The Inside of the Cup
"RISE, CROWNED WITH LIGHT!"
The Church of St. John's, after a peaceful existence of so many years, had
suddenly become the stage on which rapid and bewildering dramas were played: the
storm-centre of chaotic forces, hitherto unperceived, drawn from the atmosphere
around her. For there had been more publicity, more advertising. "The Rector of
St. John's will not talk"—such had been one headline: neither would the vestry
talk. And yet, despite all this secrecy, the whole story of the suspension of
Hodder's salary was in print, and an editorial (which was sent to him) from a
popular and sensational journal, on "tainted money," in which Hodder was held up
to the public as a martyr because he refused any longer to accept for the Church
ill-gotten gains from Consolidated Tractions and the like.
This had opened again the floodgates of the mails, and it seemed as though
every person who had a real or fancied grievance against Eldon Parr had written
him. Nor did others of his congregation escape. The press of visitors at the
parish house suddenly increased once more, men and women came to pour into his
ears an appalling aeries of confessions; wrongs which, like Garvin's, had
engendered bitter hatreds; woes, temptations, bewilderments. Hodder strove to
keep his feet, sought wisdom to deal patiently with all, though at times he was
tried to the uttermost. And he held steadfastly before his mind the great thing,
that they did come. It was what he had longed for, prayed for, despaired of. He
was no longer crying in the empty wilderness, but at last in touch-in natural
touch with life: with life in all its sorrow, its crudity and horror. He had
contrived, by the grace of God, to make the connection for his church.
That church might have been likened to a ship sailing out of the snug harbour
in which she had lain so long to range herself gallantly beside those whom she
had formerly beheld, with complacent cowardice, fighting her fight: young men
and women, enlisted under other banners than her own, doing their part in the
battle of the twentieth century for humanity. Her rector was her captain. It was
he who had cut her cables, quelled, for a time at least, her mutineers; and
sought to hearten those of her little crew who wavered, who shrank back appalled
as they realized something of the immensity of the conflict in which her destiny
was to be wrought out.
To carry on the figure, Philip Goodrich might have been deemed her first
officer. He, at least, was not appalled, but grimly conscious of the greatness
of the task to which they had set their hands. The sudden transformation of
conservative St. John's was no more amazing than that of the son of a family
which had never been without influence in the community. But that influence had
always been conservative. And Phil Goodrich had hitherto taken but a listless
interest in the church of his fathers. Fortune had smiled upon him, trusts had
come to him unsought. He had inherited the family talent for the law, the
freedom to practise when and where he chose. His love of active sport had led
him into many vacations, when he tramped through marsh and thicket after game,
and at five and forty there was not an ounce of superfluous flesh on his hard
body. In spite of his plain speaking, an overwhelming popularity at college had
followed him to his native place, and no organization, sporting or serious, was
formed in the city that the question was not asked, "What does Goodrich think
His whole-souled enlistment in the cause of what was regarded as radical
religion became, therefore, the subject of amazed comment in the many clubs he
now neglected. The "squabble" in St. John's, as it was generally referred to,
had been aired in the press, but such was the magic in a name made without
conscious effort that Phil Goodrich's participation in the struggle had a
palpably disarming effect: and there were not a few men who commonly spent their
Sunday mornings behind plate-glass windows, surrounded by newspapers, as well as
some in the athletic club (whose contests Mr. Goodrich sometimes refereed) who
went to St. John's out of curiosity and who waited, afterwards, for an interview
with Phil or the rector. The remark of one of these was typical of others. He
had never taken much stock in religion, but if Goodrich went in for it he
thought he'd go and look it over.
Scarcely a day passed that Phil did not drop in at the parish house.... And
he set himself, with all the vigour of an unsquandered manhood, to help Hodder
to solve the multitude of new problems by which they were beset.
A free church was a magnificent ideal, but how was it to be carried on
without an Eldon Parr, a Ferguson, a Constable, a Mrs. Larrabbee, or a Gore who
would make up the deficit at the end of the year? Could weekly contributions, on
the envelope system, be relied upon, provided the people continued to come and
fill the pews of absent and outraged parishioners? The music was the most
expensive in the city, although Mr. Taylor, the organist, had come to the rector
and offered to cut his salary in half, and to leave that in abeyance until the
finances could be adjusted. And his example had been followed by some of the
high-paid men in the choir. Others had offered to sing without pay. And there
were the expenses of the parish house, an alarming sum now Eldon Parr had
withdrawn: the salaries of the assistants. Hodder, who had saved a certain sum
in past years, would take nothing for the present.... Asa Waring and Phil
Goodrich borrowed on their own responsibility...
Something of the overwhelming nature of the forces Hodder had summoned was
visibly apparent on that first Sunday after what many had called his apostasy.
Instead of the orderly, sprucely-dressed groups of people which were wont to
linger in greetings before the doors of St. John's, a motley crowd thronged the
pavement and streamed into the church, pressing up the aisles and invading the
sacred precincts where decorous parishioners had for so many years knelt in
comfort and seclusion. The familiar figure of Gordon Atterbury was nowhere to be
seen, and the Atterbury pew was occupied by shop-girls in gaudy hats. Eldon
Parr's pew was filled, Everett Constable's, Wallis Plimpton's; and the ushers
who had hastily been mustered were awestricken and powerless. Such a resistless
invasion by the hordes of the unknown might well have struck with terror some of
those who hitherto had had the courage to standup loyally in the rector's
support. It had a distinct flavour of revolution: contained, for some, a grim
suggestion of a time when that vague, irresponsible, and restless monster, the
mob, would rise in its might and brutally and inexorably take possession of all
Alison had met Eleanor Goodrich in Burton Street, and as the two made their
way into the crowded vestibule they encountered Martha Preston, whose husband
was Alison's cousin, in the act of flight.
"You're not going in!" she exclaimed.
"Of course we are."
Mrs. Preston stared at Alison in amazement.
"I didn't know you were still here," she said, irrelevantly. "I'm pretty
liberal, my dear, as you know,—but this is more than I can stand. Look at them!"
She drew up her skirts as a woman brushed against her. "I believe in the poor
coming to church, and all that, but this is mere vulgar curiosity, the result of
all that odious advertising in the newspapers. My pew is filled with them. If I
had stayed, I should have fainted. I don't know what to think of Mr. Hodder."
"Mr. Hodder is not to blame for the newspapers," replied Alison, warmly. She
glanced around her at the people pushing past, her eyes shining, her colour
high, and there was the ring of passion in her voice which had do Martha Preston
a peculiarly disquieting effect. "I think it's splendid that they are here at
all! I don't care what brought them."
Mrs. Preston stared again. She was a pretty, intelligent woman, at whose
dinner table one was sure to hear the discussion of some "modern problem": she
believed herself to be a socialist. Her eyes sought Eleanor Goodrich's, who
stood by, alight with excitement.
"But surely you, Eleanor-you're not going in! You'll never be able to stand
it, even if you find a seat. The few people we know who've come are leaving. I
just saw the Allan Pendletons."
"Have you seen Phil?" Eleanor asked.
"Oh, yes, he's in there, and even he's helpless. And as I came out poor Mr.
Bradley was jammed up against the wall. He seemed perfectly stunned...."
At this moment they were thrust apart. Eleanor quivered as she was carried
through the swinging doors into the church.
"I think you're right," she whispered to Alison, "it is splendid. There's
something about it that takes hold of me, that carries one away. It makes me
wonder how it can be guided—what will come of it?"
They caught sight of Phil pushing his way towards them, and his face bore the
set look of belligerency which Eleanor knew so well, but he returned her smile.
Alison's heart warmed towards him.
"What do you think of this?" he demanded. "Most of our respectable friends
who dared to come have left in a towering rage—to institute lawsuits, probably.
At tiny rate, strangers are not being made to wait until ten minutes after the
service begins. That's one barbarous custom abolished."
"Strangers seem to have taken matters in their own hands for once" Eleanor
smiled. "We've made up our minds to stay, Phil, even if we have to stand."
"That's the right spirit," declared her husband, glancing at Alison, who had
remained silent, with approval and by no means a concealed surprise. "I think I
know of a place where I can squeeze you in, near Professor Bridges and Sally, on
the side aisle."
"Are George and Sally here?" Eleanor exclaimed.
"Hodder," said Phil, "is converting the heathen. You couldn't have kept
George away. And it was George who made Sally stay!"
Presently they found themselves established between a rawboned young
workingman who smelled strongly of soap, whose hair was plastered tightly
against his forehead, and a young woman who leaned against the wall. The black
in which she was dressed enhanced the whiteness and weariness of her face, and
she sat gazing ahead of her, apparently unconscious of those who surrounded her,
her hands tightly folded in her lap. In their immediate vicinity, indeed, might
have been found all the variety of type seen in the ordinary street car. And in
truth there were some who seemed scarcely to realize they were not in a public
vehicle. An elaborately dressed female in front of them, whose expansive hat
brushed her neighbours, made audible comments to a stout man with a red neck
which was set in a crease above his low collar.
"They tell me Eldon Parr's pew has a gold plate on it. I wish I knew which it
was. It ain't this one, anyway, I'll bet."
"Say, they march in in this kind of a church, don't they?" some one said
Eleanor, with her lips tightly pressed, opened her prayer book. Alison's lips
were slightly parted as she gazed about her, across the aisle. Her experience of
the Sunday before, deep and tense as it had been, seemed as nothing compared to
this; the presence of all these people stimulated her inexpressibly, fired her;
and she felt the blood pulsing through her body as she contrasted this gathering
with the dignified, scattered congregation she had known. She scarcely
recognized the church itself ... She speculated on the homes from which these
had come, and the motives which had brought them.
For a second the perfume of the woman in front, mingling with other less
definable odours, almost sickened her, evoking suggestions of tawdry, trivial,
vulgar lives, fed on sensation and excitement; but the feeling was almost
immediately swept away by a renewed sense of the bigness of the thing which she
beheld,—of which, indeed, she was a part. And her thoughts turned more
definitely to the man who had brought it all about. Could he control it, subdue
it? Here was Opportunity suddenly upon him, like a huge, curving, ponderous
wave. Could he ride it? or would it crush him remorselessly?
Sensitive, alert, quickened as she was, she began to be aware of other
values: of the intense spiritual hunger in the eyes of the woman in black, the
yearning of barren, hopeless existences. And here and there Alison's look fell
upon more prosperous individuals whose expressions proclaimed incredulity, a
certain cynical amusement at the spectacle: others seemed uneasy, as having got
more than they had bargained for, deliberating whether to flee... and then, just
as her suspense was becoming almost unbearable, the service began....
How it had been accomplished, the thing she later felt, was beyond the range
of intellectual analysis. Nor could she have told how much later, since the
passage of time had gone unnoticed. Curiosities, doubts, passions, longings,
antagonisms—all these seemed—as the most natural thing in the world—to have been
fused into one common but ineffable emotion. Such, at least, was the impression
to which Alison startlingly awoke. All the while she had been conscious of
Hodder, from the moment she had heard his voice in the chancel; but somehow this
consciousness of him had melted, imperceptibly, into that of the great
congregation, once divided against itself, which had now achieved unity of soul.
The mystery as to how this had been effected was the more elusive when she
considered the absence of all methods which might have been deemed revivalistic.
Few of those around her evinced a familiarity with the historic service. And
then occurred to her his explanation of personality as the medium by which all
truth is revealed, by which the current of religion, the motive power in all
history, is transmitted. Surely this was the explanation, if it might be called
one! That tingling sense of a pervading spirit which was his,—and yet not his.
He was the incandescent medium, and yet, paradoxically, gained in identity and
individuality and was inseparable from the thing itself.
She could not see him. A pillar hid the chancel from her view.
The service, to which she had objected as archaic, became subordinate,
spiritualized, dominated by the personality. Hodder had departed from the usual
custom by giving out the page of the psalter: and the verses, the throbbing
responses which arose from every corner of the church, assumed a new
significance, the vision of the ancient seer revived. One verse he read
resounded with prophecy.
"Thou shalt deliver me from the strivings of the people: and thou shalt make
me the head of the heathen."
And the reply:
"A people whom I have not known shall serve me."
The working-man next to Alison had no prayer-book. She thrust her own into
his hand, and they read from it together....
When they came to the second hymn the woman in front of her had wonderfully
shed her vulgarity. Her voice—a really good one—poured itself out:
"See a long race thy spacious courts adorn,
See future sons, and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies."
Once Alison would have been critical of the words She was beyond that, now.
What did it matter, if the essential Thing were present?
The sermon was a surprise. And those who had come for excitement, for the
sensation of hearing a denunciation of a class they envied and therefore hated,
and nevertheless strove to imitate, were themselves rebuked. Were not their
standards the same? And if the standard were false, it followed inevitably that
the life was false also.
Hodder fairly startled these out of their preconceived notions of
Christianity. Let them shake out of their minds everything they had thought it
to mean, churchgoing, acceptance of creed and dogma, contributive charity,
withdrawal from the world, rites and ceremonies: it was none of these.
The motive in the world to-day was the acquisition of property; the motive of
Christianity was absolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to this. Shock their
practical sense as it might, Christianity looked forward with steadfast faith to
a time when the incentive to amass property would be done away with, since it
was a source of evil and a curse to mankind. If they would be Christians, let
them face that. Let them enter into life, into the struggles going on around
them to-day against greed, corruption, slavery, poverty, vice and crime. Let
them protest, let them fight, even as Jesus Christ had fought and protested. For
as sure as they sat there the day would come when they would be called to
account, would be asked the question—what had they done to make the United
States of America a better place to live in?
There were in the Apostolic writings and tradition misinterpretations of life
which had done much harm. Early Christianity had kept its eyes fixed on another
world, and had ignored this: had overlooked the fact that every man and woman
was put here to do a particular work. In the first epistle of Peter the advice
was given, "submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake."
But Christ had preached democracy, responsibility, had foreseen a millennium,
the fulfilment of his Kingdom, when all men, inspired by the Spirit, would make
and keep in spirit the ordinances of God.
Before they could do God's work and man's work they must first be awakened,
filled with desire. Desire was power. And he prayed that some of them, on this
day, would receive that desire, that power which nothing could resist. The
desire which would lead each and every one to the gates of the Inner World which
was limitless and eternal, filled with dazzling light....
Let them have faith then. Not credulity in a vague God they could not
imagine, but faith in the Spirit of the Universe, humanity, in Jesus Christ who
had been the complete human revelation of that Spirit, who had suffered and died
that man might not live in ignorance of it. To doubt humanity,—such was the
Great Refusal, the sin against the Holy Ghost, the repudiation of the only true
After a pause, he spoke simply of his hope for St. John's. If he remained
here his ambition was that it would be the free temple of humanity, of Jesus
Christ, supported not by a few, but by all,—each in accordance with his means.
Of those who could afford nothing, nothing would be required. Perhaps this did
not sound practical, nor would it be so if the transforming inspiration failed.
He could only trust and try, hold up to them the vision of the Church as a
community of willing workers for the Kingdom...
After the service was over the people lingered in the church, standing in the
pews and aisles, as though loath to leave. The woman with the perfume and the
elaborate hat was heard to utter a succinct remark.
"Say, Charlie, I guess he's all right. I never had it put like that."
The thick-necked man's reply was inaudible.
Eleanor Goodrich was silent and a little pale as she pressed close to Alison.
Her imagination had been stretched, as it were, and she was still held in awe by
the vastness of what she had heard and seen. Vaster even than ever,—so it
appeared now,—demanding greater sacrifices than she had dreamed of. She looked
back upon the old as at receding shores.
Alison, with absorbed fascination, watched the people; encountered, here and
there, recognitions from men and women with whom she had once danced and dined
in what now seemed a previous existence. Why had they come? and how had they
received the message? She ran into a little man, a dealer in artists' supplies
who once had sold her paints and brushes, who stared and bowed uncertainly. She
surprised him by taking his hand.
"Did you like it?" she asked, impulsively.
"It's what I've been thinking for years, Miss Parr," he responded, "thinking
and feeling. But I never knew it was Christianity. And I never thought—" he
stopped and looked at her, alarmed.
"Oh," she said, "I believe in it, too—or try to."
She left him, mentally gasping.... Without, on the sidewalk, Eleanor Goodrich
was engaged in conversation with a stockily built man, inclined to stoutness; he
had a brown face and a clipped, bristly mustache. Alison paused involuntarily,
and saw him start and hesitate as his clear, direct gaze met her own.
Bedloe Hubbell was one of those who had once sought to marry her. She
recalled him as an amiable and aimless boy; and after she had gone East she had
received with incredulity and then with amusement the news of his venture into
altruistic politics. It was his efficiency she had doubted, not his sincerity.
Later tidings, contemptuous and eventually irritable utterances of her own
father, together with accounts in the New York newspapers of his campaign, had
convinced her in spite of herself that Bedloe Hubbell had actually shaken the
seats of power. And somehow, as she now took him in, he looked it.
His transformation was one of the signs, one of the mysteries of the times.
The ridicule and abuse of the press, the opposition and enmity of his childhood
friends, had developed the man of force she now beheld, and who came forward to
"Alison!" he exclaimed. He had changed in one sense, and not in another. Her
colour deepened as the sound of his voice brought back the lapsed memories of
the old intimacy. For she had been kind to him, kinder than to any other; and
the news of his marriage—to a woman from the Pacific coast—had actually induced
in her certain longings and regrets. When the cards had reached her, New York
and the excitement of the life into which she had been weakly, if somewhat
unwittingly, drawn had already begun to pall.
"I'm so glad to see you," she told him. "I've heard—so many things. And I'm
very much in sympathy with what you're doing."
They crossed the street, and walked away from the church together. She had
surprised him, and made him uncomfortable.
"You've been away so long," he managed to say, "perhaps you do not realize—"
"Oh, yes, I do," she interrupted. "I am on the other side, on your side. I
thought of writing you, when you nearly won last autumn."
"You see it, too?" he exclaimed.
"Yes, I've changed, too. Not so much as you," she added, shyly. "I always had
a certain sympathy, you know, with the Robin Hoods."
He laughed at her designation, both pleased and taken aback by her praise...
But he wondered if she knew the extent of his criticism of her father.
"That rector is a wonderful man," he broke out, irrelevantly. "I can't get
over' him—I can't quite grasp the fact that he exists, that he has dared to do
what he has done."
This brought her colour back, but she faced him bravely. "You think he is
"Don't you?" he demanded.
She assented. "But I am curious to know why you do. Somehow, I never thought
"As religious," he supplied. "And you? If I remember rightly—"
"Yes," she interrupted, "I revolted, too. But Mr. Hodder puts it so—it makes
"He has not only made me wonder," declared Bedloe Hubbell, emphatically, "I
never knew what religion was until I heard this man last Sunday."
"Until then, I hadn't been inside of a church for fifteen years,—except to
get married. My wife takes the children, occasionally, to a Presbyterian church
"And why, did you go then?" she asked.
"I am a little ashamed of my motive," he confessed. "There were rumours—I
don't pretend to know how they got about—" he hesitated, once more aware of
delicate ground. "Wallis Plimpton said something to a man who told me. I believe
I went out of sheer curiosity to hear what Hodder would have to say. And then, I
had been reading, wondering whether there were anything in Christianity, after
"Yes?" she said, careless now as to what cause he might attribute her
eagerness. "And he gave you something?"
It was then she grasped the truth that this sudden renewed intimacy was the
result of the impression Hodder had left upon the minds of both.
"He gave me everything," Bedloe Hubbell replied. "I am willing to acknowledge
it freely. In his explanation of the parable of the Prodigal Son, he gave me the
clew to our modern times. What was for me an inextricable puzzle has become
clear as day. He has made me understand, at last, the force which stirred me,
which goaded me until I was fairly compelled to embark in the movement which the
majority of our citizens still continue to regard as quixotic. I did not
identify that force with religion, then, and when I looked back on the first
crazy campaign we embarked upon, with the whole city laughing at me and at the
obscure and impractical personnel we had, there were moments when it seemed
incomprehensible folly. I had nothing to gain, and everything to lose by such a
venture. I was lazy and easy-going, as you know. I belonged to the privileged
class, I had sufficient money to live in comparative luxury all my days, I had
no grudge against these men whom I had known all my life."
"But it must have had some beginning," said Alison.
"I was urged to run for the city council, by these very men." Bedloe Hubbell
smiled at the recollection. "They accuse me now of having indulged once in the
same practice, for which I am condemning them. Our company did accept rebates,
and we sought favours from the city government. I have confessed it freely on
the platform. Even during my first few months in the council what may be called
the old political practices seemed natural to me. But gradually the iniquity of
it all began to dawn on me, and then I couldn't rest until I had done something
towards stopping it.
"At length I began to see," he continued, "that education of the masses was
to be our only preserver, that we should have to sink or swim by that. I began
to see, dimly, that this was true for other movements going on to-day. Now comes
Hodder with what I sincerely believe is the key. He compels men like me to
recognize that our movements are not merely moral, but religious. Religion, as
yet unidentified, is the force behind these portentous stirrings of politics in
our country, from sea to sea. He aims, not to bring the Church into politics,
but to make her the feeder of these movements. Men join them to-day from all
motives, but the religious is the only one to which they may safely be trusted.
He has rescued the jewel from the dust-heap of tradition, and holds it up,
shining, before our eyes."
Alison looked at her companion.
"That," she said, "is a very beautiful phrase."
Bedloe Hubbell smiled queerly.
"I don't know why I'm telling you all this. I can't usually talk about it.
But the sight of that congregation this morning, mixed as it was, and the way he
managed to weld it together."
"Ah, you noticed that!" she exclaimed sharply.
"I know. It was a question of feeling it."
There was a silence.
"Will he succeed?" she asked presently.
"Ah," said Bedloe Hubbell, "how is it possible to predict it? The forces
against him are tremendous, and it is usually the pioneer who suffers. I agree
absolutely with his definition of faith, I have it. And the work he has done
already can never be undone. The time is ripe, and it is something that he has
men like Phil Goodrich behind him, and Mr. Waring. I'm going to enlist, and from
now on I intend to get every man and woman upon whom I have any influence
whatever to go to that church...." A little later Alison, marvelling, left him.