| print this
Charles M. Sheldon
"Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest."
Saturday afternoon matinee at the Auditorium in Chicago
was just over and the usual crowd was struggling to get
to its carriage before any one else. The Auditorium attendant
was shouting out the numbers of different carriages and
the carriage doors were slamming as the horses were driven
rapidly up to the curb, held there impatiently by the drivers
who had shivered long in the raw east wind, and then let
go to plunge for a few minutes into the river of vehicles
that tossed under the elevated railway and finally went
whirling off up the avenue.
then, 624," shouted the Auditorium attendant; "624!" he
repeated, and there dashed up to the curb a splendid span
of black horses attached to a carriage having the monogram,
"C. R. S." in gilt letters on the panel of the door.
Two girls stepped out of the crowd towards the carriage.
The older one had entered and taken her seat and the attendant
was still holding the door open for the younger, who stood
hesitating on the curb.
Felicia! What are you waiting for! I shall freeze to death!"
called the voice from the carriage.
The girl outside of the carriage hastily unpinned a bunch
of English violets from her dress and handed them to a small
boy who was standing shivering on the edge of the sidewalk
almost under the horses' feet. He took them, with a look
of astonishment and a "Thank ye, lady!" and instantly buried
a very grimy face in the bunch of perfume. The girl stepped
into the carriage, the door shut with the incisive bang
peculiar to well-made carriages of this sort, and in a few
moments the coachman was speeding the horses rapidly up
one of the boulevards.
are always doing some queer thing or other, Felicia," said
the older girl as the carriage whirled on past the great
residences already brilliantly lighted.
I? What have I done that is queer now, Rose?" asked the
other, looking up suddenly and turning her head towards
giving those violets to that boy! He looked as if he needed
a good hot supper more than a bunch of violets. It's a wonder
you didn't invite him home with us. I shouldn't have been
surprised if you had. You are always doing such queer things."
it be queer to invite a boy like that to come to the house
and get a hot supper?" Felicia asked the question softly
and almost as if she were alone.
isn't just the word, of course," replied Rose indifferently.
"It would be what Madam Blanc calls 'outre.' Decidedly.
Therefore you will please not invite him or others like
him to hot suppers because I suggested it. Oh, dear! I'm
She yawned, and Felicia silently looked out of the window
in the door.
concert was stupid and the violinist was simply a bore.
I don't see how you could sit so still through it all,"
Rose exclaimed a little impatiently.
liked the music," answered Felicia quietly.
like anything. I never saw a girl with so little critical
Felicia colored slightly, but would not answer. Rose yawned
again, and then hummed a fragment of a popular song. Then
she exclaimed abruptly: "I'm sick of 'most everything. I
hope the 'Shadows of London' will be exciting tonight."
'Shadows of Chicago,'" murmured Felicia. "The 'Shadows of
Chicago!' The 'Shadows of London,' the play, the great drama
with its wonderful scenery, the sensation of New York for
two months. You know we have a box with the Delanos tonight."
Felicia turned her face towards her sister. Her great brown
eyes were very expressive and not altogether free from a
sparkle of luminous heat.
yet we never weep over the real thing on the actual stage
of life. What are the 'Shadows of London' on the stage to
the shadows of London or Chicago as they really exist? Why
don't we get excited over the facts as they are?"
the actual people are dirty and disagreeable and it's too
much bother, I suppose," replied Rose carelessly. "Felicia,
you can never reform the world. What's the use? We're not
to blame for the poverty and misery. There have always been
rich and poor; and there always will be. We ought to be
thankful we're rich."
Christ had gone on that principle," replied Felicia, with
unusual persistence. "Do you remember Dr. Bruce's sermon
on that verse a few Sundays ago: 'For ye know the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich yet for
our sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might
remember it well enough," said Rose with some petulance,
"and didn't Dr. Bruce go on to say that there is no blame
attached to people who have wealth if they are kind and
give to the needs of the poor? And I am sure that he himself
is pretty comfortably settled. He never gives up his luxuries
just because some people go hungry. What good would it do
if he did? I tell you, Felicia, there will always be poor
and rich in spite of all we can do. Ever since Rachel Winslow
has written about those queer doings in Raymond you have
upset the whole family. People can't live at that concert
pitch all the time. You see if Rachel doesn't give it up
soon. It's a great pity she doesn't come to Chicago and
sing in the Auditorium concerts. She has received an offer.
I'm going to write and urge her to come. I'm just dying
to hear her sing."
Felicia looked out of the window and was silent. The carriage
rolled on past two blocks of magnificent private residences
and turned into a wide driveway under a covered passage,
and the sisters hurried into the house. It was an elegant
mansion of gray stone furnished like a palace, every corner
of it warm with the luxury of paintings, sculpture, art
and modern refinement.
The owner of it all, Mr. Charles R. Sterling, stood before
an open grate fire smoking a cigar. He had made his money
in grain speculation and railroad ventures, and was reputed
to be worth something over two millions. His wife was a
sister of Mrs. Winslow of Raymond. She had been an invalid
for several years. The two girls, Rose and Felicia, were
the only children. Rose was twenty-one years old, fair,
vivacious, educated in a fashionable college, just entering
society and already somewhat cynical and indifferent. A
very hard young lady to please, her father said, sometimes
playfully, sometimes sternly. Felicia was nineteen, with
a tropical beauty somewhat like her cousin, Rachel Winslow,
with warm, generous impulses just waking into Christian
feeling, capable of all sorts of expression, a puzzle to
her father, a source of irritation to her mother and with
a great unsurveyed territory of thought and action in herself,
of which she was more than dimly conscious. There was that
in Felicia that would easily endure any condition in life
if only the liberty to act fully on her conscientious convictions
were granted her.
a letter for you, Felicia," said Mr. Sterling, handing it
Felicia sat down and instantly opened the letter, saying
as she did so: "It's from Rachel."
what's the latest news from Raymond?" asked Mr. Sterling,
taking his cigar out of his mouth and looking at Felicia
with half-shut eyes, as if he were studying her.
says Dr. Bruce has been staying in Raymond for two Sundays
and has seemed very much interested in Mr. Maxwell's pledge
in the First Church."
does Rachel say about herself?" asked Rose, who was lying
on a couch almost buried under elegant cushions.
is still singing at the Rectangle. Since the tent meetings
closed she sings in an old hall until the new buildings
which her friend, Virginia Page, is putting up are completed.
must write Rachel to come to Chicago and visit us. She ought
not to throw away her voice in that railroad town upon all
those people who don't appreciate her."
Mr. Sterling lighted a new cigar and Rose exclaimed: "Rachel
is so queer. She might set Chicago wild with her voice if
she sang in the Auditorium. And there she goes on throwing
it away on people who don't know what they are hearing."
won't come here unless she can do it and keep her pledge
at the same time," said Felicia, after a pause.
pledge?" Mr. Sterling asked the question and then added
hastily: "Oh, I know, yes! A very peculiar thing that. Alexander
Powers used to be a friend of mine. We learned telegraphy
in the same office. Made a great sensation when he resigned
and handed over that evidence to the Interstate Commerce
Commission. And he's back at his telegraph again. There
have been queer doings in Raymond during the past year.
I wonder what Dr. Bruce thinks of it on the whole. I must
have a talk with him about it."
is at home and will preach tomorrow," said Felicia. "Perhaps
he will tell us something about it."
There was silence for a minute. Then Felicia said abruptly,
as if she had gone on with a spoken thought to some invisible
hearer: "And what if he should propose the same pledge to
the Nazareth Avenue Church?"
What are you talking about?" asked her father a little sharply.
Dr. Bruce. I say, what if he should propose to our church
what Mr. Maxwell proposed to his, and ask for volunteers
who would pledge themselves to do everything after asking
the question, 'What would Jesus do?'"
no danger of it," said Rose, rising suddenly from the couch
as the tea-bell rang.
a very impracticable movement, to my mind," said Mr. Sterling
understand from Rachel's letter that the Raymond church
is going to make an attempt to extend the idea of the pledge
to other churches. If it succeeds it will certainly make
great changes in the churches and in people's lives," said
well, let's have some tea first!" said Rose, walking into
the dining-room. Her father and Felicia followed, and the
meal proceeded in silence. Mrs. Sterling had her meals served
in her room. Mr. Sterling was preoccupied. He ate very little
and excused himself early, and although it was Saturday
night, he remarked as he went out that he should be down
town on some special business.
you think father looks very much disturbed lately?" asked
Felicia a little while after he had gone out.
I don't know! I hadn't noticed anything unusual," replied
Rose. After a silence she said: "Are you going to the play
tonight, Felicia? Mrs. Delano will be here at half past
seven. I think you ought to go. She will feel hurt if you
go. I don't care about it. I can see shadows enough without
going to the play."
a doleful remark for a girl nineteen years old to make,"
replied Rose. "But then you're queer in your ideas anyhow,
Felicia. If you are going up to see mother, tell her I'll
run in after the play if she is still awake."
Felicia went up to see her mother and remained with her
until the Delano carriage came. Mrs. Sterling was worried
about her husband. She talked incessantly, and was irritated
by every remark Felicia made. She would not listen to Felicia's
attempts to read even a part of Rachel's letter, and when
Felicia offered to stay with her for the evening, she refused
the offer with a good deal of positive sharpness.