Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The king's highway. [microform] online

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Steve took from his pocket some bank-bills, and
put them into the fingers that were already

But the dying man was no longer able to feel
and finger them. His last earthly consolation
had departed. It was a present death. Perhaps
he then, for the first time, realised it, but speech
was gone. He looked with awful inquiry into
Steve s eyes, and then became suddenly still.
A desperate calmness, a terrible desolation of
soul marked that last hour, and the hearts of
those that loved him were filled with dread and

Yet this last solemn journey of the freed soul
was accompanied and followed by love and
prayer. Wherever its course tended, it took
with it the implorations of other souls that be
lieved and trusted in the infinite, illimitable
mercy of God. "Surely," said Alice, to her


mother, " the mercy which has begun with man s
forgetfulness will be crowned with God s for
giveness. Father himself will now see right and
wrong with the eyes of immortality. Do you
think his soul will cease to pray when it has left
the body? Perhaps, dear mother, it may now
pray with a stronger and deeper sense of its

" Oh, Alice, if I could only think thus ! "

" Is it not better, mother, to trust God too
much than too little? May we not plead
for a man with God as man pleadeth for his
neighbour? "

" My doubts are great."

" My faith is beyond all doubts, for it rests on
the love of God ; and who shall separate us from
that love? Neither height nor depth, nor any
other thing;" and her face shone, and her asser
tion had all the conclusiveness of an intuition.

" But we are taught, Alice "

" Ah, mother, I have come to believe that
nothing goes to heaven but love, and that love
can open the kingdom of heaven to all who
pray at its gates. Anyway, we will not des
pair. Dr. Robertson says that is the unpar
donable sin and a heavier weight than all the
sins committed. "

Alice knew of what she was speaking. She
had arrived at that point where the satisfied


soul can be glad for " the good time when it
was unhappy." Her days of affliction and dis
appointment had been turned into days of
silence and prayer, flowing on like drops from
the honey-comb ; a spiritual joy utterly incom
prehensible to the pride of drudging souls sworn
to mammon; a spiritual faith founded on that
tender revelation God is love. Therefore she
believed the anger of God to be but for a mo
ment, and his pity to be eternal. He had com
manded us to love our enemies, and she could
not believe that he would disobey his own com
mand. On her knees she humbly tried to hope
that mercy might be shown even to one who
had so slighted and disdainfully used the in
finite loving-kindness.

Now, if perfume be sprayed into a room it
may not be visible to the eye, but we are sen
sible of its presence, and so this element of
hope in God s mercy lifted the intolerable gloom
of despair and made it possible for the living to
endure the stress of days and nights that held no
other hope. For the home in which Nicholas
Lloyd had been the pervading thought in a
very few days knew him no more. All tokens
of his suffering presence were removed ; his very
name was unspoken. Dead and buried, who is
so soon forgotten as the merely rich man? His
gold is his no longer, and he has nothing else


to leave. There were a few paragraphs about
the dead millionnaire in the daily papers an
account of the funeral and then oblivion
nothing, not even pity or regret

It was found that no will executed by Mr.
Lloyd, of recent date, existed except the one
made to satisfy the whim of a mentally sick
man. This was not worth consideration. The
other, made ten years previously, left everything
to Steve after his mother s and sister s portions
had been provided for. But Mrs. Lloyd de
clined all participation in her husband s wealth.
She said she " had already more than she could
wisely use and distribute," and she entreated
Steve to take care of his father s accumulations
and render out of them the charity belonging
to God and the poor. As for Alice, the portion
assigned her as the bride of Lord Medway
was considered to be lawfully hers ; but when
this and all other claims had been satisfied,
there still remained nearly six million dollars
in real estate and in bonds and securities of
the first class.

" It is your money, sir," said Mr. Phillips to
Steve, " and you cannot put aside the claim it
has on your wise management."

Steve flushed and trembled, and was aware of
a sudden feeling of unlimited pleasure and
responsibility. He had so often vowed not to


encumber himself with riches, so often declared
he would be terrified to be the steward of
enormous wealth, so often and so sincerely
asserted that his father s death would not en
rich him, that he felt all at sea, tossed to and
fro without rudder or anchor, drifting with cir
cumstances that were totally unexpected and

And it was in this perplexity and perturbation
of mind that he was subjected to the entreaties
of his wife, mother, sister, and lawyer. He was
told by the latter that it would be an affectation
of the worst kind to refuse his own on a mere
social quibble. He was coaxed by the women
of the family with plausible arguments, and
half convinced that he had a mission to fulfil in
the proper dispensation of so much gold. He
was swayed by some internal charm, he knew
not what, and became hourly more conscious
of that authority which the mere possession of
money creates. And thus pushed onward by
unseen influences and outward powers, he
gradually grew appreciative of his position and
felt though he did not realise it the thrall
of riches upon his spirit.

Jessie was now radiantly happy. The house

on the avenue, the cottage at Newport, the

carriages and horses, and steam yacht, were

all within her grasp. The yacht fitted into



Steve s life-long dream, and he was so eager to
realise this dream of his own, that he did not
oppose whatever his wife wished as its equi
valent. Jessie now, therefore, took upon her
self the gratification of her desires. And this
time she resolved to leave nothing for the
future to fret over. The poor little flat was
never again visited. Some cheap appraiser
valued its contents and gave her a " paltry
little check" for them, and then she felt free
to build a home that would be a fitting one
for her position.

This resolve, of course, implied time to
perfect it; but Jessie s apparent good fortune
did not desert her. Circumstances occurred
soon after Mr. Lloyd s death which placed the
Lloyd mansion at her disposal, and she was
thus enabled at once to live in the style she had
resolved to affect, and also to keep a close
watch on the progress and development of her
future plans. For very soon after Easter Lord
Medway married Miss Leavenworth, and this
event made it possible for Mrs. Lloyd and Alice
to take the long holiday of travel they desired.
After their weary watch and seclusion, it
seemed indeed a most desirable change; but as
long as Lord Medway was unmarried, there
was a possibility of gossip which neither woman
liked to face.



"It will be said we are running after him
that as he will not come to us, we go to him.
Alice," Mrs. Lloyd ejaculated, " the thought of
Europe at present is impossible. I wish it were
not. I would like nothing better than a
leisurely stroll through Italy with you."

Lord Medway s marriage was therefore not
an unpleasant surprise. Possibly Alice had yet
some sore feeling about the matter, but it was
not hard to hide it under the satisfaction arising


from the freedom it permitted. Instantly they
began to plan for a two years absence, and
these plans included the occupancy of their
New York and Newport homes by Steve and
Jessie. Jessie considered this arrangement " a
Providence," and Steve smiled at her consequen
tial air and her ready appropriation of Provi
dence, but did not deny the exorbitant stretch
of her claim upon a divine planning for her par
ticular wishes. In fact, all winter he had been
gradually becoming more and more subject to
his beautiful wife, and Jessie had almost begun
to think him so far her bond slave as to make
further charming and conciliation unnecessary.

Early in May Mrs. Lloyd and Alice left
America for Italy, and Jessie, though she did
not voice the thought, said mentally a very
emphatic " Thank heaven for it ! " When the
steamer left its moorings she considered her en-


franchisement complete. Hitherto, in spite of
all her efforts, she had been conscious of Mrs.
Lloyd and Alice as controlling forces. There
were certain things she did not like to do in
their presence. Their look of calm dissent
spoiled her finest aggressions. Their polite re
fusals infused doubt and often failure into her
daring innovations. She was now absolutely
mistress of her desires and of six million

The first pleasure she gave herself was one
in which it delighted Steve to join her. This
was the settlement of her father in Steve s posi
tion as agent of Mrs. Lloyd s " Homes " and
other charities, and the buying and furnishing
of a pretty country place for her mother. The
delight and surprise of the ageing McAslins was
very genuine and very great, and Jessie might
have learned from this experience that it is our
labours for others that make us cheerful, while
labour for self always leaves behind a vague
melancholy dissatisfaction.

Once more, then, Steve saw his idolised wife
completely happy. In her splendid residence
she ruled autocratically; she gave orders and
received callers, and laid all sorts of splendid
plans for her future social supremacy. And it
was not difficult for Steve, in his own way, to
follow her example. His way was the way of


the sea. He was resolved to have the finest
yacht that could be built. To be skipper of
such a craft would be his most improbable
dream come true. He spent his time in pre
paring for such a realisation. To put off into
space, to get out of sight and sound of all
humanity but such as he could control, to leave
all obligations behind him, to forget there were
such things as letters, or papers, or plans, or
settlements, to be alone with God and the ocean
and the great winds that revel on the ocean,
this was the heaven upon earth which in cer
tain moods the restless, vivid young man most
ardently desired.

While he was in uncertainty about his father s
money, and even while accustoming himself to
the feeling and state and circumstance of his
new position, he had kept out of the way of
John McAslin. He heard of him, he read of
him, but he made no effort to see him. And
John would not force the old friendship between
them. He knew the transforming power of
gold, and thought it quite probable Steve would
like to forget the past. Nothing was further
from Steve s intention, but the fresh responsibili
ties he had assumed sat with difficulty on him,
and he was hardly ready to be himself under
them. One night, however, in the latter part
of June, he went eastward to look for John. He
19 289


knew where he was to speak, and he wished to see
for himself if the old John remained unchanged.
He wondered too how the opinions he had been
wont to indorse would now affect him. He
wished to try to test self by an unprepared
judge and ordeal.

He found John in the lecture room of a
church on Fourth Avenue. There was no
crowd there, no jostling, no bandying of jokes
or greetings, no enthusiasm, and none of that
ready oratory and disposition to deny, argue,
and answer back that was always a marked
feature in more secular places of meeting. A
fair proportion of the audience was composed
of women, but men and women alike were of
that calm, respectable class which are not easily
moved by any force outside the narrow circles
of their own domesticities. Indeed, there was
on the faces of many a set opposition, and as
soon as Steve had listened a few minutes he was
not astonished. For John was arraigning the
Church in general in such language as could
not permit any one to shirk the questions he

" The Church has practically lost all effectual
hold on the working classes," he was saying,
" and there is an awful shipwreck of redeemed
humanity, of which the responsibility falls on
the Church."



"Facts! Facts! Mr. McAslin," interrupted
an aggressive-looking man near the platform.
" We came here for facts, not for generalities.
Take some great question of the day and tell
us how the Church has neglected her duty."

" Socialism, for instance," said a woman by
his side, with a little frightened laugh.

John bowed to her and accepted the propo
sition. " Socialism," he cried, " is the essential
spirit of Christianity. Not the socialism of the
Nihilist assassin, or the Communistic petroleuse,
but the socialism of the New Testament. What
is the socialism of the New Testament? It is
the brotherhood of mankind springing from the
fatherhood of God. It is the cheerful coming
under the burdens of others in order to elevate
and bless. It is the spirit of your own homes
carried into the larger homes of your villages,
towns, and cities of your country, and of the
whole world. Say that you have sons and
daughters. One may be clever and beautiful,
another much less so. One may be healthy
and strong, another weak and suffering. Is
there therefore jealousy and oppression on
your hearthstone? Not if a true family bond
unites you. All will rejoice in the success of
the brilliant brother or the lovely sister. All
will unite to help the weak or the deficient. In
a loving family who is more powerful than the


baby ? Who is better beloved and served than
the invalid? This is the true socialistic spirit.
If our hearts and our churches were filled with
this spirit of Christ, we could do as he did and
carry this influence into the world around us.
This is the Gospel of the first century. It is
the Gospel of the nineteenth, and will be the
Gospel until time shall be no more. But this
socialism the Church does not practise; she
does not even preach it."

"Proof! Proof! Proof! " came from various
parts of the assembly.

" I will give it. Take the words Liberty,
Equality, Fraternity. Have not the shining
letters of these names a tremendous fascination
for all mankind? They are the most powerful
words in any language. They stir the hearts
of the suffering and the oppressed like a trum
pet blast from heaven. These words belong
by right to the Church. They are among her
most glorious watchwords ! They represent
the powers and principalities of her sacred
kingdom! What use has she made of them?
None. She has left Nihilists, and Communists,
and Positivists, and Anarchists, and Atheists,
and a revolutionary press to preach from these
charmful texts. While the Church has been
teaching men dogmas, and wasting her time,
and money, and arguments, and strength on


creeds of men s making, she has left false
teachers to preach a false Utopia from the
most glorious words of her own holy charter."

" Then, John, you would have the Church
preach socialism?" asked Steve, from his seat
at the edge of the assembly.

The voice, the tone, the bright face of the
speaker, who stood with one hand on the back
of his chair and the other stretched out toward
the platform, instantly raised in John s heart an
access of enthusiasm.

"I would have the Church preach Frater
nity, Equality, Liberty, as Christ taught them.
The purest, truest, sweetest, loftiest socialism
is in the New Testament. The Church of the
future will have to preach it or be silent alto
gether. She will have to tell men to undo
heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free
and break every yoke; that is, she will have to
preach against all the sins of cheapness, adul
teration, unpaid labour, all the bargains to
which human flesh and blood and spirit have
contributed, whether they come from the sweat
of the hands or the sweat of the brain. She
will have to drop creeds and dogmas, and feed
the hungry, and clothe the naked, and house
the homeless. How many millions of money
are sunk in churches that are closed, even
against prayer, six days out of the seven? And


yet they are called Houses of God, and thou
sands of God s children have not where to lay
their heads.

If Christ should suddenly stand upon Broadway,
And if the poor and homeless round him flocked,
Where would he lead them ? To the churches ? Nay !
At those shut doors no Christ would stand and knock. "

"Go on, John," cried Steve. "Tell us more
about the Church of the future."

" The Church of the future will have to teach
men a different measure of success, or of what
is called success. She will not honour those who
grow rich without a conscience, and then build
a college and give a gift like a sop to the
Almighty, and to the public whom they have
robbed. Rich men must grow rich innocently,
or she will not indorse them. She will not
teach men Methodism, or Presbyterianism, or
Catholicism ; she will teach them justice, truth,
tolerance, humanity to the whole animal world,
and a boundless loving-kindness and pity for
the sick, the morally and mentally deficient, the
poor and the suffering. She will not pass by
any wrong that may spring from the circum
stances of the day; she will be justly angry at
it, and with unrelenting perseverance get that
wrong definitely stamped and transfixed."

" You are setting the Church of the future a

tremendous work. Who is able for it? Who
is to do it?" cried a listener.

" We are to do it," answered John. " Every
single one of us is our brother s keeper. It is
our place to consider the signs of the times.
It is our place to defend the rights of the
poor and oppressed. Even now God is asking
Whom shall I send, and who will go with us?
Which of you will answer, Here am I ; send
me ?"

" The power of the Church is in her unity,"
said some one, and John lifted the word instantly
and repeated it. " Unity ! that is it. If the
Church would only unite, without regard to
name or creed, she would be invincible. The
gates of hell should not, could not, prevail
against her. She might do anything she wished
to do. She might abolish drunkenness. She
might make a dishonourable, unkind, selfish deed
unfashionable, and it would go out of fashion.
The Church, as a united force, abrogating creed,
standing on the simple foundation of the father
hood of God, and the consequent brotherhood
of man, might make any reform she wished to
make. How much reforms of all kinds are
needed you may see for yourselves if you will
go from out of this meeting, not to your own
comfortable homes, but down into the haunts of
those poor men and women who have no homes,


and among that congregation of miserables that
inspired the pitifully majestic invocation of
Hilaire Belloc:

Almighty God, whose justice like a sun

Shall coruscate along the floors of heaven ;
Raising what s low, perfecting what s undone,

Breaking the proud and making odd things even,
The poor of Jesus Christ along the street

In your rain sodden, in your snows unshod,
They have no hearth, nor roof, nor daily meat,

Nor even the bread of men, Almighty God.
The poor of Jesus Christ whom no man hears

Have called upon your vengeance much too long.
Wipe out not tears but blood, our eyes bleed tears ;

Come, smite our damned sophistries so strong,
That thy rude hammer battering this rude wrong

Ring down the abyss of twice ten thousand years.

I have nothing to-night to add to this grand
prayer," said John. He almost whispered
the words, and yet they were audible through
every corner of the still room. And men and
women, with hearts burning, and with eyes
heavy with tears, and cheeks flaming with
emotion, or pale with pity, looked wonderingly,
gratefully, even reverently at the man who had
so moved their highest selves, and they went
quietly to their houses, pondering the words they
might never, never forget; yea, though it might
be the fires of remorse or of too late repen
tance that brought them again to remembrance.


Steve waited for his friend. He was quieter
than usual, but trembling with feeling. " John !
Dear John ! " he said, " you have done me good.
Come home with me. I have much to say to

" I will. How is Jessie? "

" She is in Newport. I believe she is well."

"You did not go to Lloyd Park this year?"

"No. The place is virtually shut up. Jessie

preferred Newport. I shall go there also in a

few days. John, you have made me tremble

to-night. Tell me what I ought to do with all

this money that I can neither refuse, nor yet, I

fear, use properly. It is a great burden. What

shall I do with it?"

" Open up the King s Highway ! Prepare it
for the coming of the Lord ! Apollyon has
indeed straddled over the whole width of it, and
under his evil wings drunkards, thieves, and
oppressors of every kind find shelter. The
poor are tormented, the broken in heart terrified,
the sick and suffering can hardly find their way
to the grave. Go out like another Greatheart;
feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the
sorrowful. Steve ! Steve ! there are such great
opportunities before you ! I am terrified lest
you neglect them. What is it to be? Are you
going to prepare golden futures of love and
work? Or must life go by fruitless, and you


not dare to search your will and your heart till
at the last hour the past shall clang and flash
for you as for a drowning man?"

" I hope not, John ! I can see there is much
to be done, and I can feel that I am not the
man to do much. The very magnitude of the
work oppresses me and makes me hopeless."

" With the magnitude of the work you have
nothing to do, Steve. It is not incumbent on
us to complete the work, but not therefore must
we cease from it ; that is from the Talmud
but it is good Christianity. And why should
you fear? The light is on your face, and the
shadows all behind your back."

Steve sighed, but he went into his house
grasping John s hand, and he was strengthened
by its touch, and his heart was full of a great




THE two men went straight to Steve s private
room. The windows were open, and the light
and stir of the avenue entered through them.
They sat down without turning on the gas; the
dim reflection from the street-lamps was suffi
cient for their conversation. Steve was pressed
by his emotions and opened the conversation
with eagerness, even as they drew their chairs
to the window.

" I want to give a million dollars away, John,"
he said. " How shall I do it wisely? "

" You mean that you want to give it for the
purposes of charity? "

" Yes. That is what I mean. It is only right
and just that I should do so ; besides, it fits all
my noblest inclinations."

" It is also wise, Steve. Charity is the salt of
riches; it preserves them. Riches have wings,
but Charity clips them. I am glad that it is
both your duty and your pleasure to remember
those ready to perish."



"But I cannot disburse such a sum person
ally," said Steve. "Even if it were possible,
I should make a great bungle of it, for if I ever
attempt to give a dollar, I have to give another
dollar, and I am at my wit s end as to what I
ought to do."

" Very few men know how to give, Steve,"
answered John, " and for such, vicarious charity
is not only all, but it is also the best they can
do. Charity, however, is not a matter of acci
dent or of feeling. It is not casual. It is an
habitual well-doing which will work out its own
channels, and not be diverted from them."

" We must find out together, John, some great
co-operative ways and facilities for doing good."

" We have already a great many charitable
societies, Steve, with which you are more or less
acquainted. And then there is the McAuley
Mission, and the Cremorne Mission, and the
Florence Mission, and that wonderful Bowery
Mission for men that you and I stepped into
accidentally one night. I say accidentally,
Steve, because what we call accident is Provi
dence, and is usually God s part in any event.
Do you remember?"

" I am not likely ever to forget those four

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe king's highway. [microform] → online text (page 15 of 19)