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Title: Inside of the Cup, the — Volume 06
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 06" ***

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THE INSIDE OF THE CUP

By Winston Churchill



Volume 6.


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



CHAPTER XX

THE ARRAIGNMENT


I

Looking backward, Hodder perceived that he had really come to the
momentous decision of remaining at St. John's in the twilight of an
evening when, on returning home from seeing Kate Marcy at Mr. Bentley's
he had entered the darkening church. It was then that his mission had
appeared to him as a vision. Every day, afterward, his sense and
knowledge of this mission had grown stronger.

To his mind, not the least of the trials it was to impose upon him, and
one which would have to be dealt with shortly, was a necessary talk with
his assistant, McCrae. If their relationship had from the beginning been
unusual and unsatisfactory, adjectives would seem to defy what it had
become during the summer. What did McCrae think of him? For Hodder had,
it will be recalled, bidden his assistant good-by--and then had remained.
At another brief interview, during which McCrae had betrayed no surprise,
uttered no censure or comment, Hodder had announced his determination to
remain in the city, and to take no part in the services. An announcement
sufficiently astounding. During the months that followed, they had met,
at rare intervals, exchanged casual greetings, and passed on. And yet
Hodder had the feeling, more firmly planted than ever, that McCrae was
awaiting, with an interest which might be called suspense, the
culmination of the process going on within him.

Well, now that he had worked it out, now that he had reached his
decision, it was incumbent upon him to tell his assistant what that
decision was. Hodder shrank from it as from an ordeal. His affection
for the man, his admiration for McCrae's faithful, untiring, and
unrecognized services had deepened. He had a theory that McCrae
really liked him--would even sympathize with his solution; yet he
procrastinated. He was afraid to put his theory to the test. It was not
that Hodder feared that his own solution was not the right one, but that
McCrae might not find it so: he was intensely concerned that it should
also be McCrae's solution--the answer, if one liked, to McCrae's mute and
eternal questionings. He wished to have it a fruition for McCrae as well
as for himself; since theoretically, at least, he had pierced the hard
crust of his assistant's exterior, and conceived him beneath to be all
suppressed fire. In short, Hodder wished to go into battle side by side
with McCrae. Therein lay his anxiety.

Another consideration troubled him--McCrae's family, dependent on a
rather meagre salary. His assistant, in sustaining him in the struggle
he meant to enter, would be making even a greater sacrifice than himself.
For Hodder had no illusions, and knew that the odds against him were
incalculable. Whatever, if defeated, his own future might be, McCrae's
was still more problematical and tragic.

The situation, when it came, was even more difficult than Hodder
had imagined it, since McCrae was not a man to oil the wheels of
conversation. In silence he followed the rector up the stairs and into
his study, in silence he took the seat at the opposite side of the table.
And Hodder, as he hesitated over his opening, contemplated in no little
perplexity and travail the gaunt and non-committal face before him:

"McCrae," he began at length, "you must have thought my conduct this
summer most peculiar. I wish to thank you, first of all, for the
consideration you have shown me, and to tell you how deeply I appreciate
your taking the entire burden of the work of the parish."

McCrae shook his head vigorously, but did not speak.

"I owe it to you to give you some clew to what happened to me," the
rector continued, "although I have an idea that you do not need much
enlightenment on this matter. I have a feeling that you have somehow
been aware of my discouragement during the past year or so, and of the
causes of it. You yourself hold ideals concerning the Church which you
have not confided to me. Of this I am sure. I came here to St. John's
full of hope and confidence, gradually to lose both, gradually to realise
that there was something wrong with me, that in spite of all my efforts
I was unable to make any headway in the right direction. I became
perplexed, dissatisfied--the results were so meagre, so out of proportion
to the labour. And the very fact that those who may be called our chief
parishioners had no complaint merely added to my uneasiness. That kind
of success didn't satisfy me, and I venture to assume it didn't satisfy
you."

Still McCrae made no sign.

"Finally I came to what may be termed a double conclusion. In the first
place, I began to see more and more clearly that our modern civilization
is at fault, to perceive how completely it is conducted on the
materialistic theory of the survival of the fittest rather than that of
the brotherhood of man, and that those who mainly support this church
are, consciously or not, using it as a bulwark for the privilege they
have gained at the expense of their fellow-citizens. And my conclusion
was that Christianity must contain some vital germ which I had somehow
missed, and which I must find if I could, and preach and release it.
That it was the release of this germ these people feared unconsciously.
I say to you, at the risk of the accusation of conceit, that I believed
myself to have a power in the pulpit if I could only discover the truth."

Hodder thought he detected, as he spoke these words, a certain relaxation
of the tension.

"For a while, as the result of discouragement, of cowardice, I may say,
of the tearing-down process of the theological structure--built of debris
from many ruins on which my conception of Christianity rested, I lost all
faith. For many weeks I did not enter the church, as you yourself must
know. Then, when I had given up all hope, through certain incidents and
certain persona, a process of reconstruction began. In short, through no
virtue which I can claim as my own, I believe I have arrived at the
threshold of an understanding of Christianity as our Lord taught it and
lived it. And I intend to take the pulpit and begin to preach it.

"I am deeply concerned in regard to yourself as to what effect my course
may have on you. And I am not you to listen to me with a view that you
should see your way clear to support me McCrae, but rather that you
should be fully apprised of my new belief and intentions. I owe this to
you, for your loyal support in the pest. I shall go over with you,
later, if you care to listen, my whole position. It may be called the
extreme Protestant position, and I use protestant, for want of a better
word, to express what I believe is Paul's true as distinguished from the
false of his two inconsistent theologies. It was this doctrine of Paul's
of redemption by faith, of reacting grace by an inevitable spiritual law
--of rebirth, if you will--that Luther and the Protestant reformers
revived and recognized, rightly, as the vital element of Christ's
teachings, although they did not succeed in separating it wholly from the
dross which clung to it. It is the leaven which has changed governments,
and which in the end, I am firmly convinced, will make true democracy
inevitable. And those who oppose democracy inherently dread its
workings.

"I do not know your views, but it is only fair to add at this time that I
no longer believe in the external and imposed authority of the Church in
the sense in which I formerly accepted it, nor in the virgin birth, nor
in certain other dogmas in which I once acquiesced. Other clergymen of
our communion have proclaimed, in speech and writing, their disbelief in
these things. I have satisfied my conscience as they have, and I mean to
make no secret of my change. I am convinced that not one man or woman
in ten thousand to-day who has rejected Christianity ever knew what
Christianity is. The science and archaic philosophy in which
Christianity has been swaddled and hampered is discredited, and the
conclusion is drawn that Christianity itself must be discredited."

"Ye're going to preach all this?" McCrae demanded, almost fiercely.

"Yes," Hodder replied, still uncertain as to his assistant's attitude,
"and more. I have fully reflected, and I am willing to accept all the
consequences. I understand perfectly, McCrae, that the promulgation
alone of the liberal orthodoxy of which I have spoken will bring me into
conflict with the majority of the vestry and the congregation, and that
the bishop will be appealed to. They will say, in effect, that I have
cheated them, that they hired one man and that another has turned up,
whom they never would have hired. But that won't be the whole story.
If it were merely a question of doctrine, I should resign. It's deeper
than that, more sinister." Hodder doubled up his hand, and laid it on
the table. "It's a matter," he said, looking into McCrae's eyes, "of
freeing this church from those who now hold it in chains. And the two
questions, I see clearly now, the doctrinal and the economic, are so
interwoven as to be inseparable. My former, ancient presentation of
Christianity left men and women cold. It did not draw them into this
church and send them out again fired with the determination to bring
religion into everyday life, resolved to do their part in the removal of
the injustices and cruelties with which we are surrounded, to bring
Christianity into government, where it belongs. Don't misunderstand me
I'm not going to preach politics, but religion."

"I don't misunderstand ye," answered McCrae. He leaned a little forward,
staring at the rector from behind his steel spectacles with a glance
which had become piercing.

"And I am going to discourage a charity which is a mockery of
Christianity," Hodder went on, "the spectacle of which turns thousands
of men and women in sickening revolt against the Church of Christ to-day.
I have discovered, at last, how some of these persons have made their
money, and are making it. And I am going to let them know, since they
have repudiated God in their own souls, since they have denied the
Christian principle of individual responsibility, that I, as the vicar of
God, will not be a party to the transaction of using the Church as a
means of doling out ill-gotten gains to the poor."

"Mr. Parr!" McCrae exclaimed.

"Yes," said the rector, slowly, and with a touch of sadness, "since you
have mentioned him, Mr. Parr. But I need not say that this must go no
farther. I am in possession of definite facts in regard to Mr. Parr
which I shall present to him when he returns."

"Ye'll tell him to his face?"

"It is the only way."

McCrae had risen. A remarkable transformation had come over the man,
--he was reminiscent, at that moment, of some Covenanter ancestor going
into battle. And his voice shook with excitement.

"Ye may count on me, Mr. Hodder," he cried. "These many years I've
waited, these many years I've seen what ye see now, but I was not the
man. Aye, I've watched ye, since the day ye first set foot in this
church. I knew what was going on inside of ye, because it was just
that I felt myself. I hoped--I prayed ye might come to it."

The sight of this taciturn Scotchman, moved in this way, had an
extraordinary effect on Hodder himself, and his own emotion was so
inexpressibly stirred that he kept silence a moment to control it.
This proof of the truth of his theory in regard to McCrae he found
overwhelming.

"But you said nothing, McCrae," he began presently. "I felt all along
that you knew what was wrong--if you had only spoken."

"I could not," said McCrae. "I give ye my word I tried, but I just could
not. Many's the time I wanted to--but I said to myself, when I looked at
you, 'wait, it will come, much better than ye can say it.' And ye have
made me see more than I saw, Mr. Hodder,--already ye have. Ye've got the
whole thing in ye're eye, and I only had a part of it. It's because
ye're the bigger man of the two."

"You thought I'd come to it?" demanded Hodder, as though the full force
of this insight had just struck him.

"Well," said McCrae, "I hoped. It seemed, to look at ye, ye'r true
nature--what was by rights inside of ye. That's the best explaining I
can do. And I call to mind that time ye spoke about not making the men
in the classes Christians--that was what started me to thinking."

"And you asked me," returned the rector, "how welcome some of them would
be in Mr. Parr's Pew."

"Ah, it worried me," declared the assistant, with characteristic
frankness, "to see how deep ye were getting in with him."

Hodder did not reply to this. He had himself risen, and stood looking at
McCrae, filled with a new thought.

"There is one thing I should like to say to you--which is very difficult,
McCrae, but I have no doubt you see the matter as clearly as I do. In
making this fight, I have no one but myself to consider. I am a single
man--"

"Yell not need to go on," answered McCrae, with an odd mixture of
sternness and gentleness in his voice. "I'll stand and fall with ye, Mr.
Hodder. Before I ever thought of the Church I learned a trade, as a boy
in Scotland. I'm not a bad carpenter. And if worse comes to worse, I've
an idea I can make as much with my hands as I make in the ministry."

The smile they exchanged across the table sealed the compact between
them.



II

The electric car which carried him to his appointment with the financier
shot westward like a meteor through the night. And now that the hour was
actually at hand, it seemed to Hodder that he was absurdly unprepared to
meet it. New and formidable aspects, hitherto unthought of, rose in his
mind, and the figure of Eldon Parr loomed to Brobdingnagian proportions
as he approached it. In spite of his determination, the life-blood of
his confidence ebbed, a sense of the power and might of the man who had
now become his adversary increased; and that apprehension of the impact
of the great banker's personality, the cutting edge with the vast
achievements wedged in behind it, each adding weight and impetus to its
momentum the apprehension he had felt in less degree on the day of the
first meeting, and which had almost immediately evaporated--surged up
in him now. His fear was lest the charged atmosphere of the banker's
presence might deflect his own hitherto clear perception of true worth.
He dreaded, once in the midst of those disturbing currents, a bungling
presentation of the cause which inspired him, and which he knew to be
righteousness itself.

Suddenly his mood shifted, betraying still another weakness, and he saw
Eldon Parr, suddenly, vividly--more vividly, indeed, than ever before--in
the shades of the hell of his loneliness. And pity welled up, drowning
the image of incarnate greed and selfishness and lust for wealth and
power: The unique pathos of his former relationship with the man
reasserted itself, and Hodder was conscious once more of the dependence
which Eldon Parr had had on his friendship. During that friendship he,
Hodder, had never lost the sense of being the stronger of the two, of
being leaned upon: leaned upon by a man whom the world feared and hated,
and whom he had been enable to regard with anything but compassion and
the unquestionable affection which sprang from it. Appalled by this
transition, he alighted from the car, and stood for a moment alone in the
darkness gazing at the great white houses that rose above the dusky
outline of shrubbery and trees.

At any rate, he wouldn't find that sense of dependence to-night. And it
steeled him somewhat to think, as he resumed his steps, that he would
meet now the other side, the hard side hitherto always turned away. Had
he needed no other warning of this, the answer to his note asking for an
appointment would have been enough,--a brief and formal communication
signed by the banker's secretary. . .

"Mr. Parr is engaged just at present, sir," said the servant who opened
the door. "Would you be good enough to step into the library?"

Hardly had he entered the room when he heard a sound behind him, and
turned to confront Alison. The thought of her, too, had complicated
infinitely his emotions concerning the interview before him, and the
sight of her now, of her mature beauty displayed in evening dress, of her
white throat gleaming whiter against the severe black of her gown, made
him literally speechless. Never had he accused her of boldness, and now
least of all. It was the quality of her splendid courage that was borne
in upon him once more above the host of other feelings and impressions,
for he read in her eyes a knowledge of the meaning of his visit.

They stood facing each other an appreciable moment.

"Mr. Langmaid is with him now," she said, in a low voice.

"Yes," he answered.

Her eyes still rested on his face, questioningly, appraisingly, as though
she were seeking to estimate his preparedness for the ordeal before him,
his ability to go through with it successfully, triumphantly. And in her
mention of Langmaid he recognized that she had meant to sound a note of
warning. She had intimated a consultation of the captains, a council of
war. And yet he had never spoken to her of this visit. This proof of
her partisanship, that she had come to him at the crucial instant,
overwhelmed him.

"You know why I am here?" he managed to say. It had to do with the
extent of her knowledge.

"Oh, why shouldn't I?" she cried, "after what you have told me. And
could you think I didn't understand, from the beginning, that it meant
this?"

His agitation still hampered him. He made a gesture of assent.

"It was inevitable," he said.

"Yes, it' was inevitable," she assented, and walked slowly to the mantel,
resting her hand on it and bending her head. "I felt that you would not
shirk it, and yet I realize how painful it must be to you."

"And to you," he replied quickly.

"Yes, and to me. I do not know what you know, specifically,--I have
never sought to find out things, in detail. That would be horrid. But
I understand--in general--I have understood for many years." She raised
her head, and flashed him a glance that was between a quivering smile and
tears. "And I know that you have certain specific information."

He could only wonder at her intuition.

"So far as I am concerned, it is not for the world," he answered.

"Oh, I appreciate that in you!" she exclaimed. "I wished you to know it.
I wished you to know," she added, a little unsteadily, "how much I admire
you for what you are doing. They are afraid of you--they will crush you
if they can."

He did not reply.

"But you are going to speak the truth," she continued, her voice low and
vibrating, "that is splendid! It must have its effect, no matter what
happens."

"Do you feel that?" he asked, taking a step toward her.

"Yes. When I see you, I feel it, I think." . . .

Whatever answer he might have made to this was frustrated by the
appearance of the figure of Nelson Langmaid in the doorway. He seemed
to survey them benevolently through his spectacles.

"How are you, Hodder? Well, Alison, I have to leave without seeing
anything of you--you must induce your father not to bring his business
home with him. Just a word," he added to the rector, "before you go up."

Hodder turned to Alison. "Good night," he said.

The gentle but unmistakable pressure of her hand he interpreted as the
pinning on him of the badge of her faith. He was to go into battle
wearing her colours. Their eyes met.

"Good night," she answered . . . .

In the hall the lawyer took his arm.

"What's the trouble, Hodder?" he asked, sympathetically.

Hodder, although on his guard, was somewhat taken aback by the directness
of the onslaught.

"I'm afraid, Mr. Langmaid," the rector replied, "that it would take me
longer to tell you than the time at your disposal."

"Dear me," said the lawyer, "this is too bad. Why didn't you come to me?
I am a good friend of yours, Hodder, and there is an additional bond
between us on my sister's account. She is extremely fond of you, you
know. And I have a certain feeling of responsibility for you,--I brought
you here."

"You have always been very kind, and I appreciate it," Hodder replied.
"I should be sorry to cause you any worry or annoyance. But you must
understand that I cannot share the responsibility of my acts with any
one."

"A little advice from an old legal head is sometimes not out of place.
Even Dr. Gilman used to consult me. I hope you will bear in mind how
remarkably well you have been getting along at St. John's, and what a
success you've made."

"Success!" echoed the rector.

Either Mr. Langmaid read nothing in his face, or was determined to read
nothing.

"Assuredly," he answered, benignly. "You have managed to please
everybody, Mr. Parr included,--and some of us are not easy to please.
I thought I'd tell you this, as a friend, as your first friend in the
parish. Your achievement has been all the more remarkable, following,
as you did, Dr. Gilman. Now it would greatly distress me to see that
state of things disturbed, both for your sake and others. I thought I
would just give you a hint, as you are going to see Mr. Parr, that he
is in rather a nervous state. These so-called political reformers have
upset the market and started a lot of legal complications that's why I'm
here to-night. Go easy with him. I know you won't do anything foolish."

The lawyer accompanied this statement with a pat, but this time he did
not succeed in concealing his concern.

"That depends on one's point of view," Hodder returned, with a smile.
"I do not know how you have come to suspect that I am going to disturb
Mr. Parr, but what I have to say to him is between him and me."

Langmaid took up his hat from the table, and sighed.

"Drop in on me sometime," he said, "I'd like to talk to you--Hodder heard
a voice behind him, and turned. A servant was standing there.

"Mr. Parr is ready to see you, sir," he said.

The rector followed him up the stairs, to the room on the second floor,
half office, half study, where the capitalist transacted his business
when at home.



III

Eldon Parr was huddled over his desk reading a typewritten document; but
he rose, and held out his hand, which Hodder took.

"How are you, Mr. Hodder? I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, but
matters of some legal importance have arisen on which I was obliged to
make a decision. You're well, I hope." He shot a glance at the rector,
and sat down again, still holding the sheets. "If you will excuse me a
moment longer, I'll finish this."

"Certainly," Hodder replied.

"Take a chair," said Mr. Parr, "you'll find the evening paper beside
you."

Hodder sat down, and the banker resumed his perusal of the document, his
eye running rapidly over the pages, pausing once in a while to scratch
out a word or to make a note on the margin. In the concentration of the
man on the task before him the rector read a design, an implication that
the affairs of the Church were of a minor importance: sensed, indeed,
the new attitude of hostility, gazed upon the undiscovered side, the
dangerous side before which other men had quailed. Alison's words
recurred to him, "they are afraid of you, they will crush you if they
can." Eldon Parr betrayed, at any rate, no sign of fear. If his mental
posture were further analyzed, it might be made out to contain an
intimation that the rector, by some act, had forfeited the right
to the unique privilege of the old relationship.

Well, the fact that the banker had, in some apparently occult manner,
been warned, would make Hodder's task easier--or rather less difficult.
His feelings were even more complicated than he had anticipated. The
moments of suspense were trying to his nerves, and he had a shrewd notion
that this making men wait was a favourite manoeuvre of Eldon Parr's; nor
had he underrated the benumbing force of that personality. It was
evident that the financier intended him to open the battle, and he was
--as he had expected--finding it difficult to marshal the regiments of his
arguments. In vain he thought of the tragedy of Garvin . . . . The
thing was more complicated. And behind this redoubtable and sinister
Eldon Parr he saw, as it were, the wraith of that: other who had once
confessed the misery of his loneliness. . . .

At last the banker rang, sharply, the bell on his desk. A secretary
entered, to whom he dictated a telegram which contained these words:
"Langmaid has discovered a way out." It was to be sent to an address in
Texas. Then he turned in his chair and crossed his knees, his hand
fondling an ivory paper-cutter. He smiled a little.

"Well, Mr. Hodder," he said.

The rector, intensely on his guard, merely inclined his head in
recognition that his turn had come.

"I was sorry," the banker continued, after a perceptible pause,--that
you could not see your way clear to have come with me on the cruise."

"I must thank you again," Hodder answered, "but I felt--as I wrote you
--that certain matters made it impossible for me to go."

"I suppose you had your reasons, but I think you would have enjoyed the
trip. I had a good, seaworthy boat--I chartered her from Mr. Lieber, the
president of the Continental Zinc, you know. I went as far as Labrador.
A wonderful coast, Mr. Hodder."

"It must be," agreed the rector. It was clear that Mr. Parr intended to
throw upon him the onus of the first move. There was a silence, brief,
indeed, but long enough for Hodder to feel more and more distinctly the
granite hardness which the other had become, to experience a rising,
reenforcing anger. He went forward, steadily but resolutely, on the
crest of it. "I have remained in the city," he continued, "and I have had
the opportunity to discover certain facts of which I have hitherto been
ignorant, and which, in my opinion, profoundly affect the welfare of the
church. It is of these I wished to speak to you."

Mr. Parr waited.

"It is not much of an exaggeration to say that ever since I came here
I have been aware that St. John's, considering the long standing of the
parish, the situation of the church in a thickly populated district, is
not fulfilling its mission. But I have failed until now to perceive the
causes of that inefficiency."

"Inefficiency?" The banker repeated the word.

"Inefficiency," said Hodder. "The reproach, the responsibility is
largely mine, as the rector, the spiritual, head of the parish. I
believe I am right when I say that the reason for the decision, some
twenty years ago, to leave the church where it is, instead of selling the
property and building in the West End, was that it might minister to the
poor in the neighbourhood, to bring religion and hope into their lives,
and to exert its influence towards eradicating the vice and misery which
surround it."

"But I thought you had agreed," said Mr. Parr, coldly, "that we were to
provide for that in the new chapel and settlement house."

"For reasons which I hope to make plain to you, Mr. Parr," Hodder
replied, "those people can never be reached, as they ought to be reached,
by building that settlement house. The principle is wrong, the day is
past when such things can be done--in that way." He laid an emphasis on
these words. "It is good, I grant you, to care for the babies and
children of the poor, it is good to get young women and men out of the
dance-halls, to provide innocent amusement, distraction, instruction.
But it is not enough. It leaves the great, transforming thing in the
lives of these people untouched, and it will forever remain untouched so
long as a sense of wrong, a continually deepening impression of an
unchristian civilization upheld by the Church herself, exists. Such an
undertaking as that settlement house--I see clearly now--is a palliation,
a poultice applied to one of many sores, a compromise unworthy of the
high mission of the Church. She should go to the root of the disease.
It is her first business to make Christians, who, by amending their own
lives, by going out individually and collectively into the life of the
nation, will gradually remove these conditions."

Mr. Parr sat drumming on the table. Hodder met his look.

"So you, too, have come to it," he said.

"Have come to what?"

"Socialism."

Hodder, in the state of clairvoyance in which he now surprisingly found
himself, accurately summed up the value and meaning of the banker's sigh.

"Say, rather," he replied, "that I have come to Christianity. We shall
never have what is called socialism until there is no longer any
necessity for it, until men, of their owe free will, are ready to
renounce selfish, personal ambition and power and work for humanity,
for the state."

Mr. Parr's gesture implied that he cared not by what name the thing was
called, but he still appeared strangely, astonishingly calm;--Hodder,
with all his faculties acute, apprehended that he was dangerously calm.
The man who had formerly been his friend was now completely obliterated,
and he had the feeling almost of being about to grapple, in mortal
combat, with some unknown monster whose tactics and resources were
infinite, whose victims had never escaped. The monster was in Eldon
Parr--that is how it came to him. The waxy, relentless demon was
aroused. It behooved him, Hodder, to step carefully . . . .

"That is all very fine, Mr. Hodder, very altruistic, very Christian,
I've no doubt-but the world doesn't work that way." (These were the
words borne in on Hodder's consciousness.) "What drives the world is the
motive furnished by the right of acquiring and holding property. If we
had a division to-day, the able men would come out on top next year."

The rector shook his head. He remembered, at that moment, Horace
Bentley.

"What drives the world is a far higher motive, Mr. Parr, the motive
with which have been fired the great lights of history, the motive of
renunciation and service which is transforming governments, which is
gradually making the world a better place in which to live. And we are
seeing men and women imbued with it, rising in ever increasing numbers on
every side to-day."

"Service!" Eldon Parr had seized upon the word as it passed and held it.
"What do you think my life has been? I suppose," he said, with a touch
of intense bitterness, "that you, too, who six months ago seemed as
reasonable a man as I ever met, have joined in the chorus of
denunciators. It has become the fashion to-day, thanks to your
socialists, reformers, and agitators, to decry a man because he is rich,
to take it for granted that he is a thief and a scoundrel, that he has no
sense of responsibility for his country and his fellow-men. The glory,
the true democracy of this nation, lies in its equal opportunity for all.
They take no account of that, of the fact that each has had the same
chance as his fellows. No, but they cry out that the man who, by the
sweat of his brow, has earned wealth ought to divide it up with the lazy
and the self-indulgent and the shiftless.

"Take my case, for instance,--it is typical of thousands. I came to this
city as a boy in my teens, with eight dollars in my pocket which I had
earned on a farm. I swept the floor, cleaned the steps, moved boxes and
ran errands in Gabriel Parker's store on Third Street. I was
industrious, sober, willing to do anything. I fought, I tell you every
inch of my way. As soon as I saved a little money I learned to use every
ounce of brain I possessed to hold on to it. I trusted a man once, and I
had to begin all over again. And I discovered, once for all, if a man
doesn't look out for himself, no one will.

"I don't pretend that I am any better than any one else, I have had to
take life as I found it, and make the best of it. I conformed to the
rules of the game; I soon had sense enough knocked into me to understand
that the conditions were not of my making. But I'll say this for
myself," Eldon Parr leaned forward over the blotter, "I had standards,
and I stuck by them. I wanted to be a decent citizen, to bring up my
children in the right way. I didn't squander my money, when I got it, on
wine and women, I respected other men's wives, I supported the Church and
the institutions of the city. I too even I had my ambitions, my ideals
--and they were not entirely worldly ones. You would probably accuse me of
wishing to acquire only the position of power which I hold. If you had
accepted my invitation to go aboard the yacht this summer, it was my
intention to unfold to you a scheme of charities which has long been
forming in my mind, and which I think would be of no small benefit to the
city where I have made my fortune. I merely mention this to prove to you
that I am not unmindful, in spite of the circumstances of my own life,
of the unfortunates whose mental equipment is not equal to my own."

By this "poor boy" argument which--if Hodder had known--Mr. Parr had
used at banquets with telling effect, the banker seemed to regain
perspective and equilibrium, to plant his feet once more on the
rock of the justification of his life, and from which, by a somewhat
extraordinary process he had not quite understood, he had been partially
shaken off. As he had proceeded with his personal history, his manner
had gradually become one of the finality of experience over theory,
of the forbearance of the practical man with the visionary. Like most
successful citizens of his type, he possessed in a high degree the
faculty of creating sympathy, of compelling others to accept
--temporarily, at least--his point of view. It was this faculty, Hodder
perceived, which had heretofore laid an enchantment upon him, and it was
not without a certain wonder that he now felt himself to be released from
the spell.

The perceptions of the banker were as keen, and his sense of security was
brief. Somehow, as he met the searching eye of the rector, he was unable
to see the man as a visionary, but beheld--and, to do him justice--felt a
twinge of respect for an adversary worthy of his steel.

He, who was accustomed to prepare for clouds when they were mere specks
on his horizon, paused even now to marvel why he had not dealt with this.
Here was a man--a fanatic, if he liked--but still a man who positively
did not fear him, to whom his wrath and power were as nothing! A new and
startling and complicated sensation--but Eldon Parr was no coward. If he
had, consciously or unconsciously, formerly looked upon the clergyman as
a dependent, Hodder appeared to be one no more. The very ruggedness of
the man had enhanced, expanded--as it were--until it filled the room.
And Hodder had, with an audacity unparalleled in the banker's experience
arraigned by implication his whole life, managed to put him on the
defensive.

"But if that be your experience," the rector said, "and it has become
your philosophy, what is it in you that impels you to give these large
sums for the public good?"

"I should suppose that you, as a clergyman, might understand that my
motive is a Christian one."

Hodder sat very still, but a higher light came into his eyes.

"Mr. Parr," he replied, "I have been a friend of yours, and I am a friend
still. And what I am going to tell you is not only in the hope that
others may benefit, but that your own soul may be saved. I mean that
literally--your own soul. You are under the impression that you are a
Christian, but you are not and never have been one. And you will not be
one until your whole life is transformed, until you become a different
man. If you do not change, it is my duty to warn you that the sorrow and
suffering, the uneasiness which you now know, and which drive you on, in
search of distraction, to adding useless sums of money to your fortune
--this suffering, I say, will become intensified. You will die in the
knowledge of it, and live on after, in the knowledge of it."

In spite of himself, the financier drew back before this unexpected
blast, the very intensity of which had struck a chill of terror in his
inmost being. He had been taken off his guard,--for he had supposed the
day long past--if it had ever existed--when a spiritual rebuke would
upset him; the day long past when a minister could pronounce one with
any force. That the Church should ever again presume to take herself
seriously had never occurred to him. And yet--the man had denounced him
in a moment of depression, of nervous irritation and exasperation against
a government which had begun to interfere with the sacred liberty of its
citizens, against political agitators who had spurred that government on.
The world was mad. No element, it seemed, was now content to remain in
its proper place. His voice, as he answered, shook with rage,--all the
greater because the undaunted sternness by which it was confronted seemed
to reduce it to futility.

"Take care!" he cried, "take care! You, nor any other man, clergyman or
no clergyman, have any right to be the judge of my conduct."

"On the contrary," said Holder, "if your conduct affects the welfare, the
progress, the reputation of the church of which I am rector, I have the
right. And I intend to exercise it. It becomes my duty, however
painful, to tell you, as a member of the Church, wherein you have
wronged the Church and wronged yourself."

He didn't raise his tone, and there was in it more of sorrow than of
indignation. The banker turned an ashen gray . . A moment elapsed
before he spoke, a transforming moment. He suddenly became ice.

"Very well," he said. "I can't pretend to account for these astounding
views you have acquired--and I am using a mild term. Let me say this:
(he leaned forward a little, across the desk) I demand that you be
specific. I am a busy man, I have little time to waste, I have certain
matters--before me which must be attended to to-night. I warn you that
I will not listen any longer to vague accusations."

It was Holder's turn to marvel. Did Eldon Purr, after all; have no sense
of guilt? Instantaneously, automatically, his own anger rose.

"You may be sure, Mr. Parr, that I should not be here unless I were
prepared to be specific. And what I am going to say to you I have
reserved for your ear alone, in the hope that you will take it to heart,
while it is not yet too late, said amend your life accordingly."

Eldon Parr shifted slightly. His look became inscrutable, was riveted on
the rector.

"I shall call your attention first to a man of whom you have probably
never heard. He is dead now--he threw himself into the river this
summer, with a curse on his lips--I am afraid--a curse against you. A
few years ago he lived happily with his wife and child in a little house
on the Grade Suburban, and he had several thousand dollars as a result of
careful saving and systematic self-denial.

"Perhaps you have never thought of the responsibilities of a great name.
This man, like thousands of others in the city, idealized you. He looked
up to you as the soul of honour, as a self-made man who by his own
unaided efforts--as you yourself have just pointed out--rose from a poor
boy to a position of power and trust in the community. He saw you a
prominent layman in the Church of God. He was dazzled by the brilliancy
of your success, inspired by a civilization which--gave such
opportunities. He recognized that he himself had not the brains for such
an achievement,--his hope and love and ambition were centred in his boy."

At the word Eldon Parr's glance was suddenly dulled by pain. He
tightened his lips.

"That boy was then of a happy, merry disposition, so the mother says, and
every summer night as she cooked supper she used to hear him laughing as
he romped in the yard with his father. When I first saw him this summer,
it was two days before his father committed suicide. The child was
lying, stifled with the heat, in the back room of one of those desolate
lodging houses in Dalton Street, and his little body had almost wasted
away.

"While I was there the father came in, and when he saw me he was filled
with fury. He despised the Church, and St. John's above all churches,
because you were of it; because you who had given so generously to it had
wrecked his life. You had shattered his faith in humanity, his ideal.
From a normal, contented man he had deteriorated into a monomaniac whom
no one would hire, a physical and mental wreck who needed care and
nursing. He said he hoped the boy would die.

"And what had happened? The man had bought, with all the money he had
in the world, Consolidated Tractions. He had bought it solely because
of his admiration for your ability, his faith in your name. It was
inconceivable to him that a man of your standing, a public benefactor, a
supporter of church and charities, would permit your name to be connected
with any enterprise that was not sound and just. Thousands like Garvin
lost all they had, while you are still a rich man. It is further
asserted that you sold out all your stock at a high price, with the
exception of that in the leased lines, which are guaranteed heavy
dividends."

"Have you finished?" demanded Eldon Parr.

"Not quite, on this subject," replied the rector. "Two nights after
that, the man threw himself in the river. His body was pulled out by men
on a tugboat, and his worthless stock certificate was in his pocket. It
is now in the possession of Mr. Horace Bentley. Thanks to Mr. Bentley,
the widow found a temporary home, and the child has almost recovered."

Hodder paused. His interest had suddenly become concentrated upon the
banker's new demeanour, and he would not have thought it within the range
of possibility that a man could listen to such a revelation concerning
himself without the betrayal of some feeling. But so it was,--Eldon Parr
had been coldly attentive, save for the one scarcely perceptible tremor
when the boy was mentioned. His interrogatory gesture gave the very
touch of perfection to this attitude, since it proclaimed him to have
listened patiently to a charge so preposterous that a less reasonable man
would have cut it short.

"And what leads you to suppose," he inquired, "that I am responsible in
this matter? What leads you to infer that the Consolidated Tractions
Company was not organized in good faith? Do you think that business men
are always infallible? The street-car lines of this city were at sixes
and sevens, fighting each other; money was being wasted by poor
management. The idea behind the company was a public-spirited one, to
give the citizens cheaper and better service, by a more modern equipment,
by a wider system of transfer. It seems to me, Mr. Hodder, that you put
yourself in a more quixotic position than the so-called reformers when
you assume that the men who organize a company in good faith are
personally responsible for every share of stock that is sold, and for
the welfare of every individual who may buy the stock. We force no one
to buy it. They do so at their own risk. I myself have thousands of
dollars of worthless stock in my safe. I have never complained."

The full force of Hodder's indignation went into his reply.

"I am not talking about the imperfect code of human justice under which
we live, Mr. Parr," he cried. "This is not a case in which a court of
law may exonerate you, it is between you and your God. But I have taken
the trouble to find out, from unquestioned sources, the truth about the
Consolidated Tractions Company--I shall not go into the details at
length--they are doubtless familiar to you. I know that the legal genius
of Mr. Langmaid, one of my vestry, made possible the organization of the
company, and thereby evaded the plain spirit of the law of the state.
I know that one branch line was bought for two hundred and fifty thousand
dollars, and capitalized for three millions, and that most of the others
were scandalously over-capitalized. I know that while the coming
transaction was still a secret, you and other, gentlemen connected with
the matter bought up large interests in other lines, which you proceeded
to lease to yourselves at guaranteed dividends which these lines do not
earn. I know that the first large dividend was paid out of capital. And
the stock which you sold to poor Garvin was so hopelessly watered that it
never could have been anything but worthless. If, in spite of these
facts, you do not deem yourself responsible for the misery which has been
caused, if your conscience is now clear, it is my duty to tell you that
there is a higher bar of justice."

The intensity of the fire of the denunciation had, indeed, a momentary
yet visible effect in the banker's expression. Whatever the emotions
thus lashed to self-betrayal, anger, hatred,--fear, perhaps, Hodder could
not detect a trace of penitence; and he was aware, on the part of the
other, of a supreme, almost spasmodic effort for self-control. The
constitutional reluctance of Eldon Parr to fight openly could not have
been more clearly demonstrated.

"Because you are a clergyman, Mr. Hodder," he began, "because you are
the rector of St. John's, I have allowed you to say things to me which
I would not have permitted from any other man. I have tried to take
into account your point of view, which is naturally restricted, your
pardonable ignorance of what business men, who wish to do their duty by
Church and State, have to contend with. When you came to this parish you
seemed to have a sensible, a proportional view of things; you were
content to confine your activities to your own sphere, content not to
meddle with politics and business, which you could, at first hand, know
nothing about. The modern desire of clergymen to interfere in these
matters has ruined the usefulness of many of them.

"I repeat, I have tried to be patient. I venture to hope, still, that
this extraordinary change in you may not be permanent, but merely the
result of a natural sympathy with the weak and unwise and unfortunate who
are always to be found in a complex civilization. I can even conceive
how such a discovery must have shocked you, temporarily aroused your
indignation, as a clergyman, against the world as it is--and, I may add,
as it has always been. My personal friendship for you, and my interest
in your future welfare impel me to make a final appeal to you not to ruin
a career which is full of promise."

The rector did not take advantage of the pause. A purely psychological
curiosity hypnotized him to see how far the banker would go in his
apparent generosity.

"I once heard you say, I believe, in a sermon, that the Christian
religion is a leaven. It is the leaven that softens and ameliorates the
hard conditions of life, that makes our relations with our fellow-men
bearable. But life is a contest, it is war. It always has been, and
always will be. Business is war, commerce is war, both among nations and
individuals. You cannot get around it. If a man does not exterminate
his rivals they will exterminate him. In other days churches were built
and endowed with the spoils of war, and did not disdain the money.
To-day they cheerfully accept the support and gifts of business men.
I do not accuse them of hypocrisy. It is a recognition on their part
that business men, in spite of hard facts, are not unmindful of the
spiritual side of life, and are not deaf to the injunction to help
others. And when, let me ask you, could you find in the world's history
more splendid charities than are around us to-day? Institutions endowed
for medical research, for the conquest of deadly diseases? libraries,
hospitals, schools--men giving their fortunes for these things, the
fruits of a life's work so laboriously acquired? Who can say that the
modern capitalist is not liberal, is not a public benefactor?

"I dislike being personal, but you have forced it upon me. I dislike to
refer to what I have already done in the matter of charities, but I
hinted to you awhile ago of a project I have conceived and almost
perfected of gifts on a much larger scale than I have ever attempted."
The financier stared at him meaningly. "And I had you in mind as one of
the three men whom I should consult, whom I should associate with myself
in the matter. We cannot change human nature, but we can better
conditions by wise giving. I do not refer now to the settle ment house,
which I am ready to help make and maintain as the best in the country,
but I have in mind a system to be carried out with the consent and aid
of the municipal government, of play-grounds, baths, parks, places of
recreation, and hospitals, for the benefit of the people, which will
put our city in the very forefront of progress. And I believe, as a
practical man, I can convince you that the betterment which you and I so
earnestly desire can be brought about in no other way. Agitation can
only result in anarchy and misery for all."

Hodder's wrath, as he rose from his chair, was of the sort that appears
incredibly to add to the physical stature,--the bewildering spiritual
wrath which is rare indeed, and carries all before it.

"Don't tempt me, Mr. Parr!" he said. "Now that I know the truth, I tell
you frankly I would face poverty and persecution rather than consent to
your offer. And I warn you once more not to flatter yourself that
existence ends here, that you will, not be called to answer for every
wrong act you have committed in accumulating your fortune, that what
you call business is an affair of which God takes no account. What
I say may seem foolishness to you, but I tell you, in the words of that
Foolishness, that it will not profit you to gain the whole world and lose
your own soul. You remind me that the Church in old time accepted gifts
from the spoils of war, and I will add of rapine and murder. And the
Church to-day, to repeat your own parallel, grows rich with money
wrongfully got. Legally? Ah, yes, legally, perhaps. But that will not
avail you. And the kind of church you speak of--to which I, to my shame,
once consented--Our Lord repudiates. It is none of his. I warn you, Mr.
Parr, in his Name, first to make your peace with your brothers before you
presume to lay another gift on the altar."

During this withering condemnation of himself Eldon Parr sat motionless,
his face grown livid, an expression on it that continued to haunt Hodder
long afterwards. An expression, indeed, which made the banker almost
unrecognizable.

"Go," he whispered, his hand trembling visibly as he pointed towards the
door. "Go--I have had enough of this."

"Not until I have said one thing more," replied the rector, undaunted.
"I have found the woman whose marriage with your son you prevented, whom
you bought off and started on the road to hell without any sense of
responsibility. You have made of her a prostitute and a drunkard.
Whether she can be rescued or not is problematical. She, too, is in
Mr. Bentley's care, a man upon whom you once showed no mercy. I leave
Garvin, who has gone to his death, and Kate Marcy and Horace Bentley to
your conscience, Mr. Parr. That they are representative of many others,
I do not doubt. I tell you solemnly that the whole meaning of life is
service to others, and I warn you, before it is too late, to repent and
make amends. Gifts will not help you, and charities are of no avail."

At the reference to Kate Marcy Eldon Parr's hand dropped to his side.
He seemed to have physical difficulty in speaking.

"Ah, you have found that woman!" He leaned an elbow on the desk,
he seemed suddenly to have become weary, spent, old. And Hodder,
as he watched him, perceived--that his haggard look was directed towards
a photograph in a silver frame on the table--a photograph of Preston
Parr. At length he broke the silence.

"What would you have had me do?" he asked. "Permit my son to marry a
woman of the streets, I suppose. That would have been Christianity,
according to your notion. Come now, what world you have done, if your
son had been in question?"

A wave of pity swept over the rector.

"Why," he said, why did you have nothing but cruelty in your heart, and
contempt for her? When you saw that she was willing, for the love of the
son whom you loved, to give up all that life meant to her, how could you
destroy her without a qualm? The crime you committed was that you
refused to see God in that woman's soul, when he had revealed himself to
you. You looked for wile, for cunning, for self-seeking,--and they were
not there. Love had obliterated them. When you saw how meekly she
obeyed you, and agreed to go away, why did you not have pity? If you
had listened to your conscience, you would have known what to do.

"I do not say that you should not have opposed the marriage--then.
Marriage is not to be lightly entered into. From the moment you went to
see her you became responsible for her. You hurled her into the abyss,
and she has come back to haunt you. You should have had her educated and
cared for--she would have submitted, to any plan you proposed. And if,
after a sensible separation, you became satisfied as to her character and
development, and your son still wished to marry her, you should have
withdrawn your objections.

"As it is, and in consequence of your act, you have lost your son. He
left you then, and you have no more control over him."

"Stop!" cried Eldon Parr, "for God's sake stop! I won't stand any more
of this. I will not listen to criticism of my life, to strictures on my
conduct from you or any other man." He reached for a book on the corner
of his desk--a cheque book.--"You'll want money for these people, I
suppose," he added brutally. "I will give it, but it must be understood
that I do not recognize any right of theirs to demand it."

For a moment Holder did not trust himself to reply. He looked down
across the desk at the financier, who was fumbling with the leaves.

"They do not demand it, Mr. Parr," he answered, gently. "And I have
tried to make it plain to you that you have lost the right to give it.
I expected to fail in this. I have failed."

"What do you mean?" Eldon Parr let the cheque book close.

"I mean what I said," the rector replied. "That if you would save your
soul you must put an end, to-morrow, to the acquisition of money, and
devote the rest of your life to an earnest and sincere attempt to make
just restitution to those you have wronged. And you must ask the
forgiveness of God for your sins. Until you do that, your charities are
abominations in his sight. I will not trouble you any longer, except to
say that I shall be ready to come to you at any time my presence may be
of any help to you."

The banker did not speak . . . . With a single glance towards the
library Holder left the house, but paused for a moment outside to gaze
back at it, as it loomed in the darkness against the stars.



CHAPTER XXI

ALISON GOES TO CHURCH


I

On the following Sunday morning the early light filtered into Alison's
room, and she opened her strong eyes. Presently she sprang from her bed
and drew back the curtains of the windows, gazing rapturously into the
crystal day. The verdure of the Park was freshened to an incredible
brilliancy by the dew, a thin white veil of mist was spread over the
mirror of the waters, the trees flung long shadows across the turf.

A few minutes later she was out, thrilled by the silence, drawing in
deep, breaths of the morning air; lingering by still lakes catching the
blue of the sky--a blue that left its stain upon the soul; as the sun
mounted she wandered farther, losing herself in the wilderness of the
forest.

At eight o'clock, when she returned, there were signs that the city had
awakened. A mounted policeman trotted past her as she crossed a gravel
drive, and on the tree-flecked stretches, which lately had been empty as
Eden, human figures were scattered. A child, with a sailboat that
languished for lack of wind, stared at her, first with fascination and
wonder in his eyes, and then smiled at her tentatively. She returned the
smile with a start.

Children had stared at her like that before now, and for the first time
in her life she asked herself what the look might mean. She had never
really been fond of them: she had never, indeed, been brought much in
contact with them. But now, without warning, a sudden fierce yearning
took possession of her: surprised and almost frightened, she stopped
irresistibly and looked back at the thin little figure crouched beside
the water, to discover that his widened eyes were still upon her. Her
own lingered on him shyly, and thus for a moment she hung in doubt
whether to flee or stay, her heart throbbing as though she were on the
brink of some unknown and momentous adventure. She took a timid step.

"What's your name?" she asked.

The boy told her.

"What's yours?" he ventured, still under the charm.

"Alison."

He had never heard of that name, and said so. They deplored the lack of
wind. And presently, still mystified, but gathering courage, he asked
her why she blushed, at which her colour deepened.

"I can't help it," she told him.

"I like it," the boy said.

Though the grass was still wet, she got down on her knees in her white
skirt, the better to push the boat along the shore: once it drifted
beyond their reach, and was only rescued by a fallen branch discovered
with difficulty.

The arrival of the boy's father, an anaemic-looking little man, put an
end to their play. He deplored the condition of the lady's dress.

"It doesn't matter in the least," she assured him, and fled in a mood she
did not attempt to analyze. Hurrying homeward, she regained her room,
bathed, and at half past eight appeared in the big, formal dining-room,
from which the glare of the morning light was carefully screened. Her
father insisted on breakfasting here; and she found him now seated before
the white table-cloth, reading a newspaper. He glanced up at her
critically.

"So you've decided to honour me this morning," he said.

"I've been out in the Park," she replied, taking the chair opposite him.
He resumed his reading, but presently, as she was pouring out the coffee,
he lowered the paper again.

"What's the occasion to-day?" he asked.

"The occasion?" she repeated, without acknowledging that she had
instantly grasped his implication. His eyes were on her gown.

"You are not accustomed, as a rule, to pay much deference to Sunday."

"Doesn't the Bible say, somewhere," she inquired, "that the Sabbath was
made for man? Perhaps that may be broadened after a while, to include
woman."

"But you have never been an advocate, so far as I know, of women taking
advantage of their opportunity by going to Church."

"What's the use," demanded Alison, "of the thousands of working women
spending the best part of the day in the ordinary church, when their feet
and hands and heads are aching? Unless some fire is kindled in their
souls, it is hopeless for them to try to obtain any benefit from
religion--so-called--as it is preached to them in most churches."

"Fire in their souls!" exclaimed the banker.

"Yes. If the churches offered those who might be leaders among their
fellows a practical solution of existence, kindled their self-respect,
replaced a life of drudgery by one of inspiration--that would be worth
while. But you will never get such a condition as that unless your
pulpits are filled by personalities, instead of puppets who are all cast
in one mould, and who profess to be there by divine right."

"I am glad to see at least that you are taking an interest in religious
matters," her father observed, meaningly.

Alison coloured. But she retorted with spirit.

"That is true of a great many persons to-day who are thinking on the
subject. If Christianity is a solution of life, people are demanding of
the churches that they shall perform their function, and show us how, and
why, or else cease to encumber the world."

Eldon Parr folded up his newspaper.

"So you are going to Church this morning," he said.

"Yes. At what time will you be ready?"

"At quarter to eleven. But if you are going to St. John', you will have
to start earlier. I'll order a car at half past ten."

"Where are you going?" She held her breath, unconsciously, for the
answer.

"To Calvary," he replied coldly, as he rose to leave the room. "But I
hesitate to ask you to come,--I am afraid you will not find a religion
there that suits you."

For a moment she could not trust herself to speak. The secret which,
ever since Friday evening, she had been burning to learn was disclosed
. . . Her father had broken with Mr. Hodder!

"Please don't order the motor for me," she said. "I'd rather go in the
street cars."

She sat very still in the empty room, her face burning.

Characteristically, her father had not once mentioned the rector of St.
John's, yet had contrived to imply that her interest in Hodder was
greater than her interest in religion. And she was forced to admit, with
her customary honesty, that the implication was true.


The numbers who knew Alison Parr casually thought her cold. They admired
a certain quality in her work, but they did not suspect that that quality
was the incomplete expression of an innate idealism capable of being
fanned into flame,--for she was subject to rare but ardent enthusiasms
which kindled and transformed her incredibly in the eyes of the few to
whom the process had been revealed. She had had even a longer list of
suitors than any one guessed; men who--usually by accident--had touched
the hidden spring, and suddenly beholding an unimagined woman, had
consequently lost their heads. The mistake most of them had made (for
subtlety in such affairs is not a masculine trait) was the failure to
recognize and continue to present the quality in them which had awakened
her. She had invariably discovered the feet of clay.

Thus disillusion had been her misfortune--perhaps it would be more
accurate to say her fortune. She had built up, after each invasion, her
defences more carefully and solidly than before, only to be again
astonished and dismayed by the next onslaught, until at length the
question had become insistent--the question of an alliance for purposes
of greater security. She had returned to her childhood home to consider
it, frankly recognizing it as a compromise, a fall . . . .

And here, in this sanctuary of her reflection, and out of a quarter on
which she had set no watch, out of a wilderness which she had believed to
hold nothing save the ruined splendours of the past, had come one who,
like the traditional figures of the wilderness, had attracted her by his
very uncouthness and latent power. And the anomaly he presented in what
might be called the vehemence of his advocacy of an outworn orthodoxy,
in his occupation of the pulpit of St. John's, had quickened at once her
curiosity and antagonism. It had been her sudden discovery, or rather
her instinctive suspicion of the inner conflict in him which had set her
standard fluttering in response. Once more (for the last time--something
whispered--now) she had become the lady of the lists; she sat on her
walls watching, with beating heart and straining eyes, the closed helm
of her champion, ready to fling down the revived remnant of her faith as
prize or forfeit. She had staked all on the hope that he would not lower
his lance. . . . .

Saturday had passed in suspense . . . . And now was flooding in on
her the certainty that he had not failed her; that he had, with a sublime
indifference to a worldly future and success, defied the powers. With
indifference, too, to her! She knew, of course, that he loved her.
A man with less of greatness would have sought a middle way . . . .

When, at half past ten, she fared forth into the sunlight, she was filled
with anticipation, excitement, concern, feelings enhanced and not soothed
by the pulsing vibrations of the church bells in the softening air. The
swift motion of the electric car was grateful. . . But at length the
sight of familiar landmarks, old-fashioned dwellings crowded in between
the stores and factories of lower Tower Street, brought back
recollections of the days when she had come this way, other Sunday
mornings, and in a more leisurely public vehicle, with her mother.
Was it possible that she, Alison Parr, were going to church now? Her
excitement deepened, and she found it difficult to bring herself to the
realization that her destination was a church--the church of her
childhood. At this moment she could only think of St. John's as the
setting of the supreme drama.

When she alighted at the corner of Burton Street there was the
well-remembered, shifting group on the pavement in front of the church
porch. How many times, in the summer and winter, in fair weather and
cloudy, in rain and sleet and snow had she approached that group, as she
approached it now! Here were the people, still, in the midst of whom her
earliest associations had been formed, changed, indeed,-but yet the same.
No, the change was in her, and the very vastness of that change came as a
shock. These had stood still, anchored to their traditions, while she
--had she grown? or merely wandered? She had searched, at least, and seen.
She had once accepted them--if indeed as a child it could have been said
of her that she accepted anything; she had been unable then, at any rate,
to bring forward any comparisons.

Now she beheld them, collectively, in their complacent finery, as
representing a force, a section of the army blocking the heads of the
passes of the world's progress, resting on their arms, but ready at the
least uneasy movement from below to man the breastworks, to fling down
the traitor from above, to fight fiercely for the solidarity of their
order. And Alison even believed herself to detect, by something
indefinable in their attitudes as they stood momentarily conversing
in lowered voices, an aroused suspicion, an uneasy anticipation. Her
imagination went so far as to apprehend, as they greeted her unwonted
appearance, that they read in it an addition to other vague and
disturbing phenomena. Her colour was high.

"Why, my dear," said Mrs. Atterbury, "I thought you had gone back to New
York long ago!"

Beside his mother stood Gordon--more dried up, it seemed, than ever.
Alison recalled him, as on this very spot, a thin, pale boy in short
trousers, and Mrs. Atterbury a beautiful and controlled young matron
associated with St. John's and with children's parties. She was
wonderful yet, with her white hair and straight nose, her erect figure
still slight. Alison knew that Mrs. Atterbury had never forgiven her for
rejecting her son--or rather for being the kind of woman who could reject
him.

"Surely you haven't been here all summer?"

Alison admitted it, characteristically, without explanations.

"It seems so natural to see you here at the old church, after all these
years," the lady went on, and Alison was aware that Mrs. Atterbury
questioned--or rather was at a loss for the motives which had led such an
apostate back to the fold. "We must thank Mr. Hodder, I suppose. He's
very remarkable. I hear he is resuming the services to-day for the first
time since June."

Alison was inclined to read a significance into Mrs. Atterbury's glance
at her son, who was clearing his throat.

"But--where is Mr. Parr?" he asked. "I understand he has come back from
his cruise."

"Yes, he is back. I came without--him---as you see."

She found a certain satisfaction in adding to the mystification, to the
disquietude he betrayed by fidgeting more than usual.

"But--he always comes when he is in town. Business--I suppose--ahem!"

"No," replied Alison, dropping her bomb with cruel precision, "he has
gone to Calvary."

The agitation was instantaneous.

"To Calvary!" exclaimed mother and son in one breath.

"Why?" It was Gordon who demanded. "A--a special occasion there--a
bishop or something?"

"I'm afraid you must ask him," she said.

She was delayed on the steps, first by Nan Ferguson, then by the
Laureston Greys, and her news outdistanced her to the porch. Charlotte
Plimpton looking very red and solid, her eyes glittering with excitement,
blocked her way.

"Alison?" she cried, in the slightly nasal voice that was a Gore
inheritance, "I'm told your father's gone to Calvary! Has Mr. Hodder
offended him? I heard rumours--Wallis seems to be afraid that something
has happened."

"He hasn't said anything about it to me, Charlotte," said Alison, in
quiet amusement, "but then he wouldn't, you know. I don't live here any
longer, and he has no reason to think that I would be interested in
church matters."

"But--why did you come?" Charlotte demanded, with Gore naivete.

Alison smiled.

"You mean--what was my motive?"

Charlotte actually performed the miracle of getting redder. She was
afraid of Alison--much more afraid since she had known of her vogue in
the East. When Alison had put into execution the astounding folly (to
the Gore mind) of rejecting the inheritance of millions to espouse a
profession, it had been Charlotte Plimpton who led the chorus of ridicule
and disapproval. But success, to the Charlotte Plimptons, is its own
justification, and now her ambition (which had ramifications) was to have
Alison "do" her a garden. Incidentally, the question had flashed through
her mind as to how much Alison's good looks had helped towards her
triumph in certain shining circles.

"Oh, of course I didn't mean that," she hastened to deny, although it was
exactly what she had meant. Her curiosity unsatisfied--and not likely to
be satisfied at once, she shifted abruptly to the other burning subject.
"I was so glad when I learned you hadn't gone. Grace Larrabbee's garden
is a dream, my dear. Wallis and I stopped there the other day and the
caretaker showed it to us. Can't you make a plan for me, so that I may
begin next spring? And there's something else I wanted to ask you.
Wallis and I are going to New York the end of the month. Shall you be
there?"

"I don't know," said Alison, cautiously.

"We want so much to see one or two of your gardens on Long Island, and
especially the Sibleys', on the Hudson. I know it will be late in the
season,--but don't you think you could take us, Alison? And I intend to
give you a dinner. I'll write you a note. Here's Wallis."

"Well, well, well," said Mr. Plimpton, shaking Alison's hand. "Where's
father? I hear he's gone to Calvary."

Alison made her escape. Inside the silent church, Eleanor Goodrich gave
her a smile and a pressure of welcome. Beside her, standing behind the
rear pew, were Asa Waring and--Mr. Bentley! Mr. Bentley returned to St.
John's!

"You have come!" Alison whispered.

He understood her. He took her hand in his and looked down into her
upturned face.

"Yes, my dear," he said, "and my girls have come Sally Grover and the
others, and some friends from Dalton Street and elsewhere."

The news, the sound of this old gentleman's voice and the touch of his
hand suddenly filled her with a strange yet sober happiness. Asa Waring,
though he had not overheard, smiled at her too, as in sympathy. His
austere face was curiously illuminated, and she knew instinctively that
in some way he shared her happiness. Mr. Bentley had come back! Yes, it
was an augury. From childhood she had always admired Asa Waring, and now
she felt a closer tie . . . .

She reached the pew, hesitated an instant, and slipped forward on her
knees. Years had gone by since she had prayed, and even now she made no
attempt to translate into words the intensity of her yearning--for what?
Hodder's success, for one thing,--and by success she meant that he might
pursue an unfaltering course. True to her temperament, she did not look
for the downfall of the forces opposed to him. She beheld him
persecuted, yet unyielding, and was thus lifted to an exaltation that
amazed. . . If he could do it, such a struggle must sorely have an
ultimate meaning! Thus she found herself, trembling, on the borderland
of faith. . .

She arose, bewildered, her pulses beating. And presently glancing about,
she took in that the church was fuller than she ever remembered having
seen it, and the palpitating suspense she felt seemed to pervade, as it
were, the very silence. With startling abruptness, the silence was
broken by the tones of the great organ that rolled and reverberated among
the arches; distant voices took up the processional; the white choir
filed past,--first the treble voices of the boys, then the deeper notes
of the--men,--turned and mounted the chancel steps, and then she saw
Hodder. Her pew being among the first, he passed very near her. Did he
know she would be there? The sternness of his profile told her nothing.
He seemed at that moment removed, set apart, consecrated--this was the
word that came to her, and yet she was keenly conscious of his presence.

Tingling, she found herself repeating, inwardly, two, lines of the hymn

          "Lay hold on life, and it shall be
          Thy joy and crown eternally."

"Lay hold on life!"

The service began,--the well-remembered, beautiful appeal and prayers
which she could still repeat, after a lapse of time, almost by heart; and
their music and rhythm, the simple yet magnificent language in which.
they were clothed--her own language--awoke this morning a racial instinct
strong in her,--she had not known how strong. Or was it something in
Hodder's voice that seemed to illumine the ancient words with a new
meaning? Raising her eyes to the chancel she studied his head, and found
in it still another expression of that race, the history of which had
been one of protest, of development of its own character and personality.
Her mind went back to her first talk with him, in the garden, and she saw
how her intuition had recognized in him then the spirit of a people
striving to assert itself.

She stood with tightened lips, during the Apostles' Creed, listening to
his voice as it rose, strong and unfaltering, above the murmur of the
congregation.

At last she saw him swiftly crossing the chancel, mounting the pulpit
steps, and he towered above her, a dominant figure, his white surplice
sharply outlined against the dark stone of the pillar. The hymn died
away, the congregation sat down. There was a sound in the church,
expectant, presaging, like the stirring of leaves at the first breath of
wind, and then all was silent.



II

He had preached for an hour--longer, perhaps. Alison could not have said
how long. She had lost all sense of time.

No sooner had the text been spoken, "Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the Kingdom of God," than she seemed to catch a fleeting
glimpse of an hitherto unimagined Personality. Hundreds of times she
had heard those words, and they had been as meaningless to her as to
Nicodemus. But now--now something was brought home to her of the
magnificent certainty with which they must first have been spoken,
of the tone and bearing and authority of him who had uttered them.
Was Christ like that? And could it be a Truth, after all, a truth
only to be grasped by one who had experienced it?

It was in vain that man had tried to evade this, the supreme revelation
of Jesus Christ, had sought to substitute ceremonies and sacrifices for
spiritual rebirth. It was in vain that the Church herself had, from time
to time, been inclined to compromise. St. Paul, once the strict Pharisee
who had laboured for the religion of works, himself had been reborn into
the religion of the Spirit. It was Paul who had liberated that message
of rebirth, which the world has been so long in grasping, from the narrow
bounds of Palestine and sent it ringing down the ages to the democracies
of the twentieth century.

And even Paul, though not consciously inconsistent, could not rid himself
completely of that ancient, automatic, conception of religion which the
Master condemned, but had on occasions attempted fruitlessly to unite the
new with the old. And thus, for a long time, Christianity had been
wrongly conceived as history, beginning with what to Paul and the Jews
was an historical event, the allegory of the Garden of Eden, the fall of
Adam, and ending with the Jewish conception of the Atonement. This was a
rationalistic and not a spiritual religion.

The miracle was not the vision, whatever its nature, which Saul beheld on
the road to Damascus. The miracle was the result of that vision, the man
reborn. Saul, the persecutor of Christians, become Paul, who spent the
rest of his days, in spite of persecution and bodily infirmities,
journeying tirelessly up and down the Roman Empire, preaching the risen
Christ, and labouring more abundantly than they all! There was no
miracle in the New Testament more wonderful than this.

The risen Christ! Let us not trouble ourselves about the psychological
problems involved, problems which the first century interpreted in its
own simple way. Modern, science has taught us this much, at least,
that we have by no means fathomed the limits even of a transcendent
personality. If proofs of the Resurrection and Ascension were demanded,
let them be spiritual proofs, and there could be none more convincing
than the life of the transformed Saul, who had given to the modern,
western world the message of salvation . . . .

That afternoon, as Alison sat motionless on a distant hillside of the
Park, gazing across the tree-dotted, rolling country to the westward, she
recalled the breathless silence in the church when he had reached this
point and paused, looking down at the congregation. By the subtle
transmission of thought, of feeling which is characteristic at dramatic
moments of bodies of people, she knew that he had already contrived to
stir them to the quick. It was not so much that these opening words
might have been startling to the strictly orthodox, but the added fact
that Hodder had uttered them. The sensation in the pews, as Alison
interpreted it and exulted over it, was one of bewildered amazement that
this was their rector, the same man who had preached to them in June.
Like Paul, of whom he spoke, he too was transformed, had come to his own,
radiating a new power that seemed to shine in his face.

Still agitated, she considered that discourse now in her solitude, what
it meant for him, for her, for the Church and civilization that a
clergyman should have had the courage to preach it. He himself had
seemed unconscious of any courage; had never once--she recalled--been
sensational. He had spoken simply, even in the intensest moments of
denunciation. And she wondered now how he had managed, without stripping
himself, without baring the intimate, sacred experiences of his own soul,
to convey to them, so nobly, the change which had taken place in him....

He began by referring to the hope with which he had come to St. John's,
and the gradual realization that the church was a failure--a dismal
failure when compared to the high ideal of her Master. By her fruits she
should be known and judged. From the first he had contemplated, with a
heavy heart, the sin and misery at their very gates. Not three blocks
distant children were learning vice in the streets, little boys of seven
and eight, underfed and anaemic, were driven out before dawn to sell
newspapers, little girls thrust forth to haunt the saloons and beg, while
their own children were warmed and fed. While their own daughters were
guarded, young women in Dayton Street were forced to sell themselves into
a life which meant slow torture, inevitable early death. Hopeless
husbands and wives were cast up like driftwood by the cruel, resistless
flood of modern civilization--the very civilization which yielded their
wealth and luxury. The civilization which professed the Spirit of
Christ, and yet was pitiless.

He confessed to them that for a long time he had been blind to the truth,
had taken the inherited, unchristian view that the disease which caused
vice and poverty might not be cured, though its ulcers might be
alleviated. He had not, indeed, clearly perceived and recognized the
disease. He had regarded Dalton Street in a very special sense as a
reproach to St. John's, but now he saw that all such neighbourhoods were
in reality a reproach to the city, to the state, to the nation. True
Christianity and Democracy were identical, and the congregation of St.
John's, as professed Christians and citizens, were doubly responsible,
inasmuch as they not only made no protest or attempt to change a
government which permitted the Dalton Streets to exist, but inasmuch also
as,--directly or indirectly,--they derived a profit from conditions which
were an abomination to God. It would be but an idle mockery for them to
go and build a settlement house, if they did not first reform their
lives.

Here there had been a decided stir among the pews. Hodder had not seemed
to notice it.

When he, their rector, had gone to Dalton Street to invite the poor and
wretched into God's Church, he was met by the scornful question: "Are the
Christians of the churches any better than we? Christians own the grim
tenements in which we live, the saloons and brothels by which we are
surrounded, which devour our children. Christians own the establishments
which pay us starvation wages; profit by politics, and take toll from our
very vice; evade the laws and reap millions, while we are sent to jail.
Is their God a God who will lift us out of our misery and distress? Are
their churches for the poor? Are not the very pews in which they sit as
closed to us as their houses?"

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert
cold or hot."

One inevitable conclusion of such a revelation was that he had not
preached to them the vital element of Christianity. And the very fact
that his presentation of religion had left many indifferent or
dissatisfied was proof-positive that he had dwelt upon non-essentials,
laid emphasis upon the mistaken interpretations of past ages. There
were those within the Church who were content with this, who--like the
Pharisees of old--welcomed a religion which did not interfere with their
complacency, with their pursuit of pleasure and wealth, with their
special privileges; welcomed a Church which didn't raise her voice
against the manner of their lives--against the order, the Golden Calf
which they had set up, which did not accuse them of deliberately
retarding the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Ah, that religion was not religion, for religion was a spiritual,
not a material affair. In that religion, vainly designed by man as a
compromise between God and Mammon, there was none of the divine
discontent of the true religion of the Spirit, no need of the rebirth of
the soul. And those who held it might well demand, with Nicodemus and
the rulers of the earth, "How can these things be?"

And there were others who still lingered in the Church, perplexed and
wistful, who had come to him and confessed that the so-called catholic
acceptance of divine truths, on which he had hitherto dwelt, meant
nothing to them. To these, in particular, he owed a special reparation,
and he took this occasion to announce a series of Sunday evening sermons
on the Creeds. So long as the Creeds remained in the Prayer Book it was
his duty to interpret them in terms not only of modern thought, but in
harmony with the real significance of the Person and message of Jesus
Christ. Those who had come to him questioning, he declared, were a
thousand times right in refusing to accept the interpretations of other
men, the consensus of opinion of more ignorant ages, expressed in an
ancient science and an archaic philosophy.

And what should be said of the vast and ever increasing numbers of those
not connected with the Church, who had left it or were leaving it? and of
the less fortunate to whose bodily wants they had been ministering in the
parish house, for whom it had no spiritual message, and who never entered
its doors? The necessity of religion, of getting in touch with, of
dependence on the Spirit of the Universe was inherent in man, and yet
there were thousands--nay, millions in the nation to-day in whose hearts
was an intense and unsatisfied yearning, who perceived no meaning in
life, no Cause for which to work, who did not know what Christianity was,
who had never known what it was, who wist not where to turn to find out.
Education had brought many of them to discern, in the Church's teachings,
an anachronistic medley of myths and legends, of theories of schoolmen
and theologians, of surviving pagan superstitions which could not be
translated into life. They saw, in Christianity, only the adulterations
of the centuries. If any one needed a proof of the yearning people felt,
let him go to the bookshops, or read in the publishers' lists to-day the
announcements of books on religion. There was no supply where there was
no demand.

Truth might no longer be identified with Tradition, and the day was past
when councils and synods might determine it for all mankind. The era of
forced acceptance of philosophical doctrines and dogmas was past, and
that of freedom, of spiritual rebirth, of vicarious suffering, of willing
sacrifice and service for a Cause was upon them. That cause was
Democracy. Christ was uniquely the Son of God because he had lived and
suffered and died in order to reveal to the world the meaning of this
life and of the hereafter--the meaning not only for the individual, but
for society as well. Nothing might be added to or subtracted from that
message--it was complete.

True faith was simply trusting--trusting that Christ gave to the world
the revelation of God's plan. And the Saviour himself had pointed out
the proof: "If any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,
whether it be of God, or whether I speak for myself." Christ had
repeatedly rebuked those literal minds which had demanded material
evidence: true faith spurned it, just as true friendship, true love
between man and man, true trust scorned a written bond. To paraphrase
St. James's words, faith without trust is dead--because faith without
trust is impossible. God is a Spirit, only to be recognized in the
Spirit, and every one of the Saviour's utterances were--not of the flesh,
of the man--but of the Spirit within him. "He that hath seen me hath
seen the Father;" and "Why callest thou me good? none is good save one,
that is, God." The Spirit, the Universal Meaning of Life, incarnate in
the human Jesus.

To be born again was to overcome our spiritual blindness, and then,
and then only, we might behold the spirit shining in the soul of Christ.
That proof had sufficed for Mark, had sufficed for the writer of the
sublime Fourth Gospel, had sufficed for Paul. Let us lift this wondrous
fact, once and for all, out of the ecclesiastical setting and incorporate
it into our lives. Nor need the hearts of those who seek the Truth, who
fear not to face it, be troubled if they be satisfied, from the Gospels,
that the birth of Jesus was not miraculous. The physical never could
prove the spiritual, which was the real and everlasting, which no
discovery in science or history can take from us. The Godship of Christ
rested upon no dogma, it was a conviction born into us with the new
birth. And it becomes an integral part of our personality, our very
being.

The secret, then, lay in a presentation of the divine message which would
convince and transform and electrify those who heard it to action--a
presentation of the message in terms which the age could grasp. That is
what Paul had done, he had drawn his figures boldly from the customs of
the life of his day, but a more or less intimate knowledge of these
ancient customs were necessary before modern men and women could
understand those figures and parallels. And the Church must awake
to her opportunities, to her perception of the Cause. . . .

What, then, was the function, the mission of the Church Universal? Once
she had laid claim to temporal power, believed herself to be the sole
agency of God on earth, had spoken ex cathedra on philosophy, history,
theology, and science, had undertaken to confer eternal bliss and to damn
forever. Her members, and even her priests, had gone from murder to
mass and from mass to murder, and she had engaged in cruel wars and
persecutions to curtail the liberties of mankind. Under that conception
religion was a form of insurance of the soul. Perhaps a common,
universal belief had been necessary in the dark ages before the sublime
idea of education for the masses had come; but the Church herself
--through ignorance--had opposed the growth of education, had set her
face sternly against the development of the individual, which Christ had
taught, the privilege of man to use the faculties of the intellect which
God had bestowed upon him. He himself, their rector, had advocated a
catholic acceptance, though much modified from the mediaeval acceptance,
--one that professed to go behind it to an earlier age. Yes, he must
admit with shame that he had been afraid to trust where God trusted, had
feared to confide the working out of the ultimate Truth of the minds of
the millions.

The Church had been monarchical in form, and some strove stubbornly
and blindly to keep her monarchical. Democracy in government was
outstripping her. Let them look around, to-day, and see what was
happening in the United States of America. A great movement was going on
to transfer actual participation in government from the few to the many,
--a movement towards true Democracy, and that was precisely what was
about to happen in the Church. Her condition at present was one of
uncertainty, transition--she feared to let go wholly of the old, she
feared to embark upon the new. Just as the conservatives and politicians
feared to give up the representative system, the convention, so was she
afraid to abandon the synod, the council, and trust to man.

The light was coming slowly, the change, the rebirth of the Church by
gradual evolution. By the grace of God those who had laid the
foundations of the Church in which he stood, of all Protestantism, had
built for the future. The racial instinct in them had asserted itself,
had warned them that to suppress freedom in religion were to suppress it
in life, to paralyze that individual initiative which was the secret of
their advancement.

The new Church Universal, then, would be the militant, aggressive body of
the reborn, whose mission it was to send out into the life of the nation
transformed men and women who would labour unremittingly for the Kingdom
of God. Unity would come--but unity in freedom, true Catholicity. The
truth would gradually pervade the masses--be wrought out by them. Even
the great evolutionary forces of the age, such as economic necessity,
were acting to drive divided Christianity into consolidation, and the
starving churches of country villages were now beginning to combine.

No man might venture to predict the details of the future organization of
the united Church, although St. Paul himself had sketched it in broad
outline: every worker, lay and clerical, labouring according to his gift,
teachers, executives, ministers, visitors, missionaries, healers of sick
and despondent souls. But the supreme function of the Church was to
inspire--to inspire individuals to willing service for the cause, the
Cause of Democracy, the fellowship of mankind. If she failed to inspire,
the Church would wither and perish. And therefore she must revive again
the race of inspirers, prophets, modern Apostles to whom this gift was
given, going on their rounds, awaking cities and arousing whole
country-sides.

But whence--it might be demanded by the cynical were the prophets to
come? Prophets could not be produced by training and education; prophets
must be born. Reborn,--that was the word. Let the Church have faith.
Once her Cause were perceived, once her whole energy were directed
towards its fulfilment, the prophets would arise, out of the East and out
of the West, to stir mankind to higher effort, to denounce fearlessly the
shortcomings and evils of the age. They had not failed in past ages,
when the world had fallen into hopelessness, indifference, and darkness.
And they would not fail now.

Prophets were personalities, and Phillips Brooks himself a prophet--had
defined personality as a conscious relationship with God. "All truth,"
he had said, "comes to the world through personality." And down the ages
had come an Apostolic Succession of personalities. Paul, Augustine,
Francis, Dante, Luther, Milton,--yes, and Abraham Lincoln, and Phillips
Brooks, whose Authority was that of the Spirit, whose light had so shone
before men that they had glorified the Father which was in heaven; the
current of whose Power had so radiated, in ever widening circles, as to
make incandescent countless other souls.

And which among them would declare that Abraham Lincoln, like Stephen,
had not seen his Master in the sky?

The true prophet, the true apostle, then, was one inspired and directed
by the Spirit, the laying on of hands was but a symbol,--the symbol of
the sublime truth that one personality caught fire from another. Let the
Church hold fast to that symbol, as an acknowledgment, a reminder of a
supreme mystery. Tradition had its value when it did not deteriorate
into superstition, into the mechanical, automatic transmission
characteristic of the mediaeval Church, for the very suggestion of which
Peter had rebuked Simon in Samaria. For it would be remembered that
Simon had said: "Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands,
he may receive the Holy Ghost."

The true successor to the Apostles must be an Apostle himself.

Jesus had seldom spoken literally, and the truths he sought to impress
upon the world had of necessity been clothed in figures and symbols,--for
spiritual truths might be conveyed in no other way. The supreme proof of
his Godship, of his complete knowledge of the meaning of life was to be
found in his parables. To the literal, material mind, for example, the
parable of the talents was merely an unintelligible case of injustice....
What was meant by the talents? They were opportunities for service.
Experience taught us that when we embraced one opportunity, one
responsibility, the acceptance of it invariably led to another, and so
the servant who had five talents, five opportunities, gained ten. The
servant who had two gained two more. But the servant of whom only one
little service was asked refused that, and was cast into outer darkness,
to witness another performing the task which should have been his. Hell,
here and hereafter, was the spectacle of wasted opportunity, and there is
no suffering to compare to it.

The crime, the cardinal sin was with those who refused to serve, who shut
their eyes to the ideal their Lord had held up, who strove to compromise
with Jesus Christ himself, to twist and torture his message to suit their
own notions as to how life should be led; to please God and Mammon at the
same time, to bind Christ's Church for their comfort and selfish
convenience. Of them it was written, that they shut up the Kingdom of
Heaven against men; for they neither go in themselves, neither suffer
them that are entering to go in. Were these any better than the people
who had crucified the Lord for his idealism, and because he had not
brought them the material Kingdom for which they longed?

That servant who had feared to act, who had hid his talent in the ground,
who had said unto his lord, "I knew thee that thou art an hard man,
reaping where thou hadst not sown," was the man without faith, the
atheist who sees only cruelty and indifference in the order of things,
who has no spiritual sight. But to the other servants it was said, "Thou
halt been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many
things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord."

The meaning of life, then, was service, and by life our Lord did not mean
mere human existence, which is only a part of life. The Kingdom of
heaven is a state, and may begin here. And that which we saw around us
was only one expression of that eternal life--a medium to work through,
towards God. All was service, both here and hereafter, and he that had
not discovered that the joy of service was the only happiness worth
living for could have no conception of the Kingdom. To those who knew,
there was no happiness like being able to say, "I have found my place in
God's plan, I am of use." Such was salvation . . . .

And in the parable of the Prodigal Son may be read the history of what
are known as the Protestant nations. What happens logically when the
individual is suddenly freed from the restraint of external authority
occurred when Martin Luther released the vital spark of Christianity,
which he got from Paul, and from Christ himself--the revelation of
individual responsibility, that God the Spirit would dwell, by grace, in
the individual soul. Ah, we had paid a terrible yet necessary price for
freedom. We had wandered far from the Father, we had been reduced to
the very husks of individualism, become as swine. We beheld around us,
to-day, selfishness, ruthless competition, as great contrasts between
misery and luxury as in the days of the Roman Empire. But should we, for
that reason, return to the leading-strings of authority? Could we if we
would? A little thought ought to convince us that the liberation of the
individual could not be revoked, that it had forever destroyed the power
of authority to carry conviction. To go back to the Middle Ages would be
to deteriorate and degenerate. No, we must go on. . . .

Luther's movement, in religion, had been the logical forerunner of
democracy, of universal suffrage in government, the death-knell of that
misinterpretation of Christianity as the bulwark of monarchy and
hierarchy had been sounded when he said, "Ich kann nicht anders!" The new
Republic founded on the western continent had announced to the world the
initiation of the transfer of Authority to the individual soul. God, the
counterpart of the King, the ruler in a high heaven of a flat terrestrial
expanse, outside of the world, was now become the Spirit of a million
spheres, the indwelling spirit in man. Democracy and the religion of
Jesus Christ both consisted in trusting the man--yes, and the woman--whom
God trusts. Christianity was individualism carried beyond philosophy
into religion, and the Christian, the ideal citizen of the democracy, was
free since he served not because he had to, but because he desired to of
his own will, which, paradoxically, is God's will. God was in politics,
to the confusion of politicians; God in government. And in some greater
and higher sense than we had yet perceived, the saying 'vox populi vox
dei' was eternally true. He entered into the hearts of people and moved
them, and so the world progressed. It was the function of the Church to
make Christians, until--when the Kingdom of God should come--the blending
should be complete. Then Church and State would be identical, since all
the members of the one would be the citizens of the other . . . .

"I will arise and go to my father." Rebirth! A sense of responsibility,
of consecration. So we had come painfully through our materialistic
individualism, through our selfish Protestantism, to a glimpse of the
true Protestantism--Democracy.

Our spiritual vision was glowing clearer. We were beginning to perceive
that charity did not consist in dispensing largesse after making a
fortune at the expense of one's fellow-men; that there was something
still wrong in a government that permits it. It was gradually becoming
plain to us, after two thousand years, that human bodies and souls
rotting in tenements were more valuable than all the forests on all the
hills; that government, Christian government, had something to do with
these.

We should embody, in government, those sublime words of the Master,
"Suffer little children to come unto me." And the government of the
future would care for the little children. We were beginning to do it.
Here, as elsewhere, Christianity and reason went hand in hand, for the
child became the man who either preyed on humanity and filled the prisons
and robbed his fellows, or else grew into a useful, healthy citizen. It
was nothing less than sheer folly as well as inhuman cruelty to let the
children sleep in crowded, hot rooms, reeking with diseases, and run wild
throughout the long summer, learning vice in the city streets. And we
still had slavery--economic slavery--yes, and the more horrible slavery
of women and young girls in vice--as much a concern of government as the
problem which had confronted it in 1861 . . . . We were learning that
there was something infinitely more sacred than property . . . .

And now Alison recalled, only to be thrilled again by an electric
sensation she had never before experienced with such intensity, the look
of inspiration on the preacher's face as he closed. The very mists of
the future seemed to break before his importuning gaze, and his eyes
seemed indeed to behold, against the whitening dawn of the spiritual age
he predicted, the slender spires of a new Church sprung from the
foundations of the old. A Church, truly catholic, tolerant, whose
portals were wide in welcome to all mankind. The creative impulse,
he had declared, was invariably religious, the highest art but the
expression of the mute yearnings of a people, of a race. Thus had once
arisen, all over Europe, those wonderful cathedrals which still cast
their spell upon the world, and art to-day would respond--was responding
--to the unutterable cravings of mankind, would strive once more to
express in stone and glass and pigment what nations felt. Generation
after generation would labour with unflagging zeal until the art
sculptured fragment of the new Cathedral--the new Cathedral of Democracy
--pointed upward toward the blue vault of heaven. Such was his vision
--God the Spirit, through man reborn, carrying out his great Design . . .



CHAPTER XXII

"WHICH SAY TO THE SEERS, SEE NOT"


I

As Alison arose from her knees and made her way out of the pew, it was
the expression on Charlotte Plimpton's face which brought her back once
more to a sense of her surroundings; struck her, indeed, like a physical
blow. The expression was a scandalized one. Mrs. Plimpton had moved
towards her, as if to speak, but Alison hurried past, her exaltation
suddenly shattered, replaced by a rising tide of resentment, of angry
amazement against a materialism so solid as to remain unshaken by the
words which had so uplifted her. Eddies were forming in the aisle as
the people streamed slowly out of the church, and snatches of their
conversation, in undertones, reached her ears.

"I should never have believed it!"

"Mr. Hodder, of all men. . ."

"The bishop!"

Outside the swinging doors, in the vestibule, the voices were raised a
little, and she found her path blocked.

"It's incredible!" she heard Gordon Atterbury saying to little Everett
Constable, who was listening gloomily.

"Sheer Unitarianism, socialism, heresy."

His attention was forcibly arrested by Alison, in whose cheeks bright
spots of colour burned. He stepped aside, involuntarily, apologetically,
as though he had instinctively read in her attitude an unaccountable
disdain. Everett Constable bowed uncertainly, for Alison scarcely
noticed them.

"Ahem!" said Gordon, nervously, abandoning his former companion and
joining her, "I was just saying, it's incredible--"

She turned on him.

"It is incredible," she cried, "that persons who call themselves
Christians cannot recognize their religion when they hear it preached."

He gave back before her, visibly, in an astonishment which would have
been ludicrous but for her anger. He had never understood her--such
had been for him her greatest fascination;--and now she was less
comprehensible than ever. The time had been when he would cheerfully
have given over his hope of salvation to have been able to stir her.
He had never seen her stirred, and the sight of her even now in this
condition was uncomfortably agitating. Of all things, an heretical
sermon would appear to have accomplished this miracle!

"Christianity!" he stammered.

"Yes, Christianity." Her voice tingled. "I don't pretend to know much
about it, but Mr. Hodder has at least made it plain that it is something
more than dead dogmas, ceremonies, and superstitions."

He would have said something, but her one thought was to escape, to be
alone. These friends of her childhood were at that moment so distasteful
as to have become hateful. Some one laid a hand upon her arm.

"Can't we take you home, Alison? I don't see your motor."

It was Mrs. Constable.

"No, thanks--I'm going to walk," Alison answered, yet something in Mrs.
Constable's face, in Mrs. Constable's voice, made her pause. Something
new, something oddly sympathetic. Their eyes met, and Alison saw that
the other woman's were tired, almost haggard--yet understanding.

"Mr. Hodder was right--a thousand times right, my dear," she said.

Alison could only stare at her, and the crimson in the bright spots of
her cheeks spread over her face. Why had Mrs. Constable supposed that
she would care to hear the sermon praised? But a second glance put her
in possession of the extraordinary fact that Mrs. Constable herself was
profoundly moved.

"I knew he would change," she went on, "I have seen for some time that he
was too big a man not to change. But I had no conception that he would
have such power, and such courage, as he has shown this morning. It is
not only that he dared to tell us what we were--smaller men might have
done that, and it is comparatively easy to denounce. But he has the
vision to construct, he is a seer himself--he has really made me see
what Christianity is. And as long as I live I shall never forget
those closing sentences."

"And now?" asked Alison. "And now what will happen?"

Mrs. Constable changed colour. Her tact, on which she prided herself,
had deserted her in a moment of unlooked-for emotion.

"Oh, I know that my father and the others will try to put him out--but
can they?" Alison asked.

It was Mrs. Constable's turn to stare. The head she suddenly and
impulsively put forth trembled on Alison's wrist.

"I don't know, Alison--I'm afraid they can. It is too terrible to think
about. . . . And they can't--they won't believe that many changes are
coming, that this is but one of many signs. . . Do come and see me."

Alison left her, marvelling at the passage between them, and that, of all
persons in the congregation of St. John's, the lightning should have
struck Mrs. Constable. . .

Turning to the right on Burton Street, she soon found herself walking
rapidly westward through deserted streets lined by factories and
warehouses, and silent in the Sabbath calm . . . . She thought of
Hodder, she would have liked to go to him in that hour . . . .

In Park Street, luncheon was half over, and Nelson Langmaid was at the
table with her father. The lawyer glanced at her curiously as she
entered the room, and his usual word of banter, she thought, was rather
lame. The two went on, for some time, discussing a railroad suit in
Texas. And Alison, as she hurried through her meal, leaving the dishes
almost untouched, scarcely heard them. Once, in her reverie, her
thoughts reverted to another Sunday when Hodder had sat, an honoured
guest, in the chair which Mr. Langmaid now occupied . . . .

It was not until they got up from the table that her father turned to
her.

"Did you have a good sermon?" he asked.

It was the underlying note of challenge to which she responded.

"The only good sermon I have ever heard."

Their eyes met. Langmaid looked down at the tip of his cigar.

"Mr. Hodder," said Eldon Parr, "is to be congratulated."



II

Hodder, when the service was over, had sought the familiar recess in the
robing-room, the words which he himself had spoken still ringing in his
ears. And then he recalled the desperate prayer with which he had
entered the pulpit, that it might be given him in that hour what to say:
the vivid memories of the passions and miseries in Dalton Street, the
sudden, hot response of indignation at the complacency confronting him.
His voice had trembled with anger . . . . He remembered, as he had
paused in his denunciation of these who had eyes and saw not, meeting the
upturned look of Alison Parr, and his anger had turned to pity for their
blindness--which once had been his own; and he had gone on and on,
striving to interpret for them his new revelation of the message of the
Saviour, to impress upon them the dreadful yet sublime meaning of life
eternal. And it was in that moment the vision of the meaning of the
evolution of his race, of the Prodigal turning to responsibility--of
which he once had had a glimpse--had risen before his eyes in its
completeness--the guiding hand of God in history! The Spirit in these
complacent souls, as yet unstirred . . . .

So complete, now, was his forgetfulness of self, of his future, of the
irrevocable consequences of the step he had taken, that it was only
gradually he became aware that some one was standing near him, and
with a start he recognized McCrae.

"There are some waiting to speak to ye," his assistant said.

"Oh!" Hodder exclaimed. He began, mechanically, to divest himself of his
surplice. McCrae stood by.

"I'd like to say a word, first--if ye don't mind--" he began.

The rector looked at him quickly.

"I'd like just to thank ye for that sermon--I can say no more now," said
McCrae; he turned away, and left the room abruptly.

This characteristic tribute from the inarticulate, loyal Scotchman left
him tingling . . . . He made his way to the door and saw the people
in the choir room, standing silently, in groups, looking toward him.
Some one spoke to him, and he recognized Eleanor Goodrich.

"We couldn't help coming, Mr. Hodder--just to tell you how much we admire
you. It was wonderful, what you said."

He grew hot with gratitude, with thankfulness that there were some who
understood--and that this woman was among them, and her husband . . .
Phil Goodrich took him by the hand.

"I can understand that kind of religion," he said. "And, if necessary,
I can fight for it. I have come to enlist."

"And I can understand it, too," added the sunburned Evelyn. "I hope you
will let me help."

That was all they said, but Hodder understood. Eleanor Goodrich's eyes
were dimmed as she smiled an her sister and her husband--a smile that
bespoke the purest quality of pride. And it was then, as they made way
for others, that the full value of their allegiance was borne in upon
him, and he grasped the fact that the intangible barrier which had
separated him from them had at last been broken down: His look followed
the square shoulders and aggressive, close-cropped head of Phil Goodrich,
the firm, athletic figure of Evelyn, who had represented to him an entire
class of modern young women, vigorous, athletic, with a scorn of cant in
which he secretly sympathized, hitherto frankly untouched by spiritual
interests of any sort. She had, indeed, once bluntly told him that
church meant nothing to her . . . .

In that little company gathered in the choir room were certain members of
his congregation whom, had he taken thought, he would least have expected
to see. There were Mr. and Mrs. Bradley, an elderly couple who had
attended St. John's for thirty years; and others of the same
unpretentious element of his parish who were finding in modern life an
increasingly difficult and bewildering problem. There was little Miss
Tallant, an assiduous guild worker whom he had thought the most orthodox
of persons; Miss Ramsay, who taught the children of the Italian mothers;
Mr. Carton, the organist, a professed free-thinker, with whom Hodder had
had many a futile argument; and Martha Preston, who told him that he had
made her think about religion seriously for the first time in her life.

And there were others, types equally diverse. Young men of the choir,
and others whom he had never seen, who informed him shyly that they would
come again, and bring their friends . . . .

And all the while, in the background, Hodder had been aware of a familiar
face--Horace Bentley's. Beside him, when at length he drew near, was his
friend Asa Waring--a strangely contrasted type. The uncompromising eyes
of a born leader of men flashed from beneath the heavy white eyebrows,
the button of the Legion of Honour gleaming in his well-kept coat seemed
emblematic of the fire which in his youth had driven him forth to fight
for the honour of his country--a fire still undimmed. It was he who
spoke first.

"This is a day I never expected to see, Mr. Hodder," he said, "for it has
brought back to this church the man to whom it owes its existence. Mr.
Bentley did more, by his labour and generosity, his true Christianity,
his charity and his wisdom, for St. John's than any other individual.
It is you who have brought him back, and I wish personally to express
my gratitude."

Mr. Bentley, in mild reproof, laid his hand upon the t, shoulder of his
old friend.

"Ah, Asa," he protested, "you shouldn't say such things."

"Had it not been for Mr. Bentley," Hodder explained, "I should not be
here to-day."

Asa Waring pierced the rector with his eye, appreciating the genuine
feeling with which these words were spoken. And yet his look contained
a question.

"Mr. Bentley," Hodder added, "has been my teacher this summer."

The old gentleman's hand trembled a little on the goldheaded stick.

"It is a matter of more pride to me than I can express, sir, that you are
the rector of this church with which my most cherished memories are
associated," he said. "But I cannot take any part of the credit you give
me for the splendid vision which you have raised up before us to-day, for
your inspired interpretation of history, of the meaning of our own times.
You have moved me, you have given me more hope and courage than I have
had for many a long year--and I thank you, Mr. Hodder. I am sure that
God will prosper and guide you in what you have so nobly undertaken."

Mr. Bentley turned away, walking towards the end of the room . . . .
Asa Waring broke the silence.

"I didn't know that you knew him, that you had seen what he is doing
--what he has done in this city. I cannot trust myself, Mr. Hodder, to
speak of Horace Bentley's life. . . I feel too strongly on the
subject. I have watched, year by year, this detestable spirit of greed,
this lust for money and power creeping over our country, corrupting our
people and institutions, and finally tainting the Church itself. You
have raised your voice against it, and I respect and honour and thank you
for it, the more because you have done it without resorting to sensation,
and apparently with no thought of yourself. And, incidentally, you have
explained the Christian religion to me as I have never had it explained
in my life.

"I need not tell you you have made enemies--powerful ones. I can see
that you are a man, and that you are prepared for them. They will leave
no stone unturned, will neglect no means to put you out and disgrace you.
They will be about your ears to-morrow--this afternoon, perhaps. I need
not remind you that the outcome is doubtful. But I came here to assure
you of my friendship and support in all you hope to accomplish in making
the Church what it should be. In any event, what you have done to-day
will be productive of everlasting good."

In a corner still lingered the group which Mr. Bentley had joined. And
Hodder, as he made his way towards it, recognized the faces of some of
those who composed it. Sally Grower was there, and the young women who
lived in Mr. Bentley's house, and others whose acquaintance he had made
during the summer. Mrs. Garvin had brought little Dicky, incredibly
changed from the wan little figure he had first beheld in the stifling
back room in Dalton Street; not yet robust, but freckled and tanned by
the country sun and wind. The child, whom he had seen constantly in the
interval, ran forward joyfully, and Hodder bent down to take his hand....

These were his friends, emblematic of the new relationship in which he
stood to mankind. And he owed them to Horace Bentley! He wondered, as
he greeted them, whether they knew what their allegiance meant to him in
this hour. But it sufficed that they claimed him as their own.

Behind them all stood Kate Marcy. And it struck him for the first time,
as he gazed at her earnestly, how her appearance had changed. She gave
him a frightened, bewildered look, as though she were unable to identify
him now with the man she had known in the Dalton Street flat, in the
restaurant. She was still struggling, groping, wondering, striving to
accustom herself to the higher light of another world.

"I wanted to come," she faltered. "Sally Grower brought me. . . "

Hodder went back with them to Dalton Street. His new ministry had begun.
And on this, the first day of it, it was fitting that he should sit at
the table of Horace Bentley, even as on that other Sunday, two years
agone, he had gone to the home of the first layman of the diocese,
Eldon Parr.



III

The peace of God passes understanding because sorrow and joy are mingled
therein, sorrow and joy and striving. And thus the joy of emancipation
may be accompanied by a heavy heart. The next morning, when Hodder
entered his study, he sighed as his eye fell upon the unusual pile of
letters on his desk, for their writers had once been his friends. The
inevitable breach had come at last.

Most of the letters, as he had anticipated, were painful reading.
And the silver paper-cutter with which he opened the first had been a
Christmas present from Mrs. Burlingame, who had penned it, a lady of
signal devotion to the church, who for many years had made it her task to
supply and arrange the flowers on the altar. He had amazed and wounded
her--she declared--inexpressibly, and she could no longer remain at St.
John's--for the present, at least. A significant addition. He dropped
the letter, and sat staring out of the window . . . presently arousing
himself, setting himself resolutely to the task of reading the rest.

In the mood in which he found himself he did not atop to philosophize
on the rigid yet sincere attitude of the orthodox. His affection for
many of them curiously remained, though it was with some difficulty he
strove to reconstruct a state of mind with which he had once agreed.
If Christianity were to sweep on, these few unbending but faithful ones
must be sacrificed: such was the law. . . Many, while repudiating his
new beliefs--or unbeliefs!--added, to their regrets of the change in him,
protestations of a continued friendship, a conviction of his sincerity.
Others like Mrs. Atterbury, were frankly outraged and bitter. The
contents of one lilac-bordered envelope brought to his eyes a faint
smile. Did he know--asked the sender of this--could he know the
consternation he had caused in so many persons, including herself?
What was she to believe? And wouldn't he lunch with her on Thursday?

Mrs. Ferguson's letter brought another smile--more thoughtful.
Her incoherent phrases had sprung from the heart, and the picture rose
before him of the stout but frightened, good-natured lady who had never
accustomed herself to the enjoyment of wealth and luxury. Mr. Ferguson
was in such a state, and he must please not tell her husband that she had
written. Yet much in his sermon had struck her as so true. It seemed
wrong to her to have so much, and others so little! And he had made her
remember many things in her early life she had forgotten. She hoped he
would see Mr. Ferguson, and talk to him. . . .

Then there was Mrs. Constable's short note, that troubled and puzzled
him. This, too, had in it an undercurrent of fear, and the memory came
to him of the harrowing afternoon he had once spent with her, when she
would have seemed to have predicted the very thing which had now happened
to him. And yet not that thing. He divined instinctively that a maturer
thought on the subject of his sermon had brought on an uneasiness as the
full consequences of this new teaching had dawned upon her consequences
which she had not foreseen when she had foretold the change. And he
seemed to read between the lines that the renunciation he demanded was
too great. Would he not let her come and talk to him? . . .

Miss Brewer, a lady of no inconsiderable property, was among those who
told him plainly that if he remained they would have to give up their
pews. Three or four communications were even more threatening. Mr.
Alpheus Gore, Mrs. Plimpton's brother, who at five and forty had managed
to triple his share of the Gore inheritance, wrote that it would be his
regretful duty to send to the bishop an Information on the subject of Mr.
Hodder's sermon.

There were, indeed, a few letters which he laid, thankfully, in a pile by
themselves. These were mostly from certain humble members of his parish
who had not followed their impulses to go to him after the service, or
from strangers who had chanced to drop into the church. Some were
autobiographical, such as those of a trained nurse, a stenographer,
a hardware clerk who had sat up late Sunday night to summarize what that
sermon had meant to him, how a gray and hopeless existence had taken on a
new colour. Next Sunday he would bring a friend who lived in the same
boarding house . . . . Hodder read every word of these, and all were
in the same strain: at last they could perceive a meaning to religion,
an application of it to such plodding lives as theirs . . . .

One or two had not understood, but had been stirred, and were coming to
talk to him. Another was filled with a venomous class hatred. . . .

The first intimation he had of the writer of another letter seemed from
the senses rather than the intellect. A warm glow suffused him, mounted
to his temples as he stared at the words, turned over the sheet, and read
at the bottom the not very legible signature. The handwriting, by no
means classic, became then and there indelibly photographed on his brain,
and summed up for him the characteristics, the warring elements in Alison
Parr. "All afternoon," she wrote, "I have been thinking of your sermon.
It was to me very wonderful--it lifted me out of myself. And oh, I want
so much to believe unreservedly what you expressed so finely, that
religion is democracy, or the motive power behind democracy--the service
of humanity by the reborn. I understand it intellectually. I am willing
to work for such a Cause, but there is something in me so hard that I
wonder if it can dissolve. And then I am still unable to identify that
Cause with the Church as at present constituted, with the dogmas and
ceremonies that still exist. I am too thorough a radical to have your
patience. And I am filled with rage--I can think of no milder word--on
coming in contact with the living embodiments of that old creed, who hold
its dogmas so precious. 'Which say to the seers, See not; and to the
prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things,
prophesy deceits.'"

"You see, I have been reading Isaiah, and when I came to that paragraph
it seemed so appropriate. These people have always existed. And will
they not always continue to exist? I wish I could believe, wholly and
unreservedly, that this class, always preponderant in the world, could be
changed, diminished--done away with in a brighter future! I can, at
least, sympathize with Isaiah's wrath.

"What you said of the longing, the yearning which exists to-day amongst
the inarticulate millions moved me most--and of the place of art in
religion, to express that yearning. Religion the motive power of art,
and art, too, service. 'Consider the lilies of the field.' You have made
it, at least, all-comprehensive, have given me a new point of view for
which I can never be sufficiently grateful--and at a time when I needed
it desperately. That you have dared to do what you have done has been
and will be an inspiration, not only to myself, but to many others.
This, is a longer letter, I believe, than I have ever written in my life.
But I wanted you to know."

He reread it twice, pondering over its phrases. "A new point of view....
at a time when I needed it desperately." It was not until then that he
realized the full intensity of his desire for some expression from her
since the moment he had caught sight of her in the church. But he had
not been prepared for the unreserve, the impulsiveness with which she had
actually written. Such was his agitation that he did not heed, at first,
a knock on the door, which was repeated. He thrust the letter inside his
coat as the janitor of the parish house appeared.

"There is a gentleman to see you, sir, in the office," he said.

Hodder went down the stairs. And he anticipated, from the light yet
nervous pacing that he heard on the bare floor, that the visitor was none
other than his vestryman, Mr. Gordon Atterbury. The sight of the
gentleman's spruce figure confirmed the guess.

"Good morning, Mr. Atterbury," he said as he entered.

Mr. Atterbury stopped in his steps, as if he had heard a shot.

"Ah--good morning, Mr. Hodder. I stopped in on my way to the office."

"Sit down," said the rector.

Mr. Atterbury sat down, but with the air of a man who does so under
protest, who had not intended to. He was visibly filled and almost
quivering with an excitement which seemed to demand active expression,
and which the tall clergyman's physical calm and self-possession seemed
to augment. For a moment Mr. Atterbury stared at the rector as he sat
behind his desk. Then he cleared his throat.

"I thought of writing to you, Mr. Hodder. My mother, I believe, has done
so. But it seemed to me, on second thought, better to come to you
direct."

The rector nodded, without venturing to remark on the wisdom of the
course.

"It occurred to me," Mr. Atterbury went on, "that possibly some things I
wish to discuss might--ahem be dispelled in a conversation. That I might
conceivably have misunderstood certain statements in your sermon of
yesterday."

"I tried," said the rector, "to be as clear as possible."

"I thought you might not fully have realized the effect of what you said.
I ought to tell you, I think, that as soon as I reached home I wrote out,
as accurately as I could from memory, the gist of your remarks. And I
must say frankly, although I try to put it mildly, that they appear to
contradict and controvert the doctrines of the Church."

"Which doctrines?" Hodder asked.

Gordon Atterbury sputtered.

"Which doctrines?" he repeated. "Can it be possible that you
misunderstand me? I might refer you to those which you yourself preached
as late as last June, in a sermon which was one of the finest and most
scholarly efforts I ever heard."

"It was on that day, Mr. Atterbury," replied the rector, with a touch of
sadness in his voice, "I made the discovery that fine and scholarly
efforts were not Christianity."

"What do you mean?" Mr. Atterbury demanded.

"I mean that they do not succeed in making Christians."

"And by that you imply that the members of your congregation, those who
have been brought up and baptized and confirmed in this church, are not
Christians?"

"I am sorry to say a great many of them are not," said the rector.

"In other words, you affirm that the sacrament of baptism is of no
account."

"I affirm that baptism with water is not sufficient."

"I'm afraid that this is very grave," Mr. Hodder.

"I quite agree with you," replied the rector, looking straight at his
vestryman.

"And I understood,--" the other went on, clearing his throat once more,
"I think I have it correctly stated in my notes, but I wish to be quite
clear, that you denied the doctrine of the virgin birth."

Hodder made a strong effort to control himself.

"What I have said I have said," he answered, "and I have said it in the
hope that it might make some impression upon the lives of those to whom I
spoke. You were one of them, Mr. Atterbury. And if I repeat and amplify
my meaning now, it must be understood that I have no other object except
that of putting you in the way of seeing that the religion of Christ is
unique in that it is dependent upon no doctrine or dogma, upon no
external or material sign or proof or authority whatever. I am utterly
indifferent to any action you may contemplate taking concerning me. Read
your four Gospels carefully. If we do not arrive, through contemplation
of our Lord's sojourn on this earth, of his triumph over death, of his
message--which illuminates the meaning of our lives here--at that inner
spiritual conversion of which he continually speaks, and which alone will
give us charity, we are not Christians."

"But the doctrines of the Church, which we were taught from childhood to
believe? The doctrines which you once professed, and of which you have
now made such an unlooked-for repudiation!"

"Yes, I have changed," said the rector, gazing seriously at the twitching
figure of his vestryman, "I was bound, body and soul, by those very
doctrines." He roused himself. "But on what grounds do you declare, Mr.
Atterbury," he demanded, somewhat sternly, "that this church is fettered
by an ancient and dogmatic conception of Christianity? Where are you to
find what are called the doctrines of the Church? What may be heresy in
one diocese is not so in another, and I can refer to you volumes written
by ministers of this Church, in good standing, whose published opinions
are the same as those I expressed in my sermon of yesterday. The very
cornerstone of the Church is freedom, but many have yet to discover this,
and we have held in our Communion men of such divergent views as Dr.
Pusey and Phillips Brooks. Mr. Newman, in his Tract Ninety, which was
sincerely written, showed that the Thirty-nine Articles were capable of
almost any theological interpretation. From what authoritative source
are we to draw our doctrines? In the baptismal service the articles of
belief are stated to be in the Apostles' Creed, but nowhere--in this
Church is it defined how their ancient language is to be interpreted.
That is wisely left to the individual. Shall we interpret the Gospels by
the Creeds, which in turn purport to be interpretations of the Gospels?
Or shall we draw our conclusions as to what the Creeds may mean to us by
pondering on the life of Christ, and striving to do his will?
'The letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive.'"

Hodder rose, and stood facing his visitor squarely. He spoke slowly, and
the fact that he made no gesture gave all the more force to his words.

"Hereafter, Mr. Atterbury," he added, "so long as I am rector of this
church, I am going to do my best to carry out the spirit of Christ's
teaching--to make Christians. And there shall be no more compromise,
so far as I can help it."

Gordon Atterbury had grown very pale. He, too, got to his feet.

"I--I cannot trust myself to discuss this matter with you any further, Mr.
Hodder. I feel too deeply--too strongly on the subject. I do not
pretend to account for this astonishing transformation in your opinions.
Up to the present I have deemed St. John's fortunate--peculiarly
fortunate, in having you for its rector. I am bound to say I think you
have not considered, in this change of attitude on your part, those who
have made St. John's what it is, who through long and familiar
association are bound to it by a thousand ties,--those who, like myself,
have what may be called a family interest in this church. My father and
mother were married here, I was baptized here. I think I may go so far
as to add, Mr. Hodder, that this is our church, the church which a
certain group of people have built in which to worship God, as was their
right. Nor do I believe we can be reproached with a lack of hospitality
or charity. We maintain this parish house, with its clubs; and at no
small inconvenience to ourselves we have permitted the church to remain
in this district. There is no better church music in this city, and we
have a beautiful service in the evening at which, all pews are free. It
is not unreasonable that we should have something to say concerning the
doctrine to be preached here, that we should insist that that doctrine be
in accordance with what we have always believed was the true doctrine as
received by this Church."

Up to this point Mr. Atterbury had had a feeling that he had not carried
out with much distinction the programme which he had so carefully
rehearsed on the way to the parish house. Hodder's poise had amazed and
baffled him--he had expected to find the rector on the defensive. But
now, burning anew with a sense of injustice, he had a sense at last of
putting his case strongly.

The feeling of triumph, however, was short lived. Hodder did not reply
at once. So many seconds, indeed, went by that Mr. Atterbury began once
more to grow slightly nervous under the strange gaze to which he was
subjected. And when the clergyman' spoke there was no anger in his
voice, but a quality--a feeling which was disturbing, and difficult to
define.

"You are dealing now, Mr. Atterbury," he said, "with the things of
Caesar, not of God. This church belongs to God--not to you. But you
have consecrated it to him. His truth, as Christ taught it, must not be
preached to suit any man's convenience. When you were young you were not
taught the truth--neither was I. It was mixed with adulterations which
obscured and almost neutralized it. But I intend to face it now, and to
preach it, and not the comfortable compromise which gives us the illusion
that we are Christians because we subscribe to certain tenets, and
permits us to neglect our Christian duties.

"And since you have spoken of charity, let me assure you that there is no
such thing as charity without the transforming, personal touch. It isn't
the bread or instruction or amusement we give people vicariously, but the
effect of our gift--even if that gift be only a cup of cold water--in
illuminating and changing their lives. And it will avail any church
little to have a dozen settlement houses while her members acquiesce in
a State which refuses to relieve her citizens from sickness and poverty.
Charity bends down only to lift others up. And with all our works, our
expenditure and toil, how many have we lifted up?"

Gordon Atterbury's indignation got the better of him. For he was the
last man to behold with patience the shattering of his idols.

"I think you have cast an unwarranted reflection on those who have built
and made this church what it is, Mr. Hodder," he exclaimed. "And that
you will find there are in it many--a great many earnest Christians who
were greatly shocked by the words you spoke yesterday, who will not
tolerate any interference with their faith. I feel it my duty to speak
frankly, Mr Hodder, disagreeable though it be, in view of our former
relations. I must tell you that I am not alone in the opinion that you
should resign. It is the least you can do, in justice to us, in justice
to yourself. There are other bodies--I cannot call them churches--which
doubtless would welcome your liberal, and I must add atrophying,
interpretation of Christianity. And I trust that reflection will
convince you of the folly of pushing this matter to the extreme. We
should greatly deplore the sensational spectacle of St. John's being
involved in an ecclesiastical trial, the unpleasant notoriety into which
it would bring a church hitherto untouched by that sort of thing. And I
ought to tell you that I, among others, am about to send an Information
to the bishop."

Gordon Atterbury hesitated a moment, but getting no reply save an
inclination of the head, took up his hat.

"Ahem--I think that is all I have to say, Mr. Hodder. Good morning."

Even then Hodder did not answer, but rose and held open the door. As he
made his exit under the strange scrutiny of the clergyman's gaze the
little vestryman was plainly uncomfortable. He cleared his throat once
more, halted, and then precipitately departed.

Hodder went to the window and thoughtfully watched the hurrying figure
of Mr. Atterbury until it disappeared, almost skipping, around the corner
. . . . The germ of truth, throughout the centuries, had lost nothing
of its dynamic potentialities. If released and proclaimed it was still
powerful enough to drive the world to insensate anger and opposition....

As he stood there, lost in reflection, a shining automobile drew up at
the curb, and from it descended a firm lady in a tight-fitting suit whom
he recognized as Mrs Wallis Plimpton. A moment later she had invaded the
office--for no less a word may be employed to express her physical
aggressiveness, the glowing health which she radiated.

"Good morning, Mr. Hodder," she said, seating herself in one of the
straight-backed chairs. "I have been so troubled since you preached that
sermon yesterday, I could scarcely sleep. And I made up my mind I'd come
to you the first thing this morning. Mr. Plimpton and I have been
discussing it. In fact, people are talking of nothing else. We dined
with the Laureston Greys last night, and they, too, were full of it."
Charlotte Plimpton looked at him, and the flow of her words suddenly
diminished. And she added, a little lamely for her, "Spiritual matters
in these days are so difficult, aren't they?"

"Spiritual matters always were difficult, Mrs. Plimpton," he said.

"I suppose so," she assented hurriedly, with what was intended for a
smile. "But what I came to ask you is this--what are we to teach our
children?"

"Teach them the truth," the rector replied.

"One of the things which troubled me most was your reference to modern
criticism," she went on, recovering her facility. "I was brought up to
believe that the Bible was true. The governess--Miss Standish, you know,
such a fine type of Englishwoman--reads the children Bible stories every
Sunday evening. They adore them, and little Wallis can repeat them
almost by heart--the pillar of cloud by day, Daniel in the lions' den,
and the Wise Men from the East. If they aren't true, some one ought to
have told us before now."

A note of injury had crept into her voice.

"How do you feel about these things yourself?" Holder inquired.

"How do I feel? Why, I have never thought about them very much--they
were there, in the Bible!"

"You were taught to believe them?"

"Of course," she exclaimed, resenting what seemed a reflection on the
Gore orthodoxy.

"Do they in any manner affect your conduct?"

"My conduct?" she repeated. "I don't know what you mean. I was brought
up in the church, and Mr. Plimpton has always gone, and we are bringing
up the children to go. Is that what you mean?"

"No," Hodder answered, patiently, "that is not what I mean. I ask
whether these stories in any way enter into your life, become part of
you, and tend to make you a more useful woman?"

"Well--I have never considered them in that way," she replied, a little
perplexed.

"Do you believe in them yourself?"

"Why--I don't know,--I've never thought. I don't suppose I do,
absolutely--not in those I have mentioned."

"And you think it right to teach things to your children which you do not
yourself believe?"

"How am I to decide?" she demanded.

"First by finding out yourself what you do believe," he replied, with a
touch of severity.

"Mr. Hodder!" she cried in a scandalized voice, "do you mean to say that
I, who have been brought up in this church, do not know what Christianity
is."

He looked at her and shook his head.

"You must begin by being honest with yourself," he went on, not heeding
her shocked expression. "If you are really in earnest in this matter,
I should be glad to help you all I can. But I warn you there is no
achievement in the world more difficult than that of becoming a,
Christian. It means a conversion of your whole being something which you
cannot now even imagine. It means a consuming desire which,--I fear,--in
consideration of your present mode of life, will be difficult to
acquire."

"My present mode of life!" she gasped.

"Precisely," said the rector. He was silent, regarding, her. There was
discernible not the slightest crack of crevice in the enamel of this
woman's worldly armour.

For the moment her outraged feelings were forgotten. The man had
fascinated her. To be told, in this authoritative manner, that she was
wicked was a new and delightful experience. It brought back to her the
real motive of her visit, which had in reality been inspired not only by
the sermon of the day before, but by sheer curiosity.

"What would you have me do?" she demanded.

"Find yourself."

"Do you mean to say that I am not--myself?" she asked, now completely
bewildered.

"I mean to say that you are nobody until you achieve conviction."

For Charlotte Plimpton, nee Gore, to be told in her own city, by the
rector of her own church that she was nobody was an event hitherto
inconceivable! It was perhaps as extraordinary that she did not resent.
it. Curiosity still led her on.

"Conviction?" she repeated. "But I have conviction, Mr. Hodder. I
believe in the doctrines of the Church."

"Belief!" he exclaimed, and checked himself strongly. "Conviction
through feeling. Not until then will you find what you were put in the
world for."

"But my husband--my children? I try to do my duty."

"You must get a larger conception of it," Hodder replied.

"I suppose you mean," she declared, "that I am to spend the rest of my
life in charity."

"How you would spend the rest of your life would be revealed to you,"
said the rector.

It was the weariness in his tone that piqued her now, the intimation
that he did not believe in her sincerity--had not believed in it from
the first. The life-long vanity of a woman used to be treated with
consideration, to be taken seriously, was aroused. This extraordinary
man had refused to enter into the details which she inquisitively craved.

Charlotte Plimpton rose.

"I shall not bother you any longer at present, Mr. Hodder," she said
sweetly. "I know you must have, this morning especially, a great deal to
trouble you."

He met her scrutiny calmly.

"It is only the things we permit to trouble us that do so, Mrs.
Plimpton," he replied. "My own troubles have arisen largely from a lack
of faith on the part of those whom I feel it is my duty to influence."

It was then she delivered her parting shot, which she repeated, with much
satisfaction, to her husband that evening. She had reached the door.
"Was there a special service at Calvary yesterday?" she asked innocently,
turning back.

"Not that I know of."

"I wondered. Mr. Parr was there; I'm told--and he's never been known
to desert St. John's except on the rarest occasions. But oh, Mr. Hodder,
I must congratulate you on your influence with Alison. When she has been
out here before she never used to come to church at all."





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