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Title: Inside of the Cup, the — Volume 01
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 — Volume 01" ***

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THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



TABLE OF CONTENTS OF ALL VOLUMES:

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.





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