where the instrument had stood.

"You taught yourself to play?" he asked.

"I had music lessons."

"Music lessons?"

"Not here--before I left home--up the State, in a little country town,
--Madison. It seems like a long time ago, but it's only seven years in
September. Mother and father wanted all of us children to know a little
more than they did, and I guess they pinched a good deal to give us a
chance. I went a year to the high school, and then I was all for coming
to the city--I couldn't stand Madison, there wasn't anything going on.
Mother was against it,--said I was too good-looking to leave home. I
wish I never had. You wouldn't believe I was good-looking once, would
you?"

She spoke dispassionately, not seeming to expect assent, but Hodder
glanced involuntarily at her wonderful crown of hair. She had taken off
her hat. He was thinking of the typical crime of American parents,--and
suddenly it struck him that her speech had changed, that she had dropped
the suggestive slang of the surroundings in which she now lived.

"I was a fool to come, but I couldn't see it then. All I could think of
was to get away to a place where something was happening. I wanted to
get into Ferguson's--everybody in Madison knew about Ferguson's, what a
grand store it was,--but I couldn't. And after a while I got a place at
the embroidery counter at Pratt's. That's a department store, too, you
know. It looked fine, but it wasn't long before I fell wise to a few
things." (She relapsed into slang occasionally.) "Have you ever tried
to stand on your feet for nine hours, where you couldn't sit down for a
minute? Say, when Florry Kinsley and me--she was the girl I roomed with
--would get home at night, often we'd just lie down and laugh and cry, we
were so tired, and our feet hurt so. We were too used up sometimes to
get up and cook supper on the little stove we had. And sitting around a
back bedroom all evening was worse than Madison. We'd go out, tired as
we were, and walk the streets."

He nodded, impressed by the fact that she did not seem to be appealing
to his sympathy. Nor, indeed, did she appear--in thus picking up the
threads of her past--to be consciously accounting for her present.
She recognized no causation there.

"Say, did you ever get to a place where you just had to have something
happen? When you couldn't stand bein' lonely night after night, when you
went out on the streets and saw everybody on the way to a good time but
you? We used to look in the newspapers for notices of the big balls, and
we'd take the cars to the West End and stand outside the awnings watching
the carriages driving up and the people coming in. And the same with
the weddings. We got to know a good many of the swells by sight. There
was Mrs. Larrabbee,"--a certain awe crept into her voice--"and Miss
Ferguson--she's sweet--and a lot more. Some of the girls used to copy
their clothes and hats, but Florry and me tried to live honest. It was
funny," she added irrelevantly, "but the more worn out we were at night,
the more we'd want a little excitement, and we used to go to the
dance-halls and keep going until we were ready to drop."

She laughed at the recollection.

"There was a floorwalker who never let me alone the whole time I was at
Pratt's--he put me in mind of a pallbearer. His name was Selkirk, and he
had a family in Westerly, out on the Grade Suburban . . . . Some of
the girls never came back at all, except to swagger in and buy expensive
things, and tell us we were fools to work. And after a while I noticed
Florry was getting discouraged. We never had so much as a nickel left
over on Saturdays and they made us sign a paper, when they hired us, that
we lived at home. It was their excuse for paying us six dollars a week.
They do it at Ferguson's, too. They say they can get plenty of girls who
do live at home. I made up my mind I'd go back to Madison, but I kept
putting it off, and then father died, and I couldn't!

"And then, one day, Florry left. She took her things from the room when
I was at the store, and I never saw her again. I got another roommate.
I couldn't afford to pay for the room alone. You wouldn't believe I kept
straight, would you?" she demanded, with a touch of her former defiance.
"I had plenty of chances better than that floorwalker. But I knew I was
good looking, and I thought if I could only hold out I might get married
to some fellow who was well fixed. What's the matter?"

Hodder's exclamation had been involuntary, for in these last words she
had unconsciously brought home to him the relentless predicament in the
lives of these women. She had been saving herself--for what? A more
advantageous, sale!

"It's always been my luck," she went on reflectingly, "that when what I
wanted to happen did happen, I never could take advantage of it. It was
just like that to-night, when you handed me out the bill of fare, and
I ordered beefsteak. And it was like that when--when he came along
--I didn't do what I thought I was going to do. It's terrible to fall in
love, isn't it? I mean the real thing. I've read in books that it only
comes once, and I guess it's so."

Fortunately she seemed to expect no answer to this query. She was
staring at the wall with unseeing eyes.

"I never thought of marrying him, from the first. He could have done
anything with me--he was so good and generous--and it was him I was
thinking about. That's love, isn't it? Maybe you don't believe a woman
like me knows what love is. You've got a notion that goin' downhill, as
I've been doing, kills it, haven't you? I Wish to God it did--but it
don't: the ache's there, and sometimes it comes in the daytime, and
sometimes at night, and I think I'll go crazy. When a woman like me is
in love there isn't anything more terrible on earth, I tell you. If a
girl's respectable and good it's bad enough, God knows, if she can't have
the man she wants; but when she's like me--it's hell. That's the only
way I can describe it. She feels there is nothing about her that's
clean, that he wouldn't despise. There's many a night I wished I could
have done what Garvin did, but I didn't have the nerve."

"Don't say that!" he commanded sharply.

"Why not? It's the best way out."

"I can see how one might believe it to be," he answered. Indeed, it
seemed that his vision had been infinitely extended, that he had suddenly
come into possession of the solution of all the bewildered, despairing
gropings of the human soul. Only awhile ago, for instance, the mood of
self-destruction had been beyond his imagination: tonight he understood
it, though he still looked upon it with horror. And he saw that his
understanding of her--or of any human being--could never be of the
intellect. He had entered into one of those astounding yet simple
relationships wherein truth, and truth alone, is possible. He knew
that such women lied, deceived themselves; he could well conceive that
the image of this first lover might have become idealized in her
vicissitudes; that the memories of the creature-comforts, of first
passion, might have enhanced as the victim sank. It was not only
because she did not attempt to palliate that he believed her.

"I remember the time I met him,--it was only four years ago last spring,
but it seems like a lifetime. It was Decoration Day, and it was so
beautiful I went out with another girl to the Park, and we sat on the
grass and looked at the sky and wished we lived in the country. He was
in an automobile; I never did know exactly how it happened,--we looked at
each other, and he slowed up and came back and asked us to take a ride.
I had never been in one of those things--but that wasn't why I went,
I guess. Well, the rest was easy. He lost his head, and I was just as
bad. You wouldn't believe me if I told you how rich he was: it scared me
when I found out about him, and he was so handsome and full of fun and
spirits, and generous! I never knew anybody like him. Honest, I never
expected he'd want to marry me. He didn't at first,--it was only after
a while. I never asked him to, and when he began to talk about it I told
him it would cut him off from his swell friends, and I knew his father
might turn him loose. Oh, it wasn't the money! Well, he'd get mad all
through, and say he never got along with the old man, and that his
friends would have to take me, and he couldn't live without me. He said
he would have me educated, and bought me books, and I tried to read them.
I'd have done anything for him. He'd knocked around a good deal since
he'd been to Harvard College,--he wasn't what you'd call a saint, but his
heart was all right. And he changed, too, I could see it. He said he
was going to make something out of himself.

"I didn't think it was possible to be so happy, but I had a feeling all
along, inside of me, that it couldn't come off. I had a little flat in
Rutger Street, over on the south side, and everything in the world I
wanted. Well, one day, sure enough, the bell rang and I opened the door,
and there stood a man with side whiskers staring at me, and staring until
I was frightened to death. I never saw such eyes as he had. And all of
a sudden I knew it was his father.

"'Is this Miss Marcy?'" he said.

"I couldn't say anything at all, but he handed me his card and smiled,
I'll never forget how he smiled--and came right in and sat down. I'd
heard of that man all my life, and how much money he'd made, and all
that. Why, up in Madison folks used to talk about him--" she checked
herself suddenly and stared at Hodder in consternation. "Maybe you know
him!" she exclaimed. "I never thought!"

"Maybe I do," he assented wearily. In the past few moments suspicion had
become conviction.

"Well--what difference does it make--now? It's all over, and I'm not
going to bother him. I made up my mind I wouldn't, on account of him,
you understand. I never fell that low--thank God!"

Hodder nodded. He could not speak . . . . The woman seemed to be
living over again that scene, in her imagination.

"I just couldn't realize who it was sitting there beside me, but if I
hadn't known it wouldn't have made any difference. He could have done
anything with me, anyway, and he knew how to get at me. He said, now
that he'd seen me, that he was sure I was a good girl at the bottom and
loved his son, and that I wouldn't want to ruin the boy when he had such
a big future ahead of him. I wouldn't have thought, to look at the man,
that he could have been so gentle. I made a fool of myself and cried,
and told him I'd go away and never see his son any more--that I'd always
been against marrying him. Well, he almost had tears in his eyes when he
thanked me and said I'd never regret it, and he pulled an envelope out of
his pocket. I said I wouldn't take any money, and gave it back to him.
I've always been sorry since that I didn't make him take it back--it
never did anything but harm to me. But he had his way. He laid it on
the table and said he wouldn't feel right, and took my hand--and I just
didn't care.

"Well, what do you think I did after he'd gone? I went and played a
piece on the piano,--and I never can bear to hear that ragtime to this
day. I couldn't seem to feel anything. And after a while I got up and
opened the envelope--it was full of crackly new hundred dollar bills
--thirty of 'em, and as I sat there staring at 'em the pain came on, like a
toothache, in throbs, getting worse all the time until I just couldn't
stand it. I had a notion of sending the money back even then, but I
didn't. I didn't know how to do it,--and as I told you, I wasn't able to
care much. Then I remembered I'd promised to go away, and I had to have
some money for that, and if I didn't leave right off I wouldn't have the
strength to do it. I hadn't even thought where to go: I couldn't think,
so I got dressed and went down to the depot anyway. It was one of those
bright, bitter cold winter days after a thaw when the icicles are hanging
everywhere. I went inside and walked up and down that long platform
under the glass roof. My, it was cold in there! I looked over all the
signs, and made up my mind I'd go to Chicago.

"I meant to work, I never meant to spend the money, but to send it back.
I'd put it aside--and then I'd go and take a little. Say, it was easy
not to work--and I didn't care what happened to me as long as I wasn't
going to see him again. Well, I'm not trying to smooth it over,
I suppose there was something crooked about me from the start, but I just
went clean to hell with that money, and when I heard he'd gone away,
I came back here."

"Something crooked!" The words rang in Hodder's ears, in his very soul.
How was he or any man to estimate, to unravel the justice from the
injustice, to pass upon the merit of this woman's punishment? Here
again, in this vitiated life, was only to be seen the remorseless working
of law--cause and effect. Crooked! Had not the tree been crooked from
the beginning--incapable of being straightened? She had herself naively
confessed it. Was not the twist ingrained? And if so, where was the
salvation he had preached? There was good in her still,--but what was
"good"? . . . He took no account of his profound compassion.

What comfort could he give her, what hope could he hold out that the
twist, now gnarled and knotted, might be removed, that she might gain
peace of soul and body and the "happiness" of which he had talked with
Alison Parr? . . . He raised his eyes, to discover that the woman's
were fixed upon him, questioningly.

"I suppose I was a fool to tell you," she said, with a shade of her old
bitterness; "it can't do any good." Her next remark was startlingly
astute. "You've found out for yourself, I guess, that all this talk
about heaven and hell and repentance don't amount to anything. Hell
couldn't be any worse than I've been through, no matter how hot it is.
And heaven!" She laughed, burst into tears, and quickly dried them.
"You know the man I've been talking about, that bought me off. I didn't
intend to tell you, but I see you can't help knowing--Eldon Parr. I
don't say he didn't do right from his way of looking at things,--but say,
it wasn't exactly Christian, was it?"

"No," he said, "it wasn't." He bowed his head, and presently, when he
raised it again, he caught something in her look that puzzled and
disturbed him--an element of adoration.

"You're white through and through," she said, slowly and distinctly.

And he knew not how to protest.

"I'll tell you something," she went on, as one who has made a discovery.
"I liked you the first time you came in here--that night--when you wanted
me to be friends; well, there was something that seemed to make it
impossible then. I felt it, if you didn't." She groped for words.
"I can't explain what it was, but now it's gone. You're different.
I think a lot more of you. Maybe it's because of what you did at
Harrod's, sitting down with me and giving me supper when I was so hungry,
and the champagne. You weren't ashamed of me."

"Good God, why should I have been!" he exclaimed.

"You! Why shouldn't you?" she cried fiercely.

"There's hardly a man in that place that wouldn't have been. They all
know me by sight--and some of 'em better. You didn't see 'em grinning
when I came up to you, but I did. My God--it's awful--it's awful I...."
She burst into violent weeping, long deferred.

He took her hand in his, and did not speak, waiting for the fit to spend
itself . . . . And after a while the convulsive shudders that shook
her gradually ceased.

"You must trust me," he said. "The first thing tomorrow I'm going to
make arrangements for you to get out of these rooms. You can't stay here
any longer."

"That's sure," she answered, trying to smile. "I'm broke. I even owe
the co--the policeman."

"The policeman!"

"He has to turn it in to Tom Beatty and the politicians"

Beatty! Where had he heard the name? Suddenly it came to him that
Beatty was the city boss, who had been eulogized by Mr. Plimpton!

"I have some good friends who will be glad to help you to get work--and
until you do get work. You will have to fight--but we all have to fight.
Will you try?"

"Sure, I'll try," she answered, in a low voice.

Her very tone of submission troubled him. And he had a feeling that, if
he had demanded, she would have acquiesced in anything.

"We'll talk it over to-morrow," he went on, clinging to his note of
optimism. "We'll find out what you can do easiest, to begin with."

"I might give music lessons," she suggested.

The remark increased his uneasiness, for he recognized in it a sure
symptom of disease--a relapse into what might almost have been called
levity, blindness to the supreme tragedy of her life which but a moment
before had shaken and appalled her. He shook his head bravely.

"I'm afraid that wouldn't do--at first."

She rose and went into the other room, returning in a few moments with a
work basket, from which she drew a soiled and unfinished piece of
embroidery.

"There's a bureau cover I started when I was at Pratt's," she said, as
she straightened it over her knees. "It's a copy of an expensive one.
I never had the patience to finish it, but one of the sales-ladies there,
who was an expert, told me it was pretty good: She taught me the stitch,
and I had a notion at that time I might make a little money for dresses
and the theatre. I was always clever with my hands."

"The very thing!" he said, with hopeful emphasis. "I'm sure I can get
you plenty of it to do. And I'll come back in the morning."

He gave it back to her, and as she was folding it his glance fell on a
photograph in the basket.

"I kept it, I don't know why," he heard her say; "I didn't have the heart
to burn it."

He started recovered himself, and rose.

"I'll go to see the agent the first thing to-morrow," he said. "And
then--you'll be ready for me? You trust me?"

"I'd do anything for you," was her tremulous reply.

Her disquieting, submissive smile haunted him as he roped his way down
the stairs to the street, and then the face in the photograph replaced
it--the laughing eyes, the wilful, pleasure--loving mouth he had seen in
the school and college pictures of Preston Parr.



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 5.


XVII.   RECONSTRUCTION
XVIII.  THE RIDDLE OF CAUSATION
XIX.   MR. GOODRICH BECOMES A PARTISAN



CHAPTER XVII

RECONSTRUCTION


I

Life had indeed become complicated, paradoxical. He, John Hodder, a
clergyman, rector of St. John's by virtue of not having resigned, had
entered a restaurant of ill repute, had ordered champagne for an
abandoned woman, and had no sense of sin when he awoke the next morning!
The devil, in the language of orthodox theology, had led him there. He
had fallen under the influence of the tempter of his youth, and all in
him save the carnal had been blotted out.

More paradoxes! If the devil had not taken possession of him and led him
there, it were more than probable that he could never have succeeded in
any other way in getting on a footing of friendship with this woman, Kate
Marcy. Her future, to be sure, was problematical. Here was no simple,
sentimental case he might formerly have imagined, of trusting innocence
betrayed, but a mixture of good and evil, selfishness and unselfishness.
And she had, in spite of all, known the love which effaces self! Could
the disintegration, in her case, be arrested?

Gradually Hodder was filled with a feeling which may be called amazement
because, although his brain was no nearer to a solution than before, he
was not despondent. For a month he had not permitted his mind to dwell
on the riddle; yet this morning he felt stirring within him a new energy
for which he could not account, a hope unconnected with any mental
process! He felt in touch, once more, faintly but perceptibly, with
something stable in the chaos. In bygone years he had not seen the
chaos, but the illusion of an orderly world, a continual succession of
sunrises, 'couleur de rose', from the heights above Bremerton. Now were
the scales fallen from his eyes; now he saw the evil, the injustice, the
despair; felt, in truth, the weight of the sorrow of it all, and yet that
sorrow was unaccountably transmuted, as by a chemical process, into
something which for the first time had a meaning--he could not say what
meaning. The sting of despair had somehow been taken out of it, and it
remained poignant!

Not on the obsession of the night before, when he had walked down Dalton
Street and beheld it transformed into a realm of adventure, but upon his
past life did he look back now with horror, upon the even tenor of those
days and years in the bright places. His had been the highroad of a
fancied security, from which he had feared to stray, to seek his God
across the rough face of nature, from black, forgotten capons to the
flying peaks in space. He had feared reality. He had insisted upon
gazing at the universe through the coloured glasses of an outworn
theology, instead of using his own eyes.

So he had left the highroad, the beaten way of salvation many others had
deserted, had flung off his spectacles, had plunged into reality, to be
scratched and battered, to lose his way. Not until now had something of
grim zest come to him, of an instinct which was the first groping of a
vision, as to where his own path might lie. Through what thickets and
over what mountains he knew not as yet--nor cared to know. He felt
resistance, whereas on the highroad he had felt none. On the highroad
his cry had gone unheeded and unheard, yet by holding out his hand in the
wilderness he had helped another, bruised and bleeding, to her feet!
Salvation, Let it be what it might be, he would go on, stumbling and
seeking, through reality.

Even this last revelation, of Eldon Parr's agency in another tragedy,
seemed to have no further power to affect him. . . Nor could Hodder
think of Alison as in blood-relationship to the financier, or even to the
boy, whose open, pleasure-loving face he had seen in the photograph.



II

A presage of autumn was in the air, and a fine, misty rain drifted in at
his windows as he sat at his breakfast. He took deep breaths of the
moisture, and it seemed to water and revive his parching soul. He found
himself, to his surprise, surveying with equanimity the pile of books in
the corner which had led him to the conviction of the emptiness of the
universe--but the universe was no longer empty! It was cruel, but a
warring force was at work in it which was not blind, but directed. He
could not say why this was so, but he knew it, he felt it, sensed its
energy within him as he set out for Dalton Street.

He was neither happy nor unhappy, but in equilibrium, walking with sure
steps, and the anxiety in which he had fallen asleep the night before was
gone: anxiety lest the woman should have fled, or changed her mind, or
committed some act of desperation.

In Dalton Street a thin coat of yellow mud glistened on the asphalt, but
even the dreariness of this neighbourhood seemed transient. He rang the
bell of the flat, the door swung open, and in the hall above a woman
awaited him. She was clad in black.

"You wouldn't know me, would you?" she inquired. "Say, I scarcely know
myself. I used to wear this dress at Pratt's, with white collars and
cuffs and--well, I just put it on again. I had it in the bottom of my
trunk, and I guessed you'd like it."

"I didn't know you at first," he said, and the pleasure in his face was
her reward.

The transformation, indeed, was more remarkable than he could have
believed possible, for respectability itself would seem to have been
regained by a costume, and the abundance of her remarkable hair was now
repressed. The absence of paint made her cheeks strangely white, the
hollows under the eyes darker. The eyes themselves alone betrayed the
woman of yesterday; they still burned.

"Why," he exclaimed, looking around him, "you have been busy, haven't
you?"

"I've been up since six," she told him proudly. The flat had been
dismantled of its meagre furniture, the rug was rolled up and tied, and a
trunk strapped with rope was in the middle of the floor. Her next remark
brought home to him the full responsibility of his situation. She led
him to the window, and pointed to a spot among the drenched weeds and
rubbish in the yard next door. "Do you see that bottle? That's the
first thing I did--flung it out there. It didn't break," she added
significantly, "and there are three drinks in it yet."

Once more he confined his approval to his glance.

"Now you must come and have some breakfast," he said briskly. "If I had
thought about it I should have waited to have it with you."

"I'm not hungry." In the light of his new knowledge, he connected her
sudden dejection with the sight of the bottle.

"But you must eat. You're exhausted from all this work. And a cup of
coffee will make all the difference in the world."

She yielded, pinning on her hat. And he led her, holding the umbrella
over her, to a restaurant in Tower Street, where a man in a white cap and
apron was baking cakes behind a plate-glass window. She drank the
coffee, but in her excitement left the rest of the breakfast almost
untasted.

"Say," she asked him once, "why are you doing this?"

"I don't know," he answered, "except that it gives me pleasure."

"Pleasure?"

"Yes. It makes me feel as if I were of some use."

She considered this.

"Well," she observed, reviled by the coffee, "you're the queerest
minister I ever saw."

When they had reached the pavement she asked him where they were going.

"To see a friend of mine, and a friend of yours," he told her. "He does
net live far from here."

She was silent again, acquiescing. The rain had stopped, the sun was
peeping out furtively through the clouds, the early loiterers in Dalton
Street stared at them curiously. But Hodder was thinking of that house
whither they were bound with a new gratitude, a new wonder that it should
exist. Thus they came to the sheltered vestibule with its glistening
white paint, its polished name plate and doorknob. The grinning,
hospitable darky appeared in answer to the rector's ring.

"Good morning, Sam," he said; "is Mr. Bentley in?"

Sam ushered them ceremoniously into the library, and gate Marcy gazed
about her with awe, as at something absolutely foreign to her experience:
the New Barrington Hotel, the latest pride of the city, recently erected
at the corner of Tower and Jefferson and furnished in the French style,
she might partially have understood. Had she been marvellously and
suddenly transported and established there, existence might still have
evinced a certain continuity. But this house! . .

Mr. Bentley rose from the desk in the corner.

"Oh, it's you, Hodder," he said cheerfully, laying his hand on the
rector's arm. "I was just thinking about you."

"This is Miss Marcy, Mr. Bentley," Hodder said.

Mr. Bentley took her hand and led her to a chair.

"Mr. Hodder knows how fond I am of young women," he said. "I have six of
them upstairs,--so I am never lonely."

Mr. Bentley did not appear to notice that her lips quivered.

Hodder turned his eyes from her face. "Miss Marcy has been lonely," he
explained, "and I thought we might get her a room near by, where she
might see them often. She is going to do embroidery."

"Why, Sally will know of a room," Mr. Bentley replied. "Sam!" he called.

"Yessah--yes, Mistah Ho'ace." Sam appeared at the door.

"Ask Miss Sally to come down, if she's not busy."

Kate Marcy sat dumbly in her chair, her hands convulsively clasping its
arms, her breast heaving stormily, her face becoming intense with the
effort of repressing the wild emotion within her: emotion that threatened
to strangle her if resisted, or to sweep her out like a tide and drown
her in deep waters: emotion that had no one mewing, and yet summed up a
life, mysteriously and overwhelmingly aroused by the sight of a room, and
of a kindly old gentleman who lived in it!

Mr. Bentley took the chair beside her.

"Why, I believe it's going to clear off, after all," he exclaimed.
"Sam predicted it, before breakfast. He pretends to be able to tell by
the flowers. After a while I must show you my flowers, Miss Marcy, and
what Dalton Street can do by way of a garden--Mr. Hodder could hardly
believe it, even when he saw it." Thus he went on, the tips of his
fingers pressed together, his head bent forward in familiar attitude, his
face lighted, speaking naturally of trivial things that seemed to suggest
themselves; and careful, with exquisite tact that did not betray itself,
to address both. A passing automobile startled her with the blast of its
horn. "I'm afraid I shall never get accustomed to them," he lamented.
"At first I used to be thankful there were no trolley cars on this
street, but I believe the automobiles are worse."

A figure flitted through the hall and into the room, which Hodder
recognized as Miss Grower's. She reminded him of a flying shuttle across
the warp of Mr. Bentley's threads, weaving them together; swift, sure,
yet never hurried or flustered. One glance at the speechless woman
seemed to suffice her for a knowledge of the situation.

"Mr. Hodder has brought us a new friend and neighbour, Sally,--Miss Kate
Marcy. She is to have a room near us, that we may see her often."

Hodder watched Miss Grower's procedure with a breathless interest.

"Why, Mrs. McQuillen has a room--across the street, you know, Mr.
Bentley."

Sally perched herself on the edge of the armchair and laid her hand
lightly on Kate Marcy's.

Even Sally Grover was powerless to prevent the inevitable, and the touch
of her hand seemed the signal for the release of the pent-up forces. The
worn body, the worn nerves, the weakened will gave way, and Kate Marcy
burst into a paroxysm of weeping that gradually became automatic,
convulsive, like a child's. There was no damming this torrent, once
released. Kindness, disinterested friendship, was the one unbearable
thing.

"We must bring her upstairs," said Sally Grover, quietly, "she's going to
pieces."

Hodder helping, they fairly carried her up the flight, and laid her on
Sally Grover's own bed.

That afternoon she was taken to Mrs. McQuillen's.

The fiends are not easily cheated. And during the nights and days that
followed even Sally Grower, whose slight frame was tireless, whose
stoicism was amazing, came out of the sick room with a white face and
compressed lips. Tossing on the mattress, Kate Marcy enacted over again
incident after incident of her past life, events natural to an existence
which had been largely devoid of self-pity, but which now, clearly
enough, tested the extreme limits of suffering. Once more, in her
visions, she walked the streets, wearily measuring the dark, empty
blocks, footsore, into the smaller hours of the night; slyly,
insinuatingly, pathetically offering herself--all she possessed--to the
hovering beasts of prey. And even these rejected her, with gibes, with
obscene jests that sprang to her lips and brought a shudder to those who
heard.

Sometimes they beheld flare up fitfully that mysterious thing called
the human spirit, which all this crushing process had not served to
extinguish. She seemed to be defending her rights, whatever these may
have been! She expostulated with policemen. And once, when Hodder was
present, she brought back vividly to his mind that first night he had
seen her, when she had defied him and sent him away. In moments she
lived over again the careless, reckless days when money and good looks
had not been lacking, when rich food and wines had been plentiful. And
there were other events which Sally Grower and the good-natured
Irishwoman, Mrs. McQuillen, not holding the key, could but dimly
comprehend. Education, environment, inheritance, character--what a
jumble of causes! What Judge was to unravel them, and assign the exact
amount of responsibility?

There were other terrible scenes when, more than semiconscious, she cried
out piteously for drink, and cursed them for withholding it. And it was
in the midst of one of these that an incident occurred which made a deep
impression upon young Dr. Giddings, hesitating with his opiates, and
assisting the indomitable Miss Grower to hold his patient. In the midst
of the paroxysm Mr. Bentley entered and stood over her by the bedside,
and suddenly her struggles ceased. At first she lay intensely still,
staring at him with wide eyes of fear. He sat down and took her hand,
and spoke to her, quietly and naturally, and her pupils relaxed. She
fell into a sleep, still clinging to his fingers.

It was Sally who opposed the doctor's wish to send her to a hospital.

"If it's only a question of getting back her health, she'd better die,"
she declared. "We've got but one chance with her, Dr. Giddings, to keep
her here. When she finds out she's been to a hospital, that will be the
end of it with her kind. We'll never get hold of her again. I'll take
care of Mrs. McQuillen."

Doctor Giddings was impressed by this wisdom.

"You think you have a chance, Miss Grower?" he asked. He had had a
hospital experience.

Miss Grower was wont to express optimism in deeds rather than words.

"If I didn't think so, I'd ask you to put a little more in your
hypodermic next time," she replied.

And the doctor went away, wondering . . . .

Drink! Convalescence brought little release for the watchers. The
fiends would retire, pretending to have abandoned the field, only to
swoop down again when least expected. There were periods of calm when it
seemed as though a new and bewildered personality were emerging, amazed
to find in life a kindly thing, gazing at the world as one new-born. And
again, Mrs. McQuillen or Ella Finley might be seen running bareheaded
across the street for Miss Grower. Physical force was needed, as the
rector discovered on one occasion; physical force, and something more,
a dauntlessness that kept Sally Grower in the room after the other women
had fled in terror. Then remorse, despondency, another fear . . . .

As the weeks went by, the relapses certainly became fewer. Something was
at work, as real in its effects as the sunlight, but invisible. Hodder
felt it, and watched in suspense while it fought the beasts in this
woman, rending her frame in anguish. The frame might succumb, the breath
might leave it to moulder, but the struggle, he knew, would go until the
beasts were conquered. Whence this knowledge?--for it was knowledge.

On the quieter days of her convalescence she seemed, indeed, more Madonna
than Magdalen as she sat against the pillows, her red-gold hair lying in
two heavy plaits across her shoulders, her cheeks pale; the inner,
consuming fires that smouldered in her eyes died down. At such times her
newly awakened innocence (if it might be called such--pathetic innocence,
in truth!) struck awe into Hodder; her wonder was matched by his own.
Could there be another meaning in life than the pursuit of pleasure,
than the weary effort to keep the body alive?

Such was her query, unformulated. What animated these persons who had
struggled over her so desperately, Sally Grower, Mr. Bentley, and Hodder
himself? Thus her opening mind. For she had a mind.

Mr. Bentley was the chief topic, and little by little he became exalted
into a mystery of which she sought the explanation.

"I never knew anybody like him," she would exclaim.

"Why, I'd seen him on Dalton Street with the children following him, and
I saw him again that day of the funeral. Some of the girls I knew used
to laugh at him. We thought he was queer. And then, when you brought me
to him that morning and he got up and treated me like a lady, I just
couldn't stand it. I never felt so terrible in my life. I just wanted
to die, right then and there. Something inside of me kept pressing and
pressing, until I thought I would die. I knew what it was to hate
myself, but I never hated myself as I have since then.

"He never says anything about God, and you don't, but when he comes in
here he seems like God to me. He's so peaceful,--he makes me peaceful.
I remember the minister in Madison,--he was a putty-faced man with
indigestion,--and when he prayed he used to close his eyes and try to
look pious, but he never fooled me. He never made me believe he knew
anything about God. And don't think for a minute he'd have done what you
and Miss Grower and Mr. Bentley did! He used to cross the street to get
out of the way of drunken men--he wouldn't have one of them in his
church. And I know of a girl he drove out of town because she had a baby
and her sweetheart wouldn't marry her. He sent her to hell. Hell's
here--isn't it?"

These sudden remarks of hers surprised and troubled him. But they had
another effect, a constructive effect. He was astonished, in going over
such conversations afterwards, to discover that her questions and his
efforts to answer them in other than theological terms were both
illuminating and stimulating. Sayings in the Gospels leaped out in his
mind, fired with new meanings; so simple, once perceived, that he was
amazed not to have seen them before. And then he was conscious of a
palpitating joy which left in its wake a profound thankfulness. He made
no attempt as yet to correlate these increments, these glimpses of truth
into a system, but stored them preciously away.

He taxed his heart and intellect to answer her sensible and helpfully,
and thus found himself avoiding the logic, the Greek philosophy, the
outworn and meaningless phrases of speculation; found himself employing
(with extraordinary effect upon them both) the simple words from which
many of these theories had been derived. "He that hath seen me hath seen
the Father." What she saw in Horace Bentley, he explained, was God. God
wished us to know how to live, in order that we might find happiness, and
therefore Christ taught us that the way to find happiness was to teach
others how to live,--once we found out. Such was the meaning of Christ's
Incarnation, to teach us how to live in order that we might find God and
happiness. And Hodder translated for her the word Incarnation.

Now, he asked, how were we to recognize God, how might we know how he
wished us to live, unless we saw him in human beings, in the souls into
which he had entered? In Mr. Bentley's soul? Was this too deep?

She pondered, with flushed face.

"I never had it put to me like that," she said, presently. "I never
could have known what you meant if I hadn't seen Mr. Bentley."

Here was a return flash, for him. Thus, teaching he taught. From this
germ he was to evolve for himself the sublime truth that the world grown
better, not through automatic, soul-saving machinery, but by Personality.

On another occasion she inquired about "original sin;"--a phrase which
had stuck in her memory since the stormings of the Madison preacher.
Here was a demand to try his mettle.

"It means," he replied after a moment, "that we are all apt to follow the
selfish, animal instincts of our matures, to get all we can for ourselves
without thinking of others, to seek animal pleasures. And we always
suffer for it."

"Sure," she agreed. "That's what happened to me."

"And unless we see and know some one like Mr. Bentley," he went on,
choosing his words, "or discover for ourselves what Christ was, and what
he tried to tell us, we go on 'suffering, because we don't see any way
out. We suffer because we feel that we are useless, that other persons
are doing our work."

"That's what hell is!" She was very keen. "Hell's here," she repeated.

"Hell may begin here, and so may heaven," he answered.

"Why, he's in heaven now!" she exclaimed, "it's funny I never thought of
it before." Of course she referred to Mr. Bentley.

Thus; by no accountable process of reasoning, he stumbled into the path
which was to lead him to one of the widest and brightest of his vistas,
the secret of eternity hidden in the Parable of the Talents! But it will
not do to anticipate this matter . . . .

The divine in this woman of the streets regenerated by the divine in her
fellow-creatures, was gasping like a new-born babe for breath. And with
what anxiety they watched her! She grew strong again, went with Sally
Drover and the other girls on Sunday excursions to the country, applied
herself to her embroidery with restless zeal for days, only to have it
drop from her nerveless fingers. But her thoughts were uncontrollable,
she was drawn continually to the edge of that precipice which hung over
the waters whence they had dragged her, never knowing when the vertigo
would seize her. And once Sally Drover, on the alert for just such an
occurrence, pursued her down Dalton Street and forced her back . . .

Justice to Miss Drover cannot be done in these pages. It was she who
bore the brunt of the fierce resentment of the reincarnated fiends when
the other women shrank back in fear, and said nothing to Mr. Bentley or
Hodder until the incident was past. It was terrible indeed to behold
this woman revert--almost in the twinkling of an eye--to a vicious wretch
crazed for drink, to feel that the struggle had to be fought all over
again. Unable to awe Sally Drover's spirit, she would grow piteous.

"For God's sake let me go--I can't stand it. Let me go to hell--that's
where I belong. What do you bother with me for? I've got a right."

Once the doctor had to be called. He shook his head but his eye met
Miss Grower's, and he said nothing.

"I'll never be able to pull out, I haven't got the strength," she told
Hodder, between sobs. "You ought to have left me be, that was where I
belonged. I can't stand it, I tell you. If it wasn't for that woman
watching me downstairs, and Sally Grower, I'd have had a drink before
this. It ain't any use, I've got so I can't live without it--I don't
want to live."

And then remorse, self-reproach, despair,--almost as terrible to
contemplate. She swore she would never see Mr. Bentley again, she
couldn't face him.

Yet they persisted, and gained ground. She did see Mr. Bentley, but what
he said to her, or she to him, will never be known. She didn't speak of
it . . . .

Little by little her interest was aroused, her pride in her work
stimulated. None was more surprised than Hodder when Sally Grower
informed him that the embroidery was really good; but it was thought
best, for psychological reasons, to discard the old table-cover with its
associations and begin a new one. On occasional evenings she brought her
sewing over to Mr. Bentley's, while Sally read aloud to him and the young
women in the library. Miss Grower's taste in fiction was romantic; her
voice (save in the love passages, when she forgot herself ) sing-song,
but new and unsuspected realms were opened up for Kate Marcy, who would
drop her work and gaze wide-eyed out of the window, into the darkness.

And it was Sally who must be given credit for the great experiment,
although she took Mr. Bentley and Hodder into her confidence. On it they
staked all. The day came, at last, when the new table-cover was
finished. Miss Grower took it to the Woman's Exchange, actually sold it,
and brought back the money and handed it to her with a smile, and left
her alone.

An hour passed. At the end of it Kate Marcy came out of her room,
crossed the street, and knocked at the door of Mr. Bentley's library.
Hodder happened to be there.

"Come in," Mr. Bentley said.

She entered, breathless, pale. Her eyes, which had already lost much of
the dissipated look, were alight with exaltation. Her face bore evidence
of the severity of the hour of conflict, and she was perilously near to
tears. She handed Mr. Bentley the money.

"What's this, Kate?" he asked, in his kindly way.

"It's what I earned, sir," she faltered. "Miss Grower sold the
table-cover. I thought maybe you'd put it aside for me, like you do for
the others.

"I'll take good care of it," he said.

"Oh, sir, I don't ever expect to repay you, and Miss Grower and Mr.
Hodder!

"Why, you are repaying us," he replied, cutting her short, "you are
making us all very happy. And Sally tells me at the Exchange they like
your work so well they are asking for more. I shouldn't have suspected,"
he added, with a humorous glance at the rector, "that Mr. Hodder knew so
much about embroidery."

He rose, and put the money in his desk,--such was his genius for avoiding
situations which threatened to become emotional.

"I've started another one," she told them, as she departed.

A few moments later Miss Grower appeared.

"Sally," said Mr. Bentley, "you're a wise woman. I believe I've made
that remark before. You have managed that case wonderfully."

"There was a time," replied Miss Grower, thoughtfully, when it looked
pretty black. We've got a chance with her now, I think."

"I hope so. I begin to feel so," Mr. Bentley declared.

"If we succeed," Miss Grower went on, "it will be through the heart. And
if we lose her again, it will be through the heart."

Hodder started at this proof of insight.

"You know her history, Mr. Hodder?" she asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Well, I don't. And I don't care to. But the way to get at Kate Marcy,
light as she is in some respects, is through her feelings. And she's
somehow kept 'em alive. We've got to trust her, from now on--that's the
only way. And that's what God does, anyhow."

This was one of Miss Grover's rare references to the Deity.

Turning over that phrase in his mind, Hodder went slowly back towards the
parish house. God trusted individuals--even such as Kate Marcy. What
did that mean? Individual responsibility! He repeated it. Was the
world on that principle, then? It was as though a search-light were
flung ahead of him and he saw, dimly, a new order--a new order in
government and religion. And, as though spoken by a voice out of the
past, there sounded in his ears the text of that sermon which had so
deeply moved him, "I will arise and go to my Father."

The church was still open, and under the influence of the same strange
excitement which had driven him to walk in the rain so long ago, he
entered and went slowly up the marble aisle. Through the gathering gloom
he saw the figure on the cross. And as he stood gazing at it, a message
for which he had been waiting blazed up within him.

He would not leave the Church!



CHAPTER XVIII

THE RIDDLE OF CAUSATION


I

In order to portray this crisis in the life of Kate Marcy, the outcome of
which is still uncertain, other matters have been ignored.

How many persons besides John Hodder have seemed to read--in crucial
periods--a meaning into incidents having all the outward appearance of
accidents! What is it that leads us to a certain man or woman at a
certain time, or to open a certain book? Order and design? or influence?

The night when he had stumbled into the cafe in Dalton Street might well
have been termed the nadir of Hodder's experience. His faith had been
blotted out, and, with it had suddenly been extinguished all spiritual
sense, The beast had taken possession. And then, when it was least
expected,--nay, when despaired of, had come the glimmer of a light;
distant, yet clear. He might have traced the course of his
disillusionment, perhaps, but cause and effect were not discernible here.

They soon became so, and in the weeks that followed he grew to have the
odd sense of a guiding hand on his shoulder,--such was his instinctive
interpretation of it, rather than the materialistic one of things
ordained. He might turn, in obedience to what seemed a whim, either to
the right or left, only to recognize new blazes that led him on with
surer step; and trivial accidents became events charged with meaning.
He lived in continual wonder.

One broiling morning, for instance, he gathered up the last of the books
whose contents he had a month before so feverishly absorbed, and which
had purged him of all fallacies. At first he had welcomed them with a
fierce relief, sucked them dry, then looked upon them with loathing. Now
he pressed them gratefully, almost tenderly, as he made his way along the
shady side of the street towards the great library set in its little
park.

He was reminded, as he passed from the blinding sunlight into the cool
entrance hall, with its polished marble stairway and its statuary, that
Eldon Parr's munificence had made the building possible: that some day
Mr. Parr's bust would stand in that vestibule with that of Judge Henry
Goodrich--Philip Goodrich's grandfather--and of other men who had served
their city and their commonwealth.

Upstairs, at the desk, he was handing in the volumes to the young woman
whose duty it was to receive them when he was hailed by a brisk little
man in an alpaca coat, with a skin like brown parchment.

"Why, Mr. Hodder," he exclaimed cheerfully, with a trace of German
accent, "I had an idea you were somewhere on the cool seas with our
friend, Mr. Parr. He spoke, before he left, of inviting you."

It had been Eldon Parr, indeed, who had first brought Hodder to the
library, shortly after the rector's advent, and Mr. Engel had accompanied
them on a tour of inspection; the financier himself had enjoined the
librarian to "take good care" of the clergyman. Mr. Waring, Mr.
Atterbury; and Mr. Constable were likewise trustees. And since then,
when talking to him, Hodder had had a feeling that Mr. Engel was not
unconscious of the aura--if it may be called such--of his vestry.

Mr. Engel picked up one of the books as it lay on the counter, and as he
read the title his face betrayed a slight surprise.

"Modern criticism!" he exclaimed.

"You have found me out," the rector acknowledged, smiling.

"Came into my room, and have a chat," said the librarian, coaxingly.

It was a large chamber at the corner of the building, shaded by awnings,
against which brushed the branches of an elm which had belonged to the
original park. In the centre of the room was a massive oak desk, one
whole side of which was piled high with new volumes.

"Look there," said the librarian, with a quick wave of his hand, "those
are some which came in this week, and I had them put here to look over.
Two-thirds of 'em on religion, or religious philosophy. Does that
suggest anything to you clergymen?"

"Do many persons read them, Mr. Engel?" said the rector, at length.

"Read them!" cried Mr. Engel, quizzically. "We librarians are a sort of
weather-vanes, if people only knew enough to consult us. We can hardly
get a sufficient number of these new religious books the good ones,
I mean--to supply the demand. And the Lord knows what trash is devoured,
from what the booksellers tell me. It reminds me of the days when this
library was down on Fifth Street, years ago, and we couldn't supply
enough Darwins and Huxleys and Spencers and popular science generally.
That was an agnostic age. But now you'd be surprised to see the
different kinds of men and women who come demanding books on religion
--all sorts and conditions. They're beginning to miss it out of their
lives; they want to know. If my opinion's worth anything, I should not
hesitate to declare that we're on the threshold of a greater religious
era than the world has ever seen."

Hodder thrust a book back into the pile, and turned abruptly, with a
manner that surprised the librarian. No other clergyman to whom he had
spoken on this subject had given evidence of this strong feeling, and the
rector of St. John's was the last man from whom he would have expected
it.

"Do you really think so?" Hodder demanded.

"Why, yes," said Mr. Engel, when he had recovered from his astonishment.
"I'm sure of it. I think clergymen especially--if you will pardon me
--are apt to forget that this is a reading age. That a great many people
who used to get what instruction they had--ahem--from churches, for
instance, now get it from books. I don't want to say anything to offend
you, Mr. Hodder--"

"You couldn't," interrupted the rector. He was equally surprised at the
discovery that he had misjudged Mr. Engel, and was drawn towards him now
with a strong sympathy and curiosity.

"Well," replied Mr. Engel, "I'm glad to hear you say that." He
restrained a gasp. Was this the orthodox Mr. Hodder of St. John's?

"Why," said Hodder, sitting down, "I've learned, as you have, by
experience. Only my experience hasn't been so hopeful as yours--that is,
if you regard yours as hopeful. It would be hypocritical of me not to
acknowledge that the churches are losing ground, and that those who ought
to be connected with them are not. I am ready to admit that the churches
are at fault. But what you tell me of people reading these books gives
me more courage than I have had for--for some time."

"Is it so!" ejaculated the little man, relapsing into the German idiom of
his youth.

"It is," answered the rector, with an emphasis not to be denied. "I wish
you would give me your theory about this phenomenon, and speak frankly."

"But I thought--" the bewildered librarian began. "I saw you had been
reading those books, but I thought--"

"Naturally you did," said Holder, smiling. His personality, his
ascendency, his poise, suddenly felt by the other, were still more
confusing. "You thought me a narrow, complacent, fashionable priest who
had no concern as to what happened outside the walls of his church, who
stuck obstinately to dogmas and would give nothing else a hearing. Well,
you were right."

"Ah, I didn't think all that," Mr. Engel protested, and his parchment
skin actually performed the miracle of flushing. "I am not so stupid.
And once, long ago when I was young, I was going to be a minister
myself."

"What prevented you?" asked Holder, interested.

"You want me to be frank--yes, well, I couldn't take the vows." The
brown eyes of the quiet, humorous, self-contained and dried-up custodian
of the city's reading flamed up. "I felt the call," he exclaimed. "You
may not credit it to look at me now, Mr. Hodder. They said to me, 'here
is what you must swear to believe before you can make men and women
happier and more hopeful, rescue them from sin and misery!' You know
what it was."

Hodder nodded.

"It was a crime. It had nothing to do with religion. I thought it over
for a year--I couldn't. Oh, I have since been thankful. I can see now
what would have happened to me--I should have had fatty degeneration of
the soul."

The expression was not merely forcible, it was overwhelming. It brought
up before Holder's mind, with sickening reality, the fate he had himself
escaped. Fatty degeneration of the soul!

The little man, seeing the expression on the rector's face, curbed his
excitement, and feared he had gone too far.

"You will pardon me!" he said penitently, "I forget myself. I did not
mean all clergymen."

"I have never heard it put so well," Holder declared. "That is exactly
what occurs in many cases."

"Yes, it is that," said Engel, still puzzled, but encouraged, eyeing the
strong face of the other. "And they lament that the ministry hasn't more
big men. Sometimes they get one with the doctrinal type of mind
--a Newman--but how often? And even a Newman would be of little avail
to-day. It is Eucken who says that the individual, once released from
external authority, can never be turned back to it. And they have been
released by the hundreds of thousands ever since Luther's time, are being
freed by the hundreds of thousands to-day. Democracy, learning, science,
are releasing them, and no man, no matter how great he may be, can stem
that tide. The able men in the churches now--like your Phillips Brooks,
who died too soon--are beginning to see this. They are those who
developed after the vows of the theological schools were behind them.
Remove those vows, and you will see the young men come. Young men are
idealists, Mr. Hodder, and they embrace other professions where the mind
is free, and which are not one whit better paid than the ministry.

"And what is the result," he cried, "of the senseless insistence on the
letter instead of the spirit of the poetry of religion? Matthew Arnold
was a thousand times right when he inferred that Jesus Christ never spoke
literally and yet he is still being taken literally by most churches, and
all the literal sayings which were put into his mouth are maintained as
Gospel truth! What is the result of proclaiming Christianity in terms of
an ancient science and theology which awaken no quickening response in
the minds and hearts of to-day? That!" The librarian thrust a yellow
hand towards the pile of books. "The new wine has burst the old skin and
is running all over the world. Ah, my friend, if you could only see, as
I do, the yearning for a satisfying religion which exists in this big
city! It is like a vacuum, and those books are rushing to supply it.
I little thought," he added dreamily, "when I renounced the ministry in
so much sorrow that one day I should have a church of my own. This
library is my church, and men and women of all creeds come here by the
thousands. But you must pardon me. I have been carried away--I forgot
myself."

"Mr. Engel," replied the rector, "I want you to regard me as one of your
parishioners."

The librarian looked at him mutely, and the practical, desiccated little
person seemed startlingly transformed into a mediaeval, German mystic.

"You are a great man, Mr. Hodder," he said. "I might have guessed it."

It was one of the moments when protest would have been trite,
superfluous. And Hodder, in truth, felt something great swelling within
him, something that was not himself, and yet strangely was. But just
what--in view of his past strict orthodoxy and limited congregation
--Mr. Engel meant, he could not have said. Had the librarian recognized,
without confession on his part, the change in him? divined his future
intentions?

"It is curious that I should have met you this morning, Mr. Engel," he
said. "I expressed surprise when you declared this was a religious age,
because you corroborated something I had felt, but of which I had no
sufficient proof. I felt that a great body of unsatisfied men and women
existed, but that I was powerless to get in touch with them; I had
discovered that truth, as you have so ably pointed out, is disguised and
distorted by ancient dogmas; and that the old Authority, as you say, no
longer carries weight."

"Have you found the new one?" Mr. Engel demanded.

"I think I have," the rector answered calmly, "it lies in personality.
I do not know whether you will agree with me that the Church at large has
a future, and I will confess to you that there was a time when I thought
she had not. I see now that she has, once given to her ministers that
freedom to develop of which you speak. In spite of the fact that truth
has gradually been revealed to the world by what may be called an
Apostolic Succession of Personalities,--Augustine, Dante, Francis of
Assisi, Luther, Shakespeare, Milton, and our own Lincoln and Phillips
Brooks,--to mention only a few,--the Church as a whole has been blind to
it. She has insisted upon putting the individual in a straitjacket, she
has never recognized that growth is the secret of life, that the clothes
of one man are binding on another."

"Ah, you are right--a thousand times right," cried the librarian. "You
have read Royce, perhaps, when he says, 'This mortal shall put on
individuality--'"

"No," said the rector, outwardly cool, but inwardly excited by the
coruscation of this magnificent paraphrase of Paul's sentence, by the
extraordinary turn the conversation had taken. "I am ashamed to own that
I have not followed the development of modern philosophy. The books I
have just returned, on historical criticism," he went on, after a
moment's hesitation, "infer what my attitude has been toward modern
thought. We were made acquainted with historical criticism in the
theological seminary, but we were also taught to discount it. I have
discounted it, refrained from reading it,--until now. And yet I have
heard it discussed in conferences, glanced over articles in the reviews.
I had, you see, closed the door of my mind. I was in a state where
arguments make no impression."

The librarian made a gesture of sympathetic assent, which was also a
tribute to the clergyman's frankness.

"You will perhaps wonder how I could have lived these years in an
atmosphere of modern thought and have remained uninfluenced. Well, I
have recently been wondering--myself." Hodder smiled. "The name of
Royce is by no means unfamiliar to me, and he taught at Harvard when I
was an undergraduate. But the prevailing philosophy of that day among
the students was naturalism. I represent a revolt from it. At the
seminary I imbibed a certain amount of religious philosophy--but I did
not continue it, as thousands of my more liberal fellow-clergymen have
done. My religion 'worked' during the time, at least, I remained in my
first parish. I had no interest in reconciling, for instance, the
doctrine of evolution with the argument for design. Since I have been
here in this city," he added, simply, "my days have been filled with a
continued perplexity--when I was not too busy to think. Yes, there was
an unacknowledged element of fear in my attitude, though I comforted
myself with the notion that opinions, philosophical and scientific, were
in a state of flux."

"Yes, yes," said Mr. Engel, "I comprehend. But, from the manner in which
you spoke just now, I should have inferred that you have been reading
modern philosophy--that of the last twenty years. Ah, you have
something before you, Mr. Hodder. You will thank God, with me, for that
philosophy. It has turned the tide, set the current running the other
way. Philosophy is no longer against religion, it is with it. And if
you were to ask me to name one of the greatest religious teachers of
our age, I should answer, William James. And there is Royce, of whom I
spoke,--one of our biggest men. The dominant philosophies of our times
have grown up since Arnold wrote his 'Literature and Dogma,' and they are
in harmony with the quickening social spirit of the age, which is a
religious spirit--a Christian spirit, I call it. Christianity is coming
to its own. These philosophies, which are not so far apart, are the
flower of the thought of the centuries, of modern science, of that most
extraordinary of discoveries, modern psychology. And they are far from
excluding religion, from denying the essential of Christ's teachings.
On the other hand, they grant that the motive-power of the world is
spiritual.

"And this," continued Mr. Engel, "brings me to another aspect of
authority. I wonder if it has struck you? In mediaeval times, when a
bishop spoke ex cathedra, his authority, so far as it carried weight,
came from two sources. First, the supposed divine charter of the Church
to save and damn. That authority is being rapidly swept away. Second,
he spoke with all the weight of the then accepted science and philosophy.
But as soon as the new science began to lay hold on people's minds, as
--for instance--when Galileo discovered that the earth moved instead of the
sun (and the pope made him take it back), that second authority began to
crumble too. In the nineteenth century science had grown so strong that
the situation looked hopeless. Religion had apparently irrevocably lost
that warrant also, and thinking men not spiritually inclined, since they
had to make a choice between science and religion, took science as being
the more honest, the more certain.

"And now what has happened? The new philosophies have restored your
second Authority, and your first, as you properly say, is replaced by the
conception of Personality. Personality is nothing but the rehabilitation
of the prophet, the seer. Get him, as Hatch says, back into your Church.
The priests with their sacrifices and automatic rites, the logicians,
have crowded him out. Why do we read the Old Testament at all? Not for
the laws of the Levites, not for the battles and hangings, but for the
inspiration of the prophets. The authority of the prophet comes through
personality, the source of which is in what Myers calls the infinite
spiritual world--in God. It was Christ's own authority.

"And as for your other authority, your ordinary man, when he reads modern
philosophy, says to himself, this does not conflict with science? But he
gets no hint, when he goes to most churches, that there is, between the
two, no real quarrel, and he turns away in despair. He may accept the
pragmatism of James, the idealism of Royce, or even what is called neo
realism. In any case, he gains the conviction that a force for good is
at worn in the world, and he has the incentive to become part of it.....
But I have given you a sermon!"

"For which I can never be sufficiently, grateful," said Hodder, with an
earnestness not to be mistaken.

The little man's eyes rested admiringly, and not without emotion, on the
salient features of the tall clergyman. And when he spoke again, it was
in acknowledgment of the fact that he had read Hodder's purpose.

"You will have opposition, my friend. They will fight you--some persons
we know. They do not wish--what you and I desire. But you will not
surrender--I knew it." Mr. Engel broke off abruptly, and rang a bell on
his desk. "I will make out for you a list. I hope you may come in
again, often. We shall have other talks,--yes? I am always here."

Then it came to pass that Hodder carried back with him another armful of
books. Those he had brought back were the Levellers of the False. These
were the Builders of the True.



II

Hodder had known for many years that the writings of Josiah Royce and of
William James had "been in the air," so to speak, and he had heard them
mentioned at dinner parties by his more intellectual parishioners, such
as Mrs. Constable and Martha Preston. Now he was able to smile at his
former attitude toward these moderns, whose perusal he had deprecated as
treason to the saints! And he remembered his horror on having listened
to a fellow-clergyman discuss with calmness the plan of the "Varieties of
Religious Experiences." A sacrilegious dissection of the lives of these
very saints! The scientific process, the theories of modern psychology
applied with sang-froid to the workings of God in the human soul!
Science he had regarded as the proclaimed enemy of religion, and in these
days of the apotheosis of science not even sacred things were spared.

Now Hodder saw what the little librarian had meant by an authority
restored. The impartial method of modern science had become so firmly
established in the mind of mankind by education and reading that the
ancient unscientific science of the Roman Empire, in which orthodox
Christianity was clothed, no longer carried authority. In so far as
modern science had discovered truth, religion had no quarrel with it.
And if theology pretended to be the science of religion, surely it must
submit to the test of the new science! The dogged clinging to the
archaic speculations of apologists, saints, and schoolmen had brought
religion to a low ebb indeed.

One of the most inspiring books he read was by an English clergyman of
his own Church whom he had formerly looked upon as a heretic, with all
that the word had once implied. It was a frank yet reverent study of the
self-consciousness of Christ, submitting the life and teachings of Jesus
to modern criticism and the scientific method. And the Saviour's
divinity, rather than being lessened, was augmented. Hodder found it
infinitely refreshing that the so-called articles of Christian belief,
instead of being put first and their acceptance insisted upon, were made
the climax of the investigation.

Religion, he began to perceive, was an undertaking, are attempt to find
unity and harmony of the soul by adopting, after mature thought, a
definite principle in life. If harmony resulted,--if the principle
worked, it was true. Hodder kept an open mind, but he became a
pragmatist so far. Science, on the other hand, was in a sphere by
herself, and need have no conflict with religion; science was not an
undertaking, but an impartial investigation by close observation of facts
in nature. Her object was to discover truths by these methods alone.
She had her theories, indeed, but they must be submitted to rigorous
tests. This from a book by Professor Perry, an advocate of the new
realism.

On the other hand there were signs that modern science, by infinitesimal
degrees, might be aiding in the solution of the Mystery . . . .

But religion, Hodder saw, was trusting. Not credulous, silly trusting,
but thoughtful trusting, accepting such facts as were definitely known.
Faith was trusting. And faith without works was dead simply because
there could be no faith without works. There was no such thing as belief
that did not result in act.

A paragraph which made a profound impression on Hodder at that time
occurs in James's essay, "Is life worth living?"

"Now-what do I mean by I trusting? Is the word to carry with it
license to define in detail an invisible world, and to authorize and
excommunicate those whose trust is different? . . Our faculties of
belief were not given us to make orthodoxies and heresies withal; they
were given us to live by. And to trust our religions demands men first
of all to live in the light of them, and to act as if the invisible world
which they suggest were real. It is a fact of human nature that man can
live and die by the help of a sort of faith that goes without a single
dogma and definition."

Yet it was not these religious philosophies which had saved him, though
the stimulus of their current had started his mind revolving like a
motor. Their function, he perceived now, was precisely to compel him to
see what had saved him, to reenforce it with the intellect, with the
reason, and enable him to save others. The current set up,--by a
thousand suggestions of which he made notes,--a personal construction,
coordination, and he had the exhilaration of feeling, within him, a
creative process all his own. Behold a mystery 'a paradox'--one of many.
As his strength grew greater day by day, as his vision grew clearer, he
must exclaim with Paul: "Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with
me!"

He, Hodder, was but an instrument transmitting power. And yet--oh
paradox!--the instrument continued to improve, to grow stronger, to
develop individuality and personality day by day! Life, present and
hereafter, was growth, development, the opportunity for service in a
cause. To cease growing was to die.

He perceived at last the form all religion takes is that of consecration
to a Cause,--one of God's many causes. The meaning of life is to find
one's Cause, to lose one's self in it. His was the liberation of the
Word,--now vouchsafed to him; the freeing of the spark from under the
ashes. The phrase was Alison's. To help liberate the Church, fan into
flame the fire which was to consume the injustice, the tyranny, the
selfishness of the world, until the Garvins, the Kate Marcys, the stunted
children, and anaemic women were no longer possible.

It was Royce who, in one illuminating sentence, solved for him the
puzzle, pointed out whence his salvation had come. "For your cause can
only be revealed to you through some presence that first teaches you to
love the unity of the spiritual life. . . You must find it in human
shape."

Horace Bentley!

He, Hodder, had known this, but known it vaguely, without sanction. The
light had shone for him even in the darkness of that night in Dalton
Street, when he thought to have lost it forever. And he had awakened the
next morning, safe,--safe yet bewildered, like a half drowned man on warm
sands in the sun.

"The will of the spiritual world, the divine will, revealed in man."
What sublime thoughts, as old as the Cross itself, yet continually and
eternally new!



III

There was still another whose face was constantly before him, and the
reflection of her distressed yet undaunted soul,--Alison Parr. The
contemplation of her courage, of her determination to abide by nothing
save the truth, had had a power over him that he might not estimate, and
he loved her as a man loves a woman, for her imperfections. And he loved
her body and her mind.

One morning, as he walked back from Mrs. Bledsoe's through an
unfrequented, wooded path of the Park, he beheld her as he had summoned
her in his visions. She was sitting motionless, gazing before her with
clear eyes, as at the Fates. . .

She started on suddenly perceiving him, but it was characteristic of her
greeting that she seemed to feel no surprise at the accident which had
brought them together.

"I am afraid," he said, smiling, "that I have broken in on some profound
reflections."

She did not answer at once, but looked up at him, as he stood over her,
with one of her strange, baffling gazes, in which there was the hint of a
welcoming smile.

"Reflection seems to be a circular process with me," she answered. "I
never get anywhere--like you."

"Like me!" he exclaimed, seating himself on the bench. Apparently their
intercourse, so long as it should continue, was destined to be on the
basis of intimacy in which it had begun. It was possible at once to be
aware of her disturbing presence, and yet to feel at home in it.

"Like you, yes," she said, continuing to examine him. "You've changed
remarkably."

In his agitation, at this discovery of hers he again repeated her words.

"Why, you seem happier, you look happier. It isn't only that, I can't
explain how you impress me. It struck me when you were talking to Mr.
Bentley the other day. You seem to see something you didn't see when
I first met you, that you didn't see the first time we were at Mr.
Bentley's together. Your attitude is fixed--directed. You have made a
decision of some sort--a momentous one, I rather think."

"Yes," he replied, "you are right. It's more than remarkable that you
should have guessed it."

She remained silent

"I have decided," he found himself saying abruptly, "to continue in the
Church."

Still she was silent, until he wondered whether she would answer him. He
had often speculated to himself how she would take this decision, but he
could make no surmise from her expression as she stared off into the
wood. Presently she turned her head, slowly, and looked into his face.
Still she did not speak.

"You are wondering how I can do it," he said.

"Yes," she acknowledged, in a low voice.

"I should like you to know--that is why I spoke of it. You have never
asked me, and I have never told you that the convictions I formerly held
I lost. And with them, for a while, went everything. At least so I
believed."

"I knew it," she answered, "I could see that, too."

"When I argued with you, that afternoon,--the last time we talked
together alone,--I was trying to convince myself, and you--" he
hesitated, "--that there was something. The fact that you could not
seem to feel it stimulated me."

He read in her eyes that she understood him. And he dared not, nor did
he need to emphasize further his own intense desire that she should find
a solution of her own.

"I wish you to know what I am telling you for two reasons," he went on.
"It was you who spoke the words that led to the opening of my eyes to the
situation into which I had been drifting for two years, who compelled me
to look upon the inconsistencies and falsities which had gradually been
borne in upon me. It was you, I think, who gave me the courage to face
this situation squarely, since you possess that kind of courage
yourself."

"Oh, no," she cried. "You would have done it anyway."

He paused a moment, to get himself in hand.

"For this reason, I owed it to you to speak--to thank you. I have
realized, since that first meeting, that you became my friend then,
and that you spoke as a friend. If you had not believed in my sincerity,
you would not have spoken. I wish you to know that I am fully aware and
grateful for the honour you did me, and that I realize it is not always
easy for you to speak so--to any one."

She did not reply.

"There is another reason for my telling you now of this decision of
mine to remain a clergyman," he continued. "It is because I value your
respect and friendship, and I hope you will believe that I would not take
this course unless I saw my way clear to do it with sincerity."

"One has only to look at you to see that you are sincere," she said
gently, with a thrill in her voice that almost unmanned him. "I told you
once that I should never have forgiven myself if I had wrecked your life.
I meant it. I am very glad."

It was his turn to be silent.

"Just because I cannot see how it would be possible to remain in the
Church after one had been--emancipated, so to speak,"--she smiled at
him,--"is no reason why you may not have solved the problem."

Such was the superfine quality of her honesty. Yet she trusted him!
He was made giddy by a desire, which he fought down, to justify himself
before her. His eye beheld her now as the goddess with the scales in her
hand, weighing and accepting with outward calm the verdict of the balance
. . . . Outward calm, but inner fire.

"It makes no difference," she pursued evenly, bent on choosing her words,
"that I cannot personally understand your emancipation, that mine is
different. I can only see the preponderance of evil, of deception,
of injustice--it is that which shuts out everything else. And it's
temperamental, I suppose. By looking at you, as I told you, I can see
that your emancipation is positive, while mine remains negative. You
have somehow regained a conviction that the good is predominant, that
there is some purpose in the universe."

He assented. Once more she relapsed into thought, while he sat
contemplating her profile. She turned to him again with a tremulous
smile.

"But isn't a conviction that the good is predominant, that there is a
purpose in the universe, a long way from the positive assertions in the
Creeds?" she asked. "I remember, when I went through what you would
probably call disintegration, and which seemed to me enlightenment, that
the Creeds were my first stumbling-blocks. It seemed wrong to repeat
them."

"I am glad you spoke of this," he replied gravely. "I have arrived at
many answers to that difficulty--which did not give me the trouble I had
anticipated. In the first place, I am convinced that it was much more of
a difficulty ten, twenty, thirty years ago than it is to-day. That which
I formerly thought was a radical tendency towards atrophy, the drift of
the liberal party in my own Church and others, as well as that which I
looked upon with some abhorrence as the free-thinking speculation of many
modern writers, I have now come to see is reconstruction. The results of
this teaching of religion in modern terms are already becoming apparent,
and some persons are already beginning to see that the Creeds express
certain elemental truths in frankly archaic language. All this should be
explained in the churches and the Sunday schools,--is, in fact, being
explained in some, and also in books for popular reading by clergymen of
my own Church, both here and in England. We have got past the critical
age."

She followed him closely, but did not interrupt.

"I do not mean to say that the Creeds are not the sources of much
misunderstanding, but in my opinion they do not constitute a sufficient
excuse for any clergyman to abandon his Church on account of them.
Indeed there are many who interpret them by modern thought--which is
closer to the teachings of Christ than ancient thought--whose honesty
cannot be questioned. Personally, I think that the Creeds either ought
to be taken out of the service; or changed, or else there should be a
note inserted in the service and catechism definitely permitting a
liberal interpretation which is exactly what so many clergymen, candidly,
do now.

"When I was ordained a deacon, and then a priest, I took vows which would
appear to be literally conflicting. Compelled to choose between these
vows, I accept that as supreme which I made when I affirmed that I would
teach nothing which I should be persuaded might not be concluded and
affirmed by the Scripture. The Creeds were derived from the Scripture
--not the Scripture from the Creeds. As an individual among a body of
Christians I am powerless to change either the ordinal vows or the
Creeds, I am obliged to wait for the consensus of opinion. But if,
on the whole, I can satisfy my conscience in repeating the Creeds and
reading the service, as other honest men are doing--if I am convinced
that I have an obvious work to do in that Church, it would be cowardly
for me to abandon that work."

Her eyes lighted up.

"I see what you mean," she said, "by staying in you can do many things
that you could not do, you can help to bring about the change, by being
frank. That is your point of view. You believe in the future of the
Church."

"I believe in an universal, Christian organization," he replied.

"But while stronger men are honest," she objected, "are not your ancient
vows and ancient Creeds continually making weaker men casuists?"

"Undoubtedly," he agreed vigorously, and thought involuntarily of Mr.
Engel's phrased fatty degeneration of the soul. "Yet I can see the
signs, on all sides, of a gradual emancipation, of which I might be
deemed an example." A smile came into his eyes, like the sun on a
grey-green sea.

"Oh, you could never be a casuist!" she exclaimed, with a touch of
vehemence. "You are much too positive. It is just that note, which is
characteristic of so many clergymen, that note of smoothing-over and
apology, which you lack. I could never feel it, even when you were
orthodox. And now--" words failed her as she inspected his ruggedness.

"And now," he took her up, to cover his emotion, "now I am not to be
classified!"

Still examining him, she reflected on this.

"Classified?" Isn't it because you're so much of an individual that one
fails to classify you? You represent something new to my experience,
something which seems almost a contradiction--an emancipated Church."

"You imagined me out of the Church,--but where?" he demanded.

"That's just it," she wondered intimately, "where? When I try, I can see
no other place for you. Your place as in the pulpit."

He uttered a sharp exclamation, which she did not heed.

"I can't imagine you doing institutional work, as it is called,--you're
not fitted for it, you'd be wasted in it. You gain by the historic
setting of the Church, and yet it does not absorb you. Free to preach
your convictions, unfettered, you will have a power over people that will
be tremendous. You have a very strong personality."

She set his heart, his mind, to leaping by this unexpected confirmation
on her part of his hopes, and yet the man in him was intent upon the
woman. She had now the air of detached judgment, while he could not
refrain from speculating anxiously on the effect of his future course on
her and on their intimate relationship. He forbore from thinking, now,
of the looming events which might thrust them apart,--put a physical
distance between them,--his anxiety was concerned with the possible
snapping of the thread of sympathy which had bound them. In this
respect, he dreaded her own future as much as his own. What might she
do? For he felt, in her, a potential element of desperation; a capacity
to commit, at any moment, an irretrievable act.

"Once you have made your ideas your own," she mused, "you will have the
power of convincing people."

"And yet--"

"And yet"--she seized his unfinished sentence, "you are not at all
positive of convincing me. I'll give you the credit of forbearing to
make proselytes." She smiled at him.

Thus she read him again.

"If you call making proselytes a desire to communicate a view of life
which gives satisfaction--" he began, in his serious way.

"Oh, I want to be convinced!" she exclaimed, penitently, "I'd give
anything to feel as you feel. There's something lacking in me, there
must be, and I have only seen the disillusionizing side. You infer that
the issue of the Creeds will crumble,--preach the new, and the old will
fall away of itself. But what is the new? How, practically, do you deal
with the Creeds? We have got off that subject."

"You wish to know?" he asked.

"Yes--I wish to know."

"The test of any doctrine is whether it can be translated into life,
whether it will make any difference to the individual who accepts it.
The doctrines expressed in the Creeds must stand or fall by the test.
Consider, for instance, the fundamental doctrine in the Creeds, that of
the Trinity, which has been much scoffed at. A belief in God, you will
admit, has an influence on conduct, and the Trinity defines the three
chief aspects of the God in whom Christians believe. Of what use to
quarrel with the word Person if God be conscious? And the character of
God has an influence on conduct. The ancients deemed him wrathful,
jealous, arbitrary, and hence flung themselves before him and propitiated
him. If the conscious God of the universe be good, he is spoken of as a
Father. He is as once, in this belief, Father and Creator. And inasmuch
as it is known that the divine qualities enter into man, and that one
Man, Jesus, whose composite portrait--it is agreed--could not have been
factitiously invented, was filled with them, we speak of God in man as
the Son. And the Spirit of God that enters into the soul of man,
transforming, inspiring, and driving him, is the Third Person, so-called.
There is no difficulty so far, granted the initial belief in a beneficent
God.

"If we agree that life has a meaning, and, in order to conform to the
purpose of the Spirit of the Universe, must be lived in one way, we
certainly cannot object to calling that right way of living, that decree
of the Spirit, the Word.

"The Incarnate Word, therefore, is the concrete example of a human being
completely filled with the Spirit, who lives a perfect life according to
its decree. Ancient Greek philosophy called this decree, this meaning of
life, the Logos, and the Nicene Creed is a confession of faith in that
philosophy. Although this creed is said to have been, scandalously
forced through the council of Nicaea by an emperor who had murdered his
wife and children, and who himself was unbaptized, against a majority of
bishops who would, if they had dared Constantine's displeasure, have
given the conscience freer play, to-day the difficulty has, practically
disappeared. The creed is there in the prayer book, and so long as it
remains we are at liberty to interpret the ancient philosophy in which it
is written--and which in any event could not have been greatly improved
upon at that time--in our own modern way, as I am trying to explain it to
you.

"Christ was identified with the Logos, or Word, which must have had a
meaning for all time, before and after its, complete revelation. And
this is what the Nicene Creed is trying to express when it says,
'Begotten of his Father before all worlds.' In other words, the purpose
which Christ revealed always existed. The awkward expression of the
ancients, declaring that he 'came down' for our salvation (enlightenment)
contains a fact we may prove by experience, if we accept the meaning he
put upon existence, and adopt this meaning as our scheme of life. But
we: must first be quite clear, as: to this meaning. We may and do
express all this differently, but it has a direct bearing on life. It is
the doctrine of the Incarnation. We begins to perceive through it that
our own incarnations mean something, and that our task is to discover
what they do mean--what part in the world purpose we are designed to play
here.

"Incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary is an emphasis on the
fact that man born of woman may be divine. But the ignorant masses of
the people of the Roman Empire were undoubtedly incapable of grasping a
theory of the Incarnation put forward in the terms of Greek philosophy;
while it was easy for them, with their readiness to believe in nature
miracles, to accept the explanation of Christ's unique divinity as due to
actual, physical generation by the Spirit. And the wide belief in the
Empire in gods born in this way aided such a conception. Many thousands
were converted to Christianity when a place was found in that religion
for a feminine goddess, and these abandoned the worship of Isis, Demeter,
and Diana for that of the Virgin Mary. Thus began an evolution which is
still going on, and we see now that it was impossible that the world
should understand at once the spiritual meaning of life as Christ taught
it--that material facts merely symbolize the divine. For instance, the
Gospel of John has been called the philosophical or spiritual gospel.
And in spite of the fact that it has been assailed and historically
discredited by modern critics, for me it serves to illuminate certain
truths of Christ's message and teaching that the other Gospels do not.
Mark, the earliest Gospel, does not refer to the miraculous birth. At
the commencements of Matthew and Luke you will read of it, and it is to
be noted that the rest of these narratives curiously and naively
contradict it. Now why do we find the miraculous birth in these Gospels
if it had not been inserted in order to prove, in a manner acceptable to
simple and unlettered minds, the Theory of the Incarnation, Christ's
preexistence? I do not say the insertion was deliberate. And it is
difficult for us moderns to realize the polemic spirit in which the
Gospels were written. They were clearly not written as history. The
concern of the authors, I think, was to convert their readers to Christ.

"When we turn to John, what do we find? In the opening verses of this
Gospel the Incarnation is explained, not by a virgin birth, but in a
manner acceptable to the educated and spiritually-minded, in terms of the
philosophy of the day. And yet how simply! 'In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' I prefer John's
explanation.

"It is historically true that, in the earlier days when the Apostles'
Creed was put forth, the phrase 'born of they Virgin Mary' was inserted
for the distinct purpose of laying stress on the humanity of Christ, and
to controvert the assertion of the Gnostic sect that he was not born at
all, but appeared in the world in some miraculous way.

"Thus to-day, by the aid of historical research, we are enabled to regard
the Creeds in the light of their usefulness to life. The myth of the
virgin birth probably arose through the zeal of some of the writers of
the Gospels to prove that the prophecy of Isaiah predicted the advent of
the Jewish Messiah who should be born of a virgin. Modern scholars are
agreed that the word Olmah which Isaiah uses does not mean virgin, but
young woman. There is quite a different Hebrew word for 'virgin.' The
Jews, at the time the Gospels were written, and before, had forgotten
their ancient Hebrew. Knowing this mistake, and how it arose, we may
repeat the word Virgin Mary in the sense used by many early Christians,
as designating the young woman who was the mother of Christ.

"I might mention one or two other phrases, archaic and obscure.
'The Resurrection of the Body' may refer to the phenomenon of Christ's
reappearance after death, for which modern psychology may or may not
account. A little reflection, however, convinces one that the phenomenon
did take place in some manner, or else, I think, we should never have
heard of Christ. You will remember that the Apostles fled after his
death on the cross, believing what he had told them was all only a dream.
They were human, literal and cowardly, and they still needed some kind of
inner, energizing conviction that the individuality persisted after
death, that the solution of human life was victory over it, in order to
gain the courage to go out and preach the Gospel and face death
themselves. And it was Paul who was chiefly instrumental in freeing the
message from the narrow bounds of Palestine and sending it ringing down
the ages to us. The miracle doesn't lie in what Paul saw, but in the
whole man transformed, made incandescent, journeying tirelessly to the
end of his days up and down the length and breadth of the empire,
labouring, as he says, more abundantly than they all. It is idle to say
that the thing which can transform a man's entire nature and life is not
a reality."

She had listened, motionless, as under the spell of his words.
Self-justification, as he proceeded, might easily have fused itself into
a desire to convince her of the truth of his beliefs. But he was not
deceived, he knew her well enough to understand, to feel the indomitable
spirit of resistance in her. Swayed she could be, but she would mot
easily surrender.

"There is another phrase," she said after a moment, "which I have never
heard explained, 'descended into hell.'"

"It was merely a matter of controverting those who declared Christ was
taken from the cross before he died. In the childish science of the
time, to say that one descended into hell was to affirm that he was
actually dead, since the souls of the departed were supposed to go at
once to hell. Hell and heaven were definite places. To say that Christ
ascended to heaven and sat on the right hand of the Father is to declare
one's faith that his responsible work in the spiritual realm continues."

"And the Atonement? doesn't that imply a sacrifice of propitiation?"

"Atonement may be pronounced At-one-ment," Hodder replied. "The old
idea, illustrated by a reference to the sacrifice of the ancients, fails
to convey the truth to modern minds. And moreover, as I have inferred,
these matters had to be conveyed in symbols until mankind were prepared
to grasp the underlying spiritual truths which Christ sought to convey.
Orthodox Christianity has been so profoundly affected by the ancient
Jewish religion that the conception of God as wrathful and jealous--a God
wholly outside--has persisted to our times. The Atonement means union
with the Spirit of the Universe through vicarious suffering, and
experience teaches us that our own sufferings are of no account unless
they be for a cause, for the furtherance of the design of the beneficent
Spirit which is continually at work. Christ may be said to have died for
humanity because he had to suffer death itself in order to reveal the
complete meaning of life. You once spoke to me about the sense of sin
--of being unable to feel it."

She glanced at him quickly, but did not speak.

"There is a theory concerning this," he continued, "which has undoubtedly
helped many people, and which may be found in the writings of certain
modern psychologists. It is that we have a conscious, or lower, human
self, and a subconscious, or better self. This subconscious self
stretches down, as it were, into the depths of the universe and taps the
source of spiritual power. And it is through the subconscious self that
every man is potentially divine. Potentially, because the conscious self
has to reach out by an effort of the will to effect this union with the
spiritual in the subconscious, and when it is effected, it comes from the
response of the subconscious. Apparently from without, as a gift, and
therefore, in theological language, it is called grace. This is what is
meant by being born again, the incarnation of the Spirit in the
conscious, or human. The two selves are no longer divided, and the
higher self assumes control,--takes the reins, so to speak.

"It is interesting, as a theory. And the fact that it has been seriously
combated by writers who deny such a function of the subconscious does not
at all affect the reality of the experience.

"Once we have had a vision of the true meaning of life a vision which
stirs the energies of our being, what is called 'a sense of sin'
inevitably follows. It is the discontent, the regret, in the light
of a higher knowledge, for the: lost opportunities, for a past life
which has been uncontrolled by any unifying purpose, misspent in futile
undertakings, wasted, perhaps, in follies and selfish caprices which have
not only harmed ourselves but others. Although we struggle, yet by
habit, by self-indulgence, by lack of a sustained purpose, we have formed
a character from which escape seems hopeless. And we realize that in
order to change ourselves, an actual regeneration of the will is
necessary. For awhile, perchance, we despair of this. The effort to get
out of the rut we have made for ourselves seems of no avail. And it is
not, indeed, until we arrive, gradually or otherwise, and through a
proper interpretation of the life of Christ, at the conviction that we
may even never become useful in the divine scheme that we have a sense of
what is called 'the forgiveness of sins.' This conviction, this grace,
this faith to embark on the experiment accomplishes of itself the revival
of the will, the rebirth which we had thought impossible. We discover
our task, high or humble,--our cause. We grow marvellously at one with
God's purpose, and we feel that our will is acting in the same direction
as his. And through our own atonement we see the meaning of that other
Atonement which led Christ to the Cross. We see that our conviction, our
grace, has come through him, and how he died for our sins."

"It's quite wonderful how logical and simple you make it, how thoroughly
you have gone into it. You have solved it for yourself--and you will
solve it for others many others."

She rose, and he, too, got to his feet with a medley of feelings.
The path along which they walked was already littered with green acorns.
A gray squirrel darted ahead of them, gained a walnut and paused,
quivering, halfway up the trunk, to gaze back at them. And the glance
she presently gave him seemed to partake of the shyness of the wild
thing.

"Thank you for explaining it to me," she said.

"I hope you don't think--" he began.

"Oh, it isn't that!" she cried, with unmistakable reproach. "I asked you
--I made you tell me. It hasn't seemed at all like--the confessional,"
she added, and smiled and blushed at the word. "You have put it so
nicely, so naturally, and you have given me so much to think about. But
it all depends--doesn't it?--upon whether one can feel the underlying
truth of which you spoke in the first place; it rests upon a sense of the
prevailing goodness of things. It seems to me cruel that what is called
salvation, the solution of the problem of life, should depend upon an
accidental discovery. We are all turned loose with our animal passions
and instincts, of self-preservation, by an indifferent Creator, in a
wilderness, and left to find our way out as best we can. You answer that
Christ showed us the way. There are elements in his teaching I cannot
accept--perhaps because I have been given a wrong interpretation of them.
I shall ask you more questions some day.

"But even then," she continued, "granted that Christ brought the complete
solution, as you say, why should so many millions have lived and died,
before and after his coming, who had suffered so, and who had never heard
of him? That is the way my reason works, and I can't help it. I would
help it if I could."

"Isn't it enough," he asked, "to know that a force is at work combating
evil,--even if you are not yet convinced that it is a prevailing force?
Can you not trust that it will be a prevailing force, if your sympathies
are with it, without demanding a revelation of the entire scheme of the
universe? Of what use is it to doubt the eternal justice?"

"Oh, use!" she cried, "I grant you its uselessness. Doubt seems an
ingrained quality. I can't help being a fatalist."

"And yet you have taken your life in your own hands," he reminded her,
gently.

"Only to be convinced of its futility," she replied.

Again, momentarily thrust back into himself, he wondered jealously once
more what the disillusionments had been of that experience from before
which she seemed, at times, ready to draw back a little the veil.

"A sense of futility is a sense of incompleteness," he said, "and
generally precedes a sense of power."

"Ah, you have gained that! Yet it must always have been latent in you
--you make one feel it. But now!" she exclaimed, as though the discovery
had just dawned on her, "now you will need power, now you will have to
fight as you have never fought in your life."

He found her enthusiasm as difficult to withstand as her stoicism.

"Yes, I shall have to fight," he admitted. Her partisanship was sweet.

"When you tell them what you have told me," she continued, as though
working it out in her own mind, "they will never submit to it, if they
can help it. My father will never submit to it. They will try to put
you out, as a heretic,--won't they?"

"I have an idea that they will," he conceded, with a smile.

"And won't they succeed? Haven't they the power?"

"It depends,--in the first place, on whether the bishop thinks me a
heretic."

"Have you asked him?"

"No."

"But can't they make you resign?"

"They can deprive me of my salary."

She did not press this.

"You mustn't think me a martyr," he pleaded, in a lighter tone.

She paid no heed to this protest, but continued to regard him with a face
lighted by enthusiasm.

"Oh, that's splendid of you!" she cried. "You are going to speak the
truth as you see it, and let them do their worst. Of course,
fundamentally, it isn't merely because they're orthodox that they won't
like it, although they'll say so, and perhaps think so. It will be
because if you have really found the truth--they will instinctively, fear
its release. For it has a social bearing, too--hasn't it?--although you
haven't explained that part of it."

"It has a distinct social bearing," he replied, amazed at the way her
mind flew forward and grasped the entire issue, in spite of the fact that
her honesty still refused to concede his premises. Such were the
contradictions in her that he loved. And, though she did not suspect it,
she had in her the Crusader's spirit. "I have always remembered what
you once said, that many who believed themselves Christians had an
instinctive feeling that there is a spark in Christianity which, if
allowed to fly, would start a conflagration beyond their control. And
that they had covered the spark with ashes. I, too," he added
whimsically, "was buried under the ashes."

"And the spark," she demanded, "is not Socialism--their nightmare?"

"The spark is Christianity itself--but I am afraid they will not be able
to distinguish it from Socialism. The central paradox in Christianity
consists in the harmonizing of the individual and socialistic spirit, and
this removes it as far from the present political doctrine of socialism
as it is possible to be. Christianity, looked at from a certain
viewpoint,--and I think the proper viewpoint,--is the most
individualistic of religions, since its basic principle is the
development of the individual into an autonomous being."

They stood facing each other on an open stretch of lawn. The place was
deserted. Through the trees, in the near distance, the sightless front
of the Ferguson mansion blazed under the September sun.

"Individualistic!" she repeated, as though dazed by the word applied to
the religion she had discarded. "I can't understand. Do you think I
ever can understand?" she asked him, simply.

"It seems to me you understand more than you are willing to give yourself
credit for," he answered seriously. "You don't take into account your
attitude."

"I see what you mean--a willingness to take the right road, if I can find
it. I am not at all sure that I want to take it. But you must tell me
more--more of what you have discovered. Will you?"

He just hesitated. She herself appeared to acknowledge no bar to their
further intimacy--why should he?

"I will tell you all I know," he said.

Suddenly, as if by a transference of thought, she voiced what he had in
mind.

"You are going to tell them the truth about themselves!" she exclaimed.
"--That they are not Christians!"

His silence was an admission.

"You must see," he told her, after the moment they had looked into each
other's faces, "that this is the main reason why I must stay at St.
John's, in the Church, if I conscientiously can."

"I see. The easier course would be to resign, to have scruples. And you
believe there is a future for the Church."

"I believe it," he assented.

She still held his eyes.

"Yes, it is worth doing. If you see it that way it is more worth doing
than anything else. Please don't think," she said, "that I don't
appreciate why you have told me all this, why you have given me your
reasons. I know it hasn't been easy. It's because you wish me to have
faith in you for my own sake, not for yours. And I am grateful."

"And if that faith is justified, as you will help to justify it, that it
may be transferred to a larger sphere," he answered.

She gave him her hand, but did not reply.



CHAPTER XIX

MR. GOODRICH BECOMES A PARTISAN



I

In these days of his preparation, she haunted him continually. In her he
saw typified all those who possessed the: divine discontent, the yearning
unsatisfied,--the fatalists and the dreamers. And yet she seemed to have
risen through instinct to share the fire of his vision of religion
revealed to the countless ranks of strugglers as the hidden motive-power
of the world, the impetus of scientist, statesman, artist, and
philanthropist! They had stood together on the heights of the larger
view, whence the whole of the battle-line lay disclosed.

At other and more poignant moments he saw her as waving him bravely on
while he steamed out through towering seas to safety. The impression was
that of smiling at her destiny. Had she fixed upon it? and did she
linger now only that she might inspire him in his charge? She was
capable, he knew, of taking calmly the irrevocable step, of accepting the
decree as she read it. The thought tortured, the desire to save her from
herself obsessed him; with true clairvoyance she had divined him aright
when she had said that he wished her to have faith in him for her own
sake. Could he save her in spite of herself? and how? He could not see
her, except by chance. Was she waiting until he should have crossed the
bar before she should pay some inexorable penalty of which he knew
nothing?

Thus he speculated, suffered, was at once cast down and lifted up by the
thought of her. To him, at least, she was one of those rare and
dauntless women, the red stars of history, by whom the Dantes and
Leonardos are fired to express the inexpressible, and common clay is
fused and made mad: one of those women who, the more they reveal, become
the more inscrutable. Divinely inarticulate, he called her; arousing the
passion of the man, yet stirring the sublimer efforts of the god.

What her feelings toward him, whether she loved him as a woman loves a
man he could not say, no man being a judge in the supreme instance. She
beheld him emancipated, perhaps, from what she might have called the
fetters of an orthodoxy for which she felt an instinctive antagonism; but
whether, though proclaiming himself free, the fact of his continuation in
the ministry would not of itself set up in her a reaction, he was unable
to predict. Her antipathy to forms, he saw, was inherent. Her interest
--her fascinated absorption, it might be called--in his struggle was
spiritual, indeed, but it also had mixed in it the individualistic zeal
of the nonconformist. She resented the trammels of society; though she
suffered from her efforts to transcend them. The course he had
determined upon appeared to her as a rebellion not only against a
cut-and-dried state of mind, but also against vested privilege. Yet she
had in her, as she confessed, the craving for what privilege brings in
the way of harmonious surroundings. He loved her for her contradictions.

Thus he was utterly unable to see what the future held for him in the way
of continued communion with her, to evolve any satisfactory theory as to
why she remained in the city. She had told him that the gardens were an
excuse. She had come, by her own intimation, to reflect, to decide some
momentous question. Marriage? He found this too agitating to dwell
upon, summoning, as it did, conjectures of the men she might have known;
and it was perhaps natural, in view of her attitude, that he could only
think of such a decision on her part as surrender.

That he had caught and held her attention, although by no conscious
effort of his own, was clear to him. But had he not merely arrested her?
Would she not presently disappear, leaving only in his life the scarlet
thread which she had woven into it for all time? Would he not fail to
change, permanently, the texture of hers?

Such were his hopes and fears concerning her, and they were mingled
inextricably with other hopes and fears which had to do with the great
venture of his life. He dwelt in a realm of paradoxes, discovered that
exaltation was not incompatible with anxiety and dread. He had no
thought of wavering; he had achieved to an extent he would not have
believed possible the sense of consecration which brings with it
indifference to personal fortunes, and the revelation of the inner world,
and yet he shrank from the wounds he was about to receive--and give.
Outwardly controlled, he lived in the state of intense excitement of the
leader waiting for the time to charge.



II

The moment was at hand. September had waned, the nights were cooling,
his parishioners were returning from the East. One of these was Eleanor
Goodrich, whom he met on a corner, tanned and revived from her long
summer in Massachusetts. She had inherited the kindly shrewdness of
glance characteristic of gentlefolk, the glance that seeks to penetrate
externals in its concern for the well-being of those whom it scrutinizes.
And he was subtly aware, though she greeted him cordially, that she felt
a change in him without being able to account for it.

"I hear you have been here all summer," she said reproachfully. "Mother
and father and all of us were much disappointed that you did not come to
us on the Cape."

"I should have come, if it had been possible," he replied. "It seems to
have done you a world of good."

"Oh, I!" She seemed slightly embarrassed, puzzled, and did not look at
him. "I am burned as disgracefully as Evelyn. Phil came on for a month.

"He tells me he hasn't seen you, but that isn't surprising, for he hasn't
been to church since June--and he's a vestryman now, too."

She was in mourning for her father-in-law, who had died in the spring.
Phil Goodrich had taken his place. Eleanor found the conversation,
somehow, drifting out of her control. It was not at all what she would
have desired to say. Her colour heightened.

"I have not been conducting the services, but I resume them next Sunday,"
said the rector. "I ought to tell you," he went on, regarding her, "in
view of the conversation we have had, that I have changed my mind
concerning a great many things we have talked about--although I have not
spoken of this as yet to any of the members of the congregation."

She was speechless, and could only stare at him blankly.

"I mean," he continued, with a calmness that astonished her afterwards,
"that I have changed my whole conception as to the functions and future
of the Church, that I have come to your position, that we must make up
our minds for ourselves, and not have them made up for us. And that we
must examine into the truth of all statements, and be governed
accordingly."

Her attitude was one of mingled admiration, concern, and awe. And he saw
that she had grasped something of the complications which his course was
likely to bring about.

"But you are not going to leave us!" she managed to exclaim.

"Not if it is possible to remain," he said, smiling.

"I am so glad." She was still overpowered by the disclosure. "It is
good of you to tell me. Do you mind my telling Phil?"

"Not at all," he assured her.

"Will you forgive me," she asked, after a slight pause during which she
had somewhat regained her composure, "if I say that I always thought, or
rather hoped you would change? that your former beliefs seemed so--unlike
you?"

He continued to smile at her as she stepped forward to take the car.

"I'll have to forgive you," he answered, "because you were right--"

She was still in such a state of excitement when she arrived down town
that she went direct to her husband's law office.

"I like this!" he exclaimed, as, unannounced, she opened the door of his
sanctuary. "You might have caught me with one of those good-looking
clients of mine."

"Oh, Phil!" she cried, "I've got such a piece of news, I couldn't resist
coming to tell you. I met Mr. Hodder--and he's changed."

"Changed!" Phil repeated, looking up at her flushed face beside him.
Instead of a law-book, he flung down a time table in which he had been
investigating the trains to a quail shooting club in the southern part of
the state: The transition to Mr. Hodder was, therefore, somewhat abrupt.
"Why, Nell, to look at you, I thought it could be nothing else than my
somewhat belated appointment to the United States Supreme Court. How has
Hodder changed? I always thought him pretty decent."

"Don't laugh at me," she begged, "it's really serious--and no one knows
it yet. He said I might tell you. Do you remember that talk we had at
father's, when he first came, and we likened him to a modern Savonarola?"

"And George Bridges took the floor, and shocked mother and Lucy and
Laureston," supplied Phil.

"I don't believe mother really was as much shocked as she appeared to
be," said Eleanor. "At any rate, the thing that had struck us--you and
me--was that Mr. Hodder looked as though he could say something helpful,
if he only would. And then I went to see him afterwards, in the parish
house--you remember?--after we had been reading modern criticism
together, and he told me that the faith which had come down from the
fathers was like an egg? It couldn't be chipped. I was awfully
disappointed--and yet I couldn't help liking him, he was so honest.
And the theological books he gave me to read--which were so mediaeval
and absurd! Well, he has come around to our point of view. He told
me so himself."

"But what is our point of view, Nell?" her husband asked, with a smile.
"Isn't it a good deal like Professor Bridges', only we're not quite so
learned? We're just ordinary heathens, as far as I can make out. If
Hodder has our point of view, he ought to go into the law or a trust
company."

"Oh, Phil!" she protested, "and you're on the vestry! I do believe in
Something, and so do you."

"Something," he observed, "is hardly a concrete and complete theology."

"Why do you make me laugh," she reproached him, "when the matter is so
serious? What I'm trying to tell you is that I'm sure Mr. Hodder has
worked it out. He's too sincere to remain in the Church and not have
something constructive and satisfying. I've always said that he seemed
to have a truth shut up inside of him which he could not communicate.
Well, now he looks as though he were about to communicate it, as though
he had discovered it. I suppose you think me silly, but you'll grant,
whatever Mr. Hodder may be, he isn't silly. And women can feel these
things. You know I'm not given to sentimentality, but I was never so
impressed by the growth in any personality as I was this morning by his.
He seems to have become himself, as I always imagined him. And, Phil, he
was so fine! He's absolutely incapable of posing, as you'll admit, and
he stood right up and acknowledged that he'd been wrong in our argument.
He hasn't had the services all summer, and when he resumes them next
Sunday I gathered that he intends to make his new position clear."

Mr. Goodrich thrust his hands in his pockets and gave a low whistle.

"I guess I won't go shooting Saturday, after all," he declared.
"I wouldn't miss Hodder's sermon for all the quail in Harrington County."

"It's high time you did go to church," remarked Eleanor, contemplating,
not without pride, her husband's close-cropped, pugnacious head.

Your judgments are pretty sound, Nell. I'll do you that credit. And
I've always owned up that Hodder would be a fighter if he ever got
started. It's written all over him. What's more, I've a notion that
some of our friends are already a little suspicious of him."

"You mean Mr. Parr?" she asked, anxiously.

"No, Wallis Plimpton."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, with disdain in her voice.

"Mr. Parr only got back yesterday, and Wallis told me that Hodder had
refused to go on a yachting trip with him. Not only foolishness, but
high treason." Phil smiled. "Plimpton's the weather-vane, the barometer
of that crowd--he feels a disturbance long before it turns up--he's as
sensitive as the stock market."

"He is the stock market," said Eleanor.

"It's been my opinion," Phil went on reflectively, "that they've all had
just a trace of uneasiness about Hodder all along, an idea that Nelson
Langmaid slipped up for the first time in his life when he got him to
come. Oh, the feeling's been dormant, but it existed. And they've been
just a little afraid that they couldn't handle him if the time ever came.
He's not their type. When I saw Plimpton at the Country Club the other
day he wondered, in that genial, off-hand manner of his, whether Hodder
would continue to be satisfied with St. John's. Plimpton said he might
be offered a missionary diocese. Oh we'll have a fine old row."

"I believe," said Eleanor, "that that's the only thing that interests
you."

"Well, it does please me," he admitted, when I think of Gordon Atterbury
and Everett Constable and a few others,--Eldon Parr,--who believe that
religion ought to be kept archaic and innocuous, served in a form that
won't bother anybody. By the way, Nell, do you remember the verse the
Professor quoted about the Pharisees, and cleansing the outside of the
cup and platter?"

"Yes," she answered, "why?"

"Well--Hodder didn't give you any intimation as to what he intended to do
about that sort of thing, did he?"

"What sort of thing?"

"About the inside of Eldon Parr's cup,--so to speak. And the inside of
Wallis Plimpton's cup, and Everett Constable's cup, and Ferguson's cup,
and Langmaid's. Did it ever strike you that, in St. John's, we have the
sublime spectacle of Eldon Parr, the Pharisee in chief, conducting the
Church of Christ, who, uttered that denunciation? That's what George
Bridges meant. There's something rather ironical in such a situation, to
say the least."

"I see," said Eleanor, thoughtfully.

"And what's more, it's typical," continued Phil, energetically, "the big
Baptist church on the Boulevard is run by old Sedges, as canny a rascal
as you could find in the state. The inside of has cup has never been
touched, though he was once immersed in the Mississippi, they say, and
swallowed a lot of water."

"Oh, Phil!"

"Hodder's been pretty intimate with Eldon Parr--that always puzzled me,"
Phil went on. "And yet I'm like you, I never doubted Hodder's honesty.
I've always been curious to know what would happen when he found out the
kind of thing Eldon Parr is doing every day in his life, making people
stand and deliver in the interest of what he would call National
Prosperity. Why, that fellow, Funk, they sent to the penitentiary the
other day for breaking into the Addicks' house isn't a circumstance to
Eldon Parr. He's robbed his tens of thousands, and goes on robbing them
right along. By the way, Mr. Parr took most of Addicks' money before
Funk got his silver."

"Phil, you have such a ridiculous way of putting things! But I suppose
it's true."

"True! I should say it was! There was Mr. Bentley--that was mild. And
there never was a hold-up of a western express that could compare to the
Consolidated Tractions. Some of these big fellows have the same kind of
brain as the professional thieves. Well, they are professional thieves
--what's the use of mincing matters! They never try the same game twice.
Mr. Parr's getting ready to make another big haul right now. I know,
because Plimpton said as much, although he didn't confide in me what this
particular piece of rascality is. He knows better." Phil Goodrich
looked grim.

"But the law?" exclaimed his wife.

"There never was a law that Nelson Langmaid couldn't drive a horse and
carriage through."

"And Mr. Langmaid's one of the nicest men I know!"

"What I wonder," mused Phil, "is whether this is a mere doctrinal revolt
on Hodder's part, or whether he has found out a few things. There are so
many parsons in these days who don't seem to see any inconsistency in
robbing several thousand people to build settlement houses and carved
marble altars, and who wouldn't accept a Christmas box from a highwayman.
But I'll do Hodder the justice to say he doesn't strike me as that kind.
And I have an idea that Eldon Parr and Wallis Plimpton and the rest know
he isn't, know that he'd be a Tartar if he ever get started, and that's
what makes them uneasy."

"Then it isn't his change of religious opinions they would care about?"
said Eleanor.

"Oh, I don't say that Eldon Parr won't try to throw him out if he
questions the faith as delivered by the Saints."

"Phil, what a way of putting it!"

"Any indication of independence, any approach to truth would be regarded
as dangerous," Phil continued. And of course Gordon Atterbury and others
we could mention, who think they believe in the unchipped egg theory,
will be outraged. But it's deeper than that. Eldon Parr will give
orders that Hodder's to go."

"Give orders?"

"Certainly. That vestry, so far as Mr. Parr is concerned, is a mere
dummy board of directors. He's made Langmaid, and Plimpton, and even
Everett Constable, who's the son of an honourable gentleman, and ought to
know better. And he can ruin them by snapping his fingers. He can even
make the financial world too hot for Ferguson. I'll say this for Gordon
Atterbury, that Mr. Parr can't control him, but he's got a majority
without him, and Gordon won't vote for a heretic. Who are left, except
father-in-law Waring and myself?"

"He can't control either of you!" said Eleanor, proudly.

"When it comes to that, Nell--we'll move into Canada and buy a farm."

"But can he hurt you, Phil--either of you?" she asked, after a moment.

"I'd like to see him try it," Phil Goodrich declared

And his wife thought, as she looked at him, that she would like to see
Mr. Parr try it, too.



III

Phil Goodrich had once said that Mr. Plimpton's translation of the
national motto E pluribus unum, was "get together," and it was true that
not the least of Mr. Plimpton's many gifts was that of peace making.
Such was his genius that he scented trouble before it became manifest to
the world, and he stoutly declared that no difference of opinion ever
existed between reasonable men that might not be patched up before the
breach became too wide--provided that a third reasonable man contributed
his services. The qualifying word "reasonable" is to be noted. When
Mr. Bedloe Hubbell had undertaken, in the name of Reform, to make a
witch's cauldron of the city's politics, which Mr. Beatty had hitherto
conducted so smoothly from the back room of his saloon, Mr. Plimpton had
unselfishly offered his services. Bedloe Hubbell, although he had been a
playmate of Mr. Plimpton's wife's, had not proved "reasonable," and had
rejected with a scorn only to be deemed fanatical the suggestion that Mr.
Hubbell's interests and Mr. Beatty's interests need not clash, since Mr.
Hubbell might go to Congress! And Mr. Plimpton was the more hurt since
the happy suggestion was his own, and he had had no little difficulty in
getting Mr. Beatty to agree to it.

Yet Mr. Plimpton's career in the ennobling role of peacemaker had,
on the whole, been crowned with such success as to warrant his belief
in the principle. Mr. Parr, for instance,--in whose service, as in that
of any other friend, Mr. Plimpton was always ready to act--had had
misunderstandings with eminent financiers, and sometimes with United
States Senators. Mr. Plimpton had made many trips to the Capitol at
Washington, sometimes in company with Mr. Langmaid, sometimes not, and on
one memorable occasion had come away smiling from an interview with the
occupant of the White House himself.

Lest Mr. Plimpton's powers of premonition seem supernatural, it may be
well to reveal the comparative simplicity of his methods. Genius,
analyzed, is often disappointing, Mr. Plimpton's was selective and
synthetic. To illustrate in a particular case, he had met Mr. Parr in
New York and had learned that the Reverend Mr. Hodder had not only
declined to accompany the banker on a yachting trip, but had elected to
remain in the city all summer, in his rooms in the parish house, while
conducting no services. Mr. Parr had thought this peculiar. On his
return home Mr. Plimpton had one day dropped in to see a Mr. Gaines, the
real estate agent for some of his property. And Mr. Plimpton being
hale-fellow-well-met, Mr. Gaines had warned him jestingly that he would
better not let his parson know that he owned a half interest in a certain
hotel in Dalton Street, which was leased at a profitable rate.

If Mr. Plimpton felt any uneasiness, he did not betray it. And he
managed to elicit from the agent, in an entirely casual and jovial
manner, the fact that Mr. Hodder, a month or so before, had settled the
rent of a woman for a Dalton Street flat, and had been curious to
discover the name of the owner. Mr. Gaines, whose business it was to
recognize everybody, was sure of Mr. Hodder, although he had not worn
clerical clothes.

Mr. Plimpton became very thoughtful when he had left the office. He
visited Nelson Langmaid in the Parr Building. And the result of the
conference was to cause Mr. Langmaid to recall, with a twinge of
uneasiness, a certain autumn morning in a room beside Bremerton Lake
when he had been faintly yet distinctly conscious of the, admonitory
whisperings of that sixth sense which had saved him on other occasions.

"Dash it!" he said to himself, after Mr. Plimpton had departed, and
he stood in the window and gazed across at the flag on the roof of
'Ferguson's.' "It would serve me right for meddling in this parson
business. Why did I take him away from Jerry Whitely, anyhow?"

It added to Nelson Langmaid's discomfort that he had a genuine affection,
even an admiration for the parson in question. He might have known by
looking at the man that he would wake up some day,--such was the burden
of his lament. And there came to him, ironically out of the past, the
very words of Mr. Parr's speech to the vestry after Dr. Gilman's death,
that succinct list of qualifications for a new rector which he himself,
Nelson Langmaid, had humorously and even more succinctly epitomized.
Their "responsibility to the parish, to the city, and to God" had been to
find a rector "neither too old nor too young, who would preach the faith
as we received it, who was not sensational, and who did not mistake
Socialism for Christianity."  At the "Socialism" a certain sickly
feeling possessed the lawyer, and he wiped beads of perspiration from his
dome-like forehead.

He didn't pretend to be versed in theology--so he had declared--and at
the memory of these words of his the epithet "ass," self applied, passed
his lips. "You want a parson who will stick to his last, not too high or
too low or too broad or too narrow, who has intellect without too much
initiative . . . and will not get the church uncomfortably full of
strangers and run you out of your pews." Thus he had capped the
financier. Well, if they had caught a tartar, it served him, Nelson
Langmaid, right. He recalled his talk with Gerald Whitely, and how his
brother-in-law had lost his temper when they had got on the subject of
personality . . . .

Perhaps Wallis Plimpton could do something. Langmaid's hopes of this
were not high. It may have been that he had suspicions of what Mr.
Plimpton would have called Hodder's "reasonableness." One thing was
clear--that Mr. Plimpton was frightened. In the sanctuaries, the private
confessionals of high finance (and Nelson Langmaid's office may be called
so), the more primitive emotions are sometimes exhibited.

"I don't see what business it is of a clergyman, or of any one else,
whether I own property in Dalton Street," Mr. Plimpton had said, as he
sat on the edge of the lawyer's polished mahogany desk. "What does he
expect us to do,--allow our real estate to remain unproductive merely for
sentimental reasons? That's like a parson, most of 'em haven't got any
more common sense than that. What right has he got to go nosing around
Dalton Street? Why doesn't he stick to his church?"

"I thought you fellows were to build him a settlement house there,"
Langmaid observed.

"On the condition that he wouldn't turn socialist."

"You'd better have stipulated it in the bond," said the lawyer, who could
not refrain, even at this solemn moment, from the temptation of playing
upon Mr. Plimpton's apprehensions. "I'm afraid he'll make it his
business, Wallis, to find out whether you own anything in Dalton Street.
I'll bet he's got a list of Dalton Street property in his pocket right
now."

Mr. Plimpton groaned.

"Thank God I don't own any of it!" said Langmaid.

"What the deuce does he intend to do?" the other demanded.

"Read it out in church," Langmaid suggested. "It wouldn't sound pretty,
Wallis, to be advertised in the post on Monday morning as owning that
kind of a hotel."

"Oh, he's a gentleman," said Mr. Plimpton, "he wouldn't do anything as
low as that!"

"But if he's become a socialist?" objected Langmaid.

"He wouldn't do it," his friend reiterated, none too confidently.
"I shouldn't be surprised if he made me resign from the vestry and forced
me to sell my interest. It nets me five thousand a year."

"What is the place?" Langmaid asked sympathetically, "Harrod's?"

Mr. Plimpton nodded.

"Not that I am a patron," the lawyer explained somewhat hastily. "But
I've seen the building, going home."

"It looks to me as if it would burn down some day, Wallis."

"I wish it would," said Mr. Plimpton.

"If it's any comfort to you--to us," Langmaid went on, after a moment,
"Eldon Parr owns the whole block above Thirteenth, on the south side
--bought it three years ago. He thinks the business section will grow that
way."

"I know," said Mr. Plimpton, and they looked at each other.

The name predominant in both minds had been mentioned.

"I wonder if Hodder really knows what he's up against." Mr. Plimpton
sometimes took refuge in slang.

"Well, after all, we're not sure yet that he's 'up against anything,'"
replied Langmaid, who thought the time had come for comfort. "It may all
be a false alarm. There's no reason, after all, why a Christian
clergyman shouldn't rescue women in Dalton Street, and remain in the city
to study the conditions of the neighbourhood where his settlement house
is to be. And just, because you or I would not be able to resist an
invitation to go yachting with Eldon Parr, a man might be imagined who
had that amount of moral courage."

"That's just it. Hodder seems to me, now I come to think of it, just the
kind of John Brown type who wouldn't hesitate to get into a row with
Eldon Parr if he thought it was right, and pull down any amount of
disagreeable stuff about our ears."

"You're mixing your heroes, Wallis," said Langmaid.

"I can't help it. You'd catch it, too, Nelson. What in the name of
sense possessed you to get such a man?"

This being a question the lawyer was unable to answer, the conversation
came to another pause. And it was then that Mr. Plimpton's natural
optimism reasserted itself.

"It isn't done,--the thing we're afraid of, that's all," he proclaimed,
after a turn or two about the room. "Hodder's a gentleman, as I said,
and if he feels as we suspect he does he'll resign like a gentleman and a
Christian. I'll have a talk with him--oh, you can trust me! I've got an
idea. Gordon Atterbury told me the other day there is a vacancy in a
missionary diocese out west, and that Hodder's name had been mentioned,
among others, to the bishops for the place. He'd make a rattling
missionary bishop, you know, holding services in saloons and knocking
men's heads together for profanity, and he boxes like a professional.
Now, a word from Eldon Parr might turn the trick. Every parson wants to
be a bishop."

Langmaid shook his head.

"You're getting out of your depths, my friend. The Church isn't Wall
Street. And missionary bishops aren't chosen to make convenient
vacancies."

"I don't mean anything crude," Mr. Plimpton protested. "But a word from
the chief layman of a diocese like this, a man who never misses a General
Convention, and does everything handsomely, might count,--particularly if
they're already thinking of Hodder. The bishops would never suspect we
wanted to get rid of him."

"Well," said Langmaid, "I advise you to go easy, all along the line."

"Oh, I'll go easy enough," Mr. Plimpton assented, smiling. "Do you
remember how I pulled off old Senator Matthews when everybody swore he
was dead set on voting for an investigation in the matter of those coal
lands Mr. Parr got hold of in his state?"

"Matthews isn't Hodder, by a long shat," said Langmaid. "If you ask me
my opinion, I'll tell you frankly that if Hodder has made up his mind to
stay in St. John's a ton of dynamite and all the Eldon Parrs in the
nation can't get him out."

"Can't the vestry make him resign?" asked Mr. Plimpton, uncomfortably.

"You'd better, go home and study your canons, my friend. Nothing short
of conviction for heresy can do it, if he doesn't want to go."

"You wouldn't exactly call him a heretic," Mr. Plimpton said ruefully.

"Would you know a heretic if you saw one?" demanded Langmaid.

"No, but my wife would, and Gordon Atterbury and Constable would, and
Eldon Parr. But don't let's get nervous."

"Well, that's sensible at any rate," said Langmaid . . . .

So Mr. Plimpton had gone off optimistic, and felt even more so the next
morning after he had had his breakfast in the pleasant dining room of the
Gore Mansion, of which he was now master. As he looked out through the
open window at the sunshine in the foliage of Waverley Place, the
prospect of his being removed from that position of dignity and influence
on the vestry of St. John's, which he had achieved, with others, after so
much walking around the walls, seemed remote. And he reflected with
satisfaction upon the fact that his wife, who was his prime minister,
would be home from the East that day. Two heads were better than one,
especially if one of the two were Charlotte Gore's. And Mr. Plimpton had
often reflected upon the loss to the world, and the gain to himself, that
she was a woman.

It would not be gallant to suggest that his swans were geese.



IV

The successful navigation of lower Tower Street, at noonday, required
presence of mind on the part of the pedestrian. There were currents and
counter-currents, eddies and backwaters, and at the corner of Vine a
veritable maelstrom through which two lines of electric cars pushed their
way, east and weft, north and south, with incessant clanging of bells;
followed by automobiles with resounding horns, trucks and delivery wagons
with wheels reverberating on the granite. A giant Irish policeman, who
seemed in continual danger of a violent death, and wholly indifferent to
it, stood between the car tracks and halted the rush from time to time,
driving the people like sheep from one side to the other. Through the
doors of Ferguson's poured two conflicting streams of humanity, and
wistful groups of young women, on the way from hasty lunches, blocked the
pavements and stared at the finery behind the plate-glass windows.

The rector, slowly making his way westward, permitted himself to be
thrust hither and thither, halted and shoved on again as he studied the
faces of the throng. And presently he found himself pocketed before one
of the exhibits of feminine interest, momentarily helpless, listening to
the admiring and envious chorus of a bevy of diminutive shop-girls on the
merits of a Paris gown. It was at this moment that he perceived, pushing
towards him with an air of rescue, the figure of his vestryman, Mr.
Wallis Plimpton.

"Well, well, well!" he cried, as he seized Hodder by the arm and pulled
him towards the curb. "What are you doing herein the marts of trade?
Come right along with me to the Eyrie, and we'll have something, to eat."

The Eyrie was a famous lunch club, of limited membership, at the top of
the Parr Building, where financial affairs of the first importance were
discussed and settled.

Hodder explained that he had lunched at half-past twelve.

"Well, step into my office a minute. It does me good, to see you again,
upon my word, and I can't let you get by without a little pow-wow."

Mr. Plimpton's trust company, in Vine Street, resembled a Greek temple.
Massive but graceful granite columns adorned its front, while within it
was partitioned off with polished marble and ornamental grills. In the
rear, guarded by the desks and flanked by the compartments of various
subordinates, was the president's private sanctum, and into this holy of
holies Mr. Plimpton led the way with the simple, unassuming genial air of
the high priest of modern finance who understands men. The room was
eloquent almost to affectation of the system and order of great business,
inasmuch as it betrayed not the least sign of a workshop. On the dark
oak desk were two leather-bound books and a polished telephone. The
walls were panelled, there was a stone fireplace with andirons set, a
deep carpet spread over the tessellated floor, and three leather-padded
armchairs, one of which Mr. Plimpton hospitably drew forward for the
rector. He then produced a box of cigars.

"You don't smoke, Mr. Hodder. I always forget. That's the way you
manage to keep yourself in such good shape." He drew out a gold match
box and seated himself with an air of gusto opposite his guest. "And you
haven't had a vacation, they tell me."

"On the contrary," said the rector, "McCrae has taken the services all
summer."

"But you've been in the city!" Mr. Plimpton exclaimed, puffing at his
cigar.

"Yes, I've been in the city."

"Well, well, I'll bet you haven't been idle. Just between us, as
friends, Mr. Hodder, I've often wondered if you didn't work too hard
--there's such a thing as being too conscientious, you know. And I've
an idea that the rest of the vestry think so. Mr. Parr, for instance.
We know when we've got a good thing, and we don't want to wear you out.
Oh, we can appreciate your point of view, and admire it. But a little
relaxation--eh? It's too bad that you couldn't have seen your way to
take that cruise--Mr. Parr was all cut up about it. I guess you're the
only man among all of us fairly close to him, who really knows him well,"
said Mr. Plimpton, admiringly. "He thinks a great deal of you, Mr.
Hodder. By the way, have you seen him since he got back?"

"No," Hodder answered.


"The trip did him good. I thought he was a little seedy in the spring
--didn't you? Wonderful man! And when I think how he's slandered and
abused it makes me hot. And he never says anything, never complains,
lives up there all alone, and takes his medicine. That's real
patriotism, according to my view. He could retire to-morrow
--but he keeps on--why? Because he feels the weight of a tremendous
responsibility on his shoulders, because he knows if it weren't for him
and men like him upon whom the prosperity of this nation depends, we'd
have famine and anarchy on our hands in no time. And look what he's done
for the city, without ostentation, mind you! He never blows his own
horn-never makes a speech. And for the Church! But I needn't tell you.
When this settlement house and chapel are finished, they'll be coming out
here from New York to get points. By the way, I meant to have written
you. Have our revised plans come yet? We ought to break ground in
November, oughtn't we?"

"I intend to lay my views on that matter before the vestry at the next
meeting, the rector said.

"Well," declared Mr. Plimpton, after a scarcely perceptible pause, "I've
no doubt they'll be worth listening to. If I were to make a guess," he
continued, with a contemplative smile, blowing a thin stream of smoke
towards the distant ceiling, "I should bet that you have spent your
summer looking over the ground. I don't say that you have missed your
vocation, Mr. Hodder, but I don't mind telling you that for a clergyman,
for a man absorbed in spiritual matters, a man who can preach the sermons
you preach, you've got more common-sense and business thoroughness than
any one I have ever run across in your profession."

"Looking over the ground?" Hodder repeated, ignoring the compliment.

"Sure," said Mr. Plimpton, smiling more benignly than ever. "You mustn't
be modest about it. Dalton Street. And when that settlement house is
built, I'll guarantee it will be run on a business basis. No nonsense."

"What do you mean by nonsense?" Hodder asked. He did not make the
question abrupt, and there was even the hint of a smile in his eyes,
which Mr. Plimpton found the more disquieting.

"Why, that's only a form of speech. I mean you'll be practical,
efficient, that you'll get hold of the people of that neighbourhood and
make 'em see that the world isn't such a bad place after all, make 'em
realize that we in St. John's want to help 'em out. That you won't make
them more foolishly discontented than they are, and go preaching
socialism to them."

"I have no intention of preaching socialism," said Hodder. But he laid a
slight emphasis on the word which sent a cold shiver down Mr. Plimpton's
spine, and made him wonder whether there might not be something worse
than socialism.

"I knew you wouldn't," he declared, with all the heartiness he could
throw into his voice. "I repeat, you're a practical, sensible man. I'll
yield to none in my belief in the Church as a moral, uplifting, necessary
spiritual force in our civilization, in my recognition of her high
ideals, but we business men, Mr. Hodder,--as--I am sure you must agree,
--have got to live, I am sorry to say, on a lower plane. We've got to deal
with the world as we find it, and do our little best to help things
along. We can't take the Gospel literally, or we should all be ruined
in a day, and swamp everybody else. You understand me?

"I understand you," said the rector.

Mr. Plimpton's cigar had gone out. In spite of himself, he had slipped
from the easy-going, casual tone into one that was becoming persuasive,
apologetic, strenuous. Although the day was not particularly warm, he
began to perspire a little; and he repeated the words over to himself,
"I understand you." What the deuce did the rector know? He had somehow
the air of knowing everything--more than Mr. Plimpton did. And Mr.
Plimpton was beginning to have the unusual and most disagreeable feeling
of having been weighed in the balance and found wanting. He glanced at
his guest, who sat quite still, the head bent a trifle, the disturbing
gray eyes fixed contemplatively an him--accusingly. And yet the
accusation did not seem personal with the clergyman, whose eyes were
nearly the medium, the channels of a greater, an impersonal Ice. It was
true that the man had changed. He was wholly baffling to Mr. Plimpton,
whose sense of alarm increased momentarily into an almost panicky feeling
as he remembered what Langmaid had said. Was this inscrutable rector of
St. John's gazing, knowingly, at the half owner of Harrods Hotel in
Dalton Street, who couldn't take the Gospel literally? There was
evidently no way to find out at once, and suspense would be unbearable,
in vain he told himself that these thoughts were nonsense, the discomfort
persisted, and he had visions of that career in which he had become
one of the first citizens and the respected husband of Charlotte Gore
clashing down about his ears. Why? Because a clergyman should choose
to be quixotic, fanatical? He did not took quixotic, fanatical, Mr.
Plimpton had to admit,--but a good deal saner than he, Mr. Plimpton, must
have appeared at that moment. His throat was dry, and he didn't dare to
make the attempt to relight his cigar.

"There's nothing like getting together--keeping in touch with people,
Mr. Hodder," he managed to say. "I've been out of town a good deal this
summer--putting on a little flesh, I'm sorry to admit. But I've been
meaning to drop into the parish house and talk over those revised plans
with you. I will drop in--in a day or two. I'm interested in the work,
intensely interested, and so is Mrs. Plimpton. She'll help you. I'm
sorry you can't lunch with me."

He had the air, now, of the man who finds himself disagreeably and
unexpectedly closeted with a lunatic; and his language, although he
sought to control it, became even a trifle less coherent.

"You must make allowances for us business men, Mr. Hodder. I mean, of
course, we're sometimes a little lax in our duties--in the summer, that
is. Don't shoot the pianist, he's doing his--ahem! You know the story.

"By the way, I hear great things of you; I'm told it's on the cards that
you're to be made a bishop."

"Oh," answered the rector, "there are better men mentioned than I!"

"I want you to know this," said his vestryman, as he seized Hodder's
hand, "much as we value you here, bitterly as we should hate to lose you,
none of us, I am sure, would stand in the way of such a deserved
advancement."

"Thank you, Mr. Plimpton," said the rector.

Mr. Plimpton watched the vigorous form striding through the great chamber
until it disappeared. Then he seized his hat and made his way as rapidly
as possible through the crowds to the Parr Building. At the entrance of
the open-air roof garden of the Eyrie he ran into Nelson Langmaid.

"You're the very man I'm after," said Mr. Plimpton, breathlessly.
"I stopped in your office, and they said you'd gone up."

"What's the matter, Wallis?" inquired the lawyer, tranquilly. "You look
as if you'd lost a couple of bonds."

I've just seen Hodder, and he is going to do it."

"Do what?"

"Sit down here, at this table in the corner, and I'll tell you."

For a practical man, it must be admitted that Mr. Plimpton had very
little of the concrete to relate. And it appeared on cross-examination
by Mr. Langmaid, who ate his cold meat and salad with an exasperating and
undiminished appetite--that the only definite thing the rector had said
was that he didn't intend to preach socialism. This was reassuring.

"Reassuring!" exclaimed Mr. Plimpton, whose customary noonday hunger was
lacking, "I wish you could have heard him say it!"

"The wicked," remarked the lawyer, "flee when no man pursueth. Don't
shoot the pianist!" Langmaid set down his beer, and threw back his head
and laughed. "If I were the Reverend Mr. Hodder, after such an
exhibition as you gave, I should immediately have suspected the pianist
of something, and I should have gone off by myself and racked my brains
and tried to discover what it was. He's a clever man, and if he hasn't
got a list of Dalton Street property now he'll have one by to-morrow,
and the story of some of your transactions with Tom Beatty and the City
Council."

"I believe you'd joke in the electric chair," said Mr. a Plimpton,
resentfully. "I'll tell you this,--and my experience backs me up,
--if you can't get next to a man by a little plain talk, he isn't safe.
I haven't got the market sense for nothing, and I'll give you this tip,
Nelson,--it's time to stand from under. Didn't I warn you fellows that
Bedloe Hubbell meant business long before he started in? and this parson
can give Hubbell cards and spades. Hodder can't see this thing as it is.
He's been thinking, this summer. And a man of that kind is downright
dangerous when he begins to think. He's found out things, and he's put
two and two together, and he's the uncompromising type. He has a notion
that the Gospel can be taken literally, and I could feel all the time I
was talking to him he thought I was a crook."

"Perhaps he was right," observed the lawyer.

"That comes well from you," Mr. Plimpton retorted.

"Oh, I'm a crook, too," said Langmaid. "I discovered it some time ago.
The difference between you and me, Wallis, is that I am willing to
acknowledge it, and you're not. The whole business world, as we know it,
is crooked, and if we don't cut other people's throats, they'll cut
ours."

"And if we let go, what would happen to the country?" his companion
demanded.

Langmaid began to shake with silent laughter.

"Your solicitude about the country, Wallis, is touching. I was brought
up to believe that patriotism had an element of sacrifice in it, but I
can't see ours. And I can't imagine myself, somehow, as a Hercules
bearing the burden of our Constitution. From Mr. Hodder's point of view,
perhaps,--and I'm not sure it isn't the right one, the pianist is doing
his damnedest, to the tune of--Dalton Street. We might as well look this
thing in the face, my friend. You and I really don't believe in another
world, or we shouldn't be taking so much trouble to make this one as we'd
like to have it."

"I never expected to hear you talk this way," said Mr. Plimpton.

"Well, it's somewhat of a surprise to me," the lawyer admitted.

"And I don't think you put it fairly," his friend contended. "I never
can tell when you are serious, but this is damned serious. In business
we have to deal with crooks, who hold us up right and left, and if we
stood back you know as well as I do that everything would go to pot.
And if we let the reformers have their way the country would be bedlam.
We'd have anarchy and bloodshed, revolution, and the people would be
calling us, the strong men, back in no time. You can't change human
nature. And we have a sense of responsibility--we support law and order
and the Church, and found institutions, and give millions away in
charity."

The big lawyer listened to this somewhat fervent defence of his order
with an amused smile, nodding his head slightly from side to side.

"If you don't believe in it," demanded Mr. Plimpton, why the deuce don't
you drop it?"

"It's because of my loyalty," said Langmaid. "I wouldn't desert my pals.
I couldn't bear, Wallis, to see you go to the guillotine without me."

Mr. Plimpton became unpleasantly silent.

"Well, you may think it's a joke," he resumed, after a moment, "but there
will be a guillotine if we don't look out. That confounded parson is
getting ready to spring something, and I'm going to give Mr. Parr a tip.
He'll know how to handle him. He doesn't talk much, but I've got an
idea, from one or two things he let drop, that he's a little suspicious
of a change in Hodder. But he ought to be waived."

"You're in no condition to talk to Mr. Parr, or to anyone else, except
your wife, Walks," Langmaid said. "You'd better go home, and let me see
Mr. Parr. I'm responsible for Mr. Hodder, anyway."

"All right," Mr. Plimpton agreed, as though he had gained some shred of
comfort from this thought. "I guess you're in worse than any of us."



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 6.


XX.    THE ARRAIGNMENT
XXI.   ALISON GOES TO CHURCH
XXII.   WHICH SAY TO THE SEERS, SEE NOT!



CHAPTER XX

THE ARRAIGNMENT


I

Looking backward, Hodder perceived that he had really come to the
momentous decision of remaining at St. John's in the twilight of an
evening when, on returning home from seeing Kate Marcy at Mr. Bentley's
he had entered the darkening church. It was then that his mission had
appeared to him as a vision. Every day, afterward, his sense and
knowledge of this mission had grown stronger.

To his mind, not the least of the trials it was to impose upon him, and
one which would have to be dealt with shortly, was a necessary talk with
his assistant, McCrae. If their relationship had from the beginning been
unusual and unsatisfactory, adjectives would seem to defy what it had
become during the summer. What did McCrae think of him? For Hodder had,
it will be recalled, bidden his assistant good-by--and then had remained.
At another brief interview, during which McCrae had betrayed no surprise,
uttered no censure or comment, Hodder had announced his determination to
remain in the city, and to take no part in the services. An announcement
sufficiently astounding. During the months that followed, they had met,
at rare intervals, exchanged casual greetings, and passed on. And yet
Hodder had the feeling, more firmly planted than ever, that McCrae was
awaiting, with an interest which might be called suspense, the
culmination of the process going on within him.

Well, now that he had worked it out, now that he had reached his
decision, it was incumbent upon him to tell his assistant what that
decision was. Hodder shrank from it as from an ordeal. His affection
for the man, his admiration for McCrae's faithful, untiring, and
unrecognized services had deepened. He had a theory that McCrae
really liked him--would even sympathize with his solution; yet he
procrastinated. He was afraid to put his theory to the test. It was not
that Hodder feared that his own solution was not the right one, but that
McCrae might not find it so: he was intensely concerned that it should
also be McCrae's solution--the answer, if one liked, to McCrae's mute and
eternal questionings. He wished to have it a fruition for McCrae as well
as for himself; since theoretically, at least, he had pierced the hard
crust of his assistant's exterior, and conceived him beneath to be all
suppressed fire. In short, Hodder wished to go into battle side by side
with McCrae. Therein lay his anxiety.

Another consideration troubled him--McCrae's family, dependent on a
rather meagre salary. His assistant, in sustaining him in the struggle
he meant to enter, would be making even a greater sacrifice than himself.
For Hodder had no illusions, and knew that the odds against him were
incalculable. Whatever, if defeated, his own future might be, McCrae's
was still more problematical and tragic.

The situation, when it came, was even more difficult than Hodder
had imagined it, since McCrae was not a man to oil the wheels of
conversation. In silence he followed the rector up the stairs and into
his study, in silence he took the seat at the opposite side of the table.
And Hodder, as he hesitated over his opening, contemplated in no little
perplexity and travail the gaunt and non-committal face before him:

"McCrae," he began at length, "you must have thought my conduct this
summer most peculiar. I wish to thank you, first of all, for the
consideration you have shown me, and to tell you how deeply I appreciate
your taking the entire burden of the work of the parish."

McCrae shook his head vigorously, but did not speak.

"I owe it to you to give you some clew to what happened to me," the
rector continued, "although I have an idea that you do not need much
enlightenment on this matter. I have a feeling that you have somehow
been aware of my discouragement during the past year or so, and of the
causes of it. You yourself hold ideals concerning the Church which you
have not confided to me. Of this I am sure. I came here to St. John's
full of hope and confidence, gradually to lose both, gradually to realise
that there was something wrong with me, that in spite of all my efforts
I was unable to make any headway in the right direction. I became
perplexed, dissatisfied--the results were so meagre, so out of proportion
to the labour. And the very fact that those who may be called our chief
parishioners had no complaint merely added to my uneasiness. That kind
of success didn't satisfy me, and I venture to assume it didn't satisfy
you."

Still McCrae made no sign.

"Finally I came to what may be termed a double conclusion. In the first
place, I began to see more and more clearly that our modern civilization
is at fault, to perceive how completely it is conducted on the
materialistic theory of the survival of the fittest rather than that of
the brotherhood of man, and that those who mainly support this church
are, consciously or not, using it as a bulwark for the privilege they
have gained at the expense of their fellow-citizens. And my conclusion
was that Christianity must contain some vital germ which I had somehow
missed, and which I must find if I could, and preach and release it.
That it was the release of this germ these people feared unconsciously.
I say to you, at the risk of the accusation of conceit, that I believed
myself to have a power in the pulpit if I could only discover the truth."

Hodder thought he detected, as he spoke these words, a certain relaxation
of the tension.

"For a while, as the result of discouragement, of cowardice, I may say,
of the tearing-down process of the theological structure--built of debris
from many ruins on which my conception of Christianity rested, I lost all
faith. For many weeks I did not enter the church, as you yourself must
know. Then, when I had given up all hope, through certain incidents and
certain persona, a process of reconstruction began. In short, through no
virtue which I can claim as my own, I believe I have arrived at the
threshold of an understanding of Christianity as our Lord taught it and
lived it. And I intend to take the pulpit and begin to preach it.

"I am deeply concerned in regard to yourself as to what effect my course
may have on you. And I am not you to listen to me with a view that you
should see your way clear to support me McCrae, but rather that you
should be fully apprised of my new belief and intentions. I owe this to
you, for your loyal support in the pest. I shall go over with you,
later, if you care to listen, my whole position. It may be called the
extreme Protestant position, and I use protestant, for want of a better
word, to express what I believe is Paul's true as distinguished from the
false of his two inconsistent theologies. It was this doctrine of Paul's
of redemption by faith, of reacting grace by an inevitable spiritual law
--of rebirth, if you will--that Luther and the Protestant reformers
revived and recognized, rightly, as the vital element of Christ's
teachings, although they did not succeed in separating it wholly from the
dross which clung to it. It is the leaven which has changed governments,
and which in the end, I am firmly convinced, will make true democracy
inevitable. And those who oppose democracy inherently dread its
workings.

"I do not know your views, but it is only fair to add at this time that I
no longer believe in the external and imposed authority of the Church in
the sense in which I formerly accepted it, nor in the virgin birth, nor
in certain other dogmas in which I once acquiesced. Other clergymen of
our communion have proclaimed, in speech and writing, their disbelief in
these things. I have satisfied my conscience as they have, and I mean to
make no secret of my change. I am convinced that not one man or woman
in ten thousand to-day who has rejected Christianity ever knew what
Christianity is. The science and archaic philosophy in which
Christianity has been swaddled and hampered is discredited, and the
conclusion is drawn that Christianity itself must be discredited."

"Ye're going to preach all this?" McCrae demanded, almost fiercely.

"Yes," Hodder replied, still uncertain as to his assistant's attitude,
"and more. I have fully reflected, and I am willing to accept all the
consequences. I understand perfectly, McCrae, that the promulgation
alone of the liberal orthodoxy of which I have spoken will bring me into
conflict with the majority of the vestry and the congregation, and that
the bishop will be appealed to. They will say, in effect, that I have
cheated them, that they hired one man and that another has turned up,
whom they never would have hired. But that won't be the whole story.
If it were merely a question of doctrine, I should resign. It's deeper
than that, more sinister." Hodder doubled up his hand, and laid it on
the table. "It's a matter," he said, looking into McCrae's eyes, "of
freeing this church from those who now hold it in chains. And the two
questions, I see clearly now, the doctrinal and the economic, are so
interwoven as to be inseparable. My former, ancient presentation of
Christianity left men and women cold. It did not draw them into this
church and send them out again fired with the determination to bring
religion into everyday life, resolved to do their part in the removal of
the injustices and cruelties with which we are surrounded, to bring
Christianity into government, where it belongs. Don't misunderstand me
I'm not going to preach politics, but religion."

"I don't misunderstand ye," answered McCrae. He leaned a little forward,
staring at the rector from behind his steel spectacles with a glance
which had become piercing.

"And I am going to discourage a charity which is a mockery of
Christianity," Hodder went on, "the spectacle of which turns thousands
of men and women in sickening revolt against the Church of Christ to-day.
I have discovered, at last, how some of these persons have made their
money, and are making it. And I am going to let them know, since they
have repudiated God in their own souls, since they have denied the
Christian principle of individual responsibility, that I, as the vicar of
God, will not be a party to the transaction of using the Church as a
means of doling out ill-gotten gains to the poor."

"Mr. Parr!" McCrae exclaimed.

"Yes," said the rector, slowly, and with a touch of sadness, "since you
have mentioned him, Mr. Parr. But I need not say that this must go no
farther. I am in possession of definite facts in regard to Mr. Parr
which I shall present to him when he returns."

"Ye'll tell him to his face?"

"It is the only way."

McCrae had risen. A remarkable transformation had come over the man,
--he was reminiscent, at that moment, of some Covenanter ancestor going
into battle. And his voice shook with excitement.

"Ye may count on me, Mr. Hodder," he cried. "These many years I've
waited, these many years I've seen what ye see now, but I was not the
man. Aye, I've watched ye, since the day ye first set foot in this
church. I knew what was going on inside of ye, because it was just
that I felt myself. I hoped--I prayed ye might come to it."

The sight of this taciturn Scotchman, moved in this way, had an
extraordinary effect on Hodder himself, and his own emotion was so
inexpressibly stirred that he kept silence a moment to control it.
This proof of the truth of his theory in regard to McCrae he found
overwhelming.

"But you said nothing, McCrae," he began presently. "I felt all along
that you knew what was wrong--if you had only spoken."

"I could not," said McCrae. "I give ye my word I tried, but I just could
not. Many's the time I wanted to--but I said to myself, when I looked at
you, 'wait, it will come, much better than ye can say it.' And ye have
made me see more than I saw, Mr. Hodder,--already ye have. Ye've got the
whole thing in ye're eye, and I only had a part of it. It's because
ye're the bigger man of the two."

"You thought I'd come to it?" demanded Hodder, as though the full force
of this insight had just struck him.

"Well," said McCrae, "I hoped. It seemed, to look at ye, ye'r true
nature--what was by rights inside of ye. That's the best explaining I
can do. And I call to mind that time ye spoke about not making the men
in the classes Christians--that was what started me to thinking."

"And you asked me," returned the rector, "how welcome some of them would
be in Mr. Parr's Pew."

"Ah, it worried me," declared the assistant, with characteristic
frankness, "to see how deep ye were getting in with him."

Hodder did not reply to this. He had himself risen, and stood looking at
McCrae, filled with a new thought.

"There is one thing I should like to say to you--which is very difficult,
McCrae, but I have no doubt you see the matter as clearly as I do. In
making this fight, I have no one but myself to consider. I am a single
man--"

"Yell not need to go on," answered McCrae, with an odd mixture of
sternness and gentleness in his voice. "I'll stand and fall with ye, Mr.
Hodder. Before I ever thought of the Church I learned a trade, as a boy
in Scotland. I'm not a bad carpenter. And if worse comes to worse, I've
an idea I can make as much with my hands as I make in the ministry."

The smile they exchanged across the table sealed the compact between
them.



II

The electric car which carried him to his appointment with the financier
shot westward like a meteor through the night. And now that the hour was
actually at hand, it seemed to Hodder that he was absurdly unprepared to
meet it. New and formidable aspects, hitherto unthought of, rose in his
mind, and the figure of Eldon Parr loomed to Brobdingnagian proportions
as he approached it. In spite of his determination, the life-blood of
his confidence ebbed, a sense of the power and might of the man who had
now become his adversary increased; and that apprehension of the impact
of the great banker's personality, the cutting edge with the vast
achievements wedged in behind it, each adding weight and impetus to its
momentum the apprehension he had felt in less degree on the day of the
first meeting, and which had almost immediately evaporated--surged up
in him now. His fear was lest the charged atmosphere of the banker's
presence might deflect his own hitherto clear perception of true worth.
He dreaded, once in the midst of those disturbing currents, a bungling
presentation of the cause which inspired him, and which he knew to be
righteousness itself.

Suddenly his mood shifted, betraying still another weakness, and he saw
Eldon Parr, suddenly, vividly--more vividly, indeed, than ever before--in
the shades of the hell of his loneliness. And pity welled up, drowning
the image of incarnate greed and selfishness and lust for wealth and
power: The unique pathos of his former relationship with the man
reasserted itself, and Hodder was conscious once more of the dependence
which Eldon Parr had had on his friendship. During that friendship he,
Hodder, had never lost the sense of being the stronger of the two, of
being leaned upon: leaned upon by a man whom the world feared and hated,
and whom he had been enable to regard with anything but compassion and
the unquestionable affection which sprang from it. Appalled by this
transition, he alighted from the car, and stood for a moment alone in the
darkness gazing at the great white houses that rose above the dusky
outline of shrubbery and trees.

At any rate, he wouldn't find that sense of dependence to-night. And it
steeled him somewhat to think, as he resumed his steps, that he would
meet now the other side, the hard side hitherto always turned away. Had
he needed no other warning of this, the answer to his note asking for an
appointment would have been enough,--a brief and formal communication
signed by the banker's secretary. . .

"Mr. Parr is engaged just at present, sir," said the servant who opened
the door. "Would you be good enough to step into the library?"

Hardly had he entered the room when he heard a sound behind him, and
turned to confront Alison. The thought of her, too, had complicated
infinitely his emotions concerning the interview before him, and the
sight of her now, of her mature beauty displayed in evening dress, of her
white throat gleaming whiter against the severe black of her gown, made
him literally speechless. Never had he accused her of boldness, and now
least of all. It was the quality of her splendid courage that was borne
in upon him once more above the host of other feelings and impressions,
for he read in her eyes a knowledge of the meaning of his visit.

They stood facing each other an appreciable moment.

"Mr. Langmaid is with him now," she said, in a low voice.

"Yes," he answered.

Her eyes still rested on his face, questioningly, appraisingly, as though
she were seeking to estimate his preparedness for the ordeal before him,
his ability to go through with it successfully, triumphantly. And in her
mention of Langmaid he recognized that she had meant to sound a note of
warning. She had intimated a consultation of the captains, a council of
war. And yet he had never spoken to her of this visit. This proof of
her partisanship, that she had come to him at the crucial instant,
overwhelmed him.

"You know why I am here?" he managed to say. It had to do with the
extent of her knowledge.

"Oh, why shouldn't I?" she cried, "after what you have told me. And
could you think I didn't understand, from the beginning, that it meant
this?"

His agitation still hampered him. He made a gesture of assent.

"It was inevitable," he said.

"Yes, it' was inevitable," she assented, and walked slowly to the mantel,
resting her hand on it and bending her head. "I felt that you would not
shirk it, and yet I realize how painful it must be to you."

"And to you," he replied quickly.

"Yes, and to me. I do not know what you know, specifically,--I have
never sought to find out things, in detail. That would be horrid. But
I understand--in general--I have understood for many years." She raised
her head, and flashed him a glance that was between a quivering smile and
tears. "And I know that you have certain specific information."

He could only wonder at her intuition.

"So far as I am concerned, it is not for the world," he answered.

"Oh, I appreciate that in you!" she exclaimed. "I wished you to know it.
I wished you to know," she added, a little unsteadily, "how much I admire
you for what you are doing. They are afraid of you--they will crush you
if they can."

He did not reply.

"But you are going to speak the truth," she continued, her voice low and
vibrating, "that is splendid! It must have its effect, no matter what
happens."

"Do you feel that?" he asked, taking a step toward her.

"Yes. When I see you, I feel it, I think." . . .

Whatever answer he might have made to this was frustrated by the
appearance of the figure of Nelson Langmaid in the doorway. He seemed
to survey them benevolently through his spectacles.

"How are you, Hodder? Well, Alison, I have to leave without seeing
anything of you--you must induce your father not to bring his business
home with him. Just a word," he added to the rector, "before you go up."

Hodder turned to Alison. "Good night," he said.

The gentle but unmistakable pressure of her hand he interpreted as the
pinning on him of the badge of her faith. He was to go into battle
wearing her colours. Their eyes met.

"Good night," she answered . . . .

In the hall the lawyer took his arm.

"What's the trouble, Hodder?" he asked, sympathetically.

Hodder, although on his guard, was somewhat taken aback by the directness
of the onslaught.

"I'm afraid, Mr. Langmaid," the rector replied, "that it would take me
longer to tell you than the time at your disposal."

"Dear me," said the lawyer, "this is too bad. Why didn't you come to me?
I am a good friend of yours, Hodder, and there is an additional bond
between us on my sister's account. She is extremely fond of you, you
know. And I have a certain feeling of responsibility for you,--I brought
you here."

"You have always been very kind, and I appreciate it," Hodder replied.
"I should be sorry to cause you any worry or annoyance. But you must
understand that I cannot share the responsibility of my acts with any
one."

"A little advice from an old legal head is sometimes not out of place.
Even Dr. Gilman used to consult me. I hope you will bear in mind how
remarkably well you have been getting along at St. John's, and what a
success you've made."

"Success!" echoed the rector.

Either Mr. Langmaid read nothing in his face, or was determined to read
nothing.

"Assuredly," he answered, benignly. "You have managed to please
everybody, Mr. Parr included,--and some of us are not easy to please.
I thought I'd tell you this, as a friend, as your first friend in the
parish. Your achievement has been all the more remarkable, following,
as you did, Dr. Gilman. Now it would greatly distress me to see that
state of things disturbed, both for your sake and others. I thought I
would just give you a hint, as you are going to see Mr. Parr, that he
is in rather a nervous state. These so-called political reformers have
upset the market and started a lot of legal complications that's why I'm
here to-night. Go easy with him. I know you won't do anything foolish."

The lawyer accompanied this statement with a pat, but this time he did
not succeed in concealing his concern.

"That depends on one's point of view," Hodder returned, with a smile.
"I do not know how you have come to suspect that I am going to disturb
Mr. Parr, but what I have to say to him is between him and me."

Langmaid took up his hat from the table, and sighed.

"Drop in on me sometime," he said, "I'd like to talk to you--Hodder heard
a voice behind him, and turned. A servant was standing there.

"Mr. Parr is ready to see you, sir," he said.

The rector followed him up the stairs, to the room on the second floor,
half office, half study, where the capitalist transacted his business
when at home.



III

Eldon Parr was huddled over his desk reading a typewritten document; but
he rose, and held out his hand, which Hodder took.

"How are you, Mr. Hodder? I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, but
matters of some legal importance have arisen on which I was obliged to
make a decision. You're well, I hope." He shot a glance at the rector,
and sat down again, still holding the sheets. "If you will excuse me a
moment longer, I'll finish this."

"Certainly," Hodder replied.

"Take a chair," said Mr. Parr, "you'll find the evening paper beside
you."

Hodder sat down, and the banker resumed his perusal of the document, his
eye running rapidly over the pages, pausing once in a while to scratch
out a word or to make a note on the margin. In the concentration of the
man on the task before him the rector read a design, an implication that
the affairs of the Church were of a minor importance: sensed, indeed,
the new attitude of hostility, gazed upon the undiscovered side, the
dangerous side before which other men had quailed. Alison's words
recurred to him, "they are afraid of you, they will crush you if they
can." Eldon Parr betrayed, at any rate, no sign of fear. If his mental
posture were further analyzed, it might be made out to contain an
intimation that the rector, by some act, had forfeited the right
to the unique privilege of the old relationship.

Well, the fact that the banker had, in some apparently occult manner,
been warned, would make Hodder's task easier--or rather less difficult.
His feelings were even more complicated than he had anticipated. The
moments of suspense were trying to his nerves, and he had a shrewd notion
that this making men wait was a favourite manoeuvre of Eldon Parr's; nor
had he underrated the benumbing force of that personality. It was
evident that the financier intended him to open the battle, and he was
--as he had expected--finding it difficult to marshal the regiments of his
arguments. In vain he thought of the tragedy of Garvin . . . . The
thing was more complicated. And behind this redoubtable and sinister
Eldon Parr he saw, as it were, the wraith of that: other who had once
confessed the misery of his loneliness. . . .

At last the banker rang, sharply, the bell on his desk. A secretary
entered, to whom he dictated a telegram which contained these words:
"Langmaid has discovered a way out." It was to be sent to an address in
Texas. Then he turned in his chair and crossed his knees, his hand
fondling an ivory paper-cutter. He smiled a little.

"Well, Mr. Hodder," he said.

The rector, intensely on his guard, merely inclined his head in
recognition that his turn had come.

"I was sorry," the banker continued, after a perceptible pause,--that
you could not see your way clear to have come with me on the cruise."

"I must thank you again," Hodder answered, "but I felt--as I wrote you
--that certain matters made it impossible for me to go."

"I suppose you had your reasons, but I think you would have enjoyed the
trip. I had a good, seaworthy boat--I chartered her from Mr. Lieber, the
president of the Continental Zinc, you know. I went as far as Labrador.
A wonderful coast, Mr. Hodder."

"It must be," agreed the rector. It was clear that Mr. Parr intended to
throw upon him the onus of the first move. There was a silence, brief,
indeed, but long enough for Hodder to feel more and more distinctly the
granite hardness which the other had become, to experience a rising,
reenforcing anger. He went forward, steadily but resolutely, on the
crest of it. "I have remained in the city," he continued, "and I have had
the opportunity to discover certain facts of which I have hitherto been
ignorant, and which, in my opinion, profoundly affect the welfare of the
church. It is of these I wished to speak to you."

Mr. Parr waited.

"It is not much of an exaggeration to say that ever since I came here
I have been aware that St. John's, considering the long standing of the
parish, the situation of the church in a thickly populated district, is
not fulfilling its mission. But I have failed until now to perceive the
causes of that inefficiency."

"Inefficiency?" The banker repeated the word.

"Inefficiency," said Hodder. "The reproach, the responsibility is
largely mine, as the rector, the spiritual, head of the parish. I
believe I am right when I say that the reason for the decision, some
twenty years ago, to leave the church where it is, instead of selling the
property and building in the West End, was that it might minister to the
poor in the neighbourhood, to bring religion and hope into their lives,
and to exert its influence towards eradicating the vice and misery which
surround it."

"But I thought you had agreed," said Mr. Parr, coldly, "that we were to
provide for that in the new chapel and settlement house."

"For reasons which I hope to make plain to you, Mr. Parr," Hodder
replied, "those people can never be reached, as they ought to be reached,
by building that settlement house. The principle is wrong, the day is
past when such things can be done--in that way." He laid an emphasis on
these words. "It is good, I grant you, to care for the babies and
children of the poor, it is good to get young women and men out of the
dance-halls, to provide innocent amusement, distraction, instruction.
But it is not enough. It leaves the great, transforming thing in the
lives of these people untouched, and it will forever remain untouched so
long as a sense of wrong, a continually deepening impression of an
unchristian civilization upheld by the Church herself, exists. Such an
undertaking as that settlement house--I see clearly now--is a palliation,
a poultice applied to one of many sores, a compromise unworthy of the
high mission of the Church. She should go to the root of the disease.
It is her first business to make Christians, who, by amending their own
lives, by going out individually and collectively into the life of the
nation, will gradually remove these conditions."

Mr. Parr sat drumming on the table. Hodder met his look.

"So you, too, have come to it," he said.

"Have come to what?"

"Socialism."

Hodder, in the state of clairvoyance in which he now surprisingly found
himself, accurately summed up the value and meaning of the banker's sigh.

"Say, rather," he replied, "that I have come to Christianity. We shall
never have what is called socialism until there is no longer any
necessity for it, until men, of their owe free will, are ready to
renounce selfish, personal ambition and power and work for humanity,
for the state."

Mr. Parr's gesture implied that he cared not by what name the thing was
called, but he still appeared strangely, astonishingly calm;--Hodder,
with all his faculties acute, apprehended that he was dangerously calm.
The man who had formerly been his friend was now completely obliterated,
and he had the feeling almost of being about to grapple, in mortal
combat, with some unknown monster whose tactics and resources were
infinite, whose victims had never escaped. The monster was in Eldon
Parr--that is how it came to him. The waxy, relentless demon was
aroused. It behooved him, Hodder, to step carefully . . . .

"That is all very fine, Mr. Hodder, very altruistic, very Christian,
I've no doubt-but the world doesn't work that way." (These were the
words borne in on Hodder's consciousness.) "What drives the world is the
motive furnished by the right of acquiring and holding property. If we
had a division to-day, the able men would come out on top next year."

The rector shook his head. He remembered, at that moment, Horace
Bentley.

"What drives the world is a far higher motive, Mr. Parr, the motive
with which have been fired the great lights of history, the motive of
renunciation and service which is transforming governments, which is
gradually making the world a better place in which to live. And we are
seeing men and women imbued with it, rising in ever increasing numbers on
every side to-day."

"Service!" Eldon Parr had seized upon the word as it passed and held it.
"What do you think my life has been? I suppose," he said, with a touch
of intense bitterness, "that you, too, who six months ago seemed as
reasonable a man as I ever met, have joined in the chorus of
denunciators. It has become the fashion to-day, thanks to your
socialists, reformers, and agitators, to decry a man because he is rich,
to take it for granted that he is a thief and a scoundrel, that he has no
sense of responsibility for his country and his fellow-men. The glory,
the true democracy of this nation, lies in its equal opportunity for all.
They take no account of that, of the fact that each has had the same
chance as his fellows. No, but they cry out that the man who, by the
sweat of his brow, has earned wealth ought to divide it up with the lazy
and the self-indulgent and the shiftless.

"Take my case, for instance,--it is typical of thousands. I came to this
city as a boy in my teens, with eight dollars in my pocket which I had
earned on a farm. I swept the floor, cleaned the steps, moved boxes and
ran errands in Gabriel Parker's store on Third Street. I was
industrious, sober, willing to do anything. I fought, I tell you every
inch of my way. As soon as I saved a little money I learned to use every
ounce of brain I possessed to hold on to it. I trusted a man once, and I
had to begin all over again. And I discovered, once for all, if a man
doesn't look out for himself, no one will.

"I don't pretend that I am any better than any one else, I have had to
take life as I found it, and make the best of it. I conformed to the
rules of the game; I soon had sense enough knocked into me to understand
that the conditions were not of my making. But I'll say this for
myself," Eldon Parr leaned forward over the blotter, "I had standards,
and I stuck by them. I wanted to be a decent citizen, to bring up my
children in the right way. I didn't squander my money, when I got it, on
wine and women, I respected other men's wives, I supported the Church and
the institutions of the city. I too even I had my ambitions, my ideals
--and they were not entirely worldly ones. You would probably accuse me of
wishing to acquire only the position of power which I hold. If you had
accepted my invitation to go aboard the yacht this summer, it was my
intention to unfold to you a scheme of charities which has long been
forming in my mind, and which I think would be of no small benefit to the
city where I have made my fortune. I merely mention this to prove to you
that I am not unmindful, in spite of the circumstances of my own life,
of the unfortunates whose mental equipment is not equal to my own."

By this "poor boy" argument which--if Hodder had known--Mr. Parr had
used at banquets with telling effect, the banker seemed to regain
perspective and equilibrium, to plant his feet once more on the
rock of the justification of his life, and from which, by a somewhat
extraordinary process he had not quite understood, he had been partially
shaken off. As he had proceeded with his personal history, his manner
had gradually become one of the finality of experience over theory,
of the forbearance of the practical man with the visionary. Like most
successful citizens of his type, he possessed in a high degree the
faculty of creating sympathy, of compelling others to accept
--temporarily, at least--his point of view. It was this faculty, Hodder
perceived, which had heretofore laid an enchantment upon him, and it was
not without a certain wonder that he now felt himself to be released from
the spell.

The perceptions of the banker were as keen, and his sense of security was
brief. Somehow, as he met the searching eye of the rector, he was unable
to see the man as a visionary, but beheld--and, to do him justice--felt a
twinge of respect for an adversary worthy of his steel.

He, who was accustomed to prepare for clouds when they were mere specks
on his horizon, paused even now to marvel why he had not dealt with this.
Here was a man--a fanatic, if he liked--but still a man who positively
did not fear him, to whom his wrath and power were as nothing! A new and
startling and complicated sensation--but Eldon Parr was no coward. If he
had, consciously or unconsciously, formerly looked upon the clergyman as
a dependent, Hodder appeared to be one no more. The very ruggedness of
the man had enhanced, expanded--as it were--until it filled the room.
And Hodder had, with an audacity unparalleled in the banker's experience
arraigned by implication his whole life, managed to put him on the
defensive.

"But if that be your experience," the rector said, "and it has become
your philosophy, what is it in you that impels you to give these large
sums for the public good?"

"I should suppose that you, as a clergyman, might understand that my
motive is a Christian one."

Hodder sat very still, but a higher light came into his eyes.

"Mr. Parr," he replied, "I have been a friend of yours, and I am a friend
still. And what I am going to tell you is not only in the hope that
others may benefit, but that your own soul may be saved. I mean that
literally--your own soul. You are under the impression that you are a
Christian, but you are not and never have been one. And you will not be
one until your whole life is transformed, until you become a different
man. If you do not change, it is my duty to warn you that the sorrow and
suffering, the uneasiness which you now know, and which drive you on, in
search of distraction, to adding useless sums of money to your fortune
--this suffering, I say, will become intensified. You will die in the
knowledge of it, and live on after, in the knowledge of it."

In spite of himself, the financier drew back before this unexpected
blast, the very intensity of which had struck a chill of terror in his
inmost being. He had been taken off his guard,--for he had supposed the
day long past--if it had ever existed--when a spiritual rebuke would
upset him; the day long past when a minister could pronounce one with
any force. That the Church should ever again presume to take herself
seriously had never occurred to him. And yet--the man had denounced him
in a moment of depression, of nervous irritation and exasperation against
a government which had begun to interfere with the sacred liberty of its
citizens, against political agitators who had spurred that government on.
The world was mad. No element, it seemed, was now content to remain in
its proper place. His voice, as he answered, shook with rage,--all the
greater because the undaunted sternness by which it was confronted seemed
to reduce it to futility.

"Take care!" he cried, "take care! You, nor any other man, clergyman or
no clergyman, have any right to be the judge of my conduct."

"On the contrary," said Holder, "if your conduct affects the welfare, the
progress, the reputation of the church of which I am rector, I have the
right. And I intend to exercise it. It becomes my duty, however
painful, to tell you, as a member of the Church, wherein you have
wronged the Church and wronged yourself."

He didn't raise his tone, and there was in it more of sorrow than of
indignation. The banker turned an ashen gray . . A moment elapsed
before he spoke, a transforming moment. He suddenly became ice.

"Very well," he said. "I can't pretend to account for these astounding
views you have acquired--and I am using a mild term. Let me say this:
(he leaned forward a little, across the desk) I demand that you be
specific. I am a busy man, I have little time to waste, I have certain
matters--before me which must be attended to to-night. I warn you that
I will not listen any longer to vague accusations."

It was Holder's turn to marvel. Did Eldon Purr, after all; have no sense
of guilt? Instantaneously, automatically, his own anger rose.

"You may be sure, Mr. Parr, that I should not be here unless I were
prepared to be specific. And what I am going to say to you I have
reserved for your ear alone, in the hope that you will take it to heart,
while it is not yet too late, said amend your life accordingly."

Eldon Parr shifted slightly. His look became inscrutable, was riveted on
the rector.

"I shall call your attention first to a man of whom you have probably
never heard. He is dead now--he threw himself into the river this
summer, with a curse on his lips--I am afraid--a curse against you. A
few years ago he lived happily with his wife and child in a little house
on the Grade Suburban, and he had several thousand dollars as a result of
careful saving and systematic self-denial.

"Perhaps you have never thought of the responsibilities of a great name.
This man, like thousands of others in the city, idealized you. He looked
up to you as the soul of honour, as a self-made man who by his own
unaided efforts--as you yourself have just pointed out--rose from a poor
boy to a position of power and trust in the community. He saw you a
prominent layman in the Church of God. He was dazzled by the brilliancy
of your success, inspired by a civilization which--gave such
opportunities. He recognized that he himself had not the brains for such
an achievement,--his hope and love and ambition were centred in his boy."

At the word Eldon Parr's glance was suddenly dulled by pain. He
tightened his lips.

"That boy was then of a happy, merry disposition, so the mother says, and
every summer night as she cooked supper she used to hear him laughing as
he romped in the yard with his father. When I first saw him this summer,
it was two days before his father committed suicide. The child was
lying, stifled with the heat, in the back room of one of those desolate
lodging houses in Dalton Street, and his little body had almost wasted
away.

"While I was there the father came in, and when he saw me he was filled
with fury. He despised the Church, and St. John's above all churches,
because you were of it; because you who had given so generously to it had
wrecked his life. You had shattered his faith in humanity, his ideal.
From a normal, contented man he had deteriorated into a monomaniac whom
no one would hire, a physical and mental wreck who needed care and
nursing. He said he hoped the boy would die.

"And what had happened? The man had bought, with all the money he had
in the world, Consolidated Tractions. He had bought it solely because
of his admiration for your ability, his faith in your name. It was
inconceivable to him that a man of your standing, a public benefactor, a
supporter of church and charities, would permit your name to be connected
with any enterprise that was not sound and just. Thousands like Garvin
lost all they had, while you are still a rich man. It is further
asserted that you sold out all your stock at a high price, with the
exception of that in the leased lines, which are guaranteed heavy
dividends."

"Have you finished?" demanded Eldon Parr.

"Not quite, on this subject," replied the rector. "Two nights after
that, the man threw himself in the river. His body was pulled out by men
on a tugboat, and his worthless stock certificate was in his pocket. It
is now in the possession of Mr. Horace Bentley. Thanks to Mr. Bentley,
the widow found a temporary home, and the child has almost recovered."

Hodder paused. His interest had suddenly become concentrated upon the
banker's new demeanour, and he would not have thought it within the range
of possibility that a man could listen to such a revelation concerning
himself without the betrayal of some feeling. But so it was,--Eldon Parr
had been coldly attentive, save for the one scarcely perceptible tremor
when the boy was mentioned. His interrogatory gesture gave the very
touch of perfection to this attitude, since it proclaimed him to have
listened patiently to a charge so preposterous that a less reasonable man
would have cut it short.

"And what leads you to suppose," he inquired, "that I am responsible in
this matter? What leads you to infer that the Consolidated Tractions
Company was not organized in good faith? Do you think that business men
are always infallible? The street-car lines of this city were at sixes
and sevens, fighting each other; money was being wasted by poor
management. The idea behind the company was a public-spirited one, to
give the citizens cheaper and better service, by a more modern equipment,
by a wider system of transfer. It seems to me, Mr. Hodder, that you put
yourself in a more quixotic position than the so-called reformers when
you assume that the men who organize a company in good faith are
personally responsible for every share of stock that is sold, and for
the welfare of every individual who may buy the stock. We force no one
to buy it. They do so at their own risk. I myself have thousands of
dollars of worthless stock in my safe. I have never complained."

The full force of Hodder's indignation went into his reply.

"I am not talking about the imperfect code of human justice under which
we live, Mr. Parr," he cried. "This is not a case in which a court of
law may exonerate you, it is between you and your God. But I have taken
the trouble to find out, from unquestioned sources, the truth about the
Consolidated Tractions Company--I shall not go into the details at
length--they are doubtless familiar to you. I know that the legal genius
of Mr. Langmaid, one of my vestry, made possible the organization of the
company, and thereby evaded the plain spirit of the law of the state.
I know that one branch line was bought for two hundred and fifty thousand
dollars, and capitalized for three millions, and that most of the others
were scandalously over-capitalized. I know that while the coming
transaction was still a secret, you and other, gentlemen connected with
the matter bought up large interests in other lines, which you proceeded
to lease to yourselves at guaranteed dividends which these lines do not
earn. I know that the first large dividend was paid out of capital. And
the stock which you sold to poor Garvin was so hopelessly watered that it
never could have been anything but worthless. If, in spite of these
facts, you do not deem yourself responsible for the misery which has been
caused, if your conscience is now clear, it is my duty to tell you that
there is a higher bar of justice."

The intensity of the fire of the denunciation had, indeed, a momentary
yet visible effect in the banker's expression. Whatever the emotions
thus lashed to self-betrayal, anger, hatred,--fear, perhaps, Hodder could
not detect a trace of penitence; and he was aware, on the part of the
other, of a supreme, almost spasmodic effort for self-control. The
constitutional reluctance of Eldon Parr to fight openly could not have
been more clearly demonstrated.

"Because you are a clergyman, Mr. Hodder," he began, "because you are
the rector of St. John's, I have allowed you to say things to me which
I would not have permitted from any other man. I have tried to take
into account your point of view, which is naturally restricted, your
pardonable ignorance of what business men, who wish to do their duty by
Church and State, have to contend with. When you came to this parish you
seemed to have a sensible, a proportional view of things; you were
content to confine your activities to your own sphere, content not to
meddle with politics and business, which you could, at first hand, know
nothing about. The modern desire of clergymen to interfere in these
matters has ruined the usefulness of many of them.

"I repeat, I have tried to be patient. I venture to hope, still, that
this extraordinary change in you may not be permanent, but merely the
result of a natural sympathy with the weak and unwise and unfortunate who
are always to be found in a complex civilization. I can even conceive
how such a discovery must have shocked you, temporarily aroused your
indignation, as a clergyman, against the world as it is--and, I may add,
as it has always been. My personal friendship for you, and my interest
in your future welfare impel me to make a final appeal to you not to ruin
a career which is full of promise."

The rector did not take advantage of the pause. A purely psychological
curiosity hypnotized him to see how far the banker would go in his
apparent generosity.

"I once heard you say, I believe, in a sermon, that the Christian
religion is a leaven. It is the leaven that softens and ameliorates the
hard conditions of life, that makes our relations with our fellow-men
bearable. But life is a contest, it is war. It always has been, and
always will be. Business is war, commerce is war, both among nations and
individuals. You cannot get around it. If a man does not exterminate
his rivals they will exterminate him. In other days churches were built
and endowed with the spoils of war, and did not disdain the money.
To-day they cheerfully accept the support and gifts of business men.
I do not accuse them of hypocrisy. It is a recognition on their part
that business men, in spite of hard facts, are not unmindful of the
spiritual side of life, and are not deaf to the injunction to help
others. And when, let me ask you, could you find in the world's history
more splendid charities than are around us to-day? Institutions endowed
for medical research, for the conquest of deadly diseases? libraries,
hospitals, schools--men giving their fortunes for these things, the
fruits of a life's work so laboriously acquired? Who can say that the
modern capitalist is not liberal, is not a public benefactor?

"I dislike being personal, but you have forced it upon me. I dislike to
refer to what I have already done in the matter of charities, but I
hinted to you awhile ago of a project I have conceived and almost
perfected of gifts on a much larger scale than I have ever attempted."
The financier stared at him meaningly. "And I had you in mind as one of
the three men whom I should consult, whom I should associate with myself
in the matter. We cannot change human nature, but we can better
conditions by wise giving. I do not refer now to the settle ment house,
which I am ready to help make and maintain as the best in the country,
but I have in mind a system to be carried out with the consent and aid
of the municipal government, of play-grounds, baths, parks, places of
recreation, and hospitals, for the benefit of the people, which will
put our city in the very forefront of progress. And I believe, as a
practical man, I can convince you that the betterment which you and I so
earnestly desire can be brought about in no other way. Agitation can
only result in anarchy and misery for all."

Hodder's wrath, as he rose from his chair, was of the sort that appears
incredibly to add to the physical stature,--the bewildering spiritual
wrath which is rare indeed, and carries all before it.

"Don't tempt me, Mr. Parr!" he said. "Now that I know the truth, I tell
you frankly I would face poverty and persecution rather than consent to
your offer. And I warn you once more not to flatter yourself that
existence ends here, that you will, not be called to answer for every
wrong act you have committed in accumulating your fortune, that what
you call business is an affair of which God takes no account. What
I say may seem foolishness to you, but I tell you, in the words of that
Foolishness, that it will not profit you to gain the whole world and lose
your own soul. You remind me that the Church in old time accepted gifts
from the spoils of war, and I will add of rapine and murder. And the
Church to-day, to repeat your own parallel, grows rich with money
wrongfully got. Legally? Ah, yes, legally, perhaps. But that will not
avail you. And the kind of church you speak of--to which I, to my shame,
once consented--Our Lord repudiates. It is none of his. I warn you, Mr.
Parr, in his Name, first to make your peace with your brothers before you
presume to lay another gift on the altar."

During this withering condemnation of himself Eldon Parr sat motionless,
his face grown livid, an expression on it that continued to haunt Hodder
long afterwards. An expression, indeed, which made the banker almost
unrecognizable.

"Go," he whispered, his hand trembling visibly as he pointed towards the
door. "Go--I have had enough of this."

"Not until I have said one thing more," replied the rector, undaunted.
"I have found the woman whose marriage with your son you prevented, whom
you bought off and started on the road to hell without any sense of
responsibility. You have made of her a prostitute and a drunkard.
Whether she can be rescued or not is problematical. She, too, is in
Mr. Bentley's care, a man upon whom you once showed no mercy. I leave
Garvin, who has gone to his death, and Kate Marcy and Horace Bentley to
your conscience, Mr. Parr. That they are representative of many others,
I do not doubt. I tell you solemnly that the whole meaning of life is
service to others, and I warn you, before it is too late, to repent and
make amends. Gifts will not help you, and charities are of no avail."

At the reference to Kate Marcy Eldon Parr's hand dropped to his side.
He seemed to have physical difficulty in speaking.

"Ah, you have found that woman!" He leaned an elbow on the desk,
he seemed suddenly to have become weary, spent, old. And Hodder,
as he watched him, perceived--that his haggard look was directed towards
a photograph in a silver frame on the table--a photograph of Preston
Parr. At length he broke the silence.

"What would you have had me do?" he asked. "Permit my son to marry a
woman of the streets, I suppose. That would have been Christianity,
according to your notion. Come now, what world you have done, if your
son had been in question?"

A wave of pity swept over the rector.

"Why," he said, why did you have nothing but cruelty in your heart, and
contempt for her? When you saw that she was willing, for the love of the
son whom you loved, to give up all that life meant to her, how could you
destroy her without a qualm? The crime you committed was that you
refused to see God in that woman's soul, when he had revealed himself to
you. You looked for wile, for cunning, for self-seeking,--and they were
not there. Love had obliterated them. When you saw how meekly she
obeyed you, and agreed to go away, why did you not have pity? If you
had listened to your conscience, you would have known what to do.

"I do not say that you should not have opposed the marriage--then.
Marriage is not to be lightly entered into. From the moment you went to
see her you became responsible for her. You hurled her into the abyss,
and she has come back to haunt you. You should have had her educated and
cared for--she would have submitted, to any plan you proposed. And if,
after a sensible separation, you became satisfied as to her character and
development, and your son still wished to marry her, you should have
withdrawn your objections.

"As it is, and in consequence of your act, you have lost your son. He
left you then, and you have no more control over him."

"Stop!" cried Eldon Parr, "for God's sake stop! I won't stand any more
of this. I will not listen to criticism of my life, to strictures on my
conduct from you or any other man." He reached for a book on the corner
of his desk--a cheque book.--"You'll want money for these people, I
suppose," he added brutally. "I will give it, but it must be understood
that I do not recognize any right of theirs to demand it."

For a moment Holder did not trust himself to reply. He looked down
across the desk at the financier, who was fumbling with the leaves.

"They do not demand it, Mr. Parr," he answered, gently. "And I have
tried to make it plain to you that you have lost the right to give it.
I expected to fail in this. I have failed."

"What do you mean?" Eldon Parr let the cheque book close.

"I mean what I said," the rector replied. "That if you would save your
soul you must put an end, to-morrow, to the acquisition of money, and
devote the rest of your life to an earnest and sincere attempt to make
just restitution to those you have wronged. And you must ask the
forgiveness of God for your sins. Until you do that, your charities are
abominations in his sight. I will not trouble you any longer, except to
say that I shall be ready to come to you at any time my presence may be
of any help to you."

The banker did not speak . . . . With a single glance towards the
library Holder left the house, but paused for a moment outside to gaze
back at it, as it loomed in the darkness against the stars.



CHAPTER XXI

ALISON GOES TO CHURCH


I

On the following Sunday morning the early light filtered into Alison's
room, and she opened her strong eyes. Presently she sprang from her bed
and drew back the curtains of the windows, gazing rapturously into the
crystal day. The verdure of the Park was freshened to an incredible
brilliancy by the dew, a thin white veil of mist was spread over the
mirror of the waters, the trees flung long shadows across the turf.

A few minutes later she was out, thrilled by the silence, drawing in
deep, breaths of the morning air; lingering by still lakes catching the
blue of the sky--a blue that left its stain upon the soul; as the sun
mounted she wandered farther, losing herself in the wilderness of the
forest.

At eight o'clock, when she returned, there were signs that the city had
awakened. A mounted policeman trotted past her as she crossed a gravel
drive, and on the tree-flecked stretches, which lately had been empty as
Eden, human figures were scattered. A child, with a sailboat that
languished for lack of wind, stared at her, first with fascination and
wonder in his eyes, and then smiled at her tentatively. She returned the
smile with a start.

Children had stared at her like that before now, and for the first time
in her life she asked herself what the look might mean. She had never
really been fond of them: she had never, indeed, been brought much in
contact with them. But now, without warning, a sudden fierce yearning
took possession of her: surprised and almost frightened, she stopped
irresistibly and looked back at the thin little figure crouched beside
the water, to discover that his widened eyes were still upon her. Her
own lingered on him shyly, and thus for a moment she hung in doubt
whether to flee or stay, her heart throbbing as though she were on the
brink of some unknown and momentous adventure. She took a timid step.

"What's your name?" she asked.

The boy told her.

"What's yours?" he ventured, still under the charm.

"Alison."

He had never heard of that name, and said so. They deplored the lack of
wind. And presently, still mystified, but gathering courage, he asked
her why she blushed, at which her colour deepened.

"I can't help it," she told him.

"I like it," the boy said.

Though the grass was still wet, she got down on her knees in her white
skirt, the better to push the boat along the shore: once it drifted
beyond their reach, and was only rescued by a fallen branch discovered
with difficulty.

The arrival of the boy's father, an anaemic-looking little man, put an
end to their play. He deplored the condition of the lady's dress.

"It doesn't matter in the least," she assured him, and fled in a mood she
did not attempt to analyze. Hurrying homeward, she regained her room,
bathed, and at half past eight appeared in the big, formal dining-room,
from which the glare of the morning light was carefully screened. Her
father insisted on breakfasting here; and she found him now seated before
the white table-cloth, reading a newspaper. He glanced up at her
critically.

"So you've decided to honour me this morning," he said.

"I've been out in the Park," she replied, taking the chair opposite him.
He resumed his reading, but presently, as she was pouring out the coffee,
he lowered the paper again.

"What's the occasion to-day?" he asked.

"The occasion?" she repeated, without acknowledging that she had
instantly grasped his implication. His eyes were on her gown.

"You are not accustomed, as a rule, to pay much deference to Sunday."

"Doesn't the Bible say, somewhere," she inquired, "that the Sabbath was
made for man? Perhaps that may be broadened after a while, to include
woman."

"But you have never been an advocate, so far as I know, of women taking
advantage of their opportunity by going to Church."

"What's the use," demanded Alison, "of the thousands of working women
spending the best part of the day in the ordinary church, when their feet
and hands and heads are aching? Unless some fire is kindled in their
souls, it is hopeless for them to try to obtain any benefit from
religion--so-called--as it is preached to them in most churches."

"Fire in their souls!" exclaimed the banker.

"Yes. If the churches offered those who might be leaders among their
fellows a practical solution of existence, kindled their self-respect,
replaced a life of drudgery by one of inspiration--that would be worth
while. But you will never get such a condition as that unless your
pulpits are filled by personalities, instead of puppets who are all cast
in one mould, and who profess to be there by divine right."

"I am glad to see at least that you are taking an interest in religious
matters," her father observed, meaningly.

Alison coloured. But she retorted with spirit.

"That is true of a great many persons to-day who are thinking on the
subject. If Christianity is a solution of life, people are demanding of
the churches that they shall perform their function, and show us how, and
why, or else cease to encumber the world."

Eldon Parr folded up his newspaper.

"So you are going to Church this morning," he said.

"Yes. At what time will you be ready?"

"At quarter to eleven. But if you are going to St. John', you will have
to start earlier. I'll order a car at half past ten."

"Where are you going?" She held her breath, unconsciously, for the
answer.

"To Calvary," he replied coldly, as he rose to leave the room. "But I
hesitate to ask you to come,--I am afraid you will not find a religion
there that suits you."

For a moment she could not trust herself to speak. The secret which,
ever since Friday evening, she had been burning to learn was disclosed
. . . Her father had broken with Mr. Hodder!

"Please don't order the motor for me," she said. "I'd rather go in the
street cars."

She sat very still in the empty room, her face burning.

Characteristically, her father had not once mentioned the rector of St.
John's, yet had contrived to imply that her interest in Hodder was
greater than her interest in religion. And she was forced to admit, with
her customary honesty, that the implication was true.


The numbers who knew Alison Parr casually thought her cold. They admired
a certain quality in her work, but they did not suspect that that quality
was the incomplete expression of an innate idealism capable of being
fanned into flame,--for she was subject to rare but ardent enthusiasms
which kindled and transformed her incredibly in the eyes of the few to
whom the process had been revealed. She had had even a longer list of
suitors than any one guessed; men who--usually by accident--had touched
the hidden spring, and suddenly beholding an unimagined woman, had
consequently lost their heads. The mistake most of them had made (for
subtlety in such affairs is not a masculine trait) was the failure to
recognize and continue to present the quality in them which had awakened
her. She had invariably discovered the feet of clay.

Thus disillusion had been her misfortune--perhaps it would be more
accurate to say her fortune. She had built up, after each invasion, her
defences more carefully and solidly than before, only to be again
astonished and dismayed by the next onslaught, until at length the
question had become insistent--the question of an alliance for purposes
of greater security. She had returned to her childhood home to consider
it, frankly recognizing it as a compromise, a fall . . . .

And here, in this sanctuary of her reflection, and out of a quarter on
which she had set no watch, out of a wilderness which she had believed to
hold nothing save the ruined splendours of the past, had come one who,
like the traditional figures of the wilderness, had attracted her by his
very uncouthness and latent power. And the anomaly he presented in what
might be called the vehemence of his advocacy of an outworn orthodoxy,
in his occupation of the pulpit of St. John's, had quickened at once her
curiosity and antagonism. It had been her sudden discovery, or rather
her instinctive suspicion of the inner conflict in him which had set her
standard fluttering in response. Once more (for the last time--something
whispered--now) she had become the lady of the lists; she sat on her
walls watching, with beating heart and straining eyes, the closed helm
of her champion, ready to fling down the revived remnant of her faith as
prize or forfeit. She had staked all on the hope that he would not lower
his lance. . . . .

Saturday had passed in suspense . . . . And now was flooding in on
her the certainty that he had not failed her; that he had, with a sublime
indifference to a worldly future and success, defied the powers. With
indifference, too, to her! She knew, of course, that he loved her.
A man with less of greatness would have sought a middle way . . . .

When, at half past ten, she fared forth into the sunlight, she was filled
with anticipation, excitement, concern, feelings enhanced and not soothed
by the pulsing vibrations of the church bells in the softening air. The
swift motion of the electric car was grateful. . . But at length the
sight of familiar landmarks, old-fashioned dwellings crowded in between
the stores and factories of lower Tower Street, brought back
recollections of the days when she had come this way, other Sunday
mornings, and in a more leisurely public vehicle, with her mother.
Was it possible that she, Alison Parr, were going to church now? Her
excitement deepened, and she found it difficult to bring herself to the
realization that her destination was a church--the church of her
childhood. At this moment she could only think of St. John's as the
setting of the supreme drama.

When she alighted at the corner of Burton Street there was the
well-remembered, shifting group on the pavement in front of the church
porch. How many times, in the summer and winter, in fair weather and
cloudy, in rain and sleet and snow had she approached that group, as she
approached it now! Here were the people, still, in the midst of whom her
earliest associations had been formed, changed, indeed,-but yet the same.
No, the change was in her, and the very vastness of that change came as a
shock. These had stood still, anchored to their traditions, while she
--had she grown? or merely wandered? She had searched, at least, and seen.
She had once accepted them--if indeed as a child it could have been said
of her that she accepted anything; she had been unable then, at any rate,
to bring forward any comparisons.

Now she beheld them, collectively, in their complacent finery, as
representing a force, a section of the army blocking the heads of the
passes of the world's progress, resting on their arms, but ready at the
least uneasy movement from below to man the breastworks, to fling down
the traitor from above, to fight fiercely for the solidarity of their
order. And Alison even believed herself to detect, by something
indefinable in their attitudes as they stood momentarily conversing
in lowered voices, an aroused suspicion, an uneasy anticipation. Her
imagination went so far as to apprehend, as they greeted her unwonted
appearance, that they read in it an addition to other vague and
disturbing phenomena. Her colour was high.

"Why, my dear," said Mrs. Atterbury, "I thought you had gone back to New
York long ago!"

Beside his mother stood Gordon--more dried up, it seemed, than ever.
Alison recalled him, as on this very spot, a thin, pale boy in short
trousers, and Mrs. Atterbury a beautiful and controlled young matron
associated with St. John's and with children's parties. She was
wonderful yet, with her white hair and straight nose, her erect figure
still slight. Alison knew that Mrs. Atterbury had never forgiven her for
rejecting her son--or rather for being the kind of woman who could reject
him.

"Surely you haven't been here all summer?"

Alison admitted it, characteristically, without explanations.

"It seems so natural to see you here at the old church, after all these
years," the lady went on, and Alison was aware that Mrs. Atterbury
questioned--or rather was at a loss for the motives which had led such an
apostate back to the fold. "We must thank Mr. Hodder, I suppose. He's
very remarkable. I hear he is resuming the services to-day for the first
time since June."

Alison was inclined to read a significance into Mrs. Atterbury's glance
at her son, who was clearing his throat.

"But--where is Mr. Parr?" he asked. "I understand he has come back from
his cruise."

"Yes, he is back. I came without--him---as you see."

She found a certain satisfaction in adding to the mystification, to the
disquietude he betrayed by fidgeting more than usual.

"But--he always comes when he is in town. Business--I suppose--ahem!"

"No," replied Alison, dropping her bomb with cruel precision, "he has
gone to Calvary."

The agitation was instantaneous.

"To Calvary!" exclaimed mother and son in one breath.

"Why?" It was Gordon who demanded. "A--a special occasion there--a
bishop or something?"

"I'm afraid you must ask him," she said.

She was delayed on the steps, first by Nan Ferguson, then by the
Laureston Greys, and her news outdistanced her to the porch. Charlotte
Plimpton looking very red and solid, her eyes glittering with excitement,
blocked her way.

"Alison?" she cried, in the slightly nasal voice that was a Gore
inheritance, "I'm told your father's gone to Calvary! Has Mr. Hodder
offended him? I heard rumours--Wallis seems to be afraid that something
has happened."

"He hasn't said anything about it to me, Charlotte," said Alison, in
quiet amusement, "but then he wouldn't, you know. I don't live here any
longer, and he has no reason to think that I would be interested in
church matters."

"But--why did you come?" Charlotte demanded, with Gore naivete.

Alison smiled.

"You mean--what was my motive?"

Charlotte actually performed the miracle of getting redder. She was
afraid of Alison--much more afraid since she had known of her vogue in
the East. When Alison had put into execution the astounding folly (to
the Gore mind) of rejecting the inheritance of millions to espouse a
profession, it had been Charlotte Plimpton who led the chorus of ridicule
and disapproval. But success, to the Charlotte Plimptons, is its own
justification, and now her ambition (which had ramifications) was to have
Alison "do" her a garden. Incidentally, the question had flashed through
her mind as to how much Alison's good looks had helped towards her
triumph in certain shining circles.

"Oh, of course I didn't mean that," she hastened to deny, although it was
exactly what she had meant. Her curiosity unsatisfied--and not likely to
be satisfied at once, she shifted abruptly to the other burning subject.
"I was so glad when I learned you hadn't gone. Grace Larrabbee's garden
is a dream, my dear. Wallis and I stopped there the other day and the
caretaker showed it to us. Can't you make a plan for me, so that I may
begin next spring? And there's something else I wanted to ask you.
Wallis and I are going to New York the end of the month. Shall you be
there?"

"I don't know," said Alison, cautiously.

"We want so much to see one or two of your gardens on Long Island, and
especially the Sibleys', on the Hudson. I know it will be late in the
season,--but don't you think you could take us, Alison? And I intend to
give you a dinner. I'll write you a note. Here's Wallis."

"Well, well, well," said Mr. Plimpton, shaking Alison's hand. "Where's
father? I hear he's gone to Calvary."

Alison made her escape. Inside the silent church, Eleanor Goodrich gave
her a smile and a pressure of welcome. Beside her, standing behind the
rear pew, were Asa Waring and--Mr. Bentley! Mr. Bentley returned to St.
John's!

"You have come!" Alison whispered.

He understood her. He took her hand in his and looked down into her
upturned face.

"Yes, my dear," he said, "and my girls have come Sally Grover and the
others, and some friends from Dalton Street and elsewhere."

The news, the sound of this old gentleman's voice and the touch of his
hand suddenly filled her with a strange yet sober happiness. Asa Waring,
though he had not overheard, smiled at her too, as in sympathy. His
austere face was curiously illuminated, and she knew instinctively that
in some way he shared her happiness. Mr. Bentley had come back! Yes, it
was an augury. From childhood she had always admired Asa Waring, and now
she felt a closer tie . . . .

She reached the pew, hesitated an instant, and slipped forward on her
knees. Years had gone by since she had prayed, and even now she made no
attempt to translate into words the intensity of her yearning--for what?
Hodder's success, for one thing,--and by success she meant that he might
pursue an unfaltering course. True to her temperament, she did not look
for the downfall of the forces opposed to him. She beheld him
persecuted, yet unyielding, and was thus lifted to an exaltation that
amazed. . . If he could do it, such a struggle must sorely have an
ultimate meaning! Thus she found herself, trembling, on the borderland
of faith. . .

She arose, bewildered, her pulses beating. And presently glancing about,
she took in that the church was fuller than she ever remembered having
seen it, and the palpitating suspense she felt seemed to pervade, as it
were, the very silence. With startling abruptness, the silence was
broken by the tones of the great organ that rolled and reverberated among
the arches; distant voices took up the processional; the white choir
filed past,--first the treble voices of the boys, then the deeper notes
of the--men,--turned and mounted the chancel steps, and then she saw
Hodder. Her pew being among the first, he passed very near her. Did he
know she would be there? The sternness of his profile told her nothing.
He seemed at that moment removed, set apart, consecrated--this was the
word that came to her, and yet she was keenly conscious of his presence.

Tingling, she found herself repeating, inwardly, two, lines of the hymn

          "Lay hold on life, and it shall be
          Thy joy and crown eternally."

"Lay hold on life!"

The service began,--the well-remembered, beautiful appeal and prayers
which she could still repeat, after a lapse of time, almost by heart; and
their music and rhythm, the simple yet magnificent language in which.
they were clothed--her own language--awoke this morning a racial instinct
strong in her,--she had not known how strong. Or was it something in
Hodder's voice that seemed to illumine the ancient words with a new
meaning? Raising her eyes to the chancel she studied his head, and found
in it still another expression of that race, the history of which had
been one of protest, of development of its own character and personality.
Her mind went back to her first talk with him, in the garden, and she saw
how her intuition had recognized in him then the spirit of a people
striving to assert itself.

She stood with tightened lips, during the Apostles' Creed, listening to
his voice as it rose, strong and unfaltering, above the murmur of the
congregation.

At last she saw him swiftly crossing the chancel, mounting the pulpit
steps, and he towered above her, a dominant figure, his white surplice
sharply outlined against the dark stone of the pillar. The hymn died
away, the congregation sat down. There was a sound in the church,
expectant, presaging, like the stirring of leaves at the first breath of
wind, and then all was silent.



II

He had preached for an hour--longer, perhaps. Alison could not have said
how long. She had lost all sense of time.

No sooner had the text been spoken, "Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the Kingdom of God," than she seemed to catch a fleeting
glimpse of an hitherto unimagined Personality. Hundreds of times she
had heard those words, and they had been as meaningless to her as to
Nicodemus. But now--now something was brought home to her of the
magnificent certainty with which they must first have been spoken,
of the tone and bearing and authority of him who had uttered them.
Was Christ like that? And could it be a Truth, after all, a truth
only to be grasped by one who had experienced it?

It was in vain that man had tried to evade this, the supreme revelation
of Jesus Christ, had sought to substitute ceremonies and sacrifices for
spiritual rebirth. It was in vain that the Church herself had, from time
to time, been inclined to compromise. St. Paul, once the strict Pharisee
who had laboured for the religion of works, himself had been reborn into
the religion of the Spirit. It was Paul who had liberated that message
of rebirth, which the world has been so long in grasping, from the narrow
bounds of Palestine and sent it ringing down the ages to the democracies
of the twentieth century.

And even Paul, though not consciously inconsistent, could not rid himself
completely of that ancient, automatic, conception of religion which the
Master condemned, but had on occasions attempted fruitlessly to unite the
new with the old. And thus, for a long time, Christianity had been
wrongly conceived as history, beginning with what to Paul and the Jews
was an historical event, the allegory of the Garden of Eden, the fall of
Adam, and ending with the Jewish conception of the Atonement. This was a
rationalistic and not a spiritual religion.

The miracle was not the vision, whatever its nature, which Saul beheld on
the road to Damascus. The miracle was the result of that vision, the man
reborn. Saul, the persecutor of Christians, become Paul, who spent the
rest of his days, in spite of persecution and bodily infirmities,
journeying tirelessly up and down the Roman Empire, preaching the risen
Christ, and labouring more abundantly than they all! There was no
miracle in the New Testament more wonderful than this.

The risen Christ! Let us not trouble ourselves about the psychological
problems involved, problems which the first century interpreted in its
own simple way. Modern, science has taught us this much, at least,
that we have by no means fathomed the limits even of a transcendent
personality. If proofs of the Resurrection and Ascension were demanded,
let them be spiritual proofs, and there could be none more convincing
than the life of the transformed Saul, who had given to the modern,
western world the message of salvation . . . .

That afternoon, as Alison sat motionless on a distant hillside of the
Park, gazing across the tree-dotted, rolling country to the westward, she
recalled the breathless silence in the church when he had reached this
point and paused, looking down at the congregation. By the subtle
transmission of thought, of feeling which is characteristic at dramatic
moments of bodies of people, she knew that he had already contrived to
stir them to the quick. It was not so much that these opening words
might have been startling to the strictly orthodox, but the added fact
that Hodder had uttered them. The sensation in the pews, as Alison
interpreted it and exulted over it, was one of bewildered amazement that
this was their rector, the same man who had preached to them in June.
Like Paul, of whom he spoke, he too was transformed, had come to his own,
radiating a new power that seemed to shine in his face.

Still agitated, she considered that discourse now in her solitude, what
it meant for him, for her, for the Church and civilization that a
clergyman should have had the courage to preach it. He himself had
seemed unconscious of any courage; had never once--she recalled--been
sensational. He had spoken simply, even in the intensest moments of
denunciation. And she wondered now how he had managed, without stripping
himself, without baring the intimate, sacred experiences of his own soul,
to convey to them, so nobly, the change which had taken place in him....

He began by referring to the hope with which he had come to St. John's,
and the gradual realization that the church was a failure--a dismal
failure when compared to the high ideal of her Master. By her fruits she
should be known and judged. From the first he had contemplated, with a
heavy heart, the sin and misery at their very gates. Not three blocks
distant children were learning vice in the streets, little boys of seven
and eight, underfed and anaemic, were driven out before dawn to sell
newspapers, little girls thrust forth to haunt the saloons and beg, while
their own children were warmed and fed. While their own daughters were
guarded, young women in Dayton Street were forced to sell themselves into
a life which meant slow torture, inevitable early death. Hopeless
husbands and wives were cast up like driftwood by the cruel, resistless
flood of modern civilization--the very civilization which yielded their
wealth and luxury. The civilization which professed the Spirit of
Christ, and yet was pitiless.

He confessed to them that for a long time he had been blind to the truth,
had taken the inherited, unchristian view that the disease which caused
vice and poverty might not be cured, though its ulcers might be
alleviated. He had not, indeed, clearly perceived and recognized the
disease. He had regarded Dalton Street in a very special sense as a
reproach to St. John's, but now he saw that all such neighbourhoods were
in reality a reproach to the city, to the state, to the nation. True
Christianity and Democracy were identical, and the congregation of St.
John's, as professed Christians and citizens, were doubly responsible,
inasmuch as they not only made no protest or attempt to change a
government which permitted the Dalton Streets to exist, but inasmuch also
as,--directly or indirectly,--they derived a profit from conditions which
were an abomination to God. It would be but an idle mockery for them to
go and build a settlement house, if they did not first reform their
lives.

Here there had been a decided stir among the pews. Hodder had not seemed
to notice it.

When he, their rector, had gone to Dalton Street to invite the poor and
wretched into God's Church, he was met by the scornful question: "Are the
Christians of the churches any better than we? Christians own the grim
tenements in which we live, the saloons and brothels by which we are
surrounded, which devour our children. Christians own the establishments
which pay us starvation wages; profit by politics, and take toll from our
very vice; evade the laws and reap millions, while we are sent to jail.
Is their God a God who will lift us out of our misery and distress? Are
their churches for the poor? Are not the very pews in which they sit as
closed to us as their houses?"

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert
cold or hot."

One inevitable conclusion of such a revelation was that he had not
preached to them the vital element of Christianity. And the very fact
that his presentation of religion had left many indifferent or
dissatisfied was proof-positive that he had dwelt upon non-essentials,
laid emphasis upon the mistaken interpretations of past ages. There
were those within the Church who were content with this, who--like the
Pharisees of old--welcomed a religion which did not interfere with their
complacency, with their pursuit of pleasure and wealth, with their
special privileges; welcomed a Church which didn't raise her voice
against the manner of their lives--against the order, the Golden Calf
which they had set up, which did not accuse them of deliberately
retarding the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Ah, that religion was not religion, for religion was a spiritual,
not a material affair. In that religion, vainly designed by man as a
compromise between God and Mammon, there was none of the divine
discontent of the true religion of the Spirit, no need of the rebirth of
the soul. And those who held it might well demand, with Nicodemus and
the rulers of the earth, "How can these things be?"

And there were others who still lingered in the Church, perplexed and
wistful, who had come to him and confessed that the so-called catholic
acceptance of divine truths, on which he had hitherto dwelt, meant
nothing to them. To these, in particular, he owed a special reparation,
and he took this occasion to announce a series of Sunday evening sermons
on the Creeds. So long as the Creeds remained in the Prayer Book it was
his duty to interpret them in terms not only of modern thought, but in
harmony with the real significance of the Person and message of Jesus
Christ. Those who had come to him questioning, he declared, were a
thousand times right in refusing to accept the interpretations of other
men, the consensus of opinion of more ignorant ages, expressed in an
ancient science and an archaic philosophy.

And what should be said of the vast and ever increasing numbers of those
not connected with the Church, who had left it or were leaving it? and of
the less fortunate to whose bodily wants they had been ministering in the
parish house, for whom it had no spiritual message, and who never entered
its doors? The necessity of religion, of getting in touch with, of
dependence on the Spirit of the Universe was inherent in man, and yet
there were thousands--nay, millions in the nation to-day in whose hearts
was an intense and unsatisfied yearning, who perceived no meaning in
life, no Cause for which to work, who did not know what Christianity was,
who had never known what it was, who wist not where to turn to find out.
Education had brought many of them to discern, in the Church's teachings,
an anachronistic medley of myths and legends, of theories of schoolmen
and theologians, of surviving pagan superstitions which could not be
translated into life. They saw, in Christianity, only the adulterations
of the centuries. If any one needed a proof of the yearning people felt,
let him go to the bookshops, or read in the publishers' lists to-day the
announcements of books on religion. There was no supply where there was
no demand.

Truth might no longer be identified with Tradition, and the day was past
when councils and synods might determine it for all mankind. The era of
forced acceptance of philosophical doctrines and dogmas was past, and
that of freedom, of spiritual rebirth, of vicarious suffering, of willing
sacrifice and service for a Cause was upon them. That cause was
Democracy. Christ was uniquely the Son of God because he had lived and
suffered and died in order to reveal to the world the meaning of this
life and of the hereafter--the meaning not only for the individual, but
for society as well. Nothing might be added to or subtracted from that
message--it was complete.

True faith was simply trusting--trusting that Christ gave to the world
the revelation of God's plan. And the Saviour himself had pointed out
the proof: "If any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,
whether it be of God, or whether I speak for myself." Christ had
repeatedly rebuked those literal minds which had demanded material
evidence: true faith spurned it, just as true friendship, true love
between man and man, true trust scorned a written bond. To paraphrase
St. James's words, faith without trust is dead--because faith without
trust is impossible. God is a Spirit, only to be recognized in the
Spirit, and every one of the Saviour's utterances were--not of the flesh,
of the man--but of the Spirit within him. "He that hath seen me hath
seen the Father;" and "Why callest thou me good? none is good save one,
that is, God." The Spirit, the Universal Meaning of Life, incarnate in
the human Jesus.

To be born again was to overcome our spiritual blindness, and then,
and then only, we might behold the spirit shining in the soul of Christ.
That proof had sufficed for Mark, had sufficed for the writer of the
sublime Fourth Gospel, had sufficed for Paul. Let us lift this wondrous
fact, once and for all, out of the ecclesiastical setting and incorporate
it into our lives. Nor need the hearts of those who seek the Truth, who
fear not to face it, be troubled if they be satisfied, from the Gospels,
that the birth of Jesus was not miraculous. The physical never could
prove the spiritual, which was the real and everlasting, which no
discovery in science or history can take from us. The Godship of Christ
rested upon no dogma, it was a conviction born into us with the new
birth. And it becomes an integral part of our personality, our very
being.

The secret, then, lay in a presentation of the divine message which would
convince and transform and electrify those who heard it to action--a
presentation of the message in terms which the age could grasp. That is
what Paul had done, he had drawn his figures boldly from the customs of
the life of his day, but a more or less intimate knowledge of these
ancient customs were necessary before modern men and women could
understand those figures and parallels. And the Church must awake
to her opportunities, to her perception of the Cause. . . .

What, then, was the function, the mission of the Church Universal? Once
she had laid claim to temporal power, believed herself to be the sole
agency of God on earth, had spoken ex cathedra on philosophy, history,
theology, and science, had undertaken to confer eternal bliss and to damn
forever. Her members, and even her priests, had gone from murder to
mass and from mass to murder, and she had engaged in cruel wars and
persecutions to curtail the liberties of mankind. Under that conception
religion was a form of insurance of the soul. Perhaps a common,
universal belief had been necessary in the dark ages before the sublime
idea of education for the masses had come; but the Church herself
--through ignorance--had opposed the growth of education, had set her
face sternly against the development of the individual, which Christ had
taught, the privilege of man to use the faculties of the intellect which
God had bestowed upon him. He himself, their rector, had advocated a
catholic acceptance, though much modified from the mediaeval acceptance,
--one that professed to go behind it to an earlier age. Yes, he must
admit with shame that he had been afraid to trust where God trusted, had
feared to confide the working out of the ultimate Truth of the minds of
the millions.

The Church had been monarchical in form, and some strove stubbornly
and blindly to keep her monarchical. Democracy in government was
outstripping her. Let them look around, to-day, and see what was
happening in the United States of America. A great movement was going on
to transfer actual participation in government from the few to the many,
--a movement towards true Democracy, and that was precisely what was
about to happen in the Church. Her condition at present was one of
uncertainty, transition--she feared to let go wholly of the old, she
feared to embark upon the new. Just as the conservatives and politicians
feared to give up the representative system, the convention, so was she
afraid to abandon the synod, the council, and trust to man.

The light was coming slowly, the change, the rebirth of the Church by
gradual evolution. By the grace of God those who had laid the
foundations of the Church in which he stood, of all Protestantism, had
built for the future. The racial instinct in them had asserted itself,
had warned them that to suppress freedom in religion were to suppress it
in life, to paralyze that individual initiative which was the secret of
their advancement.

The new Church Universal, then, would be the militant, aggressive body of
the reborn, whose mission it was to send out into the life of the nation
transformed men and women who would labour unremittingly for the Kingdom
of God. Unity would come--but unity in freedom, true Catholicity. The
truth would gradually pervade the masses--be wrought out by them. Even
the great evolutionary forces of the age, such as economic necessity,
were acting to drive divided Christianity into consolidation, and the
starving churches of country villages were now beginning to combine.

No man might venture to predict the details of the future organization of
the united Church, although St. Paul himself had sketched it in broad
outline: every worker, lay and clerical, labouring according to his gift,
teachers, executives, ministers, visitors, missionaries, healers of sick
and despondent souls. But the supreme function of the Church was to
inspire--to inspire individuals to willing service for the cause, the
Cause of Democracy, the fellowship of mankind. If she failed to inspire,
the Church would wither and perish. And therefore she must revive again
the race of inspirers, prophets, modern Apostles to whom this gift was
given, going on their rounds, awaking cities and arousing whole
country-sides.

But whence--it might be demanded by the cynical were the prophets to
come? Prophets could not be produced by training and education; prophets
must be born. Reborn,--that was the word. Let the Church have faith.
Once her Cause were perceived, once her whole energy were directed
towards its fulfilment, the prophets would arise, out of the East and out
of the West, to stir mankind to higher effort, to denounce fearlessly the
shortcomings and evils of the age. They had not failed in past ages,
when the world had fallen into hopelessness, indifference, and darkness.
And they would not fail now.

Prophets were personalities, and Phillips Brooks himself a prophet--had
defined personality as a conscious relationship with God. "All truth,"
he had said, "comes to the world through personality." And down the ages
had come an Apostolic Succession of personalities. Paul, Augustine,
Francis, Dante, Luther, Milton,--yes, and Abraham Lincoln, and Phillips
Brooks, whose Authority was that of the Spirit, whose light had so shone
before men that they had glorified the Father which was in heaven; the
current of whose Power had so radiated, in ever widening circles, as to
make incandescent countless other souls.

And which among them would declare that Abraham Lincoln, like Stephen,
had not seen his Master in the sky?

The true prophet, the true apostle, then, was one inspired and directed
by the Spirit, the laying on of hands was but a symbol,--the symbol of
the sublime truth that one personality caught fire from another. Let the
Church hold fast to that symbol, as an acknowledgment, a reminder of a
supreme mystery. Tradition had its value when it did not deteriorate
into superstition, into the mechanical, automatic transmission
characteristic of the mediaeval Church, for the very suggestion of which
Peter had rebuked Simon in Samaria. For it would be remembered that
Simon had said: "Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands,
he may receive the Holy Ghost."

The true successor to the Apostles must be an Apostle himself.

Jesus had seldom spoken literally, and the truths he sought to impress
upon the world had of necessity been clothed in figures and symbols,--for
spiritual truths might be conveyed in no other way. The supreme proof of
his Godship, of his complete knowledge of the meaning of life was to be
found in his parables. To the literal, material mind, for example, the
parable of the talents was merely an unintelligible case of injustice....
What was meant by the talents? They were opportunities for service.
Experience taught us that when we embraced one opportunity, one
responsibility, the acceptance of it invariably led to another, and so
the servant who had five talents, five opportunities, gained ten. The
servant who had two gained two more. But the servant of whom only one
little service was asked refused that, and was cast into outer darkness,
to witness another performing the task which should have been his. Hell,
here and hereafter, was the spectacle of wasted opportunity, and there is
no suffering to compare to it.

The crime, the cardinal sin was with those who refused to serve, who shut
their eyes to the ideal their Lord had held up, who strove to compromise
with Jesus Christ himself, to twist and torture his message to suit their
own notions as to how life should be led; to please God and Mammon at the
same time, to bind Christ's Church for their comfort and selfish
convenience. Of them it was written, that they shut up the Kingdom of
Heaven against men; for they neither go in themselves, neither suffer
them that are entering to go in. Were these any better than the people
who had crucified the Lord for his idealism, and because he had not
brought them the material Kingdom for which they longed?

That servant who had feared to act, who had hid his talent in the ground,
who had said unto his lord, "I knew thee that thou art an hard man,
reaping where thou hadst not sown," was the man without faith, the
atheist who sees only cruelty and indifference in the order of things,
who has no spiritual sight. But to the other servants it was said, "Thou
halt been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many
things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord."

The meaning of life, then, was service, and by life our Lord did not mean
mere human existence, which is only a part of life. The Kingdom of
heaven is a state, and may begin here. And that which we saw around us
was only one expression of that eternal life--a medium to work through,
towards God. All was service, both here and hereafter, and he that had
not discovered that the joy of service was the only happiness worth
living for could have no conception of the Kingdom. To those who knew,
there was no happiness like being able to say, "I have found my place in
God's plan, I am of use." Such was salvation . . . .

And in the parable of the Prodigal Son may be read the history of what
are known as the Protestant nations. What happens logically when the
individual is suddenly freed from the restraint of external authority
occurred when Martin Luther released the vital spark of Christianity,
which he got from Paul, and from Christ himself--the revelation of
individual responsibility, that God the Spirit would dwell, by grace, in
the individual soul. Ah, we had paid a terrible yet necessary price for
freedom. We had wandered far from the Father, we had been reduced to
the very husks of individualism, become as swine. We beheld around us,
to-day, selfishness, ruthless competition, as great contrasts between
misery and luxury as in the days of the Roman Empire. But should we, for
that reason, return to the leading-strings of authority? Could we if we
would? A little thought ought to convince us that the liberation of the
individual could not be revoked, that it had forever destroyed the power
of authority to carry conviction. To go back to the Middle Ages would be
to deteriorate and degenerate. No, we must go on. . . .

Luther's movement, in religion, had been the logical forerunner of
democracy, of universal suffrage in government, the death-knell of that
misinterpretation of Christianity as the bulwark of monarchy and
hierarchy had been sounded when he said, "Ich kann nicht anders!" The new
Republic founded on the western continent had announced to the world the
initiation of the transfer of Authority to the individual soul. God, the
counterpart of the King, the ruler in a high heaven of a flat terrestrial
expanse, outside of the world, was now become the Spirit of a million
spheres, the indwelling spirit in man. Democracy and the religion of
Jesus Christ both consisted in trusting the man--yes, and the woman--whom
God trusts. Christianity was individualism carried beyond philosophy
into religion, and the Christian, the ideal citizen of the democracy, was
free since he served not because he had to, but because he desired to of
his own will, which, paradoxically, is God's will. God was in politics,
to the confusion of politicians; God in government. And in some greater
and higher sense than we had yet perceived, the saying 'vox populi vox
dei' was eternally true. He entered into the hearts of people and moved
them, and so the world progressed. It was the function of the Church to
make Christians, until--when the Kingdom of God should come--the blending
should be complete. Then Church and State would be identical, since all
the members of the one would be the citizens of the other . . . .

"I will arise and go to my father." Rebirth! A sense of responsibility,
of consecration. So we had come painfully through our materialistic
individualism, through our selfish Protestantism, to a glimpse of the
true Protestantism--Democracy.

Our spiritual vision was glowing clearer. We were beginning to perceive
that charity did not consist in dispensing largesse after making a
fortune at the expense of one's fellow-men; that there was something
still wrong in a government that permits it. It was gradually becoming
plain to us, after two thousand years, that human bodies and souls
rotting in tenements were more valuable than all the forests on all the
hills; that government, Christian government, had something to do with
these.

We should embody, in government, those sublime words of the Master,
"Suffer little children to come unto me." And the government of the
future would care for the little children. We were beginning to do it.
Here, as elsewhere, Christianity and reason went hand in hand, for the
child became the man who either preyed on humanity and filled the prisons
and robbed his fellows, or else grew into a useful, healthy citizen. It
was nothing less than sheer folly as well as inhuman cruelty to let the
children sleep in crowded, hot rooms, reeking with diseases, and run wild
throughout the long summer, learning vice in the city streets. And we
still had slavery--economic slavery--yes, and the more horrible slavery
of women and young girls in vice--as much a concern of government as the
problem which had confronted it in 1861 . . . . We were learning that
there was something infinitely more sacred than property . . . .

And now Alison recalled, only to be thrilled again by an electric
sensation she had never before experienced with such intensity, the look
of inspiration on the preacher's face as he closed. The very mists of
the future seemed to break before his importuning gaze, and his eyes
seemed indeed to behold, against the whitening dawn of the spiritual age
he predicted, the slender spires of a new Church sprung from the
foundations of the old. A Church, truly catholic, tolerant, whose
portals were wide in welcome to all mankind. The creative impulse,
he had declared, was invariably religious, the highest art but the
expression of the mute yearnings of a people, of a race. Thus had once
arisen, all over Europe, those wonderful cathedrals which still cast
their spell upon the world, and art to-day would respond--was responding
--to the unutterable cravings of mankind, would strive once more to
express in stone and glass and pigment what nations felt. Generation
after generation would labour with unflagging zeal until the art
sculptured fragment of the new Cathedral--the new Cathedral of Democracy
--pointed upward toward the blue vault of heaven. Such was his vision
--God the Spirit, through man reborn, carrying out his great Design . . .



CHAPTER XXII

"WHICH SAY TO THE SEERS, SEE NOT"


I

As Alison arose from her knees and made her way out of the pew, it was
the expression on Charlotte Plimpton's face which brought her back once
more to a sense of her surroundings; struck her, indeed, like a physical
blow. The expression was a scandalized one. Mrs. Plimpton had moved
towards her, as if to speak, but Alison hurried past, her exaltation
suddenly shattered, replaced by a rising tide of resentment, of angry
amazement against a materialism so solid as to remain unshaken by the
words which had so uplifted her. Eddies were forming in the aisle as
the people streamed slowly out of the church, and snatches of their
conversation, in undertones, reached her ears.

"I should never have believed it!"

"Mr. Hodder, of all men. . ."

"The bishop!"

Outside the swinging doors, in the vestibule, the voices were raised a
little, and she found her path blocked.

"It's incredible!" she heard Gordon Atterbury saying to little Everett
Constable, who was listening gloomily.

"Sheer Unitarianism, socialism, heresy."

His attention was forcibly arrested by Alison, in whose cheeks bright
spots of colour burned. He stepped aside, involuntarily, apologetically,
as though he had instinctively read in her attitude an unaccountable
disdain. Everett Constable bowed uncertainly, for Alison scarcely
noticed them.

"Ahem!" said Gordon, nervously, abandoning his former companion and
joining her, "I was just saying, it's incredible--"

She turned on him.

"It is incredible," she cried, "that persons who call themselves
Christians cannot recognize their religion when they hear it preached."

He gave back before her, visibly, in an astonishment which would have
been ludicrous but for her anger. He had never understood her--such
had been for him her greatest fascination;--and now she was less
comprehensible than ever. The time had been when he would cheerfully
have given over his hope of salvation to have been able to stir her.
He had never seen her stirred, and the sight of her even now in this
condition was uncomfortably agitating. Of all things, an heretical
sermon would appear to have accomplished this miracle!

"Christianity!" he stammered.

"Yes, Christianity." Her voice tingled. "I don't pretend to know much
about it, but Mr. Hodder has at least made it plain that it is something
more than dead dogmas, ceremonies, and superstitions."

He would have said something, but her one thought was to escape, to be
alone. These friends of her childhood were at that moment so distasteful
as to have become hateful. Some one laid a hand upon her arm.

"Can't we take you home, Alison? I don't see your motor."

It was Mrs. Constable.

"No, thanks--I'm going to walk," Alison answered, yet something in Mrs.
Constable's face, in Mrs. Constable's voice, made her pause. Something
new, something oddly sympathetic. Their eyes met, and Alison saw that
the other woman's were tired, almost haggard--yet understanding.

"Mr. Hodder was right--a thousand times right, my dear," she said.

Alison could only stare at her, and the crimson in the bright spots of
her cheeks spread over her face. Why had Mrs. Constable supposed that
she would care to hear the sermon praised? But a second glance put her
in possession of the extraordinary fact that Mrs. Constable herself was
profoundly moved.

"I knew he would change," she went on, "I have seen for some time that he
was too big a man not to change. But I had no conception that he would
have such power, and such courage, as he has shown this morning. It is
not only that he dared to tell us what we were--smaller men might have
done that, and it is comparatively easy to denounce. But he has the
vision to construct, he is a seer himself--he has really made me see
what Christianity is. And as long as I live I shall never forget
those closing sentences."

"And now?" asked Alison. "And now what will happen?"

Mrs. Constable changed colour. Her tact, on which she prided herself,
had deserted her in a moment of unlooked-for emotion.

"Oh, I know that my father and the others will try to put him out--but
can they?" Alison asked.

It was Mrs. Constable's turn to stare. The head she suddenly and
impulsively put forth trembled on Alison's wrist.

"I don't know, Alison--I'm afraid they can. It is too terrible to think
about. . . . And they can't--they won't believe that many changes are
coming, that this is but one of many signs. . . Do come and see me."

Alison left her, marvelling at the passage between them, and that, of all
persons in the congregation of St. John's, the lightning should have
struck Mrs. Constable. . .

Turning to the right on Burton Street, she soon found herself walking
rapidly westward through deserted streets lined by factories and
warehouses, and silent in the Sabbath calm . . . . She thought of
Hodder, she would have liked to go to him in that hour . . . .

In Park Street, luncheon was half over, and Nelson Langmaid was at the
table with her father. The lawyer glanced at her curiously as she
entered the room, and his usual word of banter, she thought, was rather
lame. The two went on, for some time, discussing a railroad suit in
Texas. And Alison, as she hurried through her meal, leaving the dishes
almost untouched, scarcely heard them. Once, in her reverie, her
thoughts reverted to another Sunday when Hodder had sat, an honoured
guest, in the chair which Mr. Langmaid now occupied . . . .

It was not until they got up from the table that her father turned to
her.

"Did you have a good sermon?" he asked.

It was the underlying note of challenge to which she responded.

"The only good sermon I have ever heard."

Their eyes met. Langmaid looked down at the tip of his cigar.

"Mr. Hodder," said Eldon Parr, "is to be congratulated."



II

Hodder, when the service was over, had sought the familiar recess in the
robing-room, the words which he himself had spoken still ringing in his
ears. And then he recalled the desperate prayer with which he had
entered the pulpit, that it might be given him in that hour what to say:
the vivid memories of the passions and miseries in Dalton Street, the
sudden, hot response of indignation at the complacency confronting him.
His voice had trembled with anger . . . . He remembered, as he had
paused in his denunciation of these who had eyes and saw not, meeting the
upturned look of Alison Parr, and his anger had turned to pity for their
blindness--which once had been his own; and he had gone on and on,
striving to interpret for them his new revelation of the message of the
Saviour, to impress upon them the dreadful yet sublime meaning of life
eternal. And it was in that moment the vision of the meaning of the
evolution of his race, of the Prodigal turning to responsibility--of
which he once had had a glimpse--had risen before his eyes in its
completeness--the guiding hand of God in history! The Spirit in these
complacent souls, as yet unstirred . . . .

So complete, now, was his forgetfulness of self, of his future, of the
irrevocable consequences of the step he had taken, that it was only
gradually he became aware that some one was standing near him, and
with a start he recognized McCrae.

"There are some waiting to speak to ye," his assistant said.

"Oh!" Hodder exclaimed. He began, mechanically, to divest himself of his
surplice. McCrae stood by.

"I'd like to say a word, first--if ye don't mind--" he began.

The rector looked at him quickly.

"I'd like just to thank ye for that sermon--I can say no more now," said
McCrae; he turned away, and left the room abruptly.

This characteristic tribute from the inarticulate, loyal Scotchman left
him tingling . . . . He made his way to the door and saw the people
in the choir room, standing silently, in groups, looking toward him.
Some one spoke to him, and he recognized Eleanor Goodrich.

"We couldn't help coming, Mr. Hodder--just to tell you how much we admire
you. It was wonderful, what you said."

He grew hot with gratitude, with thankfulness that there were some who
understood--and that this woman was among them, and her husband . . .
Phil Goodrich took him by the hand.

"I can understand that kind of religion," he said. "And, if necessary,
I can fight for it. I have come to enlist."

"And I can understand it, too," added the sunburned Evelyn. "I hope you
will let me help."

That was all they said, but Hodder understood. Eleanor Goodrich's eyes
were dimmed as she smiled an her sister and her husband--a smile that
bespoke the purest quality of pride. And it was then, as they made way
for others, that the full value of their allegiance was borne in upon
him, and he grasped the fact that the intangible barrier which had
separated him from them had at last been broken down: His look followed
the square shoulders and aggressive, close-cropped head of Phil Goodrich,
the firm, athletic figure of Evelyn, who had represented to him an entire
class of modern young women, vigorous, athletic, with a scorn of cant in
which he secretly sympathized, hitherto frankly untouched by spiritual
interests of any sort. She had, indeed, once bluntly told him that
church meant nothing to her . . . .

In that little company gathered in the choir room were certain members of
his congregation whom, had he taken thought, he would least have expected
to see. There were Mr. and Mrs. Bradley, an elderly couple who had
attended St. John's for thirty years; and others of the same
unpretentious element of his parish who were finding in modern life an
increasingly difficult and bewildering problem. There was little Miss
Tallant, an assiduous guild worker whom he had thought the most orthodox
of persons; Miss Ramsay, who taught the children of the Italian mothers;
Mr. Carton, the organist, a professed free-thinker, with whom Hodder had
had many a futile argument; and Martha Preston, who told him that he had
made her think about religion seriously for the first time in her life.

And there were others, types equally diverse. Young men of the choir,
and others whom he had never seen, who informed him shyly that they would
come again, and bring their friends . . . .

And all the while, in the background, Hodder had been aware of a familiar
face--Horace Bentley's. Beside him, when at length he drew near, was his
friend Asa Waring--a strangely contrasted type. The uncompromising eyes
of a born leader of men flashed from beneath the heavy white eyebrows,
the button of the Legion of Honour gleaming in his well-kept coat seemed
emblematic of the fire which in his youth had driven him forth to fight
for the honour of his country--a fire still undimmed. It was he who
spoke first.

"This is a day I never expected to see, Mr. Hodder," he said, "for it has
brought back to this church the man to whom it owes its existence. Mr.
Bentley did more, by his labour and generosity, his true Christianity,
his charity and his wisdom, for St. John's than any other individual.
It is you who have brought him back, and I wish personally to express
my gratitude."

Mr. Bentley, in mild reproof, laid his hand upon the t, shoulder of his
old friend.

"Ah, Asa," he protested, "you shouldn't say such things."

"Had it not been for Mr. Bentley," Hodder explained, "I should not be
here to-day."

Asa Waring pierced the rector with his eye, appreciating the genuine
feeling with which these words were spoken. And yet his look contained
a question.

"Mr. Bentley," Hodder added, "has been my teacher this summer."

The old gentleman's hand trembled a little on the goldheaded stick.

"It is a matter of more pride to me than I can express, sir, that you are
the rector of this church with which my most cherished memories are
associated," he said. "But I cannot take any part of the credit you give
me for the splendid vision which you have raised up before us to-day, for
your inspired interpretation of history, of the meaning of our own times.
You have moved me, you have given me more hope and courage than I have
had for many a long year--and I thank you, Mr. Hodder. I am sure that
God will prosper and guide you in what you have so nobly undertaken."

Mr. Bentley turned away, walking towards the end of the room . . . .
Asa Waring broke the silence.

"I didn't know that you knew him, that you had seen what he is doing
--what he has done in this city. I cannot trust myself, Mr. Hodder, to
speak of Horace Bentley's life. . . I feel too strongly on the
subject. I have watched, year by year, this detestable spirit of greed,
this lust for money and power creeping over our country, corrupting our
people and institutions, and finally tainting the Church itself. You
have raised your voice against it, and I respect and honour and thank you
for it, the more because you have done it without resorting to sensation,
and apparently with no thought of yourself. And, incidentally, you have
explained the Christian religion to me as I have never had it explained
in my life.

"I need not tell you you have made enemies--powerful ones. I can see
that you are a man, and that you are prepared for them. They will leave
no stone unturned, will neglect no means to put you out and disgrace you.
They will be about your ears to-morrow--this afternoon, perhaps. I need
not remind you that the outcome is doubtful. But I came here to assure
you of my friendship and support in all you hope to accomplish in making
the Church what it should be. In any event, what you have done to-day
will be productive of everlasting good."

In a corner still lingered the group which Mr. Bentley had joined. And
Hodder, as he made his way towards it, recognized the faces of some of
those who composed it. Sally Grower was there, and the young women who
lived in Mr. Bentley's house, and others whose acquaintance he had made
during the summer. Mrs. Garvin had brought little Dicky, incredibly
changed from the wan little figure he had first beheld in the stifling
back room in Dalton Street; not yet robust, but freckled and tanned by
the country sun and wind. The child, whom he had seen constantly in the
interval, ran forward joyfully, and Hodder bent down to take his hand....

These were his friends, emblematic of the new relationship in which he
stood to mankind. And he owed them to Horace Bentley! He wondered, as
he greeted them, whether they knew what their allegiance meant to him in
this hour. But it sufficed that they claimed him as their own.

Behind them all stood Kate Marcy. And it struck him for the first time,
as he gazed at her earnestly, how her appearance had changed. She gave
him a frightened, bewildered look, as though she were unable to identify
him now with the man she had known in the Dalton Street flat, in the
restaurant. She was still struggling, groping, wondering, striving to
accustom herself to the higher light of another world.

"I wanted to come," she faltered. "Sally Grower brought me. . . "

Hodder went back with them to Dalton Street. His new ministry had begun.
And on this, the first day of it, it was fitting that he should sit at
the table of Horace Bentley, even as on that other Sunday, two years
agone, he had gone to the home of the first layman of the diocese,
Eldon Parr.



III

The peace of God passes understanding because sorrow and joy are mingled
therein, sorrow and joy and striving. And thus the joy of emancipation
may be accompanied by a heavy heart. The next morning, when Hodder
entered his study, he sighed as his eye fell upon the unusual pile of
letters on his desk, for their writers had once been his friends. The
inevitable breach had come at last.

Most of the letters, as he had anticipated, were painful reading.
And the silver paper-cutter with which he opened the first had been a
Christmas present from Mrs. Burlingame, who had penned it, a lady of
signal devotion to the church, who for many years had made it her task to
supply and arrange the flowers on the altar. He had amazed and wounded
her--she declared--inexpressibly, and she could no longer remain at St.
John's--for the present, at least. A significant addition. He dropped
the letter, and sat staring out of the window . . . presently arousing
himself, setting himself resolutely to the task of reading the rest.

In the mood in which he found himself he did not atop to philosophize
on the rigid yet sincere attitude of the orthodox. His affection for
many of them curiously remained, though it was with some difficulty he
strove to reconstruct a state of mind with which he had once agreed.
If Christianity were to sweep on, these few unbending but faithful ones
must be sacrificed: such was the law. . . Many, while repudiating his
new beliefs--or unbeliefs!--added, to their regrets of the change in him,
protestations of a continued friendship, a conviction of his sincerity.
Others like Mrs. Atterbury, were frankly outraged and bitter. The
contents of one lilac-bordered envelope brought to his eyes a faint
smile. Did he know--asked the sender of this--could he know the
consternation he had caused in so many persons, including herself?
What was she to believe? And wouldn't he lunch with her on Thursday?

Mrs. Ferguson's letter brought another smile--more thoughtful.
Her incoherent phrases had sprung from the heart, and the picture rose
before him of the stout but frightened, good-natured lady who had never
accustomed herself to the enjoyment of wealth and luxury. Mr. Ferguson
was in such a state, and he must please not tell her husband that she had
written. Yet much in his sermon had struck her as so true. It seemed
wrong to her to have so much, and others so little! And he had made her
remember many things in her early life she had forgotten. She hoped he
would see Mr. Ferguson, and talk to him. . . .

Then there was Mrs. Constable's short note, that troubled and puzzled
him. This, too, had in it an undercurrent of fear, and the memory came
to him of the harrowing afternoon he had once spent with her, when she
would have seemed to have predicted the very thing which had now happened
to him. And yet not that thing. He divined instinctively that a maturer
thought on the subject of his sermon had brought on an uneasiness as the
full consequences of this new teaching had dawned upon her consequences
which she had not foreseen when she had foretold the change. And he
seemed to read between the lines that the renunciation he demanded was
too great. Would he not let her come and talk to him? . . .

Miss Brewer, a lady of no inconsiderable property, was among those who
told him plainly that if he remained they would have to give up their
pews. Three or four communications were even more threatening. Mr.
Alpheus Gore, Mrs. Plimpton's brother, who at five and forty had managed
to triple his share of the Gore inheritance, wrote that it would be his
regretful duty to send to the bishop an Information on the subject of Mr.
Hodder's sermon.

There were, indeed, a few letters which he laid, thankfully, in a pile by
themselves. These were mostly from certain humble members of his parish
who had not followed their impulses to go to him after the service, or
from strangers who had chanced to drop into the church. Some were
autobiographical, such as those of a trained nurse, a stenographer,
a hardware clerk who had sat up late Sunday night to summarize what that
sermon had meant to him, how a gray and hopeless existence had taken on a
new colour. Next Sunday he would bring a friend who lived in the same
boarding house . . . . Hodder read every word of these, and all were
in the same strain: at last they could perceive a meaning to religion,
an application of it to such plodding lives as theirs . . . .

One or two had not understood, but had been stirred, and were coming to
talk to him. Another was filled with a venomous class hatred. . . .

The first intimation he had of the writer of another letter seemed from
the senses rather than the intellect. A warm glow suffused him, mounted
to his temples as he stared at the words, turned over the sheet, and read
at the bottom the not very legible signature. The handwriting, by no
means classic, became then and there indelibly photographed on his brain,
and summed up for him the characteristics, the warring elements in Alison
Parr. "All afternoon," she wrote, "I have been thinking of your sermon.
It was to me very wonderful--it lifted me out of myself. And oh, I want
so much to believe unreservedly what you expressed so finely, that
religion is democracy, or the motive power behind democracy--the service
of humanity by the reborn. I understand it intellectually. I am willing
to work for such a Cause, but there is something in me so hard that I
wonder if it can dissolve. And then I am still unable to identify that
Cause with the Church as at present constituted, with the dogmas and
ceremonies that still exist. I am too thorough a radical to have your
patience. And I am filled with rage--I can think of no milder word--on
coming in contact with the living embodiments of that old creed, who hold
its dogmas so precious. 'Which say to the seers, See not; and to the
prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things,
prophesy deceits.'"

"You see, I have been reading Isaiah, and when I came to that paragraph
it seemed so appropriate. These people have always existed. And will
they not always continue to exist? I wish I could believe, wholly and
unreservedly, that this class, always preponderant in the world, could be
changed, diminished--done away with in a brighter future! I can, at
least, sympathize with Isaiah's wrath.

"What you said of the longing, the yearning which exists to-day amongst
the inarticulate millions moved me most--and of the place of art in
religion, to express that yearning. Religion the motive power of art,
and art, too, service. 'Consider the lilies of the field.' You have made
it, at least, all-comprehensive, have given me a new point of view for
which I can never be sufficiently grateful--and at a time when I needed
it desperately. That you have dared to do what you have done has been
and will be an inspiration, not only to myself, but to many others.
This, is a longer letter, I believe, than I have ever written in my life.
But I wanted you to know."

He reread it twice, pondering over its phrases. "A new point of view....
at a time when I needed it desperately." It was not until then that he
realized the full intensity of his desire for some expression from her
since the moment he had caught sight of her in the church. But he had
not been prepared for the unreserve, the impulsiveness with which she had
actually written. Such was his agitation that he did not heed, at first,
a knock on the door, which was repeated. He thrust the letter inside his
coat as the janitor of the parish house appeared.

"There is a gentleman to see you, sir, in the office," he said.

Hodder went down the stairs. And he anticipated, from the light yet
nervous pacing that he heard on the bare floor, that the visitor was none
other than his vestryman, Mr. Gordon Atterbury. The sight of the
gentleman's spruce figure confirmed the guess.

"Good morning, Mr. Atterbury," he said as he entered.

Mr. Atterbury stopped in his steps, as if he had heard a shot.

"Ah--good morning, Mr. Hodder. I stopped in on my way to the office."

"Sit down," said the rector.

Mr. Atterbury sat down, but with the air of a man who does so under
protest, who had not intended to. He was visibly filled and almost
quivering with an excitement which seemed to demand active expression,
and which the tall clergyman's physical calm and self-possession seemed
to augment. For a moment Mr. Atterbury stared at the rector as he sat
behind his desk. Then he cleared his throat.

"I thought of writing to you, Mr. Hodder. My mother, I believe, has done
so. But it seemed to me, on second thought, better to come to you
direct."

The rector nodded, without venturing to remark on the wisdom of the
course.

"It occurred to me," Mr. Atterbury went on, "that possibly some things I
wish to discuss might--ahem be dispelled in a conversation. That I might
conceivably have misunderstood certain statements in your sermon of
yesterday."

"I tried," said the rector, "to be as clear as possible."

"I thought you might not fully have realized the effect of what you said.
I ought to tell you, I think, that as soon as I reached home I wrote out,
as accurately as I could from memory, the gist of your remarks. And I
must say frankly, although I try to put it mildly, that they appear to
contradict and controvert the doctrines of the Church."

"Which doctrines?" Hodder asked.

Gordon Atterbury sputtered.

"Which doctrines?" he repeated. "Can it be possible that you
misunderstand me? I might refer you to those which you yourself preached
as late as last June, in a sermon which was one of the finest and most
scholarly efforts I ever heard."

"It was on that day, Mr. Atterbury," replied the rector, with a touch of
sadness in his voice, "I made the discovery that fine and scholarly
efforts were not Christianity."

"What do you mean?" Mr. Atterbury demanded.

"I mean that they do not succeed in making Christians."

"And by that you imply that the members of your congregation, those who
have been brought up and baptized and confirmed in this church, are not
Christians?"

"I am sorry to say a great many of them are not," said the rector.

"In other words, you affirm that the sacrament of baptism is of no
account."

"I affirm that baptism with water is not sufficient."

"I'm afraid that this is very grave," Mr. Hodder.

"I quite agree with you," replied the rector, looking straight at his
vestryman.

"And I understood,--" the other went on, clearing his throat once more,
"I think I have it correctly stated in my notes, but I wish to be quite
clear, that you denied the doctrine of the virgin birth."

Hodder made a strong effort to control himself.

"What I have said I have said," he answered, "and I have said it in the
hope that it might make some impression upon the lives of those to whom I
spoke. You were one of them, Mr. Atterbury. And if I repeat and amplify
my meaning now, it must be understood that I have no other object except
that of putting you in the way of seeing that the religion of Christ is
unique in that it is dependent upon no doctrine or dogma, upon no
external or material sign or proof or authority whatever. I am utterly
indifferent to any action you may contemplate taking concerning me. Read
your four Gospels carefully. If we do not arrive, through contemplation
of our Lord's sojourn on this earth, of his triumph over death, of his
message--which illuminates the meaning of our lives here--at that inner
spiritual conversion of which he continually speaks, and which alone will
give us charity, we are not Christians."

"But the doctrines of the Church, which we were taught from childhood to
believe? The doctrines which you once professed, and of which you have
now made such an unlooked-for repudiation!"

"Yes, I have changed," said the rector, gazing seriously at the twitching
figure of his vestryman, "I was bound, body and soul, by those very
doctrines." He roused himself. "But on what grounds do you declare, Mr.
Atterbury," he demanded, somewhat sternly, "that this church is fettered
by an ancient and dogmatic conception of Christianity? Where are you to
find what are called the doctrines of the Church? What may be heresy in
one diocese is not so in another, and I can refer to you volumes written
by ministers of this Church, in good standing, whose published opinions
are the same as those I expressed in my sermon of yesterday. The very
cornerstone of the Church is freedom, but many have yet to discover this,
and we have held in our Communion men of such divergent views as Dr.
Pusey and Phillips Brooks. Mr. Newman, in his Tract Ninety, which was
sincerely written, showed that the Thirty-nine Articles were capable of
almost any theological interpretation. From what authoritative source
are we to draw our doctrines? In the baptismal service the articles of
belief are stated to be in the Apostles' Creed, but nowhere--in this
Church is it defined how their ancient language is to be interpreted.
That is wisely left to the individual. Shall we interpret the Gospels by
the Creeds, which in turn purport to be interpretations of the Gospels?
Or shall we draw our conclusions as to what the Creeds may mean to us by
pondering on the life of Christ, and striving to do his will?
'The letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive.'"

Hodder rose, and stood facing his visitor squarely. He spoke slowly, and
the fact that he made no gesture gave all the more force to his words.

"Hereafter, Mr. Atterbury," he added, "so long as I am rector of this
church, I am going to do my best to carry out the spirit of Christ's
teaching--to make Christians. And there shall be no more compromise,
so far as I can help it."

Gordon Atterbury had grown very pale. He, too, got to his feet.

"I--I cannot trust myself to discuss this matter with you any further, Mr.
Hodder. I feel too deeply--too strongly on the subject. I do not
pretend to account for this astonishing transformation in your opinions.
Up to the present I have deemed St. John's fortunate--peculiarly
fortunate, in having you for its rector. I am bound to say I think you
have not considered, in this change of attitude on your part, those who
have made St. John's what it is, who through long and familiar
association are bound to it by a thousand ties,--those who, like myself,
have what may be called a family interest in this church. My father and
mother were married here, I was baptized here. I think I may go so far
as to add, Mr. Hodder, that this is our church, the church which a
certain group of people have built in which to worship God, as was their
right. Nor do I believe we can be reproached with a lack of hospitality
or charity. We maintain this parish house, with its clubs; and at no
small inconvenience to ourselves we have permitted the church to remain
in this district. There is no better church music in this city, and we
have a beautiful service in the evening at which, all pews are free. It
is not unreasonable that we should have something to say concerning the
doctrine to be preached here, that we should insist that that doctrine be
in accordance with what we have always believed was the true doctrine as
received by this Church."

Up to this point Mr. Atterbury had had a feeling that he had not carried
out with much distinction the programme which he had so carefully
rehearsed on the way to the parish house. Hodder's poise had amazed and
baffled him--he had expected to find the rector on the defensive. But
now, burning anew with a sense of injustice, he had a sense at last of
putting his case strongly.

The feeling of triumph, however, was short lived. Hodder did not reply
at once. So many seconds, indeed, went by that Mr. Atterbury began once
more to grow slightly nervous under the strange gaze to which he was
subjected. And when the clergyman' spoke there was no anger in his
voice, but a quality--a feeling which was disturbing, and difficult to
define.

"You are dealing now, Mr. Atterbury," he said, "with the things of
Caesar, not of God. This church belongs to God--not to you. But you
have consecrated it to him. His truth, as Christ taught it, must not be
preached to suit any man's convenience. When you were young you were not
taught the truth--neither was I. It was mixed with adulterations which
obscured and almost neutralized it. But I intend to face it now, and to
preach it, and not the comfortable compromise which gives us the illusion
that we are Christians because we subscribe to certain tenets, and
permits us to neglect our Christian duties.

"And since you have spoken of charity, let me assure you that there is no
such thing as charity without the transforming, personal touch. It isn't
the bread or instruction or amusement we give people vicariously, but the
effect of our gift--even if that gift be only a cup of cold water--in
illuminating and changing their lives. And it will avail any church
little to have a dozen settlement houses while her members acquiesce in
a State which refuses to relieve her citizens from sickness and poverty.
Charity bends down only to lift others up. And with all our works, our
expenditure and toil, how many have we lifted up?"

Gordon Atterbury's indignation got the better of him. For he was the
last man to behold with patience the shattering of his idols.

"I think you have cast an unwarranted reflection on those who have built
and made this church what it is, Mr. Hodder," he exclaimed. "And that
you will find there are in it many--a great many earnest Christians who
were greatly shocked by the words you spoke yesterday, who will not
tolerate any interference with their faith. I feel it my duty to speak
frankly, Mr Hodder, disagreeable though it be, in view of our former
relations. I must tell you that I am not alone in the opinion that you
should resign. It is the least you can do, in justice to us, in justice
to yourself. There are other bodies--I cannot call them churches--which
doubtless would welcome your liberal, and I must add atrophying,
interpretation of Christianity. And I trust that reflection will
convince you of the folly of pushing this matter to the extreme. We
should greatly deplore the sensational spectacle of St. John's being
involved in an ecclesiastical trial, the unpleasant notoriety into which
it would bring a church hitherto untouched by that sort of thing. And I
ought to tell you that I, among others, am about to send an Information
to the bishop."

Gordon Atterbury hesitated a moment, but getting no reply save an
inclination of the head, took up his hat.

"Ahem--I think that is all I have to say, Mr. Hodder. Good morning."

Even then Hodder did not answer, but rose and held open the door. As he
made his exit under the strange scrutiny of the clergyman's gaze the
little vestryman was plainly uncomfortable. He cleared his throat once
more, halted, and then precipitately departed.

Hodder went to the window and thoughtfully watched the hurrying figure
of Mr. Atterbury until it disappeared, almost skipping, around the corner
. . . . The germ of truth, throughout the centuries, had lost nothing
of its dynamic potentialities. If released and proclaimed it was still
powerful enough to drive the world to insensate anger and opposition....

As he stood there, lost in reflection, a shining automobile drew up at
the curb, and from it descended a firm lady in a tight-fitting suit whom
he recognized as Mrs Wallis Plimpton. A moment later she had invaded the
office--for no less a word may be employed to express her physical
aggressiveness, the glowing health which she radiated.

"Good morning, Mr. Hodder," she said, seating herself in one of the
straight-backed chairs. "I have been so troubled since you preached that
sermon yesterday, I could scarcely sleep. And I made up my mind I'd come
to you the first thing this morning. Mr. Plimpton and I have been
discussing it. In fact, people are talking of nothing else. We dined
with the Laureston Greys last night, and they, too, were full of it."
Charlotte Plimpton looked at him, and the flow of her words suddenly
diminished. And she added, a little lamely for her, "Spiritual matters
in these days are so difficult, aren't they?"

"Spiritual matters always were difficult, Mrs. Plimpton," he said.

"I suppose so," she assented hurriedly, with what was intended for a
smile. "But what I came to ask you is this--what are we to teach our
children?"

"Teach them the truth," the rector replied.

"One of the things which troubled me most was your reference to modern
criticism," she went on, recovering her facility. "I was brought up to
believe that the Bible was true. The governess--Miss Standish, you know,
such a fine type of Englishwoman--reads the children Bible stories every
Sunday evening. They adore them, and little Wallis can repeat them
almost by heart--the pillar of cloud by day, Daniel in the lions' den,
and the Wise Men from the East. If they aren't true, some one ought to
have told us before now."

A note of injury had crept into her voice.

"How do you feel about these things yourself?" Holder inquired.

"How do I feel? Why, I have never thought about them very much--they
were there, in the Bible!"

"You were taught to believe them?"

"Of course," she exclaimed, resenting what seemed a reflection on the
Gore orthodoxy.

"Do they in any manner affect your conduct?"

"My conduct?" she repeated. "I don't know what you mean. I was brought
up in the church, and Mr. Plimpton has always gone, and we are bringing
up the children to go. Is that what you mean?"

"No," Hodder answered, patiently, "that is not what I mean. I ask
whether these stories in any way enter into your life, become part of
you, and tend to make you a more useful woman?"

"Well--I have never considered them in that way," she replied, a little
perplexed.

"Do you believe in them yourself?"

"Why--I don't know,--I've never thought. I don't suppose I do,
absolutely--not in those I have mentioned."

"And you think it right to teach things to your children which you do not
yourself believe?"

"How am I to decide?" she demanded.

"First by finding out yourself what you do believe," he replied, with a
touch of severity.

"Mr. Hodder!" she cried in a scandalized voice, "do you mean to say that
I, who have been brought up in this church, do not know what Christianity
is."

He looked at her and shook his head.

"You must begin by being honest with yourself," he went on, not heeding
her shocked expression. "If you are really in earnest in this matter,
I should be glad to help you all I can. But I warn you there is no
achievement in the world more difficult than that of becoming a,
Christian. It means a conversion of your whole being something which you
cannot now even imagine. It means a consuming desire which,--I fear,--in
consideration of your present mode of life, will be difficult to
acquire."

"My present mode of life!" she gasped.

"Precisely," said the rector. He was silent, regarding, her. There was
discernible not the slightest crack of crevice in the enamel of this
woman's worldly armour.

For the moment her outraged feelings were forgotten. The man had
fascinated her. To be told, in this authoritative manner, that she was
wicked was a new and delightful experience. It brought back to her the
real motive of her visit, which had in reality been inspired not only by
the sermon of the day before, but by sheer curiosity.

"What would you have me do?" she demanded.

"Find yourself."

"Do you mean to say that I am not--myself?" she asked, now completely
bewildered.

"I mean to say that you are nobody until you achieve conviction."

For Charlotte Plimpton, nee Gore, to be told in her own city, by the
rector of her own church that she was nobody was an event hitherto
inconceivable! It was perhaps as extraordinary that she did not resent.
it. Curiosity still led her on.

"Conviction?" she repeated. "But I have conviction, Mr. Hodder. I
believe in the doctrines of the Church."

"Belief!" he exclaimed, and checked himself strongly. "Conviction
through feeling. Not until then will you find what you were put in the
world for."

"But my husband--my children? I try to do my duty."

"You must get a larger conception of it," Hodder replied.

"I suppose you mean," she declared, "that I am to spend the rest of my
life in charity."

"How you would spend the rest of your life would be revealed to you,"
said the rector.

It was the weariness in his tone that piqued her now, the intimation
that he did not believe in her sincerity--had not believed in it from
the first. The life-long vanity of a woman used to be treated with
consideration, to be taken seriously, was aroused. This extraordinary
man had refused to enter into the details which she inquisitively craved.

Charlotte Plimpton rose.

"I shall not bother you any longer at present, Mr. Hodder," she said
sweetly. "I know you must have, this morning especially, a great deal to
trouble you."

He met her scrutiny calmly.

"It is only the things we permit to trouble us that do so, Mrs.
Plimpton," he replied. "My own troubles have arisen largely from a lack
of faith on the part of those whom I feel it is my duty to influence."

It was then she delivered her parting shot, which she repeated, with much
satisfaction, to her husband that evening. She had reached the door.
"Was there a special service at Calvary yesterday?" she asked innocently,
turning back.

"Not that I know of."

"I wondered. Mr. Parr was there; I'm told--and he's never been known
to desert St. John's except on the rarest occasions. But oh, Mr. Hodder,
I must congratulate you on your influence with Alison. When she has been
out here before she never used to come to church at all."



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill


Volume 7.

XXIII.  THE CHOICE
XXIV.   THE VESTRY MEETS
XXV.   "RISE, CROWNED WITH LIGHT!"
XXVI.   THE CURRENT OF LIFE



CHAPTER XXIII

THE CHOICE


I

Pondering over Alison's note, he suddenly recalled and verified some
phrases which had struck him that summer on reading Harnack's celebrated
History of Dogma, and around these he framed his reply. "To act as if
faith in eternal life and in the living Christ was the simplest thing in
the world, or a dogma to which one has to submit, is irreligious. . .
It is Christian to pray that God would give the Spirit to make us strong
to overcome the feelings and the doubts of nature. . . Where this
faith, obtained in this way, exists, it has always been supported by the
conviction that the Man lives who brought life and immortality to light.
To hold fast this faith is the goal of life, for only what we consciously
strive for is in this matter our own. What we think we possess is very
soon lost."

"The feelings and the doubts of nature!" The Divine Discontent, the
striving against the doubt that every honest soul experiences and admits.
Thus the contrast between her and these others who accepted and went
their several ways was brought home to him.

He longed to talk to her, but his days were full. Yet the very thought
of her helped to bear him up as his trials, his problems accumulated; nor
would he at any time have exchanged them for the former false peace which
had been bought (he perceived more and more clearly) at the price of
compromise.

The worst of these trials, perhaps, was a conspicuous article in a
newspaper containing a garbled account of his sermon and of the sensation
it had produced amongst his fashionable parishioners. He had refused to
see the reporter, but he had been made out a hero, a socialistic champion
of the poor. The black headlines were nauseating; and beside them, in
juxtaposition, were pen portraits of himself and of Eldon Parr. There
were rumours that the banker had left the church until the recalcitrant
rector should be driven out of it; the usual long list of Mr. Parr's
benefactions was included, and certain veiled paragraphs concerning his
financial operations. Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Plimpton, Mr. Constable, did not
escape,--although they, too, had refused to be interviewed . . . .

The article brought to the parish house a bevy of reporters who had to be
fought off, and another batch of letters, many of them from ministers, in
approval or condemnation.

His fellow-clergymen called, some to express sympathy and encouragement,
more of them to voice in person indignant and horrified protests. Dr.
Annesley of Calvary--a counterpart of whose rubicund face might have
been found in the Council of Trent or in mediaeval fish-markets
--pronounced his anathemas with his hands folded comfortably over his
stomach, but eventually threw to the winds every vestige of his
ecclesiastical dignity . . . .

Then there came a note from the old bishop, who was traveling. A kindly
note, withal, if non-committal,--to the effect that he had received
certain communications, but that his physician would not permit him to
return for another ten days or so. He would then be glad to see Mr.
Holder and talk with him.

What would the bishop do? Holder's relations with him had been more than
friendly, but whether the bishop's views were sufficiently liberal to
support him in the extreme stand he had taken he could not surmise. For
it meant that the bishop, too, must enter into a conflict with the first
layman of his diocese, of whose hospitality he had so often partaken,
whose contributions had been on so lordly a scale. The bishop was in his
seventieth year, and had hitherto successfully fought any attempt to
supply him with an assistant,--coadjutor or suffragan.

At such times the fear grew upon Hodder that he might be recommended for
trial, forced to abandon his fight to free the Church from the fetters
that bound her: that the implacable hostility of his enemies would rob
him of his opportunity.

Thus ties were broken, many hard things were said and brought to his
ears. There were vacancies in the classes and guilds, absences that
pained him, silences that wrung him. . . .

Of all the conversations he held, that with Mrs. Constable was perhaps
the most illuminating and distressing. As on that other occasion, when
he had gone to her, this visit was under the seal of confession, unknown
to her husband. And Hodder had been taken aback, on seeing her enter his
office, by the very tragedy in her face--the tragedy he had momentarily
beheld once before. He drew up a chair for her, and when she had sat
down she gazed at him some moments without speaking.

"I had to come," she said; "there are some things I feel I must ask you.
For I have been very miserable since I heard you on Sunday."

He nodded gently.

"I knew that you would change your views--become broader, greater. You
may remember that I predicted it."

"Yes," he said.

"I thought you would grow more liberal, less bigoted, if you will allow
me to say so. But I didn't anticipate--" she hesitated, and looked up at
him again.

"That I would take the extreme position I have taken," he assisted her.

"Oh, Mr. Hodder," she cried impulsively, "was it necessary to go so far?
and all at once. I am here not only because I am miserable, but I am
concerned on your account. You hurt me very much that day you came to
me, but you made me your friend. And I wonder if you really understand
the terrible, bitter feeling you have aroused, the powerful enemies you
have made by speaking so--so unreservedly?"

"I was prepared for it," he answered. "Surely, Mrs. Constable, once I
have arrived at what I believe to be the truth, you would not have me
temporize?"

She gave him a wan smile.

"In one respect, at least, you have not changed," she told him. "I am
afraid you are not the temporizing kind. But wasn't there,--mayn't there
still be a way to deal with this fearful situation? You have made it
very hard for us--for them. You have given them no loophole of escape.
And there are many, like me, who do not wish to see your career ruined,
Mr. Hodder."

"Would you prefer," he asked, "to see my soul destroyed? And your own?"

Her lips twitched.

"Isn't there any other way but that? Can't this transformation, which
you say is necessary and vital, come gradually? You carried me away as
I listened to you, I was not myself when I came out of the church.
But I have been thinking ever since. Consider my husband, Mr. Hodder,"
her voice faltered. "I shall not mince matters with you--I know you will
not pretend to misunderstand me. I have never seen him so upset since
since that time Gertrude was married. He is in a most cruel position.
I confessed to you once that Mr. Parr had made for us all the money we
possess. Everett is fond of you, but if he espouses your cause, on the
vestry, we shall be ruined."

Hodder was greatly moved.

"It is not my cause, Mrs. Constable," he said.

"Surely, Christianity is not so harsh and uncompromising as that! And do
you quite do justice to--to some of these men? There was no one to tell
them the wrongs they were committing--if they were indeed wrongs. Our
civilization is far from perfect."

"The Church may have been remiss, mistaken," the rector replied. "But
the Christianity she has taught, adulterated though it were, has never
condoned the acts which have become commonplace in modern finance. There
must have been a time, in the life of every one of these men, when they
had to take that first step against which their consciences revolted,
when they realized that fraud and taking advantage of the ignorant and
weak were wrong. They have deliberately preferred gratification in this
life to spiritual development--if indeed they believe in any future
whatsoever. For 'whosoever will save his life shall lose it' is as true
to-day as it ever was. They have had their choice--they still have it."

"I am to blame," she cried. "I drove my husband to it, I made him think
of riches, it was I who cultivated Mr. Parr. And oh, I suppose I am
justly punished. I have never been happy for one instant since that
day."

He watched her, pityingly, as she wept. But presently she raised her
face, wonderingly.

"You do believe in the future life after--after what you have been
through?"

"I do," he answered simply.

"Yes--I am sure you do. It is that, what you are, convinces me you do.
Even the remarkable and sensible explanation you gave of it when you
interpreted the parable of the talents is not so powerful as the
impression that you yourself believe after thinking it out for yourself
--not accepting the old explanations. And then," she added, with a note
as of surprise, "you are willing to sacrifice everything for it!"

"And you?" he asked. "Cannot you, too, believe to that extent?"

"Everything?" she repeated. "It would mean--poverty. No--God help me
--I cannot face it. I have become too hard. I cannot do without the
world. And even if I could! Oh, you cannot know what you ask Everett,
my husband--I must say it, you make me tell you everything--is not free.
He is little better than a slave to Eldon Parr. I hate Eldon Parr," she
added, with startling inconsequence.

"If I had only known what it would lead to when I made Everett what he
is! But I knew nothing of business, and I wanted money, position to
satisfy my craving at the loss of--that other thing. And now I couldn't
change my husband if I would. He hasn't the courage, he hasn't the
vision. What there was of him, long ago, has been killed--and I killed
it. He isn't--anybody, now."

She relapsed again into weeping.

"And then it might not mean only poverty--it might mean disgrace."

"Disgrace!" the rector involuntarily took up the word.

"There are some things he has done," she said in a low voice, "which he
thought he was obliged to do which Eldon Parr made him do."

"But Mr. Parr, too--?" Hodder began.

"Oh, it was to shield Eldon Parr. They could never be traced to him.
And if they ever came out, it would kill my husband. Tell me," she
implored, "what can I do? What shall I do? You are responsible. You
have made me more bitterly unhappy than ever."

"Are you willing," he asked, after a moment, "to make the supreme
renunciation? to face poverty, and perhaps disgrace, to save your soul
and others?"

"And--others?"

"Yes. Your sacrifice would not, could not be in vain. Otherwise I
should be merely urging on you the individualism which you once advocated
with me."

"Renunciation." She pronounced the word questioningly. "Can
Christianity really mean that--renunciation of the world? Must we take
it in the drastic sense of the Church of the early centuries-the Church
of the Martyrs?"

"Christianity demands all of us, or nothing," he replied. "But the false
interpretation of renunciation of the early Church has cast its blight on
Christianity even to our day. Oriental asceticism, Stoicism, Philo and
other influences distorted Christ's meaning. Renunciation does not mean
asceticism, retirement from the world, a denial of life. And the early
Christian, since he was not a citizen, since he took the view that this
mortal existence was essentially bad and kept his eyes steadfastly fixed
on another, was the victim at once of false philosophies and of the
literal messianic prophecies of the Jews, which were taken over with
Christianity. The earthly kingdom which was to come was to be the result
of some kind of a cataclysm. Personally, I believe our Lord merely used
the Messianic literature as a convenient framework for his spiritual
Kingdom of heaven, and that the Gospels misinterpret his meaning on this
point.

"Renunciation is not the withdrawal from, the denial of life, but the
fulfilment of life, the submission to the divine will and guidance in
order that our work may be shown us. Renunciation is the assumption,
at once, of heavenly and earthly citizenship, of responsibility for
ourselves and our fellow-men. It is the realization that the other
world, the inner, spiritual world, is here, now, and that the soul may
dwell in it before death, while the body and mind work for the coming of
what may be called the collective kingdom. Life looked upon in that way
is not bad, but good,--not meaningless, but luminous."

She had listened hungrily, her eyes fixed upon his face.

"And for me?" she questioned.

"For you," he answered, leaning forward and speaking with a conviction
that shook her profoundly, "if you make the sacrifice of your present
unhappiness, of your misery, all will be revealed. The labour which you
have shirked, which is now hidden from you, will be disclosed, you will
justify your existence by taking your place as an element of the
community. You will be able to say of yourself, at last, 'I am of use.'"

"You mean--social work?"

The likeness of this to Mrs. Plimpton's question struck him. She had
called it "charity." How far had they wandered in their teaching from
the Revelation of the Master, since it was as new and incomprehensible to
these so-called Christians as to Nicodemus himself!

"All Christian work is social, Mrs. Constable, but it is founded on love.
'Thou shaft love thy neighbour as thyself.' You hold your own soul
precious, since it is the shrine of God. And for that reason you hold
equally precious your neighbour's soul. Love comes first, as revelation,
as imparted knowledge, as the divine gist of autonomy--self-government.
And then one cannot help working, socially, at the task for which we are
made by nature most efficient. And in order to discover what that task
is, we must wait."

"Why did not some one tell me this, when I was young?" she asked--not
speaking to him. "It seems so simple."

"It is simple. The difficult thing is to put it into practice--the most
difficult thing in the world. Both courage and faith are required, faith
that is content to trust as to the nature of the reward. It is the
wisdom of foolishness. Have you the courage?"

She pressed her hands together.

"Alone--perhaps I should have. I don't know. But my husband!
I was able to influence him to his destruction, and now I am powerless.
Darkness has closed around me. He would not--he will not listen to me."

"You have tried?"

"I have attempted to talk to him, but the whole of my life contradicts my
words. He cannot see me except as, the woman who drove him into making
money. Sometimes I think he hates me."

Hodder recalled, as his eyes rested on her compassionately, the
sufferings of that other woman in Dalton Street.

"Would you have me desert him--after all these years?" she whispered.
"I often think he would be happier, even now."

"I would have you do nothing save that which God himself will reveal to
you. Go home, go into the church and pray--pray for knowledge. I think
you will find that you are held responsible for your husband. Pray that
that which you have broken, you may mend again."

"Do you think there is a chance?"

Hodder made a gesture.

"God alone can judge as to the extent of his punishments."

She got to her feet, wearily.

"I feel no hope--I feel no courage, but--I will try. I see what you
mean--that my punishment is my powerlessness."

He bent his head.

"You are so strong--perhaps you can help me."

"I shall always be ready," he replied.

He escorted her down the steps to the dark blue brougham with upstanding,
chestnut horses which was waiting at the curb. But Mrs. Constable turned
to the footman, who held open the door.

"You may stay here awhile," she said to him, and gave Hodder her hand....

She went into the church . . . .



II

Asa Waring and his son-in-law, Phil Goodrich, had been to see Hodder on
the subject of the approaching vestry meeting, and both had gone away not
a little astonished and impressed by the calmness with which the rector
looked forward to the conflict. Others of his parishioners, some of whom
were more discreet in their expressions of sympathy, were no less
surprised by his attitude; and even his theological adversaries, such as
Gordon Atterbury, paid him a reluctant tribute. Thanks, perhaps, to the
newspaper comments as much as to any other factor, in the minds of those
of all shades of opinion in the parish the issue had crystallized into a
duel between the rector and Eldon Parr. Bitterly as they resented the
glare of publicity into which St. John's had been dragged, the first
layman of the diocese was not beloved; and the fairer-minded of Hodder's
opponents, though appalled, were forced to admit in their hearts that the
methods by which Mr. Parr had made his fortune and gained his ascendency
would not bear scrutiny . . . . Some of them were disturbed, indeed,
by the discovery that there had come about in them, by imperceptible
degrees, in the last few years a new and critical attitude towards the
ways of modern finance: moat of them had an uncomfortable feeling that
Hodder was somehow right,--a feeling which they sought to stifle when
they reflected upon the consequences of facing it. For this would mean
a disagreeable shaking up of their own lives. Few of them were in a
position whence they might cast stones at Eldon Parr . . . .

What these did not grasp was the fact that that which they felt stirring
within them was the new and spiritual product of the dawning twentieth
century--the Social Conscience. They wished heartily that the new rector
who had developed this disquieting personality would peacefully resign
and leave them to the former, even tenor of their lives. They did not
for one moment doubt the outcome of his struggle with Eldon Parr. The
great banker was known to be relentless, his name was synonymous with
victory. And yet, paradoxically, Hodder compelled their inner sympathy
and admiration! . . .

Some of them, who did not attempt peremptorily to choke the a processes
made the startling discovery that they were not, after all, so shocked by
his doctrines as they had at first supposed. The trouble was that they
could not continue to listen to him, as formerly, with comfort.... One
thing was certain, that they had never expected to look forward to a
vestry meeting with such breathless interest and anxiety. This clergyman
had suddenly accomplished the surprising feat of reviving the Church as a
burning, vital factor in the life of the community! He had discerned her
enemy, and defied his power . . . .

As for Hodder, so absorbed had he been by his experiences, so wrung by
the human contacts, the personal problems which he had sought to enter,
that he had actually given no thought to the battle before him until
the autumn afternoon, heavy with smoke, had settled down into darkness.
The weather was damp and cold, and he sat musing on the ordeal now
abruptly confronting him before his study fire when he heard a step
behind him. He turned to recognize, by the glow of the embers, the heavy
figure of Nelson Langmaid.

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Hodder," he said. "The janitor said you
were in, and your door is open."

"Not at all," replied the rector, rising. As he stood for a moment
facing the lawyer, the thought of their friendship, and how it had begun
in the little rectory overlooking the lake at Bremerton, was uppermost in
his mind,--yes, and the memory of many friendly, literary discussions in
the same room where they now stood, of pleasant dinners at Langmaid's
house in the West End, when the two of them had often sat talking until
late into the nights.

"I must seem very inhospitable," said Hodder. "I'll light the lamp--it's
pleasanter than the electric light."

The added illumination at first revealed the lawyer in his familiar
aspect, the broad shoulders, the big, reddish beard, the dome-like head,
--the generous person that seemed to radiate scholarly benignity, peace,
and good-will. But almost instantly the rector became aware of a new and
troubled, puzzled glance from behind the round spectacles. . ."

"I thought I'd drop in a moment on my way up town--" he began. And the
note of uncertainty in his voice, too, was new. Hodder drew towards the
fire the big chair in which it had been Langmaid's wont to sit, and
perhaps it was the sight of this operation that loosed the lawyer's
tongue.

"Confound it, Hodder!" he exclaimed, "I like you--I always have liked
you. And you've got a hundred times the ability of the average
clergyman. Why in the world did you have to go and make all this
trouble?"

By so characteristic a remark Hodder was both amused and moved. It
revealed so perfectly the point of view and predicament of the lawyer,
and it was also an expression of an affection which the rector cordially,
returned . . . . Before answering, he placed his visitor in the
chair, and the deliberation of the act was a revelation of the
unconscious poise of the clergyman. The spectacle of this self-command
on the brink of such a crucial event as the vestry meeting had taken
Langmaid aback more than he cared to show. He had lost the old sense of
comradeship, of easy equality; and he had the odd feeling of dealing with
a new man, at once familiar and unfamiliar, who had somehow lifted
himself out of the everyday element in which they heretofore had met.
The clergyman had contrived to step out of his, Langmaid's, experience:
had actually set him--who all his life had known no difficulty in dealing
with men--to groping for a medium of communication . . . .

Hodder sat down on the other side of the fireplace. He, too, seemed to
be striving for a common footing.

"It was a question of proclaiming the truth when at last I came to see
it, Langmaid. I could not help doing what I did. Matters of policy,
of a false consideration for individuals could not enter into it.
If this were not so, I should gladly admit that you had a just grievance,
a peculiar right to demand why I had not remained the strictly orthodox
person whom you induced to come here. You had every reason to
congratulate yourself that you were getting what you doubtless would call
a safe man."

"I'll admit I had a twinge of uneasiness after I came home," Langmaid
confessed.

Hodder smiled at his frankness.

"But that disappeared."

"Yes, it disappeared. You seemed to suit 'em so perfectly. I'll own up,
Hodder, that I was a little hurt that you did not come and talk to me
just before you took the extraordinary--before you changed your
opinions."

"Would it have done any good?" asked the rector, gently. "Would you
have agreed with me any better than you do now? I am perfectly willing,
if you wish, to discuss with you any views of mine which you may not
indorse. And it would make me very happy, I assure you, if I could bring
you to look upon the matter as I do."

This was a poser. And whether it were ingenuous, or had in it an element
of the scriptural wisdom of the serpent, Langmaid could not have said.
As a lawyer, he admired it.

"I wasn't in church, as usual,--I didn't hear the sermon," he replied.
"And I never could make head or tail of theology--I always told you that.
What I deplore, Hodder, is that you've contrived to make a hornets' nest
out of the most peaceful and contented congregation in America. Couldn't
you have managed to stick to religion instead of getting mixed up with
socialism?"

"So you have been given the idea that my sermon was socialistic?" the
rector said.

"Socialistic and heretical,--it seems. Of course I'm not much of an
authority on heresy, but they claim that you went out of your way to
knock some of their most cherished and sacred beliefs in the head."

"But suppose I have come to the honest conclusion that in the first
place these so-called cherished beliefs have no foundation in fact,
and no influence on the lives of the persons who cherished them, no real
connection with Christianity? What would you have me do, as a man?
Continue to preach them for the sake of the lethargic peace of which
you speak? leave the church paralyzed, as I found it?"

"Paralyzed! You've got the most influential people in the city."

Hodder regarded him for a while without replying.

"So has the Willesden Club," he said.

Langmaid laughed a little, uncomfortably.

"If Christianity, as one of the ancient popes is said to have remarked,
were merely a profitable fable," the rector continued, "there might be
something in your contention that St. John's, as a church, had reached
the pinnacle of success. But let us ignore the spiritual side of this
matter as non-vital, and consider it from the practical side. We have
the most influential people in the city, but we have not their children.
That does not promise well for the future. The children get more profit
out of the country clubs. And then there is another question: is it
going to continue to be profitable? Is it as profitable now as it was,
say, twenty years ago?

"You've got out of my depth," said Nelson Langmaid.

"I'll try to explain. As a man of affairs, I think you will admit, if
you reflect, that the return of St. John's, considering the large amount
of money invested, is scarcely worth considering. And I am surprised
that as astute a man as Mr. Pair has not been able to see this long ago.
If we clear all the cobwebs away, what is the real function of this
church as at present constituted? Why this heavy expenditure to maintain
religious services for a handful of people? Is it not, when we come down
to facts, an increasingly futile effort to bring the influences of
religion--of superstition, if you will--to bear on the so-called lower
classes in order that they may remain contented with their lot, with that
station and condition in the world where--it is argued--it has pleased
God to call them? If that were not so, in my opinion there are very few
of the privileged classes who would invest a dollar in the Church. And
the proof of it is that the moment a clergyman raises his voice to
proclaim the true message of Christianity they are up in arms with the
cry of socialism. They have the sense to see that their privileges are
immediately threatened.

"Looking at it from the financial side, it would be cheaper for them to
close up their churches. It is a mere waste of time and money, because
the influence on their less fortunate brethren in a worldly sense has
dwindled to nothing. Few of the poor come near their churches in these
days. The profitable fable is almost played out."

Hodder had spoken without bitterness, yet his irony was by no means lost
on the lawyer. Langmaid, if the truth be told, found himself for the
moment in the unusual predicament of being at a loss, for the rector had
put forward with more or less precision the very cynical view which he
himself had been clever enough to evolve.

"Haven't they the right," he asked, somewhat lamely to demand the kind of
religion they pay for?"

"Provided you don't call it religion," said the rector.

Langmaid smiled in spite of himself.

"See here, Hodder," he said, "I've always confessed frankly that I knew
little or nothing about religion. I've come here this evening as your
friend, without authority from anybody," he added significantly, "to see
if this thing couldn't somehow be adjusted peaceably, for your sake as
well as others'. Come, you must admit there's a grain of justice in the
contention against you. When I went on to Bremerton to get you I had no
real reason for supposing that these views would develop. I made a
contract with you in all good faith."

"And I with you," answered the rector. "Perhaps you do not realize,
Langmaid, what has been the chief factor in developing these views."

The lawyer was silent, from caution.

"I must be frank with you. It was the discovery that Mr. Parr and others
of my chief parishioners were so far from being Christians as to indulge,
while they supported the Church of Christ, in operations like that of the
Consolidated Tractions Company, wronging their fellow-men and condemning
them to misery and hate. And that you, as a lawyer, used your talents to
make that operation possible."

"Hold on!" cried Langmaid, now plainly agitated. "You have no right--you
can know nothing of that affair. You do not understand business."

"I'm afraid," replied the rector, sadly, "that I understand one side of
it only too well."

"The Church has no right to meddle outside of her sphere, to dictate to
politics and business."

"Her sphere," said Holder,--is the world. If she does not change the
world by sending out Christians into it, she would better close her
doors."

"Well, I don't intend to quarrel with you, Holder. I suppose it can't be
helped that we look at these things differently, and I don't intend to
enter into a defence of business. It would take too long, and it
wouldn't help any." He got to his feet. "Whatever happens, it won't
interfere with our personal friendship, even if you think me a highwayman
and I think you a--"

"A fanatic," Holder supplied. He had risen, too, and stood, with a smile
on his face, gazing at the lawyer with an odd scrutiny.

"An idealist, I was going to say," Langmaid answered, returning the
smile, "I'll admit that we need them in the world. It's only when one
of them gets in the gear-box . . . ."

The rector laughed. And thus they stood, facing each other.

"Langmaid," Holder asked, "don't you ever get tired and disgusted with
the Juggernaut car?"

The big lawyer continued to smile, but a sheepish, almost boyish
expression came over his face. He had not credited the clergyman with
so much astuteness.

"Business, nowadays, is--business, Holder. The Juggernaut car claims us
all. It has become-if you will permit me to continue to put my similes
into slang--the modern band wagon. And we lawyers have to get on it, or
fall by the wayside."

Holder stared into the fire.

"I appreciate your motive in coming here," he said, at length, "and I do
you the justice of believing it was friendly, that the fact that you are,
in a way, responsible for me to--to the congregation of St. John's did
not enter into it. I realize that I have made matters particularly
awkward for you. You have given them in me, and in good faith, something
they didn't bargain for. You haven't said so, but you want me to resign.
On the one hand, you don't care to see me tilting at the windmills, or,
better, drawing down on my head the thunderbolts of your gods. On the
other hand, you are just a little afraid for your gods. If the question
in dispute were merely an academic one, I'd accommodate you at once. But
I can't. I've thought it all out, and I have made up my mind that it is
my clear duty to remain here and, if I am strong enough, wrest this
church from the grip of Eldon Parr and the men whom he controls.

"I am speaking plainly, and I understand the situation thoroughly. You
will probably tell me, as others have done, that no one has ever opposed
Eldon Parr who has not been crushed. I go in with my eyes open, I am
willing to be crushed, if necessary. You have come here to warn me, and
I appreciate your motive. Now I am going to warn you, in all sincerity
and friendship. I may be beaten, I may be driven out. But the victory
will be mine nevertheless. Eldon Parr and the men who stand with him in
the struggle will never recover from the blow I shall give them. I shall
leave them crippled because I have the truth on my side, and the truth
is irresistible. And they shall not be able to injure me permanently.
And you, I regret deeply to say, will be hurt, too. I beg you, for no
selfish reason, to consider again the part you intend to play in this
affair."

Such was the conviction, such the unlooked-for fire with which the rector
spoke that Langmaid was visibly shaken and taken aback in spite of
himself.

"Do you mean," he demanded, when he had caught his breath, "that you
intend to attack us publicly?"

"Is that the only punishment you can conceive of?" the rector asked. The
reproach in his voice was in itself a denial.

"I beg your pardon, Hodder," said the lawyer, quickly. "And I am sure
you honestly believe what you say, but--"

"In your heart you, too, believe it, Langmaid. The retribution has
already begun. Nevertheless you will go on--for a while." He held out
his hand, which Langmaid took mechanically. "I bear you no ill-will.
I am sorry that you cannot yet see with sufficient clearness to save
yourself."

Langmaid turned and picked up his hat and stick and left the room without
another word. The bewildered, wistful look which had replaced the
ordinarily benign and cheerful expression haunted Hodder long after
the lawyer had gone. It was the look of a man who has somehow lost
his consciousness of power.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE VESTRY MEETS

At nine o'clock that evening Hodder stood alone in the arched vestry
room, and the sight of the heavy Gothic chairs ranged about the long
table brought up memories of comfortable, genial meetings prolonged by
chat and banter.... The noise of feet, of subdued voices beside the coat
room in the corridor, aroused him. All of the vestry would seem to have
arrived at once.

He regarded them with a detached curiosity as they entered, reading them
with a new insight. The trace of off-handedness in Mr. Plimpton's former
cordiality was not lost upon him--an intimation that his star had set.
Mr. Plimpton had seen many breaches healed--had healed many himself. But
he had never been known as a champion of lost causes.

"Well, here we are, Mr. Hodder, on the stroke," he remarked.
"As a vestry, I think we're entitled to the first prize for promptness.
How about it, Everett?"

Everett Constable was silent.

"Good evening, Mr. Hodder," he said. He did not offer to shake hands,
as Mr. Plimpton had done, but sat down at the far end of the table.
He looked tired and worn; sick, the rector thought, and felt a sudden
swelling of compassion for the pompous little man whose fibre was not
as tough as that of these other condottieri: as Francis Ferguson's, for
instance, although his soft hand and pink and white face framed in the
black whiskers would seem to belie any fibre whatever.

Gordon Atterbury hemmed and hawed,--"Ah, Mr. Hodder," and seated himself
beside Mr. Constable, in a chair designed to accommodate a portly bishop.
Both of them started nervously as Asa Waring, holding his head high, as a
man should who has kept his birthright, went directly to the rector.

"I'm glad to see you, Mr. Hodder," he said, and turning defiantly,
surveyed the room. There was an awkward silence. Mr. Plimpton edged
a little nearer. The decree might have gone forth for Mr. Hodder's
destruction, but Asa Waring was a man whose displeasure was not to be
lightly incurred.

"What's this I hear about your moving out of Hamilton Place, Mr. Waring?
You'd better come up and take the Spaulding lot, in Waverley, across from
us."

"I am an old man, Mr. Plimpton," Asa Waring replied. "I do not move as
easily as some other people in these days."

Everett Constable produced his handkerchief and rubbed his nose
violently. But Mr. Plimpton was apparently undaunted.

"I have always said," he observed, "that there was something very fine in
your sticking to that neighbourhood after your friends had gone. Here's
Phil!"

Phil Goodrich looked positively belligerent, and as he took his stand
on the other side of Hodder his father-in-law smiled at him grimly.
Mr. Goodrich took hold of the rector's arm.

"I missed one or two meetings last spring, Mr. Hodder," he said, "but I'm
going to be on hand after this. My father, I believe, never missed a
vestry meeting in his life. Perhaps that was because they used to hold
most of 'em at his house."

"And serve port and cigars, I'm told," Mr. Plimpton put in.

"That was an inducement, Wallis, I'll admit," answered Phil. "But there
are even greater inducements now."

In view of Phil Goodrich's well-known liking for a fight, this was too
pointed to admit of a reply, but Mr. Plimpton was spared the attempt by
the entrance of. Nelson Langmaid. The lawyer, as he greeted them,
seemed to be preoccupied, nor did he seek to relieve the tension with
his customary joke. A few moments of silence followed, when Eldon Parr
was seen to be standing in the doorway, surveying them.

"Good evening, gentlemen," he said coldly, and without more ado went to
his customary chair, and sat down in it. Immediately followed a scraping
of other chairs. There was a dominating quality about the man not to be
gainsaid.

The rector called the meeting to order . . . .

During the routine business none of the little asides occurred which
produce laughter. Every man in the room was aware of the intensity of
Eldon Parr's animosity, and yet he betrayed it neither by voice, look,
or gesture. There was something uncanny in this self-control, this sang
froid with which he was wont to sit at boards waiting unmoved for the
time when he should draw his net about his enemies, and strangle them
without pity. It got on Langmaid's nerves--hardened as he was to it.
He had seen many men in that net; some had struggled, some had taken
their annihilation stoically; honest merchants, freebooters, and
brigands. Most of them had gone out, with their families, into that
precarious border-land of existence in which the to-morrows are ever
dreaded.

Yet here, somehow, was a different case. Langmaid found himself going
back to the days when his mother had taken him to church, and he could
not bear to look at, Hodder. Since six o'clock that afternoon--had his
companions but known it--he had passed through one of the worst periods
of his existence. . . .

After the regular business had been disposed of a brief interval was
allowed, for the sake of decency, to ensue. That Eldon Parr would not
lead the charge in person was a foregone conclusion. Whom, then, would
he put forward? For obvious reasons, not Wallis Plimpton or Langmaid,
nor Francis Ferguson. Hodder found his, glance unconsciously fixed upon
Everett Constable, who, moved nervously and slowly pushed back his chair.
He was called upon, in this hour and in the church his father had helped
to found, to make the supreme payment for the years of financial
prosperity. Although a little man, with his shoulders thrown back and
his head high, he generally looked impressive when he spoke, and his fine
features and clear-cut English contributed to the effect. But now his
face was strained, and his voice seemed to lack command as he bowed and
mentioned the rector's name. Eldon Parr sat back.

"Gentlemen," Mr. Constable began, "I feel it my duty to say something
this evening, something that distresses me. Like some of you who are
here present, I have been on this vestry for many years, and my father
was on it before me. I was brought up under Dr. Gilman, of whom I need
not speak. All here, except our present rector, knew him. This church,
St. John's, has been a part--a--large part--of my life. And anything
that seems to touch its welfare, touches me.

"When Dr. Gilman died, after so many years of faithful service, we faced
a grave problem,--that of obtaining a young man of ability, an active man
who would be able to assume the responsibilities of a large and growing
parish, and at the same time carry on its traditions, precious to us all;
one who believed in and preached, I need scarcely add, the accepted
doctrines of the Church, which we have been taught to think are sacred
and necessary to salvation. And in the discovery of the Reverend Mr.
Hodder, we had reason to congratulate ourselves and the parish. He was
all that we had hoped for, and more. His sermons were at once a pleasure
and an instruction.

"I wish to make it clear," he continued, "that in spite of the pain Mr.
Hodder's words of last Sunday have given me, I respect and honour him
still, and wish him every success. But, gentlemen, I think it is plain
to all of you that he has changed his religious convictions. As to the
causes through which that change has come about, I do not pretend to
know. To say the least, the transition is a startling one, one for which
some of us were totally unprepared. To speak restrainedly, it was a
shock--a shock which I shall remember as long as I live.

"I need not go into the doctrinal question here, except to express my
opinion that the fundamental facts of our religion were contradicted.
And we have also to consider the effect of this preaching on coming
generations for whom we are responsible. There are, no doubt, other
fields for Mr. Hodder's usefulness. But I think it may safely be taken
as a principle that this parish has the right to demand from the pulpit
that orthodox teaching which suits it, and to which it has been
accustomed. And I venture further to give it as my opinion--to put it
mildly that others have been as disturbed and shocked as I. I have seen
many, talked with many, since Sunday. For these reasons, with much
sorrow and regret, I venture to suggest to the vestry that Mr. Hodder
resign as our rector. And I may add what I believe to be the feeling
of all present, that we have nothing but good will for him, although
we think we might have been informed of what he intended to do.

"And that in requesting him to resign we are acting for his own good as
well as our own, and are thus avoiding a situation which threatens to
become impossible,--one which would bring serious reflection on him and
calamity on the church. We already, in certain articles in the
newspapers, have had an indication of the intolerable notoriety we may
expect, although I hold Mr. Hodder innocent in regard to those articles.
I am sure he will have the good sense to see this situation as I see it,
as the majority of the parish see it."

Mr. Constable sat down, breathing hard. He had not looked at the rector
during the whole of his speech, nor at Eldon Parr. There was a heavy
silence, and then Philip Goodrich rose, square, clean-cut, aggressive.

"I, too, gentlemen, have had life-long association with this church," he
began deliberately. "And for Mr. Hodder's sake I am going to give you a
little of my personal history, because I think it typical of thousands of
men of my age all over this country. It was nobody's fault, perhaps,
that I was taught that the Christian religion depended on a certain
series of nature miracles and a chain of historical events, and when I
went East to school I had more of this same sort of instruction. I have
never, perhaps, been overburdened with intellect, but the time arrived
nevertheless when I began to think for myself. Some of the older boys
went once, I remember, to the rector of the school--a dear old man--and
frankly stated our troubles. To use a modern expression, he stood pat on
everything. I do not say it was a consciously criminal act, he probably
saw no way out himself. At any rate, he made us all agnostics at one
stroke.

"What I learned in college of science and history and philosophy merely
confirmed me in my agnosticism. As a complete system for the making of
atheists and materialists, I commend the education which I received. If
there is any man here who believes religion to be an essential factor in
life, I ask him to think of his children or grandchildren before he comes
forward to the support of Mr. Constable.

"In that sermon which he preached last Sunday, Mr. Hodder, for the first
time in my life, made Christianity intelligible to me. I want him to
know it. And there are other men and women in that congregation who
feel as I do. Gentlemen, there is nothing I would not give to have had
Christianity put before me in that simple and inspiring way when I was
a boy. And in my opinion St. John's is more fortunate to-day than it
ever has been in its existence. Mr. Hodder should have an unanimous
testimonial of appreciation from this vestry for his courage. And if the
vote requesting him to resign prevails, I venture to predict that there
is not a man on this vestry who will not live to regret it."

Phil Goodrich glared at Eldon Parr, who remained unmoved.

"Permit me to add," he said, "that this controversy, in other respects
than doctrine, is more befitting to the Middle Ages than to the twentieth
century, when this Church and other denominations are passing resolutions
in their national conventions with a view to unity and freedom of
belief."

Mr. Langmaid, Mr. Plimpton, and Mr. Constable sat still. Mr. Ferguson
made no move. It was Gordon Atterbury who rushed into the breach, and
proved that the extremists are allies of doubtful value.

He had, apparently, not been idle since Sunday, and was armed cap-a pie
with time-worn arguments that need not be set down. All of which went to
show that Mr. Goodrich had not referred to the Middle Ages in vain. For
Gordon Atterbury was a born school-man. But he finished by declaring, at
the end of twenty minutes (much as he regretted the necessity of saying
it), that Mr. Hodder's continuance as rector would mean the ruin of the
church in which all present took such a pride. That the great majority
of its members would never submit to what was so plainly heresy.

It was then that Mr. Plimpton gathered courage to pour oil on the waters.
There was nothing, in his opinion, he remarked smilingly, in his function
as peacemaker, to warrant anything but the most friendly interchange of
views. He was second to none in his regard for Mr. Hodder, in his
admiration for a man who had the courage of his convictions. He had not
the least doubt that Mr. Hodder did not desire to remain in the parish
when it was so apparent that the doctrines which he now preached were not
acceptable to most of those who supported the church. And he added (with
sublime magnanimity) that he wished Mr. Hodder the success which he was
sure he deserved, and gave him every assurance of his friendship.

Asa Waring was about to rise, when he perceived that Hodder himself was
on his feet. And the eyes of every man, save one, were fixed on him
irresistibly. The rector seemed unaware of it. It was Philip Goodrich
who remarked to his father-in-law, as they walked home afterwards, of the
sense he had had at that moment that there were just two men in the
room,--Hodder and Eldon Parr. All the rest were ciphers; all had lost,
momentarily, their feelings of partisanship and were conscious only of
these two intense, radiating, opposing centres of force; and no man,
oddly enough, could say which was the stronger. They seemingly met on
equal terms. There could not be the slightest doubt that the rector did
not mean to yield, and yet they might have been puzzled if they had asked
themselves how they had read the fact in his face or manner. For he
betrayed neither anger nor impatience.

No more did the financier reveal his own feelings. He still sat back in
his chair, unmoved, in apparent contemplation. The posture was familiar
to Langmaid.

Would he destroy, too, this clergyman? For the first time in his life,
and as he looked at Hodder, the lawyer wondered. Hodder did not defend
himself, made no apologies. Christianity was not a collection of
doctrines, he reminded them,--but a mode of life. If anything were clear
to him, it was that the present situation was not, with the majority of
them, a matter of doctrines, but of unwillingness to accept the message
and precept of Jesus Christ, and lead Christian lives. They had made use
of the doctrines as a stalking-horse.

There was a stir at this, and Hodder paused a moment and glanced around
the table. But no one interrupted.

He was fully aware of his rights, and he had no intention of resigning.
To resign would be to abandon the work for which he was responsible, not
to them, but to God. And he was perfectly willing--nay, eager to defend
his Christianity before any ecclesiastical court, should the bishop
decide that a court was necessary. The day of freedom, of a truer vision
was at hand, the day of Christian unity on the vital truths, and no
better proof of it could be brought forward than the change in him.
In his ignorance and blindness he had hitherto permitted compromise, but
he would no longer allow those who made only an outward pretence of being
Christians to direct the spiritual affairs of St. John's, to say what
should and what should not be preached. This was to continue to paralyze
the usefulness of the church, to set at naught her mission, to alienate
those who most had need of her, who hungered and thirsted after
righteousness, and went away unsatisfied.

He had hardly resumed his seat when Everett Constable got up again. He
remarked, somewhat unsteadily, that to prolong the controversy would be
useless and painful to all concerned, and he infinitely regretted the
necessity of putting his suggestion that the rector resign in the form of
a resolution . . . . The vote was taken. Six men raised their hands
in favour of his resignation--Nelson Langmaid among them: two, Asa Waring
and Philip Goodrich, were against it. After announcing the result,
Hodder rose.

"For the reason I have stated, gentlemen, I decline to resign," he said.
"I stand upon my canonical rights."

Francis Ferguson arose, his voice actually trembling with anger. There
is something uncanny in the passion of a man whose life has been ordered
by the inexorable rules of commerce, who has been wont to decide all
questions from the standpoint of dollars and cents. If one of his own
wax models had suddenly become animated, the effect could not have been
more startling.

In the course of this discussion, he declared, Mr. Hodder had seen fit to
make grave and in his opinion unwarranted charges concerning the lives of
some, if not all, of the gentlemen who sat here. It surprised him that
these remarks had not been resented, but he praised a Christian
forbearance on the part of his colleagues which he was unable to achieve.
He had no doubt that their object had been to spare Mr. Hodder's feelings
as much as possible, but Mr. Hodder had shown no disposition to spare
their own. He had outraged them, Mr. Ferguson thought,--wantonly so.
He had made these preposterous and unchristian charges an excuse for his
determination to remain in a position where his usefulness had ceased.

No one, unfortunately, was perfect in this life,--not even Mr. Hodder.
He, Francis Ferguson, was far from claiming to be so. But he believed
that this arraignment of the men who stood highest in the city for
decency, law, and order, who supported the Church, who revered its
doctrines, who tried to live Christian lives, who gave their time and
their money freely to it and to charities, that this arraignment was an
arrogant accusation and affront to be repudiated. He demanded that Mr.
Hodder be definite. If he had any charges to make, let him make them
here and now.

The consternation, the horror which succeeded such a stupid and
unexpected tactical blunder on the part of the usually astute
Mr. Ferguson were felt rather than visually discerned. The atmosphere
might have been described as panicky. Asa Waring and Phil Goodrich
smiled as Wallis Plimpton, after a moment's hush, scrambled to his feet,
his face pale, his customary easiness and nonchalance now the result of
an obvious effort. He, too, tried to smile, but swallowed instead as he
remembered his property in Dalton Street . . . . Nelson Langmaid
smiled, in spite of himself. . . Mr. Plimpton implored his
fellow-members not to bring personalities into the debate, and he was
aware all the while of the curious, pitying expression of the rector. He
breathed a sigh of relief at the opening words of Hodder, who followed
him.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I have no intention of being personal, even by
unanimous consent. But if Mr. Ferguson will come to me after this
meeting I shall have not the least objection to discussing this matter
with him in so far as he himself is concerned. I can only assure you
now that I have not spoken without warrant."

There was, oddly enough, no acceptance of this offer by Mr. Ferguson.
Another silence ensued, broken, at last, by a voice for which they had
all been unconsciously waiting; a voice which, though unemotional, cold,
and matter-of-fact, was nevertheless commanding, and long accustomed to
speak with an overwhelming authority. Eldon Parr did not rise.

"Mr. Hodder," he said, "in one respect seems to be under the delusion
that we are still in the Middle Ages, instead of the twentieth century,
since he assumes the right to meddle with the lives of his parishioners,
to be the sole judge of their actions. That assumption will not, be
tolerated by free men. I, for one, gentlemen, do not, propose to have
a socialist for the rector of the church which I attend and support. And
I maintain the privilege of an American citizen to set my own standards,
within the law, and to be the sole arbitrar of those standards."

"Good!" muttered Gordon Atterbury. Langmaid moved uncomfortably.

"I shall not waste words," the financier continued. "There is in my
mind no question that we are justified in demanding from our rector the
Christian doctrines to which we have given our assent, and which are
stated in the Creeds. That they shall be subject to the whims of the
rector is beyond argument. I do not pretend to, understand either,
gentlemen, the nature of the extraordinary change that has taken place
in the rector of St. John's. I am not well versed m psychology. I am
incapable of flights myself. One effect of this change is an attitude
on which reasonable considerations would seem to have no effect.

"Our resources, fortunately, are not yet at an end. It has been
my hope, on account of my former friendship with Mr. Hodder, that an
ecclesiastical trial might not be necessary. It now seems inevitable.
In the meantime, since Mr. Hodder has seen fit to remain in spite of
our protest, I do not intend to enter this church. I was prepared,
gentlemen, as some of you no doubt know, to spend a considerable sum in
adding to the beauty of St. John's and to the charitable activities of
the parish. Mr. Hodder has not disapproved of my gifts in the past, but
owing to his present scruples concerning my worthiness, I naturally
hesitate to press the matter now." Mr. Parr indulged in the semblance of
a smile. "I fear that he must take the responsibility of delaying this
benefit, with the other responsibilities he has assumed."

His voice changed. It became sharper.

"In short, I propose to withhold all contributions for whatever purpose
from this church while Mr. Hodder is rector, and I advise those of you
who have voted for his resignation to do the same. In the meantime,
I shall give my money to Calvary, and attend its services. And I shall
offer further a resolution--which I am informed is within our right--to
discontinue Mr. Hodder's salary."

There was that in the unparalleled audacity of Eldon Parr that compelled
Hodder's unwilling admiration. He sat gazing at the financier during
this speech, speculating curiously on the inner consciousness of the man
who could utter it. Was it possible that he had no sense of guilt? Even
so, he had shown a remarkable astuteness in relying on the conviction
that he (Hodder) would not betray what he knew.

He was suddenly aware that Asa Waring was standing beside him.

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Waring, "I have listened to this discussion as long
as I can bear it with patience. Had I been told of it, I should have
thought it incredible that the methods of the money changers should be
applied to the direction and control of the house of God. In my opinion
there is but one word which is suitable for what has passed here
to-night, and the word is persecution. Perhaps I have lived too long I
have lived to see honourable, upright men deprived of what was rightfully
theirs, driven from their livelihood by the rapacity of those who strive
to concentrate the wealth and power of the nation into their hands.
I have seen this power gathering strength, stretching its arm little by
little over the institutions I fought to preserve, and which I cherish
over our politics, over our government, yes, and even over our courts.
I have seen it poisoning the business honour in which we formerly took
such a pride, I have seen it reestablishing a slavery more pernicious
than that which millions died to efface. I have seen it compel a
subservience which makes me ashamed, as an American, to witness."

His glance, a withering moral scorn, darted from under the grizzled
eyebrows and alighted on one man after another, and none met it. Everett
Constable coughed, Wallis Plimpton shifted his position, the others sat
like stones. Asa Waring was giving vent at last to the pent-up feelings
of many years.

"And now that power, which respects nothing, has crept into the sanctuary
of the Church. Our rector recognizes it, I recognize it,--there is not
a man here who, in his heart, misunderstands me. And when a man is found
who has the courage to stand up against it, I honour him with all my
soul, and a hope that was almost dead revives in me. For there is one
force, and one force alone, able to overcome the power of which I speak,
--the Spirit of Christ. And the mission of the Church is to disseminate
that spirit. The Church is the champion on which we have to rely, or
give up all hope of victory. The Church must train the recruits. And if
the Church herself is betrayed into the hands of the enemy, the battle is
lost.

"If Mr. Hodder is forced out of this church, it would be better to lock
the doors. St. John's will be held up, and rightfully, to the scorn of
the city. All the money in the world will not save her. Though
crippled, she has survived one disgrace, when she would not give free
shelter to the man who above all others expressed her true spirit, when
she drove Horace Bentley from her doors after he had been deprived of the
fortune which he was spending for his fellow-men. She will not survive
another.

"I have no doubt Mr. Parr's motion to take from Mr. Hodder his living
will go through. And still I urge him not to resign. I am not a rich
man, even when such property as I have is compared to moderate fortunes
of these days, but I would pay his salary willingly out of my own pocket
rather than see him go . . . .

"I call the attention of the Chairman," said Eldon Parr, after a certain
interval in which no one had ventured to speak, "to the motion before the
vestry relating to the discontinuance of Mr. Hodder's salary."

It was then that the unexpected happened. Gordon Atterbury redeemed
himself. His respect for Mr. Waring, he said, made him hesitate to take
issue with him.

He could speak for himself and for a number of people in the congregation
when he reiterated his opinion that they were honestly shocked at what
Mr. Hodder had preached, and that this was his sole motive in requesting
Mr. Hodder to resign. He thought, under the circumstances, that this was
a matter which might safely be left with the bishop. He would not vote
to deprive Mr. Hodder of his salary.

The motion was carried by a vote of five to three. For Eldon Parr well
knew that his will needed no reenforcement by argument. And this much
was to be said for him, that after he had entered a battle he never
hesitated, never under any circumstances reconsidered the probable
effect of his course.

As for the others, those who had supported him, they were cast in a less
heroic mould. Even Francis Ferguson. As between the devil and the deep
sea, he was compelled, with as good a grace as possible, to choose the
devil. He was utterly unable to contemplate the disaster which might
ensue if certain financial ties, which were thicker than cables, were
snapped. But his affection for the devil was not increased by thus being
led into a charge from which he would willingly have drawn back. Asa
Waring might mean nothing to Eldon Parr, but he meant a great deal to
Francis Ferguson, who had by no means forgotten his sensations of
satisfaction when Mrs. Waring had made her first call in Park Street on
Francis Ferguson's wife. He left the room in such a state of
absent-mindedness as actually to pass Mr. Parr in the corridor without
speaking to him.

The case of Wallis Plimpton was even worse. He had married the Gores,
but he had sought to bind himself with hoops of steel to the Warings. He
had always secretly admired that old Roman quality (which the Goodriches
--their connections--shared) of holding fast to their course unmindful
and rather scornful of influence which swayed their neighbours. The clan
was sufficient unto itself, satisfied with a moderate prosperity and a
continually increasing number of descendants. The name was unstained.
Such are the strange incongruities in the hearts of men, that few
realized the extent to which Wallis Plimpton had partaken of the general
hero-worship of Phil Goodrich. He had assiduously cultivated his regard,
at times discreetly boasted of it, and yet had never been sure of it.
And now fate, in the form of his master, Eldon Parr had ironically
compelled him at one stroke to undo the work of years. As soon as the
meeting broke up, he crossed the room.

"I can't tell you how much I regret this, Phil," he said. "Charlotte has
very strong convictions, you know, and so have I. You can understand, I
am sure, how certain articles of belief might be necessary to one person,
and not to another."

"Yes," said Phil, "I can understand. We needn't mention the articles,
Wallis." And he turned his back.

He never knew the pain he inflicted. Wallis Plimpton looked at the
rector, who stood talking to Mr. Waring, and for the first time in his
life recoiled from an overture.

Something in the faces of both men warned him away.

Even Everett Constable, as they went home in the cars together, was brief
with him, and passed no comments when Mr. Plimpton recovered sufficiently
to elaborate on the justification of their act, and upon the
extraordinary stand taken by Phil Goodrich and Mr. Waring.

"They might have told us what they were going to do."

Everett Constable eyed him.

"Would it have made any difference, Plimpton?" he demanded.

After that they rode in silence, until they came to a certain West End
corner, where they both descended. Little Mr. Constable's sensations
were, if anything, less enviable, and he had not Mr. Plimpton's
recuperative powers.  He had sold that night, for a mess of pottage,
the friendship and respect of three generations. And he had fought,
for pay, against his own people.

And lastly, there was Langmaid, whose feelings almost defy analysis. He
chose to walk through the still night the four miles--that separated him
from his home. And he went back over the years of his life until he
found, in the rubbish of the past, a forgotten and tarnished jewel. The
discovery pained him. For that jewel was the ideal he had carried away,
as a youth, from the old law school at the bottom of Hamilton Place,
--a gift from no less a man than the great lawyer and public-spirited
citizen, Judge Henry Goodrich--Philip Goodrich's grandfather, whose
seated statue marked the entrance of the library. He, Nelson Langmaid,
--had gone forth from that school resolved to follow in the footsteps
of that man,--but somehow he missed the path. Somehow the jewel had lost
its fire. There had come a tempting offer, and a struggle--just one:
a readjustment on the plea that the world had changed since the days of
Judge Goodrich, whose uncompromising figure had begun to fade: an
exciting discovery that he, Nelson Langmaid, possessed the gift of
drawing up agreements which had the faculty of passing magically through
the meshes of the Statutes. Affluence had followed, and fame, and even
that high office which the Judge himself had held, the Presidency of the
State Bar Association. In all that time, one remark, which he had tried
to forget, had cut him to the quick. Bedloe Hubbell had said on the
political platform that Langmaid got one hundred thousand dollars a year
for keeping Eldon Parr out of jail.

Once he stopped in the street, his mind suddenly going back to the action
of the financier at the vestry meeting.

"Confound him!" he said aloud, "he has been a fool for once. I told him
not to do it."

He stood at last in the ample vestibule of his house, singling out his
latch-key, when suddenly the door opened, and his daughter Helen
appeared.

"Oh, dad," she cried, "why are you so-late? I've been watching for you.
I know you've let Mr. Hodder stay."

She gazed at him with widened eyes.

"Don't tell me that you've made him resign. I can't--I won't believe
it."

"He isn't going to resign, Helen," Langmaid replied, in an odd voice.

"He--he refused to."



CHAPTER XXV

"RISE, CROWNED WITH LIGHT!"


I

The Church of St. John's, after a peaceful existence of so many years,
had suddenly become the stage on which rapid and bewildering dramas were
played: the storm-centre of chaotic forces, hitherto unperceived, drawn
from the atmosphere around her. For there had been more publicity, more
advertising. "The Rector of St. John's will not talk"--such had been
one headline: neither would the vestry talk. And yet, despite all this
secrecy, the whole story of the suspension of Hodder's salary was in
print, and an editorial (which was sent to him) from a popular and
sensational journal, on "tainted money," in which Hodder was held up
to the public as a martyr because he refused any longer to accept for
the Church ill-gotten gains from Consolidated Tractions and the like.

This had opened again the floodgates of the mails, and it seemed as
though every person who had a real or fancied grievance against Eldon
Parr had written him. Nor did others of his congregation escape. The
press of visitors at the parish house suddenly increased once more,
men and women came to pour into his ears an appalling aeries of
confessions; wrongs which, like Garvin's, had engendered bitter hatreds;
woes, temptations, bewilderments. Hodder strove to keep his feet, sought
wisdom to deal patiently with all, though at times he was tried to the
uttermost. And he held steadfastly before his mind the great thing, that
they did come. It was what he had longed for, prayed for, despaired of.
He was no longer crying in the empty wilderness, but at last in touch-in
natural touch with life: with life in all its sorrow, its crudity and
horror. He had contrived, by the grace of God, to make the connection
for his church.

That church might have been likened to a ship sailing out of the snug
harbour in which she had lain so long to range herself gallantly beside
those whom she had formerly beheld, with complacent cowardice, fighting
her fight: young men and women, enlisted under other banners than her
own, doing their part in the battle of the twentieth century for
humanity. Her rector was her captain. It was he who had cut her cables,
quelled, for a time at least, her mutineers; and sought to hearten those
of her little crew who wavered, who shrank back appalled as they realized
something of the immensity of the conflict in which her destiny was to be
wrought out.

To carry on the figure, Philip Goodrich might have been deemed her first
officer. He, at least, was not appalled, but grimly conscious of the
greatness of the task to which they had set their hands. The sudden
transformation of conservative St. John's was no more amazing than that
of the son of a family which had never been without influence in the
community. But that influence had always been conservative. And Phil
Goodrich had hitherto taken but a listless interest in the church of his
fathers. Fortune had smiled upon him, trusts had come to him unsought.
He had inherited the family talent for the law, the freedom to practise
when and where he chose. His love of active sport had led him into many
vacations, when he tramped through marsh and thicket after game, and at
five and forty there was not an ounce of superfluous flesh on his hard
body. In spite of his plain speaking, an overwhelming popularity at
college had followed him to his native place, and no organization,
sporting or serious, was formed in the city that the question was not
asked, "What does Goodrich think about it?"

His whole-souled enlistment in the cause of what was regarded as radical
religion became, therefore, the subject of amazed comment in the many
clubs he now neglected. The "squabble" in St. John's, as it was
generally referred to, had been aired in the press, but such was the
magic in a name made without conscious effort that Phil Goodrich's
participation in the struggle had a palpably disarming effect: and there
were not a few men who commonly spent their Sunday mornings behind
plate-glass windows, surrounded by newspapers, as well as some in the
athletic club (whose contests Mr. Goodrich sometimes refereed) who went
to St. John's out of curiosity and who waited, afterwards, for an
interview with Phil or the rector. The remark of one of these was typical
of others. He had never taken much stock in religion, but if Goodrich
went in for it he thought he'd go and look it over.

Scarcely a day passed that Phil did not drop in at the parish house....
And he set himself, with all the vigour of an unsquandered manhood, to
help Hodder to solve the multitude of new problems by which they were
beset.

A free church was a magnificent ideal, but how was it to be carried on
without an Eldon Parr, a Ferguson, a Constable, a Mrs. Larrabbee, or a
Gore who would make up the deficit at the end of the year? Could weekly
contributions, on the envelope system, be relied upon, provided the
people continued to come and fill the pews of absent and outraged
parishioners? The music was the most expensive in the city, although
Mr. Taylor, the organist, had come to the rector and offered to cut his
salary in half, and to leave that in abeyance until the finances could be
adjusted. And his example had been followed by some of the high-paid men
in the choir. Others had offered to sing without pay. And there were
the expenses of the parish house, an alarming sum now Eldon Parr had
withdrawn: the salaries of the assistants. Hodder, who had saved a
certain sum in past years, would take nothing for the present . . . .
Asa Waring and Phil Goodrich borrowed on their own responsibility . . .



II

Something of the overwhelming nature of the forces Hodder had summoned
was visibly apparent on that first Sunday after what many had called his
apostasy. Instead of the orderly, sprucely-dressed groups of people
which were wont to linger in greetings before the doors of St. John's,
a motley crowd thronged the pavement and streamed into the church,
pressing up the aisles and invading the sacred precincts where decorous
parishioners had for so many years knelt in comfort and seclusion.
The familiar figure of Gordon Atterbury was nowhere to be seen, and the
Atterbury pew was occupied by shop-girls in gaudy hats. Eldon Parr's pew
was filled, Everett Constable's, Wallis Plimpton's; and the ushers who
had hastily been mustered were awestricken and powerless. Such a
resistless invasion by the hordes of the unknown might well have struck
with terror some of those who hitherto had had the courage to standup
loyally in the rector's support. It had a distinct flavour of
revolution: contained, for some, a grim suggestion of a time when that
vague, irresponsible, and restless monster, the mob, would rise in its
might and brutally and inexorably take possession of all property.

Alison had met Eleanor Goodrich in Burton Street, and as the two made
their way into the crowded vestibule they encountered Martha Preston,
whose husband was Alison's cousin, in the act of flight.

"You're not going in!" she exclaimed.

"Of course we are."

Mrs. Preston stared at Alison in amazement.

"I didn't know you were still here," she said, irrelevantly. "I'm pretty
liberal, my dear, as you know,--but this is more than I can stand. Look
at them!" She drew up her skirts as a woman brushed against her.
"I believe in the poor coming to church, and all that, but this is mere
vulgar curiosity, the result of all that odious advertising in the
newspapers. My pew is filled with them. If I had stayed, I should have
fainted. I don't know what to think of Mr. Hodder."

"Mr. Hodder is not to blame for the newspapers," replied Alison, warmly.
She glanced around her at the people pushing past, her eyes shining, her
colour high, and there was the ring of passion in her voice which had do
Martha Preston a peculiarly disquieting effect. "I think it's splendid
that they are here at all! I don't care what brought them."

Mrs. Preston stared again. She was a pretty, intelligent woman, at whose
dinner table one was sure to hear the discussion of some "modern
problem": she believed herself to be a socialist. Her eyes sought
Eleanor Goodrich's, who stood by, alight with excitement.

"But surely you, Eleanor-you're not going in! You'll never be able to
stand it, even if you find a seat. The few people we know who've come
are leaving. I just saw the Allan Pendletons."

"Have you seen Phil?" Eleanor asked.

"Oh, yes, he's in there, and even he's helpless. And as I came out poor
Mr. Bradley was jammed up against the wall. He seemed perfectly stunned
. . . ."

At this moment they were thrust apart. Eleanor quivered as she was
carried through the swinging doors into the church.

"I think you're right," she whispered to Alison, "it is splendid.
There's something about it that takes hold of me, that carries one away.
It makes me wonder how it can be guided--what will come of it?"

They caught sight of Phil pushing his way towards them, and his face bore
the set look of belligerency which Eleanor knew so well, but he returned
her smile. Alison's heart warmed towards him.

"What do you think of this?" he demanded. "Most of our respectable
friends who dared to come have left in a towering rage--to institute
lawsuits, probably. At tiny rate, strangers are not being made to wait
until ten minutes after the service begins. That's one barbarous custom
abolished."

"Strangers seem to have taken matters in their own hands for once"
Eleanor smiled. "We've made up our minds to stay, Phil, even if we have
to stand."

"That's the right spirit," declared her husband, glancing at Alison, who
had remained silent, with approval and by no means a concealed surprise.
"I think I know of a place where I can squeeze you in, near Professor
Bridges and Sally, on the side aisle."

"Are George and Sally here?" Eleanor exclaimed.

"Hodder," said Phil, "is converting the heathen. You couldn't have kept
George away. And it was George who made Sally stay!"

Presently they found themselves established between a rawboned young
workingman who smelled strongly of soap, whose hair was plastered tightly
against his forehead, and a young woman who leaned against the wall. The
black in which she was dressed enhanced the whiteness and weariness of
her face, and she sat gazing ahead of her, apparently unconscious of
those who surrounded her, her hands tightly folded in her lap. In their
immediate vicinity, indeed, might have been found all the variety of type
seen in the ordinary street car. And in truth there were some who seemed
scarcely to realize they were not in a public vehicle. An elaborately
dressed female in front of them, whose expansive hat brushed her
neighbours, made audible comments to a stout man with a red neck which
was set in a crease above his low collar.

"They tell me Eldon Parr's pew has a gold plate on it. I wish I knew
which it was. It ain't this one, anyway, I'll bet."

"Say, they march in in this kind of a church, don't they?" some one said
behind them.

Eleanor, with her lips tightly pressed, opened her prayer book. Alison's
lips were slightly parted as she gazed about her, across the aisle. Her
experience of the Sunday before, deep and tense as it had been, seemed as
nothing compared to this; the presence of all these people stimulated her
inexpressibly, fired her; and she felt the blood pulsing through her
body as she contrasted this gathering with the dignified, scattered
congregation she had known. She scarcely recognized the church itself
. . . She speculated on the homes from which these had come, and the
motives which had brought them.

For a second the perfume of the woman in front, mingling with other less
definable odours, almost sickened her, evoking suggestions of tawdry,
trivial, vulgar lives, fed on sensation and excitement; but the feeling
was almost immediately swept away by a renewed sense of the bigness of
the thing which she beheld,--of which, indeed, she was a part. And her
thoughts turned more definitely to the man who had brought it all about.
Could he control it, subdue it? Here was Opportunity suddenly upon him,
like a huge, curving, ponderous wave. Could he ride it? or would it
crush him remorselessly?

Sensitive, alert, quickened as she was, she began to be aware of other
values: of the intense spiritual hunger in the eyes of the woman in
black, the yearning of barren, hopeless existences. And here and there
Alison's look fell upon more prosperous individuals whose expressions
proclaimed incredulity, a certain cynical amusement at the spectacle:
others seemed uneasy, as having got more than they had bargained for,
deliberating whether to flee . . . and then, just as her suspense was
becoming almost unbearable, the service began. . . .

How it had been accomplished, the thing she later felt, was beyond the
range of intellectual analysis. Nor could she have told how much later,
since the passage of time had gone unnoticed. Curiosities, doubts,
passions, longings, antagonisms--all these seemed--as the most natural
thing in the world--to have been fused into one common but ineffable
emotion. Such, at least, was the impression to which Alison startlingly
awoke. All the while she had been conscious of Hodder, from the moment
she had heard his voice in the chancel; but somehow this consciousness of
him had melted, imperceptibly, into that of the great congregation, once
divided against itself, which had now achieved unity of soul.

The mystery as to how this had been effected was the more elusive when
she considered the absence of all methods which might have been deemed
revivalistic. Few of those around her evinced a familiarity with the
historic service. And then occurred to her his explanation of
personality as the medium by which all truth is revealed, by which the
current of religion, the motive power in all history, is transmitted.
Surely this was the explanation, if it might be called one! That
tingling sense of a pervading spirit which was his,--and yet not his.
He was the incandescent medium, and yet, paradoxically, gained in
identity and individuality and was inseparable from the thing itself.

She could not see him. A pillar hid the chancel from her view.

The service, to which she had objected as archaic, became subordinate,
spiritualized, dominated by the personality. Hodder had departed from
the usual custom by giving out the page of the psalter: and the verses,
the throbbing responses which arose from every corner of the church,
assumed a new significance, the vision of the ancient seer revived. One
verse he read resounded with prophecy.

"Thou shalt deliver me from the strivings of the people: and thou shalt
make me the head of the heathen."

And the reply:

"A people whom I have not known shall serve me."

The working-man next to Alison had no prayer-book. She thrust her own
into his hand, and they read from it together . . . .

When they came to the second hymn the woman in front of her had
wonderfully shed her vulgarity. Her voice--a really good one--poured
itself out:

       "See a long race thy spacious courts adorn,
        See future sons, and daughters yet unborn,
        In crowding ranks on every side arise,
        Demanding life, impatient for the skies."

Once Alison would have been critical of the words She was beyond that,
now. What did it matter, if the essential Thing were present?

The sermon was a surprise. And those who had come for excitement,
for the sensation of hearing a denunciation of a class they envied and
therefore hated, and nevertheless strove to imitate, were themselves
rebuked. Were not their standards the same? And if the standard were
false, it followed inevitably that the life was false also.

Hodder fairly startled these out of their preconceived notions of
Christianity. Let them shake out of their minds everything they had
thought it to mean, churchgoing, acceptance of creed and dogma,
contributive charity, withdrawal from the world, rites and ceremonies:
it was none of these.

The motive in the world to-day was the acquisition of property; the
motive of Christianity was absolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to
this. Shock their practical sense as it might, Christianity looked
forward with steadfast faith to a time when the incentive to amass
property would be done away with, since it was a source of evil and
a curse to mankind. If they would be Christians, let them face that.
Let them enter into life, into the struggles going on around them to-day
against greed, corruption, slavery, poverty, vice and crime. Let them
protest, let them fight, even as Jesus Christ had fought and protested.
For as sure as they sat there the day would come when they would be
called to account, would be asked the question--what had they done to
make the United States of America a better place to live in?

There were in the Apostolic writings and tradition misinterpretations
of life which had done much harm. Early Christianity had kept its eyes
fixed on another world, and had ignored this: had overlooked the fact
that every man and woman was put here to do a particular work. In the
first epistle of Peter the advice was given, "submit yourselves to every
ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." But Christ had preached
democracy, responsibility, had foreseen a millennium, the fulfilment of
his Kingdom, when all men, inspired by the Spirit, would make and keep
in spirit the ordinances of God.

Before they could do God's work and man's work they must first be
awakened, filled with desire. Desire was power. And he prayed that some
of them, on this day, would receive that desire, that power which nothing
could resist. The desire which would lead each and every one to the
gates of the Inner World which was limitless and eternal, filled with
dazzling light . . . .

Let them have faith then. Not credulity in a vague God they could not
imagine, but faith in the Spirit of the Universe, humanity, in Jesus
Christ who had been the complete human revelation of that Spirit, who had
suffered and died that man might not live in ignorance of it. To doubt
humanity,--such was the Great Refusal, the sin against the Holy Ghost,
the repudiation of the only true God!

After a pause, he spoke simply of his hope for St. John's. If he
remained here his ambition was that it would be the free temple of
humanity, of Jesus Christ, supported not by a few, but by all,--each in
accordance with his means. Of those who could afford nothing, nothing
would be required. Perhaps this did not sound practical, nor would it be
so if the transforming inspiration failed. He could only trust and try,
hold up to them the vision of the Church as a community of willing
workers for the Kingdom . . .



III

After the service was over the people lingered in the church, standing in
the pews and aisles, as though loath to leave. The woman with the
perfume and the elaborate hat was heard to utter a succinct remark.

"Say, Charlie, I guess he's all right. I never had it put like that."

The thick-necked man's reply was inaudible.

Eleanor Goodrich was silent and a little pale as she pressed close to
Alison. Her imagination had been stretched, as it were, and she was
still held in awe by the vastness of what she had heard and seen. Vaster
even than ever,--so it appeared now,--demanding greater sacrifices than
she had dreamed of. She looked back upon the old as at receding shores.

Alison, with absorbed fascination, watched the people; encountered, here
and there, recognitions from men and women with whom she had once danced
and dined in what now seemed a previous existence. Why had they come?
and how had they received the message? She ran into a little man, a
dealer in artists' supplies who once had sold her paints and brushes, who
stared and bowed uncertainly. She surprised him by taking his hand.

"Did you like it?" she asked, impulsively.

"It's what I've been thinking for years, Miss Parr," he responded,
"thinking and feeling. But I never knew it was Christianity. And I
never thought--" he stopped and looked at her, alarmed.

"Oh," she said, "I believe in it, too--or try to."

She left him, mentally gasping . . . . Without, on the sidewalk,
Eleanor Goodrich was engaged in conversation with a stockily built man,
inclined to stoutness; he had a brown face and a clipped, bristly
mustache. Alison paused involuntarily, and saw him start and hesitate
as his clear, direct gaze met her own.

Bedloe Hubbell was one of those who had once sought to marry her. She
recalled him as an amiable and aimless boy; and after she had gone East
she had received with incredulity and then with amusement the news of his
venture into altruistic politics. It was his efficiency she had doubted,
not his sincerity. Later tidings, contemptuous and eventually irritable
utterances of her own father, together with accounts in the New York
newspapers of his campaign, had convinced her in spite of herself that
Bedloe Hubbell had actually shaken the seats of power. And somehow, as
she now took him in, he looked it.

His transformation was one of the signs, one of the mysteries of the
times. The ridicule and abuse of the press, the opposition and enmity of
his childhood friends, had developed the man of force she now beheld, and
who came forward to greet her.

"Alison!" he exclaimed. He had changed in one sense, and not in another.
Her colour deepened as the sound of his voice brought back the lapsed
memories of the old intimacy. For she had been kind to him, kinder than
to any other; and the news of his marriage--to a woman from the Pacific
coast--had actually induced in her certain longings and regrets. When
the cards had reached her, New York and the excitement of the life into
which she had been weakly, if somewhat unwittingly, drawn had already
begun to pall.

"I'm so glad to see you," she told him. "I've heard--so many things.
And I'm very much in sympathy with what you're doing."

They crossed the street, and walked away from the church together. She
had surprised him, and made him uncomfortable.

"You've been away so long," he managed to say, "perhaps you do not
realize--"

"Oh, yes, I do," she interrupted. "I am on the other side, on your side.
I thought of writing you, when you nearly won last autumn."

"You see it, too?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, I've changed, too. Not so much as you," she added, shyly.
"I always had a certain sympathy, you know, with the Robin Hoods."

He laughed at her designation, both pleased and taken aback by her
praise. . . But he wondered if she knew the extent of his criticism
of her father.

"That rector is a wonderful man," he broke out, irrelevantly. "I can't
get over' him--I can't quite grasp the fact that he exists, that he has
dared to do what he has done."

This brought her colour back, but she faced him bravely. You think he is
wonderful, then?"

"Don't you?" he demanded.

She assented. "But I am curious to know why you do. Somehow, I never
thought of--you--"

"As religious," he supplied. "And you? If I remember rightly--"

"Yes," she interrupted, "I revolted, too. But Mr. Hodder puts it so
--it makes one wonder."

"He has not only made me wonder," declared Bedloe Hubbell, emphatically,
"I never knew what religion was until I heard this man last Sunday."

"Last Sunday!"

"Until then, I hadn't been inside of a church for fifteen years,--except
to get married. My wife takes the children, occasionally, to a
Presbyterian church near us."

"And why, did you go then?" she asked.

"I am a little ashamed of my motive," he confessed. "There were rumours
--I don't pretend to know how they got about--" he hesitated, once more
aware of delicate ground. "Wallis Plimpton said something to a man who
told me. I believe I went out of sheer curiosity to hear what Hodder
would have to say. And then, I had been reading, wondering whether there
were anything in Christianity, after all."

"Yes?" she said, careless now as to what cause he might attribute her
eagerness. "And he gave you something?"

It was then she grasped the truth that this sudden renewed intimacy was
the result of the impression Hodder had left upon the minds of both.

"He gave me everything," Bedloe Hubbell replied. "I am willing to
acknowledge it freely. In his explanation of the parable of the Prodigal
Son, he gave me the clew to our modern times. What was for me an
inextricable puzzle has become clear as day. He has made me understand,
at last, the force which stirred me, which goaded me until I was fairly
compelled to embark in the movement which the majority of our citizens
still continue to regard as quixotic. I did not identify that force with
religion, then, and when I looked back on the first crazy campaign we
embarked upon, with the whole city laughing at me and at the obscure
and impractical personnel we had, there were moments when it seemed
incomprehensible folly. I had nothing to gain, and everything to lose by
such a venture. I was lazy and easy-going, as you know. I belonged to
the privileged class, I had sufficient money to live in comparative
luxury all my days, I had no grudge against these men whom I had known
all my life."

"But it must have had some beginning," said Alison.

"I was urged to run for the city council, by these very men." Bedloe
Hubbell smiled at the recollection. "They accuse me now of having
indulged once in the same practice, for which I am condemning them.
Our company did accept rebates, and we sought favours from the city
government. I have confessed it freely on the platform. Even during my
first few months in the council what may be called the old political
practices seemed natural to me. But gradually the iniquity of it all
began to dawn on me, and then I couldn't rest until I had done something
towards stopping it.

"At length I began to see," he continued, "that education of the masses
was to be our only preserver, that we should have to sink or swim by
that. I began to see, dimly, that this was true for other movements
going on to-day. Now comes Hodder with what I sincerely believe is the
key. He compels men like me to recognize that our movements are not
merely moral, but religious. Religion, as yet unidentified, is the force
behind these portentous stirrings of politics in our country, from sea to
sea. He aims, not to bring the Church into politics, but to make her the
feeder of these movements. Men join them to-day from all motives, but
the religious is the only one to which they may safely be trusted. He
has rescued the jewel from the dust-heap of tradition, and holds it up,
shining, before our eyes."

Alison looked at her companion.

"That," she said, "is a very beautiful phrase."

Bedloe Hubbell smiled queerly.

"I don't know why I'm telling you all this. I can't usually talk about
it. But the sight of that congregation this morning, mixed as it was,
and the way he managed to weld it together."

"Ah, you noticed that!" she exclaimed sharply.

"Noticed it!"

"I know. It was a question of feeling it."

There was a silence.

"Will he succeed?" she asked presently.

"Ah," said Bedloe Hubbell, "how is it possible to predict it? The forces
against him are tremendous, and it is usually the pioneer who suffers.
I agree absolutely with his definition of faith, I have it. And the work
he has done already can never be undone. The time is ripe, and it is
something that he has men like Phil Goodrich behind him, and Mr. Waring.
I'm going to enlist, and from now on I intend to get every man and woman
upon whom I have any influence whatever to go to that church . . . ."
A little later Alison, marvelling, left him.



CHAPTER XXVI

THE CURRENT OF LIFE


I

The year when Hodder had gone east--to Bremerton and Bar Harbor,
he had read in the train a magazine article which had set fire to his
imagination. It had to do with the lives of the men, the engineers who
dared to deal with the wild and terrible power of the western hills, who
harnessed and conquered roaring rivers, and sent the power hundreds of
miles over the wilderness, by flimsy wires, to turn the wheels of
industry and light the dark places of the cities. And, like all men who
came into touch with elemental mysteries, they had their moments of pure
ecstasy, gaining a tingling, intenser life from the contact with dynamic
things; and other moments when, in their struggle for mastery, they were
buffeted about, scorched, and almost overwhelmed.

In these days the remembrance of that article came back to Hodder.
It was as though he, too, were seeking to deflect and guide a force
--the Force of forces. He, too, was buffeted, scorched, and bruised,
at periods scarce given time to recover himself in the onward rush he
himself had started, and which he sought to control. Problems arose
which demanded the quick thinking of emergency. He, too, had his moments
of reward, the reward of the man who is in touch with reality.

He lived, from day to day, in a bewildering succession of encouragements
and trials, all unprecedented. If he remained at St. John's, an entire
new organization would be necessary . . . . He did not as yet see it
clearly; and in the meantime, with his vestry alienated, awaiting the
bishop's decision, he could make no definite plans, even if he had had
the leisure. Wholesale desertions had occurred in the guilds and
societies, the activities of which had almost ceased. Little Tomkinson,
the second assistant, had resigned; and McCrae, who worked harder than
ever before, was already marked, Hodder knew, for dismissal if he himself
were defeated.

And then there was the ever present question of money. It remained to
be seen whether a system of voluntary offerings were practicable. For
Hodder had made some inquiries into the so-called "free churches," only
to discover that there were benefactors behind them, benefactors the
Christianity of whose lives was often doubtful.

One morning he received in the mail the long-expected note from the
bishop, making an appointment for the next day. Hodder, as he read it
over again, smiled to himself. . . He could gather nothing of the mind
of the writer from the contents.

The piece of news which came to him on the same morning swept completely
the contemplations of the approaching interview from his mind. Sally
Grover stopped in at the parish house on her way to business.

"Kate Marcy's gone," she announced, in her abrupt fashion.

"Gone!" he exclaimed, and stared at her in dismay. "Gone where?"

"That's just it," said Miss Grover. "I wish I knew. I reckon we'd got
into the habit of trusting her too much, but it seemed the only way. She
wasn't in her room last night, but Ella Finley didn't find it out until
this morning, and she ran over scared to death, to tell us about it."

Involuntarily the rector reached for his hat.

"I've sent out word among our friends in Dalton Street," Sally continued.
An earthquake could not have disturbed her outer, matter-of-fact
calmness. But Hodder was not deceived: he knew that she was as
profoundly grieved and discouraged as himself. "And I've got old Gratz,
the cabinet-maker, on the job. If she's in Dalton Street, he'll find
her."

"But what--?" Hodder began.

Sally threw up her hands.

"You never can tell, with that kind. But it sticks in my mind she's done
something foolish."

"Foolish?"

Sally twitched, nervously.

"Somehow I don't think it's a spree--but as I say, you can't tell. She's
full of impulses. You remember how she frightened us once before, when
she went off and stayed all night with the woman she used to know in the
flat house, when she heard she was sick?"

Hodder nodded.

"You've inquired there?"

"That woman went to the hospital, you know. She may be with another one.
If she is, Gratz ought to find her. . . You know there was a time, Mr.
Hodder, when I didn't have much hope that we'd pull her through. But we
got hold of her through her feelings. She'd do anything for Mr. Bentley
--she'd do anything for you, and the way she stuck to that embroidery was
fine. I don't say she was cured, but whenever she'd feel one of those
fits coming on she'd let us know about it, and we'd watch her. And I
never saw one of that kind change so. Why, she must be almost as good
looking now as she ever was."

"You don't think she has done anything--desperate?" asked Hodder, slowly.

Sally comprehended.

"Well--somehow I don't. She used to say if she ever got drunk again
she'd never come back. But she didn't have any money--she's given Mr.
Bentley every cent of it. And we didn't have any warning. She was as
cheerful as could be yesterday morning, Mrs. McQuillen says."

"It might not do any harm to notify the police," replied Hodder, rising.
"I'll go around to headquarters now."

He was glad of the excuse for action. He could not have sat still. And
as he walked rapidly across Burton Street he realized with a pang how
much his heart had been set on Kate Marcy's redemption. In spite of the
fact that every moment of his time during the past fortnight had been
absorbed by the cares, responsibilities, and trials thrust upon him, he
reproached himself for not having gone oftener to Dalton Street. And
yet, if Mr. Bentley and Sally Grower had been unable to foresee and
prevent this, what could he have done?

At police headquarters he got no news. The chief received him
deferentially, sympathetically, took down Kate Marcy's description,
went so far as to remark, sagely, that too much mustn't be expected
of these women, and said he would notify the rector if she were found.
The chief knew and admired Mr. Bentley, and declared he was glad to meet
Mr. Hodder. . . Hodder left, too preoccupied to draw any significance
from the nature of his welcome. He went at once to Mr. Bentley's.

The old gentleman was inclined to be hopeful, to take Sally Grower's view
of the matter. . He trusted, he said, Sally's instinct. And Hodder
came away less uneasy, not a little comforted by a communion which never
failed to fortify him, to make him marvel at the calmness of that world
in which his friend lived, a calmness from which no vicarious sorrow was
excluded. And before Hodder left, Mr. Bentley had drawn from him some
account of the more recent complexities at the church. The very pressure
of his hand seemed to impart courage.

"You won't stay and have dinner with me?"

The rector regretfully declined.

"I hear the bishop has returned," said Mr. Bentley, smiling.

Hodder was surprised. He had never heard Mr. Bentley speak of the
bishop. Of course he must know him.

"I have my talk with him to-morrow."

Mr. Bentley said nothing, but pressed his hand again . . . .

On Tower Street, from the direction of the church, he beheld a young man
and a young woman approaching him absorbed in conversation. Even at a
distance both seemed familiar, and presently he identified the lithe and
dainty figure in the blue dress as that of the daughter of his vestryman,
Francis Ferguson. Presently she turned her face, alight with animation,
from her companion, and recognized him.

"It's Mr. Hodder!" she exclaimed, and was suddenly overtaken with a
crimson shyness. The young man seemed equally embarrassed as they stood
facing the rector.

"I'm afraid you don't remember me, Mr. Hodder," he said. "I met you at
Mr. Ferguson's last spring."

Then it came to him. This was the young man who had made the faux pas
which had caused Mrs. Ferguson so much consternation, and who had so
manfully apologized afterwards. His puzzled expression relaxed into a
smile, and he took the young man's hand.

"I was going to write to you," said Nan, as she looked up at the rector
from under the wide brim of her hat. "Our engagement is to be announced
Wednesday."

Hodder congratulated them. There was a brief silence, when Nan said
tremulously:

"We're coming to St. John's!"

"I'm very glad," Hodder replied, gravely. It was one of those
compensating moments, for him, when his tribulations vanished; and the
tributes of the younger generation were those to which his heart most
freely responded. But the situation, in view of the attitude of Francis
Ferguson, was too delicate to be dwelt upon.

"I came to hear you last Sunday, Mr. Hodder," the young man volunteered,
with that mixture of awkwardness and straightforwardness which often
characterize his sex and age in referring to such matters. "And I had
an idea of writing you, too, to tell you how much I liked what you said.
But I know you must have had many letters. You've made me think."

He flushed, but met the rector's eye. Nan stood regarding him with
pride.

"You've made me think, too," she added. "And we intend to pitch in and
help you, if we can be of any use."

He parted from them, wondering. And it was not until he had reached the
parish house that it occurred to him that he was as yet unenlightened as
to the young man's name . . . .

His second reflection brought back to his mind Kate Mercy, for it was
with a portion of Nan Ferguson's generous check that her board had been
paid. And he recalled the girl's hope, as she had given it to him, that
he would find some one in Dalton Street to help . . . .



II

There might, to the mundane eye, have been an element of the ridiculous
in the spectacle of the rector of St. John's counting his gains, since he
had chosen--with every indication of insanity--to bring the pillars of
his career crashing down on his own head. By no means the least,
however, of the treasures flung into his lap was the tie which now bound
him to the Philip Goodriches, which otherwise would never have been
possible. And as he made his way thither on this particular evening, a
renewed sense came upon him of his emancipation from the dreary, useless
hours he had been wont to spend at other dinner tables. That existence
appeared to him now as the glittering, feverish unreality of a nightmare
filled with restless women and tired men who drank champagne, thus
gradually achieving--by the time cigars were reached--an artificial
vivacity. The caprice and superficiality of the one sex, the inability
to dwell upon or even penetrate a serious subject, the blindness to what
was going on around them; the materialism, the money standard of both,
were nauseating in the retrospect.

How, indeed, had life once appeared so distorted to him, a professed
servant of humanity, as to lead him in the name of duty into that galley?

Such was the burden of his thought when the homelike front of the
Goodrich house greeted him in the darkness, its enshrouded windows
gleaming with friendly light. As the door opened, the merry sound of
children's laughter floated down the stairs, and it seemed to Hodder as
though a curse had been lifted. . . . The lintel of this house had
been marked for salvation, the scourge had passed it by: the scourge of
social striving which lay like a blight on a free people.

Within, the note of gentility, of that instinctive good taste to which
many greater mansions aspired in vain, was sustained. The furniture, the
pictures, the walls and carpets were true expressions of the
individuality of master and mistress, of the unity of the life lived
together; and the rector smiled as he detected, in a corner of the hall,
a sturdy but diminutive hobby-horse--here the final, harmonious touch.
There was the sound of a scuffle, treble shrieks of ecstasy from above,
and Eleanor Goodrich came out to welcome him.

"Its Phil," she told him in laughing despair, "he upsets all my
discipline, and gets them so excited they don't go to sleep for hours..."

Seated in front of the fire in the drawing-room, he found Alison Parr.
Her coolness, her radiancy, her complete acceptance of the situation, all
this and more he felt from the moment he touched her hand and looked into
her face. And never had she so distinctly represented to him the
mysterious essence of fate. Why she should have made the fourth at this
intimate gathering, and whether or not she was or had been an especial
friend of Eleanor Goodrich he did not know. There was no explanation....

A bowl of superb chrysanthemums occupied the centre of the table.
Eleanor lifted them off and placed them on the sideboard.

"I've got used to looking at Phil," she explained, "and craning is so
painful."

The effect at first was to increase the intensity of the intimacy. There
was no reason--he told himself--why Alison's self-possession should have
been disturbed; and as he glanced at her from time to time he perceived
that it was not. So completely was she mistress of herself that
presently he felt a certain faint resentment rising within him,--yet
he asked himself why she should not have been. It was curious that his
imagination would not rise, now, to a realization of that intercourse on
which, at times, his fancy had dwelt with such vividness. The very
interest, the eagerness with which she took part in their discussions
seemed to him in the nature of an emphatic repudiation of any ties to him
which might have been binding.

All this was only, on Hodder's part, to be aware of the startling
discovery as to how strong his sense of possession had been, and how
irrational, how unwarranted.

For he had believed himself, as regarding her, to have made the supreme
renunciation of his life. And the very fact that he had not consulted,
could not consult her feelings and her attitude made that renunciation no
less difficult. All effort, all attempt at achievement of the only woman
for whom he had ever felt the sublime harmony of desire--the harmony of
the mind and the flesh--was cut off.

To be here, facing her again in such close proximity, was at once a
pleasure and a torture. And gradually he found himself yielding to the
pleasure, to the illusion of permanency created by her presence.
And, when all was said, he had as much to be grateful for as he could
reasonably have wished; yes, and more. The bond (there was a bond, after
all!) which united them was unbreakable. They had forged it together.
The future would take care of itself.

The range of the conversation upon which they at length embarked was a
tacit acknowledgment of a relationship which now united four persons who,
six months before, would have believed themselves to have had nothing
in common. And it was characteristic of the new interest that it
transcended the limits of the parish of St. John's, touched upon the
greater affairs to which that parish--if their protest prevailed--would
now be dedicated. Not that the church was at once mentioned, but subtly
implied as now enlisted,--and emancipated henceforth from all
ecclesiastical narrowness . . . . The amazing thing by which Hodder
was suddenly struck was the naturalness with which Alison seemed to fit
into the new scheme. It was as though she intended to remain there, and
had abandoned all intention of returning to the life which apparently she
had once permanently and definitely chosen....

Bedloe Hubbell's campaign was another topic. And Phil had observed,
with the earnestness which marked his more serious statements, that it
wouldn't surprise him if young Carter, Hubbell's candidate for mayor,
overturned that autumn the Beatty machine.

"Oh, do you think so!" Alison exclaimed with exhilaration.

"They're frightened and out of breath," said Phil, "they had no idea
that Bedloe would stick after they had licked him in three campaigns.
Two years ago they tried to buy him off by offering to send him to the
Senate, and Wallis Plimpton has never got through his head to this why
he refused."

Plimpton's head, Eleanor declared dryly, was impervious to a certain kind
of idea.

"I wonder if you know, Mr. Hodder, what an admirer Mr. Hubbell is of
yours?" Alison asked. "He is most anxious to have a talk with you."

Hodder did not know.

"Well," said Phil, enthusiastically, to the rector, "that's the best
tribute you've had yet. I can't say that Bedloe was a more unregenerate
heathen than I was, but he was pretty bad."

This led them, all save Hodder, into comments on the character of the
congregation the Sunday before, in the midst of which the rector was
called away to the telephone. Sally Grover had promised to let him know
whether or not they had found Kate Marcy, and his face was grave when he
returned . . . . He was still preoccupied, an hour later, when Alison
arose to go.

"But your carriage isn't here," said Phil, going to the window.

"Oh, I preferred to, walk," she told him, "it isn't far."



III

A blood-red October moon shed the fulness of its light on the silent
houses, and the trees, still clinging to leaf, cast black shadows across
the lawns and deserted streets. The very echoes of their footsteps on
the pavement seemed to enhance the unreality of their surroundings: Some
of the residences were already closed for the night, although the hour
was not late, and the glow behind the blinds of the others was nullified
by the radiancy from above. To Hodder, the sense of their isolation had
never been more complete.

Alison, while repudiating the notion that an escort were needed in a
neighbourhood of such propriety and peace, had not refused his offer to
accompany her. And Hodder felt instinctively, as he took his place
beside her, a sense of climax. This situation, like those of the past,
was not of his own making. It was here; confronting him, and a certain
inevitable intoxication at being once, more alone with her prevented him
from forming any policy with which to deal with it. He might either
trust himself, or else he might not. And as she said, the distance was
not great. But he could not help wondering, during those first moments
of silence, whether she comprehended the strength of the temptation to
which she subjected him . . . .

The night was warm. She wore a coat, which was open, and from time to
time he caught the gleam of the moonlight on the knotted pearls at her
throat. Over her head she had flung, mantilla-like, a black lace scarf,
the effect of which was, in the soft luminosity encircling her, to add to
the quality of mystery never exhausted. If by acquiescing in his company
she had owned to a tie between them, the lace shawl falling over the
tails of her dark hair and framing in its folds her face, had somehow
made her once more a stranger. Nor was it until she presently looked up
into his face with a smile that this impression was, if not at once
wholly dissipated, at least contradicted.

Her question, indeed, was intimate.

"Why did you come with me?"

"Why?" he repeated, taken aback.

"Yes. I'm sure you have something you wish to do, something which
particularly worries you."

"No," he answered, appraising her intuition of him, "there is nothing I
can do, to-night. A young woman in whom Mr. Bentley is interested, in
whom I am interested, has disappeared. But we have taken all the steps
possible towards finding her."

"It was nothing--more serious, then? That, of course, is serious enough.
Nothing, I mean, directly affecting your prospects of remaining--where
you are?"

"No," he answered. He rejoiced fiercely that she should have asked him.
The question was not bold, but a natural resumption of the old footing
"Not that I mean to imply," he added, returning her smile, "that those
prospects' are in any way improved."

"Are they any worse?" she said.

"I see the bishop to-morrow. I have no idea what position he will take.
But even if he should decide not to recommend me for trial many difficult
problems still remain to be solved."

"I know. It's fine," she continued, after a moment, "the way you are
going ahead as if there were no question of your not remaining; and
getting all those people into the church and influencing them as you did
when they had come for all sorts of reasons. Do you remember, the first
time I met you, I told you I could not think of you as a clergyman. I
cannot now--less than ever."

"What do you think of me as?" he asked.

"I don't know," she considered. "You are unlike any person I have ever
known. It is curious that I cannot now even think of St. John's as a
church. You have transformed it into something that seems new. I'm
afraid I can't describe what I mean, but you have opened it up, let in
the fresh air, rid it of the musty and deadening atmosphere which I have
always associated with churches. I wanted to see you, before I went
away," she went on steadily, "and when Eleanor mentioned that you were
coming to her house to-night, I asked her to invite me. Do you think me
shameless?"

The emphasis of his gesture was sufficient. He could not trust himself
to speak.

"Writing seemed so unsatisfactory, after what you had done for me, and I
never can express myself in writing. I seem to congeal."

"After what I have done for you!" he exclaimed: "What can I have done?"

"You have done more than you know," she answered, in a low voice.
"More, I think, than I know. How are such things to be measured, put
into words? You have effected some change in me which defies analysis,
a change of attitude,--to attempt to dogmatize it would ruin it. I
prefer to leave it undefined--not even to call it an acquisition of
faith. I have faith," she said, simply, "in what you have become, and
which has made you dare, superbly, to cast everything away. . .
It is that, more than anything you have said. What you are."

For the instant he lost control of himself.

"What you are," he replied. "Do you realize--can you ever realize what
your faith in me has been to me?"

She appeared to ignore this.

"I did not mean to say that you have not made many things clear, which
once were obscure, as I wrote you. You have convinced me that true
belief, for instance, is the hardest thing in the world, the denial of
practically all these people, who profess to believe, represent. The
majority of them insist that humanity is not to be trusted. . ."

They had reached, in an incredibly brief time, the corner of Park Street.

"When are you leaving?" he asked, in a voice that sounded harsh in his
own ears.

"Come!" she said gently, "I'm not going in yet, for a while."

The Park lay before them, an empty, garden filled with checquered light
and shadows under the moon. He followed her across the gravel,
glistening with dew, past the statue of the mute statesman with arm
upraised, into pastoral stretches--a delectable country which was theirs
alone. He did not take it in, save as one expression of the breathing
woman at his side. He was but partly conscious of a direction he had not
chosen. His blood throbbed violently, and a feeling of actual physical
faintness was upon him. He was being led, helplessly, all volition gone,
and the very idea of resistance became chimerical . . . .

There was a seat under a tree, beside a still lake burnished by the moon.
It seemed as though he could not bear the current of her touch, and yet
the thought of its removal were less bearable . . . For she had put
her own hand out, not shyly, but with a movement so fraught with grace,
so natural that it was but the crowning bestowal.

"Alison!" he cried, "I can't ask it of you. I have no right--"

"You're not asking it," she answered. "It is I who am asking it."

"But I have no future--I may be an outcast to-morrow. I have nothing to
offer you." He spoke more firmly now, more commandingly.

"Don't you see, dear, that it is just because your future as obscure that
I can do this? You never would have done it, I know,--and I couldn't
face that. Don't you understand that I am demanding the great
sacrifice?"

"Sacrifice!" he repeated. His fingers turned, and closed convulsively on
hers.

"Yes, sacrifice," she said gently. "Isn't it the braver thing?"

Still he failed to catch her meaning.

"Braver," she explained, with her wonderful courage, "braver if I love
you, if I need you, if I cannot do without you."

He took her in his arms, crushing her to him in his strength, in one
ineffable brief moment finding her lips, inhaling the faint perfume of
her smooth akin. Her lithe figure lay passively against him, in
marvellous, unbelievable surrender.

"I see what you mean," he said, at length, "I should have been a coward.
But I could not be sure that you loved me."

So near was her face that he could detect, even under the obscurity of
the branches, a smile.

"And so I was reduced to this! I threw my pride to the winds," she
whispered. "But I don't care. I was determined, selfishly, to take
happiness."

"And to give it," he added, bending down to her. The supreme quality of
its essence was still to be doubted, a bright star-dust which dazzled
him, to evaporate before his waking eyes. And, try as he would, he
could not realize to the full depth the boy of contact with a being whom,
by discipline, he had trained his mind to look upon as the unattainable.
They had spoken of the future, yet in these moments any consideration of
it was blotted out. . . It was only by degrees that he collected
himself sufficiently to be able to return to it. . . Alison took up
the thread.

"Surely," she said, "sacrifice is useless unless it means something,
unless it be a realization. It must be discriminating. And we should
both of us have remained incomplete if we had not taken--this. You would
always, I think, have been the one man for me,--but we should have lost
touch." He felt her tremble. "And I needed you. I have needed you all
my life--one in whom h might have absolute faith. That is my faith, of
which I could not tell you awhile ago. Is it--sacrilegious?"

She looked up at him. He shook his head, thinking of his own. It seemed
the very distillation of the divine. "All my life," she went on, "I have
been waiting for the one who would risk everything. Oh, if you had
faltered the least little bit, I don't know what I should have done.
That would have destroyed what was left of me, put out, I think, the
flickering fire that remained, instead of fanning it into flame. You
cannot know how I watched you, how I prayed! I think it was prayer--I am
sure it was. And it was because you did not falter, because you risked
all, that you gained me. You have gained only what you yourself made,
more than I ever was, more than I ever expected to be."

"Alison!" he remonstrated, "you mustn't say that."

She straightened up and gazed at him, taking one of his hands in her
lithe fingers.

"Oh, but I must! It is the truth. I felt that you cared--women are
surer in such matters than men. I must conceal nothing from you--nothing
of my craftiness. Women are crafty, you know. And suppose you fail?
Ah, I do not mean failure--you cannot fail, now. You have put yourself
forever beyond failure. But what I mean is, suppose you were compelled
to leave St. John's, and I came to you then as I have come now, and
begged to take my place beside you? I was afraid to risk it. I was
afraid you would not take me, even now, to-night. Do you realize how
austere you are at times, how you have frightened me?"

"That I should ever have done that!" he said.

"When I looked at you in the pulpit you seemed so far from me, I could
scarcely bear it. As if I had no share in you, as if you had already
gone to a place beyond, where I could not go, where I never could. Oh,
you will take me with you, now,--you won't leave me behind!"

To this cry every fibre of his soul responded. He had thought himself,
in these minutes, to have known all feelings, all thrills, but now,
as he gathered her to him again, he was to know still another, the most
exquisite of all. That it was conferred upon him to give this woman
protection, to shield and lift her, inspire her as she inspired him--this
consciousness was the most exquisite of all, transcending all conception
of the love of woman. And the very fulness of her was beyond him. A
lifetime were insufficient to exhaust her . . . .

"I wanted to come to you now, John. I want to share your failure, if it
comes--all your failures. Because they will be victories--don't you see?
I have never been able to achieve that kind of victory--real victory, by
myself. I have always succumbed, taken the baser, the easier thing."
Her cheek was wet. "I wasn't strong enough, by myself, and I never knew
the stronger one . . . .

"See what my trust in you has been! I knew that you would not refuse me
in spite of the fact that the world may misunderstand, may sneer at your
taking me. I knew that you were big enough even for that, when you
understood it, coming from me. I wanted to be with you, now, that we
might fight it out together."

"What have I done to deserve so priceless a thing?" he asked.

She smiled at him again, her lip trembling.

"Oh, I'm not priceless, I'm only real, I'm only human--human and tired.
You are so strong, you can't know how tired. Have you any idea why I
came out here, this summer? It was because I was desperate--because I
had almost decided to marry some one else."

She felt him start.

"I was afraid of it;" he said.

"Were you? Did you think, did you wonder a little about me?" There was
a vibrant note of triumph to which he reacted. She drew away from him.
a little. "Perhaps, when you know how sordid my life has been, you won't
want me."

"Is--Is that your faith, Alison?" he demanded. "God forbid! You have
come to a man who also has confessions to make."

"Oh, I am glad. I want to know all of you--all, do you understand? That
will bring us even closer together. And it was one thing I felt about
you in the beginning, that day in the garden, that you had had much to
conquer--more than most men. It was a part of your force and of your
knowledge of life. You were not a sexless ascetic who preached a mere
neutral goodness. Does that shock you?"

He smiled in turn.

"I went away from here, as I once told you, full of a high resolution not
to trail the honour of my art--if I achieved art--in the dust. But I
have not only trailed my art--I trailed myself. In New York I became
contaminated,--the poison of the place, of the people with whom I came in
contact, got into my blood. Little by little I yielded--I wanted so to
succeed, to be able to confound those who had doubted and ridiculed me!
I wasn't content to wait to deny myself for the ideal. Success was in
the air. That was the poison, and I only began to realize it after it
was too late.

"Please don't think I am asking pity--I feel that you must know. From
the very first my success--which was really failure--began to come in the
wrong way. As my father's daughter I could not be obscure. I was sought
out, I was what was called picturesque, I suppose. The women petted me,
although some of them hated me, and I had a fascination for a certain
kind of men--the wrong kind. I began going to dinners, house parties,
to recognize, that advantages came that way . . . . It seemed quite
natural. It was what many others of my profession tried to do, and they
envied me my opportunities.

"I ought to say, in justice to myself, that I was not in the least
cynical about it. I believed I was clinging to the ideal of art, and
that all I wanted was a chance. And the people I went with had the same
characteristics, only intensified, as those I had known here. Of course
I was actually no better than the women who were striving frivolously to
get away from themselves, and the men who were fighting to get money.
Only I didn't know it.

"Well, my chance came at last. I had done several little things, when an
elderly man who is tremendously rich, whose name you would recognize if I
mentioned it, gave me an order. For weeks, nearly every day, he came to
my studio for tea, to talk over the plans. I was really unsophisticated
then--but I can see now--well, that the garden was a secondary
consideration . . . . And the fact that I did it for him gave me a
standing I should not otherwise have had . . . . Oh, it is sickening
to look back upon, to think what an idiot I was in how little I saw....

"That garden launched me, and I began to have more work than I could do.
I was conscientious about it tried--tried to make every garden better
than the last. But I was a young woman, unconventionally living alone,
and by degrees the handicap of my sex was brought home to me. I did not
feel the pressure at first, and then--I am ashamed to say--it had in it
an element of excitement, a sense of power. The poison was at work. I
was amused. I thought I could carry it through, that the world had
advanced sufficiently for a woman to do anything if she only had the
courage. And I believed I possessed a true broadness of view, and could
impress it, so far as I was concerned, on others . . . .

"As I look back upon it all, I believe my reputation for coldness saved
me, yet it was that very reputation which increased the pressure, and
sometimes I was fairly driven into a corner. It seemed to madden some
men--and the disillusionments began to come. Of course it was my fault
--I don't pretend to say it wasn't. There were many whom, instinctively,
I was on my guard against, but some I thought really nice, whom I
trusted, revealed a side I had not suspected. That was the terrible
thing! And yet I held to my ideal, tattered as it was. . . "

Alison was silent a moment, still clinging to his hand, and when she
spoke again it was with a tremor of agitation.

"It is hard, to tell you this, but I wish you to know. At last I met a
man, comparatively young, who was making his own way in New York,
achieving a reputation as a lawyer. Shall I tell you that I fell in love
with him? He seemed to bring a new freshness into my life when I was
beginning to feel the staleness of it. Not that I surrendered at once,
but the reservations of which I was conscious at the first gradually
disappeared--or rather I ignored them. He had charm, a magnificent
self-confidence, but I think the liberality of the opinions he expressed,
in regard to women, most appealed to me. I was weak on that side, and I
have often wondered whether he knew it. I believed him incapable of a
great refusal.

"He agreed, if I consented to marry him, that I should have my freedom
--freedom to live in my own life and to carry on my profession.
Fortunately, the engagement was never announced, never even suspected.
One day he hinted that I should return to my father for a month or two
before the wedding . . . . The manner in which he said it suddenly
turned me cold. Oh," Alison exclaimed, "I was quite willing to go back,
to pay my father a visit, as I had done nearly every year, but--how can I
tell you?--he could not believe that I had definitely given up-my
father's money . . . .

"I sat still and looked at him, I felt as if I were frozen, turned to
stone. And after a long while, since I would not speak to him, he went
out. . . Three months later he came back and said that I had
misunderstood him, that he couldn't live without me. I sent him away....
Only the other day he married Amy Grant, one of my friends . . . .

"Well, after that, I was tired--so tired! Everything seemed to go out of
life. It wasn't that I loved him any longer,--all had been crushed. But
the illusion was gone, and I saw myself as I was. And for the first time
in my life I felt defenceless, helpless. I wanted refuge. Did you ever
hear of Jennings Howe?"

"The architect?"

Alison nodded. "Of course you must have--he is so well known. He has
been a widower for several years. He liked my work, saw its defects,
and was always frank about them, and I designed a good many gardens in
connection with his houses. He himself is above all things an artist,
and he fell into the habit of coming to my studio and giving me friendly
advice, in the nicest way. He seemed to understand that I was going
through some sort of a crisis. He called it 'too much society.' And
then, without any warning, he asked me to marry him.

"That is why I came out here--to think it over. I didn't love him, and I
told him so, but I respected him.

"He never compromised in his art, and I have known him over and over to
refuse houses because certain conditions were stipulated. To marry him
was an acknowledgment of defeat. I realized that. But I had come to the
extremity where I wanted peace--peace and protection. I wanted to put
myself irrevocably beyond the old life, which simply could not have gone
on, and I saw myself in the advancing years becoming tawdry and worn,
losing little by little what I had gained at a price.

"So I came here--to reflect, to see, as it were, if I could find
something left in me to take hold of, to build upon, to begin over again,
perhaps, by going back to the old associations. I could think of no
better place, and I knew that my father would, be going away after a few
weeks, and that I should be lone, yet with an atmosphere back of me,--my
old atmosphere. That was why I went to church the first Sunday, in order
to feel more definitely that atmosphere, to summon up more completely the
image of my mother. More and more, as the years have passed, I have
thought of her in moments of trouble. I have recovered her as I never
had hoped to do in Mr. Bentley. Isn't it strange," she exclaimed
wonderingly, "that he should have come into both our lives, with such an
influence, at this time?"

"And then I met you, talked to you that afternoon in the garden. Shall I
make a complete confession? I wrote to Jennings Howe that very week that
I could not marry him."

"You knew!" Hodder exclaimed: "You knew then?"

"Ah, I can't tell what I knew--or when. I knew, after I had seen you,
that I couldn't marry him! Isn't that enough?"

He drew in his breath deeply.

"I should be less than a man if I refused to take you, Alison. And--no
matter what happens, I can and will find some honest work to support you.
But oh, my dear, when I think of it, the nobility and generosity of what
you have done appalls me."

"No, no!" she protested, "you mustn't say that! I needed you more than
you need me. And haven't we both discovered the world, and renounced it?
I can at least go so far as to say that, with all my heart. And isn't
marriage truer and higher when man and wife start with difficulties and
problems to solve together? It is that thought that brings me the
greatest joy, that I may be able to help you . . . . Didn't you need
me, just a little?"

"Now that I have you, I am unable to think of the emptiness which might
have been. You came to me, like Beatrice, when I had lost my way in the
darkness of the wood. And like Beatrice, you showed me the path, and
hell and heaven."

"Oh, you would have found the path without me. I cannot claim that.
I saw from the first that you were destined to find it. And, unlike
Beatrice, I too was lost, and it was you who lifted me up. You mustn't
idealize me." . . . She stood up. "Come!" she said. He too stood,
gazing at her, and she lifted her hands to his shoulders . . . . They
moved out from under the tree and walked for a while in silence across
the dew-drenched grass, towards Park Street. The moon, which had ridden
over a great space in the sky, hung red above the blackness of the forest
to the west.

"Do you remember when we were here together, the day I met Mr. Bentley?
And you never would have spoken!"

"How could I, Alison?" he asked.

"No, you couldn't. And yet--you would have let me go!"

He put his arm in hers, and drew her towards him.

"I must talk to your father," he said, "some day--soon. I ought to tell
him--of our intentions. We cannot go on like this."

"No," she agreed, "I realize it. And I cannot stay, much longer, in Park
Street. I must go back to New York, until you send for me, dear. And
there are things I must do. Do you know, even though I antagonize him
so--my father, I mean--even though he suspects and bitterly resents any
interest in you, my affection for you, and that I have lingered because
of you, I believe, in his way, he has liked to have me here."

"I can understand it," Hodder said.

"It's because you are bigger than I, although he has quarrelled with you
so bitterly. I don't know what definite wrongs he has done to other
persons. I don't wish to know. I don't ask you to tell me what passed
between you that night. Once you said that you had an affection for him
--that he was lonely. He is lonely. In these last weeks, in spite of
his anger, I can see that he suffers terribly. It is a tragedy, because
he will never give in."

"It is a tragedy." Hodder's tone was agitated.

"I wonder if he realizes a little" she began, and paused. "Now that
Preston has come home--"

"Your brother?" Hodder exclaimed.

"Yes. I forgot to tell you. I don't know why he came," she faltered.
"I suppose he has got into some new trouble. He seems changed. I can't
describe it now, but I will tell you about it . . . . It's the first
time we've all three been together since my mother died, for Preston
wasn't back from college when I went to Paris to study . . . ."

They stood together on the pavement before the massive house, fraught
with so many and varied associations for Hodder. And as he looked up at
it, his eye involuntarily rested upon the windows of the boy's room where
Eldon Parr had made his confession. Alison startled him by pronouncing
his name, which came with such unaccustomed sweetness from her lips.
"You will write me to-morrow," she said, "after you have seen the bishop?"

"Yes, at once. You mustn't let it worry you."

"I feel as if I had cast off that kind of worry forever. It is only
--the other worries from which we do not escape, from which we do not wish
to escape."

With a wonderful smile she had dropped his hands and gone in at the
entrance, when a sound made them turn, the humming of a motor. And even
as they looked it swung into Park Street.

"It's a taxicab!" she said. As she spoke it drew up almost beside them,
instead of turning in at the driveway, the door opened, and a man
alighted.

"Preston!" Alison exclaimed.

He started, turning from the driver, whom he was about to pay. As for
Hodder, he was not only undergoing a certain shock through the sudden
contact, at such a moment, with Alison's brother: there was an additional
shock that this was Alison's brother and Eldon Parr's son. Not that his
appearance was shocking, although the well-clad, athletic figure was
growing a trifle heavy, and the light from the side lamps of the car
revealed dissipation in a still handsome face. The effect was a subtler
one, not to be analyzed, and due to a multitude of preconceptions.

Alison came forward.

"This is Mr. Hodder, Preston," she said simply.

For a moment Preston continued to stare at the rector without speaking.
Suddenly he put out his hand.

"Mr. Hodder, of St. John's?" he demanded.

"Yes," answered Hodder. His surprise deepened to perplexity at the warmth
of the handclasp that followed.

A smile that brought back vividly to Hodder the sunny expression of the
schoolboy in the picture lightened the features of the man.

"I'm very glad to see you," he said, in a tone that left no doubt of its
genuine quality.

"Thank you," Hodder replied, meeting his eye with kindness, yet with a
scrutiny that sought to penetrate the secret of an unexpected cordiality.
"I, too, have hoped to see you."

Alison, who stood by wondering, felt a meaning behind the rector's words.
She pressed his hand as he bade her, once more, good night.

"Won't you take my taxicab?" asked Preston. "It is going down town
anyway."

"I think I'd better stick to the street cars," Hodder said. His refusal
was not ungraceful, but firm. Preston did not insist.

In spite of the events of that evening, which he went over again and
again as the midnight car carried him eastward, in spite of a new-born
happiness the actuality of which was still difficult to grasp, Hodder
was vaguely troubled when he thought of Preston Parr.



THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 8.


XXVII.  RETRIBUTION
XXVIII.  LIGHT



CHAPTER XXVII

RETRIBUTION


I

The Bishop's House was a comfortable, double dwelling of a smooth,
bright red brick and large, plate-glass windows, situated in a plot
at the western end of Waverley Place. It had been bought by the Diocese
in the nineties, and was representative of that transitional period in
American architecture when the mansard roof had been repudiated, when
as yet no definite types had emerged to take its place. The house had
pointed gables, and a tiny and utterly useless porch that served only to
darken the front door, made of heavy pieces of wood fantastically curved.

It was precisely ten o'clock in the morning when Hodder rang the bell and
was shown into the ample study which he had entered on other and less
vital occasions. He found difficulty in realizing that this pleasant
room, lined with well-worn books and overlooking a back lawn where the
clothes of the episcopal family hung in the yellow autumn sun, was to be
his judgment seat, whence he might be committed to trial for heresy.

And this was the twentieth century! The full force of the preposterous
fact smote him, and a consciousness of the distance he himself had
travelled since the comparatively recent days of his own orthodoxy.
And suddenly he was full again of a resentful impatience, not only that
he should be called away from his labours, his cares, the strangers who
were craving his help, to answer charges of such an absurd triviality,
but that the performance of the great task to which he had set his hand,
with God's help, should depend upon it. Would his enemies be permitted
to drive him out thus easily?

The old bishop came in, walking by the aid of a cane. He smiled at
Hodder, who greeted him respectfully, and bidding him sit down, took a
chair himself behind his writing table, from whence he gazed awhile
earnestly and contemplatively at the rugged features and strong shoulders
of the rector of St. John's. The effect of the look was that of a visual
effort to harmonize the man with the deed he had done, the stir he had
created in the city and the diocese; to readjust impressions.

A hint of humour crept into the bishop's blue eyes, which were watery,
yet strong, with heavy creases in the corners. He indicated by a little
gesture three bundles of envelopes, bound by rubber bands, on the corner
of his blotter.

"Hodder," he said, "see what a lot of trouble you have made for me in my
old age! All those are about you."

The rector's expression could not have been deemed stern, but it had met
the bishop's look unflinchingly. Now it relaxed into a responding smile,
which was not without seriousness.

"I am sorry, sir," Hodder answered, "to have caused you any worry--or
inconvenience."

"Perhaps," said the bishop, "I have had too much smooth sailing for a
servant of Christ. Indeed, I have come to that conclusion."

Hodder did not reply. He was moved, even more by the bishop's manner
and voice than his words. And the opening to their conversation was
unexpected. The old man put on his spectacles, and drew from the top
of one of the bundles a letter.

"This is from one of your vestrymen, Mr. Gordon Atterbury," he said, and
proceeded to read it, slowly. When he had finished he laid it down.

"Is that, according to your recollection, Mr. Hodder, a fairly accurate
summary of the sermon you gave when you resumed the pulpit at the end of
the summer?"

"Yes, sir," answered the rector, "it is surprisingly accurate, with the
exception of two or three inferences which I shall explain at the proper
moment."

"Mr. Atterbury is to be congratulated on his memory," the bishop observed
a little dryly. "And he has saved me the trouble of reading more. Now
what are the inferences to which you object?"

Hodder stated them. "The most serious one," he added, "is that which he
draws from my attitude on the virgin birth. Mr. Atterbury insists, like
others who cling to that dogma, that I have become what he vaguely calls
an Unitarian. He seems incapable of grasping my meaning, that the only
true God the age knows, the world has ever known, is the God in Christ,
is the Spirit in Christ, and is there not by any material proof, but
because we recognize it spiritually. And that doctrine and dogma,
ancient speculations as to how, definitely, that spirit came to be in
Christ, are fruitless and mischievous to-day. Mr. Atterbury and others
seem actually to resent my identification of our Lord's Spirit with the
social conscience as well as the individual conscience of our time."

The bishop nodded.

"Hodder," he demanded abruptly, leaning forward over his desk, "how did
this thing happen?"

"You mean, sir--"

There was, in the bishop's voice, a note almost pathetic. "Oh, I do not
mean to ask you anything you may deem too personal. And God forbid, as
I look at you, as I have known you, that I should doubt your sincerity.
I am not your inquisitor, but your bishop and your friend, and I am
asking for your confidence. Six months ago you were, apparently, one of
the most orthodox rectors in the diocese. I recognize that you are not
an impulsive, sensational man, and I am all the more anxious to learn
from your own lips something of the influences, of the processes which
have changed you, which have been strong enough to impel you to risk the
position you have achieved."

By this unlooked-for appeal Hodder was not only disarmed, but smitten
with self-reproach at the thought of his former misjudgment and
underestimation of the man in whose presence he sat. And it came over
him, not only the extent to which, formerly, he had regarded the bishop
as too tolerant and easygoing, but the fact that he had arrived here
today prepared to find in his superior anything but the attitude he was
showing. Considering the bishop's age, Hodder had been ready for a lack
of understanding of the step he had taken, even for querulous reproaches
and rebuke.

He had, therefore, to pull himself together, to adjust himself to the
unexpected greatness of soul with which he was being received before he
began to sketch the misgivings he had felt from the early days of his
rectorship of St. John's; the helplessness and failure which by degrees
had come over him. He related how it had become apparent to him that by
far the greater part of his rich and fashionable congregation were
Christians only in name, who kept their religion in a small and
impervious compartment where it did not interfere with their lives.
He pictured the yearning and perplexity of those who had come to him for
help, who could not accept the old explanations, and had gone away empty;
and he had not been able to make Christians of the poor who attended the
parish house. Finally, trusting in the bishop's discretion, he spoke of
the revelations he had unearthed in Dalton Street, and how these had
completely destroyed his confidence in the Christianity he had preached,
and how he had put his old faith to the test of unprejudiced modern
criticism, philosophy, and science. . .

The bishop listened intently, his head bent, his eyes on he rector.

"And you have come out--convinced?" he asked tremulously. "Yes, yes,
I see you have. It is enough."

He relapsed into thought, his wrinkled hand lying idly on the table.

"I need not tell you, my friend," he resumed at length, "that a great
deal of pressure has been brought to bear upon me in this matter, more
than I have ever before experienced. You have mortally offended, among
others, the most powerful layman in the diocese, Mr. Parr, who complains
that you have presumed to take him to task concerning his private
affairs."

"I told him," answered Holder, "that so long as he continued to live the
life he leads, I could not accept his contributions to St. John's."

"I am an old man," said the bishop, "and whatever usefulness I have had
is almost finished. But if I were young to-day, I should pray God for
the courage and insight you have shown, and I am thankful to have lived
long enough to have known you. It has, at least, been given one to
realize that times have changed, that we are on the verge of a mighty
future. I will be frank to say that ten years ago, if this had happened,
I should have recommended you for trial. Now I can only wish you
Godspeed. I, too, can see the light, my friend. I can see, I think, though
dimly, the beginnings of a blending of all sects, of all religions in the
increasing vision of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ, stripped, as you
say, of dogma, of fruitless attempts at rational explanation. In Japan
and China, in India and Persia, as well as in Christian countries, it is
coming, coming by some working of the Spirit the mystery of which is
beyond us. And nations and men who even yet know nothing of the Gospels
are showing a willingness to adopt what is Christ's, and the God of
Christ."

Holder was silent, from sheer inability to speak.

"If you had needed an advocate with me," the bishop continued, "you could
not have had one to whose counsel I would more willingly have listened,
than that of Horace Bentley. He wrote asking to come and see me, but I
went to him in Dalton Street the day I returned. And it gives me
satisfaction, Mr. Holder, to confess to you freely that he has taught me,
by his life, more of true Christianity than I have learned in all my
experience elsewhere."

"I had thought," exclaimed the rector, wonderingly, "that I owed him more
than any other man."

"There are many who think that--hundreds, I should say," the bishop
replied . . . . "Eldon Parr ruined him, drove him from the church....
It is strange how, outside of the church, his influence has silently and
continuously grown until it has borne fruit in--this. Even now," he
added after a pause, "the cautiousness, the dread of change which comes
with old age might, I think, lead me to be afraid of it if I--didn't
perceive behind it the spirit of Horace Bentley."

It struck Holder, suddenly, what an unconscious but real source of
confidence this thought had likewise been to him. He spoke of it.

"It is not that I wouldn't trust you," the bishop went on. "I have
watched you, I have talked to Asa Waring, I have read the newspapers.
In spite of it all, you have kept your head, you have not compromised the
dignity of the Church. But oh, my friend, I beg you to bear in mind that
you are launched upon deep waters, that you have raised up many enemies
--enemies of Christ--who seek to destroy you. You are still young. And
the uncompromising experiment to which you are pledged, of freeing your
church, of placing her in the position of power and influence in the
community which is rightfully hers, is as yet untried. And no stone will
be left unturned to discourage and overcome you. You have faith,--you
have made me feel it as you sat here,--a faith which will save you from
bitterness in personal defeat. You may not reap the victory, or even see
it in your lifetime. But of this I am sure, that you will be able to
say, with Paul, 'I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the
increase.' Whatever happens, you may count upon my confidence and
support. I can only wish that I were younger, that my arm were stronger,
and that I had always perceived the truth as clearly as I see it now."

Holder had risen involuntarily while these words were being spoken. They
were indeed a benediction, and the intensity of his feeling warned him of
the inadequacy of any reply. They were pronounced in sorrow, yet in
hope, and they brought home to him, sharply, the nobility of the bishop's
own sacrifice.

"And you, sir?" he asked.

"Ah," answered the bishop, "with this I shall have had my life. I am
content. . . ."

"You will come to me again, Hodder? some other day," he said,
after an interval, "that we may talk over the new problems. They are
constructive, creative, and I am anxious to hear how you propose to meet
them. For one thing, to find a new basis for the support of such a
parish. I understand they have deprived you of your salary."

"I have enough to live on, for a year or so," replied the rector,
quickly. "Perhaps more."

"I'm afraid," said the bishop, with a smile in his old eyes, "that you
will need it, my friend. But who can say? You have strength, you have
confidence, and God is with you."



II

Life, as Hodder now grasped it, was a rapidly whirling wheel which gave
him no chance to catch up with the impressions and experiences through
which it was dragging him. Here, for instance, were two far-reaching
and momentous events, one crowding upon the other, and not an hour for
reflection, realization, or adjustment! He had, indeed, after his return
from the bishop's, snatched a few minutes to write Alison the unexpected
result of that interview. But even as he wrote and rang for a messenger
to carry the note to Park Street, he was conscious of an effort to seize
upon and hold the fact that the woman he had so intensely desired was now
his helpmate; and had, of her own freewill, united herself with him. A
strong sense of the dignity of their relationship alone prevented his
calling her on the telephone--as it doubtless had prevented her. While
she remained in her father's house, he could not. . .

In the little room next to the office several persons were waiting to see
him. But as he went downstairs he halted on the, landing, his hand going
to his forehead, a reflex movement significant of a final attempt to
achieve the hitherto unattainable feat of imagining her as his wife.
If he might only speak to her again--now, this morning! And yet he
knew that he needed no confirmation. The reality was there, in the
background; and though refusing to come forward to be touched, it had
already grafted itself as an actual and vital part of his being, never
to be eliminated.

Characteristically perfecting his own ideal, she had come to him in the
hour when his horizon had been most obscure. And he experienced now an
exultation, though solemn and sacred, that her faith had so far been
rewarded in the tidings he now confided to the messenger. He was not,
as yet, to be driven out from the task, to be deprived of the talent,
the opportunity intrusted to him by Lord--the emancipation of the parish
of St. John's.

The first to greet him, when he entered his office, was one who, unknown
to himself, had been fighting the battle of the God in Christ, and who
now, thanks to John Hodder, had identified the Spirit as the transforming
force. Bedloe Hubbell had come to offer his services to the Church. The
tender was unqualified.

"I should even be willing, Mr. Hodder," he said with a smile, "to venture
occasionally into a pulpit. You have not only changed my conception of
religion, but you have made it for me something which I can now speak
about naturally."

Hodder was struck by the suggestion.

"Ah, we shall need the laymen in the pulpits, Mr. Hubbell," he said
quickly. "A great spiritual movement must be primarily a lay movement.
And I promise you you shall not lack for opportunity."



III

At nine o'clock that evening, when a reprieve came, Hodder went out.
Anxiety on the score of Kate Marcy, as well as a desire to see Mr.
Bentley and tell him of the conversation with the bishop, directed his
steps toward Dalton Street. And Hodder had, indeed, an intention of
confiding to his friend, as one eminently entitled to it, the news of
his engagement to Alison Parr.

Nothing, however, had been heard of Kate. She was not in Dalton Street,
Mr. Bentley feared. The search of Gratz, the cabinet-maker, had been
fruitless. And Sally Grover had even gone to see the woman in the
hospital, whom Kate had befriended, in the hope of getting a possible
clew. They sat close together before the fire in Mr. Bentley's
comfortable library, debating upon the possibility of other methods of
procedure, when a carriage was heard rattling over the pitted asphalt
without. As it pulled up at the curb, a silence fell between them. The
door-bell rang.

Holder found himself sitting erect, rigidly attentive, listening to the
muffled sound of a woman's voice in the entry. A few moments later came
a knock at the library door, and Sam entered. The old darky was plainly
frightened.

"It's Miss Kate, Marse Ho'ace, who you bin tryin' to fin'," he stammered.

Holder sprang to his feet and made his way rapidly around the table,
where he stood confronting the woman in the doorway. There she was,
perceptibly swaying, as though the floor under her were rocked by an
earthquake. Her handsome face was white as chalk, her pupils widened in
terror. It was curious, at such an instant, that he should have taken
in her costume,--yet it was part of the mystery. She wore a new,
close-fitting, patently expensive suit of dark blue cloth and a small
hat, which were literally transforming in their effect, demanding a
palpable initial effort of identification.

He seized her by the arm.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"Oh, my God!" she cried. "He--he's out there--in the carriage."

She leaned heavily against the doorpost, shivering . . . . Holder saw
Sally Grover coming down the stairs.

"Take her," he said, and went out of the front door, which Sam had left
open. Mr. Bentley was behind him.

The driver had descended from the box and was peering into the darkness
of the vehicle when he heard them, and turned. At sight of the tall
clergyman, an expression of relief came into his face.

"I don't like the looks of this, sir," he said. "I thought he was pretty
bad when I went to fetch him--"

Holder pushed past him and looked into the carriage. Leaning back,
motionless, in the corner of the seat was the figure of a man. For a
terrible moment of premonition, of enlightenment, the rector gazed at it.

"They sent for me from a family hotel in Ayers Street," the driver was
explaining. Mr. Bentley's voice interrupted him.

"He must be brought in, at once. Do you know where Dr. Latimer's office
is, on Tower Street?" he asked the man. "Go there, and bring this
doctor back with you as quickly as possible. If he is not in, get
another, physician."

Between them, the driver and Holder got the burden out of the carriage
and up the steps. The light from the hallway confirmed the rector's
fear.

"It's Preston Parr," he said.

The next moment was too dreadful for surprise, but never had the sense of
tragedy so pierced the innermost depths of Holder's being as now, when
Horace Bentley's calmness seemed to have forsaken him; and as he gazed
down upon the features on the pillow, he wept . . . . Holder turned
away. Whatever memories those features evoked, memories of a past that
still throbbed with life these were too sacred for intrusion. The years
of exile, of uncomplaining service to others in this sordid street and
over the wide city had not yet sufficed to allay the pain, to heal the
wound of youth. Nay, loyalty had kept it fresh--a loyalty that was the
handmaid of faith. . .

The rector softly left the room, only to be confronted with another
harrowing scene in the library, where a frantic woman was struggling in
Sally Grover's grasp. He went to her assistance. . . Words of
comfort, of entreaty were of no avail,--Kate Marcy did not seem to hear
them. Hers, in contrast to that other, was the unmeaning grief, the
overwhelming sense of injustice of the child; and with her regained
physical strength the two had all they could do to restrain her.

"I will go to him," she sobbed, between her paroxysms, "you've got no
right to keep me--he's mine . . . he came back to me--he's all I ever
had . . . ."

So intent were they that they did not notice Mr. Bentley standing beside
them until they heard his voice.

"What she says is true," he told them. "Her place is in there. Let her
go."

Kate Marcy raised her head at the words, and looked at him a strange,
half-comprehending, half-credulous gaze. They released her, helped her
towards the bedroom, and closed the door gently behind her. . . The
three sat in silence until the carriage was heard returning, and the
doctor entered.

The examination was brief, and two words, laconically spoken, sufficed
for an explanation--apoplexy, alcohol. The prostrate, quivering woman
was left where they had found her.

Dr. Latimer was a friend of Mr. Bentley's, and betrayed no surprise at a
situation which otherwise might have astonished him. It was only when he
learned the dead man's name, and his parentage, that he looked up quickly
from his note book.

"The matter can be arranged without a scandal," he said, after an
instant. "Can you tell me something of the circumstances?"

It was Hodder who answered.

"Preston Parr had been in love with this woman, and separated from her.
She was under Mr. Bentley's care when he found her again, I infer, by
accident. From what the driver says, they were together in a hotel in
Ayers Street, and he died after he had been put in a carriage. In her
terror, she was bringing him to Mr. Bentley."

The doctor nodded.

"Poor woman!" he said unexpectedly. "Will you be good enough to let Mr:
Parr know that I will see him at his house, to-night?" he added, as he
took his departure.



IV

Sally Grower went out with the physician, and it was Mr. Bentley who
answered the question in the rector's mind, which he hesitated to ask.

"Mr. Parr must come here," he said.

As the rector turned, mechanically, to pick up his hat, Mr. Bentley added

"You will come back, Hodder?"

"Since you wish it, sir," the rector said.

Once in the street, he faced a predicament, but swiftly decided that the
telephone was impossible under the circumstances, that there could be no
decent procedure without going himself to Park Street. It was only a
little after ten. The electric car which he caught seemed to lag, the
stops were interminable. His thoughts flew hither and thither. Should
he try first to see Alison? He was nearest to her now of all the world,
and he could not suffer the thought of her having the news otherwise.
Yes, he must tell her, since she knew nothing of the existence of Kate
Marcy.

Having settled that,--though the thought of the blow she was to receive
lay like a weight on his heart,--Mr. Bentley's reason for summoning Eldon
Parr to Dalton Street came to him. That the feelings of Mr. Bentley
towards the financier were those of Christian forgiveness was not
for a moment to be doubted: but a meeting, particularly under such
circumstances, could not but be painful indeed. It must be, it was,
Hodder saw, for Kate Marcy's sake; yes, and for Eldon Parr's as well,
that he be given this opportunity to deal with the woman whom he had
driven away from his son, and ruined.

The moon, which had shed splendours over the world the night before,
was obscured by a low-drifting mist as Hodder turned in between the
ornamental lamps that marked the gateway of the Park Street mansion,
and by some undiscerned thought--suggestion he pictured the heart-broken
woman he had left beside the body of one who had been heir to all this
magnificence. Useless now, stone and iron and glass, pictures and
statuary. All the labour, all the care and cunning, all the stealthy
planning to get ahead of others had been in vain! What indeed were left
to Eldon Parr! It was he who needed pity,--not the woman who had sinned
and had been absolved because of her great love; not the wayward,
vice-driven boy who lay dead. The very horror of what Eldon Parr was now
to suffer turned Hodder cold as he rang the bell and listened for the
soft tread of the servant who would answer his summons.

The man who flung open the door knew him, and did not conceal his
astonishment.

"Will you take my card to Miss Parr," the rector said, "if she has not
retired, and tell her I have a message?"

"Miss Parr is still in the library, sir."

"Alone?"

"Yes, sir." The man preceded him, but before his name had been announced
Alison was standing, her book in her hand, gazing at him with startled
eyes, his name rising, a low cry, to her lips.

"John!"

He took the book from her, gently, and held her hands.

"Something has happened!" she said. "Tell me--I can bear it."

He saw instantly that her dread was for him, and it made his task the
harder.

It's your brother, Alison."

"Preston! What is it? He's done something----"

Hodder shook his head.

"He died--to-night. He is at Mr. Bentley's."

It was like her that she did not cry out, or even speak, but stood still,
her hands tightening on his, her breast heaving. She was not, he knew,
a woman who wept easily, and her eyes were dry. And he had it to be
thankful for that it was given him to be with her, in this sacred
relationship, at such a moment. But even now, such was the mystery that
ever veiled her soul, he could not read her feelings, nor know what these
might be towards the brother whose death he announced.

"I want to tell you, first, Alison, to prepare you," he said.

Her silence was eloquent. She looked up at him bravely, trustfully, in a
way that made him wince. Whatever the exact nature of her suffering, it
was too deep for speech. And yet she helped him, made it easier for him
by reason of her very trust, once given not to be withdrawn. It gave him
a paradoxical understanding of her which was beyond definition.

"You must know--you would have sometime to know that there was a woman he
loved, whom he intended to marry--but she was separated from him. She
was not what is called a bad woman, she was a working girl. I found her,
this summer, and she told me the story, and she has been under the care
of Mr. Bentley. She disappeared two or three days ago. Your brother met
her again, and he was stricken with apoplexy while with her this evening.
She brought him to Mr. Bentley's house."

"My father--bought her and sent her away."

"You knew?"

"I heard a little about it at the time, by accident. I have always
remembered it . . . . I have always felt that something like this
would happen."

Her sense of fatality, another impression she gave of living in the
deeper, instinctive currents of life, had never been stronger upon him
than now. . . . She released his hands.

"How strange," she said, "that the end should have come at Mr. Bentley's!
He loved my mother--she was the only woman he ever loved."

It came to Hodder as the completing touch of the revelation he had half
glimpsed by the bedside.

"Ah," he could not help exclaiming, "that explains much."

She had looked at him again, through sudden tears, as though divining his
reference to Mr. Bentley's grief, when a step make them turn. Eldon Parr
had entered the room. Never, not even in that last interview, had his
hardness seemed so concretely apparent as now. Again, pity seemed never
more out of place, yet pity was Hodder's dominant feeling as he met the
coldness, the relentlessness of the glance. The thing that struck him,
that momentarily kept closed his lips, was the awful, unconscious
timeliness of the man's entrance, and his unpreparedness to meet
the blow that was to crush him.

"May I ask, Mr. Hodder," he said, in an unemotional voice, "what you are
doing in this house?"

Still Hodder hesitated, an unwilling executioner.

"Father," said Alison, "Mr. Hodder has come with a message."

Never, perhaps, had Eldon Parr given such complete proof of his lack of
spiritual intuition. The atmosphere, charged with presage for him, gave
him nothing.

"Mr. Hodder takes a strange way of delivering it," was his comment.

Mercy took precedence over her natural directness. She laid her hand
gently on his arm. And she had, at that instant, no thought of the long
years he had neglected her for her brother.

"It's about--Preston," she said.

"Preston!" The name came sharply from Eldon Parr's lips. "What about
him? Speak, can't you?"

"He died this evening," said Alison, simply.

Hodder plainly heard the ticking of the clock on the mantel . . . .
And the drama that occurred was the more horrible because it was hidden;
played, as it were, behind closed doors. For the spectators, there was
only the black wall, and the silence. Eldon Parr literally did nothing,
--made no gesture, uttered no cry. The death, they knew, was taking place
in his soul, yet the man stood before them, naturally, for what seemed an
interminable time . . . .

"Where is he?" he asked.

"At Mr. Bentley's, in Dalton Street." It was Alison who replied again.

Even then he gave no sign that he read retribution in the coincidence,
betrayed no agitation at the mention of a name which, in such a
connection, might well have struck the terror of judgment into his heart.
They watched him while, with a firm step, he crossed the room and pressed
a button in the wall, and waited.

"I want the closed automobile, at once," he said, when the servant came.

"I beg pardon; sir, but I think Gratton has gone to bed. He had no
orders."

"Then wake him," said Eldon Parr, "instantly. And send for my
secretary."

With a glance which he perceived Alison comprehended, Hodder made his way
out of the room. He had from Eldon Parr, as he passed him, neither
question, acknowledgment, nor recognition. Whatever the banker might
have felt, or whether his body had now become a mere machine mechanically
carrying on a life-long habit of action, the impression was one of the
tremendousness of the man's consistency. A great effort was demanded to
summon up the now almost unimaginable experience of his confidence; of
the evening when, almost on that very spot, he had revealed to Hodder the
one weakness of his life. And yet the effort was not to be, presently,
without startling results. In the darkness of the street the picture
suddenly grew distinct on the screen of the rector's mind, the face of
the banker subtly drawn with pain as he had looked down on it in
compassion; the voice with its undercurrent of agony:

"He never knew how much I cared--that what I was doing was all for him,
building for him, that he might carry on my work."



V

So swift was the trolley that ten minutes had elapsed, after Hodder's
arrival, before the purr of an engine and the shriek of a brake broke the
stillness of upper Dalton Street and announced the stopping of a heavy
motor before the door. The rector had found Mr. Bentley in the library,
alone, seated with bent head in front of the fire, and had simply
announced the intention of Eldon Parr to come. From the chair Hodder had
unobtrusively chosen, near the window, his eyes rested on the noble
profile of his friend. What his thoughts were, Hodder could not surmise;
for he seemed again, marvellously, to have regained the outward peace
which was the symbol of banishment from the inner man of all thought of
self.

"I have prepared her for Mr. Parr's coming," he said to Hodder at length.

And yet he had left her there! Hodder recalled the words Mr. Bentley had
spoken, "It is her place." Her place, the fallen woman's, the place she
had earned by a great love and a great renunciation, of which no earthly
power might henceforth deprive her . . . .

Then came the motor, the ring at the door, the entrance of Eldon Parr
into the library. He paused, a perceptible moment, on the threshold as
his look fell upon the man whom he had deprived of home and fortune,--yes
and of the one woman in the world for them both. Mr. Bentley had risen,
and stood facing him. That shining, compassionate gaze should have been
indeed a difficult one to meet. Vengeance was the Lord's, in truth!
What ordeal that Horace Bentley in anger and retribution might have
devised could have equalled this!

And yet Eldon Parr did meet it--with an effort. Hodder, from his corner,
detected the effort, though it were barely discernible, and would have
passed a scrutiny less rigid,--the first outward and visible sign of the
lesion within. For a brief instant the banker's eyes encountered Mr.
Bentley's look with a flash of the old defiance, and fell, and then swept
the room.

"Will you come this way, Mr. Parr?" Mr. Bentley said, indicating the door
of the bedroom.

Alison followed. Her eyes, wet with unheeded tears, had never left Mr.
Bentley's face. She put out her hand to him . . . .

Eldon Parr had halted abruptly. He knew from Alison the circumstances in
which his son had died, and how he had been brought hither to this house,
but the sight of the woman beside the bed fanned into flame his fury
against a world which had cheated him, by such ignominious means, of his
dearest wish. He grew white with sudden passion.

"What is she doing here?" he demanded.

Kate Marcy, who had not seemed to hear his entrance, raised up to him a
face from which all fear had fled, a face which, by its suggestive power,
compelled him to realize the absolute despair clutching now at his own
soul, and against which he was fighting wildly, hopelessly. It was lying
in wait for him, With hideous patience, in the coming watches of the
night. Perhaps he read in the face of this woman whom he had condemned
to suffer all degradation, and over whom he was now powerless, something
which would ultimately save her from the hell now yawning for him; a
redeeming element in her grief of which she herself were not as yet
conscious, a light shining in the darkness of her soul which in eternity
would become luminous. And he saw no light for him--He thrashed in
darkness. He had nothing, now, to give, no power longer to deprive.
She had given all she possessed, the memorial of her kind which would
outlast monuments.

It was Alison who crossed the room swiftly. She laid her hand
protectingly on Kate Marcy's shoulder, and stooped, and kissed her.
She turned to her father.

"It is her right," she said. "He belonged to her, not to us. And we
must take her home with us.

"No," answered Kate Marcy' "I don't want to go. I wouldn't live," she
added with unexpected intensity, "with him."

"You would live with me," said Alison.

"I don't want to live!" Kate Marcy got up from the chair with an energy
they had not thought her to possess, a revival of the spirit which had
upheld her when she had contended, singly, with a remorseless world. She
addressed herself to Eldon Parr. "You took him from me, and I was a fool
to let you. He might have saved me and saved himself. I listened to you
when you told me lies as to how it would ruin him . . . . Well,--I had
him you never did."

The sudden, intolerable sense of wrong done to her love, the swift anger
which followed it, the justness of her claim of him who now lay in the
dignity of death clothed her--who in life had been crushed and blotted
out--with a dignity not to be gainsaid. In this moment of final
self-assertion she became the dominating person in the room, knew for
once the birthright of human worth. They watched her in silence as she
turned and gave one last, lingering look at the features of the dead;
stretched out her hand towards them, but did not touch them . . . and
then went slowly towards the door. Beside Alison she stopped.

"You are his sister?" she said.

"Yes."

She searched Alison's face, wistfully.

"I could have loved you."

"And can you not--still?"

Kate Mercy did not answer the question.

"It is because you understand," she said. "You're like those I've come
to know--here. And you're like him . . . . I don't mean in looks.
He, too, was good--and square." She spoke the words a little defiantly,
as though challenging the verdict of the world. "And he wouldn't have
been wild if he could have got going straight."

"I know," said Alison, in a low voice.

"Yes," said Kate Mercy, "you look as if you did. He thought a lot of
you, he said he was only beginning to find out what you was. I'd like
you to think as well of me as you can."

"I could not think better," Alison replied.

Kate Mercy shook her head.

"I got about as low as any woman ever got," she said

"Mr. Hodder will tell you. I want you to know that I wouldn't marry
--your brother," she hesitated over the name. "He wanted me to--he was mad
with me to night, because I wouldn't--when this happened."

She snatched her hand free from Alison's, and fled out of the room, into
the hallway.

Eldon Parr had moved towards the bed, seemingly unaware of the words they
had spoken. Perhaps, as he gazed upon the face, he remembered in his
agony the sunny, smiling child who need to come hurrying down the steps
in Ransome Street to meet him.

In the library Mr. Bentley and John Hodder, knowing nothing of her
flight, heard the front door close on Kate Marcy forever . . . .



CHAPTER XXVIII

LIGHT


I

Two days after the funeral, which had taken place from Calvary, and not
from St. John's, Hodder was no little astonished to receive a note from
Eldon Parr's secretary requesting the rector to call in Park Street. In
the same mail was a letter from Alison. "I have had," she wrote, "a talk
with my father. The initiative was his. I should not have thought of
speaking to him of my affairs so soon after Preston's death. It seems
that he strongly suspected our engagement, which of course I at once
acknowledged, telling him that it was your intention, at the proper time,
to speak to him yourself.

"I was surprised when he said he would ask you to call. I confess that
I have not an idea of what he intends to say to you, John, but I trust
you absolutely, as always. You will find him, already, terribly changed.
I cannot describe it--you will see for yourself. And it has all seemed
to happen so suddenly. As I wrote you, he sat up both nights, with
Preston--he could not be induced to leave the room. And after the first
night he was different. He has hardly spoken a word, except when he sent
for me this evening, and he eats nothing . . . . And yet, somehow,
I do not think that this will be the end. I feel that he will go on
living. . . . .

"I did not realize how much he still hoped about Preston. And on Monday,
when Preston so unexpectedly came home, he was happier than I have known
him for years. It was strange and sad that he could not see, as I saw,
that whatever will power my brother had had was gone. He could not read
it in the face of his own son, who was so quick to detect it in all
others! And then came the tragedy. Oh, John, do you think we shall ever
find that girl again?--I know you are trying but we mustn't rest until we
do. Do you think we ever shall? I shall never forgive myself for not
following her out of the door, but, I thought she had gone to you and Mr.
Bentley."

Hodder laid the letter down, and took it up again. He knew that Alison
felt, as he felt, that they never would find Kate Marcy . . . . He
read on.

"My father wished to speak to me about the money. He has plans for
much of it, it appears, even now. Oh. John, he will never understand.
I want so much to see you, to talk to you--there are times when I am
actually afraid to be alone, and without you. If it be weakness to
confess that I need your reassurance, your strength and comfort
constantly, then I am weak. I once thought I could stand alone, that
I had solved all problems for myself, but I know now how foolish I was.
I have been face to face with such dreadful, unimagined things, and in my
ignorance I did not conceive that life held such terrors. And when I
look at my father, the thought of immortality turns me faint. After you
have come here this afternoon there can be no longer any reason why we
should not meet, and all the world know it. I will go with you to Mr.
Bentley's.

"Of course I need not tell you that I refused to inherit anything. But
I believe I should have consented if I possibly could have done so. It
seemed so cruel--I can think of no other word--to have, to refuse at such
a moment. Perhaps I have been cruel to him all my life--I don't know.
As I look back upon everything, all our relations, I cannot see how I
could have been different. He wouldn't let me. I still believe to have
stayed with him would have been a foolish and useless sacrifice . . .
But he looked at me so queerly, as though he, too, had had a glimmering
of what we might have been to each other after my mother died. Why is
life so hard? And why are we always getting glimpses of things when it
is too late? It is only honest to say that if I had it to do all over
again, I should have left him as I did.

"It is hard to write you this, but he actually made the condition of my
acceptance of the inheritance that I should not marry you. I really do
not believe I convinced him that you wouldn't have me take the money
under any circumstances. And the dreadful side of it all was that I had
to make it plain to him--after what has happened that my desire to marry
you wasn't the main reason of my refusal. I had to tell him that even
though you had not been in question, I couldn't have taken what he wished
to give me, since it had not been honestly made. He asked me why I went
on eating the food bought with such money, living under his roof? But I
cannot, I will not leave him just yet . . . . It is two o'clock. I
cannot write any more to-night."



II

The appointed time was at the November dusk, hurried forward nearly an
hour by the falling panoply of smoke driven westward over the Park by the
wet east wind. And the rector was conducted, with due ceremony, to the
office upstairs which he had never again expected to enter, where that
other memorable interview had taken place. The curtains were drawn. And
if the green-shaded lamp--the only light in the room--had been arranged
by a master of dramatic effect, it could not have better served the
setting.

In spite of Alison's letter, Holder was unprepared for the ravages a few
days had made in the face of Eldon Parr. Not that he appeared older: the
impression was less natural, more sinister. The skin had drawn sharply
over the cheek-bones, and strangely the eyes both contradicted and
harmonized with the transformation of the features. These, too, had
changed. They were not dead and lustreless, but gleamed out of the
shadowy caverns into which they had sunk, unyielding, indomitable in
torment,--eyes of a spirit rebellious in the fumes . . . .

This spirit somehow produced the sensation of its being separated from
the body, for the movement of the hand, inviting Holder to seat himself,
seemed almost automatic.

"I understand," said Eldon Parr, "that you wish to marry my daughter."

"It is true that I am to marry Alison," Holder answered, "and that I
intended, later on, to come to inform you of the fact."

He did not mention the death of Preston. Condolences, under the
circumstances, were utterly out of the question.

"How do you propose to support her?" the banker demanded.

"She is of age, and independent of you. You will pardon me if I reply
that this is a matter between ourselves," Holder said.

"I had made up my mind that the day she married you I would not only
disinherit her, but refuse absolutely, to have anything to do with her."

"If you cannot perceive what she perceives, that you have already by your
own life cut her off from you absolutely and that seeing her will not
mend matters while you remain relentless, nothing I can say will convince
you." Holder did not speak rebukingly. The utter uselessness of it was
never more apparent. The man was condemned beyond all present reprieve,
at least.

"She left me," exclaimed Eldon Parr, bitterly.

"She left you, to save herself."

"We need not discuss that."

"I am far from wishing to discuss it," Holder replied.

"I do not know why you have asked me to come here, Mr. Parr. It is clear
that your attitude has not changed since our last conversation. I tried
to make it plain to you why the church could not accept your money. Your
own daughter, cannot accept it."

"There was a time," retorted the banker, "when you did not refuse to
accept it."

"Yes," Holder replied, "that is true." It came to him vividly then that
it had been Alison herself who had cast the enlightening gleam which
revealed his inconsistency. But he did not defend himself.

"I can see nothing in all this, Mr. Hodder, but a species of insanity,"
said Eldon Parr, and there crept into his tone both querulousness and
intense exasperation. "In the first place, you insist upon marrying my
daughter when neither she nor you have any dependable means of support.
She never spared her criticisms of me, and you presume to condemn me,
a man who, if he has neglected his children, has done so because he has
spent too much of his time in serving his community and his country, and
who has--if I have to say it myself--built up the prosperity which you
and others are doing your best to tear down, and which can only result in
the spread of misery. You profess to have a sympathy with the masses,
but you do not know them as I do. They cannot control themselves, they
require a strong hand. But I am not asking for your sympathy. I have
been misunderstood all my life, I have become used to ingratitude, even
from my children, and from the rector of the church for which I have done
more than any other man."

Hodder stared at him in amazement.

"You really believe that!" he exclaimed.

"Believe it!" Eldon Parr repeated. "I have had my troubles, as heavy
bereavements as a man can have. All of them, even this of my son's
death, all the ingratitude and lack of sympathy I have experienced--"
(he looked deliberately at Hodder) "have not prevented me, do not prevent
me to-day from regarding my fortune as a trust. You have deprived St.
John's, at least so long as you remain there, of some of its benefits,
and the responsibility for that is on your own head. And I am now making
arrangements to give to Calvary the settlement house which St. John's
should have had."

The words were spoken with such an air of conviction, of unconscious
plausibility, as it were, that it was impossible for Hodder to doubt the
genuineness of the attitude they expressed. And yet it was more than his
mind could grasp . . . . Horace Bentley, Richard Garvin, and the
miserable woman of the streets whom he had driven to destroy herself had
made absolutely no impression whatever! The gifts, the benefactions of
Eldon Parr to his fellow-men would go on as before!

"You ask me why I sent for you," the banker went on. "It was primarily
because I hoped to impress upon you the folly of marrying my daughter.
And in spite of all the injury and injustice you have done me, I do not
forget that you were once in a relationship to me which has been unique
in my life. I trusted you, I admired you, for your ability, for your
faculty of getting on with men. At that time you were wise enough not
to attempt to pass comment upon accidents in business affairs which are,
if deplorable, inevitable."

Eldon Parr's voice gave a momentary sign of breaking.

"I will be frank with you. My son's death has led me, perhaps weakly,
to make one more appeal. You have ruined your career by these
chimerical, socialistic notions you have taken up, and which you mistake
for Christianity. As a practical man I can tell you, positively, that
St. John's will run downhill until you are bankrupt. The people who come
to you now are in search of a new sensation, and when that grows stale
they will fall away. Even if a respectable number remain in your
congregation, after this excitement and publicity have died down, I have
reason to know that it is impossible to support a large city church on
contributions. It has been tried again and again, and failed. You have
borrowed money for the Church's present needs. When that is gone I
predict that you will find it difficult to get more."

This had every indication of being a threat, but Hodder, out of sheer
curiosity, did not interrupt. And it was evident that the banker drew a
wrong conclusion from his silence, which he may actually have taken for
reluctant acquiescence. His tone grew more assertive.

"The Church, Mr. Hodder, cannot do without the substantial business men.
I have told the bishop so, but he is failing so rapidly from old age that
I might as well not have wasted my breath. He needs an assistant, a
suffragan or coadjutor, and I intend to make it my affair to see that he
gets one. When I remember him as he was ten years ago, I find it hard to
believe that he is touched with these fancies. To be charitable, it is
senile decay. He seems to forget what I have done for him, personally,
made up his salary, paid his expenses at different times, and no appeal
for the diocese to me was ever in vain. But again, I will let that go.

"What I am getting at is this. You have made a mess of the affairs of
St. John's, you have made a mess of your life. I am willing to give you
the credit for sincerity. Some of my friends might not be. You want to
marry my daughter, and she is apparently determined to marry you. If you
are sensible and resign from St. John's now I will settle on Alison a
sufficient sum to allow you both to live in comfort and decency the rest
of your lives. I will not have it said of me that I permitted my
daughter to become destitute."

After he had finished, the rector sat for so long a time that the banker
nervously shifted in his chair. The clergyman's look had a cumulative
quality, an intensity which seemed to increase as the silence continued.
There was no anger in it, no fanaticism. On the contrary, the higher
sanity of it was disturbing; and its extraordinary implication--gradually
borne in upon Eldon Parr--was that he himself were not in his right mind.
The words, when they came, were a confirmation of this inference.

"It is what I feared, Mr. Parr," he said. "You are as yet incapable of
comprehending."

"What do you mean?" asked the banker, jerking his hand from the table.

The rector shook his head.

"If this great chastisement with which you have been visited has given
you no hint of the true meaning of life, nothing I can say will avail.
If you will not yet listen to the Spirit which is trying to make you
comprehend, how then will you listen to me? How am I to open your eyes
to the paradox of truth, that he who would save his life shall lose it,
that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for
a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God? If you will not believe him
who said that, you will not believe me. I can only beg of you, strive to
understand, that your heart many be softened, that your suffering soul
may be released."

It is to be recorded, strangely, that Eldon Parr did not grow angry in
his turn. The burning eyes looked out at Hodder curiously, as at a being
upon whom the vials of wrath were somehow wasted, against whom the
weapons of power were of no account. The fanatic had become a phenomenon
which had momentarily stilled passion to arouse interest. . . "Art
thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"

"Do you mean to say"--such was the question that sprang to Eldon Parr's
lips--"that you take the Bible literally? What is your point of view?
You speak about the salvation of souls, I have heard that kind of talk
all my life. And it is easy, I find, for men who have never known the
responsibilities of wealth to criticize and advise. I regard
indiscriminate giving as nothing less than a crime, and I have always
tried to be painstaking and judicious. If I had taken the words you
quoted at their face value, I should have no wealth to distribute to-day.

"I, too, Mr. Hodder, odd as it may seem to you, have had my dreams--of
doing my share of making this country the best place in the world to live
in. It has pleased providence to take away my son. He was not fitted to
carry on my work,--that is the way--with dreams. I was to have taught
him to build up, and to give, as I have given. You think me embittered,
hard, because I seek to do good, to interpret the Gospel in my own way.
Before this year is out I shall have retired from all active business.

"I intend to spend the rest of my life in giving away the money I have
earned--all of it. I do not intend to spare myself, and giving will be
harder than earning. I shall found institutions for research of disease,
hospitals, playgrounds, libraries, and schools. And I shall make the
university here one of the best in the country. What more, may I ask,
would you have me do?"

"Ah," replied the rector, "it is not what I would have you do. It is
not, indeed, a question of 'doing,' but of seeing."

"Of seeing?" the banker repeated. "As I say, of using judgment."

"Judgment, yes, but the judgment which has not yet dawned for you, the
enlightenment which is the knowledge of God's will. Worldly wisdom is a
rule of thumb many men may acquire, the other wisdom, the wisdom of the
soul, is personal--the reward of revelation which springs from desire.
You ask me what I think you should do. I will tell you--but you will not
do it, you will be powerless to do it unless you see it for yourself,
unless the time shall come when you are willing to give up everything
you have held dear in life,--not your money, but your opinions, the very
judgment and wisdom you value, until you have gained the faith which
proclaims these worthless, until you are ready to receive the Kingdom of
God as a little child. You are not ready, now. Your attitude, your very
words, proclaim your blindness to all that has happened you, your
determination to carry out, so far as it is left to you, your own will.
You may die without seeing."

Crazy as it all sounded, a slight tremor shook Eldon Parr. There was
something in the eyes, in the powerful features of the clergyman that
kept him still, that made him listen with a fascination which had he
taken cognizance of it--was akin to fear. That this man believed it,
that he would impress it upon others, nay, had already done so, the
banker did not then doubt.

"You speak of giving," Hodder continued, "and you have nothing to give
--nothing. You are poorer to-day than the humblest man who has seen God.
But you have much, you have all to restore." Without raising his voice,
the rector had contrived to put a mighty emphasis on the word. "You
speak of the labour of giving, but if you seek your God and haply find
him you will not rest night or day while you live until you have restored
every dollar possible of that which you have wrongfully taken from
others."

John Hodder rose and raised his arm in effective protest against the
interruption Eldon Parr was about to make. He bore him down.

"I know what you are going to say, Mr. Parr,--that it is not practical.
That word 'practical' is the barrier between you and your God. I tell
you that God can make anything practical. Your conscience, the spirit,
tortures you to-day, but you have not had enough torture, you still think
to escape easily, to keep the sympathy of a world which despises you.
You are afraid to do what God would have you do. You have the
opportunity, through grace, by your example to leave the world better
than you found it, to do a thing of such magnitude as is given to few
men, to confess before all that your life has been blind and wicked.
That is what the Spirit is trying to teach you. But you fear the
ridicule of the other blind men, you have not the faith to believe that
many eyes would be opened by your act. The very shame of such a
confession, you think, is not to be borne."

"Suppose I acknowledge, which I do not, your preposterous charge, how
would you propose to do this thing?"

"It is very simple," said the rector, "so far as the actual method of
procedure goes. You have only to establish a board of men in whom you
have confidence,--a court of claims, so to speak,--to pass upon the
validity of every application, not from a business standpoint alone, but
from one of a broad justice and equity. And not only that. I should
have it an important part of the duties of this board to discover for
themselves other claimants who may not, for various reasons, come
forward. In the case of the Consolidated Tractions, for instances there
are doubtless many men like Garvin who invested their savings largely on
the strength of your name. You cannot bring him back to life, restore
him to his family as he was before you embittered him, but it would be a
comparatively easy matter to return to his widow, with compound interest,
the sum which he invested."

"For the sake of argument," said Eldon Parr, "what would you do with the
innumerable impostors who would overwhelm such a board with claims that
they had bought and sold stock at a loss? And that is only one case I
could mention."

"Would it be so dreadful a thing," asked Hodder, "To run the risk of
making a few mistakes? It would not be business, you say. If you had
the desire to do this, you would dismiss such an obsession from your
brain, you would prefer to err on the aide of justice and mercy. And no
matter how able your board, in making restitution you could at best
expect to mend only a fraction of the wrongs you have done."

"I shall waive, for the moment, my contention that the Consolidated
Tractions Company, had it succeeded, would greatly have benefited the
city. Even if it had been the iniquitous, piratical transaction you
suggest, why should I assume the responsibility for all who were
concerned in it?"

"If the grace were given you to do this, that question would answer
itself," the rector replied. "The awful sense of responsibility, which
you now lack, would overwhelm you."

"You have made me out a rascal and a charlatan," said Eldon Parr, "and I
have listened' patiently in my desire to be fair, to learn from your own
lips whether there were anything in the extraordinary philosophy you have
taken up, and which you are pleased to call Christianity. If you will
permit me to be as frank as you have been, it appears to me as sheer
nonsense and folly, and if it were put into practice the world would be
reduced at once to chaos and anarchy."

"There is no danger, I am sorry to say, of its being put into practice at
once," said Hodder, smiting sadly.

"I hope not," answered the banker, dryly. "Utopia is a dream in which
those who do the rough work of the world cannot afford to indulge. And
there is one more question. You will, no doubt, deride it as practical,
but to my mind it is very much to the point. You condemn the business
practices in which I have engaged all my life as utterly unchristian. If
you are logical, you will admit that no man or woman who owns stock in a
modern corporation is, according to your definition, Christian, and, to
use your own phrase, can enter the Kingdom of God. I can tell you, as
one who knows, that there is no corporation in this country which, in the
struggle to maintain itself, is not forced to adopt the natural law of
the survival of the fittest, which you condemn. Your own salary, while
you had it, came from men who had made the money in corporations.
Business is business, and admits of no sentimental considerations. If
you can get around that fact, I will gladly bow to your genius. Should
you succeed in reestablishing St. John's on what you call a free basis
--and in my opinion you will not--even then the money, you would live on,
and which supported the church, would be directly or indirectly derived
from corporations."

"I do not propose to enter into an economics argument with you, Mr. Parr,
but if you tell me that the flagrant practices indulged in by those who
organized the Consolidated Tractions Company can be excused under any
code of morals, any conception of Christianity, I tell you they cannot.
What do we see today in your business world? Boards of directors,
trusted by stockholders, betraying their trust, withholding information
in order to profit thereby, buying and selling stock secretly; stock
watering, selling to the public diluted values,--all kinds of iniquity
and abuse of power which I need not go into. Do you mean to tell me, on
the plea that business is business and hence a department by itself, that
deception, cheating, and stealing are justified and necessary? The
awakened conscience of the public is condemning you.

"The time is at hand, though neither you nor I may live to see it, when
the public conscience itself is beginning to perceive thin higher justice
hidden from you. And you are attempting to mislead when you do not
distinguish between the men who, for their own gain and power, mismanage
such corporations as are mismanaged, and those who own stock and are
misled.

"The public conscience of which I speak is the leaven of Christianity at
work. And we must be content to work with it, to await its fulfilment,
to realize that no one of us can change the world, but can only do his
part in making it better. The least we can do is to refuse to indulge
in practices which jeopardize our own souls, to remain poor if we cannot
make wealth honestly. Say what you will, the Christian government we are
approaching will not recognize property, because it is gradually becoming
clear that the holding of property delays the Kingdom at which you scoff,
giving the man who owns it a power over the body of the man who does not.
Property produces slavery, since it compels those who have none to work
for those who have.

"The possession of property, or of sufficient property to give one
individual an advantage over his fellows is inconsistent with
Christianity. Hence it will be done away with, but only when enough have
been emancipated to carry this into effect. Hence the saying of our Lord
about the needle's eye--the danger to the soul of him who owns much
property."

"And how about your Christian view of the world as a vale of tears?"
Eldon Parr inquired.

"So long as humanity exists, there will always be tears," admitted the
rector. "But it is a false Christianity which does not bid us work for
our fellow-men, to relieve their suffering and make the world brighter.
It is becoming clear that the way to do this effectively is through
communities, cooperation, through nations, and not individuals. And
this, if you like, is practical,--so practical that the men like you,
who have gained unexampled privilege, fear it more and more. The old
Christian misconception, that the world is essentially a bad place, and
which has served the ends of your privilege, is going by forever. And
the motto of the citizens of the future will be the Christian motto,
'I am my brother's keeper.' The world is a good place because the Spirit
is continually working in it, to make it better. And life is good, if
only we take the right view of it,--the revealed view."

"What you say is all very fine," said Eldon Parr. "And I have heard it
before, from the discontented, the socialists. But it does not take into
account the one essential element, human nature."

"On the other hand, your scheme of life fails to reckon with the greater
factor, divine nature," Hodder replied.

"When you have lived as long as I have, perhaps you will think
differently, Mr. Hodder." Eldon Parr's voice had abruptly grown
metallic, as though the full realization had come over him of the
severity of the clergyman's arraignment; the audacity of the man who had
ventured to oppose him and momentarily defeated him, who had won the
allegiance of his own daughter, who had dared condemn him as an evil-doer
and give advice as to his future course. He, Eldon Parr, who had been
used to settle the destinies of men! His anger was suddenly at white
heat; and his voice, which he strove to control, betrayed it.

"Since you have rejected my offer, which was made in kindness, since you
are bent on ruining my daughter's life as well as your own, and she has
disregarded my wishes, I refuse to see either of you, no matter to what
straits you may come, as long as I live. That is understood. And she
leaves this house to-day, never to enter it again. It is useless to
prolong this conversation, I think."

"Quite useless, as I feared, Mr. Parr. Do you know why Alison is willing
to marry me? It is because the strength has been given me to oppose you
in the name of humanity, and this in spite of the fact that her love for
you to-day is greater than it has ever been before. It is a part of the
heavy punishment you have inflicted on yourself that you cannot believe
in her purity. You insist on thinking that the time will come when she
will return to you for help. In senseless anger and pride you are
driving her away from you whom you will some day need. And in that day,
should God grant you a relenting heart to make the sign, she will come to
you,--but to give comfort, not to receive it. And even as you have
threatened me, I will warn you, yet not in anger. Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God, nor understand the motives of
those who would enter into it. Seek and pray for repentance."

Infuriated though he was, before the commanding yet compassionate bearing
of the rector he remained speechless. And after a moment's pause, Hodder
turned and left the room . . . .



III

When Hodder had reached the foot of the stairs, Alison came out to him.
The mourning she wore made her seem even taller. In the face upturned to
his, framed in the black veil and paler than he had known it, were traces
of tears; in the eyes a sad, yet questioning and trustful smile. They
gazed at each other an instant, before speaking, in the luminous ecstasy
of perfect communion which shone for them, undimmed, in the surrounding
gloom of tragedy. And thus, they felt, it would always shine. Of that
tragedy of the world's sin and sorrow they would ever be conscious.
Without darkness there could be no light.

"I knew," she said, reading his tidings, "it would be of no use. Tell me
the worst."

"If you marry me, Alison, your father refuses to see you again. He
insists that you leave the house."

"Then why did he wish to see you?"

"It was to make an appeal. He thinks, of course, that I have made a
failure of life, and that if I marry you I shall drag you down to poverty
and disgrace."

She raised her head, proudly.

"But he knows that it is I who insist upon marrying you! I explained it
all to him--how I had asked you. Of course he did not understand. He
thinks, I suppose, that it is simply an infatuation."

In spite of the solemnity of the moment, Hodder smiled down at her,
touched by the confession.

"That, my dear, doesn't relieve me of responsibility. I am just as
responsible as though I had spoken first, instead of you."

"But, John, you didn't--?" A sudden fear made her silent.

He took her hand and pressed it reassuringly.

"Give you up? No, Alison," he answered simply. "When you came to me,
God put you in my keeping."

She clung to him suddenly, in a passion of relief.

"Oh, I never could give you up, I never would unless you yourself told me
to. Then I would do it,--for you. But you won't ask me, now?"

He put his arm around her shoulders, and the strength of it seemed to
calm her.

"No, dear. I would make the sacrifice, ask you to make it, if it would
be of any good. As you say, he does not understand. And you couldn't go
on living with him and loving me. That solution is impossible. We can
only hope that the time will come when he will realize his need of you,
and send for you."

"And did he not ask you anything more?"

Hodder hesitated. He had intended to spare her that . . . . Her
divination startled him.

"I know, I know without your telling me. He offered you money, he
consented to our--marriage if you would give up St. John's. Oh, how
could he," she cried. "How could he so misjudge and insult you!"

"It is not me he misjudges, Alison, it is mankind, it is God. That is
his terrible misfortune." Hodder released her tenderly. "You must see
him--you must tell him that when he needs you, you will come."

"I will see him now, she said. You will wait for, me?"

"Now?" he repeated, taken aback by her resolution, though it was
characteristic.

"Yes, I will go as I am. I can send for my things. My father has given
me no choice, no reprieve,--not that I ask one. I have you, dear. I
will stay with Mr. Bentley to-night, and leave for New York to-morrow,
to do what I have to do--and then you will be ready for me."

"Yes," he said, "I shall be ready."

He lingered in the well-remembered hall . . . . And when at last she
came down again her eyes shone bravely through her tears, her look
answered the question of his own. There was no need for speech. With
not so much as a look behind she left, with him, her father's house.

Outside, the mist had become a drizzle, and as they went down the walk
together beside the driveway she slipped her arm into his, pressing close
to his side. Her intuition was perfect, the courage of her love sublime.

"I have you, dear," she whispered, "never in my life before have I been
rich."

"Alison!"

It was all he could say, but the intensity of his mingled feeling went
into the syllables of her name. An impulse made them pause and turn,
and they stood looking back together at the great house which loomed the
greater in the thickening darkness, its windows edged with glow. Never,
as in this moment when the cold rain wet their faces, had the thought of
its comfort and warmth and luxury struck him so vividly; yes, and of its
terror and loneliness now, of the tortured spirit in it that found no
rest.

"Oh, John," she cried, "if we only could!"

He understood her. Such was the perfect quality of their sympathy that
she had voiced his thought. What were rain and cold, the inclemency of
the elements to them? What the beauty and the warmth of those great,
empty rooms to Eldon Parr? Out of the heaven of their happiness they
looked down, helpless, into the horrors of the luxury of hell.

"It must be," he answered her, "in God's good time."

"Life is terrible!" she said. "Think of what he must have done to
suffer so, to be condemned to this! And when I went to him, just now,
he wouldn't even kiss me good-by. Oh, my dear, if I hadn't had you to
take me, what should I have done? . . . It never was a home to me--to any
of us. And as I look back now, all the troubles began when we moved into
it. I can only think of it as a huge prison, all the more sinister for
its costliness."

A prison! It had once been his own conceit. He drew her gently away,
and they walked together along Park Street towards the distant arc-light
at the corner which flung a gleaming band along the wet pavement.

"Perhaps it was because I was too young to know what trouble was when
we lived in Ransome Street," she continued. "But I can remember now
how sad my mother was at times--it almost seemed as though she had a
premonition." Alison's voice caught . . . .

The car which came roaring through the darkness, and which stopped
protestingly at their corner, was ablaze with electricity, almost filled
with passengers. A young man with a bundle changed his place in order
that they might sit together in one of the little benches bordering the
aisle; opposite them was a laughing, clay-soiled group of labourers going
home from work; in front, a young couple with a chubby child. He stood
between his parents, facing about, gazing in unembarrassed wonder at the
dark lady with the veil. Alison's smile seemed only to increase the
solemnity of his adoration, and presently he attempted to climb over the
barrier between them. Hodder caught him, and the mother turned in alarm,
recapturing him.

"You mustn't bother the lady, Jimmy," she said, when she had thanked the
rector. She had dimpled cheeks and sparkling blue eyes, but their
expression changed as they fell on Alison's face, expressing something
of the wonder of the child's.

"Oh, he isn't bothering me," Alison protested. "Do let him stand."

"He don't make up to everybody," explained the mother, and the manner of
her speech was such a frank tribute that Alison flushed. There had been,
too, in the look the quick sympathy for bereavement of the poor.

"Aren't they nice?" Alison leaned over and whispered to Hodder, when the
woman had turned back. "One thing, at least, I shall never regret,--that
I shall have to ride the rest of my life in the streetcars. I love them.
That is probably my only qualification, dear, for a clergyman's wife."

Hodder laughed. "It strikes me," he said, "as the supreme one."

They came at length to Mr. Bentley's door, flung open in its usual wide
hospitality by Sam. Whatever theist fortunes, they would always be
welcome here . . . . But it turned out, in answer to their question,
that their friend was not at home.

"No, sah," said Sam, bowing and smiling benignantly, "but he done tole
me to say, when you and Miss Alison come, hit was to make no diffunce,
dat you bofe was to have supper heah. And I'se done cooked it--yassah.
Will you kindly step into the liba'y, suh, and Miss Alison? Dar was a
lady 'crost de city, Marse Ho'ace said--yassah."

"John," said Alison with a questioning smile, when they were alone before
the fire, "I believe he went out on purpose,--don't you?--just that we
might be here alone."

"He knew we were coming?"

"I wrote him."

"I think he might be convicted on the evidence," Hodder agreed. "But--?"
His question remained unasked.

Alison went up to him. He had watched her, absorbed and fascinated, as
with her round arms gracefully lifted in front of the old mirror she had
taken off her hat and veil; smoothing, by a few deft touches, the dark
crown of her hair. The unwonted intimacy of the moment, invoking as it
did an endless reflection of other similar moments in their future life
together, was in its effect overwhelming, bringing with it at last a
conviction not to be denied. Her colour rose as she faced him, her
lashes fell.

"Did you seriously think, dear, that we could have deceived Mr. Bentley?
Then you are not as clever as I thought you. As soon as it happened I
sent him a note? that very night. For I felt that he ought to be told
first of all."

"And as usual," Hodder answered, "you were right."

Supper was but a continuation of that delicious sense of intimacy. And
Sam, beaming in his starched shirt and swallow-tail, had an air of
presiding over a banquet of state. And for that matter, none had ever
gone away hungry from this table, either for meat or love. It was,
indeed, a consecrated meal,--consecrated for being just there. Such
was the tact which the old darky had acquired from his master that he
left the dishes on the shining mahogany board, and bowed himself out.

"When you wants me, Miss Alison, des ring de bell."

She was seated upright yet charmingly graceful, behind the old English
coffee service which had been Mr. Bentley's mother's. And it was she
who, by her wonderful self-possession, by the reassuring smile she gave
him as she handed him his cup, endowed it all with reality.

"It's strange," she said, "but it seems as though I had been doing it all
my life, instead of just beginning."

"And you do it as though you had," he declared.

"Which is a proof," she replied, "of the superior adaptability of women."

He did not deny it. He would not then, in truth, have disputed her
wildest statement. . . But presently, after they had gone back into
the library and were seated side by side before the coals, they spoke
again of serious things, marvelling once more at a happiness which could
be tinged and yet unmarred by vicarious sorrow. Theirs was the soberer,
profounder happiness of gratitude and wonder, too wise to exult, but
which of itself is exalted; the happiness which praises, and passes
understanding.

"There are many things I want to say to you, John," she told him, once,
"and they trouble me a little. It is only because I am so utterly
devoted to you that I wish you to know me as I am. I have always had
queer views, and although much has happened to change me since I have
known and loved you, I am not quite sure how much those views have
changed. Love," she added, "plays such havoc with one's opinions."

She returned his smile, but with knitted brows.

"It's really serious--you needn't laugh. And it's only fair to you to
let you know the kind of a wife you are getting, before it is too late.
For instance, I believe in divorce, although I can't imagine it for us.
One never can, I suppose, in this condition--that's the trouble. I have
seen so many immoral marriages that I can't think God intends people
to live degraded. And I'm sick and tired of the argument that an
indissoluble marriage under all conditions is good for society. That
a man or woman, the units of society, should violate the divine in
themselves for the sake of society is absurd. They are merely setting an
example to their children to do the same thing, which means that society
in that respect will never get any better. In this love that has come
to us we have achieved an ideal which I have never thought to reach.
Oh, John, I'm sure you won't misunderstand me when I say that I would
rather die than have to lower it."

"No," he answered, "I shall not misunderstand you."

"Even though it is so difficult to put into words what I mean. I don't
feel that we really need the marriage service, since God has already
joined us together. And it is not through our own wills, somehow, but
through his. Divorce would not only be a crime against the spirit, it
would be an impossibility while we feel as we do. But if love should
cease, then God himself would have divorced us, punished us by taking
away a priceless gift of which we were not worthy. He would have shut
the gates of Eden in our faces because we had sinned against the Spirit.
It would be quite as true to say 'whom God has put asunder no man may
join together.' Am I hurting you?"

Her hand was on the arm of his chair, and the act of laying his own on it
was an assurance stronger than words. Alison sighed.

"Yes, I believed you would understand, even though I expressed myself
badly,--that you would help me, that you have found a solution. I used
to regard the marriage service as a compromise, as a lowering of the
ideal, as something mechanical and rational put in the place of the
spiritual; that it was making the Church, and therefore God, conform to
the human notion of what the welfare of society ought to be. And it is
absurd to promise to love. We have no control over our affections. They
are in God's hands, to grant or withdraw.

"And yet I am sure--this is new since I have known you--that if such a
great love as ours be withdrawn it would be an unpardonable wrong for
either of us to marry again. That is what puzzles me--confounds the
wisdom I used to have, and which in my littleness and pride I thought so
sufficient. I didn't believe in God, but now I feel him, through you,
though I cannot define him. And one of many reasons why I could not
believe in Christ was because I took it for granted that he taught, among
other things, a continuation of the marriage relation after love had
ceased to justify it."

Hodder did not immediately reply. Nor did Alison interrupt his silence,
but sat with the stillness which at times so marked her personality, her
eyes trustfully fixed on him. The current pulsing between them was
unbroken. Hodder's own look, as he gazed into the grate, was that of a
seer.

"Yes," he said at length, "it is by the spirit and not the letter of our
Lord's teaching that we are guided. The Spirit which we draw from the
Gospels. And everything written down there that does not harmonize with
it is the mistaken interpretation of men. Once the Spirit possesses us
truly, we are no longer troubled and confused by texts.

"The alpha and omega of Christ's message is rebirth into the knowledge of
that Spirit, and hence submission to its guidance. And that is what Paul
meant when he said that it freed us from the law. You are right, Alison,
when you declare it to be a violation of the Spirit for a man and woman
to live together when love does not exist. Christ shows us that laws
were made for those who are not reborn. Laws are the rules of society,
to be followed by those who have not found the inner guidance, who live
and die in the flesh. But the path which those who live under the
control of the Spirit are to take is opened up to them as they journey.
If all men and women were reborn we should have the paradox, which only
the reborn can understand, of what is best for the individual being best
for society, because under the will of the Spirit none can transgress
upon the rights and happiness of others. The Spirit would make the laws
and rules superfluous.

"And the great crime of the Church, for which she is paying so heavy an
expiation, is that her faith wavered, and she forsook the Spirit and
resumed the law her Master had condemned. She no longer insisted on that
which Christ proclaimed as imperative, rebirth. She became, as you say,
a mechanical organization, substituting, as the Jews had done, hard and
fast rules for inspiration. She abandoned the Communion of Saints, sold
her birthright for a mess of pottage, for worldly, temporal power when
she declared that inspiration had ceased with the Apostles, when she
failed to see that inspiration is personal, and comes through rebirth.
For the sake of increasing her membership, of dominating the affairs of
men, she has permitted millions who lived in the law and the flesh, who
persisted in forcing men to live by the conventions and customs Christ
repudiated, and so stultify themselves, to act in Christ's name. The
unpardonable sin against the Spirit is to doubt its workings, to maintain
that society will be ruined if it be substituted for the rules and
regulations supposed to make for the material comforts of the nations,
but which in reality suppress and enslave the weak.

"Nevertheless in spite of the Church, marvellously through the Church the
germ of our Lord's message has come down to us, and the age in which we
live is beginning to realize its purport, to condemn the Church for her
subservient rationalism.

"Let us apply the rule of the Spirit to marriage. If we examine the
ideal we shall see clearly that the marriage-service is but a symbol.
Like baptism, it is a worthless and meaningless rite unless the man and
the woman have been born again into the Spirit, released from the law.
If they are still, as St. Paul would say, in the flesh, let them have,
if they wish, a civil permit to live together, for the Spirit can have
nothing to do with such an union. True to herself, the Church symbolizes
the union of her members, the reborn. She has nothing to do with laws
and conventions which are supposedly for the good of society, nor is any
union accomplished if those whom she supposedly joins are not reborn.
If they are, the Church can neither make it or dissolve it, but merely
confirm and acknowledge the work of the Spirit. And every work of the
Spirit is a sacrament. Not baptism and communion and marriage only, but
every act of life.

"Oh, John," she exclaimed, her eyes lighting, "I can believe that! How
beautiful a thought! I see now what is meant when it is said that man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of
the mouth of God. That is the hourly guidance which is independent
of the law. And how terrible to think that all the spiritual beauty of
such a religion should have been hardened into chapter and verse and
regulation. You have put into language what I think of Mr. Bentley,
--that has acts are sacraments . . . . It is so simple when you explain
it this way. And yet I can see why it was said, too, that we must become
as children to understand it."

"The difficult thing," replied Holder, gravely, "is to retain it, to hold
it after we have understood it--even after we have experienced it. To
continue to live in the Spirit demands all our effort, all our courage
and patience and faith. We cannot, as you say, promise to love for life.
But the marriage service, interpreted, means that we will use all our
human endeavour, with the help of the Spirit, to remain in what may be
called the reborn state, since it is by the Spirit alone that true
marriage is sanctified. When the Spirit is withdrawn, man and woman
are indeed divorced.

"The words 'a sense of duty' belong to moral philosophy and not to
religion. Love annuls them. I do not mean to decry them, but the reborn
are lifted far above them by the subversion of the will by which our will
is submitted to God's. It is so we develop, and become, as it were, God.
And hence those who are not married in the Spirit are not spiritually man
and wife. No consecration has taken place, Church or no Church. If
rebirth occurs later, to either or both, the individual conscience--which
is the Spirit, must decide whether, as regards each other, they are bound
or free, and we must stand or fall by that. Men object that this is
opening the door to individualism. What they fail to see is that the
door is open, wide, to-day and can never again be closed: that the law
of the naturally born is losing its power, that the worn-out authority of
the Church is being set at naught because that authority was devised by
man to keep in check those who were not reborn. The only check to
material individualism is spiritual individualism, and the reborn man
or woman cannot act to the detriment of his fellow-creatures."

In her turn she was silent, still gazing at him, her breath coming
deeply, for she was greatly moved.

"Yes," she said simply, "I can see now why divorce between us would be a
sacrilege. I felt it, John, but I couldn't reason it out. It is the
consecration of the Spirit that justifies the union of the flesh. For
the Spirit, in that sense, does not deny the flesh."

"That would be to deny life," Hodder replied.

"I see. Why was it all so hidden!" The exclamation was not addressed to
him--she was staring pensively into the fire. But presently, with a
swift movement, she turned to him.

"You will preach this, John,--all of it!"

It was not a question, but the cry of a new and wider vision of his task.
Her face was transfigured. And her voice, low and vibrating, expressed
no doubts. "Oh, I am proud of you! And if they put you out and
persecute you I shall always be proud, I shall never know why it was
given me to have this, and to live. Do you remember saying to me once
that faith comes to us in some human form we love? You are my faith.
And faith in you is my faith in humanity, and faith in God."

Ere he could speak of his own faith in her, in mankind, by grace of which
he had been lifted from the abyss, there came a knock at the door. And
even as they answered it a deeper knowledge filtered into their hearts.

Horace Bentley stood before them. And the light from his face, that
shone down upon them, was their benediction.



AFTERWORD

Although these pages have been published serially, it is with a feeling
of reluctance that I send them out into the world, for better or worse,
between the covers of a book. They have been written with reverence, and
the reading of the proofs has brought back to me vividly the long winters
in which I pondered over the matter they contain, and wrote and rewrote
the chapters.

I had not thought to add anything to them by way of an afterword.
Nothing could be farther from my mind than to pose as a theologian; and,
were it not for one or two of the letters I have received, I should have
supposed that no reader could have thought of making the accusation that
I presumed to speak for any one except myself. In a book of this kind,
the setting forth of a personal view of religion is not only unavoidable,
but necessary; since, if I wrote sincerely, Mr. Hodder's solution must
coincide with my own--so far as I have been able to work one out. Such
as it is, it represents many years of experience and reflection. And I
can only crave the leniency of any trained theologian who may happen to
peruse it.

No one realizes, perhaps, the incompleteness of the religious
interpretations here presented more keenly than I. More significant,
more vital elements of the truth are the rewards of a mind which searches
and craves, especially in these days when the fruit of so many able minds
lies on the shelves of library and bookshop. Since the last chapter was
written, many suggestions have come to me which I should like to have the
time to develop for this volume. But the nature of these elements is
positive,--I can think of nothing I should care to subtract.

Here, then, so far as what may be called religious doctrine is concerned,
is merely a personal solution. We are in an age when the truth is being
worked out through many minds, a process which seems to me both Christian
and Democratic. Yet a gentleman has so far misunderstood this that he
has already accused me, in a newspaper, of committing all the heresies
condemned by the Council of Chalcedon,--and more!

I have no doubt that he is right. My consolation must be that I have as
company--in some of my heresies, at least--a goodly array of gentlemen
who wear the cloth of the orthodox churches whose doctrines he accuses me
of denying. The published writings of these clergymen are accessible to
all. The same critic declares that my interpretations are without
"authority." This depends, of course; on one's view of "authority." But
his accusation is true equally against many men who--if my observation be
correct--are doing an incalculable service for religion by giving to the
world their own personal solutions, interpreting Christianity in terms of
modern thought. No doubt these, too, are offending the champions of the
Council of Chalcedon.

And does the gentleman, may I ask, ever read the pages of the Hibbert
Journal?

Finally, I have to meet a more serious charge, that Mr. Hodder remains
in the Church because of "the dread of parting with the old, strong
anchorage, the fear of anathema and criticism, the thought of sorrowing
and disapproving friends." Or perhaps he infers that it is I who keep
Mr. Hodder in the Church for these personal reasons. Alas, the concern
of society is now for those upon whom the Church has lost her hold, who
are seeking for a solution they can accept. And the danger to-day is not
from the side of heresy. The rector of St. John's, as a result of his
struggle, gained what I believe to be a higher and surer faith than that
which he formerly held, and in addition to this the realization of the
presence of a condition which was paralyzing the Church's influence.

One thing I had hoped to make clear, that if Mr. Hodder had left the
Church under these circumstances he would have made the Great Refusal.
The situation which he faced demanded something of the sublime courage
of his Master.

Lastly, may I be permitted to add that it is far from my intention to
reflect upon any particular denomination. The instance which I have
taken is perhaps a pronounced rather than a particular case of the
problem to which I have referred, and which is causing the gravest
concern to thoughtful clergymen and laymen of all denominations.


WINSTON CHURCHILL

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA
March 31,1913.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS OF THE ENTIRE "INSIDE OF THE CUP":

Absurd to promise to love
Acceptance of authority is not faith, it is mere credulity
Always getting glimpses of things when it is too late
Antipathy to forms
Bad music, she said, offended her
Can't believe in the doctrine of the virgin birth
Clothes of one man are binding on another
Conviction that all things were as they ought to be
Deification of beauty to the exclusion of all else
Economic slavery
Elaborate attention little men are apt to bestow upon women
Even after all these ages, the belief, the hope would not down
Faith may be likened to an egg
Foolish sacrifices are worse than useless
For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter
Futility of the traditional words of comfort
Genius, analyzed, is often disappointing
God himself would have divorced us
Had a habit of not waiting for answers to her questions
Happiness of gratitude and wonder, too wise to exult
He was what is known as a "success"--always that magic word
Hell's here--isn't it?
How to be silent with a clamouring heart
I see no one upon whom I can rely but myself
I hate humility
I'm always searching for things to do
If Christians were logical, they should be Socialists
Immortality as orthodox Christianity depicts it
Impulse had brought him thus far
Indiscriminate, unreasoning self-sacrifice
Individualism with which the Church can have no sympathy
Intellectually lazy
Know a great deal and don't believe anything
Knowledge puts faith out of the question
Logical result of independent thinking is anarchy
"Love," she added, "plays such havoc with one's opinions"
Luxuries formerly unthought of seemed to become necessities
Material proof, it seems to me, is a denial of faith
Mistaking the effect for the cause
Mixture of awkwardness and straightforwardness
Not given to trite acquiescence
Olmah which Isaiah uses does not mean virgin
Only one regret as to what you said--that it is true
Pleasure? Yes. It makes me feel as if I were of some use
Religion, I think, should be everybody's (profession)
Rule which you so confidently apply to fit all cases
Scandalously forced through the council of Nicaea
Seeking a forgiveness out of all proportion to the trespass
St Paul, you say, put us in our proper place
Success--which was really failure
Sunday was then a day essentially different from other days
The law cannot fit all cases
The weak always sink
The hours of greatest suffering are the empty hours
Thinking isn't--believing
Vagueness generally attributed to her sex
Vividly unreal, as a toy village comes painted from the shop
We must believe, if we believe at all, without authority
We are always trying to get away from ourselves
We never can foresee how we may change
We have no control over our affections
When our brief span of usefulness is done
Who had learned the lesson of mothers,--how to wait
Whole conception of charity is a crime against civilization
You and your religion are as far apart as the poles





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