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Charles M. Sheldon
is that to thee? Follow thou me."
Rollin started down the street the afternoon that Jasper
stood looking out of his window he was not thinking of Rachel
Winslow and did not expect to see her anywhere. He had come
suddenly upon her as he turned into the avenue and his heart
had leaped up at the sight of her. He walked along by her
now, rejoicing after all in a little moment of this earthly
love he could not drive out of his life.
have just been over to see Virginia," said Rachel. "She
tells me the arrangements are nearly completed for the transfer
of the Rectangle property."
It has been a tedious case in the courts. Did Virginia show
you all the plans and specifications for building?"
looked over a good many. It is astonishing to me where Virginia
has managed to get all her ideas about this work."
knows more now about Arnold Toynbee and East End London
and Institutional Church work in America than a good many
professional slum workers. She has been spending nearly
all summer in getting information." Rollin was beginning
to feel more at ease as they talked over this coming work
of humanity. It was safe, common ground.
have you been doing all summer? I have not seen much of
you," Rachel suddenly asked, and then her face warmed with
its quick flush of tropical color as if she might have implied
too much interest in Rollin or too much regret at not seeing
have been busy," replied Rollin briefly.
me something about it," persisted Rachel. "You say so little.
Have I a right to ask?"
She put the question very frankly, turning toward Rollin
in real earnest.
certainly," he replied, with a graceful smile. "I am not
so certain that I can tell you much. I have been trying
to find some way to reach the men I once knew and win them
into more useful lives."
He stopped suddenly as if he were almost afraid to go on.
Rachel did not venture to suggest anything.
have been a member of the same company to which you and
Virginia belong," continued Rollin, beginning again. "I
have made the pledge to do as I believe Jesus would do,
and it is in trying to answer this question that I have
been doing my work."
is what I do not understand. Virginia told me about the
other. It seems wonderful to think that you are trying to
keep that pledge with us. But what can you do with the club
have asked me a direct question and I shall have to answer
it now," replied Rollin, smiling again. "You see, I asked
myself after that night at the tent, you remember" (he spoke
hurriedly and his voice trembled a little), "what purpose
I could now have in my life to redeem it, to satisfy my
thought of Christian discipleship? And the more I thought
of it, the more I was driven to a place where I knew I must
take up the cross. Did you ever think that of all the neglected
beings in our social system none are quite so completely
left alone as the fast young men who fill the clubs and
waste their time and money as I used to? The churches look
after the poor, miserable creatures like those in the Rectangle;
they make some effort to reach the working man, they have
a large constituency among the average salary- earning people,
they send money and missionaries to the foreign heathen,
but the fashionable, dissipated young men around town, the
club men, are left out of all plans for reaching and Christianizing.
And yet no class of people need it more. I said to myself:
'I know these men, their good and their bad qualities. I
have been one of them. I am not fitted to reach the Rectangle
people. I do not know how. But I think I could possibly
reach some of the young men and boys who have money and
time to spend.' So that is what I have been trying to do.
When I asked as you did, What would Jesus do?' that was
my answer. It has been also my cross."
Rollin's voice was so low on this last sentence that Rachel
had difficulty in hearing him above the noise around them,
But she knew what he had said. She wanted to ask what his
methods were. But she did not know how to ask him. Her interest
in his plan was larger than mere curiosity. Rollin Page
was so different now from the fashionable young man who
had asked her to be his wife that she could not help thinking
of him and talking with him as if he were an entirely new
They had turned off the avenue and were going up the street
to Rachel's home. It was the same street where Rollin had
asked Rachel why she could not love him. They were both
stricken with a sudden shyness as they went on. Rachel had
not forgotten that day and Rollin could not. She finally
broke a long silence by asking what she had not found words
your work with the club men, with your old acquaintances,
what sort of reception do they give you? How do you approach
them? What do they say?"
Rollin was relieved when Rachel spoke. He answered quickly:
"Oh, it depends on the man. A good many of them think
I am a crank. I have kept my membership up and am in good
standing in that way. I try to be wise and not provoke any
unnecessary criticism. But you would be surprised to know
how many of the men have responded to my appeal. I could
hardly make you believe that only a few nights ago a dozen
men became honestly and earnestly engaged in a conversation
over religious matters. I have had the great joy of seeing
some of the men give up bad habits and begin a new life.
'What would Jesus do?' I keep asking it. The answer comes
slowly, for I am feeling my way slowly. One thing I have
found out. The men are not fighting shy of me. I think that
is a good sign. Another thing: I have actually interested
some of them in the Rectangle work, and when it is started
up they will give something to help make it more powerful.
And in addition to all the rest, I have found a way to save
several of the young fellows from going to the bad in gambling."
Rollin spoke with enthusiasm. His face was transformed by
his interest in the subject which had now become a part
of his real life. Rachel again noted the strong, manly tone
of his speech. With it all she knew there was a deep, underlying
seriousness which felt the burden of the cross even while
carrying it with joy. The next time she spoke it was with
a swift feeling of justice due to Rollin and his new life.
you remember I reproached you once for not having any purpose
worth living for?" she asked, while her beautiful face seemed
to Rollin more beautiful than ever when he had won sufficient
self-control to look up. "I want to say, I feel the need
of saying, in justice to you now, that I honor you for your
courage and your obedience to the promise you have made
as you interpret the promise. The life you are living is
a noble one."
Rollin trembled. His agitation was greater than he could
control. Rachel could not help seeing it. They walked along
in silence. At last Rollin said: "I thank you. It has been
worth more to me than I can tell you to hear you say that."
He looked into her face for one moment. She read his love
for her in that look, but he did not speak.
When they separated Rachel went into the house and, sitting
down in her room, she put her face in her hands and said
to herself: "I am beginning to know what it means to be
loved by a noble man. I shall love Rollin Page after all.
What am I saying! Rachel Winslow, have you forgotten --
She rose and walked back and forth. She was deeply moved.
Nevertheless, it was evident to herself that her emotion
was not that of regret or sorrow. Somehow a glad new joy
had come to her. She had entered another circle of experience,
and later in the day she rejoiced with a very strong and
sincere gladness that her Christian discipleship found room
in this crisis for her feeling. It was indeed a part of
it, for if she was beginning to love Rollin Page it was
the Christian man she had begun to love; the other never
would have moved her to this great change.
And Rollin, as he went back, treasured a hope that had been
a stranger to him since Rachel had said no that day. In
that hope he went on with his work as the days sped on,
and at no time was he more successful in reaching and saving
his old acquaintances than in the time that followed that
chance meeting with Rachel Winslow.
The summer had gone and Raymond was once more facing the
rigor of her winter season. Virginia had been able to accomplish
a part of her plan for "capturing the Rectangle," as she
called it. But the building of houses in the field, the
transforming of its bleak, bare aspect into an attractive
park, all of which was included in her plan, was a work
too large to be completed that fall after she had secured
the property. But a million dollars in the hands of a person
who truly wants to do with it as Jesus would, ought to accomplish
wonders for humanity in a short time, and Henry Maxwell,
going over to the scene of the new work one day after a
noon hour with the shop men, was amazed to see how much
had been done outwardly.
Yet he walked home thoughtfully, and on his way he could
not avoid the question of the continual problem thrust upon
his notice by the saloon. How much had been done for the
Rectangle after all? Even counting Virginia's and Rachel's
work and Mr. Gray's, where had it actually counted in any
visible quantity? Of course, he said to himself, the redemptive
work begun and carried on by the Holy Spirit in His wonderful
displays of power in the First Church and in the tent meetings
had had its effect upon the life of Raymond. But as he walked
past saloon after saloon and noted the crowds going in and
coming out of them, as he saw the wretched dens, as many
as ever apparently, as he caught the brutality and squalor
and open misery and degradation on countless faces of men
and women and children, he sickened at the sight. He found
himself asking how much cleansing could a million dollars
poured into this cesspool accomplish? Was not the living
source of nearly all the human misery they sought to relieve
untouched as long as the saloons did their deadly but legitimate
work? What could even such unselfish Christian discipleship
as Virginia's and Rachel's do to lessen the stream of vice
and crime so long as the great spring of vice and crime
flowed as deep and strong as ever? Was it not a practical
waste of beautiful lives for these young women to throw
themselves into this earthly hell, when for every soul rescued
by their sacrifice the saloon made two more that needed
He could not escape the question. It was the same that Virginia
had put to Rachel in her statement that, in her opinion,
nothing really permanent would ever be done until the saloon
was taken out of the Rectangle. Henry Maxwell went back
to his parish work that afternoon with added convictions
on the license business.
But if the saloon was a factor in the problem of the life
of Raymond, no less was the First Church and its little
company of disciples who had pledged to do as Jesus would
do. Henry Maxwell, standing at the very centre of the movement,
was not in a position to judge of its power as some one
from the outside might have done. But Raymond itself felt
the touch in very many ways, not knowing all the reasons
for the change.
The winter was gone and the year was ended, the year which
Henry Maxwell had fixed as the time during which the pledge
should be kept to do as Jesus would do. Sunday, the anniversary
of that one a year ago, was in many ways the most remarkable
day that the First Church ever knew. It was more important
than the disciples in the First Church realized. The year
had made history so fast and so serious that the people
were not yet able to grasp its significance. And the day
itself which marked the completion of a whole year of such
discipleship was characterized by such revelations and confessions
that the immediate actors in the events themselves could
not understand the value of what had been done, or the relation
of their trial to the rest of the churches and cities of
It happened that the week before that anniversary Sunday
the Rev. Calvin Bruce, D.D., of the Nazareth Avenue Church,
Chicago, was in Raymond, where he had come on a visit to
some old friends, and incidentally to see his old seminary
classmate, Henry Maxwell. He was present at the First Church
and was an exceedingly attentive and interested spectator.
His account of the events in Raymond, and especially of
that Sunday, may throw more light on the entire situation
than any description or record from other sources.