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Charles M. Sheldon
any man cometh unto me and hateth not his own father and
mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters,
yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be
Rachel Winslow and Virginia Page separated after the meeting
at the First Church on Sunday they agreed to continue their
conversation the next day. Virginia asked Rachel to come
and lunch with her at noon, and Rachel accordingly rang
the bell at the Page mansion about half-past eleven. Virginia
herself met her and the two were soon talking earnestly.
fact is," Rachel was saying, after they had been talking
a few moments, "I cannot reconcile it with my judgment
of what Christ would do. I cannot tell another person what
to do, but I feel that I ought not to accept this offer."
will you do then?" asked Virginia with great interest.
don't know yet, but I have decided to refuse this offer."
Rachel picked up a letter that had been lying in her lap
and ran over its contents again. It was a letter from the
manager of a comic opera offering her a place with a large
traveling company of the season. The salary was a very large
figure, and the prospect held out by the manager was flattering.
He had heard Rachel sing that Sunday morning when the stranger
had interrupted the service. He had been much impressed.
There was money in that voice and it ought to be used in
comic opera, so said the letter, and the manager wanted
a reply as soon as possible.
no great virtue in saying 'No' to this offer when I have
the other one," Rachel went on thoughtfully. "That's
harder to decide. But I've about made up my mind. To tell
the, truth, Virginia, I'm completely convinced in the first
case that Jesus would never use any talent like a good voice
just to make money. But now, take this concert offer. Here
is a reputable company, to travel with an impersonator and
a violinist and a male quartet, all people of good reputation.
I'm asked to go as one of the company and sing leading soprano.
The salary--I mentioned it, didn't I?--is guaranteed to
be $200 a month for the season. But I don't feel satisfied
that Jesus would go. What do you think?"
mustn't ask me to decide for you," replied Virginia
with a sad smile. "I believe Mr. Maxwell was right
when he said we must each one of us decide according to
the judgment we feel for ourselves to be Christ-like. I
am having a harder time than you are, dear, to decide what
He would do."
you?" Rachel asked. She rose and walked over to the
window and looked out. Virginia came and stood by her. The
street was crowded with life and the two young women looked
at it silently for a moment. Suddenly Virginia broke out
as Rachel had never heard her before:
what does all this contrast in conditions mean to you as
you ask this question of what Jesus would do? It maddens
me to think that the society in which I have been brought
up, the same to which we are both said to belong, is satisfied
year after year to go on dressing and eating and having
a good time, giving and receiving entertainments, spending
its money on houses and luxuries and, occasionally, to ease
its conscience, donating, without any personal sacrifice,
a little money to charity. I have been educated, as you
have, in one of the most expensive schools in America; launched
into society as an heiress; supposed to be in a very enviable
position. I'm perfectly well; I can travel or stay at home.
I can do as I please. I can gratify almost any want or desire;
and yet when I honestly try to imagine Jesus living the
life I have lived and am expected to live, and doing for
the rest of my life what thousands of other rich people
do, I am under condemnation for being one of the most wicked,
selfish, useless creatures in all the world. I have not
looked out of this window for weeks without a feeling of
horror toward myself as I see the humanity that passes by
Virginia turned away and walked up and down the room. Rachel
watched her and could not repress the rising tide of her
own growing definition of discipleship. Of what Christian
use was her own talent of song? Was the best she could do
to sell her talent for so much a month, go on a concert
company's tour, dress beautifully, enjoy the excitement
of public applause and gain a reputation as a great singer?
Was that what Jesus would do?
She was not morbid. She was in sound health, was conscious
of her great powers as a singer, and knew that if she went
out into public life she could make a great deal of money
and become well known. It is doubtful if she overestimated
her ability to accomplish all she thought herself capable
of. And Virginia--what she had just said smote Rachel with
great force because of the similar position in which the
two friends found themselves.
Lunch was announced and they went out and were joined by
Virginia's grandmother, Madam Page, a handsome, stately
woman of sixty-five, and Virginia's brother Rollin, a young
man who spent most of his time at one of the clubs and had
no ambition for anything but a growing admiration for Rachel
Winslow, and whenever she dined or lunched at the Page's,
if he knew of it he always planned to be at home.
These three made up the Page family. Virginia's father had
been a banker and grain speculator. Her mother had died
ten years before, her father within the past year. The grandmother,
a Southern woman in birth and training, had all the traditions
and feelings that accompany the possession of wealth and
social standing that have never been disturbed. She was
a shrewd, careful business woman of more than average ability.
The family property and wealth were invested, in large measure,
under her personal care. Virginia's portion was, without
any restriction, her own. She had been trained by her father
to understand the ways of the business world, and even the
grandmother had been compelled to acknowledge the girl's
capacity for taking care of her own money.
Perhaps two persons could not be found anywhere less capable
of understanding a girl like Virginia than Madam Page and
Rollin. Rachel, who had known the family since she was a
girl playmate of Virginia's, could not help thinking of
what confronted Virginia in her own home when she once decided
on the course which she honestly believed Jesus would take.
Today at lunch, as she recalled Virginia's outbreak in the
front room, she tried to picture the scene that would at
some time occur between Madam Page and her granddaughter.
understand that you are going on the stage, Miss Winslow.
We shall all be delighted, I'm sure," said Rollin during
the conversation, which had not been very animated.
Rachel colored and felt annoyed. "Who told you?"
she asked, while Virginia, who had been very silent and
reserved, suddenly roused herself and appeared ready to
join in the talk.
we hear a thing or two on the street. Besides, every one
saw Crandall the manager at church two weeks ago. He doesn't
go to church to hear the preaching. In fact, I know other
people who don't either, not when there's something better
Rachel did not color this time, but she answered quietly,
"You're mistaken. I'm not going on the stage."
a great pity. You'd make a hit. Everybody is talking about
This time Rachel flushed with genuine anger. Before she
could say anything, Virginia broke in: "Whom do you
mean by 'everybody?'"
I mean all the people who hear Miss Winslow on Sundays.
What other time do they hear her? It's a great pity, I say,
that the general public outside of Raymond cannot hear her
us talk about something else," said Rachel a little
sharply. Madam Page glanced at her and spoke with a gentle
dear, Rollin never could pay an indirect compliment. He
is like his father in that. But we are all curious to know
something of your plans. We claim the right from old acquaintance,
you know; and Virginia has already told us of your concert
supposed of course that was public property," said
Virginia, smiling across the table. "I was in the NEWS
office day before yesterday."
yes," replied Rachel hastily. "I understand that,
Madam Page. Well, Virginia and I have been talking about
it. I have decided not to accept, and that is as far as
I have gone at present."
Rachel was conscious of the fact that the conversation had,
up to this point, been narrowing her hesitation concerning
the concert company's offer down to a decision that would
absolutely satisfy her own judgment of Jesus' probable action.
It had been the last thing in the world, however, that she
had desired, to have her decision made in any way so public
as this. Somehow what Rollin Page had said and his manner
in saying it had hastened her decision in the matter.
you mind telling us, Rachel, your reasons for refusing the
offer? It looks like a great opportunity for a young girl
like you. Don't you think the general public ought to hear
you? I feel like Rollin about that. A voice like yours belongs
to a larger audience than Raymond and the First Church."
Rachel Winslow was naturally a girl of great reserve. She
shrank from making her plans or her thoughts public. But
with all her repression there was possible in her an occasional
sudden breaking out that was simply an impulsive, thoroughly
frank, truthful expression of her most inner personal feeling.
She spoke now in reply to Madam Page in one of those rare
moments of unreserve that added to the attractiveness of
her whole character.
have no other reason than a conviction that Jesus Christ
would do the same thing," she said, looking into Madam
Page's eyes with a clear, earnest gaze.
Madam Page turned red and Rollin stared. Before her grandmother
could say anything, Virginia spoke. Her rising color showed
how she was stirred. Virginia's pale, clear complexion was
that of health, but it was generally in marked contrast
with Rachel's tropical type of beauty.
you know we promised to make that the standard of our conduct
for a year. Mr. Maxwell's proposition was plain to all who
heard it. We have not been able to arrive at our decisions
very rapidly. The difficulty in knowing what Jesus would
do has perplexed Rachel and me a good deal."
Madam Page looked sharply at Virginia before she said anything.
course I understand Mr. Maxwell's statement. It is perfectly
impracticable to put it into practice. I felt confident
at the time that those who promised would find it out after
a trial and abandon it as visionary and absurd. I have nothing
to say about Miss Winslow's affairs, but," she paused
and continued with a sharpness that was new to Rachel, "I
hope you have no foolish notions in this matter, Virginia."
have a great many notions," replied Virginia quietly.
"Whether they are foolish or not depends upon my right
understanding of what He would do. As soon as I find out
I shall do it."
me, ladies," said Rollin, rising from the table. "The
conversation is getting beyond my depth. I shall retire
to the library for a cigar."
He went out of the dining-room and there was silence for
a moment. Madam Page waited until the servant had brought
in something and then asked her to go out. She was angry
and her anger was formidable, although checked I m some
measure by the presence of Rachel.
am older by several years than you, young ladies,"
she said, and her traditional type of bearing seemed to
Rachel to rise up like a great frozen wall between her and
every conception of Jesus as a sacrifice. "What you
have promised, in a spirit of false emotion I presume, is
impossible of performance."
you mean, grandmother, that we cannot possibly act as our
Lord would? or do you mean that, if we try to, we shall
offend the customs and prejudices of society?" asked
is not required! It is not necessary! Besides how can you
act with any--" Madam Page paused, broke off her sentence,
and then turned to Rachel. "What will your mother say
to your decision? My dear, is it not foolish? What do you
expect to do with your voice anyway?"
don't know what mother will say yet," Rachel answered,
with a great shrinking from trying to give her mother's
probable answer. If there was a woman in all Raymond with
great ambitions for her daughter's success as a singer,
Mrs. Winslow was that woman.
you will see it in a different light after wiser thought
of it. My dear," continued Madam Page rising from the
table, "you will live to regret it if you do not accept
the concert company's offer or something like it."
Rachel said something that contained a hint of the struggle
she was still having. And after a little she went away,
feeling that her departure was to be followed by a very
painful conversation between Virginia and her grandmother.
As she afterward learned, Virginia passed through a crisis
of feeling during that scene with her grandmother that hastened
her final decision as to the use of her money and her social