THE RIGHT KNOCK
Author of "It Is Possible," "The Story of Teddy," "The Journal of a Live Woman," etc., etc.
"Go to your bosom; Knock there; and ask your heart, what it doth know"
Published by The New York Magazine of Mysteries 22 North William Street, New York City
Copyright, 1889, by Helen Van-Anderson All rights reserved
THE RIGHT KNOCK
Copyright, 1903, by The New York Magazine of Mysteries All rights reserved
I. MRS. HAYDEN, 9
II. THE GIRLS AT HOME, 17
III. A FIRE AND A RETROSPECT, 25
IV. BEGINNINGS, 30
V. THE OLD DOUBTS AGAIN, 36
VI. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, 44
VII. A NEW HOPE, 59
VIII. WHAT THE WORLD SAID, 63
IX. A STRUGGLE WITH SELF, 70
X. HINTS OF HELP, 79
XI. LEAVING HOME, 83
XII. MRS. PEARL'S LECTURE, 90
XIII. THE TRUE FOUNDATION, 95
XIV. QUESTIONINGS, 104
XV. WHAT IS NOT TRUE, 112
XVI. STUDYING AND PROVING, 125
XVII. WHAT IS TRUE, 131
XVIII. IT MUST BE SO, 141
XIX. THE SPIRITUAL BIRTH, 151
XX. TANGLES AND TALKS, 162
XXI. INSPIRATION AND THE BIBLE, 172
XXII. A CHURCH COMMITTEE, 184
XXIII. PRAYER, 192
XXIV. EVERY-DAY PRACTICE, 202
XXV. UNDERSTANDING, 211
XXVI. A NEW PROBLEM, 222
XXVII. UNDERCURRENTS, 228
XXVIII. THE POWER OF THOUGHT, 234
XXIX. AN UNEXPECTED MEETING, 243
XXX. PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 249
XXXI. CONFIDENCES, 257
XXXII. PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 262
XXXIII. GRACE, 274
XXXIV. PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 281
XXXV. PRACTICAL APPLICATION, 291
XXXVI. FOUND AT LAST, 300
XXXVII. AFTER THREE YEARS, 308
Although most excellent food is to be found on the table of metaphysical thought, there has never yet been a metaphysical story setting forth a picture of every-day life, in its search for, and attainment of satisfaction through the knowledge of Christ Philosophy.
Knowing the pressing need of such a book among the many inquirers and students on this theme, and with the hope of helping to fill that need, this story is told.
It is a book of facts, not fiction, although wearing the dress of fiction. Every case of healing, every seemingly marvelous experience has come under the observation of the writer and can be authenticated as a veritable fact.
That there are hundreds, yea, thousands to-day, who leave their homes and go to distant cities for the sake of pursuing the study of Christ Philosophy, or receiving the benefit of its healing ministry, is proof enough that the story of one woman's experience will be interesting and helpful to all.
While the lessons contained in Mrs. Hayden's letters are not exhaustive, they are valuable for their very simplicity, and are thoroughly practical, complete instructions for the beginning and continuance of the study of this wonderful truth.
With every lesson supplemented by personal experiences, the reader sees not only the theory but the practice demonstrated, and in this simple story he may find the mirror of his own inner hopes and aspirations, with a broader view of their possible attainment than he has yet seen.
Carlyle says: "If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to reach other hearts." "The Right Knock" is presented with no other apology than this: it has come from the heart.
PREFACE TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
To a new and awakened public the author gives greetings and begs to say a few more words about THE RIGHT KNOCK.
After all these years of work along the lines laid out in the book and with a wide knowledge of prevailing systems of mental training, the author is happy to be able to say with unbounded confidence that there is nothing to excel this system for beginners, for those desiring to lay a lasting foundation. The emphasis laid upon the necessity for persistent, regular and systematic practice of word speaking by audible repetition, is great, but none too great. For the faithful student this never fails to bring results, never fails to put him in the way of understanding and demonstration. With regular practice and constant application in the daily life, with good judgment as to the details of practice, length of time at one exercise, etc., the pupil is assured in one way or another certain convincing experiences which develop individuality and, with that, his God-like gifts. Thousands have proven this.
The unnumbered letters of gratitude, the kind words, the warm hand-clasps, the many testimonials of sick beds forsaken, depressed spirits revived, vices discontinued, of physical and moral strength regained, prove that the work of the Spirit is not to be measured by puny human standards of judgment, prove that simple things—the things from which we expect the least, in which we put the least ambition or worldly desire may be those which will yield the "hundred fold" of real blessing.
The test of any spiritual truth lies in its demonstration and in the inspiration and faithfulness with which it can be lived. Be true to the truth and you will demonstrate it. Live the Christ life and the works will follow; yet seek truth for its own sake, not for its power.
A word about Christian Science. Sometimes persons aver of THE RIGHT KNOCK that it teaches Christian Science pure and simple. With all due respect and a recognition of the grand and marvelous work done by Mrs. Eddy, the author feels called upon to say, in justice to Mrs. Eddy as well as herself, that this is not true.
There are undoubtedly many similar statements, yet there are many differences which the careful reader will discover. Please note, for example, that not matter itself, but matter as the real substance or power, is denied. Not sickness of the body, but sickness of the Spirit, is a falsity, etc., etc.
In brief, the author of THE RIGHT KNOCK believes there is a name, place and condition for everything, and that the discrimination of the plane on which a thing or condition exists, is the key to placing it in the right relation to the whole.
In conclusion, the author would say most earnestly, study one writer or teacher at one time, just as you would study music of one instructor at one time. It is not the many books but the Book within which is to reveal all things.
God speed you.
THE RIGHT KNOCK is now in its THIRTEENTH edition, a fact which speaks for the great helpfulness of the book, and proclaims without further comment its world wide Scope.
THE RIGHT KNOCK.
"When you have resolved to be great, abide by yourself, and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself with the world."—Emerson.
There was a brilliant light in all the windows at Terrace Hill. Even the verandahs were gorgeous with the gayest Chinese lanterns, and every bush and tree in the lawn did duty as chandelier. Flowers, too, festooned every arch and embowered every corner, while rare vases fulfilled their esteemed privilege of holding and showing fragrant blossoms.
Everybody declared the decorations superb, and agreed that no one but Mrs. Hayden could display such exquisite taste and such perfect judgment in selection and arrangement. Animated groups of gayly attired guests sauntered up and down the rose-bowered walks, or promenaded the verandahs, while sounds of music and merriment from the house proclaimed the joy that reigned throughout.
"Oh, how beautifully Mrs. Hayden entertains!" remarked Kate Turner to her friend Grace Hall, as they stopped beside a marble fountain to survey the scene. "I wonder what place such a woman would take in society without her wealth," she continued.
"Probably wouldn't have any place, I am sorry to say, because there are thousands of women just as capable and bright as Mrs. Hayden, yet because they have no social position, or rather no money to buy themselves one, they are unrecognized and alone," said Grace, with a tinge of bitterness in her tone.
"I could never fancy Mrs. Hayden alone or unrecognized, although I only know her as a society lady, and that mostly through Mrs. Nottingham."
"There is no telling what a person really is till they have gone through a trial of some kind, or had something disagreeable to bear. Then one of two things happens: you will see either a saint or a sinner, and I am not sure which Mrs. Hayden would be. She hasn't yet seen a flame from the fire of adversity, I'm sure. See how wonderfully she is blessed with this beautiful home, a good husband and three nice children."
"Oh! it must be lovely to have everything you want," sighed Kate, under her breath.
Poor Kate! She was alone in the world, making the best of life with her talent for music and through a mutual friend had been introduced to Mrs. Hayden, who, after hearing her play, immediately engaged her for Mabel, and always invited her to the parties, more as a musical attraction, than out of any real regard, for Mrs. Hayden had an abundance of friends without troubling herself to cultivate in any warm fashion, the friendship of a poor little music teacher, thought Kate, somewhat bitterly.
"But after all, Kate, life would need more than luxuries to make it my ideal of happiness. I should want every human being to be agreeably employed; every woman, no matter how much or how little she might have, should be occupied with something that she could put her heart into and speak to the world through her work, whether it be painting pictures or darning stockings."
"Now Gracious, you are riding your hobby and you ought to see you can't ride with all these fine people in your path. Come down at once or I'll desert you! Let's go in and hear that waltz," and Kate laughingly pulled the hobby-rider into the path that led to the conservatory where they could listen to the music.
"What a beautiful home Mrs. Hayden has!" said Mrs. Ferris to her neighbor with the severe collar and plain hair, as they examined the exquisite frescoing on the parlor ceiling.
"Yes, but she ought to look into poor homes once in a while. She don't use her money in the right way. Just think of the good she might do for our church, if she would contribute to the charity fund, or take some poor families to look after."
The fat neck folded itself over the severe collar and the face settled into rigid lines of judgment. Mrs. Dyke was a practical woman and talked in a practical way. Being a wonderful church worker she naturally considered it everybody's duty to give when they did not work for the cause of religion. She belonged to the First Methodist Church on High St., and talked about "our church" as though there were no other.
Mrs. Ferris was at a loss. She had said something that had not brought forth a pleasant result. She merely wished to be sociable, and what more convenient topic than these beautiful surroundings? She was a meek little woman, who always wanted to say something agreeable or soothing, and she felt quite frightened at the mistake she had made. She wished somebody would come to the rescue, but there was no immediate prospect, and she scarcely knew how to proceed again, but ventured to ask if there were many poor people who needed attention now.
"Yes, indeed there are no less than fifteen families in the mission quarter nearest Mrs. Hayden who would consider it a privilege to pick up the crumbs from her table, and I am afraid she'll have to give an account some time when the reckoning day comes, for those who have not 'given cups of cold water, or visited the sick languishing in prison.'"
The air almost trembled with a suggestion of something. Little Mrs. Ferris looked longingly towards the door and just then spied her husband who was seeking her. After she was gone, Mrs. Dyke looked grimly about, and not finding any one to listen, she relapsed into a meditative silence. People always wondered what made Mrs. Dyke so popular that she received an invitation to every aristocratic party, but it was according to the old adage, "Where there is a will there is a way."
This was a gala night for Hampton. Such large social parties were always an event, and no one refused an invitation to Mrs. Hayden's, for it always meant beautiful rooms, carpets, pictures and bric-a-brac, superb refreshments, and a splendid time generally. Mrs. Hayden was a favorite with the world because she fed the world with sugar plums, and after smacking its lips it was always ready for more. And she usually had one to drop in. To-night it was a remarkably sweet one. This was a general affair, and every big body and big body's cousins and friends were there. To be sure they discussed their hostess as freely as though they were not big bodies, but with rare exceptions the discussion was complimentary in the extreme. Mrs. Hayden, what she said, what she did, what she wore, what she served as refreshments the last time, what were the probabilities next, her children, her husband, what they all did and said and how they acted, etc., were always interesting themes. Sometimes, to be sure, there were adverse remarks like Mrs. Dyke's, but few made them.
Yes, Mrs. Hayden was decidedly popular, and although no one was ever heard to tell of any particularly grand or noble deed she had done, she was supposed to be doing good all the time. There were those who, in earlier years, would have pointed her out as an enthusiastic philanthropist, eagerly helping whatever project needed her most, but gradually she had dropped it all, no one knew why, and now her principal work was to shine in society, at least this was the general verdict of the adverse few who judged from the superficial standpoint of the world. Of her inner life they knew nothing as the world knows nothing of any one's inner life. There may be depths or shallows in any character never dreamed of by the most intimate friend, much less by the babbling world.
Mrs. Hayden moved about among her guests with a stately grace. She had always a pleasant faculty of adjusting the broken links of conversation, supplying a repartee or asking a question, introducing strange gentlemen and reviving timid debutantes with a pretty compliment or a gracious smile.
"My dear, I wish you would play something," she whispered to Miss Turner as she passed her, "I think the group in the drawing room need a little change;" and no wonder, for there was Mrs. Dyke in a hot dispute with a Unitarian over Robert Elsmere, while her pastor sat near, occasionally adding something to Mrs. Dyke's emphatic remarks.
"It's a most blasphemous piece of presumption to present such a picture as that of the church. As if it were in its last stages of decay, indeed! It was well such a weak-minded idiot as Robert Elsmere died at the beginning of his career. I could never forgive the author if she hadn't killed him," she was saying in an angry voice.
"We can take it simply as a symbol of the decay of his religion, and that is comforting," added the minister, complacently.
"I am not at all in sympathy with the holy Catherine, with her prejudice and bigotry. If it wasn't such a true picture of the many Catherines we find in real life, I should be quite disgusted, but I do love to see real people in novels, then I know so much better how to deal with them," said a pretty young lady who aspired to be called intellectual because she liked to study character.
"Indeed, Catherine had a deep religious nature, which might be worthy of emulation in many respects, and she is certainly a high ideal of wifely love," Mrs. Hayden interposed at this critical juncture.
"Well, I didn't read the book for Catherine, but for the sake of knowing Robert and what he did to make such a stir in the world. I'm opposed to novels, as a rule, and read as little of one as I can," said Mrs. Dyke, smoothing her lap and looking at the minister. Mrs. Hayden motioned to Kate to play, and presently the rooms were filled with harmony.
Kate Turner was a natural musician, and to-night she fairly excelled herself. The little passage at arms just recorded had inspired her with emotions that could only be expressed in music, and she played some time to the continued delight of her listeners. She finished at last with a song that stirred every heart, and even Mrs. Dyke was visibly softened. "Verily 'music hath charms to soothe a savage breast,'" murmured the intellectual young lady, who was sorry that discussion of Robert Elsmere had been interrupted. She rather enjoyed Mrs. Dyke, for she was an immensely interesting "character."
This reception, like all others, came to an end at last. Everybody expressed themselves as highly delighted with their entertainment, and one by one reluctantly took their departure; the gay lanterns on the lawn and among the shrubbery went out, the lights inside the splendid mansion were finally extinguished, and only the quiet starlight illumined Terrace Hill.
Mrs. Hayden, from her high bay window, looked out over the sleeping city, then at the North Star that beamed so brightly above her—that unerring beacon-light that guides so many lost mariners into port. Some deep thought must have moved her, some hidden impulse stirred her mind. She sighed. There was no visible reason for it. Then she turned and went down the stairs to the nursery. Her two babies were sleeping sweetly. Mabel was asleep in her room, and all was quiet. The hush seemed oppressive after so much gay confusion. Now she was in another element. Now she was the mother, then she was a fashionable woman. She hastened back to her room, once more gazed without and then thoughtfully retired.
"Christianity is not a theory or a speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process."—Coleridge.
Kate Turner walked slowly along the street at the foot of Terrace Hill. She looked up at the beautiful home where she had spent the previous evening, and as she saw the velvet lawn and terraced walks bordered with bright flowers, she half pitied herself because she was only a plodding music teacher. She was not envious, but she had such longing aspirations to be somebody in the world; she wanted so many things, needed so much to complete her education, and starved herself in so many ways for the sake of completing it, that sometimes she grew discontented with her lot. Fortunately her moods did not last long, however, and especially when she went home to her artist friend, Grace, with whom she shared rooms. They were both making their own way in the world, and were a great help to each other, as well as a great comfort.
Kate was wondering what Mrs. Hayden did every day with her leisure. She should think she would be tired always going to parties and lunches and operas, or receiving calls. "But then, I am thankful to know her," she concluded, casting a last glance at the stately mansion before turning the corner. "After all, life might be worse for me, and I can be a happy nobody if not a famous somebody," she said to herself, as she ran upstairs, after stopping at the baker's for a loaf of bread and a pot of jam.
"Well, Gracious, what noble message have you given to the world through your work to-day?" she cried, a moment later, gaily peering into the studio through the portieres that separated their parlor from the work room.
"Is that you, Kate? Well, I've been trying the whole afternoon to make this Hebe look like a modern Hypatia, but——"
"In other words," interrupted Kate, "you would change innocence into intellect. Now, look here, Grace, just leave this dainty girl alone. She would never do to serve the gods if you gave her the aspect and bearing of a goddess. Let her alone, or the world would not recognize her as a representative woman," laughed Kate, inspecting the picture with critical eyes.
"Kate, stop laughing, and tell me truly if you think it would not do to give her a little more independence."
"You know it's the worst thing in the world to give a woman even an inkling that such a thing exists," said the mischievous Kate, with a total abandonment to consequences as she gave the artist an impetuous hug.
"Well, let us have tea, and we'll discuss the subject later," said Grace, somewhat mollified.
"I am afraid, Gracious, you are something in the same mood I was when I started home to-night, but I concluded to let 'dull care' take care of itself, and be merry while the sun shines, which means as long as we have enough to pay our rent, and the prospect of a little more next month," continued Kate as she brought a tiny oil stove from the depths of a closet and proceeded to "put the kettle on."
"I have been so full of thoughts of the nineteenth century that I found it hard to go back to the Pagan ages, but here this picture is ordered, and I must finish it by next week, so I guess this one will have to go without my message," said Grace, a little gloomily, for above all things she loved to put her own individuality into her pictures, which she generally did with rare success.
"You mustn't have just one ideal of woman, or you'll lose the art of painting the sweetest phases of womanhood," replied the busy housemaid from the sepulchral closet.
"Oh! if I have such excellent models as you make in that checked apron and dusting cap, I can do nobly."
Grace laughed good humoredly as she cleaned her palette and set Hebe in one corner.
"Now, my dear, isn't there something I can do to help arrange the feast?" as she went into the little back room they used for a kitchen.
"Yes, wash the grapes and open the jam while I cut the bread and pour the tea."
A few minutes later they were tete-a-tete at the little table, and as they sat down Grace said with a comical smile: "Quite a difference between our banquet of last night and this, isn't there?"
"I should remark there is, but after all, Grace, I believe I am quite content. As I was passing along at the foot of the hill this evening a momentary dissatisfaction came over me that I couldn't have a few advantages like Mrs. Hayden's, not hers of course, but similar ones," with a smile at the distinction, "and then I wondered how she spends all her leisure, for of course she has the whole twenty-four hours at her disposal, and—well, to be brief, I would not want to live without some object in life, and so I thought it best the way it is now."
"Very wise conclusion, Kate, that's just what I always say, and really who is there with whom we would care to exchange places? There are so many kinds of people and so many things for humanity to contend against, I don't know that I should want to change burdens with anyone."
"Mrs. Dyke, for instance, would you not think yourself fortunate to be like her?" said Kate, with a merry twinkle in her eyes.
"Oh, deliver me from that comparison! Why, she carries everybody's sins on her shoulders; I even heard she had taken Robert Elsmere to throw at the world!" laughed Grace.
"But not his wife; she didn't read about her. Wasn't it too funny to hear her go on last night, and the way she looked at the minister to emphasize her position?"
"Yes, but how many there are like her—read just enough to know there are such and such characters and such and such incidents. Now of course she has heard the minister define Robert's crime, as he would call it I suppose, so she thinks she can use the whole argument," replied Grace, a little scornfully.
"Mrs. Hayden interposed just at the right time. I was glad she did, too. It seems she has considered Catherine's position and could speak a good word for her," said Kate, sipping her tea, thoughtfully.
"Well, if she calls her an ideal of wifely love, I don't admire the reality," exclaimed Grace, with more vigor than elegance, as she put down her tea-cup.
"I got positively impatient," she continued, "when I read about her cruelty to Robert, judging him in that inquisitor's fashion. Poor fellow! I think he died of a broken heart."
"But, Grace, she did what she thought was her religious duty, and it must have been hard for her to withdraw herself so completely when she loved him so much," said the more charitable Kate.
"Do you call that love which would let him go tramping off alone, with not even a word of sympathy, and so afraid that her religion would be contaminated she could not even hear him preach? I don't pretend to be religious, but any religion stands on a poor foundation if it can be swept away by anybody's opinions."
"It wasn't that; it was because she thought it was wrong to listen to heresy, as she supposed it was, and——"
"How did she know? Had she taken pains to find out? Did she study it carefully and have a reason for her cruel judgment?" interrupted the wrathful Grace.
"Well, she was conscientious and was doing what she had been taught was right."
"Kate, if there is anything that makes me out of patience with people it is when they hang all their actions on what somebody else says, and that excuse is simply barbarous in this case."
"Remember that in religion one must follow what he thinks to be right, and Catherine Elsmere represents a large class of people; in fact, the majority of religious people."
Kate was naturally inclined to be charitable, and this, added to her early training in a religious home, as well as her position as a church member, made her understand Catherine's position from a conscientious standpoint much more than Grace. She could readily appreciate the fixed law of conscience Catherine had made for herself by pledging her sacred word of honor to her father, whom she revered as an infallible authority, as most people revere the legends and doctrines of the church.
"I admit that it is right to follow the dictates of one's own conscience, but I believe in having an enlightened conscience, and a reason for opinions. For that matter, so did Robert have a conscience, and while I don't understand his religion, I respect his honesty and effort. There are a great many beautiful things in what he says, but there must be a mistake somewhere in a religion that can not save to the uttermost, and his didn't. I haven't found one that does," said Grace, with some irony.
"Nevertheless, Grace, there is nothing to warrant your assertion in the Bible. The Christian religion is full of the most blessed promises of salvation in everything," said Kate, gently, but flushing a little as she spoke, for she disliked talking religion with Grace, who was so skeptical, although if compelled to do so, it was a matter of duty to stand up for her Christian principles.
"Yes, I admit it gives many wonderful promises, but where are they realized? It seems to me the very fact that the church has not proven them, made such people as Robert Elsmere doubt them even as possible of fulfillment."
"Why Grace, surely you don't disbelieve in the power of God to fulfill the promises?" exclaimed Kate, deeply pained.
"I am talking from Robert Elsmere's standpoint," answered Grace, evasively.
"My sympathy is with Catherine, for to her, religion was a living answer to her deepest needs and feelings, and to doubt that answer was nothing less than sacrilege," said Kate, with a bright red spot on either cheek.
"Well," answered Grace, throwing down her napkin, "I want to see a religion that will stand infinite investigation without falling into ruins, and Robert reasoned himself away from the old beliefs and dogmas because he investigated them. He used his God-given reason, and I think that is to be used as well as the blind, unquestioning faith of Catherine."
"There are times when we need faith and times when we need reason, but faith applies to religion and reason to the things of the world," replied Kate, recalling what she had heard a few Sundays before.
"Well, to me the ideal of religion is a marriage, a union of faith and reason—but this is idle talk. What does anybody know of such perfection as I demand anyway?"
Grace impatiently pushed her chair away from the table, and went to look at her picture again, in a decidedly gloomy mood.
"Such is the world, understand it, despise it, love it; cheerfully hold on thy way through it, with thy eye on highest loadstars."—Carlyle.
It was a week since the party. Mrs. Hayden had been to the opera and returned late. Her husband was absent on a business trip, and she felt a vague uneasiness come over her as she entered the room. She knew not why, but it seemed unusually lonely without him. She seldom went out alone, but to-night she had gone out as much to while away the time as to hear the music. After paying her usual visit to the nursery, she went to bed, but slept little for several hours.
About 4 o'clock she was awakened by stifling fumes of smoke and startling cries of fire. Was it too late? She sprang up and ran to the nursery stairs, but the scorching flames met her, and she retreated to the window, shrieking for help, only to get a glimpse of someone through the smoke climbing toward her.
"Hold on!" cried the fireman, and reached out his arms for her just as she fell back fainting. Grasping her firmly, the brave man dragged her out of the window, and began his perilous descent. When about half way down, the ladder fell, but its burden was expected, and mattress and bed-clothing saved them from what might have been worse. As it was, the fireman escaped with a few bruises and slight scorching, and Mrs. Hayden with a broken limb. First they feared she was dead, but after a few moments she revived and moaned feebly for husband and children. Little Mabel clung desperately to her mother, and sobbingly told her "only the house was burnt. Fred and Jamie were safe, and now she must get up and be glad." Poor child, instinctively she knew the value of life above all other things.
"How did it happen, where did it start, and who saw it first?" were the queries on every side. Some one down at the foot of the hill had seen a tiny blue flame licking the corner of the roof. The fire alarm was touched, the bells set to ringing, and the observers leaped up the terraced stairways and arrived at the top just as the whole house burst into flames. The fire company had not arrived in time to do anything, as it was impossible to climb the hill with their heavy trucks, and their hose was not long enough to reach the flames, so the house was gone. Many people had gathered from all quarters in the fashion peculiar to fire crowds, but now they had seen the spectacle, and, as there was nothing further to see or do, they slowly dispersed.
Mrs. Hayden and the children were removed to the hotel and a telegram sent to Mr. Hayden, informing him of the catastrophe.
When he arrived, twelve hours later, he found his wife confined to the bed with a nervous fever and a broken limb. The children were safe and well cared for, and though his elegant home was in ruins, John Hayden was deeply thankful. Marion would, of course, get over the trouble, and things were much better than they might have been, he said. So he tried to look on the bright side, and after a few cheering words and a loving kiss he left her, to run up the hill and view the ruins.
It was early twilight, and as he beheld the smouldering debris, and realized that the comforts and luxuries, possibly the necessities of life had gone up in the smoke that even now curled in sullen wreaths from the blackened heaps, he bowed his head and wept.
It was but a moment, but that moment was the bitterest of his whole life. He knew better than anyone else that this was probably the beginning of financial misfortune, for a very important transaction was even now pending that he feared would take his all. As a merchant he had an honorable reputation and position, but this unfortunate speculation would ruin him. Failure seemed inevitable. But he hoped to save enough to pay every debt and still be able to live, even though in a modest way. Now he would not even get his insurance on his house, for in his financial embarrassment he had failed to renew his policy, which had expired but few days before. He would now have little besides this spot, this beautiful hill. Yes, it was valuable, and in time could be sold for what it was worth, but not now, and in the meantime what should he do? How would Marion take it? Why had he not told her before he went away? But he had known it himself only a few days.
"Oh, my dear wife, would that we could commence life as we did when we were first married!" he groaned.
His mind went back to the past. He looked again into her sweet, girlish face, into her clear, earnest eyes. He remembered how they had both desired to live a religious life, how he, having been brought up in a religious home, undertook in vain to explain the Bible where it was dark and unreasonable to her. He remembered how fruitlessly she had tried to be converted, and that he had found even through her earnest seeking that he had naught but the letter of religion and was also as helpless as to the manner of salvation. And then they had given up trying. She sought, for a while, to satisfy herself by doing for others, giving her time and energy to the poor that found her out and besieged her for favors, while he had been satisfied to let religion alone and believe with the majority concerning the doctrines and dogmas.
As the years went on, and prosperity came to them, he had grown more and more indifferent, and finally, when they moved away from their early home and entered a new city, they had begun a new life, as it were.
He remembered, regretfully, that she had entered the competitive ranks of society, at his wish at first, because he thought it would add to his popularity as a merchant and increase the number and quality of his customers. Too well he remembered that the elegant parties and party costumes were first his own instigation, and now that these were likely to be taken away, he felt responsible for her happiness, and had a secret misgiving, born of his early religious training perhaps, of retribution and judgment. He hoped indeed that she would be able to rise above circumstances, but he was utterly at a loss to know how she would take it, for although he knew that deep down in her heart were still traces of the early longings, he felt vaguely there was no way to satisfy them any more now than in the past, and probably they would only increase the difficulty of finding happiness.
John Hayden was kind-hearted and upright in all his ways, strictly honest and conscientious, but apt to be a little one-sided in his judgments, simply because, as a rule, he reasoned from one standpoint, thought in one groove. He had never considered the questions from this point of view, and therefore they were seriously perplexing. Like many another he lived within his own world, and knew naught of any other. In the later years of their married life he and Marion had grown a little apart in the closest confidences, but it was caused by circumstances more than anything else, and notwithstanding the present misery he was sure of her love.
"Poor girl, I must hasten back to her," he murmured, as he rose from his uncomfortable position. "After all, I can thank God for my family, my health, my honor, for no matter how much we may suffer, no one else shall suffer through me."
There was a little pang at the thought of the privations in possible store for the family through him, but he had resolved to make the best of circumstances and be brave as possible. Once more he looked over the scene, but there were only dim black shadows in the starlight, and he went down toward the twinkling lights of the city below.
"Society is like a piece of frozen water; and skating well the great art of social life."—Letitia Elizabeth Landon.
"Too bad about Hayden, isn't it?" said one business man to another after the crash came.
"Yes, I am sorry for him, but he is coming out honorably, and I hope he'll commence again before long."
"Well, he is made of the right stuff if he did make one mistake, and I guess he will never make the same blunder again. Too bad though about his house. No insurance at all, and that was a magnificent property."
"Indeed it was, and I hope for his wife's sake he can sell the lot and get another home for her."
"Can't do it now though—real estate is too low for any use in Hampton."
"Yes, that's so. The only way is to mortgage, and that seems a pity in this case—" and they passed on out of hearing.
John Hayden, standing within the doorway of the open store, had overheard the remarks, and while they pained, they cheered him. From that moment his resolve was taken, and as soon as everything was honorably settled he applied for credit of his old friends in the wholesale houses and they gladly gave it, for his reputation was unimpeachable.
Then he rented a modest little store and began anew.
Mrs. Hayden lay sick seven weeks, and arose a weak and nervous invalid, "doomed to carry a still limb all her life," the physicians said. They could not discover why her limb was stiff, but there was no help for it.
How did she bear the change in her life and circumstances? When her husband told her, she just put her arms around his neck and whispered; "All right, John, I shall do the best I can to help you bear it." And from that moment they began life again. She did not even complain when they were obliged to move into a small cottage in the suburbs, but it was hard for her to be ignored and forgotten by the elegant social world, where she had so recently been an acknowledged leader.
Alas! she had no sugar plums for society now, so it soon forgot her existence. There were, however, some exceptions among her former friends, and she was glad to welcome among her few visitors, Kate Turner and Grace Hall, who had grown to love Mrs. Hayden more than they would have thought possible when she seemed so high above them in the social scale.
"She is turning out a saint rather than a sinner," said Kate one evening, as they were discussing the Haydens and recalled the conversation of the night of the party.
"Just wait awhile. Many people can be heroic in great things, but are sadly deficient when it comes to the little things," said Grace, with her usual caution. "I believe I could be a heroine myself, if some grand opportunity came," she added, smiling.
"Oh, Grace, don't trifle so; you know this is a very serious matter with Mr. and Mrs. Hayden, and they are both doing nobly," cried Kate, with tears in her eyes.
"Well, queen Katherine, I don't mean any harm, and you must not think anything of my brusque speeches. As you know, there is a tinge of skepticism in me which I can not help, and my ideals are so much higher than the realities of life, that I am always painfully conscious of the difference."
"Well, what would you wish Mrs. Hayden to be like, for instance, in order to come up to your ideal of the heroic woman?" asked Kate in a softened tone.
"Kate dear, I love Mrs. Hayden as much as you do, and would not for a moment disparage her virtues, but it strikes me as a philosophical fact that as a rule, human nature can and does display wonderful courage in great emergencies, but fails miserably in details, and this ought not to be so. Nothing would please me better than to see one life prove that I am wrong."
"That is all true, Gracie, about humanity in general, but she is lovely, and I am sorry for her having to be lame all her life. It's a perfect shame that she must lose even her health, for of course she will never be strong again."
"Another defect to be noted somewhere in the universal economy. It seems to me we are pretty helpless creatures, generally speaking, for it all appears to be a matter of chance whether we get well or not, when we do get sick," mused Grace, bent upon drawing her own conclusions.
Poor girl! Life had been rather hard for her, and she judged it as it appeared, and there did seem a great flaw somewhere which she was trying her best to solve by noting every phase of life as she found it. Naturally bright, keenly intellectual and very independent, she was a philosopher as well as an artist, and always ready for a tilt with the world on its most petted opinions. Hers was a reasoning mind that observed all inconsistencies and discrepancies in anything she studied, and there was generally a little acidity in her judgment of the world and its bigoted ways.
"I can't see why Mrs. Hayden should not be cured completely," continued Kate, ignoring her companion's last shot, "for it wasn't so bad that anybody knew of until she got up."
"My dear madam," said Grace, striking an owlish attitude, "you have not read the latest opinion expressed by one of the most learned professors in the Allopathic school of medicine in Paris. He stood before the class of graduating students and said: 'Gentlemen, you have done me the honor to come here to listen to a lecture on the science of medicine. I must frankly confess I know nothing about it, and, moreover, know of no one who does. Any one who takes medicine is fortunate if it helps him, but more fortunate if it does not harm him.' Whether our friend is fortunate or unfortunate is a question hard to decide. I move we discuss another subject."
Kate laughed in spite of herself, and Grace got up to take another view of the "Modern Hypatia," which at last was growing into a visible creation under her skillful brush.
"Isn't that a woman for you?" she said, pointing to the picture admiringly, as she held it under the gas light.
"Yes, I like her better than Hebe. She has a look of reserved power about her that is captivating, but there is something in her face that makes me sad, something that is lacking."
"What is it? Tell me, for I can see nothing!" Grace questioned impetuously.
"Wait a minute, perhaps I can define it. There! hold it so. Let me see," and Kate walked off a few paces.
"Yes, it is dissatisfaction, an incompleteness, as though she had not found what she sought."
"Can you see that, Kate? Then I am at the same time the most happy and unhappy creature alive," cried Grace, breathlessly dropping into a chair and holding the picture fondly near her face.
"Why?" said the astonished Kate.
"Don't you know I am forever putting myself into my pictures? And I've succeeded too admirably with this one. The poor thing has caught my unconscious fault of finding defects everywhere. Oh, I must get it out of her some way; how shall I, when to me she looks so perfect?"
"You better get it out of yourself first, if that is the trouble," replied Kate, with a great wave of pity in her voice.
"I wish I could. Oh, why do I have to see everything in the wrong way? It seems to me life would be heavenly, if I could know only the good in everything." Grace put down the picture and gazed at it with stern, accusing eyes. "I shall leave this one and begin another to-morrow," she finally announced in a subdued tone.
"I am glad you won't rub this out, for she is too lovely," said Kate, softly, as she went about, gently putting things in order, picking up her music and arranging the books.
Grace sat there brooding over her life problems with a new thought in her mind. She dimly realized that a woman must have a genuine message herself before she tries to give it to the world. And alas, her message was sadly deficient, she found. Mechanically she took a book from the table and opening it at random, read:
"If the whole is ever to gladden thee, That whole in the smallest thing thou must see."
"That is not bad philosophy, whose is it?" she thought. She looked at the book. It was Goethe's poems, but she was not in the mood for reading, and she sat thinking till late at night. This was a new sentiment. She would digest it and test its practical truth.
Take up the threads of life at home, Let not the stitches drop; The busy world will know 'tis done Though ne'er it pause nor stop.
"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."—Emerson.
A year passed away, and Mrs. Hayden grew no better. She was not as cheerful as she had been at first, and instead of growing into the brave, patient woman she longed to become, she had grown fretful and irritable, and was in many ways different from the Mrs. Hayden Kate and Grace had talked about so enthusiastically. None knew better than she, how miserably she had failed to live the life that was soul satisfying—the life that brought forth fruits. In all the years of her prosperity, in the midst of the gayeties and luxuries, she had secretly longed for something she never found, and in one sense it had not been hard for her to give up the life of ease and idleness, because she had hoped to find in the new duties a new peace and satisfaction, had hoped to live up to her ideal of a noble woman, and it was with her whole heart she had promised her husband her help and sympathy, but in all the eighteen months, she had been but a burden; even calm forbearance and cheerfulness had ceased to be virtues. The children, not having a nursery, must needs be anywhere and everywhere, and in spite of her efforts to the contrary, their noise annoyed her.
To-night she sat thinking it all over, in one of her most despondent moods, for be it said to her credit, things did not always appear as gloomy as she represented them to herself.
The ruddy firelight flickered over her in fitful gleams of light and shadow. The children were out romping in the twilight, enjoying the first snow of the season. Her husband had not yet returned from the store.
What was the use, anyway, pursued the relentless conscience—even the wish to be good was always choked by a complete forgetfulness; and before she could catch her breath the words were out, so, although she had believed nearly all her life that one might grow into goodness, she was quite rebellious to-night with the thought of its impossibility, and she felt bitter, too, to think of the long years of uselessness stretching out before her. Scarcely thirty-five and yet she felt like a cross, crabbed old woman, and shuddered to think of all the years to come, if they were to be like the past, and there seemed no help for it unless she could conquer herself. The doctor had done what he could to cure her dyspepsia but she was a veritable slave to her capricious stomach. She felt one of her oft-recurring sick headaches coming on and every thought grew blacker and more disconsolate. Oh! she wished supper were over and the children safe in bed, so she could be free from their noise, and here they come! she thought, as a great stamping and laughing was heard in the hall.
"Oh, mamma! such lovely snowflakes, just like a fairy's quilt, and they have been falling all over us till we're like people in frost land. Just look, mamma!" cried Mabel, who liked a romp as well as the boys, although she was thirteen. Three-year-old Jamie and five-year-old Fred came trooping in behind.
"Well, mamma, God has turned on the snow faucets," announced Fred, with characteristic importance.
"An' all 'e fevvers is tummin' down fum 'e 'ky," shouted Jamie at the top of his voice.
"And mamma, can't we have a sled and go coasting this winter?" queried Mabel, not noticing in her eagerness that her mamma was very sick.
"Oh, don't make so much noise. Take them away and keep quiet, Mabel. I can not endure so much confusion."
They went out clanging the door behind them in spite of their efforts to keep quiet, and as their voices grew fainter, she thought with another remorseful pang: "I have sent them away again. Why must I yield always to self instead of overcoming?" Presently, however, all attempts at thinking were lost in the efforts to get the camphor, bathe her head and find some comforting spot whereon to rest her aching temples.
A subdued family gathered around the table that evening and everyone felt the necessity of being quiet as possible. Even Fred and Jamie understood that they must keep still, and managed to keep their voices down to something less than a shrill whisper.
Mrs. Hayden partook only of a small cup of tea and was then assisted to her room, where she expected to remain for at least two days—the usual time. Her husband spent the evening rubbing her head, bathing it with camphor and keeping the house quiet as possible.
The next day dawned cloudy and grey, with a faint mildness in the air, indicating a thaw. Mabel went to school, Fred and Jamie amused themselves in the back parlor until they were tired and then flattened their noses against the window, trying to see how many drops of melted snow fell from the porch roof.
"I want a snow man," wailed Jamie, suddenly remembering what papa said about the snow long ago.
"Well, you can't have it," said Fred, with great decision, who generally opposed anything on principle.
"Yes, we can. We can go out and make one," persisted Jamie.
"Jack Frost'll bite your fingers."
"No he won't."
"He won't eever—"
"He will, 'cos mamma said so," said naughty Fred.
Jamie's little face clouded and the lip began to quiver; then a sudden thought striking him, he jumped up, beaming with delight, and cried, as he ran towards the hall:
"Mamma said Jack Frost couldn't find me when I had my overcoat and wed mittens on, and my wed cap."
"You can't reach your coat an' you've lost your mittens," insisted Fred, with perseverance worthy a better cause.
"O, yes I can. I can 'tep on my high chair," dragging it after him.
"I can get my things on first," said Fred who suddenly decided in favor of the snow man, and hurriedly suiting the action to the word, rushed to get his coat which hung under Jamie's, just as Jamie reached his little hands up to get his. Fred gave a tremendous flirt and pull at his coat which overbalanced his little brother and down came the high chair and Jamie plump upon the luckless Fred, whose angry squeals and kicks, mingled with Jamie's loud shrieks of terror made a commotion that brought Anna, the housekeeper, to the rescue.
"What is the matter?" as she plucked Jamie from the general debris.
"Fred pulled me down—"
"Jamie jumped on me," said both at once as soon as they could get their breath.
"An', I aint lost my wed mittens, an' my little white leg is broke off," cried Jamie suddenly, spying the oft-mended leg of the high-chair, which in this melee, had completely severed company with the rest of the chair, and now mutely appealed for help to be put on again.
"There, there, papa can mend it all right again. Don't cry, little man. Now Fred, you must stop crying and play nice with Jamie and not quarrel so much. There! I hear mamma's bell; I must go see what she wants. Run away and be quiet, for mamma can't stand a bit of noise to-day," and Anna left them again to their own devices. Jamie carefully laid the little white leg away in his box of playthings, and then both children went back to the window to watch the drops again.
"I see one, two, three, seven, four, ten—" slowly counted Jamie as the crystal drops fell.
"Oh, I see a ice berg, an' I'm goin' to get it for candy," shouted Fred as he ran out on the porch and seized an icicle. It seemed so nice out there that he stayed and called Jamie to come, too. They were delighted with the new plaything and new sights, and any thought of being cold or needing their coats never entered their minds, so the icicle, the beautiful drops, and finally the snow claimed their attention until they were at last happily engaged in the much-desired occupation of making a snow man.
It was near noon and the sun had finally rifted the grayest clouds, and was sending such warm smiles on the snow-laden earth that trees and fences, roofs and ridges burst into tears of joy. So, often does the sun-shiny smile melt the ice-bound prison of discontent or misunderstanding.
Fred and Jamie were in the midst of their interesting creation when Mr. Hayden came home to dinner.
"Boys! boys!" he called from the gate as soon as he saw them. "You'll catch your death of cold; run into the house, quick! Why haven't you something on your heads and rubbers on your feet?" and without waiting to hear their vociferous reply, he hurried them into the house.
"Oh, but it was such fun, papa, an' we was goin' to put two coals in his head, cos' his eyes was black, you know, an' your old mashed hat for his head, an'—"
"An' me foun' a 'tick for his arm," interrupted Jamie, who must be sure papa knew all about this wonderful man.
"Yes, he looks very promising, and I guess I'll have to finish him for you; but you must not go out again to-day. Just think what would we do if you should be sick while mamma must be in bed. Poor mamma, she would feel bad and cry because she couldn't help you, and it would make her feel very sorry indeed to know her little boys went out without somebody saying they might."
"Well, papa, we didn't mean to go 'thout our things on, but two of the beautifullest icebergs hunged down an' we played they was candy an' all the pretty drops said stop, stop, stop, an'—"
"Yes, an' the 'no was full of 'tars 'at shined right up at us an' laughed an' played hide an' seek wiv each other."
"An' Jamie wanted to make a snow man," suddenly remembered Fred.
"Cos papa did when he was a little boy, an' he telled me sometimes so could I—"
"Oh, you little rogues, it is well you can trace it back," laughed papa, catching each small man, and placing upon his knees.
"Why, look here, your shoes are all wet, and your fingers red, and your clothes sprinkled with water. This will never do. Take off your shoes, Fred. Here, Anna," he called, as he heard her in the dining room, "bring some dry stockings and aprons. These boys have been out in the wet snow, and must be changed right away. Put a flannel round their necks, too. I'm afraid they'll have the croup to-night." With as much haste as possible, he stripped off their wet clothes, chafed their hands and feet, and with an anxious look left them, to go and speak to his wife who, when suffering from headache could allow no one to enter the room except her husband or Anna.
That night the whole household were aroused by the hoarse and unmistakable cough of croup. Jamie had taken cold, as his father feared he would. The doctor was sent for in wild haste, and after several hours of watchful care and frequent taking of hive syrup or ipecac, Jamie was at last sleeping quietly, and every one felt that after this, at least, those children should be so well guarded that escape would be impossible, and the dreaded enemy kept out. This was always a result of exposure, and Mr. and Mrs. Hayden had often wished for the time when Jamie would outgrow the attacks as that really seemed the only thing in which lay any hope.
"Build thee more stately mansions Oh my soul, As the swift seasons roll, Leave thy low vaulted past. Let each new temple nobler than the last Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free: Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea."
—O. W. Holmes.
"How do you do Mrs. Hayden? You see I come in without ceremony as usual, but I heard you'd had one of your headaches again," and Mrs. Reade seated herself cosily on the sofa near which Mrs. Hayden sat languidly trying to read.
"Oh, I have about recovered my usual strength, but of course I must be careful and not get excited or overworked, though my work I am sorry to say, does not amount to much." After a few moments commonplace conversation, Mrs. Reade said, carefully:
"Now Mrs. Hayden, I believe there is a help for you somewhere. Wouldn't you like to try something new?"
"Why, you know I would try anything that would give relief, but I have exhausted everything that ever was heard of, and now every remedy seems very transient or of no effect at all."
Mrs. Hayden leaned wearily back in her chair and seemed to think there was no use discussing the subject any longer. After a few moments thoughtful silence, Mrs. Reade looked up at her friend and said, timidly:
"Mrs. Hayden, have you ever heard of Christian Healing?"
"No. What is it?"
"I can't tell, only that it is just the most wonderful panacea for all ills that ever was discovered and they say it can be learned, and applied by everybody."
"Do you mean that I could learn it and could then cure myself?"
"Yes, that is what they claim."
"Why, Mrs. Reade, what is all this wonderful news, and if it is true, why hasn't the world heard of it before?" exclaimed Mrs. Hayden with an amused smile.
Mrs. Reade did not return the smile but a still more earnest look came into her eyes. She bent over her bit of sewing for a moment and then looking up, as though resolved to speak the truth at any cost, she went on:
"Mrs. Hayden, it is the fulfillment of the promises in the Bible, that to them that believe, these signs should be given. You remember the passage don't you, where Jesus gave His disciples the same power to heal that He had?"
"Well, but that was long ago, and the promise was for the disciples, I suppose."
"No, it was for everybody; and do you know, Mrs. Hayden, I can hardly wait to learn this new method, I am so interested."
"How did you hear about it?"
"When I was down to Mapleton last summer I heard something about it through a friend of mine, who was cured of chronic congestive headaches, and now my cousin, Miss Greening, from Norfolk, has come on to spend the holidays with us, and strange to say, she has been cured of weak eyes—just came straight from Princeton where she was treated, and—and—well, the fact is, I want you to come over and see her and may be you can be cured."
Mrs. Reade was quite frightened for having said so much, but was reassured by the growing interest in Mrs. Hayden's eyes.
"And you know these things to be true? Why, it is wonderful. How is it done, by prayer?"
"Not exactly, but it is by some process of thinking. Oh, I can't begin to tell you, only that it is wonderful, and you must come over and talk with cousin Helen."
"I am afraid to trust myself out in this uncertain weather. Can't you both come and take tea with us to-morrow? I hope to be well enough then, and it would be a great pleasure, for if there is any truth in this, I want to know it. Do come."
This was a good deal for Mrs. Hayden to say, but she was very earnest when aroused to interest.
"Yes, we will," said Mrs. Reade, as she rose to go, looking straight into her friend's eyes with joyful earnestness, "and I am so glad. Good bye," and she retreated as unceremoniously as she had come, leaving Mrs. Hayden to wonder why she should be so childishly pleased over that invitation. It never occurred to her that Mrs. Reade should be so glad to come merely to tell more about this new way of getting well.
Mrs. Reade was a young housekeeper, who, living just across the street, was in the habit of often running in to Mrs. Hayden with her little vexations, her triumphs of cookery, her questions of how to manage little May, or what to do in matters of household furnishing. She was a very progressive little woman, and, perhaps owing to the influence of Mrs. Hayden, was ready at least to give everything a fair hearing. This new "craze," as some called it, had been presented to her in a way that compelled her attention and commanded her respect, and especially since her cousin's coming had she been intensely interested.
Particularly was she desirous of enlisting the attention of Mrs. Hayden, who not only needed the physical help to be obtained, but who would be an excellent advocate of the principles, providing she could endorse them, as Mrs. Reade was sure she would, if she could only be made to understand.
So it was with great anticipated pleasure Mrs. Reade introduced her cousin to Mrs. Hayden as they went in the next day.
"Now, Cousin Helen, just tell Mrs. Hayden how you were cured. I am so anxious to set the ball rolling," said Mrs. Reade, with an arch look at Mrs. Hayden after they were comfortably settled for their talk.
"Yes, indeed," added Mrs. Hayden; "if you have half as wonderful a message as Mrs. Reade fondly imagines I shall be delighted to hear it, but I would first like to ask what was the trouble with your eyes, and something as to their condition when you first looked into this method of healing."
"I had been obliged to leave school because they were so weak. They were inflamed and bloodshot. I could not bear to go out in the wind, ride on the cars, or have any excitement whatever. The occulists said the trouble was caused by a physical defect that could not be remedied, so you may imagine my despair. Father and mother came home from a visit in Kansas, and while there they had heard of a lady in Princeton who was having remarkable success with mind-cure, as they called it. They coaxed me to go and try it. I had no faith, but to please them thought I would go. It could do no harm, they said. The journey, though only sixty miles from home, was very hard for me. When I arrived at Mrs. Harmon's it seemed as though I could hardly bear the pain caused by the journey.
"Mrs. Harmon allowed me to stay right at her home, and though only there a week, I was not only cured, but learned the principles and how to apply them. After the first treatment I felt so well and happy she told me I could use my eyes to read an hour or so. From the second treatment I could use them all I wished. It was perfectly wonderful. When I went home I was cured. That is now three weeks ago, and I have been using my eyes constantly, have taken several journeys on the cars, and gone out day and night."
Mrs. Hayden had listened with the greatest interest, her mind filled with varying thoughts. Sudden glimpses of wonderful might-be's, mingled with doubts and hopes, had chased each other in wild confusion through her bewildered brain.
"Tell me," she found breath at last to ask, "what is it, and how is it done, and can anybody do it?"
Miss Greening was delighted to find so willing an audience, for in spite of her remarkable cure, most of her family and friends ridiculed her new "cure all."
"Oh, I wish I could explain to you as Mrs. Harmon does. I am so very new in the thought, but I will do the best I can to give you some idea. The main thing in the beginning is to know that you know nothing," continued Miss Greening, with a smile. "The world believes in the character as it appears, to be the real character, that the person who suffers sickness, sorrow, disappointment, anger or pain is the real self. We have always taken the people of the world, as they appear, to be the children of God. This truth teaches that the real child of God is in His image and likeness and in Him lives, is moved and has His being. According to the laws of thought, the thought of one individual affects another, and on this principle the treatments are given, but it is the omnipresent life Principle that does the work.
"Oh, it is perfectly wonderful, and if you could see what I saw while I was with Mrs. Harmon, you would not doubt a moment. She was busy from morning till night with patients. Hardly had time to eat or sleep. It seemed like the times of the New Testament come back again. Mrs. Harmon cured a man of rheumatism, where the joints had been stiffened and contracted for years, in seven treatments. The first week the treatments did not seem to have any effect, but the second week he suddenly recovered the use of his arm and limbs, so that he could run and jump or do anything else that a healthy man can do.
"One young girl, who was suffering from lead poisoning so that she was given up by three or four prominent physicians, received nine treatments and, although not perfectly strong and robust, was able to walk several blocks and was so well that she did not need further treatment.
"Mrs. Harmon treated an old lady of seventy, so that she laid aside glasses and could see to sew on black cloth. A lady who had been an invalid for sixteen years was cured so that in a week she was able to ride a mile and a half to the lectures.
"All these things I saw with my own eyes, and if the evidence had not been enough in my own case, there were all these proofs. And the teaching! Oh, it is beautiful. If we could only live up to that the millenium would surely be here."
In her enthusiasm Miss Greening scarcely noticed the effect of her words, else she would have seen Mrs. Hayden's expressive eyes full of a yearning, silent and strong.
"Can it touch anyone's character or moral life?" she asked after a moment's pause.
"Yes, indeed; there is not one thing in life that is not amenable to its discipline. Mrs. Harmon says it is a great advantage in governing children, that every mother ought to know it, for the help in that direction, even if not for their health."
"What a wonderful thing it must be; and yet I always thought the days of miracles were past, if indeed they ever were," said Mrs. Hayden, thoughtfully.
"These are not miracles, as the ordinary understanding of that word would imply, but are done in accordance with Divine Law, the highest law,—not the setting aside of any law," interposed Mrs. Reade, who had been deeply interested in the conversation, but hitherto had been a silent listener.
"Oh, mamma, I wish supper was ready; I'm so hungry!" cried Fred, bursting into the room, followed by Jamie and Mabel.
"Mamma, can't we have some—" began Jamie, and then stopped, abashed at the size of the audience.
"No, dears; mamma don't want you to eat anything before supper. You know what Doctor Jackson said about the little stomachs that were overworked. Now, run away and be good; when everything is ready mamma'll call you."
"But we want it now. Doctor Jackson don't know everything. It's only God that knows everything," said Fred, with unanswerable argument.
"Come away, Fred," whispered Mabel, giving him an impatient twitch.
"It's so, anyway; mamma told me about God just the other night."
"He knows I want some ginger 'naps," whimpered Jem.
"Never mind; run out, as mamma says," said Mrs. Hayden, resolutely, and the aggrieved trio reluctantly departed.
"It would be an immense help to me if I could learn to manage these three irrepressibles without getting tired all out," said Mrs. Hayden, with a little sigh.
"Wouldn't it be splendid? I think, Mrs. Hayden, you better let Cousin Helen treat you, and get you all cured, and then you can go somewhere and learn how, yourself," said Mrs. Reade, as she demurely wound up the ball.
Mrs. Hayden looked up with interested surprise. "Do you think anything could be done for me, Miss Greening?"
"A great many worse than you have been cured, why not you?"
"Well, I don't know; it seems so far away and so intangible some way."
"Now, Mrs. Hayden, try it. Let Cousin Helen treat you," interposed Mrs. Reade.
"What must I do, any mysterious unheard-of thing?" was the answer, with a look of evident amusement.
"Oh, no! Just sit quietly passive, and be as hopeful as possible during the treatment. The only thing that might seem hard is to give up all medicine and material applications while you are under treatment."
"That will not be hard at all, for I have lost all faith in medicine anyway. When do you want to begin, Miss Greening?"
"Well, I am willing to try my best to help you, Mrs. Hayden, but you must understand, in the first place, that I take no credit to myself, for it is God's work. Then I have really not tried to heal any one; since it was so recently I was cured myself, there has been no opportunity, but as I said, I will do what I can."
Miss Greening spoke earnestly and reverently. It seemed rather new to her to be called upon to prove her principles, and yet she had such perfect faith in them, she never thought of wavering.
"Then it's all settled, and you can take your first treatment to-night," spoke up Mrs. Reade, volubly. "I'm so anxious to see you strong and well like the rest of us," she added half apologetically.
"It will seem too good to be true. I can not realize such a possibility."
A thoughtful silence fell upon the little company for a few moments, and when they resumed their conversation, it was about something else.
At their usual tea time, Mr. Hayden, accompanied by Mr. Reade, came in, and all were presently called to the dining room.
Mr. and Mrs. Hayden had dropped all pretension of style in their present circumstances, and lived like their neighbors, in a modest but comfortable way. The children came trooping in when they heard the supper bell, and delightedly filed out to the dining room with their elders.
"Well, I hope you ladies have been enjoying yourselves this afternoon. I notice ladies have that faculty whenever they meet for an hour or so," said Mr. Hayden, with a genial smile, as he passed the plates.
"Oh, we have indeed had a lovely time, and a profitable one, too, I hope," said Mrs. Reade, impulsively.
"You have about converted Mrs. Hayden to your ideas, you and Helen together, I presume," remarked Mr. Reade, as he spread his napkin out to its fullest capacity.
"I should certainly like to be converted, if so many wonderful things are possible as I have heard about this afternoon," and Mrs. Hayden showed by the unusual energy in her manner and the brightness of her eyes that something had inspired her to an unwonted degree.
"Well now, tell me what all this is about. You seem to have conspired to talk in riddles," exclaimed Mr. Hayden, with an injured air.
"Why, it is this new 'craze' they call Christian Healing that seems to have taken hold of our worthy partners, Mr. Hayden," exclaimed Mr. Reade, with a half-believing, half-skeptical air.
He really believed much more than he cared to acknowledge, but until he was better informed of Mr. Hayden's opinions, he thought "discretion the better part of valor." Someway we often stumble upon such characters in life. Good-natured souls they are, and so anxious to please everybody.
"I am not sure but there is a good deal in that, Reade. I heard some gentlemen talking about what was being done in Chicago, and it is truly wonderful. After all, we know that the mind has a great influence over the body, and why shouldn't we discover new abilities and powers in that as we develop in other directions?"
"To be sure; just what I have always said, and now I am having an opportunity to prove it since my wife is willing to listen," replied Mr. Reade, with graceful diplomacy.
"Oh, there is something far beyond what you gentlemen see—something so spiritual and beautiful, that mere intellect can not recognize it. But you will come to that after awhile, if you only seek to know for Truth's sake, though the recognition of what you see often comes first," interposed Miss Greening, with a warm flush of enthusiasm on her face.
"Certainly. I believe our capacity to recognize higher phases of thought grows with our eagerness to receive. That is true of any branch of study," said Mrs. Hayden, with conviction. She was well pleased that her husband was so favorably inclined to hear, and expressed himself so cordially. While she was quite independent in her own way of thinking, it was still a keen pleasure to have her husband on the same side. He, on the other hand, had great confidence in her judgment, and generally allowed himself to be convinced, even if he had an opinion in the beginning. They had been especially near to each other the last year.
Miss Greening was mentally congratulating herself on having found such a ready audience, and felt as though she could do anything in the way of healing, as she talked on and on, telling them the many things that had happened in Princeton. She finished by saying, enthusiastically:
"When I had such wonderful proofs right before my eyes, do you wonder that I looked with awe and astonishment and wanted to know the secret of this power? Can you wonder that I felt anxious to go forth into all the world and preach the gospel? Oh, how delightful, I thought, to carry such blessed news and be able to give such blessed proof! So when Cousin Ruth's letter came, asking me to make her a visit, I felt that perhaps an opportunity would offer in which I might demonstrate the truth of my precious science, and here it is ready for me, the very work I wanted. Yes, just as far as possible will I use my knowledge, though as yet it is but little, to help Mrs. Hayden."
Miss Greening had waxed eloquent in her unconscious enthusiasm, and seeing the whole company gazing at her in astonished admiration, she paused suddenly, with a vivid flush on her face, saying: "Pardon me. I did not mean to monopolize the conversation."
"That apology is entirely unnecessary, for we have been listening to something so new that its very newness and unconventionality is quite refreshing, and certainly interesting," said Mr. Hayden, warmly.
"Surely, there must be some healing virtue even in your talk, for I feel remarkably well to-day," was his wife's delighted addition.
"How glad, oh, how glad I am," fluttered Mrs. Reade.
A movement from Jem caused Mrs. Hayden to notice his extra dish of sauce and huge piece of frosted cake.
"No, Jem, dear, you mustn't eat any more to-night, and you know mamma don't want you to have any cake."
"O-o-o-h, peaze, tan't I have some more?"
"Not any more to-day. You know you had to be sick all night, not long ago, and mamma had to give you some medicine. You don't want to have to take paregoric, do you?"
"No-o-o, but I want e take!"
"Mamma said you couldn't have any. You're too little, anyway. Didn't I tell you I ought to have the biggest piece 'cause my stomach's the biggest, an' I'm not afraid of stomachache. Give me your sauce, if you can't eat it," said shameless Fred.
Papa and mamma Hayden looked upon their oldest son in dismay, as he thus openly delivered his sentiments.
"Hush, Freddie, you mustn't want any more, either, nor talk that way to Jem. You have had enough for to-night."
"Well, I've had six biscuits any way," and Fred settled himself back with a satisfied air as though he could stand anything if necessary, while poor Jem was taken away from the table crying as if his heart would break at the loss of his coveted sweets.
"You see, we seldom have company, and the children are unused to sweet things as a rule, because the doctor always says their diet must be carefully attended to, in order to avoid inflammation of the bowels, which Jem once had," explained Mrs. Hayden with the old look of weariness for a moment settling back on her face.
"Just wait till you have studied Christian Healing and then see how to manage," said Mrs. Reade with sparkling eyes.
"Have you taken such a fancy to this too, Mrs. Reade?" asked Mr. Hayden, rather teasingly.
"Oh, she's almost a crank now," answered her husband, with a merry twinkle.
"Well, it is very good to have such an article in the family. It keeps things lively and announces the world's progress with unerring certainty," she retorted, and with this good-natured sally they rose from the table. The evening was spent in a mixture of small talk and earnestness, and before they departed Mrs. Hayden received her first treatment.
"Like an AEolian harp, that wakes No certain air, but overtakes Far thought with music that it makes,—
"Such seemed the whisper at my side; 'What is't thou knowest, sweet voice?' I cried; 'A hidden hope,' the voice replied."
The second morning after this Mrs. Hayden awoke, feeling much better than she had for months. A strange, happy feeling possessed her. All that had seemed dark and hopeless now appeared as nothing but gossamer fog-wreaths. The world seemed so joyous and beautiful. God seemed so near, so loving, so all-protecting. Why had she ever doubted the possibility of health? Surely it was easy to feel well when she felt happy; and yet, would this last? Had this delightful change any connection with Miss Greening's treatment? No, surely not. It would be too unreasonable to expect any benefit so soon; besides, she was probably no better physically, that is, her lameness and dyspepsia were not touched as yet, if indeed they ever could be. Well, how it would astonish everybody if she really were cured, and could walk like her old self again. Her stiffened limb would have to undergo a marvelous change, but time would tell—it seemed nothing was beyond reach of this extraordinary Power. Miss Greening was so sincere and earnest, she could not for a moment doubt the truth of her statements, besides Mr. Hayden himself confessed to having heard of the wonderful works, though he had never mentioned it before, strangely enough. At the time it probably appeared so vague and visionary, that he had thought best not to excite her curiosity and hope without cause.
How glad she was that he had at last allowed her to try this without ridiculing or scolding her. How beautiful this theory was, but it seemed too good to be true. She would not be carried away with it until she had demonstrated beyond doubt, until she could see the reason and understand it.
The clock struck nine. Why, it was time to rise, and she really felt hungry, so hungry that dry toast and hot water had no attractions for her. She wondered if there would be anything on the table she dared not eat; it would be hard to resist if there were. Thus musing she dressed with more alacrity and energy than she had displayed for many months.
Her husband stood in the doorway as she left her room, and remarked as they went down stairs:
"You must have had a good sleep last night, you are so bright and spry this morning."
"Yes, indeed, I can scarcely remember when the night has passed so quickly and the morning seemed so exhilarating; please help me down this turn, won't you? It is always so hard to get down stairs."
The cane was brought into requisition, and with Mr. Hayden's help the stairs were descended, but the refractory limb was forgotten again in the interest with which she viewed the breakfast table.
"Mamma, we've waited and waited till we thought we'd have to eat something, so we each took a doughnut to save time," was the explanatory greeting of Fred, who acted as spokesman for the three hungry culprits, who had this time, at least, disobeyed the imperative injunction not to eat cake the first thing in the morning.
"Why, children, don't you remember how Dr. Jackson—"
"Well, mamma, I heard that lady 'at was here, say 'twouldn't hurt us to eat if you wasn't so 'fraid 'bout our stomachs; an' she's a doctor, too, an' ladies know 's much 's men, 'cos you said so," interrupted the irrepressible, as usual, with unanswerable argument.
"Well, we'll see this time, but you must be more careful to remember what mamma wishes you to do," said Mrs. Hayden more mildly than usual, while her eyes smiled a little.
The breakfast was brought in, and, much to the astonishment of all, she recklessly disregarded the dry toast and hot water, mutely appealing to her from the side of her plate, and ate heartily of beefsteak, potatoes, and pan cakes. "I am so hungry, and will risk it on the strength of Fred's reminder," she apologized, as she sent her plate the third time for cakes.
"Don't tell me you've no faith in Fred's newly-acquired wisdom," laughed Mr. Hayden, and then added, with some concern, "but, really, my dear, you ought to be careful. Remember the condition of your stomach."
"That is just what she told me to forget."
"Well, it beats all how things can be turned upside down," mused Mr. Hayden, as he rose from the table preparatory to going to the store.
"It certainly is strange about this, for you remember yesterday, I even walked over to Mrs. Reade's and back without any unusual fatigue."
"Oh, yes! I've noticed various daring breaches of the old code, and, more than all, I've seen the best color in your face that has been there for many a month," and he went out with a thoughtful expression on his face.
"Mamma's well now," said little Jem, timidly, "'cos she puts me to bed."
"Yes, an' we can make a noise when we dress, an' talk 'bout Christmas," added Fred, as he was walking about, wiping his hands, in his usual restless manner.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."—Shakespeare.
Of course Kate and Grace were told about the new way of being healed, and Grace looked on at first with her usual incredulity, but when she saw Mrs. Hayden getting so well and looking so happy, she began to wonder and then to exclaim. Then she wanted to learn something about this new "doctrine," and Mrs. Hayden had Miss Greening come over and meet the girls one evening so they could hear her explain a little about it. Grace was delighted, saying that was more reasonable than anything she had ever heard.
"I really should like to learn it," she said for the third time as they walked home.
"Why, you are really enthusiastic about it," said Kate, giving the artistic arm a gentle squeeze.
"I must confess, Kate, that it is nearer my idea of religion than anything I ever heard, and it is marvelous to see Mrs. Hayden. Did you see how bright she looked to-night? More like her old self than since her sickness. I can't understand it."
"She said her limb was actually growing natural again so she could bend it," added Kate.
"If she could be cured, it would be a wonderful demonstration or proof of the theory," remarked Grace.
"Oh, I don't know, Grace, I am afraid, after all, it might be wrong. You know it says in the Bible we are to beware of false doctrines, and the miracles of anti-Christ, and this may be that very thing," said Kate, with a sudden smiting of conscience and reproaching herself that she had not thought of this before. She had been brought up a strict Methodist, but had grown rather careless of religious matters, till all at once she realized the mighty import of her backsliding.
"I don't think if there is such a thing, it could do so much good, and good power must come from the God of goodness," answered Grace, with unusual gentleness. They walked on in silence, each pondering her own thoughts.
Three weeks after, Mrs. Hayden was known as a restored invalid, was daily answering a thousand questions as to how it was done. Was it really so? Could she walk as well as ever? Didn't she get tired? Had she any faith after all? etc.
She patiently told them the truth of the matter, that her limb had become well and pliable as ever, that her stomach was perfectly sound, her head free from nervous aching, her nights a joyous rest and her days a round of delightful labor.
For the first time she learned there had been many cures, and several classes taught in Hampton, but no case had excited the attention, public and private, that hers had.
The various members of society wagged their wise heads, and cast mingled glances of pity, wonder, ridicule or disdain upon the poor deluded victim of the "latest humbug." Even the select circles heard of it as a report finally reached the daily paper, which appeared with a glaring head and ridiculous comments.
One of the weeklies contented itself by reprinting a scathing denunciation from a prominent religious paper. Another contained clippings from an Iowa paper giving an account of the arrest and trial of a so-called Christian Scientist for illegal practice. But it failed to add that "the judge instructed the jury to return a verdict for the defendant," remarking that "under the constitution and laws of Iowa it is no crime for a person to pray for his afflicted neighbor."
Among the worthy M. D.'s, a miniature storm arose and spent itself in the characteristic fashion of storms, now carrying everything before it, in its impetuous fury, now quietly subsiding into a ripple of condescending concession, or languid comment, now breaking out with renewed force into explosive epithets or vindictive rage.
Dr. Crouse expressed his astonishment that anybody should have the audacity to practice medicine without a diploma, as this woman evidently did, and demanded that the authorities enforce the law at once with the utmost rigor—. "Such quacks ought to be dealt with without mercy, as an example to other upstarts!" and with an angry growl the doctor recklessly spat the whole width of the sidewalk.
Dr. Jones admitted that the mind had a great deal to do with the body, and possibly this mind cure might help nervous prostration or hysterical women, but if Mrs. Hayden's limb was healed, depend upon it, the medicine taken all those months was the cause.
Dr. Bundy considered the matter too absurd to even mention.
Dr. Hone went up and down the streets, loudly denouncing such "humbugs," while his partner, Lapland, laughed at the preposterous idea of learning all about materia medica in three weeks! "It is simply ridiculous, sheer nonsense! Ha, ha, ha!" and the office fairly shook at the outburst of merriment.
On the other hand, Dr. Wilson was deeply interested, and went so far as to call on Miss Greening, and to her he frankly admitted there was an unaccountable power in the mind some way, and if it did the work for suffering humanity he was quite ready to welcome it, and anxious, for his part, to investigate the matter.
Kind, liberal Dr. Jackson, Mrs. Hayden's former family physician, shook his head wonderingly, but said nothing. He was a careful thinker and needed time for his conclusions, but as every one well knew, he had the friendliest, most charitable heart that ever was, and very candid, withal, in his judgments, and fair in his investigations. So in time they would know what he thought. It was whispered about that he had already invested in some books, and was quietly studying Christian Healing in his leisure moments.