THE valley is broad and fertile, running east
and west. The first thing the sun does in the morning, after peeping
above the horizon, is to take a long, loving look up between the rows
of its bordering hills, and at night the last thing, before he makes
his bed in the cloud-drapery waiting to receive him, is to kiss with
his slanting rays what to him is the loveliest valley on this side the
earth. He sees lofty mountains, rugged cañons, rushing torrents-they
are sublime-this valley is simply beautiful. The stream that runs through
the center is limpid and in no hurry; for it winds in and out, brightening
and freshening the verdure. The mountains, north and south, are lofty
enough to be interesting; but they are not snowcapped, except in winter;
and their peaks are not unattainable, though their ascent is often wearisome.
Upon their slopes are many things to delight the lover of nature: First,
the trees-and who does not love them-then the grass, where the trees
have been removed; and, last of all, the flowers. A poet has said that
flowers are the smiles of God; and where do we find his "smiles" more
abundant and beautiful than in the woods and on the mountainside? There
are violets, and spring-beauties, and stars-of-Bethlehem, and dog-toothed
violets, and anemones, and trailing arbutus. To see Trailing Arbutus is
to love her. She is sweet and winsome, but shy. Unless you know her tricks
you may walk through the woods and smell her fragrant breath, but never
guess her hiding-place; indeed, you may trample upon her, and be all unconscious
of her whereabouts. She nestles at the foot of some great tree, and hides
beneath the dried leaves of the fall. There her vine trails, and her
little bells breathe out their sweetness and help to make the forest
what it is in spring-the most enchanting place of all the world, where
the mingled odors of flowers and trees and air, fresh from heaven, fill
one with an ecstasy of delight. Walk not with your eyes shut! Take your
stick and thrust the leaves aside, and learn the secret of the hiding-place
of trailing arbutus!
And, speaking of trees, there is one near the center
of this valley standing by a broad highway. It is the only shade-tree
in the region. Up and down the road are tall poplar-trees, like huge
umbrellas, selfishly closed, so that the shade is little more than that
cast by the telegraph and telephone poles that line the way. But this
tree is a wide-spreading elm,
like a generous family umbrella, lending shade to all who will come beneath.
Far across the road its branches stretch, on the one side and on the other,
far into the field. Here the weary, dusty traveler stops and rests,
and, if he is devout, thanks God for the shade; here parties of students
pause, as they return from their tours of exploration and inspiration;
here herds of cattle gather, and settle down during the heat of the noonday;
and in the branches above a whole village of birds live and do housekeeping,
and perhaps study political economy and sociology. This tree is God's
benediction; long may it stand!
A mile or two west of the tree is a little city of
about ten thousand inhabitants. It is an old place, and has a history
worthy of study. Many of its houses tell a story of the years gone
by, while by the side of these the shining modern structures stand,
as if the beginning and end of the century had gotten mixed and settled
down together. Nevertheless, it is quite up-to-date, and is the center
of a vast marketing area that makes it one of the richest towns in the
valley. Moreover, manufactories have found their way here, and send up
from their tall chimneys the smoke of thrift, that means that many a
man is able to provide for his little ones the necessities and luxuries
of life. And more than this, there is a college here, lending a moral
interest and dignity to the place, to say nothing of the physical beauty
of its leafy campus or of the varied magnificence of its buildings. This
is Darnforth College, in the town of Darnforth.
Taking the college, with its Faculty and equipments;
the little city with its thrift and advantages of many kinds, such as
churches, libraries, and historic suggestion; the vast valley, of which
the town is the center, where all is inviting and peaceful and helpful,-it
would seem that there could be no better place for a boy, fresh from
home, at a period when body, mind, and soul are ripe for impressions.
Among those who might have been found at this institution
of learning a few years ago was a Mr. Wilding, a young man not quite
eighteen years of age. His signature was always "W. W. Wilding," because
he was somewhat ashamed of the high-sounding combination that had been
assigned to him soon after his entry into the world. His name, when
all spelled out, read "William Winifred Wilding." His home was in a
flourishing city not more than a hundred miles from the metropolis of
the State. His parents were wealthy; and, besides, they united in one
current two family streams, recognized to be among the purest in the country.
Hence the young man had the "bluest" blood flowing through his veins.
In addition to this he had something that many persons esteem of more
value; he possessed a "presence." He was five feet eleven inches tall,
and weighed one hundred and eighty pounds, but without an ounce of superfluous
flesh, so well-proportioned was he. His face was full and fair. There
was in his demeanor a suggestion of calm and self-poise, not often found
in one of his age, that inspired confidence or fear in those with whom
he came in contact, according to circumstances.
"Win," as he was familiarly known among his closest
friends, had accomplished his preparation for college partly through
the instrumentality of the local high school and partly through the assistance
of a tutor. His ambition had been to attend one of the widely-known universities.
There had been some thought of sending him to the college at the metropolis
not many miles away, but there were some things against a mere boy going
alone into a great city to study. Hence, after much deliberation, Darnforth
had been selected, somewhat against his own will because it was not one
of the big colleges. But almost everything from the standpoint of the
parents was in its favor: the Faculty was good; there was opportunity
to develop individuality, for the number of students in attendance was
comparatively small; and the distance of the college from home was just
right-far enough to make it unhandy for too frequent journeys, but near
enough for a speedy home-coming when necessity might demand it. Their
choice was undoubtedly wise, but in another direction they erred, for
they allowed him fifteen hundred dollars a year "pocket money."
MONUMENTS attesting the antiquity
of Darnforth were exhibited with pride, such as a stump upon which
George Washington had once rested after a long journey, and a log-cabin
(now destroyed) in which the great general had dined. There were also
several buildings that had upon them marks of a later period of history.
Besides, this town embraced among its children many of the oldest families
of the State, and its "society" was extremely exclusive. Hence, it can
be readily understood that few of the college boys were on a social plane
sufficiently elevated to permit them to mingle with this American aristocracy,
"they were such a promiscuous lot;" only those who brought with them
the twin talismans, money and blood.
Not all who attended this institution desired to
become a part of the exalted society of which the town was proud. Previous
training and inclination, in some instances, were against it. Many who
came never thought of it at all; indeed, did not know of its existence.
They had no money to spare; their blood was the ordinary kind that runs
red when a finger is cut; their taste was at fault. Then the college was
sufficient unto itself in this direction; the most charming associations
could be formed. It might be said that the picked young men were here;
for, in a sense, college illustrates the law of the survival of the fittest.
Many who would enter these sacred portals fell by the wayside. In addition
to this, the institution was coeducational, and hence the society was
mixed. Here the young men and women met together in the classroom under
the same professors.
Many speak against this modern educational innovation,
and some of the arguments employed have force. Young people are susceptible,
and as they fall into each other's company they are apt to fall into
something else. And it is said, by those who know, that love in such
circumstances is not conducive to study. But undoubtedly college life
has been helpfully modified by the presence of ladies. This was only the
second year of the experiment at Darnforth. The good work had started,
but had not, as yet, accomplished its best results. Nevertheless, it was
the exception to note a pair of boots that were unpolished or a head that
had not been carefully combed. Many other reforms were well under way,
reforms that were little thought of at the time, which in their completion
would be identical with revolution. The "Co-eds," as the girls were irreverently
termed, were from the good solid families of the State. They were the
daughters of ministers and pious laymen; they were the young women who
could be trusted and who had ambition to study what their brothers were
The "upper ten" of the town looked down with something
approaching scorn upon the college society, and especially upon the
poor "Co-ed." No girls from that lofty set had ever brought shame upon
the family name by attending a mixed school. If they went to college-a
place that few of them ever graced-it was to one exclusively for ladies.
But most of them went to some noted finishing school where beautiful
and wonderful things were studied. The college girls, on their part,
had no very kind feelings towards this town set, for they knew that
they were looked upon as outcasts. The young man who
associated with them, as a rule, had the portal of "society" shut in
his face, and forever!
It will be understood that Win Wilding entered
this exclusive circle even more readily than he had matriculated after
his college examinations; for in the latter case "conditioned" was written
opposite his name, but in the former there were no requisitions. He
was welcomed, without a question, and with open arms.
In the freshman class was
another man with whose after history this story will be concerned.
He was almost the direct antipode of Wilding in many respects. His
parents were of the great "middle class" of society, and were not educated
in any book sense. They were not poor, strictly speaking, but were
earning their money, and spending it, too, as they went. Nevertheless
they had determined that their son should have the advantage of that which
had been denied them; hence they saved and denied themselves that he,
Manly E. Scott, might go to college. Scott was rather short in stature,
had a small weazened face, much freckled, but he was so full of honest
merriment that one soon forgot his utter lack of good looks and was compelled
to like him. At this time he did not possess any great ambition, for
he had not been awakened; but he had sense enough to keep up with his
class. Down deep in his heart might have been found, if one could have
entered without his knowledge, the home of a feeling which, if expressed,
would have been something like this: "College is the greatest place on
earth in which to have a good time;" and that was, more than apparently,
the beginning and end of his collegiate ambition. Though he was not entirely
deprived of spending money, yet he was under the necessity of husbanding
that which he had, in order that it might go further and that he might
obtain the maximum good time at the minimum expenditure.
Scott is not to be misjudged. He had in him wonderful
possibilities. He could make of himself the worst and lowest, thus becoming
instrumental in helping to drag down those about him; or he could make
of himself the highest and noblest, with the power to lift up many
who otherwise would sink and be lost. At present he was not far from
the parting of the ways, though perhaps his feet already had started
of themselves on the downward track, and, unless something intervened
to prevent his downward acceleration, must increase according to the
laws of gravitation of the moral world.
There are many young men like Scott, condemned or
ignored by the high-minded. Tactfully touched and wisely led, they would
become a blessing to the world; let alone by the pure and good, they grow
naturally worse, and become a curse to themselves and their friends.
It will be the purpose of this narrative, in part,
to describe the life of Scott; how he was called to a halt; how be
reached the other path; and how remarkably he was led. And through it
all it should be borne in mind that he was without money; that his family
were without "blood;" and that there were many things in the line of
heredity that were sadly against him. His brother, for instance, older
by ten years, seemed to receive some of the unpleasant traits from his
ancestors; and while he was tall and comely, and had learned a trade
and was earning a good living, a part of which more than once found its way
to Darnforth to help the young brother along, yet he lacked many of the
finer qualities, without which a man is poor indeed, and among these
a fine sense of discernment. But we must not anticipate.
We become acquainted with Scott as a little, freckled-faced
fellow, without ambition, but with a large amount of something that
will become tact as his character broadens, and a bright sunny nature
that will make him a favorite wherever he goes, into whatever society
he may be thrown.
This greeting Scott received one day late in October
from a student whose name was Randall, but who responded to the nickname
"Roxy," because he came from the little town of Roxboro, down in the
corner of a neighboring State. By a peculiar use of metonymy he was
called for the town of his birth. Roxy's message was not such that it
could be communicated over intervening space; hence Scott waited for his
friend to catch up with him, and then the two walked arm-in-arm together
down the campus in whispered conversation which was frequently punctuated
by shouts of merriment on the part of the listener. Roxy and Scott belonged
to the same fraternity.
Roxy Randall had little standing at college and less
money, and no "family," so to speak, and why he came to college at
all was a mystery even to his closest companions. He was thirty years
of age, but no boy of fifteen could be more reckless and thoughtless
than he. His fun, as he called it, was of the lowest type. The fraternity
chapter to which he belonged was a mixed one, and at that time it was
not an honor to be a member.
Roxy had a scheme on hand for Halloween, and was
letting Scott into it; though it affected the latter's risibilities,
be it said to his credit, when it came to participating, he bluntly
refused and remained firm. Randall was quite angry when he found that
his "fraternity" brother would not enter into his plans, and went away
muttering something about like this: "When there was fun on hand that
was fun, there were too many babies around; they ought to be in the kindergarten
instead of college." But Scott was not a baby in any sense, and Randall
knew that he was as brave as a lion when occasion demanded.
Halloween was on Friday that year. The next morning,
when the first chapel-bell rang, the throng of students gathered about
the door in the hall, but no one entered. Each new-comer tried the door,
shrugged his shoulders, and took his place in the crowd. The first member
of the Faculty to appear was the president, a grand man, a true scholar
and noble gentleman, but growing old, and now far too gentle to cope
with some of the men who delighted in his discomfiture. He knew at a
glance that something was wrong, but walked unflinchingly up to the door.
"What was the matter?" Of course no one knew. They never do on such occasions.
"Had not the door been unlocked?" "O yes; 'Sprad,' the janitor, had
unlocked it, but was not able to open!" There was a moment of indecision;
then a look of purpose came upon the face of the president; a whispered
consultation with some of the members of the Faculty, who had in the
meantime arrived on the scene; then there was a procession up the stairs
to the gallery doors, led by the Faculty. What a sight met their gaze!
The room below was piled up with lath. The aisles were full, the seats
were full, the doors were barricaded with them, and, in every case, the
cord that had fastened the bundle together had been severed!
There was at this time, in process of erection on
the campus, a new chapel; it had reached the stage just before lath and
plaster were to be applied, and, consequently, there were many bundles
of lath in the vicinity. Some persons had spent the dark watches of
the night stealthily carrying these bundles into the chapel. After all
had been properly placed, an exit had been made by means of a window
which had been left open by the culprits as they dropped to the ground.
"Dockey," as the president was irreverently called
by some, in absentia, turned round, his face livid with some
kind of emotion, and said, his voice trembling, "Gentlemen, you may go
to your rooms!" It required the labor of two men the whole day to tie
and replace the lath. Though efforts were made by the authorities to
apprehend the miscreants, they were futile. Those interested in this
midnight lath party considered that they had found pleasure.
BEFORE describing another
kind of Halloween party held that same night, it will be desirable
to get a glimpse of some of those who were present.
Andrews was a young man of twenty-eight, a natural
evangelist, studying for the ministry. His success in the line for
which nature had especially endowed him was so great that it became
a temptation. It was pleasanter and more exciting for him to go off
and hold a week's revival-meetings than it was to dig in the books
and lectures that were to furnish his mind for his great life's work.
He often came back to college with a hundred dollars in his pocket and
a hundred souls "to his credit" as a result of a week's work, and then
his mind would be so filled with visions and with such ecstasies of joy
that his college work amounted to but little. He did finally complete
his course and manage to graduate, but it is doubtful if he had laid
any real foundations for the future work to stand upon. What a handsome
man he was! Dark eyes and dark hair; magnificent to look upon! When
he spoke, his eyes seemed to flash fire, and he drew men and women to
himself by the power of his personal magnetism. God had richly endowed
Pierson was the son of a farmer. His ambition was
medicine, and it was not his desire to waste time at college; but his
wise mother insisted on a liberal-arts training first, and he was reluctantly
yielding to her will. Any one who saw him understood that his mother was
right; he was rawboned, awkward, and uncouth in the extreme, and needed
polish first of all. He possessed a certain characteristic not uncommon
in these days; namely, the amusing impression that he was fine looking,
and irresistible to the ladies. Nevertheless, he was sound in principle,
and was altogether a sturdy fellow. Moreover, he was a good student and
remarkably even-tempered. When there was a laugh at his expense, no
one joined in more heartily than himself, and thus he made men like him.
Ready cash was sometimes scarce at his home, as is often the case with
farmers; hence, when a bill came due for the boy at college, more than
once the father was compelled to sell a cow or some other stock to obtain
the money. It was then that it appeared to the old man that he was supporting
his boy in idleness and luxury, and that the farm was being eaten up.
He was permitted to live to see the day when he could rejoice at the sacrifices
he had made.
Walter Retlaw loved popularity. This was his curse,
as it is of many a man, in school and out. Never did truer people live
than his parents. They were wrapped up in Walter, their only child, and
there was no sacrifice, on his behalf, too great for them to make. Walter
was a bright-faced, sunny-haired boy, who won men at sight. He was gifted,
and might have led his class with ease, but be would not study. Nearly
every morning he would rush into the room of a "fraternity" brother,
and implore him to translate his Latin or Greek; or he would copy from
him the problems in mathematics or physics. He possessed a good voice,
and was a candidate for a position on the Glee Club when a vacancy should
occur; was a musician, and had already been received into the Banjo Club;
was an all-around athlete, and soon revealed himself to be the best baseball
fielder in the institution, and by his skill he compelled the athletic
authorities to make him half-back on the college football team in his
freshman year, an occurrence unique in the history of the college. Walter
was at one time by far the most popular man in college; but his popularity
spoiled him. He was "plucked" at the end of his freshman year; returned
as a special student without class; but towards the close of the year
he ceased attending lectures and quizzes, and went home before Commencement,
in order to comply with the special and polite, though urgent, request
of the Faculty.
Schwartz was a resident of the town. A widowed mother
and two sons composed the family. Their means were small, and in order
that they might be kept together and that the boys might obtain the
education they craved, they were compelled to practice the strictest
economy. They lived modestly in a little house on a back street, and
perhaps not one of the great society lights of the town knew of their
existence. Yet the two Schwartz boys had entered college in the fall heavily
conditioned in Greek; before Christmas their requisitions were a thing
of the past; and in June, of the same year the prize for scholarship was
awarded to the two jointly. The one introduced here was bashful in the
extreme, and felt that he lacked social qualifications; hence it was his
desire to cultivate himself so that he might overcome this misfortune.
He went to parties and receptions among the college families just as conscientiously
as he attended to his college duties.
Grandison was a man whom to know was to love. His
was one of those transparent natures that are as rare as beautiful. He
was somewhat under height and inclined to be a little heavy for his stature,
but muscular rather than fat. He was one of those who can not do a thing
half way. He was rather slow to enter upon a matter, but most earnest
in its prosecution. He could not be termed a remarkable scholar; nature
had not endowed him with that unusual qualification that makes it easy
for a man to shine in the realm of scholarship; indeed, be was a plodder,
but not of the ordinary type, for persistent toil was to him a delight.
This characteristic made him attractive in everything that he undertook.
He was an attractive Christian, an attractive athlete, an attractive
student, and a delightsome friend and companion. All this, and more,
was Grandison; yet he was without special gifts in most lines. He won
his way in every instance by his frankness and genuineness and by his
purpose to do his best. If he had been permitted to complete his college
course, there is no doubt his life would have been successful in the best
Kenneth was a minister's son, preparing to enter
the bar, but determined to be God's servant there; and Moon was a bright
lad from the East, also a minister's son, who had many delightful characteristics,
but who was destined to develop into something sublime when once he
was awakened and started aright.
Then there were the girls. The "Co-eds:" Miss
VanDerveer, a flaxen-haired beauty, who was the means of, breaking
more than one heart, and never knew it; Miss Gould, whose name should
have been spelled without the "u," for she was pure gold. She was small
of stature and most unassuming, but consecrated and entirely without superfluous
thought of self. After the most thorough equipment, she gave herself to
the missionary cause, and, not many years after, her pure soul went back
to its Maker from the heart of the Dark Continent. Miss Brighton comes
next. Her name, too, is suggestive, for, if an "e" were added, it would
have told a true story. She had dark hair and eyes, the latter snapping
with merriment and delight, and in the class-room, often, with eagerness.
Miss Holmes must be presented; but it is more difficult to describe her.
She is a charming representative of those unfortunates who do not always
make the best impression on first acquaintance, but grow upon one as one
becomes accustomed to them, learns the cadences of their voice, discovers
the meaning of the glance of the eye, associates together the soul within
and the form and face of beauty without. We shall perhaps come to know
her better. Several of the town girls who were not college students might
be presented if space permitted. They were of the sensible sort, who understood
the true worth of the best college society and its advantages, and who
deliberately chose it in preference to the more brilliant and flashy
circle. Miss Bruce was one of these girls, quiet and modest, the daughter
of a local merchant. Her beautiful home was always open to the "Co-eds"
and their friends, and many happy evenings were spent under its hospitable
THIS Halloween party, one
of the old-fashioned kind, was given at the residence of Miss Bruce.
It will be quite easy to feel at home here, for we have already met enough
of the guests to take away that strange and uncomfortable feeling that
will obtrude when one is thrown among those with whom one has no acquaintance.
With the exception of the few ladies from the town, those fortunate
enough to be invited were all of the college community. In some respects
it was a peculiar gathering. Purely social distinctions were unknown,
and this was the remarkable and beautiful characteristic of this particular
"set." Besides personal desirability and delightful individuality, the
only qualification required to admit the young men to this charmed circle
was true gentlemanliness. Money and family were the last things thought
of by these interesting young people.
At this particular gathering there were one or two
present who were known to be comfortable as far as this world's goods
were concerned. Several were from good substantial families, though
they did not parade that fact. But more than one of the guests were
earning their own way through college, and more than one knew what it
meant to pinch and worry to make the proverbial "both ends meet," and
there was one who had borrowed the coat he wore because his own was too
shabby! But that was by no means a remarkable occurrence. There is a
kind of community of interests at a college where they are fortunate enough
to enjoy the old dormitory system. To borrow articles of wearing apparel
from each other is not at all unusual. Dress suits and patent-leather
shoes are most frequently in demand. One young man at this college, whenever
he went to call on a certain lady one fall, invariably drew on his chum
for his light overcoat, which was much finer than his own. It was here
that a student was discovered vainly endeavoring to crowd a number eight
foot into the number six patent-leather pump of a friend. One man was
present at this function who had not sufficient funds at his command to
permit him to board out. He supplied himself with what he considered
the necessities of life in his own room at an expense so insignificant
that it would seem ridiculous to many. He grew thinner and whiter as the
years went by, but conquered at last, and lived, to reap the reward of
his noble self-sacrifice.
This party was given by the ladies of the group.
There was, an understanding that they were to manage the indoor gatherings,
while the "walks" or "tramps" and the excursions by wagon and train,
to say nothing of the sleighing parties in season, were to be in charge
of the young men. The girls, feeling that they had the easier end of
the burden, would sometimes steal a march on the boys in their particular
domain. For instance, on one occasion, when there was to be an excursion
by rail to a nearby place of note, the girls scurried to the station far
in advance of the rest of the party, and secured, not only their own tickets,
but those for the whole company. In the present affair all the arrangements
had been made in advance. To the girls it was a sort of a campaign,
and they were the generals. It was decreed that every one must have
a good time; there should be no exceptions. Hence it was arranged that
they should take turn about in endeavoring to make that "poor, bashful
Mr. Schwartz have a good time." It was self-sacrificing and by no means
easy; but when the evening was spent, they undoubtedly felt well and
slept the better for it. Mr. Schwartz went home that night with a happy
feeling in the region of his heart. As he crept into bed by the side of
his sick brother, who had been unable to sleep, he told him that he had
never spent such a delightful evening in his life, and that he felt he
was making appreciable progress in social lines. Blessings on the girls!
A large part of the time was spent in conversation
and singing. At times, when there was a lull, some especially brilliant
conversationalist would entertain the whole company; at other times
they would break up into little conversation groups. There is a decline
in the ability, as well as the desire, to converse in these days. There
ought to be a school to cultivate love for this lost art and skill
in its use. An evening is voted dull if there is nothing but "talk,"
and there would be reason for this decision if it were the average "light
talk" of the present. A truly bright, modest conversationalist is rare
indeed. The men seem especially at fault. But most of the young people
in this circle were artists in this direction, unconscious of their art.
A guest of Miss Bruce, a young lady from a distant State, was particularly
impressed with the remarkable ability displayed this night, and she could
not refrain from expressing herself. "I am not one of the class that
are ever finding things abroad better than those at home, but an evening
like this would be impossible where I live. The men would not submit
"Why, just make them submit to it; that is the way
we do here," was the laughing response of Miss Brighton.
"That is all very well for you to say. But how can
we do it? We are human, and we want the young men to call; but unless
we entertain them with cards or some novelty, they pronounce the evening
a failure,-and soon we notice that their calls are falling off."
"Entertain them with music," suggested Miss Gould.
"You know that music hath charms to soothe even the savage breast; surely
it would be appreciated by your enlightened gallants."
"I was just going to remark that they do not care
for much music, and then it is this wild, present-day kind, and the songs
they applaud are the silly, nonsensical ones. Instrumental music always
has one outcome-dancing. Our men will not talk; they wish to be amused
and entertained like a parcel of children!"
Miss Hamilton became quite animated as she continued.
It evidently was a delicate subject with her, and if some of the society
men of her own home could have seen and heard her then, they would
not have felt complimented. This young woman spoke fluently four modern
languages besides her own, having spent four years of her childhood
abroad, and possessed skill and vivacity and knowledge enough to be
at ease in the most intellectual circles.
"This may mean a deterioration of a part of the brain
in certain classes of men, and it may account in part. for their absence
from church. Since their brain is at fault, the average Church service
is too much like the one-sided conversation that is so distasteful
"If the young women of your home are like yourself,
Miss Hamilton, I do not admire the taste of the men." Kenneth was speaking.
"They do not appreciate their privileges. Now, here we are compelled
to talk once in a while-shall I say for self-defense-and we have gotten
so that we like it pretty well. But our happiness is greatest when we
can sit quietly in some easy-chair while the girls do the talking."
"O, Mr. Kenneth!" (Chorus of girls' voices.)
Thus the conversation ran. There were several good
singers present, and the music was inspiring. About ten o'clock refreshments
were served; then the old-time fun began. Many of the tricks of the
Halloweens of long ago were indulged in with an abandon that would
have done credit to a lot of children. When the hour came to depart,
all were sorry, and there was not a single unpleasant thought that went
to bed with any tired one of them as a result of the evening's innocent
But this was the last time that Walter Retlaw was
ever included among the members, of this charmed circle, for reasons
that will develop. It was indeed a charmed circle, in which genuine, intellectual,
social pleasures were enjoyed.
DOWN town, in a little parlor
over the ice-cream saloon most frequently patronized by the college
students, was another affair. This was an informal dance and card-party
combined. Some mild claret was served. It was gotten up by one "set"
of town girls. They were not of the society class referred to previously,
nor of the ordinary solid members of the community against whom the
doors of said society were shut because money or family or time or some
other requisite was wanting. They were not evil in their intentions;
they were in no sense criminal nor bad at heart; they were simply frivolous.
Their kind may be found in most localities; going to seed on the subject
of dress; sometimes sensible in their behavior, but, in the company of
the opposite sex, giggling and silly. They were of the class known in
some places as the "giddy girls." Scott is the only one of our acquaintances
included in this company. He was the favorite of the fair, fluffy-haired
daughter of the dealer in frozen dainties.
The game here was poker with pennies. The girls were
fascinated with it and with their own temerity-actually to play for
money; but nothing would induce them to go any higher. It would not
have been wise for many of them to risk more, for the money supply was
limited. But the excitement was great and the fun high. At the close
of the game Scott and Miss Flossie found themselves quite rich in copper
When they danced it was usually the waltz. Scott
was light in weight, but muscular, and grace and agility were as natural
to him as to the cat, and he had waltzed from a child; when and where
he had learned he did not remember, and Miss Flossie said it was "like
a dream to be led by him" in the magic, misty maze of the "one, two,
three." Next to the waltz it was the simple "Virginia reel" that was
most popular. It was more like a childish romp than a dance, and it
brought the blood to the cheeks and the flash to the eye. There was something
else, half-way between a dance and a game, that they indulged in. They
called it "Wild Irishman." One young lady played a march on the piano;
that left one young man to spare. He was the Wild Irishman. The rest
of the company, in pairs, marched around him till he cried "Grand change!"
Then they kept on performing the ordinary grand change, till suddenly
he called, "Promenade all!" Then there was a scramble on the part of
the men for partners, the Wild Irishman among the rest. Of course one
man was sure to be left alone, and he became the new Wild Irishman. There
was excitement in this pastime.
Conversation was at a discount here; time was too
short; there was little inclination. When there was any, it was of the
common kind; but after the dance was over, it was pleasant and thrilling,
to more than one girl, to be led out under the stars and have sweet compliments
whispered in the ear.
Nothing very wicked was done or said; but a great
many foolish things were indulged in, and the whole evening was spent
in such a light and frivolous manner that there was nothing of unmixed
good done or suggested; and it might be said that positive evil was the
result to nearly every one present.
It was in the "wee sma' hours" when this little party
disbanded, with the decided impression that they had had a good time.
There was a great building
in town, known as the armory, with an immense floor space, which was
the only place adapted to dancing on a grand scale. Among the society
people of the region was an organization known as the "Cotillion Club,"
which gave a dance in the armory every three or four months. Between
the hours of eight and nine this same night (Halloween) coaches could be
seen driving up to this building, and elegantly attired ladies with their
escorts alighting therefrom and entering the huge portals. Among the
later arrivals was young Wilding, and with him a lady of evident beauty
and refinement, though her bearing indicated that she was somewhat haughty.
Miss Biddle was from one of the oldest families of the State, and her
father was considered wealthy in the extreme.
This young couple had been exceptionally honored
this evening, for they were to lead the german. This privilege seemed
by right to belong to the older members of the club, and never before
had a freshman been so exalted, and only once before a college student
of any class; but, then, Wilding was recognized by all to be entirely
out of the ordinary run of students. From a society standpoint the evening
was a great success. The daily paper said that this was "the swellest
function that had ever been held in the city." The music was all that
could be desired, the ladies were beautiful and graceful and elegantly
gowned, the men were gallant, the caterer was the best that could be procured,
and he had surpassed all previous efforts in the culinary line. In a
word, the beauty, wealth, and blood of the city were present. The result
could be inferred by all who were acquainted with Darnforth. Not one of
the many present would have confessed to his nearest friend that he did
not have a glorious time.
When Walter Retlaw left Miss
Bruce's after the regulation party "good-byes" had been said, it was
not to seek his room and his slumbers, but to go to a place of rendezvous
a little way out of town in the athletic field belonging to the college.
This field was surrounded by a high board fence, and was just the place
for the kind of meeting in contemplation. He met several young men
as he entered the gate, but none of them has in any way made himself a
part of this narrative, as individual. After Retlaw's arrival, there
were a few who came up from the ice-cream saloon gathering, and several
from the lath party. Among the latter was Roxy Randall. This crowd that
gathered here so late was a congenial one, and they styled themselves
"The Sunrise Club." This was Retlaw's first meeting and initiation.
The organization was a loose one, and its object unique; its members
were to celebrate every special occasion by sitting up till the rising
of the sun, and by drinking beer and strong drinks, and by indulging
in shocking and nameless orgies. In warm weather they preferred to meet
the coming of the orb of day out-of-doors, as it were face to face; in
cold weather they were compelled to find a room somewhere, in which they
might safely indulge themselves in their own peculiar and, to them, fascinating
This night was one of those mild and balmy ones,
a few of which sometimes bless the world the last of October. The weather
seemed to those who were out the most perfect of all the year. The
moon was at the full, or nearly so, and appeared to look down in calm
horror upon what it saw; but the moon tells no tales. When separating
time came, not one of these youths was in a rational state of mind, and
several had to be escorted to their respective places; but they were unanimous
in the opinion that they had had a jolly good time, and those who. were
able went off singing:
"Landlord, fill the flowing bowl
Until it doth run over,
For to-night we'll merry be;
To-morrow we'll be sober."
Not a few of them had heavy heads and watery
eyes and uncertain speech for more than a day.
There was no good reason why Walter Retlaw should
have been in this crowd. He was not, by nature or choice, of their stamp.
But he was good company; he was full of fun and life; he could sing
and do many other things that make a fellow a desirable companion. The
Sunrise Club had taken a fancy to him. They saw that he would be a
genuine acquisition; hence they invited him to join. He had compunctions
of conscience, though he showed them not. He preferred other things,
but he could not persuade himself to make these rough men turn away
from him and dislike him. He wanted the friendship of all, good and
bad alike. He was not man enough to be willing to take the enmity of
some men because he could not accept their friendship without compromising
himself. Hence he thanked them for their kindness, but told them he
had another engagement for the evening. When they made him understand
that evening engagements would not stand in the way, that most of the
club had them for the early hours, he immediately accepted, and felt a
kind of elation; for he was keen to scent a compliment. Thus it was
that he became a member of the Sunrisers. It ought to be said to his
credit that he had not perfectly understood the nature of the entertainment
indulged in by the club. But when it revealed itself to him, he had not
the strength to leave in disgust; for that would have brought upon him
their hatred and scorn, disagreeable things which he was unwilling to
The lot of a man with the love of popularity as his
chief motive, truly is not a happy one!
THE circle of young people
that met at Miss Bruce's was an ideal one. Nothing of the conventional
not in harmony with common sense was found in it. Since the days of
the happy meetings of congenial literary folk in old England, there
have been, perhaps, no more perfectly agreeable and helpful gatherings than
those of this circle; and more, they were as clear and pure and bright
as the sunshine itself. The men and women who were fortunate enough to
be included, as they look back over the years, can remember not the slightest
trace of anything at any time that was promotive, or even suggestive,
of evil thought or intent. And yet it was not in any sense a Young Men's
or Women's Christian Association, and neither profession of religion
nor Church membership was ever a test of admission. It was a perfectly
free and natural associating together of congenial spirits. It was not
a clan nor a clique, for there were perfect good will towards all others
and unrestrained intercourse with them. It is most difficult by mere
words to convey exactly what this charmed circle was; for it was without
organization; without officers; without constitution, laws, or membership
roll. It was constantly changing as to its circumference, but its heart
at the center seldom was affected. There was never an act of exclusion
that kept any individual out. Frequently new faces would appear; if they
belonged there by nature, they were sure to be seen again; otherwise
it was not a matter of surprise to any if that was the last of them. Now
and again an old face gradually faded away, and at last disappeared, as
in the case of Retlaw. The word "affinity" would explain the situation
better than any other one word or group of words.
One day in November, soon after the events just narrated,
it was decided to take a Saturday tramp. "Tramps," or walking excursions,
were quite frequent in the proper season, and were always productive
of good, physically and mentally. The fresh air, the exercise, and the
perfect freedom from responsibility were blessings to these hardworking
folk. Most students, unless they are among the athletes, are in danger
of neglecting the physical side of their nature. They do not take enough
exercise; they do not get enough air fresh from the laboratories of
heaven. As a result, they suffer all the rest of their natural life.
They have indigestion, or torpid liver, or headache, with a train of attendant
evils. These "tramps" were the weapons used by this crowd of young
people to combat the tendency to stick to books exclusively. They scoured
the country in every direction, and what they did not know about the region
was probably unknown to the oldest inhabitant. They would walk all day,
taking quantities of food with them, which they would often supplement
at a farmhouse with an abundance of rich sweet milk.
The men of the circle went further than this in their
love of the favorite mode of exercise. They had three circuits measured
out along the country roads. One was three miles around, taking the
first cross-road; the second was six miles, taking the next road; and
the third was about nine miles, taking the third cross-road. On moonlight
nights, when they could arrange it, they would start out at eight o'clock
at the earliest, but sometimes as late as ten o'clock, and take one
of these three routes, according to the time they bad. They would usually
start out quite leisurely, but gradually increase their speed till they
were on a good run; but for the greater part of the way they would trot.
When they returned, they would be tired, but full of oxygen and ready
to fall asleep the moment their heads touched the pillow.
This Saturday's tramp had been planned days ahead,
and much pleasure was anticipated; but on Friday night the rain began
to fall, and it continued all night. The group in chapel gave evidence
of disappointment, and a consultation was held immediately after the
exercises closed. Happily the sun came out while they were at prayers,
and the wind began to blow, and with the wind came a sense of cooling
which grew more manifest as the moments passed.
Kenneth took the floor immediately and said, "Now
that the sun has proven himself to be on our side by his coming out just
on time, I move, that we go!"
There were some murmurs of approval; but Miss VanDerveer
interrupted the applause that was about to break forth by saying, "It
is out of the question for the ladies to go because of the mud."
Andrews joined in: "No one has anticipated this day
with greater pleasure than I have; but I believe that we should look
the matter squarely in the face. We are not children, and there are other
days to follow this one. Miss VanDerveer is right, as she usually is. I
move that we let Nature decide for us, as she has already done in the
words of her daughter. Let us abide by her decision and give up the 'tramp.'
Pierson was very much influenced by Kenneth, and
also by Andrews, but he rose to his feet nevertheless. "My desire seconds
Mr. Kenneth, but my better judgment seems to say that Miss VanDerveer
and Andrews are right. Let us leave it to the ladies instead of Nature.
You know, as far as I am personally concerned, I should not be afraid
to go in the rain. I have worked in the field many a time all day in
the wet, and am none the worse for it now, as far as I can see."
"I am not so sure of that," said Moon. "I believe
that is the reason you are so thin. All the best flesh of your early
youth was washed off." There was an audible smile at this little pleasantry,
in which Pierson joined the loudest.
At this juncture Miss Gould cried out enthusiastically,
"Let us go. I am not afraid. I think it would be a novelty and do us
"No, dear girl," said Miss Holmes, "I am sure that
you are not afraid of anything, and I should gladly second the motion
to go, even in the mud or the rain, but since I am a town girl as well
as a 'Co-ed,' I have others to consult besides myself, and this morning
as I came into the breakfast-room my father looked up at me with a twinkle
in his eye and said, 'You can not possibly think of going to-day, dear,'
and I had too much sense to intimate anything to the contrary. If it
is left to me, I am afraid that it means remain home, 'willy nilly.'
Miss Brighton's eyes had been snapping during all
this consultation, and now she could contain herself no longer. "Let us
hear what Mr. Kenneth has to say in support of his motion. I know that
he has something back of it, or he would not have made it."
"Kenneth!" "Kenneth!" came from all over the room.
"My suggestion is a very simple one, so simple indeed
that I feel that even Mr. Holmes, who is so rightly careful of his
daughter's health, would not object. I believe that we will all agree
that we could follow the railroad track westward, a region hitherto
unexplored by us, and one that I have been waiting to investigate on
just such a day as this. Besides, the wind blows so gloriously that it
will be possible to return by another route if we prefer."
"The railroad track, on its wooden, iron back!" sang
"All in favor run for your things, and be here on
the west end of the campus in thirty minutes," was the unique order put
by Andrews, the self-appointed chairman of the meeting for the moment.
Then there was a scampering in every direction, for
all the world like a conclave of rats broken up by the appearance of
Sir Thomas Cat. Minutes before the time-limit all were present, with Mr.
Scott, who for some reason had been included to-day for the first time.
Everything had been in readiness, and all they had to do was to pick
up their baskets and traps and run. Mrs. Holmes's last words to her daughter
were, "Keep your eyes well open for the trains!" And the reply was, "Yes,
mother dear, we will; but we all know the schedule, and there is not
the slightest danger." Nevertheless, to insure perfect safety, a signal
was agreed upon, a long, loud whistle, and those in the front and rear
at any time were to be the sentinels to warn the others.
It was the greatest day they ever had. The wind
blowing a gale seemed to bring new life and fresh spirits. The world
is divided into three classes as to their feelings towards the wind.
Some love it, some dread it, and others are entirely indifferent to it.
To those who love it, there comes an ecstasy of joy; it thrills the nerves
and fills the soul with a sense of spiritual power. God teems to be
in it, and the holy angels, and the spirits of just men-a suggestion of
everlasting life. It is instinct with power and life. Strange to say,
all these young people were of the first class; they all loved the wind,
though they never knew of their unanimity on this subject before; but
the expressions of delight at the outset had been so numerous that the
accord was soon discovered. We would not pretend to say that there was
anything of moment in this coincidence; that there was any hidden spiritual
meaning; that the underlying something in their natures that made them
alike in this one respect was the invisible tie that drew them together
and kept them there,-simply the fact, they all loved the wind, which
"bloweth where it listeth," the sound of which we hear, "but know not
whence it cometh nor whither it goeth."
The railroad which they followed was a single-track
affair, winding in and out among the hills, much after the same fashion
as the creek that followed its devious channel-all that was left of the
mighty water that once filled the valley. They walked briskly in order
to keep the increasing coolness from getting into the blood. There were
stops here and there, as something of interest was discovered. For a
mile or two they walked as a compact body, but gradually and almost imperceptibly
they began to string out as conversation became more interesting, and
as the naturally fast walkers kept their pace and the slower ones assumed
It was not at all the rule that the crowd "paired
off" in the natural order. Andrews and Pierson forgot all about the others
as they plunged into a heated discussion on the relative merits of the
ministry and the profession of medicine, and the deeper the discussion
became, the faster they walked, till they had left the party far behind.
Last of all came Scott and Miss Holmes, while in between the others
walked in little squads at varying distances from each other. Scott,
being new to the company, was straightway forgotten at first; in consequence,
he had the rare privilege of following in the wake of the crowd and
of studying them to his heart's content. They would have been followed
frequently, by the curious, if it could have been an invisible following.
Scott, though a part of the company to-day, almost felt that he was doing
an improper thing, and that he would better turn around and slip away,
until Miss Holmes, ever watchful and thoughtful, looked around and understood
the situation. Immediately she excused herself from the little group of
which she seemed to be the center and dropped back for Mr. Scott, while
the others exchanged knowing glances; for it was well understood that
the young lady had little admiration for the man to whom she was now going
to devote herself; he seemed to her frivolous and without thought of
the great, deep things of life.
"Mr. Scott, you must have formed a poor opinion of
this portion of humanity," were the apologetic words she used as he
came up with her.
"O no; it was all my fault. I dropped back in order
that I might study you when you were all together. I desired to discover
what your secret was if I could-the secret of your good fellowship. You
are somewhat of a mystery to the college and community. I think that
I have found the secret: it is perfect congeniality. The feeling of restraint
that is generally seen in society is wanting here. You understand one
another; you do not stand on senseless ceremony; you seem like a happy
family where unselfishness reigns."
"I believe you are making fun of us, Mr. Scott. I
know that you are full of sport; but it is not kind for you to begin
by making sport of us. Nevertheless, a part of what you say of us is
true. The reason for our dropping off together from the rest of the college
is not an artificial one; it is perfectly natural: we are like a large
and happy family."
"No, Miss Holmes, I never felt less like making fun
than I do to-day. The fact that I am included in this company seems to
impress me most peculiarly. I do not feel like myself; I want to get
away from myself. Now, does not that sound serious? Look at Miss Brighton
there; she is just as full of life as can be; but she is devoting herself
to Mr. Schwartz, who can hardly keep from stumbling over the ties so
bashful is he, just as naturally, and apparently as interestedly as if
it were great fun to do the work of two people for the sake of a bashful
man; and here are you deserting a group that seemed to owe its existence
to you-see, they have already scattered since you left-to come and talk
to a stranger that he might not feel strange. I could tell you a good
many things I know about this crowd. Sometimes you are laughed at and
called unpleasant names; but you have a great influence in college, and
I believe all the associations there are better and all the companionships
a little holier because of the example set by this company of young people.
I believe, further, that there is a certain influence on 'the upper ten,'
even though they may be unconscious of it. And all this is sober earnest."
"I think that there is an undercurrent of mirth in
you, even when you are most in earnest, Mr. Scott. But it is pleasant
to bear you say these things, and to believe that you mean them. But,
really, if you will excuse more personalities, I am pleasantly disappointed
in you. I have seen you, and have known you to speak to, ever since
you entered the preparatory school. And you have always appeared to me
to be thinking of some fun or perpetrating some joke on some one, and
I have wondered if you were ever sober and earnest; and I have inquired
concerning you, and the testimony has been almost without exception that
you were 'jolly good company,' and all that; but it only tended to confirm
my opinion. Now I enter upon my first real conversation with you, and
I find you can be thoughtful in spite of the fun. Hear the peals of laughter
in front of us? I believe we are the soberest part of the crowd at this
minute. I am delighted."
"Ah! Miss Holmes, I am but reaping my reward. I put
on the cap and bells when I was a little fellow, because I was naturally
full of life and spirits, and because it pleased and flattered me to
have others laugh at my sayings and doings; but later, when I wanted
to throw them off, I found that my friends would not let me, and they
would laugh at my soberest expressions as if they contained some hidden
mirth that they did not see but felt they ought. I was real angry at the
world in general for a long time; I got so that I would not work, and
all I did for one six months was to study stenography, why I never knew.
At length I decided that all my woe was a result of my own folly, and
I determined to be what I had foolishly made myself, and what others insisted
I should be; then it became most easy and pleasant to be the clown, and
I have enjoyed it ever since. That is the nearest to a confession I ever
came in my life. Now you, like the others, expect to see the cap and hear
the tinkle of the bells the moment you come near me. I think I shall give
up all hope forever. I will be the clown, because you, so serious and
true, think that I am best fitted for it. Ah me!"
"Now, Mr. Scott, you are making fun in truth, and
I half believe you have been all along. But hark! Shrieks! The signal!
A train is coming! Let us step off at once; here is a good dry place."
ANDREWS and Pierson had at
last come to the realization of the fact that they were behaving like
bears. When they came back to some thoughts of their surroundings,
they were far out of sight and hearing of the others, and, as they afterwards
reckoned, more than a mile in advance. They would not go on.
"It is too cold to stand still; suppose we saunter
back and meet them," Andrews suggested.
"I am willing," Pierson persisted, thinking more
of the argument than of his condition or position in space, "if you
will admit that, in ministering to the body, a man is truly following
in the footsteps of Jesus, and that he has as great an opportunity for
actually touching individuals for righteousness as the minister has.
Yes, better; for you preachers stand off with a ten-foot pole, and sweep
it round on Sunday; but how often do you touch an individual? You are
too general and too scattering. The thing the world wants is individual,
hand-to-hand, face-to-face work. They want the look into the eye and
to feel the pressure of the hand. The pulpit is coming short. Now, with
medicine it is going to be different. The time is coming, and I believe
it is not far distant, when the doctor of the Gospel will come into the
sick-room, and feel the pulse, and look at the tongue, and diagnose, and
prescribe; but, further, he will inquire into the spiritual well-being.
He will ask concerning the things of eternity. And often, when the physician
is called in when a man has met with a fatal accident or has received
a sudden call to the other world; often, I say, in cases like these, when
the doctor is the only man who has a chance to speak, he, seeing there
is no bodily hope, will administer unto the spirit that is about to take
its flight. Why, there is Dr. Blank at home. He was called suddenly to
see a young man who had been hurt on the railroad, and who had only a
few moments to live. He found him conscious, but with nerves paralyzed,
so that he felt no pain. He was just going out into an unknown world, and
unprepared, with no other Christian near, and with no one who felt that
he had a right to speak except the doctor. What did he do? Remember he
had only a minute in which to do anything. He took the young man's hand
and said kindly but firmly, 'Harry, there is but a moment, and you will
be in the presence of God? Repeat after me what I am about to say, if
you are able, and in God's name think of it and mean it! "Father, into
thy hands I commend my spirit, in the name of Christ my Savior!" ' The
feeble voice repeated word for word, and added an 'Amen!' just as the
spirit went out. I have a notion that fellow was saved, though it was
a pretty close call. What a magnificent opportunity that physician had,
and how nobly he embraced it! It thrills me every time I think of it!
But what's all that yelling and shrieking about? The whistle, the signal!
Andy, jump!" And with that he gave Andrews a tremendous push that sent
him sprawling off the track, while he fairly rolled down the embankment
on the other side. He was afraid to get up or even to look. He was afraid
that a part of his friend's body had remained over the rail.
Little thought was given to the signal of warning,
at this time; for every one knew that no trains were due, either freight
or passenger, and no one dreamed of an extra or special. But as Kenneth
and Miss Brighton and Moon and one or two others rounded a curve, one
of them said, "Andrews and Pierson must be walking for a wager."
Moon said: "Why, there they come now; they are ashamed
of themselves, and are returning to meet us. See how earnestly they
are talking. You might cut their heads off and they would never know
it. Suppose a train should come back of them around that curve. The engineer
would not see them till it was too late, and we could never make them
"That's so, Moon. It is lucky that there is no train
due now," added Schwartz. "Why, what is the matter with Kenneth? What
are you gazing at so fixedly?"
"I see smoke around the curve. Look! it moves, it
moves! A train, fellows, a train! The signal, quick! Now, all together!
Can we ever make them hear! See! the train moves around the curve; it
is upon them!"
And with that, running forward all the time at full
speed, he put his fingers to his mouth and gave one long, last, despairing
shriek, in a whistle, that he had learned as a boy. "Thank God!" he said
as he sank down on a log by the side of the track as a single engine went
speeding by. "Thank God! I thought they were gone."
There might have been a disaster, after all, if Moon
had not at sight of the smoke, with wonderful presence of mind, rushed
back around the curve they themselves had just made and given the signal
to the rest of the party.
According to plan, they all gathered at last in the
freight department of a large country station, and there, sitting on
meal-sacks and boxes, they ate their lunch. All agreed that they had very
nearly brought a tragedy upon themselves by their carelessness. There
was a keen lookout for trains on the way home, and there was not nearly
as much absorption as there had been in the morning.
That night more than one of the party thought of
his close call, and more than one, though weary, was kept awake as a
result of the suppressed nervous excitement that had remained with him
ever since the crisal moment.
Scott was restless too, not from the shock of the
narrow escape-for he had been too far in the rear to realize how near
disaster had been-but from thoughts of the morning's conversation with
Miss Holmes. Was it true that every one expected him to be a clown? Miss
Holmes seemed genuinely pleased to find that he could be sober and thoughtful.
He decided that intellectual people did not care for everlasting mirth;
hence he was going to watch himself in the future. He was not going
to be a clown, no matter who expected it. He would continue to be bright,
if he could, and pleasant, and even "funny," when it was in good taste,
but he was not going "to play the fool" and spoil himself for life. He
was so determined that he forgot everything else, and thus fell asleep.
It was indeed a turning-point in his life. He dated the beginning of his
truer self from that walk and conversation. He began to be a better student
IT is January. The Day
of Prayer f or Colleges is at hand. There is no regular college work
on this day, but the morning is spent in worship. It is the custom of
the Faculty to procure the services of some notable divine for the occasion,
that the students will be inclined to come to hear him from curiosity
if from no higher motive. This year a celebrated bishop was the attraction,
and, consequently, the great new chapel was crowded. It seemed as if
the whole college, preparatory school, and law school were present,
with crowds from the town, so that chairs had to be brought in to accommodate
the late comers. The bishop's text was from I John ii, 3: "Hereby we
do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." The bishop,
like many other human beings, does not always display the warm, tender
side of his nature. Sometimes, when engrossed in profound thought, he
gives a casual observer a false impression, and the idea is carried away
that he is unsympathetic. On this occasion he lost none of his scholarliness,
none of his majesty, none of his magnificence of expression, none of
his magnetism, none of his lofty oratory; but he gained a tenderness,
a yearning, that he does not always exhibit. The combination was irresistible.
Men who had felt no interest in preaching for years were compelled to
listen and to think. There was a mighty uplifting spirit felt by all
who were present. Even the careless and flippant were heard to speak
of the sermon for days after.
Thursday was the day of the
sermon. Several times, on Friday and Saturday, men gathered in one
of the rooms to discuss the discourse and its results. It was at length
decided to meet in Kenneth's room on Sunday immediately after the morning
church service for a season of prayer and fasting. Eight or ten determined
men met according to plan. Besides Kenneth and his roommate, there were
Andrews and Pierson and several other wide-awake men. Passages of Scripture
were read without comment; there was much prayer and heart-searching.
As a result, every man felt that he was truly consecrated and anointed
for service as well. It was a Pentecost, and these men went forth from
that upper room living firebrands; no longer satisfied with little or
no service; no longer pleading timidity or fear in God's work. Fearlessness
and determination could be read in the expression of their countenances,
and proved by the new life that was lived henceforth.
Any passing student who looked into old Number Eleven
North College, would have received a blessing! The very atmosphere was
spiritually invigorating! That Sunday was an important date in the
life of every one of those men, and power enough was manifested to
save a world. "And who knows what this may lead to by the time eternity
dawns?" asked one of them. "By God's geometrical progression, it may
work out that a goodly portion of the saved of earth may look back through
the ages to this upper room as the place where their salvation was assured."
And as he spoke the tears rolled down his cheeks, while the faces of all
were illuminated. It was as if heaven had come down into that little chamber;
the place seemed to be full of glory. In fact, something of heaven had
come into those hearts, and in the case of some is abiding yet. Undoubtedly
Jesus Christ was there in his blessed Holy Spirit. One could almost
hear the rustling of his garments as he entered in, and his whispered
words of blessing.
It was perhaps Harley who started singing:
"A wonderful joy of salvation
Has come to my soul;
The Lord in his mercy has spoken,
And I am made whole.
My soul with his glory is flooded;
'Tis heavenly bliss:
No joy like the joy of his presence,
No rapture like this."
Of all the pleasures, innocent
and otherwise, herein recorded, none was more joyous and far-reaching
than this "upper-room" experience. It was purely unselfish, and something
was accomplished that lasted longer than the hour.