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Charles M. Sheldon
one in all Raymond, including the Rectangle, felt Loreen's
death more keenly than Virginia. It came like a distinct
personal loss to her. That short week while the girl had
been in her home had opened Virginia's heart to a new life.
She was talking it over with Rachel the day after the funeral.
Thee were sitting in the hall of the Page mansion.
am going to do something with my money to help those women
to a better life." Virginia looked over to the end of the
hall where, the day before, Loreen's body had lain. "I have
decided on a good plan, as it seems to me. I have talked
it over with Rollin. He will devote a large part of his
money also to the same plan."
much money have you, Virginia, to give in this way?" asked
Rachel. Once, she would never have asked such a personal
question. Now, it seemed as natural to talk frankly about
money as about anything else that belonged to God.
have available for use at least four hundred and fifty-thousand
dollars. Rollin has as much more. It is one of his bitter
regrets now that his extravagant habits of life before his
conversion practically threw away half that father left
him. We are both eager to make all the reparation in our
power. 'What would Jesus do with this money?' We want to
answer that question honestly and wisely. The money I shall
put into the NEWS is, I am confident, in a line with His
probable action. It is as necessary that we have a Christian
daily paper in Raymond, especially now that we have the
saloon influence to meet, as it is to have a church or a
college. So I am satisfied that the five hundred thousand
dollars that Mr. Norman will know how to use so well will
be a powerful factor in Raymond to do as Jesus would.
my other plan, Rachel, I want you to work with me. Rollin
and I are going to buy up a large part of the property in
the Rectangle. The field where the tent now is, has been
in litigation for years. We mean to secure the entire tract
as soon as the courts have settled the title. For some time
I have been making a special study of the various forms
of college settlements and residence methods of Christian
work and Institutional church work in the heart of great
city slums. I do not know that I have yet been able to tell
just what is the wisest and most effective kind of work
that can be done in Raymond. But I do know this much. My
money -- I mean God's, which he wants me to use -- can build
wholesome lodging-houses, refuges for poor women, asylums
for shop girls, safety for many and many a lost girl like
Loreen. And I do not want to be simply a dispenser of this
money. God help me! I do want to put myself into the problem.
But you know, Rachel, I have a feeling all the time that
all that limitless money and limitless personal sacrifice
can possibly do, will not really lessen very much the awful
condition at the Rectangle as long as the saloon is legally
established there. I think that is true of any Christian
work now being carried on in any great city. The saloon
furnishes material to be saved faster than the settlement
or residence or rescue mission work can save it."
Virginia suddenly rose and paced the hall. Rachel answered
sadly, and yet with a note of hope in her voice:
is true. But, Virginia, what a wonderful amount of good
can be done with this money! And the saloon cannot always
remain here. The time must come when the Christian forces
in the city will triumph."
Virginia paused near Rachel, and her pale, earnest face
believe that too. The number of those who have promised
to do as Jesus would is increasing. If we once have, say,
five hundred such disciples in Raymond, the saloon is doomed.
But now, dear, I want you to look at your part in this plan
for capturing and saving the Rectangle. Your voice is a
power. I have had many ideas lately. Here is one of them.
You could organize among the girls a Musical Institute;
give them the benefit of your training. There are some splendid
voices in the rough there. Did any one ever hear such singing
as that yesterday by those women? Rachel, what a beautiful
opportunity! You shall have the best of material in the
way of organs and orchestras that money can provide, and
what cannot be done with music to win souls there into higher
and purer and better living?"
Before Virginia had ceased speaking Rachel's face was perfectly
transformed with the thought of her life work. It flowed
into her heart and mind like a flood, and the torrent of
her feeling overflowed in tears that could not be restrained.
It was what she had dreamed of doing herself. It represented
to her something that she felt was in keeping with a right
use of her talent.
she said, as she rose and put her arm about Virginia, while
both girls in the excitement of their enthusiasm paced the
hall. "Yes, I will gladly put my life into that kind of
service. I do believe that Jesus would have me use my life
in this way. Virginia, what miracles can we not accomplish
in humanity if we have such a lever as consecrated money
to move things with!"
to it consecrated personal enthusiasm like yours, and it
certainly can accomplish great things," said Virginia smiling.
And before Rachel could reply, Rollin came in.
He hesitated a moment, and then was passing out of the hall
into the library when Virginia called him back and asked
some questions about his work.
Rollin came back and sat down, and together the three discussed
their future plans. Rollin was apparently entirely free
from embarrassment in Rachel's presence while Virginia was
with them, only his manner with her was almost precise,
if not cold. The past seemed to have been entirely absorbed
in his wonderful conversion. He had not forgotten it, but
he seemed to be completely caught up for this present time
in the purpose of his new life. After a while Rollin was
called out, and Rachel and Virginia began to talk of other
the way, what has become of Jasper Chase?" Virginia asked
the question innocently, but Rachel flushed and Virginia
added with a smile, "I suppose he is writing another book.
Is he going to put you into this one, Rachel? You know I
always suspected Jasper Chase of doing that very thing in
his first story."
Rachel spoke with the frankness that had always existed
between the two friends, "Jasper Chase told me the other
night that he -- in fact -- he proposed to me -- or he would,
Rachel stopped and sat with her hands clasped on her lap,
and there were tears in her eyes.
I thought a little while ago I loved him, as he said he
loved me. But when he spoke, my heart felt repelled, and
I said what I ought to say. I told him no. I have not seen
him since. That was the night of the first conversions at
am glad for you," said Virginia quietly.
asked Rachel a little startled.
I have never really liked Jasper Chase. He is too cold and
-- I do not like to judge him, but I have always distrusted
his sincerity in taking the pledge at the church with the
Rachel looked at Virginia thoughtfully.
have never given my heart to him I am sure. He touched my
emotions, and I admired his skill as a writer. I have thought
at times that I cared a good deal for him. I think perhaps
if he had spoken to me at any other time than the one he
chose, I could easily have persuaded myself that I loved
him. But not now."
Again Rachel paused suddenly, and when she looked up at
Virginia again there were tears on her face. Virginia came
to her and put her arm about her tenderly.
When Rachel had left the house, Virginia sat in the hall
thinking over the confidence her friend had just shown her.
There was something still to be told, Virginia felt sure
from Rachel's manner, but she did not feel hurt that Rachel
had kept back something. She was simply conscious of more
on Rachel's mind than she had revealed.
Very soon Rollin came back, and he and Virginia, arm in
arm as they had lately been in the habit of doing, walked
up and down the long hall. It was easy for their talk to
settle finally upon Rachel because of the place she was
to occupy in the plans which were being made for the purchase
of property at the Rectangle.
you ever know of a girl of such really gifted powers in
vocal music who was willing to give her life to the people
as Rachel is going to do? She is going to give music lessons
in the city, have private pupils to make her living, and
then give the people in the Rectangle the benefit of her
culture and her voice."
is certainly a very good example of self-sacrifice," replied
Rollin a little stiffly.
Virginia looked at him a little sharply. "But don't you
think it is a very unusual example? Can you imagine -- "
here Virginia named half a dozen famous opera singers --
"doing anything of this sort?"
I cannot," Rollin answered briefly. "Neither can I imagine
Miss -- " he spoke the name of the girl with the red parasol
who had begged Virginia to take the girls to the Rectangle
-- " doing what you are doing, Virginia."
more than I can imagine Mr. -- " Virginia spoke the name
of a young society leader "going about to the clubs doing
your work, Rollin." The two walked on in silence for the
length of the hall.
back to Rachel," began Virginia, "Rollin, why do you treat
her with such a distinct, precise manner? I think, Rollin
-- pardon me if I hurt you -- that she is annoyed by it.
You need to be on easy terms. I don't think Rachel likes
Rollin suddenly stopped. He seemed deeply agitated. He took
his arm from Virginia's and walked alone to the end of the
hall. Then he returned, with his hands behind him, and stopped
near his sister and said, "Virginia, have you not learned
Virginia looked bewildered, then over her face the unusual
color crept, showing that she understood.
have never loved any one but Rachel Winslow." Rollin spoke
calmly enough now. "That day she was here when you talked
about her refusal to join the concert company, I asked her
to be my wife; out there on the avenue. She refused me,
as I knew she would. And she gave as her reason the fact
that I had no purpose in life, which was true enough. Now
that I have a purpose, now that I am a new man, don't you
see, Virginia, how impossible it is for me to say anything?
I owe my very conversion to Rachel's singing. And yet that
night while she sang I can honestly say that, for the time
being, I never thought of her voice except as God's message.
I believe that all my personal love for her was for the
time merged into a personal love to my God and my Saviour."
Rollin was silent, then he went on with more emotion. "I
still love her, Virginia. But I do not think she ever could
love me." He stopped and looked his sister in the face with
a sad smile.
don't know about that," said Virginia to herself. She was
noting Rollin's handsome face, his marks of dissipation
nearly all gone now, the firm lips showing manhood and courage,
the clear eyes looking into hers frankly, the form strong
and graceful. Rollin was a man now. Why should not Rachel
come to love him in time? Surely the two were well fitted
for each other, especially now that their purpose in life
was moved by the same Christian force.
She said something of all this to Rollin, but he did not
find much comfort. When they closed the interview, Virginia
carried away the impression that Rollin meant to go his
way with his chosen work, trying to reach the fashionable
men at the clubs, and while not avoiding Rachel, seeking
no occasions for meeting her. He was distrustful of his
power to control his feeling. And Virginia could see that
he dreaded even the thought of a second refusal in case
he did let Rachel know that his love was still the same.