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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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hundred poor fellows. What pathetic experi
ences of temptation, and fall, and repentance
they told ! I knew only too well how true they
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CLEAR THE KING S HIGHWAY

were; I, myself, had been in similar straits.
Oh, John, what can we do to help such weak,
unhappy, struggling men?"

" We can strengthen the hands of those al
ready familiar with the work. You cannot per
sonally go down among them, and see that they
are fed, and washed, and clothed, and work
found for their hands, and comfort for their
hearts, and divine instruction for their souls;
but you can give the wherewithal to provide
these necessities. Give them a substantial lift
to start with. They want a chapel, they want a
reading-room, they want better dormitories and
baths; oh, they want so many things ! You can
increase their comforts and their usefulness on
every side. How many hundreds are, at this
moment, wandering in the darkness and despair
of this great city, that could be saved and
blessed if there was room to take them in, and
money to provide for their urgent necessities!"

" John, these worthy charities for men shall
have their aid in good season. We will see
about it to-morrow morning, as soon as possible.
Oh, my heart goes out to every man, without
love and home, in the outer darkness of these
stony streets ! How easy it is for them to do
wrong ! How hard to do right ! "

"With all my heart I will go with you. Have
you no special idea with regard to spending so
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THE KING S HIGHWAY

much money? You have been much and famil
iarly among the poor ; you have seen and tasted
their life in its bitterness; is there then from
your own experience no special light on the
subject?"

" Yes, John. I will tell you a charity greatly
needed it is a Transportation Fund for work
ing mechanics and labourers."

" I don t understand, Steve."

" I will explain. When I was last in Chicago
there were hundreds of bricklayers, stonema
sons, and plasterers out of work. Nothing to do
in Chicago, and yet plenty to do in New York.
But they could not get to New York. They
had not the money. This is but one small
example of a condition constantly occurring.
Now, then, what is needed is a fund for trans
porting sober, bona-fide workers of all kinds
from place to place, as the exigencies of labour
demand them. I think it would be better to
send them to where work is than to open soup
kitchens and dole out bread to enforced idleness."

" It would be much better and much more
honourable and just. It would be giving the
workers good with their own hands, which is
God s way of helping. There would doubtless
be cases in which it would be proper also to
send the family with the father of it ; but this and
other contingencies must be well considered and
302



provided for. Your idea, however, is a very
good one, Steve, and the help it promises is
much needed."

" Well, then, the Transportation Fund is our
second object. What is the next?"

" I heard the other day of a proposal to buy
a little isle washed by the ocean, and to make
it a sunshine land for the poor miserable chil
dren who have never, in all their lives, known a
day s pleasure, never had any childhood, never
had any play or any playthings, never tasted
the sweets which are as necessary as food to
their growing frames, never known what love and
laughing, and singing and praying, and clean
beds, and nice eating, and kind words might
mean. To give these wronged, unhappy babies
a chance for a little happiness, to put them on
the right road, to see as far as possible
that they keep to it, to make them believe in
God s love, because they feel man s love, and
believe in the happiness of heaven because they
have tasted happiness on earth

" Oh, John ! John ! This is best of all ! I
believe in the children most of all. You can do
a great deal with a child, a great deal with a
boy that you can t do with a man, a great deal
with a girl that you can t do with a woman."

"That is true; so, then, the children must
have a wide and gracious showing, for life is so
33



THE KING S HIGHWAY

hard and grim that if we take the joy of the
children out of it we shall learn to believe that
joy is dead. What else, Steve?"

" I have had one other dream for humanity
that I would like to make come true though
in ever so small a respect. When I wandered
about the great Western wildernesses, in which
no man stays, I wondered and wondered at their
lovely solitudes, but whenever I came back to
this city, crowded with humanity, I wondered
more and more, and I was haunted by four lines
day and night, and set my footsteps to them,
and let the problem they involved drive me
helplessly hither and thither :

The soil lies fallow, the woods grow rank,

Yet idle the poor man stands ;
Oh ! millions of hands want acres,
And millions of acres want hands !

Something can surely be done to bring these
two wants together, John ! "

" Certainly, Steve. We shall have to invoke
legislation, perhaps, and delay will be necessary
in order to be sure we are going right and
doing right, but the project is highly possible.
Suppose we plant one hundred homes in these
fertile wilds of the West, how many homes
would spring from the hundred? Enough in a
generation or two to make the desolate places
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CLEAR THE KING S HIGHWAY

wave with golden wheat, and blossom like the
rose. And though men and women would
bring their sins and sorrows into the innocent
places, they would also bring the music of
psalm and song, and the imploration and joy of
prayer and praise. We must then have a Land
Fund as well as a Transportation Fund. But,
Steve, have you not some favourite object of
kindness, some peculiar good that you would
like to do, just because it would give your heart
a real, personal pleasure? "

" Yes, I have, John. I have an object which
had my full consideration and my whole heart
when I had not a dollar to give it, and never
expected to have a dollar. I want to give one
hundred thousand dollars perhaps more to
increase, if possible, legislation for the protec
tion of animals."

" Legislation for animals ? "

" Yes, for I have discovered that it is im
possible to make the popular mind connect
guilt with things the law does not punish."

" But for animals?"

" Yes, and a hundred times, yes ! "

"Animals! when there are men, women,
and children?"

" Yes, and a hundred times, yes ! "

" The beasts that perish "

" Do they perish? Dare you affirm it? "
2 35



THE KING S HIGHWAY

" But, Steve," John persisted, " supremacy
over animals is distinctly given to man."

" If so, then we have made it like Satan s, a
supremacy of pain. Our animal code is written
in the blood of the helpless, confiding creatures
who have to trust in us."

" Consider their inferiority."

"In what?"

" Well, even physically."

" Nonsense ! Men have physically inferior
senses to animals. Our teeth are yet primitive.
A dog has a more serviceable nose than a man
has. The eagle has a far better eye. What do
you think of the dragon-fly with twelve thousand
lenses in his eyes? The sheep has a better
ankle-joint than we have. The horse s foot is a
single, compact elastic toe; its heel is carried in
the air, and never touches the ground, which
gives it a spring and motion far beyond the
capacity of the human plantigrade. Whatever
lightness of step man possesses comes through
his intellect. Have you not noticed, John, that
whenever the mental powers suffer, or are weak,
the man slouches."

" Still, only to man has God given speech."

" How can you say such a thing? We don t
speak dog and horse language, and dogs and
horses don t speak human language. It is un
reasonable to expect it. But consider dogs, with
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CLEAR THE KING S HIGHWAY

which we are both familiar. Different races of
dogs have different voices. Listen to the bark
of the English mastiff, and compare it with that
of the French poodle, or the Danish hound, or
the Scotch terrier. How different are the barks
of joy, anger, and danger ! Can you not easily
distinguish between the whine of impatience,
the howl of pain, the gradations of tail-wag
ging, forepaw lifting, ear-cocking, smiling, and
bowing? You do, John. You know them well.
The speech of horses is just as intelligent,
though mainly a sign language. Birds have a
large vocabulary. Did you never listen to two
or three cocks challenging each other? They
are polite also, and wait as patiently as the heroes
of Homer, while their opponents relate the so
norous narratives of their birth and prowess.
There is speech, John, among all living creatures.
Even the humming of the bee has elaborate gra
dations that our poor senses cannot realise.
And I wish often that I could understand the fine
speech that goes on in the language of the an
tennae. You may be very sure that what you
call the dumb creation have a mother tongue
of their own that answers all the purposes of
our most perfect speech."

" We know so little of them, Steve."
" And we ought to be ashamed of our igno
rance. But we do know, at least, that they
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THE KING S HIGHWAY

are singularly like ourselves. Why, even the
night side of Nature casts its gloom and terror
over them. Indeed, it is likely they have in a
degree greater than ourselves a sensitiveness to
the occult, unseen world around us. This is
specially true of dogs and horses. It has been
said that storks can foresee the burning of a
house on whose roof they have built, and that
they remove their nest before the catastrophe.
Rats will leave a doomed ship. No bird will
willingly stay in a cage in which a bird has died.
To it, the cage is haunted. We are ready enough
to endow animals with our bad qualities, very re
luctant to share with them our higher ones."

" Then you imagine they have moral claims
on us?"

" Balaam was reproved for striking his ass
unjustly. Any animal to which we can be
unjust has moral claims we have no right to
outrage."

" You will become a crank on this subject, I
fear, Steve."

" I hope so. Oh, John, remember all the
cruelties you have witnessed this past year; and
then think that hundreds of thousands have
seen, each, a different series of cruelties in the
same time ! "

" I never imagined we were a cruel people."

" Because you have not considered the
308



brutalities inflicted upon animals in passion, in
deliberate revenge, in unprovoked love of tor
menting, in barbarous carelessness of all their
needs and pain. Think what they suffer from
people whose business it is to take them to
slaughter ! Think of their slow deaths by com
pulsory labour beyond their power ! Think of
what they suffer from hunger and thirst, from
cold and from heat! Think of how they are
mangled for what is called science ; worse
still for what is called sport ! Think of the
docked horses, and of horses uselessly tortured
by the bearing rein! Yet men, calling them
selves gentle men, ride behind these suffering
animals without one qualm of conscience or one
feeling of shame."

" Don t get into a passion, Steve."

" I do well to get into a passion, John. I
have thrashed a good many men and boys for
brutality to animals and birds. I consider these
thrashings the finest actions of my life. Oh,
John, if I had your tongue; if I had the
tongues of angels, I would go through the
length and breadth of the land, and preach to
men and to women and to children from this
text, Am I not a beast and a brother?

" I will admit that Christianity has not made
this subject of sufficient importance."

" And this omission is, and has been, ever
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THE KING S HIGHWAY

the weak spot in Christianity. Celsus, eighteen
centuries ago, brought this charge against it.
Priests were accustomed to turn shrines into
shambles. Long after Rome was christianised,
the most brutal and degrading combats between
men and beasts continued, and were not put a
stop to until the monk Telemachus leaped into
the arena and separated the combatants, and
was stoned to death by the angry Christian
spectators. Only a few rarer spirits among the
Christian clergy, such as St. Francis, John
Wesley, and Bishop Butler, have thought of
pleading the cause of animals."

" Is it not a subject for home teaching, rather
than for the pulpit? " asked John.

" If so, then parents are shamefully negligent
in this matter. They suffer their children to
glut their cruelty on cats, frogs, or any other
helpless creature that cannot protect itself.
Teachers have not yet accepted it as a duty,
though they might do a great deal to make
the future man and woman merciful."

" We have done a great deal within the last
fifty years, Steve. At the beginning of this
century Sir Walter Scott did not hesitate to
make James Fitz-James, in the Lady of the
Lake, ride a noble horse to death. Any
magistrate now would convict and punish a
man for such cruelty, and no respectable writer
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would dare to make his hero guilty of such a
brutal crime."

" I am grateful for what has been done, and
I look forward to a day when cruelty to animals
will rouse the same pity and indignation in the
hearts of all that cruelty to children, or to
slaves, or to prisoners, or to any helpless portion
of humanity rouses. The great trouble is "

" What is the great trouble, Steve? "

" That we live in the world of the Levite.
Non-interference is our rule. We hate a scene,
and therefore we suffer the wrong we see and
know to be a wrong to go unpunished. Our
non-interference makes us selfish, and selfishness
makes us indifferent. Now, John, in your Church
of the future mercy to animals and a clear rec
ognition of their rights must have a place. It
will be a great factor in the moral uplifting of
men."

" How do you see that, Steve? "

" In this way. We do not flog even criminal
men, because we believe we brutalise men by
flogging them. Yet we let them brutalise them
selves by permitting them to flog and torture the
creatures within their power. This injustice and
ferocity must be stopped ! You must do your
best to stop it ! "

" It is a new subject of thought to me, Steve.
But I can see and feel its importance."



THE KING S HIGHWAY

" Then speak for it, John. Put your heart
into it. I will put my gold into it. What a joy !
what a blessing to be able to do it ! Whatever
else we do, we will at least try to clear the
King s Highway of some of those brutes that fill
it with the groans of creatures innocently bruised
and beaten and done to death with unmerited
tortures ! "

" There are many other grand objects that
this one will fit well into, Steve ; but they must
be well considered. Charity cannot be casual.
It must be, as I said at first, an habitual
well-doing, working along its own well-defined
channels."

" That is right. We will have even charity
done wisely and in order. I want every dollar
to do its full measure of good; and though
charity, shooting at random, can hardly miss a
mark, yet I am well aware that some marks are
better than others, and that picked shots are
best of all."

" One million dollars ! Steve, we will start
The King s Highway Fund with it ! We will
not stop at a million ! How many millions of
money must be spent, how many noble lives
given up, ere the Way of the Lord is made
straight, and all its rough places smooth, and
all that defiles it removed, and the width and
the length of it regained from Apollyon, who
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CLEAR THE KING S HIGHWAY

walks there seeking souls that may be snared or
slain ! "

" It is a great work, John, but we will not be
discouraged. Remember what you said, It is
not incumbent on us to finish the work, but not
therefore must we cease from it. "

And the young men impulsively stood up,
clasping hands as they did so, and the vow in
their hearts was none the less binding because
it found no speech worthy of it. And for one
moment, in this exaltation of full surrender, they
touched the highest peaks of spiritual joy.

Then all too soon came the reaction that ever
follows such rare moments. Both felt suddenly
weary, and Steve said, " How thoughtless I have
been ! You must be worn out, John. Come,
and I will show you a room where you can
sleep and rest." The glory of the spiritual had
passed, but it had left behind that enlargement
of soul which could never be satisfied with any
thing less than the love, and will, and work of
God ; then

Deem not profitless these fleeting moods
Of shadowy exaltation, not for this,
That they are kindred to our purer mind
And intellectual life ; but that the soul
Remembering how she felt but what she felt
Remembering not retains an obscure sense
Of possible solemnity.



THE KING S HIGHWAY

Such moments are testimonies to the large
ness of a spiritual life, whose voice must ever be
to us in our mortal state

Like sighings of illimitable forests,
And waves of an unfathomable sea.



CHAPTER XIV

JESSIE S HARD LESSON

FOR three years there were only such changes
in the Lloyd and McAslin families as would
naturally flow from the tide of events which
had thrown their destinies together. Mrs.
Lloyd and Alice remained abroad, wandering
at their leisure from one famous city to an
other, and doing good in many small, unob
served ways only known to themselves and
the recipients of their benevolence. For Mrs.
Lloyd was no longer solely occupied with her
own soul and her own salvation ; she had dis
covered that they who wish to go to heaven
alone are not likely to get there. Solitary
prayer and meditation on her own spiritual
condition, though not abandoned, were subor
dinated to that active faith in God which proves
itself by continual help to man. She had taken
into her heart as the ideal Christian life that
little saying of Saint Peter s about Jesus of
Nazareth "a man approved of God, who
went about doing good."



THE KING S HIGHWAY

Alice was her cheerful and ready helper.
Her great delight was in the musical facilities
offered in European cities, and these very facili
ties were frequent opportunities for the wisest
charity. Through them she was brought nat
urally into contact with refined and educated
people suffering the straits and pangs of un-
confessed poverty, young women, mostly of
her own land, struggling bravely against un-
considered necessities, deluded with false hopes,
despairing for some slight encouragement, home
sick, poor, and friendless, and many of such
cases found help and hope from Alice Lloyd.

The chagrin and disappointment resulting
from her relationship with Lord Medvvay had
slipped from her mind like a disagreeable
dream, and the slow, sweet hours passed in
gaining knowledge and in doing good brought
her only that content which is another name
for happiness. The one thorn in her heart was
her treatment of John McAslin. The wound
others had given her was healed ; the wound
she had given herself still pained her. She felt
that she had been unjust to John. She had
thrown upon him a faithlessness she alone was
to blame for. She had ignored rights John
might reasonably have claimed, and then been
angry with him for the manly reserve that
made him choose to bear his suffering alone.



JESSIE S HARD LESSON

She still loved, for a first true love is not
easily slain, but she did not hope. She was
sure John had forgotten her, and she never
spoke of him; for the feeling that comes with
the revelation that all is over is gathered silently
into the heart.

Sometimes there came a letter to Mrs. Lloyd
from John, but it was solely on business. He
was now Steve s lawyer, and the manager of
all his immense property, and occasionally cir
cumstances came up in which it was necessary
to consult Mrs. Lloyd, or to obtain her co
operation. These letters had the clear, straight
forward tone of John s nature and methods,
but they never exceeded the legitimate cour
tesy of the position. Every one of them gave
Alice pain. For a day or two after the receipt
of any missive from John, she abandoned her
heart to vain longing and regrets, and to de
spairs hard to control and vanquish. One day,
while thus suffering, she suddenly became very
homesick.

" Mother," she said, " I want to go back to
America. We have been a long time away."

" Then we will go back, Alice. I, too, shall
be glad to return. The wish has been lying in
my heart for a long time. I will write to Steve
this morning and see if he can come and help
us. We have gathered many treasures, and
3*7



THE KING S HIGHWAY

these it will it be necessary to pack properly.
Then there are the custom-house liabilities and
formalities which I do not understand, and
would not dare to face."

" Do you think Steve will come? "

" I am sure he will come if he is able."

" Jessie may stand in the way."

" Not of Steve s duty. And I think Steve
will consider our comfort his duty."

So the letter was written, and it reached
Steve one morning as he was eating his break
fast. Strangely enough, there was a letter to
him from Mrs. McAslin also. Steve still re
tained his habit of early rising, and as it was near
the noon hour when Jessie usually appeared, a
solitary breakfast was inevitable. Sometimes
his little son Jack took his bread and milk
beside him, and sometimes the nurse brought
little Miss Lucy for her father s morning kiss;
but as a regular thing Steve took his breakfast
with his own thoughts, or the daily papers.
His mother s letter pleased him very much.
He longed to see her and his sister, and he
longed with all his soul for some lawful and
desirable change. He felt as if his whole best
being were in a state of atrophy ; he had even
ceased to rebel against a life that was yet an
intolerable demand. To go to sea; to feel
the fresh salt winds in his face; to throw out
318



JESSIE S HARD LESSON

of his memory dinners, and dances, and dress
ing, oh, what a miracle of relief it would
be ! He had not one hesitation about the
journey. He was only too thankful for so good
an excuse.

Suddenly he remembered his wife, and a
frown darkened his sunny face. For the re
lation between them had become a very formal
one. Steve still loved her, and Jessie loved her
husband perhaps far better than she knew. But
before all love and all family duties, Jessie put
her social success. It had been a very pro
nounced and steady success. She had reaped
all the honours of that " leadership " which had
been her ambition ; but with these honours had
come obligations which gave her no time for
personal affections, and which demanded so
much from her, in mere physical strength, that
she had no ability to cultivate her home pleas
ures. They slipped out of her grasp ; they were
delayed from day to day, until they gave her a
sense of reproach, and were then relegated to
some paid servant. She was carrying a cup full
to the brim, but there was nothing satisfying
in it, and she was just beginning to confess so
much to her own heart.

That very morning, as she came downstairs,
she had stepped into her nursery and kissed her
babies and felt in their prattle and embraces a
3*9



THE KING S HIGHWAY

purer joy than all the adulation of fashionable
crowds had ever given her. " I will go to
Lloyd Park next week," she thought, " and with
the children watch the spring break into lilies
and lilacs. I am tired to death, and I look tired
almost haggard in the morning light. I
will tell Steve to have the house put in order.
He will be pleased at that. Poor fellow, he
has n t had much to please him for a long
time ! "

She did not expect to see her husband. He
was usually with John at that hour; but when
she opened the door of the breakfast parlour,
Steve was sitting there. His face had lost its
happy glow; he looked troubled, and as Jessie
entered his eyes involuntarily fell upon the open
letter at his side. She said " good morning,"
and Steve answered the greeting; then he lifted
her mother s letter and gave it to her. She
read it with a look of annoyance that deepened
to anger.

" I cannot possibly go to-day," she said, as
she threw the irritating message on the table.
" You know, Steve, that this ball to the Princess
Kara will be the ball of the season. My dress
is ready for it, and it has cost a mint of money.
I am in the Princess" Quadrille, and my absence
is simply out of the question."

" Still, from your mother s letter to me, I
320



JESSIE S HARD LESSON

should imagine she was very weak and
sick."

" Typhoid fever leaves every one who has it
very weak and sick. I am sure I have sent
every earthly thing I could think of in the shape
of wines and delicacies, and I have been out
twice to see her."


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe king's highway. [microform] → online text (page 16 of 19)