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are stopping outside, you will be admitted, of course. It is held to be
as reasonable a way to go to church as though you harnessed your horses
at home and drove, on the Sabbath, to your regular place of worship. But
you buy no ticket _for_ the Sabbath, and none is received from you; and
if you choose not to go, the Association neither makes nor loses by the
operation, and, so far as money is concerned, is entirely indifferent
which you decide to do. What fault can possibly be found with such an
arrangement?"

"Well," said the gentleman, with a quiet positiveness of tone, "I
haven't a season ticket, and I don't mean to buy one, and I mean to go
down there to meeting to-morrow, and I expect to get in."

"I dare say," Marion answered, with glowing cheeks. "The grounds are
extensive, you know, and they are not walled in. I haven't the least
doubt but that hundreds can creep through the brush, and so have the
gospel free. There is something about 'he that climbeth up some other
way being a thief and a robber;' but, of course, the writer could not
have had Chautauqua in mind; and even if it applies, it would be only
stealing from an Association, which is not stealing at all, you know."

"You are hard on me," the gentleman said, flushing in his turn, and the
listeners, of whom there were many, laughed and seemed to enjoy the
flashing of words. "I have no intention of creeping or climbing in. I
shall present the same sort of ticket which took me in to-day, and if it
doesn't pass me I will send you a dispatch to let you know, if you will
give me your address."

"And if you _do_ get in, and will let me know, I will report at once to
the proper authorities that the gate-keepers have been unfaithful to
their trust," said Marion, triumphantly.

"But, my dear madam, what justice is there in that? I have paid my
money, and what business is it to them when I present my ticket? That is
keeping me out of my just dues."

"Oh, not a bit of it; that is, if you can read, and have, as you admit,
read their printed statement that you are not invited to the ground on
Sunday. Your fifty-cent ticket will admit you on Monday. And you surely
will not argue that the Association has not a right to limit the number
of guests that it will entertain over the Sabbath?"

"Yes, I argue that it is their business to let me in whenever I present
their ticket."

Marion laughed outright.

"That is marvelous!" she said. "It is wicked for them to receive payment
for your coming in on the Sabbath, and it is wicked for them not to let
you in on your ticket. Really, I don't see what the Association are to
do. They are committing sin either way it is put. I see no way out of it
but to have refused to sell you any tickets at all. Would that have
made it right?"

The laugh that was raised over this innocently put question seemed to
irritate her new acquaintance. He spoke hastily.

"It is a Sabbath-breaking concern, viewed in any light that you choose
to put it. There is no sense in holding camp-meetings over the Sabbath,
and every one agrees that they have a demoralizing effect."

"Do you mean me to understand you to think that the several thousand
people who are now stopping at Chautauqua will be breaking the Sabbath
by going out of their tents to-morrow and walking down to the public
service?"

The bit of sophistry in this meekly put question was overlooked, or at
least not answered, and the logical young gentleman asked:

"If they think Sabbath services in the woods so helpful, why are they
not consistent? Let them throw the meeting open for all who wish to
come, making the gospel without money and without price, as they pretend
it is. Why isn't that done?"

"Well, there are at least half a dozen reasons. I wonder you have not
thought of one of them. In the first place, that, of course, would tempt
to a great deal of Sabbath traveling, a thing which they carefully guard
against now by refusing to admit all travelers. And in the second place,
it would give the Chautauqua people a great deal to do in the way of
entertaining so large a class of people. As it is, they have quite as
much as they care to do to make comfortable the large company who belong
to their family. And in the third place - But perhaps you do not care to
hear all the reasons?"

He ignored this question also, and went back to one of her arguments.

"They don't keep travelers away at all, even by your own admission. What
is to hinder hundreds of them from coming here to-day and buying season
tickets in order to get in to-morrow?"

He had the benefit of a most quizzical glance then from Marion's shining
eyes before she answered.

"Oh, well, if the people are really so hungering and thirsting for the
gospel, as it is dispensed at Chautauqua, that they are willing to act
a lie, by pretending that they are members _who have been and are to be
in regular attendance_, and then are willing to pay two dollars and a
half for the Sunday meeting, I don't know but I think they ought to be
allowed to _creep_ in. Don't you?"




CHAPTER XVII.

GETTING READY TO LIVE.


Amid the laughter that followed this retort the company rose up from the
table and went their various ways, to meet, perhaps, again.

"How on earth do you manage to keep so thoroughly posted in regard to
Chautauqua affairs? One would think you were the wife of the private
secretary. _I_ shouldn't have known whether the gates were to be opened
or closed to-morrow."

This from Ruth as the two girls paced the long piazza while waiting for
the carriage which was to take them to the boat; for, having exhausted
the resources of Mayville for entertainment, they were about to return
to Chautauqua.

Marion laughed.

"I'm here in the capacity of a newspaper writer, please remember," she
answered promptly, "and what I don't know I can imagine, like the rest
of that brilliant fraternity. I am not really positive about a great
many of the statements that I made, except on the general principle that
these people belong to the class who are very much given to doing
according to their printed word. It says on the circulars that the gates
will be closed on the Sabbath, and I dare say they will be. At least, we
have a right to assume such to be the case until it is proven false."

"What class of people do you mean who are given to doing as they have
agreed? Christian people, do you refer to?"

"Well, yes; the sort of Christians that one meets at such a gathering as
this. As a rule, the namby-pamby Christians stay away from such places;
or, if they come, they float off to Saratoga or some more kindred
climate. I beg your pardon, Ruthie, that doesn't mean you, you know,
because you are not one of any sort."

"Then do you take it to be their religion which inclines you to trust
to their word, without having an individual acquaintance with them?"

Marion shrugged her shoulders.

"Oh, bother!" she said, gayly, "you are not turning theologian, or
police detective in search of suspicious characters, are you? I never
pretend to pry into my notions for and against people and things; if I
was betrayed into anything that sounded like common sense I beg your
pardon. I am out on a frolic, and mean to have it if there is any such
thing."

"Well, before you go back into absolute nonsense let me ask you one more
question. Do you really feel as deeply as you pretended to that man, on
all these questions of the Chautauqua conscience? I mean, is it a vital
point in your estimation whether people go there to church on Sunday or
not?"

Marion hesitated, and a fine glow deepened on her face as she said,
after a little, speaking with grave dignity:

"I do not know that I can explain myself to you, Ruth, and I dare say
that I seem to you like a bundle of contradictions; but it is a real
pleasure to me to come in contact with people who have earnest faith
and eager enthusiasm over _anything_, and principle enough to stand by
their views through evil and good report. In this way, and to a great
degree, this meeting is a positive delight to me, though I know
personally as little about the feeling from which they think their
actions take rise as any mortal can. Does that answer satisfy you, my
blessed mother confessor? or are you more muddled than ever over what I
do, and especially over what I do _not_ believe?"

"If I believed as much as you do I should look further."

Ruth said this with emphasis; and there was that in it which, despite
her attempts to throw it off, set Marion to thinking, and kept her
wonderfully quiet during their return trip.

On the whole, the flight to Mayville was not viewed entirely in the
light of a success. Ruth had been quiet and grave for some time, when
she suddenly spoke in her most composed and decided voice:

"I shall go to Saratoga on Monday, whether any one else will or not; I
shall find plenty of friends to welcome me, and I shall take the
morning train from here."

But she didn't.

Meantime Flossy's afternoon had been an uninterrupted satisfaction to
her. She attended the children's meeting, and it was perfectly amazing
to her newly awakened brain how many of the stories, used to point
truths for the children, touched home to her.

Dr. Hurlbut, of Plainfield, seemed to have especially planned his
address for the purpose of hitting at some of the markedly weak points
in her character, though no doubt the good man would have been utterly
amazed had he known her thoughts.

She listened and laughed with the rest over the story of the poor tailor
who promised a coat to a customer for one, two and three weeks, heaping
up his promises one on the other until he had a perfect pyramid of them,
only to topple about his ears. She heard with the rest the magnificent
voice ring out the solemn conclusion:

"Children, he did not mean to lie. He did not even think he was a liar.
He only _broke his promises_."

They all heard, and I don't know how many shivered over it, but I _do_
know that to Flossy Shipley it seemed as if some one had struck her an
actual blow. Was it possible that the easy sentences, the easy promises,
to "write," to "come," to "bring this," to "tell that," made so
gracefully, sounding so kindly, costing so little because forgotten
almost as soon as her head was turned away, actually belonged in that
list described by the ugly word "lie." Flossy had been a special sinner
in this department of polite wickedness because it just accorded with
her nature; such promises were so easy to make, and seemed to please
people, and were so easy to forget. Like the tailor, she hadn't meant to
be a liar, nor dreamed that she was one.

But her wide-open ears took it all in, and her roused brain turned the
thought over and over, until, be it known to you, that that girl's happy
pastor, when he receives from her a decided, "Yes, sir, I will do it,"
may rest assured that unless something beyond her control intervenes she
will be at her post.

So much did Dr. Hurlbut accomplish that afternoon without ever knowing
it. There were many things done that afternoon, I suspect, that only
the light of the judgement day will reveal. Over the story of the two
workmen, who each resolved to stick to a certain effort for six months,
and did it, the one earning thereby a patent right worth thousands of
dollars, and the other teaching a little dog how to dance to the
whistling of a certain tune, Flossy looked unutterably sober, while the
laughter swelled to a perfect roar around her. It was hard to feel that
not "six months" only, but a dozen years of intelligent life, were gone
from her, and she had not even taught a dog to dance a jig! That was the
very way she put it in her humility; and I do not say that she placed it
too low, because really I don't know that Flossy Shipley had _ever had_
even so settled a purpose in life as that! She had simply fluttered
around the edge of this solemn business that we call living.

But along with the sober thought glowed the earnest purpose: given
another dozen years to my young lady's life and they will bear a
different record; and whatever they bear, Dr. Hurlburt will be in a
sense responsible for, though he never saw her and probably never will.
Verily this living is a complicated bewildering thing Well for us that
_all_ the weight of the responsibility is not ours to bear.

There was still another story, and over it Flossy's lips parted, and her
eyes glowed with feeling. That wonderful machine that the most skillful
workmen tried in vain to repair, that was useless and worthless, until
the name of the owner was found on it, and he was sent for, then indeed
it found the master-hand, the only one who could right it; she did not
need Dr. Hurlbut's glowing application. "So He who made us, and engraved
his name, his image, on our bodies, can alone take our hearts and make
them right."

Flossy listened to this and the sentences that followed, thrilling her
heart with their power and beauty - thrilling as they would not have done
one week ago, for did she not know by actual experience just how blessed
a worker the great Maker was? Had she not carried her heart to him, and
had he not left his indelible impression there? Oh, this was a wonderful
meeting to Flossy - one that she will never forget - one that many others
will have reason to remember, because of the way in which she listened.
But was it not strange, the way in which her education was being cared
for?

After tea she stood at the entrance of the tent, looking out for the
girls - looking out, also, on the cool, quiet sunset and the glory spread
everywhere, for there had been sunshine that day, part of the time, and
there was a clear sun setting. Under her arm she held the treasure which
she had in the morning determined to possess - a good, plain, large-print
Bible, not at all like the velvet-covered one that lay on her
toilet-stand at home, but such as the needs of Bible students at
Chautauqua had demanded, and therefore much better fitted for actual
service than the velvet.

Among the many passers-by came Mrs. Smythe. She halted before Flossy.

"Good-evening. I thought your party must have left. I haven't seen you
since Thursday. Haven't you been fearfully bored? We are going to leave
on Monday morning - going to Saratoga. Don't some of you want to join us?

"I don't know," Flossy said, thoughtfully mindful of Ruth and her plan
that had not worked. "It is possible that Miss Erskine may. Do your
entire party go?"

"Oh, not my nephew, of course! Nothing could tear him away. He is
perfectly charmed with all this singing and praying and preaching, but I
confess it is too much of a good thing for me. I am not intellectually
inclined, I like the music very well, and some of the addresses are
fine; but there is such a thing as carrying meetings to excess."

At this point she turned quickly at the sound of a firm step behind her,
and greeted a young man.

"Speak of angels and you hear their wings, or the squeak of their
boots," she said. "We were just talking about you, Evan. My nephew, Mr.
Roberts, Miss Shipley. I believe you have never met before."

Had they not! There was a heightened flush on the cheek of each as they
shook hands. It was clear that each recognized the other.

"Are we strangers?" he asked, with a bright smile, speaking so low that
Mrs. Smythe, whose attention had already wandered from them to a group
who were passing, did not hear the words, "On the contrary, I think we
are related, though I do not know that we have happened to hear each
other's names before."

Flossy understood the relationship - sons and daughters of one
Father - for she knew this was the young man who had twice questioned her
concerning her allegiance to that Father. Also, she remembered him as
the only one whom she had ever heard pray for her.

Mrs. Smythe called out a gay good-evening to them, and joined a party of
friends, and Mr. Roberts leaned against a tree and prepared to cultivate
the acquaintance of his newly-found relative.

"You have one of those large, sensible-looking Bibles, I see," he said.
"I have been very much tempted, but I could not make myself feel that I
really needed one."

"I really needed mine," Flossy said, smiling. "I left my Bible at home.
I had not such a thought as bringing it along. I feel now as if I had a
treasure that I didn't know how to use. It is quite new to me. I don't
know where to read first, but I suppose it makes no difference."

"Indeed it does make great difference," he said, smiling, "and you will
enjoy finding out how to read it. Chautauqua is a good place for such a
study, and the Bible reading this evening is an excellent place to
commence. Are you going?"

"Yes, indeed!" Flossy said, with brightening eyes. "I have been looking
forward to it all day. I can't think what a Bible reading is. Do they
just read verses in the Bible?"

"Yes," he said, smiling. "It is just Bible verses, with a word of
explanation now and then and a little singing. But the Bible verses are
something remarkable, as you will see. It is nearly time for service.
Are you ready? Shall we walk down and secure seats?"

So they went down together it the early twilight, and took seats under
the trees amid the glowing of brilliant lights and the soft sound of
music coming from the piano on the stand.




CHAPTER XVIII.

THE SILENT WITNESS.


That Bible reading! I wish I could make it appear to you as it did to
Flossy Shipley. Not that either, because I trust that the sound of the
Bible verses is not so utterly new to you as it was to her - rather, that
it might sound to you as it did to the earnest-souled young man who sat
beside her, taking in ever; word with as much eagerness as if some of
the verses had not been his dear and long-cherished friends; nay, with
more eagerness on that account.

Do you know Dr. Parsons, of Boston? It was he who conducted that
reading, and his theme was, "The Coming of the Lord."

Let me give you just a few of the groupings as he called them forth
from his congregation under the trees, and which he called "the Lord's
own testimonies to his coming:"

"Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
"Therefore, be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the
Son of man cometh." "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor
the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." "Take ye heed, watch and pray:
for ye know not when the time is."

Four solemn warnings from the Head of the vineyard. They reached to
Flossy's very soul, and she had that old well-known thrill of feeling
that almost every Christian has some time experienced.

"If _I_ had only been there; if He had spoken such words to _me_, I
could never, never have forgotten, or been neglectful. If I could only
have heard Him speak!" And as if in answer to this longing cry Dr.
Parsons himself read the next solemn sentence, read it in such a way
that it almost seemed as if this might be the sacred garden, and
_Himself_ standing among the olive-trees speaking even to _her_:

"And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." Here, then, was her
direction from His own lips. Though centuries had passed since He spoke
them they echoed down to her. She was not overwhelmed; she was not
crushed by the new and solemn sense of her calling that flowed over her.
The Lord himself was there in every deed, and whispered in her ear, "It
is I, be not afraid." And her heart responded solemnly, "Aye, Lord, I
feel thy presence; I have been sleeping, but I am awake, and from
henceforth I _will_ watch."

That Bible reading was like a whole week of theological study to Flossy.
It was not that she learned simply about the blessed assurance, the
weight of testimony amounting to an absolute certainty, concerning the
coming of the Lord. But there were so many truths growing out from that,
so many incentives to be up and doing; for she found before the reading
closed that one must not only watch, but in the watching work; and there
were so many reasons why she should, and so many hints as to the way and
the time. Then there was, also, the most blessed discovery that the
Bible was not a book to treat like an arithmetic. That one must read
through the Book of Genesis, and then go on to Exodus, a chapter to-day,
two chapters to-morrow, and perhaps some days, when one was not in too
great a hurry and could read very fast, take half a dozen chapters, and
so get through it. But she learned that there were little connecting
links of sweetness all the way through the book; that she had a right to
look over in Revelation for an explanation of something that was stated
in Deuteronomy. She did not learn all this, either, at this one time;
but she got a vivid hint of it, strong enough to keep her hunting and
pulling at the lovely golden thread of the Bible for long years to come.

There were special points about the closing verses that throbbed in her
heart, and awakened purposes that never slept again. It was the
gentleman who sat beside her who read the solemn words of the verse:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the
heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt
with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall
be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and
godliness?"

His voice was very earnest, and his face had an eager look of solemn
joy.

From it she felt the truth that while the words which he had been
reading were full of solemnity, and while he felt the sense of
responsibility, there was also that in them which filled his heart with
great joy, for when that time should come would not he be with his Lord?

Again, when a little later he gave the closing verses of this wonderful
lesson, reading them from her Bible, because in the dimness the print
was larger and clearer than his own, they made the conclusion of the
whole matter:

"Ye are the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not
of the night, nor of the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do
others, but let us watch and be sober."

He marked it with his pencil as he finished reading, and as he returned
the book to her keeping he said with a smile:

"We will, shall we not?"

And it felt to Flossy like a convenant, witnessed by the Lord himself.
But Dr. Parsons, you know, knew nothing of all this. Chautauqua was the
place for sowing the seed; they could only hope that the Lord of the
vineyard was looking on and watching over the coming harvest; it was not
for their eyes to see the fruits.

Sunday morning at Chautauqua! None of all the many hundreds who spent
the day within the shadow of that sweet and leafy place have surely
forgotten how the quaint and quiet beauty of the place and its
surroundings fell upon them; they know just how the birds sang among
those tall old trees; they know just how still and blue and clear the
lake looked as they caught glimpses of it through the quivering green of
myriad leaves; they know just how clearly the Chautauqua bells cut the
air and called to the worship. It needs not even these few words to
recall the place in its beauty to the hearts of those who worshiped
there that day; and for you who did not see it nor feel its power there
is no use to try to describe Chautauqua. Only this, it is a place to
love and look back to with a sort of sweet and tender longing all your
lives.

Our girls felt somewhat of the sacredness of the place; at least they
went around with a more decided feeling that it was Sunday than they had
ever realized before. Three of them did.

To Flossy this day was like the revelation of a new heaven and a new
earth. Her first Sunday in Christ!

There was no sunshine, neither was there rain. Just a hush of all
things, and sweetness everywhere.

After breakfast Ruth and Marion lolled on their cots and studied the
programme, while the other two made hasty toilets, and announced their
intention of going to Sunday-school.

"What in the name of sense takes you?" queried Marion, rising on one
elbow, the better to view this strange phenomena.

"Why I have a mission," Eurie said. "About three thousand people have
been talking all this week about teaching a few Bible verses to some
children to-day, and I am going to find out what they are, and what is
so wonderful about them. Besides, I was taken for a being named Miss
Rider, and on inquiry I find her to be what they call an infant-class
teacher, so I am going to hunt her up and see if we look alike and are
affinities."

Flossy chose to make no answer at all, and presently the two departed


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