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|S THIS TOUR SON, MY Loup?
.M. - > c^G)^-
HELEN H. GARDENER
fray You, Sir, Whose Daughter?" "Pushed by Unseen Hands,'
"Men, Women and Gods," "Sex in Brain"
"A Thoughtless Tes t " Etc.
ARENA PUBLISHING COMPANY
HELEN H. GARDENER.
'Is this-your son, my Lord ?" Shakespeare.
" The shame itself doth call for Instant remedy." Shakespeare.
" I have told you what I have seen and heard but faintly ; nothing like
the Image and horror of it." Ibid.
" What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each
other?" George Eliot.
" Our English practice of excluding from literature subjects and refer-
ences that are unfit for boys and girls, has something to recommend it, but
it undeniably leans to a certain narrowness and thinness, and to some
most nauseous hypocrisy. All subjects are not to be discussed by all ; and
one result in our case is that some of the most Important subjects In the
world receive no discussion whatever." John Morley.
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION,
[This jqok flas been taken so seriously by its critics, whether they
have criticised it favorably or unfavorably, that for the second
edition its publisher deems an explanatory preface desirable.]
IT is an interesting mental condition which enables
people to know things and not know them at the same
time; to be perfectly familiar with the facts, and yet
Jail to grasp their significance until it is put before
them in dramatic form. Then they exclaim: "This can-
not be true or I should have known it before. If it
were true, it should be understood by all ; but it is not
true it cannot be it is too shocking!"
In writing this story the author had no idea that there
would be any question as to its probability. She be-
lieved that most people of mature age, in this day of
newspapers, had become so familiar with the recital of
kindred facts that this tale would be- merely a different
presentation of a known condition; that it would be from
a new point of view, perhaps, but not a new acquaintance.
She was aware that the picture had usually been drawn
from an angle of vision opposed to her own; but she
believed that artists and public knew that there was
another side to every picture and that one day it would
be drawn. The relations of the sexes have been exploited
in song and in story ever since the first pair found in
each other interest enough to stir the emotions to the
depth of pleasure or pain that finds expression in lan-
guage. The outlook has varied with the nature, ability
or purpose of him who painted human life in words.
The method, too, has depended upon the writer. One
presents his thoughts and theories, his hopes, fears, and
suggestions, in the form of essay or didactic argument.
A.nother makes poetry a vehicle, and pleads the cause of
labor as he writes "The Song of the Shirt," or scores
ii Preface to Second Edition.
hypocrisy and cruel injustice in a rhythmic dirge like
" The Bridge of Sighs." These are not " pleasant read-
ing." They do not amuse or merely entertain. They
are not " art for art's sake" any more than was " Uncle
Tom's Cabin," or "Put Yourself in His Place" or
Hugo's "Les Miserables," or "The Man who Laughs
(By Order of the King)." Such writers had a motive
over and above and beyond the mere artistic use of lan-
guage. Exploiting their own mental ability for pastime
and profit alone did not satisfy them. They, and many
others who use poetry or fiction as a vehicle to convey
ideas to readers, had a message to give, a suggestion to
make, a criticism to offer. They chose to offer it in the
form of poetry or fiction. Those critics who insist that
poetry and fiction should be for amusement and enter-
tainment only would deprive us of
" One more unfortunate,
Weary of breath,
Gone to her death,"
and give us in its stead, "A good looking girl got tired
of living and jumped into the river. She had no home.
She became desperate and ended it all. It would be a
charity to bury her decently, and ask no questions as to
her morals. Probably they were below par."
Some readers would prefer the method of the original,
even though it is not pleasant to read and conveys a
lesson indeed several lessons very pointedly.
Now, there are many novels which are written for
people who read because they do not want to think
about anything serious or important. They want to be
amused as they fall gently to sleep of a summer day.
There are other novels which are intended for those who
enjoy fiction that not only entertains but stimulates and
arouses thought. Between the two types there is a wide
range. The latter class of readers could not be induced
Preface to Second Edition. iii
to read the former class of novels only as one might
taste a confection after dinner. The former class of
readers avoid the "novel with a purpose" as they would
the pestilence, and since such works are fortunately not
contagious, those who do not like or approve of them are
safe. They can eat their confections and welcome.
Bonbons may constitute their entire dinner. But what
is insisted upon is that they allow the same liberty of
choice to both author and reader of the more serious
and purposeful fiction.
The discussion is very old. The question is where it
was hundreds of years ago when the writers who touched
upon religious or social questions were warned away
by the sticklers for " art for art's sake" and "fiction
for pleasure only." One point this school of critics
always ignores. It is this. If they like the topic under
discussion, if it presents their side, it is legitimate
fiction and good art. If it presents the side they object
to, it is neither the one nor the other. The stronger and
more powerful the presentation the more sure they are
on this point. I will illustrate. All fiction there is
hardly an exception in Christian countries is pervaded
by subtle arguments in favor of Christianity. " She
knelt long before the altar and arose strengthened and
calmed," etc. There is, too, directly and indirectly, in
all of our fiction argument, more or less open, in favor
of certain forms of marriage, legal enactment, govern-
ment control, etc. How the wife clung to an unworthy
husband pervades fiction, and is good "art" and quite
above reproach as fiction. We are taught in many a war
story what true patriotism is and warned against the
fatal results of treason, or failure in duty to a cause.
Illustrations need not be multiplied. They are so familiar
on so many subjects that to give a hint of one will furnish
clues tq hundreds of forms of argument ia our fictjoji to
iv Preface to Second Edition.
which we are all so accustomed that we do not give them
a conscious thought. The influence over our habits of
thought is none the less powerful because we have not
stopped to analyze the motives.
Let a new idea, or "an unpopular train of thought be
suggested more or less plainly in a novel, and at once the
cry goes up, " This has no place in fiction." Its opposite
may have held place therein without a protest until it has
grown fast in our mental life.
The discussion of religion was nothing new in fiction
when the protest went up against " Robert Elsmere."
It was only that the point of view and method of hand-
ling the material used was new to most novel readers as
an argument in fiction.
Sex relations have been the theme of song and story
since the beginning of fictitious writing. Woman's rela-
tions to man have been exploited therein from the time
she entered the world until she was borne to the grave.
Nothing has been too secret or too sacred to be used as
argument or suggestion. Even the throes of maternity
have not escaped portrayal. Her foibles have met
with no veil of charity, and so courtesan life (open and
secret) is as familiar to the- readers of fiction as is life it-
self that is to say, the courtesan life of the woman.
How long she would live after the " first false step " ;
how, and when, and where, and why that step was taken,
down through all its stages until the father waves her
from his own immaculate presence with " You are no
longer child of mine, etc." We all know the infinite
variety of forms in which it has served to sharpen and
supply the novelist's pen. But beginning with the " first
false step" of a boy, whether innocently taken or other-
wise, and following him from the other point of view,
in man's relation to woman, is, it would seem, not fit
for fiction and lias no place therein according to one class
Preface to Second .Edition. v
of critics. There is nothing new in the criticism, and
there is nothing new in the topic. The point of view
only is unusual to these critics. There are those who
think it might be well for this angle of vision to be more
familiar to them.
This novel was not written as history, but there is not
a material point in it which is not based on fact. Nor
are they based upon isolated or particularly unusual
facts, as would be well understood, were readers accus-
tomed to comprehend what they read in newspapers
and in legal, medical and historical works.
Here again comes in the effectiveness of fiction. One
reads a legal or medical or philosophical essay wherein
all the facts appear, but he is not stirred. His imagina-
tion is too weak or too little aroused to recognize the
bearings of cold formal statement. Then, again, the
readers of such treatises are, as a rule, already informed
of the facts, while the great general public, which does
not dream of them, never reads such essays or books.
America's most gifted orator wrote wisely when he
" You can put all your ideas, theories, and fancies into the form
of story. It is far better than direct preaching, because it touches
the artistic sense and reaches the heart and brain through the
perception of the beautiful or dramatic. . . . Pathos and philosophy
in story will make all who read think, and what they think will
make their heads clearer and their hearts better."
Again he has said:
"It was not the fashion for people to speak or write their
thoughts. We were flooded with the literature of hypocrisy. The
writers did not faithfully describe the worlds in which they lived.
They endeavored to make a fashionable world. They pretended
that the cottage or the hut in which they dwelt was a palace, and
they called the little area in which they threw their slops their
domain, their realm, their empire. They were ashamed of the real,
of what their world actually was. They imitated ; that is to say,
they told lies, and these lies tilled the literature of most lands.
vi Preface to Second Edition.
Whoever differs with the multitude, especially with a led multi-
tude that is to say, with a multitude of taggers will find out
from their leaders that he has committed an unpardonable sin. It
is a crime to travel a road of your own, especially if you put up
guide-boards for the information of others.
No writer must be measured by a word or line or paragraph.
He is to be measured .by h work by the tendency, not of one
line, but by the tendency of all.
Which way does the great stream tend? Is it for good or evil?
Are the motives high and noble, or low and infamous?
We cannot measure Shakespeare by a few lines, neither can we
measure the Bible by a few chapters.
The great man who gives a true transcript of his mind fascinates
and instructs. Most writers suppress individuality. They wish to
please the public. They natter the stupid and pander to the preju-
dice of their readers. They write for the market making books
as other mechanics make shoes. They have no message they bear
no torch they are simply the slaves of customers. The books
they manufacture are handled by " the trade; "^hey are regarded
as harmless. The pulpit does not object ; the young person can
read the monotonous pages without a blush or a thought. On. the
titlepages of these books you will find the imprint of the great
publishers on the rest of the pages, 'nothing. These books might
be prescribed for insomnia."
That is not only beautifully said but it is all true. Ten
thousand essays on slavery would not stir the heart and
conscience as did Mrs. Stowe's one dramatic story. Peo-
ple had thought and said that they knew all about slav-
ery but she was abused and denounced for "having
pictured horrors that did not exist," as if it were pos-
sible to understand human slavery and do that!
The double system of morals which has legal and
therefore social support which makes of man a free
and dominant human being and of woman a dependent
function only and always is not understood one whit
better than was physical slavery in 1853. Race owner-
ship with its double code of moral obligation is now
illegal, and therefore looked upon as immoral and wholly
pernicious. Sex ownership is still legal, and for that
Preface to Second Edition. vii
reason, and for that only, is it recognized as less vicious
that a double standard of moral obligation should exist
between the sexes. There is but one depth of degrada-
tion below that which allowed men to hold in bondage
their fellow men and make of them financial dependents,
and legal and social and moral pensioners because they
were black; and that is the depth which is touched
when, by all legal, moral, social and financial conditions
the marriage altar is but an auction block upon which,
for the sake of the right to live, the purity and devo-
tion and loyalty of womanhood are sold not on equal
terms with no pretence of fair exchange into a per-
petual servitude of body and soul that knows no limit
and can hope ror no escape.
The black man had his food and clothes and code of
morals and duties, in which he had no voice, served to
him by a dominant race from which he could make
no appeal. He was a dependent mentally, morally, and
physically. That was the reason of his degradation.
It was not that he suffered physical hardships. He was
frequently better off^ in that regard, than was his free
brother. It was the root of the syste7n that degraded
him. He was held as an inferior with no voice in his
own control and no right to his own development.
Woman stands in that position to-day. She has no
voice in her own government, nor in fixing the stand-
ards by which she is judged and controlled. She is a
dependent morally, mentally, financially and physically.
It is all very well and very silly to say that women
control society and make the moral standards that
govern it. They do nothing of the kind. Financial de-
pendents and political nonentities create no standards.
They receive them ready made. The merest modicum
of reason will supply the proof of this.
No subject class no unrecognized, dependent class
viii Preface to Second Edition.
ever yet made public opinion either for itself or for
others. It always did, and it always must, simply reflect
the sentiments and opinions of its rulers.
It is true that many a "woman treats with scorn the
"fallen "of her sex while receiving the companion in
crime as a suitable son or husband. Who makes that
sentiment? Who decides what woman is "fit to be a
wife and mother" ? Who makes the laws that give
divorce to a husband for the least fault of the wife, but
places another standard upon the loyalty of the husband ?
Who talks about " making an honest woman" of his
companion in guilt? Who makes him "honest"?
Who enacted the legal standards upon which all these
social sentiments rest ? A man is valued of men for
many things, least of which is his chastity. A woman is
valued of men for few things, chief of which is her
chastity. This double code can by no sane or reasonable
person be claimed as woman made. Woman has had no
voice whatever in its establishment. She has the same
voice and power possessed by all financial and legally
dependent creatures in its continuation and reflection.
She is a very good mirror; but she cannot be accused
of being the creator of the original of the reflection.
The willingness to accept a degraded and subordinate
status in the world, and the assertion that they like it,
are the lowest depths of human degradation to which hu-
man beings can be reduced. A system which produces
willing legal, moral, financial and social dependents and
inferiors is one that cannot fail, as all history shows, to
breed crime and vice, poverty and insanity, imbecility
and moral obliquity enough to make of a beautiful
world a mere den of discomfort, discord, and despair.
This lesson has been taught and learned with classes
and with races ; but it is yet to bear but withered fruit
while the mother of tnese classes and races is beneath
Preface to Second Edition, ix
justice and outside of freedom, while she is a financial
dependent (which is always a slave ) a political non-
existent, (which is always a creature without defence) a
moral beggar at the feet of her companion in degrada-
tion and a social echo of the opinions, expressed or
insinuated, of those who hold over her not only all physi-
cal, financial, and social power, but who also sway her
through the tenderest and holiest ties, and scruple not,
alas, to make her the victim of her own virtue.
Freedom of religion had its novelists long ago and, in
its newer, broader phase, has them to-day. Freedom of
political choice and action has numbered many a roman-
cer and poet as its champion. Labor has not failed to
dramatize its cause in literature and on the stage. The
cause of manhood as against kingcraft, priestcraft, or
slave driver, was exploited by many a gifted soul who
with the dash of a poet's or novelist's pen showed more
people the hideousness of the old and the hope in the
newer thought than could have been induced to read or
made to understand dry legal argument or sociological
Shall not woman have her novelists also ?
The writer of this story does not claim to be the in-
spired romancer, who shall stir the world's thought
aright in the greatest, and tenderest, and holiest cause
that has ever yet been presented ; but she may venture to
hope that this volume may stir others, more gifted than
she, to paint in colors so true, and with hand so strong,
that the world must understand, and understanding,
must with bravery and kindness, meet and solve the
most far-reaching question that has ever occupied the
brain of man. A sovereign race cannot be born of sub-
ject mothers. A noble race cannot spring from the
mental and moral echo of a dominant past. A healthy
race is not a possible product of enforced and ignorant
* Preface to Second Edition.
motherhood. A truth-loving and truth-telling race will
never be borne by those who must take their opinions
from others and suppress rebellion under a show of acqui-
Moral idiots, such as Jesse Pomeroy and Reginald
Birchall in life, Pecksniffs, Becky Sharps, and Fred
Harmons in fiction, will continue to cumber the earth so
long as conditions continue to breed them.
The first condition necessary to any real manhood was
liberty to do and be the best that was in him to do and
be. Woman belongs to the same race. Her needs are
the same. It is far more important that she have the
soul and consciousness of dignified and independent
individuality than that men have it. Why ? The race
is stamped by its mothers. The codes of morals that
teach woman to lack all proper self-respect to accept
a status which throws to her, as quite good enough,
that which man scorns to accept for himself, gives
man an inheritance from his mother that keeps the
world filled with sly, incompetent, subservient, double-
dealing, over-reaching, or mayhap mentally befogged
and morally distorted human animals, who fight with each
other and scuffle like dogs in a pit for the tid-bits of life.
The battle for womanhood is the battle for the race.
Upon her dignity of character and position depends the
future. A slave she was, who was coui'ted with a club.
A subordinate she is, who is held as a toy. In both
cases she was and is a perquisite of man. She has had
no status for and because of herself. Man has. Woman
shall have. It is not a struggle to dethrone man. His
dignity is far greater when he stands as an equal among
the free, than when he towers an owner above those
whom he denies what he demands for himself. The
dignity of Abraham Lincoln grasping the hand of a
freedman surely stands higher than that of the kindest
Preface to Second Edition. xi
'master" on earth, as his slave kneels befoi'e him.
With an equal social, moral, financial, and political
status for men and women, surely the relation of the
sexes will be sweeter, nobler, purer, and holier than it
can hope to be where Power and Patience sit by the
hearthstone, and suspect each other of double dealing
because they are sure that the words liberty, morality,
honor, and justice have two sets of meanings according
to the sex to which they are applied.
Perfect trust and perfect love never yet existed except
between equals. One may trust and the other love;
but an ideal marriage will never be made until legally,
morally, and financially there sits at the hearthstone
two who are equals and who use language and thought
to mean for each what it means for the other.
The present is a time of transition. The new thought
and the old training cut cruelly across each other. This
is true in the religious world, in the field of economics,
and in the relations of the sexes. The old conservative
training fixes the old habits, the new ideas arouse thought
and aspiration and sense of progress and justice.
In religion we find a consequent development of the so-
called reconcilers of the irreconcilable those who vainly
try to graft the old forms of faith and expression upon
the new forms of scepticism. The result is (conscious or
unconscious) hypocrisy and a vast and troubled unrest.
In the field of economics, the clash of old training
and habits upon the new thoughts and aspirations have
filled the world with what we call the " labor troubles."
The old training and habits as to sex relations, clashing
with the new and higher conception of justice and
honor, have begun to cut savagely into the heart and
brain, not only of the women who, with intellects de-
veloped by study and thought, and a greater financial
independence than they ever before enjoyed, reach out
xii Preface to Second Edition.
for a love that shall not be mere tender patronage which
shall have within it the frankness and honor of comrade-
shipbut it also finds the younger men unprepared to
meet their own awakened sense of honor.
Young manhood is beginning to demand more of itself
than it once did. There are men to whose souls neither
secrecy nor confession brings relief. Their past is a
horror to them and their future is in its shadow. This
finer sense of personal honor was once thought to belong
to pure and good women only, and the cry, " I have
debased myself soul and body, and I do not dare accept
your love," was a cry that no "manly" soul would
have made in fiction a hundred years ago. It is made in
Since writing this book one young man said to the
author, with anguish unspeakable : " If I had read it
ten years ago, it would have been worth everything to
It was asked of another : "Do you think it overdrawn
from a college boy's point of view ?"
" I am twenty-three years old," he said, " and I have
known at least fifty cases so nearly akin to it that any
one of them might easily dread lest it is his case you have
drawn." This was a college boy. The other a business
man in a village.
. The Nassau Literary Magazine, conducted by the sen-
ior class of Princeton College, in its review of the first
edition of this book says: "It states plain truths, and
teaches a plain lesson. It comes very close to any college
boy who has kept his eyes open. When we finish we may
say, not ' Is This Your Son, My Lord,' but, Is it I? Is
Many of the younger men are ready for the new mes-
sage. Their own thoughts run counter to their training
and to legal and social conditions. It is almost possi-
Preface to Second Edition. xih
ble to guess the age of the critic by the tone of his criti-
cism in this matter alone.
Leaving out those critics who simply do not like the
book because they do not like it who follow Douglas
Jerrold in his attitude toward Thackeray; * leaving out,
too, that class whose own well-known vulnerability and
unrepentant moral obliquity make them supersensitive
and therefore severe as to the moral purpose of those
who speak of (to condemn) that which these critics find
it not " obscene " or immoral to do; and leaving out the
class who hold that fiction is art and art only (except
where it deals with their own side of some question)
there are one or two types of critics to which it seems
proper to reply here :
1st. Those who have understood the book to say what
its author does not mean to have it say.
2d. Those who demand only that they be assured
that such things do exist and therefore need to be pre-
sented in a manner to attract attention.
In the former class it is a surprise to find the sincere,
brave, and astute editor of the ARENA. He, in his kind
and frank review of the novel says : " That there are
many timeservers among theologians is unquestionably
true ; that there are far more who dare not investigate
is equally true, but to hold that they are as a body
hypocrites, is, I think, at once unjust and untrue."
To that the author agrees. It seems only fair to say
that she believes there is far less conscious and inten-
tional hypocrisy either in or out of the pulpit than is
commonly believed. Heredity and environment form
habits of thought as well as of outward conformity, and
*The extreme sensitiveness of Thackeray to criticism is well
known. He once ?aid to Douglas Jerrold : " I hear that you have
been saying that ' The Virginians ' is the worst book I ever wrote."
" I never said anything of the kind," said Jerrold ; " I said it was
the worst book that anybody ever wrote."
xiv Preface to Second Edition.
analytical and logical qualities of mind are rare indeed.
It is only after the most unusual mental convulsions that
man stops to take stock, so to speak, of his own mental
attitude and belongings. He has been trained to con-
form to certain outward customs whose inward signifi-
cance he does not take the trouble to analyze, and so we
find the anomaly of giving and taking the sacrament
and saying " This is the body and blood," etc., by those
who assure us that they have no doubt, that Christ
was a mechanic, as human and as fallible as any of us.
If that is true, there is no logical ground possible upon
which the sacraiflent, as such, can be given or taken.
But the author does not believe that most of those who
think they accept both of these points of view have dis-
covered that there is irreconcilability between them.
There are some who have made that discovery. One
such character appears in the story, but there also
appears, and purposely, the Bishop with stern and
uncompromising mental and moral integrity. He refuses
to compromise upon a point he deems vital, even to
secure a candidate who is looked upon as particularly
desirable. Again, old Mr. Ball, his wife, and their
clergyman were drawn with a constant recognition of
their moral earnestness and lack of hypocrisy, even in
their strangely contradictory mental attitudes.
In short, the writer of this book did not intend to con-
vey such an impression, and she does not believe that
intentional hypocrisy or a conscious lack of moral integ-
rity accounts for the very prevalent scepticism that
claims to be Christianity, while it yields every essential
Christian principle. If she drew one or two conscious
hypocrites, she drew a larger number who were not so.
It is, therefore, hardly just, she thinks, to accuse her of
holding or advancing the opinion that all clergymen and
others who differ from her in belief are hypocrites. She
Preface to Second Edition. xv
did not say so. She does not think so. Many of her
best friends, including a beloved father whose earnest-
ness and honesty of purpose no one ever yet questioned
so far as she is aware, are and have been clergymen.
Most of her best friends are or call themselves
Christians. A few of them are Roman Catholics.
Were she to draw one or two conscious hypocrites in
politics and then touch certain points such as the
tariff upon which men differ, giving the side she
inclines to accept as clearest and best, could the charge
be made that she held that all political opponents were
hypocrites ? She thinks not. Surely religious opponents
should be as generous and accept criticism or differ-
ence as kindly as do political or social opposites. In the
past they have not. Those who have taught charity
have extended little of it to those who opposed their
absolute sway. In the future the author believes that
discussion and not suppression will be the habit of
mind that will lead to a civilization which shall be a fact
and not merely a name.
2d. To those who think the picture of sex depravity
in the Mansfield family is overdrawn, there is this to
say. The case upon which this story was based is from
life. The elder of the two is still living and is a respected
member of society to-day and a deacon. In the story
he is killed off. That is about the only bit of fiction
in his case. He made the request of the "doctor."
He afterwards paid a bank cashier to do what he is
made to do in the story. The aforenamed cashier is
also a prominent "society" man to-day.
That it is not an isolated case can be proved by many
medical, asylum, and legal records, to which access is not
general but quite possible. To snow THAT THE PRES-
ENT LEGAL MACHINERY is ACCESSORY BOTH BEFORE AND
AFTER THESE AWFUL CONDITIONS, AND THAT THE GEN-
ERAL PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW IT, IT NEED ONLY BE SAID
THAT IN ONE STATE IN THIS UNION A LITTLE CHILD
SEVEN YEARS OLD MAY GIVE HER "CONSENT " TO HER
OWN RUIN, WHILE IN NINE STATES THE LEGAL AGE IS
TEN, IN SIX IT IS TWELVE YEARS, IN ONLY ONE IS IT AS
HIGH AS EIGHTEEN. In thirty-five States and Territories
xvi Preface to Second Edition.
the age of consent is to-day under fifteen years, and
can words express the awfulness of it? in "secret
session" year after year it is sought to reduce this age
so that men may be safe from legal penalty! These
same girls may not give legal consent to honorable mar-
riage until sixteen and eighteen years of age. They- may
not sell property; but, in order that men may legally
send down to moral and physical death little children,
fourteen, ten, and seven years is made the age of discre-
tion in the one matter which is her social, moral, and
physical death! Why is this? Does it not take as bad
a man as "Mansfield" to do deliberately so terrible a
legal wrong ? His character is only an illustration of the
logical outcome of a civilization that makes legal such
atrocity as this ; that leaves it a possibility in a civilized
land to witness the spectacle of a legislature refusing
after debate to raise the " age of consent" from seven
and ten years to fourteen or sixteen, as was done only
last year by legislators who would, no doubt, insist in
pub/ ic, that so low a moral type as the elder " Mansfield "
is, if not impossible, at least too rare to be reckoned
with. If our legislators so carefully pave the way to
develop and protect such men as the elder " Mansfield"
no one need be surprised when he appears to tread the
path made smooth and easy for him.
"Do not put these things in fiction legal, medical,
a"nd scientific works are the place for them," cry one set
of critics. My reply is they have had that place during
1890 years of Christian civilization and the above is still
possible. If the general reading public including the
mothers understood, the author believes the remedy
would be devised. To bury such universal wrongs in
technical works is to help perpetuate them. They touch
the welfare of all. All have the right to know of them
and women and young girls most of all. To them it
means everything. To our legislators it has meant a
somewhat amusing and salacious "secret session."
What will it mean when the manly men are made by
the dramatic presentation in fiction to see the infamy
as it is ? What will it mean when women and girls know
that* it exists and receives legal and therefore social
sanction ? That is the question now to be answered.
IS THIS YOUK SON, MY LOKDf
"Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I "d have It come to question:
If he dislike It, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, In that are one,
Not to be overruled." Shakespeare.
" Sir, I had thought by making this well known unto you.
To have found a safe redress." Ibid.
SOON after I began the practice of medicine, I
went to a milling town in the West. I had been
there several months, and numbered among my
patrons one of the wealthiest men of the place, a
large mill owner, whose standing in the community
was second to that of none. His older children had
been sent to the best Eastern schools ; but the son,
Preston, a well grown young fellow of seventeen,
had recently been transferred to a Military Academy
nearer home, where it was hoped by his parents
that the too evident tendency to shirk his studies
might be corrected, and at the same time a subduing
process put upon his inclination to play pranks on
the other boys. He was a big, good-natured, rather
- slow-minded fellow, who had developed few if any
really bad traits, and was devotedly attached to
his sister and a cousin who had been brought up
as a sister in the family. These two girls were
2 7s this your /Son, my Lord?
still at school in New York, and regretted deeply
that Preston had been taken away and put, as they
felt, under military discipline for his antics.
The boy had not been long in the new school,
when he ceased to write home with the usual
regularity, and in the letters which he did send his
mother thought that she discovered a different
The result was that his father went to see the
boy, and found him languid, unnerved, and evi-
dently in ill health. The little sprightliness he
had previously possessed seemed gone, and after a
vain endeavor to learn the cause of the trouble,
his father brought him home and to me.
It did not take me long to discover the origin of
his malady. He had fallen into certain unwhole-
some practices, an epidemic of which appeared,
from his account, to have broken out in the school,
where the young fellows had been too intimately
crowded together, the effects of which were pain-
fully apparent to a practiced eye. These facts,
together with the full history of his own case, I got
from the boy, by degrees, and then told his father
the whole story and what the ultimate outcome
might be in both his mental and physical nature,
if he were sent back to the school.
Mr. Mansfield was incredulous at first, then angry,
and finally, after he had stormed, threatened and
blustered, declared that he would disinherit the boy,
Is this your Son, my Lord? 3
who could then, if he chose, proceed to make an
idiot of himself at his leisure.
I argued the case with him, as best I could, and
said that, since the young fellow had harmed no
one but himself, and had not understood what he
was laying up for his own future, the moral side of
the question might be put .quite aside and we could
proceed to treat him intelligently for the physical
trouble already developed. Mr. Mansfield looked
at me for a moment as if he were somewhat
perplexed, and then, greatly to my astonishment,
brought his fist down on my desk with a thundering
whack, and exclaimed :
" Moral side be hanged ! Harmed nobody else !
That's the trouble the little fool ! "
I confess that I was both puzzled and very greatly
surprised. I had never seen the man before in any
capacity but that of a mild, respectable patient, or
on Sundays, as he passed the contribution box
in the leading church of the town. At such times
his conduct and language had, of course, been above
reproach, and this was an introduction to a phase of
his character which was wholly unexpected by me.
" I do not quite understand you," I said.
He stopped in his impatient walk up and down
the room, looked at me steadily for a moment and
then said quite deliberately :
" How old are you, doctor ? Yes, yes, thirty-
two. 'M-m-m ! Married man, I think you told me?
4 Is this your Son, my Lord?
Oh, yes, I remember now ; wife in Europe with her
mother, who is ill. Well, by Jove, you are the very
man to do it for me. I'll pay you well. Money is no
object in a case like this, and all expense to you both
of course I'll stand. I don't want, and by gad, I won't
have, an idiot for an only son. Close up your office
for a few weeks and take the boy off on a lark.
Paint things red. Go to New York. See the ele-
phant. Oh, you'll know how to pick out a good
dove, hang it! You understand."
" But I do not understand, Mr. Mansfield."
He sat down opposite, crossed his legs, drew his
eyes to a long narrow line, and looked through the
slit at me for a moment, with infinite disgust.
Then he said slowly :
" What is the use for you to pretend not to know
what I want of you in this case ? You are no fool.
You've lived long enough to know that men are all
alike. What makes me mad is that the little idiot,
that boy, has come near ruining his health and
mind just for the need of some good, solid advice
and a chance. Now I don't care to take him on
his first round with the doves. He'd be well, I
suppose I might be a sort of a restraint on the little
donkey ; and if he goes by himself well, you
know, he'd most likely get into trouble. He'd
fall into the hands of some low woman, who'd
bleed him, or worse. Now if you go with him, you
can arrange for him to meet a charmer, one that
Is this your Son, my Lord? 5
is as green as he is, don't you see, and if he
took a sort of romantic fancy to her, all the better,
for a while." lie stopped to take breath.
"And then?" I asked. "When the romantic
fancy is over ? "
" What do you mean ? " he replied, in astonish-
" What is to become of the girl after you have
made an outcast of her and of your son, after
you have made a libertine of him ? " I began, but
he broke in impatiently :
" Oh, plague take the girl ! What do I care what
becomes of her ? ' Becomes of her ? ' What always
becomes of 'em ? They can look out for themselves.
Libertine ? I don't care how much of a libertine
Pres. is ; but what I won't stand what makes me
mad is for him to be a blamed little fool ; " and
Mr. Mansfield took up his hat, strode out of my
office, and slammed the door viciously behind him.
When I pulled myself together, I walked to the
window just in time to see him turn the corner, on
his way to a meeting of the school board of
which he was the honored president the qualifi-
cations of whose teachers, mental, moral, and other-
wise, were subject to his requirements.
The next day I went about my duties, as usual.
In the afternoon the boy came to my office looking
almost cheerful, and appeared to be mentally more
alert than he had been since his return. He had
6 Is this your Son, my Lord?
somewhat recovered from his shamefaced manner,
and said rather brightly : " Doctor, father says you
are going to travel with me for a while, and that
we are going to New York. I'm beastly glad of
that, and " he caught my expression and suddenly
stopped. I had looked up in blank astonishment
when he made his first announcement ; but quickly
decided to rectify any mistake the father had made
as to the power of his money, when I should see
that sanguine gentleman himself. I made up my
mind, also, to find out how much Preston knew of
the object of the proposed journey, and how far
his father had seen fit to leave it for me to impart.
" Why are you so glad to go to New York ? " I
asked. " I thought you said, the other day, that all
you wanted was to be let alone and not asked to
go anywhere or do anything."
" I did say that," he answered, flushing as he
recalled the circumstances under which it had
been said ; " but I'd like to see the girls Alice
and Nellie. They don't nag a fellow, and besides
well I want to see Alice, that's all ; " he added
" Is she your sister, or is Nellie ? " I asked.
" Both. That is, Nellie is a sort of double cousin ;
but she's always lived at our house, so we call
her a sister too. I didn't know that she wasn't a
real one till last year ; but as she is just my age I
asked one day why we weren't twins how she
Ts this your Son, my Lord? 7
happened to have a birthday in - April and I one in
May, don't you know ; and then mother told me. I'm
not sure that Nellie knows yet. I guess she doesn't.
Mother doesn't want her to and I don't. I guess
she never thought about that birthday business ; " he
I had come rather to like the young fellow and
to feel an interest in his future.
" Preston," I said after a moment's reflection, " I
did not promise your father to take you to New
York ; but," his face fell and began to assume
again the sallow under hue which the flush , of in-
terest had driven from it for a few moments, " but
if you would really like to go, and will say so to
your father, and tell him that I say I will not go
unless he goes too ; that I will not take all the
responsibility he wishes to throw upon me, but
only a part of it; he will understand what I mean,
and I think he will go. Then I will ; otherwise
" All right," said Preston, but his face fell again.
The boy was beginning to be uncomfortable when
he thought of his father. He was on the verge of
realizing that their point of view was not the same,
and, for the first time, the wonder was dawning upon
him whether his father was just the man he had
taken him to be ; and the wonder was accompanied
by a distinct shock of fear, the source of which
was, as yet, unrecognized by the lad himself.
8 Is this your Son, my Lord?
" Yes, Preston," I said when I dismissed him,
" tell your father that I have agreed to go, on the
condition that he accompanies us. Tell him I have
an important reason for this. And, by the way,
Preston, don't write to the girls, your sisters.
Suppose we walk in on them unexpectedly at
what school did you say they are attending?"
He gave me the name of a fashionable school in
the city where many of the daughters of wealthy
Western families are " finished," and went away
perceptibly brightened by the idea that he would
create a sensation by appearing to the two girls
quite unexpectedly, a few days later, when they
were waiting anxiously to hear from their sick
brother hundreds of miles away.
On our way to New York I found, in the few
opportunities I had to talk alone with Mr. Mansfield,
that he had told the boy nothing of his plan ; but
depended wholly upon me to bring about what he
desired, in a manner which should seem to Preston
to be of his own motion.
"Take him to some variety show, or any place
where he can see good-looking girls ;" he said. " If
he hints that he is interested, or likes the looks of
one of them better than the others, find out who she
is, and, by Jove, doctor, money will fetch her."
" Suppose it doesn't ? " said I.
He looked at me for a moment, half in scorn and
half in suspicion. "You arrange a meeting with
Is this your Son, my Lord? 9
me, if you are so squeamish. I guess Pres. won't find
a great deal of trouble with her after that. You
see that she is pretty, young, and if possible, doctor,
be absolutely sure that she is, that she has, that
this is her first experience. Oh, damn it, you know
what I want ! " He paused for a moment, then
got up, and, as he started for the smoking car,
said : " You see to that part. Find out, if you
can, who and what she is, and that she is,
that she is all right. . Arrange a meeting with
me, on some pretext or other, if she is too skittish
or too smart for you. That's all I want of you
in the matter. After that you can take Pres. to
see her, and oh, show the little fool the elephant
generally ! Initiate him. Take him around. Get
him interested. Report progress to me. I'll foot
Two days after we reached New York, I called
at Mr. Mansfield's hotel. He had made excuse to
Preston that he had to go to Boston, and left us the
night we arrived. I informed him that I had
taken his son to several places of amusement, and
that while we were at the Casino matinee he had
turned to me and expressed a strong desire to go
nearer to a certain young girl whom he saw across
the house. I had succeeded in so placing him that
he had an opportunity to spe? 1 ; to her as she was
going out, and he had evidently taken a very great
pleasure in the meeting.
10 Is this your Son, my
Mr. Mansfield was delighted and told me to follow
it up steadily. Shortly thereafter I was able to re-
port progress again. Preston had bought her a bunch
of flowers one day. Another day he had gone with
her to a store. I had learned that she was of unim-
peachable character, very pretty, and not very self
controlled. I made a point of this latter fact and of
her youth and unsuspecting character.
" She is a girl who would be easily led into temp-
tation by one she cared for, or frightened into
subjection by an older person ; " I added. He
smiled, and his eyes twinkled merrily.
" She is with Preston now. We got her to go
into the hotel to see some pictures he had bought.
She seems to go about a good deal alone. We met
her in Broadway twice yesterday. She says she is
here with an aunt who is ill, and that her sister who
usually goes out with her has a swollen face, so she
goes alone now. Oh, yes, she is all right ; " I said
in answer to his shrug. " I have made quite sure
of that ; but I tell you frankly, I believe that Preston
will be as polite and reserved with her as if his
mother were present. He will make no headway
with her in the way you desire, I am sure of that,
now I have watched him."
" Oh," he exclaimed, delighted, " if she is at the
hotel, it is easy enough. I'll meet her as she comes
out. I'll play the outraged parent act. I'll threaten
to ruin her reputation. I'll oh, it is plain enough
Is this your Son, my Lord? 11
sailing now. But how did you ever get that sort of
a girl to go into the hotel and to his parlor ? But
hurry, we must get there. She may think how it
will look, and leave. Lord ! what a fool she must
be ! And Pres., what a fool he is that he should need
us now ! "
He was so excited that he did not press me for
replies and we hastened to the hotel. I entered
the private parlor which opened into my room. It
was empty. Mr. Mansfield winked at me and took
a seat, motioning me to go into my own room, which
I did, passing on into the one used by the boy.
Presently I returned and said : " She will be out at
once ; as soon as she gets her hat on, and but I
tell you, Mansfield, I don't like this business and
" Oh ! " said he, significantly, pushing aside my
last remark, " had her hat off, hey ? "
" Yes," I said, " and what is more, Preston had
his arm around her."
" Ha, ha, ha," laughed he, in an undertone ; " the
young scamp isn't such a hopeless dunce as he
looks, is he? Had his arm around her, did he?
Chip of the old block yet ! Gad, doctor, I guess
we've made a bad blunder in his case. He's all
right. Give him a chance, that's all."
Just then a ^mall, stylishly dressed girl appeared
at the inner door. She had drawn a thick veil
over her face. She entered slowly, and bowed,
but said nothing. Mr. Mansfield stepped briskly
12 Js this your Son, my Lord?
forward, bowed, offered her a chair, and in closing
the door behind her, touched her shoulder as if by
accident, and apologized effusively.
The girl, who appeared to be struggling with
some emotion, silently took the chair, and waited
for us to speak. Presently Mr. Mansfield said :
" Had you ever met my son, before he saw you at
the Casino ? Did he know you when he was here
at school ? "
There was a light laugh, quickly suppressed, and
she nodded her head.
" So ho ! an old flame ! " said he. " Oh, well,
then it is all right if " and here he turned to
me, and made an inquiry under his breath.
"Do not ask her that," said I, hastily, and in
the same suppressed tone. " Wait. See her face
first. Let me go to Preston's room, and you can
talk to her better ; but first of all, make her take
off her veil. You will see her innocence in her
" You bet I will," he said ; I'll take it off myself,
and kiss her too, if she is pretty, before you fairly
get the door shut." Then aloud, to me, " Sorry you
must go, doctor, but I will join you in Pres.'s room,
But as I opened the door, the boy bounded in
with a laugh, and then suddenly stopped, as he saw
that the girl had not removed her veil. I could
endure the situation no longer. I closed the door,
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 13
and reaching over slipped the veil from her hat.
She hastily clapped both hands to her face, with a
little cry : " Oh, how mean ! Why, Pres., you gave
me away. Papa hadn't guessed who I was yet.
And he oh, papa, 'had I ever met Pres. before
the other day at the Casino ' ? ha, ha, ha."
Mr. Mansfield was white with rage, and the
shock was so great that he staggered, and sat down
suddenly in the nearest chair. He was so over-
come, for the moment, that he did not remember to
visit his wrath upon me, and I silently withdrew
before he recovered himself, and while the two
children were still enjoying the excellent joke they
thought we had played on their unsuspecting
That night, I wrote him a note, saying that I
should not see him again while in New York, and
that I now resigned to him his son's future training
in the direction he had mapped out.
"I have called your attention to what it may
mean from the other side what it must mean to
some girl, and to her father, if she has one if
your programme is carried out. If she has no
father, so much the worse.". I ended my letter
thus : " My part is done. Allow me to say, that the
boy will recover from his great mistake, if he is
intelligently treated. As yet, to him, there is no
moral question involved. I have talked with him.
He now understands the folly, the physical, and
14 Is this your /Son, my
mental danger of his course. He is not my son ;
but if you if anyone were to take with a boy
of mine the course which you propose to take
with Preston, I should kill the man who tried it;
that is all. I have written to the boy that I am
called home unexpectedly. Remember, that upon
your return, any unpleasant conduct toward me I
shall resent to the utmost."
Js this your Son, my Lord? ' 15
" Sirs, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
I have seen better faces In my time,
Than stands on any shoulders that I see
Before me at this Instant." Shakespeare.
" Such wanton, wild and usual slips,
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty." Ibid,
"When I reached my home in the West, I found
a message which called me to the bedside of my
wife's mother, then in Southern France, and I did
not return to America for nearly five years.
I had not been many weeks in New York, when
I met one day in Broadway a fashionably dressed,
rather dissipated looking young man, whose face
and bearing showed many marks of a fast life. He
recognized me and lifted his hat. It was Preston
" Why, what are you doing here, Preston ? " I
" Following my respected father's advice," he
replied scornfully, " Gad, how he hated you ! He
told me what the little scheme was afterward.
Poor little Alice ! she never so much as suspected
anything wrong. She thought the old man was
sick and blamed herself for helping to play a joke
that startled him. He had to cool down and pre-
tend that that was it. She actually bathed his feet
16 Is this your Son, my Lord?
in mustard water, put him to bed, and sat up with
him nearly all that night;" and he laughed de-
" No danger of corrupting your morals now,
you bifurcated young beast," thought I ; but I said
" Where is your father ? Here ? "
" Well, hardly ; " he drawled, " the governor
passed in his little checks over a year ago. I'm
head of the family now, and when I'm at home I
do the Board of Education racket, and cut off a big
slice of staid and respectable citizen business. I
haven't' quite got the gall to go into the deacon act
yet; but I'll get there. It paid the old man, big,
and I'm a chip of the old block nowadays, I do
assure you, doctor. He broke me in thoroughly,
after he made up his mind to it, and found he
couldn't trust you " ; and he went off into a fit of
laughter. As soon as he recovered himself, he
rattled on :
" But what an infernal game that was you played
on the old man, any way. I believe he'd have
killed you if he'd had you that night and if he
could have got rid of Alice long enough. What
did you do it for, any way, doctor ? Now, between
man and man, what was your little game ? More
money ? "
I looked at the hopeless young rascal for a
moment and then said :
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 17
"You are a chip of the old block, Preston.
As I walked away I heard him exclaim under his
" Well, I'll be damned ! "
" No doubt of it, my boy, no sort of doubt about
it ; " said young Harmon, with a twinkle in his
handsome eyes, as he received Preston Mansfield
in his arms after that astonished young gentleman
had watched me turn the corner of Twenty-third
Street, and was about to start on his way again.
" Of course you'll be damned in time, my boy, but
what's the use in standing here in front of the
Fifth Avenue Hotel, in broad daylight, in the
year of our blessed Lord, 1880, and telling people
about it in cold blood ? " Both of the young men
laughed and started for the Hoffman House bar,
quite as a matter of course, and not at all because
either of them wanted anything to drink.
" What were you standing there for, glaring at
that precious old muff's back and making remarks
about your future abode, when I ran into you ? "
asked young Harmon, expecting and waiting for
no reply. " What will you take ? " and he leaned
familiarly on the bar and made a signal to a waiter.
When the drinks were concocted, he went through
a great show of testing their quality, wiped his lips
daintily with a fine cambric handkerchief and set
his glass down with a resignedly superior air as if
18 Is this your Son, my- Lord?
to say : " This is really not the sort of stuff a gen-
tleman accustomed to the best of everything can
quite bring himself to drink ; but no matter. It
is not of sufficient importance for me to take the
trouble to speak about -it and, indeed, it is doubtful
if these vulgarians could comprehend me if I did. v
"While the inside fact was that the young fellow's
healthy stomach loathed strong drinks of all kinds,
and he had schooled himself with patient care to be
able to hold up his end as he phrased it, and retain
his proud place as one of the leaders of the fast set at
Harvard. Nothing gave him greater pride in him-
self than the belief that his ready pronuncia-
tion of the names of wines and liqueurs ; his test
movement of lips and throat to indicate perfect
familiarity with, and infallible judgment of their
quality, would convince even the most sceptical
that he was a man of the world, of the fastidious,
rapid world which keeps its church pew, its English
cob, and its opera box quite as a matter of course,
and no less as a matter of course, frequents the
Parker House and the " Parsonage " to indulge in
Welsh rarebit, stimulants, and green-room gossip
at 2 o'clock A. M. ; that externally immaculate, cul-
tured world which knows more or less of mixed
companies of women who smoke and men who drink
until daylight warns them that professors growl if
lessons are shirked and stage managers storm if
eyes are dull at morning rehearsal.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 19
Preston Mansfield had left college, finally, a
year before, where even his lavish expenditure of
money could not blind outsiders to the fact that he
was learning next to nothing of those branches
for the teaching of which colleges are commonly
supposed to be sustained, and that he cared to
learn no more. The authorities, therefore, with
elaborate display of virtuous disapproval, advised
him not to return. Nothing could have more fully
harmonized with his own wishes, and he promptly
transferred his headquarters from Boston to New
York, and left Mr. Fred Harmon to take his place
as leader of the " fast set." Notwithstanding the fact
that that young gentleman's supply of cash was far
from limitless, he prided himself greatly because
he had, in one short year, been the means of elevat-
ing the tone of their debauches to a plane upon
which gentlemen should conduct such matters.
That is to say, they all gambled, of course, but
they did not talk about it openly a great deal, even
among themselves ; they continued to give suppers
at which* there were hardly enough sober ones to
get the drunken ones home, and where those who
kept their legs and senses wished it distinctly
understood that they did it not at all because
they drank less, but solely because, being so
accustomed to it, the ability to be overcome had
long since been outgrown and they, therefore,
chaffed quite unmercifully the poor callow fellows
20 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
who were still unable to "carry a few bottles"
These deeply experienced youths were naturally
the admiration and envy of those whose capacity
still had its limits, and in whom Nature continued
to assert herself when the verge of endurance was
reached. They deceived young girls into com-
promising situations and patronized women as of
old ; but it was Mr. Fred Harmon's firm belief
that this was all done in so delicate a manner that
no one could object; and he, for his part, felt quite
dainty and looked down with something akin to
virtuous pity and scorn upon the crude, if not im-
moral, practices of his predecessor and friend,
Mr. Fred Harmon had no doubt whatever that
he was a fit associate and a most desirable husband
for the sweetest, purest young girl in the world,
and he had heard with deep disgust, Mansfield's
remark one day, when they had chanced to meet
Nellie on the street.
" Gad, Fred, I wonder if there ever was a man
good enough to many that girl ! I'd give half of
all the years of life left to me to be able to go to
her, and feel myself fit to ask her to marry me."
Fred Harmon had no qualms of conscience on
that score ; and indeed, in many ways he felt him-
self on quite a different plane from that which
naturally belonged to Mansfield, who had not had
Js this your /Son, my Lord? 21
the good taste to connect himself with any fashion-
able church while he was at college, and had fre-
quently laughed outright at statements made by
Dr. Highchurch in his doctrinal sermons.
"Mansfield has no sense of convention. He is
destitute of traditions," Harmon would explain ;
" and then he. clings to prejudices like a Hottentot.
The night I took him to call upon Dr. Highchurch,
he actually took issue with the Divine on the doc-
trines of original sin and vicarious atonement ; and
argued about it as if they were matters of vital
importance. He is really very difficult, don't you
know ? " Fred Harmon liked to use that expression.
The first time he had heard it, it had been used by
the most correct Englishman he had ever met,
and of course, a really correct Englishman was
beyond comparison the most perfect specimen of
good form to be found on this earth.
" He is a good fellow, in the main ; first-rate
fellow, don't you know ? but, well, you know his
father was a sort of made his shekels in lumber
or something of the kind, and his son's life and
training in the wild and woolly west naturally
makes one a little shy of going about with him a
When Mr. Fred Harmon said this he did not mean
it to apply to hours between 12 midnight and 5 A.
M., during which portions of the day or night he
had never exhibited the least shyness or disinclina-
22 Is this your Son, my Lord?
tion to go about, as he phrased it, in company with
Preston Mansfield, and many a night they had
made of it. The " prejudices " of which he spoke
as among the fatal weaknesses of Preston Mans-
field's character, were displayed by such silly and
threadbare remarks as the one about wishing him-
self good enough to marry his cousin Nellie.
" Such a cad ! " said Harmon to himself, as he
thought of it afterward : " Such an idiotic, senti-
mental, narrow minded cad ! As if he'd have to
tell her about his little sports."
And it was certain that no one would ever have
cause to complain of similar prejudices in the mind
of Mr. Fred Harmon. His creed was short and
clear. " Do what you want to," it said ; " but do
it secretly, if it is not strictly in accord with what
the rules of polite society pretend to demand.
We all know it is a pretence, and we have rather a
hard time to keep our faces straight when we pub-
licly look into one another's eyes and talk our
conventional platitudes ; but it must be done for
the edification of the common people and to con-
serve tradition, of course. The decencies of life
must be maintained."
By the decencies of life Mr. Fred Harmon did
not at all mean that one's actions must be honorable
and open, one's motives lofty, and one's record
clean. The demand for these old-fashioned virtues
where they did not touch money matters he
Is this your Son, my Lord? 28
ranked as prejudices ; but he did demand as the
first requisite of a gentleman, that his coat of pre-
tence should be fur-lined, water-proof, and silk-
stitched. He had no doubt that he should marry,
one of these days, some lovely girl ; indeed, he was
now a victim of the grand passion, he assured
himself ; but he had not thought of such a ridiculous
thing as a desire to have his whole life and nature
an open book to the girl he loved. It gave him
no qualms at all to pose and pretend to her as to
everyone else. So long as she did not discover
anything that would cause her to ask disconcerting
questions, he had no prejudice whatever in favor
of laying bare his soul and making her a partner in
all of his life. Indeed, he would have thought it
a very unwomanly thing for her to expect anything
of the kind ; and if she were to show a tendency
toward such unwholesome notions of what was due
to women, he had no doubt that he could bring her
to her senses easily enough ; and as he was quite
content to keep certain corners of his life wholly to
himself and to shut up a few of the rooms, not only
of the past but of the present and future as well,
and keep the keys in his own possession, he felt
perfectly secure, and therefore entirely virtuous.
No one could love a woman more fondly, of
course ; no one could respect her more truly ; but it
was not a part of his creed that perfect love carried
with it a " prejudice, " in favor of perfect truth ;
24 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
and as to respect, surely it was far greater evidence
of respect for a woman, to hide from her what she
would not like in your character and life, than to
hurt her feelings by letting her know it ! He
hoped that he had too much real respect for his
betrothed, and for womanhood in general, an .1
that he would always retain too exalted an opinion
of his wife ever to tell her the bald truth, or even
let her so much as suspect it, either as it related to
life in general, or to his life in particular.
In short, he had absolutely no prejudice in favor
of facts where fiction was so much prettier, and
more truly suited to a woman's life, and to a
gentleman's vocabulary. Indeed, he had glossed
over and dressed up ugly or inconvenient, truths
ever since he was able to talk. His training
had all been in that direction. His charming
mother, whose ambition was always to appear well,
and to have her son do nothing that " they"
meaning that social world she stood in awe of,
would not understand at once and pronounce "good
form, " had begun this training at a very early age ;
so that at the present time, Fred was not at all
conscious of the least moral weakness on his own
part, nor of a shadow of cause for shame.
Public censure for any act of his would have
overwhelmed him with mortification, and covered
his mother with humiliation and anger; but that
insidious foe of personal comfort, the loss of one's
Is this your Son, my Lord? 25
own respect and approbation, had never attacked
Fred Harmon, nor was such a calamity ever likely to
overtake him. His conscience was absolutely easy.
If there existed cause for him to blush, he was
not aware of it. Had he not been taught in early
childhood to suppress the least hint of an inclination
to deviate from the paths of " good form "? And
was not " good form " the only reliable moral stan-
He could remember having had certain scanda-
lous little desires to play marbles with the grocer's
boy, and to fight with the son of a butcher's cart
driver ; but he knew full well that, in giving the
account of these exploits, it would be necessary to
present his companions to his mother in the guise
of " Judge Supurb's youngest," or as " Father High-
church's nephew." Then his mother was satisfied.
She would a little rather that he would let them
get the best of it, too, about half of the time, because
in that case no hard feelings could ensue on the
part of the Judge and the Father if they found it
out, and it would be quite a humorous bit to touch
up daintily when they met.
When Fred was in his third year at college, one
of the seniors had invited him to spend a part of
the coming vacation at his home in the West, and
in talking it over, his mother had said : " Certainly,
my son, you may accept the invitation. It is Mr.
Ball's last term and he could not ask you to take
26 Is this your Son, my Lord?
him to call on any of our friends more than once
in that time, and you could make some reasonable
way out of it then. Go, by all means, dearie, and
have a happy time. It will do you good. You are
not looking your best. This may be the very change
you need, and you can take it in the way of an ex-
perience. No doubt they are very honest, well-
meaning people, in their way."
It was while on this visit that Fred met Maude
Stone, and fell in love with her, thereby causing his
mother to revise her views as to the honesty and
well-meaning characteristics of those Western bar-
barians. During Fred's first year at Harvard, he
had shown some symptoms of a lapse from the
worship of Father Highchurch (whose social posi-
tion was enviable in the extreme), and his mother
had sighed deeply, and met his arguments with a
sweetness and force which seemed to him at the
time charming and final.
" Certainly, my son, all you say is quite true. I
do not, myself, believe in those unpleasing religious
notions expressed in the creed of our beloved church.
You must remember that the progressive Church-
men explain them all quite satisfactorily. The
ethical beauty and exquisite taste of Dr. Broad-
church's explanation of the crucifixion, you surely
have not forgotten. I cannot reproduce it, of
course, but I know it was most charming. My
nerves were soothed and my artistic nature warmed
1s this your Son, my Lord? 27
for days afterward. Ask him, some day, to explain
these points about the vicarious atonement theory,
as you call, it (quite vulgarly, I think. You must
have gotten that form of expression from young
Ball. Be very careful not to use it again). Give
up looking at it in this literal way, and accept it as
the Broadchurchmen hold it, if you cannot take the
High Church view. Its justice and harmony with
natural laws ; its appeal to one's higher nature and
ideals ; its display of tenderness, are all quite a poem
as Dr. Broadchurch presents it. You can close
your eyes and drift into a realm of spiritual exalta-
tion where questions and doubts are impossible;
where the dear Christ touches your heart and illu-
mines your understanding. Don't ask your questions
in that pointed way, however, my son. That is
don't be so a a direct. Come at the point less
baldly. Language should be draped to a certain
extent when used to express spiritual things. Have
you been reading authorities on style as much as
usual lately? Never allow a day to pass without
doing so, dear. Newspapers are so demoralizing
that even you show the effect of having read them.
It seems a dreadful thing to say of you ; but 1 am
afraid it is true. Be so very careful about it, my
" Yes, I know, young Ball is very clever, after a
fashion : but he gives one the impression of absolute
nudity, mentally speaking. He is very bad form,
28 7s this your Son, my Lord?
poor fellow. His bearing proves him not well born.
What a shame that he should be an ' honor ' man
and that Edward Highchurch, with his, exquisite
polish, should not. But of course every one will
understand it. It is brute force against grace and
refinement. I suppose, on examination, Mr. Ball
answered the questions and wrote his thesis with
a directness and force that struck the professors
like a trapeze performer shot directly at them from
a catapult ; while Eddie made some effort to clothe
the hard facts of science in a garb, of poetry, and
the result was a lack of appreciation on the part of
the busy professors who found the short cuts of
Mr. Ball far easier to follow. But, as I say, no
one is deceived as to the desirability of the two
methods ; nor, for that matter, as to the attainments
of the two men."
She wanted her son to take the theological
course; but she yielded readily enough to his
desire to look about for a year or two after he
was graduated before he should make a final choice
of a profession.
" You say you do not believe the creeds and
doctrines ;" she had said. " Of course, you do
not in that literal sense, but there is an interpre-
tative meaning, in which you can accept them, and
be a clergyman in the dear old Mother Church, after
all. If you really cannot bring yourself to be a
Highchurch man, I am willing for you to follow the
Is this your Son, my Lord? 29
Broad church men. Look at Dr. Phillips Brooks
and the Rev. Heber Newton. Very different
they are from each other ; but both explain all
those points you object to so entirely away, and
in such choice language that the most fastidious
can not fail to be satisfied. And then, always
remember, my son, that the social position of
the rector of a large parish is absolutely assured.
There is no question. A great lawyer may or may
not have an assured place. A distinguished physi-
cian's niche is open to question ; but the rector of a
fashionable parish stands firm on the top of the
social edifice, in virtue of that fact alone. You can-
not fail to see the enormous advantage this would
be. Think it all well over, dear, before you allow
yourself to drift too far, or commit yourself to any
other position than one consistent with a final ref-
uge in the bosom of the Church and as a ministrant
at her holy altar."
Shortly after this she wrote to a friend : " You
will know how delighted I am, and how thankful
that Fred, the dear noble fellow, has about decided
to give over his fancy for the law, or any other
secular career, and devote his really exceptional
talents to the uplifting of his fellowmen. From
your point of view I can readily see how you
advised the law, and if he were going to live for
himself alone, you would be right no doubt, my
dear. But his life is for others ; his aim in the
30 Is this your Son, my Lord?
world is to devote his splendid gifts to the service
of mankind ; and my gratitude is deep and keen
that he has about decided to give his whole energy
to the service of God and our blessed Church. Con-
gratulate me, dear, even though you do not believe
as I do. Surely you can be a wee bit glad when
my heart sings within me for very joy."
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 31
" The wise sometimes from wisdom's ways depart;
Can youth, then, hush the mandates of the heart 1" Byron.
" What mortal is there of us, who would find his satisfaction enhanced
fry %J opportunity cf comparing the picture he presents to himself of his
OV>TI t.'r<ngs, with the picture they make on the mental retina of his neigh-
bor. "* Geo. Eliot.
So > as Mr. Fred Harmon leaned against the
Hoffinan House bar that day, while his less gifted
and iowborn friend Mansfield drank with a relish,
while be assumed to look with deep disapprobation
upon the quality of the potation, Preston Mansfield
" Been in town long, Harmon ? Hear you've
decided to go into the ' Good Lord deliver us,' busi-
ness." He glanced significantly at the full glass
by Fred's elbow. " Suppose you've cut this sort of
thing and poker and the girls for good, then ; but,
by gad, I'll bet a shilling, Harmon, that you cut
your sleeve full of trumps on the last deal, with
all of 'em ; " and he winked and laughed at his
friend in what Mr. Fred Harmon felt to be a most
objectionable manner. He disliked to have people
take mental photographs when the background
was not properly arranged to produce artistic
effects. At the same time he did not feel equal to
allowing any young man about town to think he
32 Is this your Son, my Lord?
was a muff. It may be looked upon as strange,
but it is nevertheless true, that no sense of shame
is more deep than that which results from a fear
that any man should suppose that you are unable
to hold up your end, as Fred would have phrased it ;
which, being freely translated, meant that he could
not bear the humiliation of having any other man
suppose that he knew more by practical experience
of those conditions of life, which are not usually
mentioned in the presence of ladies, than were
familiar to Mr. Fred Harmon himself. Therefore,
he smiled knowingly, glanced about him with an
air of deep weariness, as if to say, " I am beastly
tired of all this sort of thing, don't you know. And
what a barbaric hole this hostelry is." He had
heard several Boston men say that; he knew it was
the thing expected of the cultured elect. The fact
was, however, that this was the third or fourth time
he had ever been within these gorgeous pre-
cincts, and he was exceedingly interested in, and
curious to examine its appointments. But to do
this openly would be a confession to all present
that he was not in the habit of drinking himself to
the verge of gentlemanly inebriety within its
hospitable walls, and Fred did not feel quite equal
to that bit of heroism. So he smiled wearily, and
said with a drawl :
" Well, not exactly, my boy, there is more or less
blood left in me yet. Suppose we dine in this
Is this your Son, my Lord? 33
bizarre caravansary, if it won't take your appetite.
Isn't it enough to make one despair of the human
race ? Such taste ! What are you going to do to-
night ? How would you like to take in one or two
of the political speeches, just to see the free and in-
dependent voter roped in, and observe the kind of
oratory that does the business and then make a
night of it? What do you say? Know any good
places to go? Tired of the theatres. Stupid lot
of heroics on now. Passion in tatters ; virtue its
own reward (and it doesn't get any other, I must
say ) and all that sort of thing. Wonder if the
stage will ever learn anything ? " and he strolled to
a table in the cafe, and began to order a dinner.
As they passed the speaker's stand in Union
Square, two hours later, one of -the leading politi-
cians of the day was making an impassioned appeal
to the Germans not to allow themselves to be
hoodwinked by the mendacious Democratic bids for
their votes. The two young men stopped to listen.
" Why, gentlemen," the speaker was saying indig-
nantly, " the very terms in which they appeal to
you are an insult to every man in whose veins runs
one drop of the blood of the nation which leads
the civilized world to-day ! " There was a move-
ment of expectation and applause. Fred Harmon
smiled at Mansfield and said : " This is good. Bet-
ter than a dime museum. Wouldn't have missed it
for a fortune. There he goes again. Now just
34 Is this your Son, my Lord?
watch the gentle Teuton swallow that bare hook
and take in a large share of the line."
" How does the Democratic party invariably ap-
proach you ? " exclaimed the irate orator, almost
choking with excess of emotion. "What does it
say to you ? How does it judge you ? What
is the standard by which it measures the g-r-e-a-t
German people? Always by the one standard
beer ! " The orator, too much choked by his
indignation to proceed, paused with his arm up-
lifted and a deep frown upon his brow. There
was a round of applause and a ripple of laughter.
" Do not laugh ! " exclaimed the speaker. " It is
true ! It is the s-h-a-m-e-f-u-l truth ! And it is
the duty, as I am sure it will be the pleasure, of
every self-respecting German, who knows, as all of
you know, the magnificent history of the most
magnificent people on this globe " (great applause
and cheers), to resent it at the polls ! What does
the Democratic party know of Germany, or the
Germans? Nothing but beer! What does it
know of German history? Nothing, except that it
has heard that in that far-off country they drink
" They have the impudence to expect to catch
your votes by telling you that we, the Republicans,
are not friendly to your breweries, that we are for
high license, that we, the Republicans, are not
friendly to the Germans because Why? WHY ?" he
Is this your Son, my Lord? . 35
demanded in a perfect transport of virtuous
indignation. Then he went on, his voice tremulous
with suppressed scorn : " Why, indeed ! Simply
and solely, my friends, because ice do not agree
with them that all the German cares for, that all
he knows about, that all he wants, that all he
dreams of is beer ! "
There was a decided sensation in the crowd,
and some evidences of righteous wrath on the part
of several rotund and red-faced gentlemen near the
stand, at so low an estimate of the German
character. The speaker's indignation waxed deeper,
and his voice swelled out in triumphant tones.
" They forget, gentlemen, that every one of you
knows the glorious, the unrivalled position that
Germany holds in Art, in which she leads the
civilized w-o-r-l-d ! In Science, in which she leads
the civilized w-o-r-l-d ! In literature, in which,
with the finest encyclopedia known to man, with
her Von Humboldt, her Goethe, and her Schiller,
she leads the civilized w-o-r-l-d ! They forget,
gentlemen, that Germany and the Germans think
more of these then they do of beer!
" They have the brazen effrontery to insult the
representatives of a land which produced a Wag-
ner, by talking to them eternally about beer ! "
Great sensation, wild applause. Indignant men
who never before heard of Von Humboldt, and
were uncertain where Goethe's brewery was sit-
36 Is this your Son, my Lord?
uated, glared at their neighbors in a way that
boded no good to the Democratic nominee. The
orator saw his advantage and went rapidly on :
" Which party honors you the most ? Which
party is most likely to deal fairly with yon, the one
that cannot think of you apart from beer, or the
one whose leaders extol your unapproachable poets,
revere your unequalled savans, and worship your
incomparable musicians to such an extent that they
have given very little thought to the grosser a
ah to the er incidents, as it were, of a cer-
tain phase of your national life? Which, I say,
gentlemen, do you prefer, the party that gives you
nothing from morning till night but beer ? dr
the one that proposes to give you, is able to give
you, and now offers you unlimited "
" Taffy!" yelled Preston Mansfield, and the
laugh that followed was at the orator's expense.
" Beer ! Beer ! " shouted a dozen voices.
Taffy's too sweet."
" Give us a rest ! "
"Beer, beer, Milwaukee beer;" shouted some
one to the tune of " Rum, rum, Jamaica rum," and
the tune caught the fancy of the crowd which pro-
ceeded to yell itself hoarse and thereby cover the
speaker still farther with confusion. He sat down
amidst uproarious laughter, while Preston and
young Harmon, chuckling to themselves, stepped
into a cab and drove rapidly away.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 37
They were both Republicans, but they enjoyed
the joke, and were in excellent spirits and on the
best of terms with themselves all the rest of the
That night, or rather the following morning,
when Fred Harmon reached his hotel he found a
letter from his mother, whose theory was that
Maude Stone, the sweetheart he had found in the
West, and her father, were making a violent at-
tempt to ensnare the young and tender feet of her
son. " Be careful to give neither her nor her
designing father, any hold upon you in writing;
then they can have none whatever upon you, either
in law or equity, and any talk which may have
passed falls to the ground without harming you.
. The girl can have no proper respect for her-
self, and your whole life would be utterly ruined
by such an alliance in any permanent way. . .
The only time I ever saw the girl she showed that
she had no respect for herself, and therefore none
for you. She allowed you to keep your hat on
out on the porch steps, you remember, and she
was dressed in evening toilet! When I spoke
of it to you afterward you said she did not care,
that she felt like standing with bare arms in the
cool air for a while ; but was willing for you to keep
your head covered if you felt chilly, and if you
wanted to. What sort of self respect is that?
What can such a girl think of herself ? Look at
38 Is this your Son, my Lord?
it reasonably, my son, and mount to a true man's
ideal of the stainlessness and dignity of a woman
of what she must be who can hold the admira-
tion and homage of husband and sons through
a lifetime, and give no farther thought to the
matter. . . . You are too sensitive by f""-
Xo conceivable compromise of the girl holds you
to anything. . . . Have no words in writing and
you are all right. If her father storms as of
course he will, in the hope of capturing such a
matchless prize for his daughter do not yield
by one hair's breadth."
Indeed, Fred's mother held the conventional
opinion that it was the duty of a young girl to
form and maintain, not only her own character and
basis of action, but that she must hold her lover to
a given line of conduct, failing which he was privi-
leged to take advantage of her love and confidence,
with no shame whatever to himself.
If he were not a gentleman, it was her fault. If
he took advantage of her tenderness and con-
fidence in him, it was her fault. If he swore to
her by all that was holy, and she believed him, and
acted upon his word, and the results were dis-
astrous, it was her fault. In short, her son's stand-
ard of action toward the girl might be the limit of
possibility, and there was nothing to make him
blush ; but the girl must be too wise, too firm, too well
poised, too immaculate either to make a single mis-
Is this your Son, my Lord? 39
take herself, or to " allow " him to make one in her
The one whom Mrs~. Harmon was pleased to look
upon as the weaker and less perfect vessel, must
fail in nothing, while her son's standard of manli-
ness, of rectitude, of honor, for himself, might have
its limit only where possibility of accomplishment
ended. In short, Fred was aware that his mother
looked upon marriage as a sort of reform school
for men. Notwithstanding this fact, Fred had read
her letter with some displeasure. He was not yet
willing to give Maude Stone up, albeit he was not
unmindful of the great truths so forcefully set
forth by his mother, and he tried to look down the
vistas of time to see whether Maude would be able
to retain his full respect and devotion ; and truth
to tell, he had his misgivings. She certainly did
lack finish, and she had allowed him to be very
familiar with her, indeed. And well, he would
think it over very seriously before he married her.
Meantime, he wrote a note to Maude who was
visiting her aunt in Brooklyn : " I have slipped
over to New York for just one day to see, you ; "
he wrote. " How long are you going to stay at
your aunt's ? When do you go back West ? Is
your father here? I have a thousand things to
ask you. Can you take a walk with me to-night?
The moonlight is glorious on the bridge. I hate
the house such nights. A stuffy city house would
40 Is this your Son, my Lord?
not seem like the cosy library or breezy parlor at
your pretty home out West. It would spoil the illu-
sion. ... If willing to go to-night, go to the corner
room at nine o'clock, light the gas, letting it burn
dimly, pull down all the window shades, except
that nearest the corner and leave it to within a foot
of the window sill. ..." "What a comical thing
to do," thought Maude, when she read the note ;
" sort of telegraphic communication by window
shade line," and she laughed at the idea. But her
heart beat wildly, for had not Fred come over
from Boston the moment he knew she was here !
And she was to have a walk with him in the moon-
light ! It would be ever so much nicer than to stay
in the house. She did not think that her aunt
would care, only dear Fred always had said that
auntie did not like him, and no doubt that was the
reason he wanted her to slip out, so that their first
meeting might not be spoiled after so long a separa-
tion, by even the cloud of her aunt's mild dislike.
Anyway she would go with Fred. He was always so
" proper," as she called it, and he would not ask her
to do anything if it were not all right. He knew far
better than she how to make things easy, and what
was best. She would go. So after dinner Maude
went to the corner room. She pulled all of the shades
down except one, and that she left a few inches from
the sill. Then she ran to her room to put on a street
dress, and at nine slipped out of the side door.
Is this your Son, my J^ord/ 41
" Fred," she said softly, and then there was a
muffled sound of kisses and murmured words that
are not spelled with letters, and Fred Harmon
tucked her hand under his arm and they passed
quickly up the street.
If Maude Stone was indiscreet, it is only right to
say that she was very young and " in love "and
that she had been brought up where every one in
the town knew her and hers. She had had her
own way and was not exactly in " our set"; though
the latter fact was due to no fault of her own and
many girls in " our set " were far less genuine,
perhaps. Maude's home was in a small town in the
West, where every one respected her and her
father and her mother for what they were ; where
no one thought it at all out of the way if the girls
met one, or a dozen, young men on the street and
stopped to talk and laugh over their various inno-
cent amusements ; as innocent on the part of the
girls as if they were babes in long gowns, and fully
understood to be so by all the young men who, while
far less innocent themselves, were still able to look
any honest girl in the face without an accusing con-
science so far as she and her type were concerned.
They thought of these as quite apart, and of
totally different natures from " the other kind," and
any one of them would have fared badly enough
at the hands of his fellows if he had so much as
hinted at anything to the discredit of Maude Stone.
42 Is this your Son, my Lord?
They often laughed, it is true, at the absurdly
plain things she said, over the indiscreet things sh'e
did, and at the oddly unsophisticated wayg she had ;
but nothing short of her own declaration would
have convinced any one of them that Maude was
not, as they said, " all right, and the very best and
jolliest girl in the world."
" She is so chummy," said one ; " she never
expects a fellow to make love to her and she likes
all the things any other fellow does. I'd give ten
dollars to see her in the country, if she didn't know
anybody was about. She'd skin up a tree like a
cat. Last summer she sat on the fence and talked
with that boatman up at Lake Petosky, an hour at
a time, and she took in more legendary lore about
those wilds than would have filled a good sized
school history. She could tell the whole conversa-
tion, too, when she came back to the hotel. She
kept us all in a roar one evening rehearsing it. She
is the best mimic I ever saw, and she never misses
a point. But she wouldn't let any of us guy the
boatman. She said he was interesting and funny
to study ; but she wouldn't allow fun made of him
in any way that would hurt his feelings. She was
furious at me one day when I laughed at him be-
cause he asked her, with all the elaboration result-
ing from the most careful previous preparation ;
' Will you have your eel skun, Miss ? ' She had
hooked an enormous eel while we were out fishing,
Is this your Son, my Lord? 43
and he had evidently spent a good deal of careful
thought on his question so as to have it in the most
approved style. It sounded so deliciously absurd
that I burst out laughing. There he stood holding
up a great squirmy eel and inquiring gravely as to
her wishes in regard to depriving him of his ulster.
Maude looked at me with fire in her eyes, I tell
you ; and then she turned around and said deliber-
ately : ' Does he have to be skun ? Oh, yes, please,
if that is the way they fix eels ; do have him " skun "
for me and sent up to the hotel. I think papa eats
them. I don't know that I can, they look so dread-
fully snaky.' The boatman was delighted to be
able to serve her, and she hardly spoke to me
that evening. All next day she actually made
me giggle like a fool, to make the boatman think I
had fits of that kind and mustn't be held to account
for them. I think he made up his mind that I was
a little crazy. If I caught a fish I giggled, and if
I didn't catch one she'd glare at me to let me know
it was time to giggle again. If she said it was hot,
I laughed uproariously, and if her mother asked
me to bait her hook, I exploded. I knew it was
that, or war with Maude, for she was intent on
healing the lacerated feelings of that poor, abused,
insulted son of the oars. Mrs. Stone has set me
down as weak minded ever since ; but Maude and
I are chums again, so I don't care. I tell you she's
44 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
"You bet," said one of her other admirers who
had heard the story; "she's a whole hodful
cream tinted, fresh Milwaukee bricks, at that ; "
and the young fellows laughed, with no sense of
discourtesy to the girl in their free handling of
her name, albeit there were several listeners on
the hotel veranda who were strangers to Maude
One of these was Fred Harmon, who was spend-
ing a part of his vacation with Harvey Ball, and he
made up his mind, then and there, to have some
fun with that girl. All these village boys were
evidently in love with her. His spirit of investiga-
tion was aroused. It would be easy enough to meet
her. His host, Harvey Ball, had known her ever
since she was born, and an introduction was to be
had for the asking.
It did not take young Harmon long to fall in
love with her, himself, and honestly to feel that he
had met his fate. He had no intentions, either
honorable or otherwise, when he decided to ask
Harvey Ball to take him to call upon her. He
felt only the curiosity inspired by the talk he had
heard, and a glimpse of her fine figure and fresh,
young face, as she had passed the hotel. But he
prolonged his visit in the town, and by the end
of the summer they were betrothed, and as happy
and hopeful as two such children usually are when
they think that they have settled, for life, the most
Is this your Son, my Lord? 45
momentous question of their existence, by the light
of their inexperience and faith.
Maude was rich in her own right, or would be
when she should be of age. An aunt had left her
a fortune, and her father, while he had made some
pretence of being a lawyer, was in point of fact a
collector of rents, and an owner of pine lands which
gave him a large income and promise of vast
wealth in the not far-distant future. It is only fail-
to Mr. Fred Harmon to say, that he was not aware
of the fact, if the wealth of Maude, or that of her
father, had influenced him in the least. He believod
that he loved Maude for herself alone ; but it is not
always easy to say just what does or does not influ-
ence a young man who has been steadily trained
from his infancy to think first of all of results from
"their" point of view; to make new friends, or
to avoid knowing people, after due deliberation, on
these questions : "Will it be judicious? Will they
be of advantage to me socially or otherwise ? Have
they a country place where I should like to be in-
vited ? If they have, can I afford to go ? That is
to say, will 'they' find it out, -if I do, and will
* they ' frown upon me ? Or, if it is where
'they* will know nothing about it, will there be
any danger that any member of this country
family will ever take it into his ridiculous head to
come to Boston, and expect me to go about with
46 Is this your >&m, my Lord?
I say that it is very difficult to determine just
what considerations do or do not form the basis of
any action after twenty-four years of this sort of
training ; and so when I assert that Fred Harmon
firmly believed that he loved Maude for her own
. dear, frank self alone, I am aware that I am run-
ning more or less risk of attributing to him a far
greater simplicity of motive than might be quite
fair to one of his complex and highly civilized
mental and moral condition.
Fred was poor. That was one reason why his
mother had trained him so carefully not to allow
himself to step one inch outside of the well-estab-
lished channels of thought and action. She held
that a rich man might possibly risk it, and recover
his ground afterward ; but a poor man, never.
Fred was conscious of certain rebellious ideas of
his own, which he would like very much, indeed, to
dare to express. Maude was rich.
In his inmost soul Fred had often chafed at the
repressions and eliminations to which his position
had always condemned him. Maude was rich.
Once or twice before he had been in the West,
where he was so situated that ha had dared to say
and do what he had liked best ; to express his real
thoughts and feelings ( so far as he could be sure
what they were in their embryonic and tentative
state), and it had been a great luxury. He
had felt like a new being, taller- and stronger
Ts this your Son, my Lord? 47
and firmer on his feet, until his mother had con-
vinced him that he had been temporarily out of his
mind, and that it would be utterly impossible for
any sane man of his position and culture to hold
such revolutionary views, none of which were in-
dorsed by Father Highchurch, or even by the eso-
teric Buddhists of her acquaintance. Fred had
therefore learned to distrust his mental opera-
tions, and really to question his own sanity, when
he found himself holding opinions on any subject
whatsoever which had not the indorsement and
seal of those whose intellectual garments had al-
ways been given to him, ready made, with the
injunction that not a stitch, not a button, not a ra-
velling could be altered without utterly ruining the
fit and bringing disgrace and shame upon his own
un draped and nude mentality.
One or two of their friends had taken the social
and religious bit in their teeth, it was true, and
they had come to no grief ; but Fred's mother had
pointed out that in each case they were rich, and,
well, Maude was rich 1
48 2s this your Son, my Lord?
This Is not right, is not just, is not true to the best that is in you. . . .
So the maiden went on, and little divined or imagined what was at
work in his heart. . . .
Let us, then, be what we are, and speak what we think, and In all
Keep ourselves loyal to truth. . . .
" 'Twas but a dream, let it pass, let it vanish like so many others I
What I thought was a flower, is only a weed, and is worthless ;
Out of my heart will I pluck it, and throw it away." Longfellow.
Ah, well ! ah well ! who is to say what Mr. Fred
Harmon's motives were, and what they were not,
when he sat down that delicious summer to think
it all over, and finally decided to ask Maude not to
expect him to announce their engagement to his
mother, just yet ? He asked her to keep it a
secret between themselves and her family. Maude's
father did not like this ; but he gave it no great
thought at first, and as the young fellow had come
very openly and said that he loved Maude, and
wanted his consent to marry her when he should
finish college and have a profession, Mr. Stone
had replied that it was for Maude to say whether
she was willing to be betrothed under those condi-
tions. That had settled it. Fred knew, of course,
what was right. His' mother was an invalid, and
he did not want to trouble her just now. Of course,
a mother would dislike dreadfully to have her only
son love any girl and want to marry her, especially
Is this your Son, my Lord? 49
if she did not know the girl beforehand. They
would wait until he had established himself in
something, if need be, though Maude told him that
she had enough for both and that he need not
worry about that.
" Yes, of course, Fred," she had said, " you will
want to do something. Any manly man would ;
but what I meant was that you need not worry
over it as if I had nothing. You can take time to
think and choose to suit yourself. Don't be a
clergyman, Fred," she had added. " I would be
such a guy as a clergyman's wife. I do so love to
dance and have fun; and then, Fred, I never could,
would, nor should keep my face straight to see you
trailing around in a Mother-Hubbard."
Fred laughed. He wondered what his mother
would say if she heard the gown she so worshipped*
on Father Highchurch, called a Mother-Hubbard
by the girl he loved.
" And then, Fred," Maude added, quite seri-
ously, " you say, yourself, that you don't believe
the creed and the thirty-nine articles, and you
believe that Christ was the son of Joseph, and
you don't believe in the justice of the vicarious
atonement, and oh, I'm sure, Fred, from what
you said to father that night on the veranda,
that a man who had the least self-respect, couldn't
be an Episcopal clergyman and think as you do.
Why, Fred, there weren't three grains difference
50 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
between your belief and father's, and he isn't even
a Unitarian. He's an Agnostic."
Fred beheld the vision of his mother again,
horrified and indignant. According to her belief
Agnostics and Anarchists were about the san:'.
thing, and neither were persons one would eve*,
care to meet out on a dark night.
" You are so literal, Maude," he said, playing with
the ring on her finger. " You are such a downright
literal little sweetheart, don't you know, that you
don't see those things in exactly the same light that
I do that such men as Heber Newton and Phillips
Brooks, for example, see them ? They are broad
enough to please even you, I should think. If I
were to take orders, I should not be a High-church-
man, but a Broad-churchman such as they are.
Mother would agree to that so long as I wore the
vestments at all, although she will remain rigidly
" What has your mother agreeing to it, or not
agreeing to it, to do with the case, Fred, if you
don't believe it ? " she asked quite simply. Fred
was astounded ; but she went on without noticing
his expression. " You have to be true to your own
opinions and conclusions, in a thing like that, don't
you ? You surely can't believe this and disbelieve
that because she or any one else tells you they will
agree to it to your going just so far in your mind
and no farther, can you ? "
Js this your Son, my Lord? 51
She laughed. Her sense of humor always relieved
her intensity of conviction.
" I think I can see you, Fred, with your black
Mother-Hubbard on, skipping across the platform
to get at the middle pulpit, and then shying out
through a door to take that one off and put on a
white polonaise with black trimmings or is it the
other way? I always forget which costume comes
first, and suddenly coming back and bobbing down
at the side pulpit. Oh dear ! I never can help want-
ing to laugh. A man looks so ridiculous. He al-
ways looks as if he felt like a fool, and I should
think he would, especially if he is large, like you.
But when you come to take orders, as you say, the
Bishop will ask you solemnly, ' Do you firmly be-
lieve that twice two are five, and that under theo-
logical conditions, three times five are twenty-one ? '
If you are going to be a Broad-churchman, as you
call it, and answer him according to ' the higher
criticism,' you will say, devoutly, that you can agree
to both very readily, with certain mental reserva-
tions. Then the Bishop will look at you with
grave suspicions and request you to state those
reservations in italics, and to do it pretty quick,
She paused and looked at him in a quizzical way.
Then she said : " Young man, you're going to be
scared. You're going to discover that those
mental reservations take in the whole state. There
52 Ts this your Son, my Lord?
won't be a county intact ; but you'll find one little
polling district, as they say, when they talk poli-
tics, and you will think it is a good one to bring
forward to show that you are orthodox ; but, my
son," said the girl with a shake of the head, " that
Bishop will go behind the returns. You will say
that what you really believe is that twice two are
four with the next number above it five." Fred
laughed and kissed her ; but she freed herself
from his detaining arm, and went on.
" After due deliberation the Bishop will tell you
that since you are a very desirable candidate, he is
willing for you to believe it that way, provided you
keep it to yourself and teach your parishioners only
the er a simpler formula, which is far better
suited to the ordinary mind ; but as for the other
proposition that three times five are twenty-one, it
is absolutely essential that you believe that person-
ally. You'll try to squirm out of it ; but he will be
obdurate. He will send you away to think it over.
He won't say so exactly, but he will mean just
about this : * Young man, when you come back
here, you say that three times five are twenty-one,
and receive a good parish, honors, some money,
social position, and no end of praise ; but return to
me with any other statement, and you will not only
fail of these, but you will feel, besides, the heavy
hand of power laid somewhat ungently on your
youthful head.' "
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 53
She brought her hand down on his well kept
hair, and allowed it to rest there as she went on.
" Well, you will go off to think it over. You
like ease. Praise is a delight to you. The pulpit
of a rich parish is the very easiest way on this earth
for average ability to get itself worshipped as
genius, papa says. Now, Fred, you have one weak-
ness, oh, yes, you have ! You like to be wor-
shipped. I don't blame you," she laughed, " so do
I. No such thing. 'M-m-m ! Oh, stop, Fred ! I'll
take your word for the rest of this particular dem-
onstration of the degree to which you adore me.
I really must finish my story. I've got you in an
awfully tight place, and I want to get you out.
Willing to stay there ? Why, Fred, you are not !
It wouldn't be honest. Well, here you are, and
here is the Bishop." She struck an attitude and
looked very severe as she posed for that august
personage. When she was Fred, her meekness
and conciliatory tones and pose were very amus-
ing to the young fellow, who greatly enjoyed her
power of mimicry.
" 'Your reverence,' say you, ' I am now prepared
to accept that other canon of belief. I believe,
fully, that if five were seven the result could not
fail to be exactly as you say, and that, since,
* Depart, ye cursed, until you make up your mind
that three times five are twenty-one, pure and simple,
without frills or tucks, sir ! ' and you depart."
54 Is this your Son, my Lord?
She laughed gayly again, and held his hand to
her soft cheek, stroking it up and down slowly;
then she dropped it and began afresh, standing up
to emphasize the effect, while she again acted the
parts of the unrelenting Bishop and the ingenuous
applicant for holy orders.
" Well, as I remarked before, you depart. You
come to me. We get our little siates and we fig-
ure, we multiply, and we add, and we fail to get
his result. You go to the leaders of the Broad-
church. They put their whole minds on it for
awhile. By and by, they say : ' Simple as can be,
my son ; give it to the Bishop this way.' It reads :
three multiplied by five plus six are twenty-one.
When you show it to the Bishop, he waxeth wroth
and demandeth sternly : ' What does this mean, sir?
I thought I told you to get it without any extras.' "
Maude scowled fiercely, and then, suddenly
changing her manner to one of propitiation, went
meekly on :
" If you please, sir, we of the Broad-church do
not count the six. It is thrown in for good
measure, and nobody ever notices it any way. I
do assure you that is my very best, Bishop, and
after learning to duplicate the explanation, as
made to me this morning, no one in my parish
will ever notice the six. We write it very small."
Fred had entered into the fun of it, and Maude
did act so well. He sprang to his feet, and caught
Is this your Son, my Lord? 55
her in his arms, covering her lovely face with
"How comical you are, Maude!" She broke
away laughing, and seated herself at the piano.
"All that you can do, Fred, if you choose to
eat humble pie ; but you cannot, you cannot, you
cannot think their way if you don't, and that's all
there is of it;" and she ran her fingers over the
keys, while their young voices simultaneously rang
out in a love song from Siegfried. Theology was
forgotten. From the stern orthodox Bishop with
his effort to maintain his mental integrity ; from
the Broad-church leaders with their bold elimina-
tions and substitutions, their premises, which, as
Maude said, were not even blood relations to their
conclusions ; from the timid, eager, hopeful novi-
tiate, Maude had passed into the beautiful, loving,
trusting girl, happy in her splendid lover and
radiant in her happiness.
But the world is small, and Mr. Fred Harmon
had not reckoned on one thing. About this time
Harvey Ball wrote to a college chum, and lo ! the
engagement, which was to be kept for a time from
his mother, was the talk of Boston.
It was done quite innocently. Harvey knew of
no reason why. he should not speak of it. It was
no secret here at Maude's home. All the boys
congratulated Fred and envied him, in a certain
sense. They were glad of Maude's good fortune ;
56 Js this your Son, my Lord?
for the glamour of " our set " quite surrounded the
young fellow from Beacon Hill, and his very
reticence and caution told strongly \ipon their
more open, bluff, and simple natures. Fred's
mother heard. She called him home at once.
She sent for a doctor ; then she told Fred that ho
was insane again. She reminded him of several
previous mistakes in his judgment, which he
could not deny. She bade him write to Maude and
break the engagement at once, on the ground
that he had not been in his right mind ; and shall
I tell the truth ? he promised, but did not do it.
It is true that he wrote to Maude, and appeared
to blame her because she had let the engagement be
known. His letter conveyed to the girl's wounded
heart the impression that he thought she had
been so elated, that she had been unable to conceal
her exultation because of her supreme good fortune.
Once under the old spell again, he felt anew the
power of convention, and reflected that Maude
would gain a vast deal by her elevation to the
charmed circle of exclusive, social Boston. He
recalled her humorous representation of the Bishop
in his " Mother-Hubbard, " and of him, the young
novitiate, nimbly presenting his various evasions of
fact in the hope of hitting on one that would "take;"
and, as he reflected, he decided to let his mother
believe what she had unhesitatingly announced
from the moment she had heard the dreadful news,
Js this your Son, my Lord? 57
that Maude and her people had deliberately laid
a trap to ensnare her son for their own glory
and aggrandizement. Fred did not say that she
was right in this version of the affair ; but he let
her repeat it, and did not insist that she was wrong.
To his father, Fred had said nothing. Indeed, there
was scant need that he should say anything for
that gentleman had long ago made up his mind
or whatever served him in that capacity to
accept, without question, the social dictates of his
ambitious and socially skilful wife. He had taken
this course long before the marriage of their
daughter, and had not she been piloted into a most
brilliant and desirable union with a scion of the
house of one of the elect? It is true that Clara was
looking somewhat pale and sad, of late; but one could
not ask too much of matrimony and happiness, it
is to be supposed, is not the sole aim of existence.
But all this trouble arising in Fred's betrothal to
his pretty western sweetheart had been long ago, and
Maude had covered her heartache and said nothing
to her father about it lest he blame Fred ; and
after all, Fred had written nothing to be blamed for.
He had seemed vexed, it is true, and his letters had
lacked the tone she had longed to find in them;
but he had said nothing unkind, and perhaps, oh,
perhaps, lovers did not write just the words and in
just the tone that her heart hungered for, especially
if the lover had had the advantage of training in good
58 Is this your Son, my Lord?
form. So Maude hid her pain, and by and by Fred's
letters were full of other things again, and he said
no more of the worry about their engagement be-
ing known at his home ; but she would have liked
very much to receive a kind letter from his parents.
She was glad that Fred had always been charming
with her father and mother; but she would have
loved to show her heart to his people too.
Maude had always thought that she would never
allow her pride to stand as a barrier against a close
and loving relationship between herself and her
She would so enjoy conforming to their ways and
showing them how much she loved the man she
had married and those who were near to him in
blood and thought. But she waited and waited,
and no message came from his family and he said
no more about it. He only wrote charming letters.
Maude could not help feeling at times that they
would have been equally interesting and delightful
to anyone else, except for the " darling " at the
Beginning, and " your Fred" at the end.
She put a good deal more than that in hers ; but
then, Fred had al way s~ been used to self- repression,
while she, oh, she had worn her heart on her sleeve
all her short life, and said what she felt and felt
what she said. So it was different, of course.
But all this, as I say, had been in the past, and
now Maude had gone to visit her aunt in Brooklyn,
Is this your Son, my Lord? 59
and Fred had come to New York, as he told his
mother, to look about him and make up his mind
what to do next, now that he had been graduated.
His mother firmly believed that he had broken
with Maude, and wrote to her friend a letter which
ended thus : . . . " The girl has an uncle, I
am told, who is in disrepute, and she, herself, must
be an unwholesome creature, mentally. Fancy a
woman who buttons her gloves after she is on the
doorstep, married to Fred! . . . But the
dear fellow has quite recovered from his infatua-
tion now, and I breathe again. Be thankful with
me ! Be grateful to our blessed Christ that He did
not permit this sacrifice. Oh, it seems to me that I
cannot thank Him enough that my splendid son has
escaped from the wiles of those designing people."
The girl the I can think of no word with
which I would willingly pollute my tongue to
describe the bold creature is, they tell me, very
pretty, and, of course, that goes a great way with
an inexperienced young fellow like Fred. And
equally of course, she knew how to play her
beauty off on him to the best advantage.
" Ah, well, he is safe again ; but, dear, do you
know I thought, at one time, that I should be com-
pelled to have him adjudged insane by Dr. K ?
You know he did that for Father High-church when
Eddie married the poor, unpleasing creature he
did, and the court annulled the marriage on that
60 Is this your Son, my Lord?
ground. It was all done secretly ; but a few of us
knew of it.
" By the way, did I tell you that Eddie is to marry
my niece in the fall? I am so glad and proud, for
Eddie is to take his uncle's place in the parish
when he is a little older, unless all signs fail. He
is only an assistant rector now ; but his place is
quite assured, and his abilities remarkable already.
It is really quite a feather in Dell's cap, too, for
the Forrest girls threw themselves at his head and
well, let us draw a cloak of charity over Mrs.
C 's conduct with Kate."
Maude sent the note from Fred the telegraphic
note as she called it to her father. She never
thought of not sending it, poor child, for her first
idea was to have him know that Fred had come
to New York as soon as he had learned that she
was there. She had found herself frequently, of
late, trying to defend Fred from thoughts she
sometimes had, and in her fear, imagined her father
might have also. But Fred's note produced quite
a different effect upon her father from anything
Maude had expected. He wrote a letter at once to
that young gentleman, and as he did not want to
send it to Maude, and did not know Fred's New
York address, he mailed it to Boston and marked
it " forward." A part of it read thus :
"It may be Eastern style, it may be High-church, or
Broad-church, or bon-ton etiquette, to write to a girl
Is this your Son, my Lord? 61
to fix her window shades so and so if she is willing to
go out with you for a walk ; but it isn't Western, and,
by Heaven, sir, you can't do it with my daughter !
" If you can't treat her in the East as you treat her
at her own home ; if you can't walk in and show
yourself, and be open and above board, I'll send
Maude to Europe, or somewhere else, if it kills her
before you shall see her again. What do you
mean, sir? Window shades, indeed! Don't try
any of your filagree- work, comic opera business, on
my daughter, or you'll hear something drop and
it won't be I, either. I've written to Maude that
in my opinion, she had better give you your walk-
ing papers ; but in the meantime, I'd like you to
explain this note to her and to me, and if you have
any prejudices, as you call them, in favor of a whole
skin, you'd better do it pretty damn quick, at that."
When Mrs. Harmon, Fred's mother, opened and
read this letter, as I am bound to say she did,
she decided not to send it to Fred ; but she wrote
him instead :
"Fred, dearie, I have received the most impu-
dent letter from that man, the father of the
I don't know what to call her who set that trap
for your dear feet. He has not given you up yet.
He dares to threaten you ! I told you how it would
be. They mean to try to force you to marry her.
Well, remember, my son, that you are a man now, and
remember, too, that you are a gentleman. . . . Such
62 Is this your Son, my Lord?
a letter ! Such a vulgar, low, blasphemous letter as
he wrote ! It would kill my refined, high-strung boy
to be associated with such common people. . . .
Now, my dear, don't pay the least attention. They
evidently don't know where you are. Don't let
them. Break off all communication, if you have
not. They cannot frighten me into telling where
you are, and no one else knows.
" Take a trip out to St. Louis or Chicago and
don't allow any of them to get your address. . . .
Let them have nothing in writing. If possible get
your letters from that girl and burn every
one of them. Never again sign anything. . . .
They can't hold you in law. If they try it, or
even threaten to, Dr. K says he will say
that you were out of your mind, as of course you
were, or it never would have happened. . . .
Now go, son, the moment you get this, and write
only to your loving mamma.
"P. S. Remember what a glorious future is
before one with your rare mental and social gifts,
if only you keep yourself free."
Fred read this letter, and then a note from
Maude. He was not particularly disturbed by
either. He was not sure that he fully understood
what was behind the words Maude wrote ; but his
guess came very near the truth. Her note began :
'' I had a cruel letter." Then she had drawn a line
over it and begun again : " I return all of your
Ts this your /Son, my Lord? 63
letters and ring. I do not know what to think.
I am bewildered and pained. I leave town at
once. Papa has sent for my aunt to take me
away. I do not understand; but no doubt you
will you and your mother. Good-by."
The fact was that Fred's mother had written to
Maude a long, cunningly- worded letter, in which
she had appealed to the girl to give her son his
freedom. She argued so effectively, and appealed
to the girl's pride in such a way, that Maude had
hastened to comply with her request, even to the
last detail that she say nothing to Fred of the
maternal letter. It is to be doubted whether
Maude would have complied so readily, without
first hearing from her lover, if she had not received
a note from her father which spoke rather severely
of Fred and of his recent conduct. It was all
rather blind to her; but she could see that the
accompanying letter from her father to her aunt
which was a long one, and which, contrary to the
family custom, had not been given her to read,
had produced deep wrath in the bosom of that
lady ; and she announced that they would leave
at once, for Maude's home.
It h.ad all taken such a little time. Aunt Stone was
a person of quick decision and prompt action, and
now the trunks were packed, and Maude locked her
door and flung herself, face down, on her bed, and
wept and moaned for all the dreams that were past.
64 Is this your Son, my Lord?
" And In the world, as in the school,
I'd say how fate may change and shift,
The prize be sometimes with the fool.
The race not always to the swift;
The strong may yield, the good may fall.
The great man be a vulgar clown,
The knave be lifted over all,
The kind cast pitilessl) down." Thackeray.
"It Is probable that the great majority of voices that swell the clamor
against every book which is regarded as heretical, are the voices of those
who would deem it criminal even to open that book, or to enter into any
real, searching and impartial investigation of the subject to which it
Late that evening Fred stepped into a Club on
Fifth Avenue. He felt tired, unsteady, and
worn. He did not know what next to do, or
where to go. He assured himself that he had been
very badly treated and that he was most miserable.
He chewed his mustache, and scowled in melan-
choly silence as he took a seat where he could
hear without being expected to participate in the
conversation of a group of well-known men. Even
in his desolation, he did not forget that it was well
to be associated in the public mind with the lions
of the day, and the group was clearly seen from
the street. He had noticed that as he came in.
Early in the evening he had gone to the house in
Brooklyn to ask so he told himself for an ex-
planation of Maude's note ; but he had been met at
Is this your Son, my Lord? - 65
the door by the butler, and told that the ladies were
at that moment on their way to Europe that they
had sailed early in the afternoon. No, he could not
remember the name of the steamer, and no word
had been left for anyone. " How long ? " He really
did not know, but had heard some talk of a year
in France, and then a tour in some place or other ;
but really he did not know much about it. None
of which was true, and Fred was not at all sure
that he believed it ; but he went away, and Maude
did not know that he had made even this feeble
attempt to see her, and the night train for the West
had pulled out with much puffing, and backing, and
whistling, all of which tortured the girl who sat
with closed eyes, as if it were a part of her sorrow,
and contrived for her benefit alone. When Fred
Harmon entered the club room, several of the
younger men in the far corner bowed to him ; but,
as I say, he had selected his seat from the outside,
and he took it now with an easy assurance' that
started little streams of envious thought in minds
less diplomatically gifted than his own.
The death of a novelist was the bit of news
under discussion by the distinguished group of
whom Fred was now from the street, at least a
member. The rightful place of the departed in
the world of letters aroused a warmth of expres-
sion which Fred felt was distinctly not of the Back
Bay. But then of course New York was not -~
. Is this your Son, my Lord?
that is, one could not expect the same degree of
culture well, it was quite a distance from New
York to Harvard, and most of these men were
thorough New Yorkers. Indeed, one of them, at
least, was even more unfortunate. He was from
the West. Fred thought he held his own remark-
ably well, under the circumstances. He could not
help smiling, in spite of his forlornly unhappy state,
as he thought how lucky it was for this Western
man that none of his opponents were Bostonians.
" You cannot call that sort of writing Literature ;"
said a tall, fine looking man, whose rank as a
novelist was, as he felt, quite assured. " It would
be like calling a chromo Art, or the jingle of a hand-
" But he made more money than any of you
high-toned fellows," asserted one of the dead
author's admirers, " and after all, that is the main
tking with all of you. You'd do it quick enough
if you could. Don't talk to me about genius and
all that sort of thing ; if he had the genius to touch
the popular heart, you can't deny that he got away
with most of you, after all."
" Oh, when it comes to that," said another man
of letters, whose heavy articles charm a few, are
read as a duty by some, and avoided as a pestilence
by the many, " when it comes to talk about touch-
ing the popular heart, that is best done with a pair
of shears and a paste pot. I know a publisher who
Js this your Son, my Lord? 67
understood the trick perfectly. He knew that
anything that had Mother in the title no matter
if it was the veriest twaddle on earth would sell.
A certain number of idiots would have that book
or die. He estimated that about one hundred
thousand fools out of the sixty million in this
enlightened country would nibble at that bait. He
thought that about the same number would buy
anything with Home in the title. Heaven would
bring down a like number, and a combination of
the three would fascinate almost anybody." Fred
was getting interested, and a general smile of
amusement went around the circle and somewhat
dissipated the air of hostility that had begun to
show itself a moment before.
" Well, that man took a pair of shears and a pot
of paste, and he clipped and pasted and pasted and
clipped all the odds and ends he could find that he
could by the widest stretch of his fertile and
elastic imagination bring under any one of these
heads. He got a lot. Then he issued the book,
and put ' Mother, Home and Heaven,' in large
and duly impressive gilt letters on the coyer ; and
what do you suppose was the result of his ven-
ture ? "
" Didn't sell ten copies," laughed a young
" Sold like hot cakes until the disjointed and
worthless nature of the work became known,
68 Is this your Son, my Lord?
and then some of his victims walked in one day and
scalped him ; " suggested a well-known army man
from Arizona, who was the guest of the evening.
" Died of remorse before the first edition of five
hundred was sold," ventured an actor who had
just made a hit in tragedy at a Broadway theatre.
" Not a bit of it ! " said the pessimist of the
heavy literature. " Not a bit of it ! He sold, for
hard cash, just four hundred thousand copies of
that unadulterated trash to a like number of de-
lighted imbeciles, who call it literature, and pride
themselves on the fact that they and theirs are
readers ! "
A general laugh mingled with his groan of dis-
gust, and then a tall, gray-bearded editor of kindly
heart and caustic pen, took up the cudgel for
" Of course," said he. " What better could you
expect ? Look at the half educated idiots the public
schools turn loose every year on a long-suffering
and sorely-tried community ! It makes my hair
curl only to think of it. They are under the
impression that they are educated, and they know
just exactly enough to make them perfectly hope-
less cases to deal with. But the ' Mother, Home
and Heaven ' crowd is not half so bad as the other
one ; " he added, and then paused.
"Which other?" inquired the tragic actor.
The Father, Club and Hell set?"
Is this your Son, my Lord? 69
Every one laughed again except the gray-bearded,
sweet-natured editor, him of the trenchant pen. He
was in earnest, and as the army man remarked,
" on the war path."
" No ! " said he, indignantly ; " the ' Elmina
Stabbed the Count,' crowd. The woods are full of
them ! Don't talk to me about literature ! Why,
do you realize, my Christian friends of the book-
making fraternity, that there are sixty millions of
people in this enlightened land of ours, and that
only three millions of them ever read books, maga-
zines, or even newspapers? Go to! Literature,
indeed! What we want in this country is what
people will read, isn't it ? Well, that is ' Mother,
Home and Heaven,' two parts, and ' Elmina Stabbed
the Count,' three parts ; well shaken together, and
served hot. Oh, no, my friends, don't fret about
the dear departed. He knew what he was about ; "
and with a groan of pent up indignation for suffer-
ing literature with a very large L, he jammed his
hat on his fine, well-poised head, and started
for his office " to write," cynically remarked the
tragic actor, " a glowing editorial on the high grade
of intelligence possessed by the American people
in general, and the high-school graduate in par-
Fred followed him somewhat aimlessly from the
room, and out into the street. Then he called a
cab and drove to his hotel.
70 Ts this your Son, my Lord?
" Call me for the midnight train, on the Pennsyl-
vania Central ; " said he to the clerk, and went to
his room to pack his " traps," feeling that the world
was very hollow, indeed, and that women were at
the bottom of it all.
WTien Preston Mansfield, homeward bound,
reached the waiting-room in Jersey City, he was
surprised to see Fred Harmon strolling gloomily
up and down the platform.
"Hello, old man ! Chicago?" said Preston.
" No. Yes. I don't know," replied Fred, some-
what impatiently. " West, somewhere."
" Better drop in on us while you are cruising
around. Small place. Not a great deal to see
Nothing to do ; but I have to go home once in a
while, and look after the folks and do the lead-
ing citizen act. Drop in on us if you're our way.
Take you hunting. Lots of game. By Jove, a
porcupine waddled into our back yard the last time
I was home ! "
" No ! " exclaimed Fred, deeply interested. He
was a born hunter. Bringing down game gave
him the keenest pleasure.
"Fact," said Preston. "Oh, we're primitive
out our way. Most of our callers are bear or
Indians. We like the bear best, they don't smell
so bad. Wah ! did you ever get on the lee side of
an Indian in good and regular standing? No?
Well, don't. Good by! this is my buggy;" and
Is this your Son, my Lord? 71
Preston sprang upon the step of the sleeping
coach just as the train pulled out. Fred, with his
usual reticence and caution, concluded quietly to
wait for the next train. And Maude never knew why
the section across from hers was left vacant, for
she had heard the conductor insist that it had been
taken and paid for. But New York has attractions
for even a broken-hearted young collegian, and it
was more than a month before Fred stepped
aboard a west-bound train.
It was five weeks later when Harvey Ball took
his seat at the military dinner given in St. Louis
in honor of the arrival of General Sherman. He
did not know why it was, but he observed that a
feeling of bitterness hovered about the head of the
table, and that it was intensified the farther it
travelled toward the foot.
"Isn't it shocking ? " whispered the lady at his side.
" If you say so, yes, but what is it ? " laughed
The lady, somewhat mature in years, but with, the
complexion of an infant and the manner of a school
girl, glared at him for a moment, biit seemed to
remember that he was only an ordinary civilian,
and therefore not to be held accountable for an
otherwise inexcusable depth of ignorance. Then
she sighed and spoke across him to the lady on his
right, the poise of whose head and neck boded war
on the morrow.
72 Js this your Son, my Lord?
" How dared she seat the senator's wife above
Mrs. General C ?"
" Well," replied the irate matron ; " that is not
the worst of it. Did you notice that, as we came
in, Mrs. Captain D preceded the colonel's
wife ? "
" Horrors, no ! Then she was ahead of me !
Well, of course, that settles it. Somebody has got
to teach her her rank. Look at the bold creature
talking to General Sherman. But he only tolerates
her, as you can see. How on earth was such a
mistake made about seating Mrs. General C ? I
should think Mrs. Senator M would feel how
dreadfully out of place she is and offer to change."
" Oh, my dear, you forget that she is not of the
regular army ! I really doubt if she has the least
idea how outrageous it is. She probably feels
quite at her ease. Just fancy ! "
At this juncture the young captain opposite
Harvey Ball, who had been his schoolfellow in
years gone by, asked :
" Do you keep up your interest in sociological
studies, Ball? What did you think of Herbert
Spencer's last ? Don't you think he made a bad
break in that unknowable, with a big U, argument ? "
" Why, Captain, you don't read Spencer do you ? "
exclaimed the major's irate sister, in shocked sur-
prise. " How dreadful ! But it is a loose age and
of course your church has no views on literature."
Is this your Son, my Lord? 73
Harvey Ball was amused and curious. As a
civil engineer he felt that it was his duty to take a
survey of this new phase of mentality. He turned
to her and said :
" I shall have to confess to the same breach of
decorum, I fear. I read Spencer at odd times too,
and I never before knew that it was looked upon
as an offence. Tell me about it. I am only a
poor, uninstructed civilian. Is Herbert Spencer be-
low the salt in regular army circles ? " But the
lady on his other side broke in :
" How terrible ! ' Do you know I heard two
women admit reading him not long ago. I can't
call them ladies, of course ; but
" NQW don't say too much, my dear," said the ma-
jor's sister ; " for I had heard so much talk about
his writings and of course our Church does not
approve of reading such things but feeling myself
strong I made up my mind to read just one and
see if it would undermine my faith, and really and
truly, I think that the Church places too high an
estimate upon the power of his writings. I read
the book through carefully, and I do assure you
that it did not disturb' my faith in the least ! "
" Oh ! " gasped the other lady, " I should not care
to try such a dangerous experiment. What a risk
to run, my dear, what an awful risk to run ! "
" Which one of his works did you read, may I
ask ? " inquired the young captain opposite, looking
74 is this your Son, my Lordf
straight at Harvey Ball who was struggling with a
twinkle in his eye, and did not dare to look up.
" The Faerie Queene," she replied triumphantly.
The young captain looked suddenly at his plate,
and Harvey Ball searched in vain for a napkin in
his lap. Presently he said quite soberly : " You
did well, indeed, madam, if you read that incendi-
ary work all through and kept your faith in gods
or man intact. I congratulate you. I assure you that
it is the man's very worst production. I have some-
times thought that he laid himself out on that
" Did you confess after you read it, may I ask ? "
inquired the captain, dryly. " Yes, I did, and I
went into retreat the next time two days longer
than usual, too," she said. " Do not imagine, Cap-
tain, that it had power to corrupt me in any way
whatever. I am a Mountbuford. No one of them
ever slighted or left the true faith. Lydia, are you
sure that Mrs. Captain D came in before me ?
Where is she now? You know I am a trifle near-
sighted. Impossible ! What does General Sherman
mean?" And she of the family of incorruptible
Mountbufords took Harvey Ball's arm and strode
majestically out of the room sad to relate, once
more, after the captain's wife, who was 'chatting
gaily with General Sherman, who had her on one
arm and on the other Maude Stone, interested if not
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 75
Maude's father stood near the door. She smiled
at him as she passed, and then puckered her pretty
brows into a playful frown. He knew that she
wanted him to offer his arm to some lady; but
looking over Harvey Ball's shoulder an hour later
as they waltzed past, Maude saw her father still
standing alone near the door, looking at her gloom-
ily. He brightened when he saw that she was
laughing. Harvey was rehearsing the precedence
incident to her and just ended with the Faerie
Queene faux pas.
" It isn't true, oh, it isn't true, Harvey," laughed
Maude ; " but it is a good story, all the same, and I
shall tell it when I get home."
"I assure you it is true," said he. "I never did
come so near laughing in a lady's face in all my
life, never. That is the one, over there. That
one, who looks like a drum major. I pity the cap-
tain's wife to-morrow."
" What a petty life ! " said Maude, gravely, with
her eyes on the pretty young woman, who had
married the captain. " I should not care to marry
an army man, and be forced into it, should you ? "
Harvey smiled. " Well, no, I don't think of any
army man just now that I would care to marry ;
but you don't brass buttons and position in
society attract all young ladies? They say so."
" Which position ? Above or below the senator's
wife ? Oh, how comical ! " And they strolled out
76 Js this your Son, my Lord?
into the hall for fresh air and rest. But Harvey
Ball looked no cooler, certainly, when the young
captain found them a little later in a quiet corner
of the great rotunda, and Maude was flurried and
ready to leave. Harvey Ball had never tried to
make love to her before. Did he know of her
broken engagement? Poor Maude, poor Maude 5
she was glad enough that the captain came, and she
asked him to go with her to find her father.
"Even she likes brass buttons," thought young
Ball, bitterly, as she disappeared on the arm of the
captain, laughing as she had not laughed with him,
he thought, since they were children together.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 77
" O wad some Pow'r the glftle gle us
To see oursete as others see us! "Burns.
"It follows, that, until a man can be found who knows himself as his
Maker kuowr him, or who sees himself as others see him , there must be at
least six persons engaged In every dialogue between two." Oliver Wendell
"Don't be deceived by a facile exterior." Emerson.
" I'll make it fifty more, to draw cards."
" Raise you the limit."
" You drew one card ? Well, I'll see you. By
Jove ! if you didn't fill ! H-e-1-l-o ! There is Harvey
Ball, going in the elevator. What is all this infernal
noise in the hotel about, anyhow ? What is up ? "
demanded Fred Harmon of the bell boy, who had left
the door open, while depositing the wine on the table.
Fred had arrived on the late train, and was finishing
a little game with two commercial travellers whose
acquaintance he had formed en route.
"Military ball, sah. Gen'l Sherman heah, sah.
All de swells in de city, sah, an' fum de hole sur-
rounden' kentry. Some fum In'nap'lis an' some
fum Sain-Jo, an' all de small places aroun'. Dey's
two registed fum Chicago, even ; " said the bell
boy, with unconscious local sarcasm.
A moment later Maude passed the open door on
the arm of the young captain, closely followed by
78 Is this your Son, my Lord?
e w ! " whistled Fred, and stepped back
while he pocketed his winnings. Maude paused op-
posite to say good-night to the captain, and then
Mr. Stone rang for the elevator.
" Had a good time, Maude ? " asked her father,
looking at her very hard. " Y-e-s," sai5 Maude ;
" oh, yes, of course."
" You little prevaricator ; " said Mr. Stone, in the
most tenderly sympathetic tone, as he stooped to
kiss her forehead just as a big tear ran down her
cheek. He straightened up quickly and stepped in
front of her as the elevator stopped.
" Rather rude man ; " thought a lady inside, as
she moved back for Maude ; but the girl understood
her father, and while his broad back had shielded
her, she had regained her self-possession and the
trace of the tear was gone.
When they reached the door of her little parlor
she said, " Come in, Popsie," using the name she
had invented for him in her childish years. " Come
in. I'd rather talk to you than to anybody you
dear old thing ! " and the girl pinched her father's
arm and laid her cheek against his sleeve. " It
isn't late, Popsie mine, and I'm not at all sleepy ;
come in for a while and make love to me. I'm
lonesome ; " she added, trying to laugh and look
" All right, you little scamp," said her father.
" I'll come in ; but from the looks of things down-
2s this your Son, my Lord? 79
stairs I don't think that you're exactly suffering for
anybody to make love to you ; " and he turned on
the gas and dropped into a chair by the table.
Maude had seated herself on the sofa. She began
taking off her gloves and pulling their long soft
wrinkles across her knees to smooth them. She did
not reply or look up and her father went on :
" But I don't blame 'em. You were the prettiest
girl there and ," Maude tried to look up and smile,
but only succeeded in starting a tremulous little
quiver which died on her lips. " And you're the
best, too, you dear child," added Mr. Stone.
The girl flung herself down, buried her face in
the pillow and began to sob convulsively. With
that astonishment which seems to be a part of all large
natured men, who think they understand the women
nearest them, her father looked at her a moment,
in half bewilderment, and then walked to the
window and stared helplessly out across the street
at the brilliantly lighted cigar store where young
men and old were moving about and puffing at
the weed. He stood there whistling softly and
wondering what to do next, and how to make
Maude believe that he did not know she was weep-
ing about Fred Harmon.
There was a rap at the door; but the noise of
the street drowned it for the ears of the father, and
Maude sobbed on unheeding. The door had not
been securely closed and had pushed open a mere
80 Is this your Son, my Lord?
crack ; then, suddenly, as the man who had rapped
heard the sound of weeping within, he stepped
quickly inside and with long strides reached the
lounge and flung himself on his knees by the girl's
side and said, in a choked and penitent voice :
" Maude, Maude, darling, may I come back ? "
The girl sprang to her feet with wide, tear-stained
eyes, into which there came a sudden rush of ten-
derness and joy.
" Fred ! Fred ! Fred ! " she cried, and lifting his
face in her hands she kissed his forehead, and he
was forgiven ; and being forgiven felt that he had
Mr. Stone had turned from the window when
he first heard the young man's voice, with a face
white with anger. At sight of his daughter now,
he groaned aloud, and set his lips so firm and close
that they were but a purpling line in his unhappy
" Forgive me, Maude ; it was not my fault.
Truly, as I live, it was not. I want to tell you
everything, everything, everything ; " the young
fellow said, still on his knees and with his arms
about her waist. There were tears in his fine eyes,
and he did not try to hide them. He felt that he
was a hero, and he was sincerely moved by the
contemplation of his own lofty conduct. Maude
took her dainty lace handkerchief and wiped his
eyes, with that reverent awe that women feel for
Is this your Son, my Lord? 81
tears in men. Then she slipped the bit of lace,
made holy by his tears, into the bosom of her
gown and pressed it to her white and dimpled flesh
with something like the ecstasy and yearning with
which a mother holds her first-born child. Fred's
tears ! They were the first she had ever seen him
shed, and they should be the last. Her love should
make his splendid eyes the home of smiles and joy
forever, and she kissed them both reverently, to
consecrate the silent vow.
Fred had meant to tell her everything as he
said ; but when she took it for granted that he had
followed her here for that single purpose, his well
grounded habit of evasion and concealment deci-
ded him not to offer, just then, the explanation that
was on his lips when the first rush of tenderness
had swept over him, as he heard her sob and saw
her lying there, wretched, he knew for him.
He had seen her father kiss her, at the elevator;
he had seen ho w bravely she had tried to master
herself. He had heard her father's roughly tender
badinage. He had followed and now ? His in-
stinct and training of caution and evasion were
beginning to overwhelm him again. He would not
tell her, just yet, the truth about why he had
come West, and that his heart had conquered only
when he saw her again and saw that she was not
happy. She believed that he had simply followed
her first to her home and then here. Why tell
82 Is this your Son, my Lord?
her otherwise ? And then, her father might not
place so generous a construction on this sudden
change of purpose, if he told the simple truth.
Then, too, PVed knew that it was crude to be too
baldly direct and to be crude was to be a cad.
No, he would not he would omit that part of hi.s
confession, just now.
Mr. Stone stepped toward them. Fred had not
before noticed him, and felt a distinct sense of relief
that he had not been too precipitate about that con-
fession. Taking Maude's hands from her lover's
face, he drew her to a seat beside him and putting
one arm about her said, in a voice that struck Fred
as peculiarly unsympathetic :
It was like a cold plunge to Fred, and he hated
There are several ways of saying " Well sir " ; but
Mr. Stone's voice did not lend itself to any of the
more attractive tones, and there was a distinctly
chilly note in it just now, Fred thought. Then
back in the shreds of ideas that crowded about
in his brain the absurd one occurred to him that
it was a very deep and unpromising " well " for this
particular " sir " to clamber out of. The notion
amused while it steadied him. He got upon his
feet rather shamefacedly and took a chair by the
table. He wished that Mr. Stone would say some-
thing else, or that Maude would give him a start.
Is this your /Sow, my Lord? 83
It would be easy enough to explain it all to her ;
but her father that was another thing, and Fred
was beginning to feel about as uncomfortable as he
had ever felt in his life. He bit his mustache and
looked hard at the table and then at the floor.
" Well, sir ? " repeated Mr. Stone ; and in spite
of his distress, Fred could not keep the ridiculous
idea out of his mind that the well had been sunk
several feet deeper ; but he said very humbly, and
without looking up :
" There has been a terrible misunderstanding, and
in one sense I was to blame ; but I have come to
if I could if I might talk to Maude alone I
am sure I feel certain that she would forgive me,
and that I could make it all right with her."
He had brightened perceptibly, as this idea had
worked itself out in his mind. Maude made a
movement to release herself from her father, so that
he might go ; but he did not move. She looked
up and was surprised at the expression on his face.
She did not wonder that Fred was awkward and
confused Fred who was always grace and ease
itself. She began to speak, but her father checked
" No, sir," said he, addressing Fred ; " you will
make your explanation to both of us. If you were
the man you ought to be, you would have tried to
make it first to me alone, instead of to her alone ;
but now that we are both here go on."
84 Is this your Son, my Lord
Fred flushed. This was a rather ungentle way
to behave and talk. " The man he ought to be,"
indeed! And this uncultured Western man, who was
not even a graduate of a " one-horse " Ohio College,
had the presumption to say such a thing to Mr.
Fred Harmon, late of Harvard, idol of Beacon
Hill, highpriest of culture ! But after all, how
could he expect anything better? His mother
had told him how it would be ; but his overwhelm-
ing love for Maude would undoubtedly enable him
to endure even this sort of thing ; but why couldn't
Maude have been born on the Back Bay, or at
least, on Murray Hill ? And why, oh, why need
she have a hopeless cad for a father? Fred felt
like a Christian martyr, and he even doubted
whether Maude could fully comprehend the depth
of sacrifice he was making for her dear sake. But
he would force himself to bear it all, for she was to
be the reward, and Maude was far more beautiful
in this exquisite ball dress than he had ever before
seen her. It was strange, Fred reflected, that these
Western girls knew how to dress so well. So he
told a very pretty story, indeed. He warmed to it
as he went on, and did not fail to blame himself in
this or that, with well chosen words, and as if the
pain of it were great.
Did he tell the truth ? Most assuredly.
The whole truth ? Most assuredly not, nor the
half of it, nor the quarter, nor the tenth part ; but
Is this your Son, my Lord? 85
the truth he did tell, as it behooves a gentleman,
and Maude and her father listened with widely di-
vergent emotions. She felt that the nobility of
soul that enabled him to lay bare his whole life, and
even seem to blame the mother he adored, was
magnificent. It thrilled her into silence.
Her father's silence was pitched in a different
mood. His keen eye saw, his shrewd sense com-
pared, his experience and observation lent wings to
an imagination already aroused by fear for his
When Fred finished and dropped his head on his
arms, which were outstretched on the table in an
abandon of self reproach and supplication, Mr.
Stone spoke for the first time.
" Sit still, Maude. Wait. I have something to
say first. When I am done, if you want to go to
him and ' comfort ' him, you may." He laid rather
unpleasant stress on the word " comfort," Fred
thought. It was one of Mr. Stone's vulgar habits
to italicize his spoken words. People on the Back
Bay did not do that. They spoke of the last mur-
der, or even of a terrible calamity in their own
families, with the same placid sweetness of inflec-
tion as if it were a stage presentation for their en-
tertainment. Fred wondered vaguely how long
it would take Maude to learn that art.
" But, my daughter, my darling, I am afraid that
your blunt old father will hurt you a little. I have
86 Is this your Son, my Lord?
heard him, now he must hear me ; then you may
take your choice between the two stories. He has
told it his way. I will tell it mine."
Maude smiled up at her father. If that was all,
she could wait ; and Fred, too, he could not object
to that. She pressed the bit of lace that had
touched her lover's tear-stained face, close to her
bosom, and did not struggle again to free herself
from her father's arm. Mr. Stone went on
" You were born of a mother whose ambition for
position for you has been the whole thought of her life.
She has sacrificed everything for it, even herself.
And you let her. You nursed it from her breast.
Before you could walk, you understood that you must
pretend to certain things, if you did not feel them,
that you must evade other things, if they were not
looked upon as good form, as you call it, that is, if
they were not strictly conventional, the way the
people acted whom you have been trained to
Fred made. a movement to speak; but Mr. Stone
" Wait till I'm done. I'm not going to say
anything disrespectful of your mother. I have
no doubt she is a very good woman, from her
outlook. I don't blame her, and I don't blame
you." Maude stroked her father's hand and began
to brighten again. Fred cleared his throat and
7s this your Son, my JLord? 87
looked more cheerful than he had since he entered
the room. The sailing was not going to be so
rough after all.
Mr. Stone began again very calmly : " I say that I
do not blame your mother; but that does not
change the result of the training on your character,
young man. You have laughed, and told me, your-
self, that when you had certain boyish desires to
play with the grocer's son, you either had to pretend
that you hadn't the desire, or else gratify it on the
sly. Why ? Not at all because he was a bad boy, and
would teach you to lie, or steal, or be unkind, or a
little imp, generally; but solely because his father
sold dried apples and codfish. You might play
with another boy all day, not because he was frank,
and kind, and honest, but because his people went
in a certain set. You learned, before you were ten
years old, two lessons that show in everything you
do or say, to-day. One was to evade all unpleasant
facts in your own nature by covering them from
the eyes of others, not at all by correcting the
fault. And the other was to value people wholly
by surface measures, and never by their real worth.
Another thing you have learned : to demand or
expect everything, and to return only so much as
you see fit. You have no conception of reciprocity
in anything. The world is your fish, and you bait
your hook with a manufactured fly. Now, when
Maude was ten years old, she judged her playmates
88 Is this your Son, my Lord?
wholly by the way they behaved by their truth-
fulness and kindness. If she wanted to play with the
washer- woman's girl, no one objected in the least,
after we were sure that the child was honest, and
kind, and good. Maude liked her playmates for
what they were. Who they were had nothing what-
ever to do with it. So you see that at that early age
there was a basis of character formed in each of
you that is totally unlike and not only that, but
Fred smiled across at Maude and she. shook her
head ; but her father appeared not to notice either,
and went on.
" As you grew up, you have told me many
things that show it, all your valuations of charac-
ter, acts, and people were made on this basis: 'Are
they good form on the Back Bay?' Then there
was another test you learned to make a little later
on : ' "Will it be found out? If it is kept secret, or
found out, by the Back Bay men only, will it
make any difference in my social standing?' Even
after you loved my daughter, it never occurred to
you to be troubled because you could not offer her
as clean and pure and holy a life and love as she
was giving you." At the word " holy, " from Mr.
Stone's lips, Fred looked up. He had no concep-
tion of the word apart from certain phrases of
theological import, and he knew that Maude's
father gave scant heed to these. Had he, at last,
Is this your Son^ my Lord? 89
caught this man in the act of juggling with words
in regular conventional fashion ?
"You have absolutely no comprehension of
moral values apart from creeds, social require-
ments, or custom. You have no prejudices, as you
call them, in favor of one line of action rather than
another, unless it is laid down in the Blue Book,
and warranted to wear an evening coat, or go to
the Episcopal Church, in whose creed you have no
more belief than I have, and yet you are willing to
vow devotion to it, and profit by the result. In
any other business in this world, that would be
called obtaining money by false pretences."
Fred moved uneasily, and Maude said reproach-
fully : " Why, papa ! "
" Wait," said Mr. Stone, " I am not through yet. I
want to state the case fully, and in plain English. I
said awhile ago that I do not blame you. Neither do
I blame your mother who made you that way ; but
for all that, young man, I am compelled to say that
the more I've thought of it lately, and I've thought
of very little else, you may be sure the more I don't
like the job she turned out. I can't have a great
deal of confidence in a man whose character is all on
the surface. I like a little foundation. I'd like a
few prejudices in favor of the realities of life for
their own sakes. I should not object, if you were
an Episcopalian, mind you, or any other sort of a
Christian, if you were honest in it ; but I have no
90 Is this your Son, my Lord?
use for the layman who holds his creed for revenue
only ; and for the clergyman who accepts a salary
from honest believers for mystifying and explain-
ing away all there is of real meaning in the plan of
salvation, my contempt is simply unbounded."
This was a new theory to Fred, and it struck him
as worthy of some thought ; but he smiled as he
thought how this man of uncouth speech expressed
what he had been taught to call "the higher
criticism of progressive theology." Obtaining
money by false pretences, indeed !
" I'd like to feel that the man who marries my
daughter will keep clear of dishonest and dishonor-
able people whether in or out of the pulpit
on some more important grounds than the sort of
coat they wear, or the brand of their cigars. I'd
like to go to sleep nights feeling confident that he
wasn't thrashing her, not simply because it isn't
good form, or might be found out. In short, I'd
like my daughter to niarry a man who is honorable
and noble and true from the inside out and not from
the outside in. I'd like him to be his own severest
judge, and not do this or that to fit the opinions and
dictates of somebody else", simply because they are
the beliefs of somebody else who is fashionable.
No man, sir, is fit to get married, no man has
any right to ask a girl to believe in and rely on
him, until he believes in and relies on himself. I
don't want Maude to marry an echo, and more
2s this your /Son, my Lord? 91
than that, sir, she shall not until that echo has, at
least, a true ring ! "
He brought his fist down with a bang. Fred
made a mental note of the expression, which he
thought quite effective from a purely artistic
outlook. He was not at all touched by its bear-
ing upon himself. Indeed, life was to him almost
entirely a succession of mental gymnastics; but
he was missing the next act, Mr. Stone was still
" and while the echo of a good man whose
own life rings clear and true to himself, might not
be so bad, by gad, the echo of an echo of a theo-
logical trimmer and a social shadow is more than I
can stand, and more than I will have ! "
He had grown excited as he talked, and now he
sprang to his feet and began pacing the floor, still
keeping his arm about Maude. He almost carried
her with him, and as she passed Fred her soft silk
drapery caught his knees and roused him far more
than her father's words had done. He had been
vaguely conscious that a wonderful photograph was
being taken ; but he did not think that there were
many features turned to the camera that were a
discredit to himself, after all. At least, he compre-
hended that there were angles from which Maude
might like the picture a good deal less if her father
had only known it and had turned the light that
way. As for himself, life was more or less given
92 Ts this your /Son, my Lord?
over to a contest of wits, and he had not had his
trained for nothing. Knock-down fists were one
thing ; but the dexterous use of foils was quite
another, and Maude's father could not hope to cope
with him there and Maude was very beautiful ; it
was worth while to
As if reading the thought before it was formed,
Mr. Stone broke out again, as he turned to retrace
his steps :
" Do you know why you love Maude ? Because
she is beautiful."
Fred smiled up at her with no sense of failure in
his valuation. " Simply and solely because she is
beautiful to look at. She pleases your artistic sense.
The soul of the girl, her honor and truth, her
mental and moral needs, her ideals and longings, are
nothing to you, less than nothing ; they are preju-
dices, to be got rid of.
" Her true ring on every subject means to you lack
of training. You think when she is your wife that
you will show her how uncouth it is to be natural,
how vulgar to be real. No doubt you would, and
the result would be a blasted, wretched, disappointed
life for the poor child who, if she dropped her ideals
and followed your lead would scorn herself and you
at every step, or else she would learn to be as hollow,
and vapid, and characterless as you and your con-
ventional set are, and learn to blame her father and
be ashamed of her mother for having made a true
Ts this your Son, my Lordf 93
woman of her, instead of a fictitious copy of some-
Maude had taken his hand in hers, and she lifted
it to her lips and kissed the great palm tenderly,
and, with tears on her cheeks, laid her flushed face in
his hand as she had done years ago to sleep, and
said brokenly :
" Father, please please let Fred go now. I
want to think. You have put words to I have
had thoughts, at times, O, father, I am so tired
to-night, won't you both go now, and No, not
together. Good-night, Fred," and she let him
kiss her cheek as he passed.
"When she heard the elevator door close behind
him, she took her father's wretched face in her
hands and tried to comfort him. " Dear old father,"
she said, " dear old father, go now. Good-night,
don't be afraid you have hurt me, I can talk to you
to-morrow ; but not now, not now."
He gathered her up in his arms as he used to do
and held her against his heaving breast. His voice
was husky, and had lost all the harshness that
vexed the ears of his would-be son-in-law.
" Little girl, I didn't want to hurt you ; but oh,
it would break my heart, daughter, to see you
deceived and unhappy. I thought it best to speak
" Yes, yes, father," she said, with her great
eyes shining and intense. "Yes, yes ; but go to bed
94 7s this your Son, my Lord?
now go. I must think. It is all so terrible. I
must think, to-night."
Down stairs the last strains of music were heard,
as Mr. Stone closed the door of Maude's room be-
hind him, and the major was asking the young
captain : " Where is that lovely girl I saw with
you a while ago ? Miss Stone, wasn't her name ?
Where is she from ? Oh, I see. She and her father
and Ball were all your guests then. You came
from Grand Rapids yourself, didn't you ? Well, I
envy you. It lightens one's heart only to see such
a girl, and hear her laugh. How happy and bright
she is ! The days of youth are the days of light
hearts, hey, captain ? "
"Yes. Oh, of course," replied the captain,
somewhat abstractedly, "To be sure. I should
say so decidedly. Quite a success the ball. Bril-
liant affair. Good-night."
As the captain turned to leave the rotunda, he
" Beg pardon," said that gentleman with a smile.
" I was looking for two gentlemen. I am a bit
short-sighted and I mistook you for one of them.
But perhaps you will go with me, or at least put
me on the right track ; " and he asked for the most
fashionable gilded house in the city, quite as simply
as he inquired his way to the leading church two
days later. Fred had no prejudices. He went to
both. He believed in sustaining all well-estab-
Is this your Son, my Lord? 95
lished institutions. He looked upon these two as
quite essential in a Christian civilization, and re-
gretted that our unformed American conditions
did not, as yet, recognize that both should be at-
tached to the State. He thought it was far better
in the countries where the devotees of the one and
the inmates of the other were required to take the
sacrament at stated intervals in order to retain
their status in the community.
" But no doubt America will come to it in due
time ; " thought he, " and one must not expect too
much from so young a country as ours."
96 Is this your Son^ my Lord?
" Surely, surely the only true knowledge of our f ellowman is that which
enables us to feel with him which gives us a fine ear for the heart-pulses
that are beating under the mere clothes of circumstance and opinion.
Our subtlest analysis . . must miss the essential truth, unless it be
lit up by the love that sees in all forms of human thought . . . the
life-aud-death struggles of separate human beings." George Eliot.
" How perilous, after all, is the state of man. It is the work of a life to
build a great and splendid character. It is the work of a moment to
destroy it utterly, from turret to foundation stone. How cruel hypocrisy
is!" Robert G.lngersoll.
"All phenomma are necessary. No creature in the universe, in its
circumstances and according to its given property, can act otherwise than
as it does act." John Aforley.
When Preston Mansfield reached the little sta-
tion known as the " depot" at his old home, he
looked about to coe if a carriage had been sent to
meet him. Presently he saw a smiling face lean
out of the family trap, as he called it, and in an-
other instant he was sitting beside his cousin Nellie
and had the reins in his hands.
He had not kissed her as he used to do, and Nellie
had not asked why he did not, nor offered to kiss
him as she would have done three years before ; but
they were unmistakably glad to see each other, and
Preston looked happier than he had looked for a
" How are the folks? How'd you happen to come
alone, Nellie ? " he asked all in a breath, and then
regretted his last question ; but she appeared not
to hear it, although her color rose somewhat.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 97
"They are all well, except Julie. She, poor
child, seems half sick all the time. I think she
needs a change. I wish she could go to New
York with you next time, Preston."
" She can if you will go, too, Nellie ;" he said,
and then they both blushed furiously. He noticed,
with a sinking at his heart, that she changed the
"Isn't that the doctor who used to live here,
Pres., when we were children ? The one you liked
so much ? I heard he was in town. I wonder if
he has come back to live."
"I don't know," said Preston, answering the
last question first. "Yes, it is the same old
chap. I saw him in New York a while ago.
He is a queer lot ; " and he bowed somewhat
moodily as he drove past, just as I was opening
the door of my new office ; for I had decided to
establish myself again in this town after my return
" How, ' queer' ? " asked Nellie, bent on keeping
the talk going ; but the question seemed portentous
to the young fellow, who was in no mood just then
to recall the past nightmares of his life. The pres-
ent was too perfect to mar with memories.
" Oh, I don't know," said he. " When I met
him in New York a while back he did not speak of
coming West. How long has he been here?
What did he come for?"
98 -Zs this your Son, my Lord?
" I don't know," said Nellie, " I only heard of
his return the other day. I'm not sure I should
have recognized him. Did his wife die that time ?
Oh, no, I believe it was her mother. But there
is little Julie coming to meet us. Hop in, Julie.
You couldn't wait for him to get home, could
" Hello, old girl," said Preston, kissing her as she
put her foot on the step. "I hear you're not well.
"What does this mean ? Can't have that sort of
thing, you know."
It might have been two weeks later when, as I
was driving alone one day, I took it into my head
to turn into the cemetery a place I generally
avoid, on the ground that I shall no doubt be
obliged, later on, to pass quite enough time within
its quiet precincts. The place had greatly changed
in these last few years. Pretentious shafts had
taken the place of simple slabs, and everywhere
were evidences of the wealth that had come to
many of those who in the not very distant past
were fettered by poverty. I drew rein in front of
a magnificent monument, a-top of which was an
angel pointing heavenward, and on one side of the
tablet I read : " Not dead, but gone before." On
another side : " He giveth His beloved sleep ; " and
then could my eyes deceive me ? the name of
Joe Furgison !
In spite of myself I laughed aloud.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 99
"I don't wonder you laugh, doctor;" said
Preston Mansfield, coming up from the other side
of the buggy. "Joe was shot by a woman
in a row at the Chippy Dance House. He was
buried from there; but the Furgisons' are rich
now, and oh, well, you know how those things
" Yes, I know ; " said I, looking up at the angel ;
and I laughed again. Joe Furgison figuring as one
of " His beloved " struck me as peculiarly droll.
" But get in, Preston, and drive around with me.
If there is anything else as interesting as that, I
don't want to miss it. Show it to me." Then
with sudden compunction I added, " But what are
you doing here ? Perhaps you are in no mood for
" Oh, that's all right ;" he replied without a tremor,
and climbing into the buggy, he took the reins.
" I'm just fixing up the old man's grave so it will
look as ridiculous as Joe Furgison's. We are all
alike only in my case I have to do it to comfort
mother and the girls. Of course they believe in it
and in him, and God knows I wish I did ; but
every man in this town feels about father's tomb-
stone just as you and I do about that angel business
on Furgison's. If there's anything at all in religion,
it's an infernal outrage for the preachers to help
this sort of thing along as they do ; for there isn't
one in this town who doesn't know all about it.
100 Is this your Son, my Lord?
And if there isn't anything in religion well In
either case what do you think of the morals of it,
from your outlook ? "
" Your father had many good characteristics,
Preston ; " said I, evasively, " and it really seems
Do you think you are quite fair to him ? "
He turned upon me almost savagely.
" 1 should think you would be about the last man
to ask that question, doctor. Fair to him ! Was
he fair to me ? Look what he has made of me
look ! I don't know what your religious notions
are, doctor ; but at least I do know that you didn't
agree with him in his moral training of me. "Well,
I don't, either. He has ruined my whole life,
I made a movement of protest, but he went on
" You know that it was deliberate ; for you gave
him a pretty severe object lesson with Alice. Well,
he didn't take it. I wish to God he had, for I
really had no tendency to be a to go to the devil.
Strange to say, I hadn't inherited a drop of that
kind of blood, and I believe that I might have
grown up so that I could look any decent woman
in the face without remembering that if I married
her I would have to lie to her every hour of my life
as long as we both lived. I hate to lie. I always
did. It gives me a sense of disgust and physical
discomfort, It may be silly ; but it is a fact, and
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 101
one reason I prefer to stay away from home
is that every act, every word, every look of mine
has to be a lie. Mother and my sisters and
and the rest believe in me. I know what they
think of other fellows who are not so bad as I
am, not half so bad as father was. Well, how do I
keep their respect and confidence ? How did he ?
By lying. Now, do you know, doctor, I've got a
prejudice, as Harmon says, against a marriage that
isn't equal; that is built upon false pretences on
one side and ignorance on the other ; that de-
pends for future happiness wholly on the continued
and successful mendacity of one party to the con-
tract. I don't know where I ever got such an
idiotic prejudice ; but I seem to have been born
with it, and he damn him ! " said the young fel-
low, with his face livid and his lips trembling as he
pointed to the grave of his father, " he, damn
him ! has robbed me of myself ! "
" Preston, Preston ! " said I, shocked and sur-
prised beyond words to express, " give me the reins
again. Let us drive on. This is no place for you
" Just now ! " he exclaimed bitterly, still holding
the reins. "Do you suppose this feeling is new
to me ? I have cursed him with every breath I
have drawn, ever since I knew what love is. If I
had been differently made I suppose I wouldn't
care j but I believe I was made to be an honest
102 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
man, doctor, and now, look at me ! I know there
are at least two children in New York that belong
to me. I know that their mother is as good
better than I am for all she makes her living on
the street now. I know that if any good girl in all
this world could see my whole life laid out bare and
true just as it is, and has been I know she
would as soon marry a leper. Whose fault is it ?
His.! Well, what is to be done ? I asked Harmon
that question the last night we spent together
you remember Fred Harmon of Boston ? < Don't
tell her,' said he. ' Women don't understand such
things, anyhow. Then, if she ever finds it out
which isn't likely it will be easy enough to con-
fess some little part of it and plead for mercy.
Women like to be merciful. It is their forte.'
Well, now, that satisfied Harmon. He would feel
no sense of degradation in living on the benefits of
deception. It doesn't hurt him in the least to pre-
tend and lie to the girl he says he loves. Talk
about striking a woman ! He'd call a man pretty
low down who would do that if he used his fists.
Men generally would. They call it cowardly tak-
ing advantage of her weakness and of his strength.
Well, suppose we just leave the fists out, what
then? Does he any the less take advantage of her?
Doesn't he take it in a thousand ways where she has
no defence, whatever, not even that of the police
court, which ghe would have in the other case ?
Is this your Son, my Lord? 103
" No, doctor, I don't want to marry any woman,
and know that I've got to take advantage of her.
I might be willing to steal from, or lie to, or
systematically deceive a woman I did not love;
but " He sprang out of the buggy and threw the
lines to me. Five feet away stood the splendid
granite shaft he had erected to the memory of his
father. He lifted his arm, and clinching his fist
shook it first at the monument, and then at the sod
beneath, and from between set teeth said with a
ferocity and intensity terrible to witness:
" Damn him ! damn him ! damn him ! He has
robbed me of myself ! "
A moment later I heard the sound of weeping, and
of childish voices engaged in some sad argument.
"Get back into the buggy, Preston," I said.
" Some one else is here and there are children cry-
But the young fellow stepped across the path, and
looked over a box-wood hedge from behind which the
voices came. I waited in silence, surprised that he
would listen. In a moment he turned and beckoned
to me. I went to him noiselessly. Lying behind
the hedge, flat on his back, with hands crossed on
his breast and eyes closed, was a small boy, and by
his side a smaller one, weeping and pleading.
" Oh-o-o-o, don't die, Willie, don't die ! Open
your eyes! Oh-o-o-o, please, please, please don't
die ! Oh-o-o-o wah-o-o ! "
104 Is this your Son, my Lord?
The corpse revived sufficiently to talk, but the
eyes remained closed and the hands clasped.
" I must. I have to, ah ! ahou-o-oh ! "said he
mournfully, and in utter hopelessness. He closed
his lips again, albeit in his vain effort to hold his
breath he puffed both cheeks out in a manner most
unseemly in one about to pass the golden gates,
whose body was even at that moment disposed for
" Oh-o-o ! ohou-o-o-o-o wh-o-o-o ! " sobbed the
smaller boy, throwing himself across the body of the
would-be suicide whose superfluous breath refu-
sing to be held under such trying conditions, burst
from his lips explosively, letting the inflated cheeks
down with a sudden collapse.
" Uh-m-m-wah ! " he groaned, pushing the smaller
one off, and carefully disposing his limbs again,
meanwhile keeping an eye on his toes to be sure
that they pointed up in proper style.
" Uh-o-o-m-m-m, oh-o-o ! I must, I must ! Don't
bother me. I've got to die, ob.-o-o, me!" His
voice was very doleful, indeed, and his whole
appearance was indicative of the utmost dejection.
I glanced at Preston Mansfield. His face was
still very pale ; but a sense of the absurd twinkled
in his eyes, and held his attention in spite of the
recent storm within his own breast. Meantime the
smaller boy wept on and pleaded with his brother
to reconsider his ill-advised resolution prematurely
Is this your Son, my Lord? 105
to withdraw from the joys and sorrows of this
life. He begged to know why he was tired of the
world. At last the six -year -old sat up and ex-
plained his case.
" Oh-o-o-o, dear, oh dear ! I can't live. I've got
to die, I'm so ashamed ! I didn't have but four
cents, and I tried to buy a five-cent pistol with it
oh-oh-o-o ! " He threw himself face down on the
sod, unmindful for the moment which way his
toes should point. From within encircling arms,
his voice piped out again :
" He thought I had another cent, oh-oh-o-o ! I
wouldn't mind it if he hadn't known me. But he
did, oh-oh-o-o-o ! And I had to tell him I didn't
have only four cents, oh-o-o ! And he said, I guess
you'd better run home, Willie White, and not try
any of your tricks on me, ' oh-o-o ! "
Overcome with shame, he once more stretched
himself out, and folding his hands on his breast,
essayed to hold his breath until death should re-
lieve him of his sorrow and disgrace, and the
three-year-old beside him began anew his plead-
ings that his unfortunate brother try to etart in
life again, and not allow himself to be crushed by
his present calamities.
I glanced at Preston, and then pitched a cent
over the hedge. It fell on the face of the recum-
bent figure. Both children looked devoutly up to
heaven, said " Now I lay me," and scudded out of
106 Is this your Son, my Lord?
the enclosure to buy the coveted pistol and re-
establish their blasted reputations.
" I suppose that little devil was as unhappy as
any of us, while it lasted," said Preston, as we got
into the buggy.
" No doubt, no doubt," I replied ; " and is it not a
good thing, after all, that we can't hold our breath
long enough to stop it altogether, whenever we
take the notion ? If we could, there wouldn't be
people enough left to beg the others not to die."
"Do you mean that everybody is at times so
unhappy, doctor?" he inquired, presently.
" Ask them," said I, smiling. There was a long
pause. I drove rapidly up to the gate of his home.
As he took my hand to say good-by, he held it a
moment, and then said, as he dropped it suddenly,
" Are you ? "
Before I had time to reply, little Julie ran out and
clasping her brother about both legs with her short
fat arms tried to lift him from his feet. Before
he regained his equilibrium I drove away, asking
Is this your Son, my Lord? 107
" Perfect scheming demands omniscience." George Eliot.
" Of course the young lady had beaux by the score,
All that she wanted, what girl could ask more ?
Lovers that sighed, and lovers that swore,
Lovers that danced, and lovers that played,
Men of profession, of leisure, and trade." Bret ffarte.
"There was an idea in the olden time and it is not yet dead that who-
ever was educated ought not to work ; that he should use his head and not
his hands. Graduates were ashamed to be found engaged in manual labor
in ploughing fields, in sowing or in gathering grain. To this manly kind of
independence they preferred the garret and the precarious existence of an
unappreciated poet, borrowing their money from their friends, and their
ideas from the dead. The educated regarded the useful as degrading
they were willing to stain their souls to keep their hands white." Robert
Fred Harmon's mother believed that that gifted
young gentleman was travelling in the West with
an eye single to two things : first, to free himself,
and keep his whereabouts a secret from a certain
designing girl and her family who looked upon him
as their prey, and, secondarily, to " look about "
as a prelude to a final settlement in life. Incident-
ally he would visit several people, more or less
desirable and useful to know. She had not given
up the hope that after he had had his fling,
he would return and study theology and take
orders; but that part could wait. Meantime she
economized and planned and figured in all conceiv-
able ways to make both ends meet and at the same
108 Js this your /Son, my Lord?
time supply him with money to make a creditable
appearance. Once or twice he had protested,
" I have an offer to go into business with Bar-
low," he wrote. " You will remember he was a
senior when I was a soph. . . . He is, as he expresses
it, 'in leather,' here in Chicago. I don't see how
it is possible to keep this up, sail as near shore as
you and father may. You must need all the little
money you have, and father is too old to hope to
continue in practice many years. I am half inclined
O accept Barlow's offer. It would give me an im-
mediate income, and leather, you know, is looked
upon as respectable, even in Boston."
Then followed a description of a social call he
had made with Barlow the night before. The reply
" My son, do not think of such a thing as com-
mitting yourself to Mr. Barlow, or to anyone, in
any business, whatever. As you say, leather is an
exception, here ; but oh, my son ! I so depend
upon you to distinguish yourself, and how could you
do that in leather? Do not give business a thought.
Not one. I cannot have you prostitute your splen-
did abilities and training to such base uses.
Your description of your call amused me greatly.
What uncouth people one does meet in those bor-
der places ! He was governor, or judge, or some-
thing from Illinois once, I think. Imagine it ! But
Is this your Son, my Lord? 109
keep the full account to amuse me when you come
home. One cannot be too careful what one writes,
since the awful Carlyle revelations. Even family
letters take on an added horror. . . . And
now, my son, my gifted boy, have a good time.
Visit where you think it is judicious ; but remem-
ber, dear, not to accept many favors from anyone
who is likely to come here often. By the way,
dearie, Pauline Tyler of Madison Avenue, New
York, niece of Mrs. S , you know, is visiting
in Chicago ; I enclose her address. Call upon her.
You know she is recently back from abroad and is,
never forget, son, who she is her grandmother
was a Presidio. Be attentive. Your mother is
thankful oh, so thankful to God, on her knees,
that you are free again from those terribly vulgar
people. Dear Pauline has not been in Boston
much of late, but she is never vulgar. Her mother
was a well born gentlewoman, and although her
father was a New Yorker, Pauline has had many
By all of which it will be seen that Mr. Fred
Harmon, late of Harvard, had so far improved
upon his early training as to keep a few things
even from his mother. He did not tell her of his
meeting in St. Louis with Maude and her father
any more than he had told Maude that he had
dressed her father up in a new name when last he
wrote to his mother, and accentuated his attributes
110 Is this your Son, my Lordf
so as to make it a very funny sketch indeed of
a Western man. He had made this gentleman
use bad English and angle openly for the atten-
tions of certain irresistible young college men
who had failed to pay court to his numerous
buxom daughters, several of whom stood near
the dooi and exclaimed " La, me ! " in very loud
tones to everything these same irresistible young
swells had said, as they stood with their legs
very wide apart, at approved Harvard angle, and
paralyzed the entire company by their exquisite
But then, Fred Harmon looked upon letter
writing as one form of fiction, and he meant to be
a master in fiction yet, whether he took holy orders
or not. The night after Fred received his mother's
letter, he, as became a dutiful son, called upon
Miss Pauline Tyler at the handsome residence of
her uncle on Michigan Avenue. He found that
young lady much annoyed and so tremulously dis-
turbed and vexed as to be almost on the verge of
tears. She was delighted to see some one who
could appreciate her emotions. Of course no one
in Chicago could be expected to do so. Her uncle
was kind and good, but " it can hardly be neces-
sary, Mr. Harmon, for me to remind you that
this is not Boston, nor even New York, and my
unfortunate uncle has lived here for so many years
that he has grown to be like ah, well, you can
Is this your Son, my Lord? Ill
fancy my distress, in my utter mental anu social
" What can it be, Miss Tyler ? If I may be per-
mitted to ask if you are willing to confide in me.
I trust that I do not need to assure you that I shall
be only too happy to serve you. My mother would
be delighted to know that I could be of even
trifling use to you in any way, and
" Oh, there is nothing one can do so far as I see,"
she sighed. " That is the difficulty. That is one
reason it is so painful to me, for you must know
how painful, how shocking, such reports necessarily
are to a young girl, Mr. Harmon."
Fred had heard no reports at all, and was, there-
fore, in a position, as he believed, to comfort her.
He told her she must be distressing herself need-
lessly, for he had not been away from Boston very
long; he had stopped in New York, and in several
cities this side, and he assured her that no report of
any kind whatever had reached him, although he
had met old college fellows in each place, and had
had frequent interchange of communication with
friends in Boston, all the while. But she could not
be comforted. She was indignant, lofty, humili-
ated, crushed, or defiant by turns.
" And to think," she exclaimed, " just to think,
that it should of all persons, be I, who am always
so careful not to give the least clue, or hint, or
cause for such gossip oh, it is cruel ! " And she
112 Is this your Son, my X/ord?
held her feather fan up between them, until a
lace handkerchief found its way to her eyes,
and she could venture to take both down and go
" Marry Count Cioli, indeed ! I never dreamed
of such a thing. Why, he was never with me
once, without mamma being present, and he was only
ordinarily attentive to me, so far as I noticed. Of
course I did know toward the last that some of
those Americans (you know there are always
Americans that one does not remember over there)
I did know that they noticed his attentions to
me; but "
" If that is all, Miss Tyler, I do not see that you
need be troubled ; and beside, if you wish it, I shall
take it upon myself to deny the rumor upon all
sides." She was overcome with gratitude.
" Oh, if you would ! I I do not know how to
thank you and your mother she knows every-
body. I wonder if "
" Certainly," said Fred, " just let me know what
you want denied, and I am sure it can be done
" But you see, I do not want to deny anything
myself," she pouted. " It would look people
might say "
"Do not distress yourself," began Fred, " I "
But she broke in : " If it were only the Count but
you know all that talk about Prince Walsag
Is this your Son, my Lord? 113
was the cruellest, most dreadful gossip. There was
really no ground for it at all. The day he had us
dine at his castle he was more or less he was
polite, of course ; but She tossed her head,
and moved her hands quite impatiently. Fred
looked at her sympathetically, but said nothing.
Presently she began again :
" I do not like to put all this on you ; but I do
wish you would deny about Judge Vandergraft, too.
We were not betrothed before I went abroad and
that was not the reason I went. It must annoy the
Judge dreadfully, all this talk, and "
Fred had heard no talk whatever about any one
of these three interesting cases ; but he began to
think that here was really a much sought after young
woman and the color of her hair was pretty. He
took up a book and turned the leaves. Presently
he said : " It must annoy you greatly ; but why
be so beautiful? Why have such divine hair?
The wages of sin is death, they say, but no more
truly than that the wages of such glorious beauty
as yours is well, let us say distracted lovers
in all lands, and more or less talk. But I have
not heard a word of it, not a line, not a letter,"
he added, with less sophistication than might have
been expected. This last was due to Fred's youth,
and Fred was young, although he tried to think
that his experiences covered vast areas of things
not down in books.
114 Is this your Son, my Lord?
"You really haven't?" she exclaimed. Then
she took a new tack. " Ah, but I know you
have. Tour kind heart and courteous instincts
want to save my feelings. I understand. I know
you have heard ; and that I refused Governor
Tailor, too. Absurd ! He but why go into that
old story, or the one about Major Ben Gifford.
Why, I only met him three or four times and
love at first sight is not fashionable in these days,
is it, Mr. Harmon ? "
The question surprised Fred, who was trying
to keep count of her lovers that is of the ones
she wished to have him say something or other
about in connection with her. He evaded her
question somewhat dextrously, therefore, and smil-
ingly said :
" I believe you are going to have to give me a
list, if you keep on. Write out their names and
titles. I'll forget half of them, and then my denial
of your engagement will not do the least good, will
it ? People will just say it is one of the others,"
and the young fellow laughed outright : but Miss
Pauline took it quite seriously.
" Take this," she said, handing him an ivory
" Count Cioli." Fred wrote the name. " Prince
Walsag, Judge Vandergraft, Governor Talbor,
Major Gifford Have you got Major Gifford?"
she asked, still quite seriously, and looked steadilv
Ts this your Son, my Lord? 115
into the fire as if trying to collect farther evidence.
Then suddenly, as Fred was folding tip the tablet :
"Oh, yes, I forgot about that horrid old affair
that nearly broke my heart last year. They
actually coupled my name with Senator Baldy.
Just fancy ! Why he only but no matter about
details. Put him down and deny that I am en-
gaged to any of them. And please have your
mother say how distressed I am by such reports.
She might say that I came West to get rid of
but she will know how, in her dainty way, to
say just the right thing in the right place without a
hint from me."
Fred thanked her for the compliment to his
mother and rose to go.
" But you have told me nothing about yourself, "
she said. " Don't go, or What am I saying ?
I " and she blushed and turned half away.
Fred promised to call again very soon, and with-
drew. Once in the street he smiled and bit his
" Whew ! " " ' Considerable train load,' as the
brakeman said yesterday. But mother will believe
every word of it so long as it is dear Pauline,
and she will oh, well, the Count and the Prince
and the Judge and the Governor and all the rest
will find themselves famous, soon, because they
are not going to be married to Miss Pauline
Tyler ; " and he laughed again.
116 Is this your Son, my Lord?
As he turned off the gas that night, after writing
a long letter to his mother, he chuckled to himself
in the darkness, and said : " And to think that I,
Fred Harmon, late of Boston, and of the D. K. E.
Club, actually swallowed it till she got to the Major !
Frederick, my boy, you have one or more eye-
teeth to cut yet ; and ' dear Pauline,' do learn to be
more artistic and less comprehensive, as it were,
in your scope ; " and the young scamp rolled over
and slept as peacefully as a babe, and with as
comfortable an estimate of himself.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 117
His soul to his soul Is a law, and his mind Is a light to his mind.
The seal of his knowledge is sure, the truth and his spirit are wed;
Men perish, but man shall endure; lives die, but the life Is not dead.
He hath sight of the secrets of season, the roots of the years and
His soul is at one with the reason of things that is sap to the roots.
He can hear in their changes a sound as the conscience of consonant
He can see through the years flowing round him the law lying under
Who are ye that would bind him with curses and blind him with
vapor of prayer ?
Your might Is as night that disperses when light Is alive In the air."
" My dear' father," wrote Harvey Ball from
St. Louis, some weeks after the military dinner,
" when you ask me again to help decide on a pro-
fession for Albert, or at least on the college best
suited to develop him in a direction fitted to his
ability and tastes, I find myself at a loss. I do
not want to seem to lack interest. You will know
it is not that, and I am always glad to relieve you
and mother, if I can, of uncertainty and from per-
plexing questions ; but the choice of a life's training
or profession is a serious thing. You and mother
did so well by me, that I do not see how I could do
otherwise than say that Albert is in the best hands
in the world, and I am tempted to let it go at that.
But I know how earnest you are in wanting my
118 Js this your Son, my Lord?
opinion, and that I have no right to evade your
need of me as you grow older, by paying you
compliments however well deserved I know
" You seemed surprised that I wrote you so vig-
orously a while ago against West Point, when Al.
took the soldiering craze ; and now that he is
nearly through his preparatory work, and thinking
about what next, you write me to cast a vote again,
and you say that his notion now is Theology. I
cast it against his choosing that, for the same reason
that I objected to the Army.
They are both dying professions.
I do not mean to indicate that I think either
one will be dead in my time, or in his ; but they
are on the down grade, looked at from a sociological
point of view. Training men for a life of battle
to learn how to kill each other fastest and easiest
is surely of the past.
" Of course there is the other side, defence. But
after all, you see, the profession is that of warfare
of fighting. Well, the days of warfare, let us hope,
are numbered. Did you ever stop to think what
an absurd contradiction of terms is the expression
" civilized warfare ? " Can you put two words to-
gether that are more antagonistic? Just in pro-
portion as we are civilized, we will not fight,
and we are steadily approaching civilization. That
is why I said to Albert, ' Do not be a professional
Is this your Son^ my Lord? 119
soldier. A soldier is always a relic of barbarism.
Useful he may be, yet ; necessary he is, at times ;
but still he is a relic of barbarism. Don't join
a dying profession. Take one on the up grade.
Take one that you will have to hurry to keep up
with. Don't choose one that you must needs loiter
behind, and hold back, if you stay on speaking terms
with it. Select as a life's work something that is
of the present and the future ; don't nail your flag
to a sinking ship.' That is what I said to him
about the Army.
" Now as to his more recent notion, Theology.
Here are exactly the same objections. War and
Theology belong to the same age. They belong
to the infancy of the race. The former is civilized
by progress to the extent of gatling guns and
torpedo boats ; the latter to the verge of sealing
hell over, and reading the vicarious atonement and
original sin out of good society. But in the nature
of things, Theology must get its light from the
past. It is based on a revelation long since closed.
It cannot say, ' We expect to revise this until it fits
our needs,' as in law, or medicine, or journalism.
The religious law revelation is sealed. A
clergyman who is honest, and let us hope Albert
will be that, no matter what he undertakes, must
go to the records of the dead past for his light, his
inspiration, his guidance. The final appeal of any
Orthodox clergyman must be the Bible. He cannot
120 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
doubt the justice of Jehovah, and be an Orthodox
clergyman. He cannot question the goodness of the
Jewish God, and be true to his ordination vows. He
cannot throw over what may shock or pain him in
the New Testament ; he cannot maintain his mental
integrity in discussing the miracles, and be an hon-
orable minister. In short, father, if Albert ever
outgrows the creed of a dead age, he will either
have to stifle his manhood and his mental integrity,
or he will have to throw over his profession, one
or the other. Every one knows how hard this last
is for a minister to do. It means a loss, a struggle,
a painful break with many years of his life, with
many loved and loving friends, and often it
means a vast deal more than that to a man so un-
" This is true in no other profession. He could
take up Law, and if for any reason whatever hi.s
maturer judgment should take issue with his youth-
ful choice, he could change without suffering con-
tumely and without moral or social violence, and
the training he had received would not unfit him
for other things, whereas a theological training does
must. What I say of Law is true of Medicine,
or Journalism. All these are professions of the
present and the future. They all look brightly for-
ward. They acknowledge no final appeal. They
know no wall back or in front of which they may
not go. Faults they have. They say so, and every
Is this your Son^ my Lord? 121
man is at liberty to try to offer a better way, a
newer method, a truer system. These I say, are
professions of the future. They have not crystal-
lized. They acknowledge their need and intention
to learn more, to get nearer to the truth as knowl-
edge widens. A thousand years hence, they will
be stronger, better, firmer than they are to-day.
A thousand years hence War and Theology will be
" Talk about doing good ; look at Law. Where
has a man a better chance to serve his fellow-men '?
If his idea is to serve them singly, so to speak, he
has in his practice ample opportunity. He can take
the honest side. He can defend the weak. He can
throw his energies and influence on the side of the
honest administration of just laws. Or, if he seeks
a wider field, he can work to get better laws en-
acted, and bad ones repealed. He can discuss their
defects with legislators and judges ; call attention
to needed revisions ; in short, in a hundred ways he
can make this world better for his having lived in
it. He can leave his mark of progress on the age.
He can help push the car along.
" Or if he choose Medicine, what field could be
broader, what opportunity greater, what inspiration
grander, than to relieve those who suffer ? To help
them by all the methods known to-day, with always
an eye fixed on a better way, a newer discovery ; with*
always an ear open to catch the first sound of hope
122 Is this your Son, my Lord?
for the crippled, maimed, heredity-cursed creatures
all about him ?
" Why, father, while people talk so much of the
clergy doing good to their fellows, living for
them and to save them, the honorable, progressive
physician is actually, quietly doing it. If thei'e is
a heaven, and crippled souls go there, surely, surely,
there will be a Great Physician able to heal them
if He made them.
" It is here that sorrow, suffering, and pain need
looking after. Man's highest duty is here. Do
you know it is always an absurd idea to me that
people who really believe in a personal God
and don't simply pretend to seem to think that
the Almighty made a mistake in locating them ?
He put them here. It seems to me that is a pretty
strong hint that right here is the place where
their energies are needed. If He had wanted them
to look after some other world, don't you think
He would have put them nearer their post of duty?
But it is so much easier to attitudinize and pose
for some far-off place and time than it is to take
up the duties that are plain, and common, and
tedious, right here and now. In short, father, it
seems to me, that if a man is a good healer of
bodies, he is in a far nobler business than if he
is a talker about souls.
" Now I have come to Journalism, and, to be quite
frank, I think it is the greatest opening of them all,
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 123
for ability and for progressive and far-reaching
practical good. The field for all these is simply
immeasurable. For stimulating and rewarding the
weak and worthy, for succoring the helpless, for
defending the oppressed, for hunting down crime,
for restoring the lost, for giving credit to the virtu-
ous and blame to the vile, its opportunities are
"The Press is the guardian of free speech, that
first and most important of all requisites of a true
manhood and a real civilization. In all these and
in a thousand other ways, Journalism is the best
field for the best energies of good men. And in
the main, the present tendency of the Press, aside
from politics, is upward and forward, and light
is ahead. A fearless Press is the hope of this na-
tion. No people can be free without it, and no
other agent on earth is so dreaded by wrong and
vice. What wrong-doer fears the Pulpit? All
wrong-doers fear a fearless Press.
" If Albert would be a progressive man, there is
no better, broader, surer way than this. If he
would be an inspiration to the weak, a guide and
guard, a comforter, a friend, where could he show
it as here ? How find such scope for his energies,
or so large an audience ?
" Or if he means to be a scholar only, a literary
man, to devote his life to the artistic rather than
to the progressive side of the profession still
124 Ts this your /Son, my Lord?
here is a field which has its equal nowhere else, in
the matter of opportunity ; and, if he ever should
want to leave it, no harm is done. A kind good-by is
given, and he takes his way unmolested, and with a
training of incomparable value in any other walk
" No, father, do not let him commit himself, in
his youth, to any calling which will bully him if he
changes his mind, and hound him if he makes his
" And as to West Point training, as I told you,
I have no doubt that it is good, as purely arbitrary
training, but unless he means to stay, I should not
advise him to go into the Army ; and I do not be-
lieve that Albert would ever be satisfied to be a
professional fighter. If not, then, at the end of
five years, he is adrift again with no practical ex-
perience and five good years gone. How strange
it is that almost every boy thinks first of these two
professions, War and Theology, twins we have
inherited from the ignorance and brutality of the
past ! These two who were born of the same par-
entage and are destined to sleep in the same grave !
Of the two, a soldier ; but of the two neither.
That is my vote.
" Now, father, this is a long letter, and there is no
room for anything else ; but I shall be home again
soon and we can talk all the other things over. Kiss
the blessed mother for me, and give yourself a hug.
Is this your /Sow, my Lord? 125
Good-by. Remember me cordially to the Stones.
Always tell me about them, all of them.
When Harvey's father read this letter to his
wife, they decided to go over and read it to Mr.
Stone and take him into their counsel, as had been
their habit for years, in matters of moment.
" What do you think of that letter, John ? " asked
Mr. Ball, abruptly, when they were comfortably
seated in the library of their neighbor. " It is
from Harvey, and it has a good deal in it that
makes mother feel uneasy ; and I can't say that I
like it myself."
Maude looked up surprised, and her father
started perceptibly. The girl was pale, and un-
like her old bright self.
"Maudie, I did not know you had been sick,
child," said Mrs. Ball, in a sweet motherly way.
" Come over here and tell me about it. I declare
you look right bad. If I had known, I would have
brought some of that calf's-foot jelly you are so
fond of. Dear me, how you and Harvey used to
eat that jelly ! I never could make enough ; but
this time Harvey has been away, and you have not
been very neighborly since you went East last
Maude brought a hassock to Mrs. Ball's side and
sat down, laughing a little. She knew what the
last sentence meant.
126 Js this your Son, my Lord?
" Now don't suppose I learned any new tricks in
the East, Auntie Ball. If I had I should not have
tried to utilize them here certainly not with
you ; " and the girl stroked the old hand as she had
done hundreds of times before, and ended with a
little loving pinch at one finger.
Maude could not remember when Mrs. Ball
had not petted her, and exchanged household
recipes with her mother. " Uncle Ball," as she
had always called Harvey's father, had carried
her on his shoulder many a time when Albert
had objected, with more vigor than gallantry, to
the usurpation of his prerogative by this small
thing in petticoats. Albert wore something very
like petticoats himself in those days ; but he knew
that they were a . r,tle different from hers and
that it would not be a great while until his would
develop into those wonderfully superior garments
worn by his brother Harvey. His emancipation,
therefore, was to be only a question of time, while
hers well, her clothes would only grow larger,
not different. And this small philosopher, with
eyes fixed on his big brother, and heart set on
trousers, swelled with pride, and he consoled him-
self, even if his father did take delight in perching
Maude Stone on his broad shoulders, letting her
pick peaches from the tree, away up nearly in the
clouds. She wasn't going to have trousers by and
by, any how. Those days seemed very far away
Js this your Son, my Lord? 127
now to Maude ; but not so far to " Auntie Ball "
" Here, Maude," said her father, handing her
the letter, quite as a matter of course, " I
haven't ray glasses. You read it aloud to us all.
Anything Harvey has to say interests you and
But a new feeling had begun to assert itself in
Maude. She was not so sure about reading the
letter. Harvey Ball had not written it with that
expectation, and since the night of the military
dinner in St. Louis, Maude had begun to feel that
Harvey might object to having her read his home
letters. She hesitated.
" Yes, yes, child, read it ; " said Mr. Ball ; " you
always could read his outrageous handwriting
better than anyone else. I declare I never saw
such pothooks. Why, in my time, if a young man
hadn't been able to write better than that before
he left the log schoolhouse, he would have been
kept in and perhaps flogged every night of his life.
Now look at that," said he, opening the letter; "just
look at that word there. I'd never have made it
out only by the sense, and that is a pretty uncer-
tain way to read letters, when you do not know
what sense they intend to convey. Now I called
that word practice ' when I read it ; but it looks a
great deal more like ' panics.' Now, where is the
4 1,' I should like to know ? Good deal more like
128 Is this your Son, my Lord?
an *n.'" Maude looked over his shoulder and
" Oh, uncle, there is the cross ; see ?"
"Where? Where? Away over there? Well,
what in the name of goodness does an < h ' in the
next word want with a cross ? Go 'way, child,
don't try to defend Harvey's writing, even if it is
the same style as your own. You and Harvey
always were two of a kind, though;" and the old
man laughed and pinched Maude's cheek, which
may have accounted for the sudden flush that came
into it. " Now, father," said Mrs. Ball, reproach-
fully, " don't abuse the boy's handwriting. If that
is the only thing that he does wrong, we ought to
be able to stand it ; " and the good, anxious soul
sighed heavily. Mr. Stone noticed that Maude
looked iip, startled by this new note of anxiety in
the voice of Harvey's mother, and that she began
to re-fold the letter that had been left in her
" Well," said he, stretching his legs out under
the table and ramming his hands into the depths of
his pockets ; " well, if there ever was a boy that
hadn't anything wrong with him but his handwrit-
ing, that boy is Harvey Ball. I'd be satisfied with
him if he was my son, Aunt Martha, I can tell you
that. He is one in a thousand. I "
" Wait till you read that letter, John," sighed
Harvey's mother. " I don't know what to think.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 129
Father says it will be all right; but well we
never were very particular about sending him to
Sunday-school, and maybe it is our fault. But it
certainly is a queer letter. I think you will say so
yourself, John, and I'm not so sure that you will
want Maudie to read it, after all. Dear, dear, just
to think that I should ever say that about one of
Harvey's letters ;" and the perplexed mother shook
her head and looked at her husband.
" Nonsense," said that gentleman, forgetting for
the moment his own position in the matter. " Stuff
and nonsense. Mebby we can't agree with him
and he knew it when he wrote it, like as not but
he knew that we asked for his honest opinion, and
he gave it. He doesn't make any explanations or
apologies to us, either, for writing as he does. He
seems to take it for granted that what we wanted to
know was what he really did think and not what
we would expect him to think, necessarily. I take it
as a great compliment that he does not feel called
upon to apologize since he thinks that way ; but
what troubles me is that he seems to be so settled
in it, that he talks as if it was self-evident, and not
open to question even."
" Well, why should a man apologize for telling
the truth for giving his honest opinions?" asked
John Stone, combatively.
" That's what I always told Harvey," broke in
that gentleman's father, apparently on both sides of
130 Is this your /Son, my Lordf
the question. " Say what you think, my boy, I'd
tell him; and it don't make a mite of difference
if it isn't the way I think. Why, before he was
knee-high to a grasshopper we took different sides
in polities. Gad, it did me good to hear the little
imp argue ! Don't you remember, mother, that
time he got the best of me about the Chinese
question ? " And the old gentleman slapped his
leg and laughed heartily at the recollection, albeit
with an unaccustomed note of uneasiness. " Read
it, Maude, read it," he added. "I guess you
don't want to force Harvey to think your way, or
else hide what he does think, hey, Miss ? " Mr.
Ball always appeared to take it for granted that
Maude had a part of the training of his son
Harvey, devolving upon her. The girl used to
accept the responsibility quite seriously, and dis-
pensed wisdom to the young man, either at first
or second hand, with the utmost freedom ; but
"Shall I, aunty?" she asked, rather dubiously.
" Maybe Harvey would rather I shouldn't, if it is
about if it is so important, and so "
" I'll risk Harvey," broke in Mr. Stone. " Harvey
in full regimentals, Harvey in fatigue, or Harvey in
in his shirt sleeves, mentally and morally speak-
ing, won't be far off the track, I'll stake a fortune on
that. We may not agree with him and I do
think he is away off politically ; but, by Jove, you
Is this your Son, my Lord? 131
can bet every time that he has got a good, sound,
clean, manly reason for his opinions, and that he
doesn't think it necessary to ask anybody's leave
to think his own way. Read it, Maude, and let's
see what is the matter."
Mrs. Ball sighed, but nodded to the girl, who
crossed the room and seated herself by the student
lamp. " 'M-m," said she, smiling a little, as she
opened and smoothed it out one page at a time.
"Regular American poet, this letter, isn't it?
Longfellow ! "
Everybody laughed, and Maude's father pre-
tended to faint.
" Maude, if you do that again, you sha'n't read it,"
said her mother, looking proudly at Mrs. Ball. " I
thought you said you had reformed."
" Well, I have," said the girl, " but a little relapse
like that once in a while doesn't count. Hear ye ;
hear ye; hear ye. Now if you speak again,
mamma, I'll clear the court. I shall now read the
evidence deposition, or whatever you call it,
(isn't that, it papa ?) of the absent witness ; " and
the girl, struggling hard to be her natural self and
to make merry for the four older people who
loved her, struck what she assumed to be a heavy
legal tone and attitude, and began reading the
She had not read far when she dropped her
serio-comic manner and read on quite soberly,
132 Is this your Son, my Lord?
stopping from time to time to be sure of a word.
Once Mrs. Ball essayed to expalin and soften a
passage, but her husband checked her.
" Wait, mother, let Harvey present his whole
case first. Don't try to prejudice Maude's jury.
It is a good idea of hers to put it that way."
" We may hang, or we may disagree " began
"Or convict?" asked Harvey's mother, a little
" No danger of that, I guess," laughed Mr.
" If this jury does not stop disturbing the court,
I'll I'll elect a new foreman," said Maude, reach-
ing over and poking her father with her fan.
" Oh, am I the foreman ? " asked he, straighten-
ing up and taking his long legs in. " Well, your
honor, or whoever you are, who appoints foremen
to suit yourself, now that your instructions are
more fully understood, proceed. We're dumb.
Let me see, you had got to ' of the past ' go
When she had finished and begun folding the let-
ter, Mr. Stone got up and deliberately took her in his
arms and kissed her. Then he went abruptly out
of the room and closed the door behind him.
"Your father always takes everything about
Harvey so to heart, Maude," said Mrs. Stone.
" Go after him." The girl left the room at once.
Js this your Son, my Lord? 138
" I am sure the boy meant no harm," began his
mother. " He did not think how it would sound.
It sounds a little harsher than he must have in-
tended ; but writing you know is not like talking.
It is always unsatisfactory. If he were talking
about it he could stop to explain points."
Mr. Ball had stepped to the window and was
looking out into the night. He was deeply per-
plexed in spite of his talk of Harvey's honesty of
purpose. He saw Maude and her father walking
up and down the porch. He opened the window
and stepped out, closing it behind him. The two
figures were at the farther end now. Mr. Ball went
quickly to them.
" Are you disappointed in the boy, John ? " asked
" Disappointed ! disappointed ! " exclaimed Mr.
Stone, more excited than his old friend had ever
seen him. " Disappointed ! why, Edward, if that
boy were mine if Edward sometimes I've
thought that no man could have so great a curse in
this world in these days as a son, but
Old Mr. Ball began to protest, and Maude let her
father's hand drop. " But, Edward," he continued,
struggling to control his voice, " your son is enough
to redeem a regiment. I'm glad I've lived to
know him. He's pure gold through and through,"
and Mr. Stone took his old friend's hand in his
ard each of them put an arm about Maude,
134 Js this your /Son, my Lord?
" and, Edward, he is the only young fellow I know
who is worth more than the powder and shot it would
take to kill him. By Jove, I wish he was my son.
I'd trust him with I'd trust Harvey Ball with my
little girl," he said, lowering his voice tenderly and
drawing her up against his breast, " and be happy.
And, Edward, I'd rather see her dead than married
to any other young man I ever saw. There, that
is my verdict on Harvey."
" What is yours, Maudie ? " said Mr. Ball, tak-
ing the girl's hand from her father's shoulder and
using the pet name of her childhood. " What is
your verdict, little girl ? "
" About the letter ? Or about Har about Mr.
Ball?" asked she, slyly imprinting a kiss on the lappel
of her father's coat under cover of the darkness.
" Mr. Ball ! " exclaimed the old man in blank
amazement. " Mr. J^allf" but Maude had slipped
herself free and in through an open window, thread-
ing her way through the furniture in the dark and
on up the stairs to her own room. She locked the
door, and threw herself face down across her bed,
and buried her cheeks in her hands.
" O papa, papa," she remonstrated under her
breath, " O papa, how could you say that out
" No, not that I necessarily agree with all that
he wrote," Mr. Stone was saying as he and Mr.
Ball re-entered the library. "It isn't that ; but it is
Is this your Son, my Lord? 135
the tone of all that Harvey says, and does, and is.
He doesn't pose. He's real. You want him to use
his own head, don't you ? Well, suppose what he
says does seem a little unusual to you and Aunt
Martha, you see the motive in it, don't you ? Don't
you see your good, true, open-minded son ? Now
what is the object of training children ? To make
'em all alike ? Not a bit of it : but to make them
the best it is in them to be ; or make them see
the importance of being earnest and honest, and
then let each one come out with a different plan of
salvation or system of government if he's a mind to.
That's what I say. That's been our plan with
Maude." Mrs. Ball murmured something about
Maude being a girl. " Yes, that's so," assented Mr.
Stone. " It is some different. Girls don't have quite
so many temptations, of course, I mean girls who
have good homes, and there are more safeguards
kept about them. Everything holds them back
from going wrong, and pretty nearly everything
pushes boys to the devil, as if it had all been
planned beforehand. Why, the very fact that a girl
knows that any really wrong step made by her is her
ruin in the eyes of society, is a tremendous safeguard,
however unjust it may be ; and the very fact that a
boy knows that this is not true in his case, is a con-
stant temptation to him to do the prodigal son act,
just for the fun of it, even if he has no real inclina-
tion that way. That's why I've always said I am
136 Ts this your Son, my Lord?
glad I have no boys. I'd hate to have a blackguard
or a booby for a son, and the way things are, it's a
mighty slim chance that he wouldn't be one or the
other. You're in luck, Edward. You've got a boy
to be proud of, and by Jove, I'm glad to see that he
has backbone enough to base his opinions and his
splendid personal character on a firmer foundation
than the shifting sands of dogmatic belief and theo-
" Why, John ! " exclaimed Mrs. Ball, but he
" Look at that college mate of his ; the one that
was here Fred Harmon. He was trained to be-
lieve in traditional religion, as expounded by his
mother and her rector. Well, he was made to
base his actions on that belief. Good or bad was
weighed by their theological scales, and cut down
or trimmed off to fit their pattern. The scales, of
course, were hung on the Bible. Well, that boy
had not gone far in his college course, till he found
his science and his Scripture conflicting in places.
Six periods of time might go down as what was origi-
nally meant by six days, if it wasn't for the context.
Morning and evening of the first day - and all
that sort of thing rather gave the professor away.
The boys who were bright, badgered him until he
showed pretty plainly that he was working for a
salary. Well, they inquired into the sun standing
still, and the Red Sea's antics, and the boys, who
fs this your /Son, my Lord? 137
weren't fools, made up their minds that a salary
was sometimes compensation, not only for instruc-
tion in certain topics, but for the mental integrity
of the instructor as well.
" That was a lesson a good deal easier learned
" It wasn't long until these promising young scep-
tics got to badgering their mothers. Then they
were turned over to the rector. If he happened
to be a 'reconciler' he manipulated, evaded, and
patched up, and jumped over, and construed, until
a good many of the boys were completely mystified.
Well, when anybody is completely mystified by a
man, they think he is a small god. ' Great mind ! '
they say; 'wonderful insight!' They know that
they tried their level best, and could not follow his
arguments to the conclusions he reached. They
think that it is because they missed a link, and that
he had it all there, only they were not clever
enough to see it. Now, Fred Harmon wasn't built
that way. He saw very distinctly that the link
was gone. He followed it up, and chased it around,
until he settled in his mind that what arc called the
advanced ministers didn't believe, and didn't have
to believe the creeds they had vowed to teach.
"The underpinning got knocked out from under
his morals right there.
" He knew that those men lead the Protestant
church to-day. He knew that the people followed
138 Is this your Son, my Lord?
them like sheep. He knew that they had sworn
to teach a creed that they did not believe in any
sense that carried par value to words. His morals
were based on those creeds. "Well, the result was,
the moment his belief in dogmatic religion was
shaken, he had no foothold. Natural morality
had no meaning to him. Goodness had none, apart
from its creed-bound, society-defined limits. The
outcome is, that he absolutely doesn't know the
moral difference to-day between a lie and the truth.
He doesn't have the slightest prejudice, as he calls
it, in favor of one line of action above another, only
on a strictly commercial basis. * Will it pay,
socially speaking?' that is his test of conduct, of
opinion, of morals. And he is one of thousands.
I tell you, Edward, it won't do, it isn't safe, to base
morality and goodness on such shifting sands.
Harvey is right. It belongs to the past, and its
present pretence of readjustment to the needs of
this generation is simply turning out a lot of Fred
Harmons and worse if that is possible."
Maude had .pushed aside the portieres, and
entered the room a few moments before. She
stood behind her father. Her lips were white and
a little drawn. She slipped out again and sat
down on the porch. No one had noticed her.
Late that night she wrote to Fred.
" I promised you in the note I left for you, the
morning after the Military Ball in St. Louis, that
Js this your /Son, my Lord? 139
if I had anything definite to say to you at any
time in the future after I had thought over
what my father said I should write again. I have
something to say now. My father was right. Our
lives and training have been so unlike, our ideals
based upon such totally different, and, as he says,
antagonistic thoughts and needs that our, that is,
if we are still engaged, I write now to say, that it
is best to end our mistake at once.
" You were different from any one I had ever
known. I admired you, your polish and self-poise
and all I saw of you and comprehended was
very pleasing. I thought that I loved you. Per-
haps I did but perhaps it was rather what you
represented to me, or what I thought you, or that I
so loved to be loved myself and was a little proud
that you should care for me. I am not able to say
now what it was. I I do not understand it at all ;
but I do know now that I should be afraid to trust
myself to marry you and I could not marry
without perfect trust. I had that. I have it no
Maude wrote a little unsteadily, and she closed
her eyes and laid her head back wearily on the
chair, still holding the pen over the paper. She
was very pale. Presently she began again.
"I know that you will believe me when I say
that I hope you will be much happier in the love
of some one else, and that she will be happy in
140 Js this your Son, my Lord?
your love. I shall send this to the Chicago
address that you gave me four months ago. Please
let me know that you get it. Good-by. I am so
sorry, oh, so very sorry, that all of it that any
of it has happened. Good-by again. Maude."
She folded the note and addressed it : then she
threw herself on the bed. After a long time the
door opened softly and her father's face peered
in. The gas was burning brightly, and he saw his
daughter lying face down with a handkerchief in the
hand which was thrown above her head. He
went in quietly, and closed the door behind him.
Then he seated himself in the chair which she had
left by the table and waited. A little sob came
from the bed. He saw the note, but he did not
touch it. After what seemed to him a very long
time, he stepped to the bed, and lifting the girl in
his arms, as he had done when she was a little
child, carried her to the chair and sat down, and
clasping her to his breast, kissed her hair, her
eyes, and lips, with tears on his own cheeks.
Neither of them spoke. At last Maude said : " Did
you read it V " He shook his head.
"Reach;" she said, holding fast to his neck so
that he might free his arm. He took the note, and
holding it behind her shoulder read it through.
Then he sealed it, and put it in his breast pocket.
" I will mail it," he said softly, as one speaks at a
grave. Then with a great wave of feeling, ci
Is this your Son, my Lord? 141
my daughter, my precious daughter, your father's
heart is glad. I could give you to a good man and
bjear it ; but darling, Maudie, my daughter " He
pressed her closer to him, and tears dropped on
her shining hair.
Two hours later they were sitting there. . . . She
was asleep, and the gaslight fell on his rugged face
made radiant by its love and joy. John Stone felt
as one might who snatches from the jaws of death
his only treasure.
142 fa this your Son, my Lordf
"Heaven forbid I should fetter my impartiality by entertaining as
" To have a mind well oiled with that sort of argument which prevents
any claim from grasping it. seems eminently convenient sometimes; only
the oil becomes objectionable when we find it anointing other minds on
which we want to establish a hold "
"Men and women make sad mistakes about their own symptoms, taking
their vague, uneasy longings, sometimes for genius, sometimes for religion,
and oftener slill for a mighty love." George Eliot.
Fred Harmon read Maude's note with Conflicting
" I should hope that she considered our engage-
ment if it might ever have been dignified by
that name broken long ago. I certainly did.
But I suppose it is very hard for a girl like that to
give up a " he did not say brilliant match, but
that is what he thought. He did not take the
trouble to let her know that the note had reached,
him. Why should he? Of course it would reach
him. She must have known that, and, after all,
his mother was right ; it was a good deal better to
put as little as possible in writing, especially with
people like that." He had fallen into his mother's
mode of thought again.
Then he began to have a sense of loss and of
moral collapse. He felt very hardly used indeed,
Is this your Son, my Lord? 143
and strolled along the Boulevard andtapk his hat
off in so impressive a manner and withsuch aban-
don of self abnegation that the ladies, as they drove
by, wondered if there had been a death in his
family or whether perchance he had taken his or-
dination vows in secret.
Barlow noticed his abstraction and gloom and
chaffed him a little, but Fred let him see, at once,
that it was far too serious a matter to trifle with,
and Barlow changed the subject.
" Excuse me, Harmon ; " he said. " I did not
dream there was any real trouble. I thought you
were only mooning a little."
Fred sighed heavily ; presently he said,
" Yes, I am in serious trouble, Barlow. I have
had a terrible grief ; but it is best not to talk of
it. Don't say anything more about it to me, or to
anyone ; it is always better to bear one's burdens
silently, I think."
Barlow promised and offered sympathy, which
Fred accepted gracefully, leaving the impression
that it was wholly inadequate, and that his heroic
sufferings had probably never been equalled. That
night he wrote to his mother.
" Of course I realized, long ago when I broke
the engagement how incompetent such a girl
would be to fill the position my wife will occupy
especially if I take orders ; and the more I think of
it the more I am inclined to do so. . Your
144 Js this your Son, my Lord?
Indian Princess must be very amusing ; but really,
mother, I do not see the need of so much fuss about
such people. A good enough fad, of course, and I
don't mean to discourage it; but such cattle!
What difference can it make what becomes of their
girls ? I don't at all doubt that what she says is
true. From the little I saw last year in Alaska,
and in the camps a good deal nearer home, for the
matter of that, I should think her account not at
all overdrawn. The white men and soldiers certainly
do make them drunk, and carry the girls off. Ugh !
Such taste and I suppose they keep them as long
as they want to ; or as long as they can for their
own safety ; and what else can they do then but
send the disgusting creatures back to the tribe?
They have to. How did you ever happen to get
interested in such a. ridiculous fad, anyhow? Is
Mrs. W in it? I suppose so. Oh, well, of
course it can't do you any harm. . . .
" What a delightful girl your ' dear Pauline ' is ?
Don't be surprised, but this is a little premature
just now. Whist ! "
Mrs. Harmon read the letter and smiled. Fred
in Holy Orders, and married to Paulino ! Ah, life
is very sweet, and compensations come to those
who plan and wait !
As Mr. Fred Harmon, late of Harvard, stood before
his mirror the next evening in the Grand Pacific Hotel
and gave the last touches to his white cambric tie,
Js this your /Son, my Lord? 145
he smiled approvingly at the reflection, and decided
that even the splendid vigor of Barlow did not
appear to conspicuous advantage when contrasted
with the perfection of detail presented here. But
it was a little early to make a call. People in
the West took dinner at such heathenish hours, and
ate so fast, that it would be a long time before he
could present himself at the home of Miss Pauline
Tyler's uncle on Michigan Avenue. The question
now was how to put in the intervening hours.
Perhaps if he started out aimlessly* he might have
the good fortune to run into a political meeting or
a Salvation Army band. Almost anything afforded
Mr. Fred Harmon entertainment. He was wont
to pride himself on this fact. It was the chief
distinction between the college-bred man and
another, he said. College training enabled you
to be interested in all things, from a bug to a
bombardment; from the cry of the night-hawk
to that of a woman in distress, and it appeared
to be about the same sort of interest in each case.
It was the alert attention of the anatomist to his
Fortune favored the young man. He had not
strolled three blocks from the hotel until he saw an
arrest made. There had been a street fight. He
followed the officers to the station, and watched all
the proceedings with the attention of a trained
146 2s this your /Son, my Lord?
One of tbe young men, a German, appeared to
be the victim 01 a brutal assault. He bad received
a gbastly wound on tbe head and it was feared that
his skull was fractured. Fred's cambric tie, which
showed above his bght top-coat, bad led the officers
to think him a clergyman, and they had admitted
him without a question to the examination. When
the final collapse came and the young German sank
into a comatose state, one of the officers turned to
Fred and said :
" It's your turn now ; we done our part ; doc-
tor's done hisen ; now you kin have your innin's if
you're a mineto."
Fred smiled, but kept his eyes on th^ figure
before him. Pie did not fully understand the police-
man's mistake ; but he saw at Once that he was
supposed to have some right there and, p j.tting his
faith in silence, he continued to smile vaguely and
watch the wounded man. Presently he turned
to the physician and said :
"Extremely interesting, isn't it? First case I
ever saw. Final breakup was like a climax in a
play. How long will he continue to breathe
The physician looked at his questioner for a
moment before he replied. "Possibly for several
hours; but probably not so long. The skull is un-
doubtedly fractured and If you have any interest
in him, you best lose no time. Get his friends here.
Ts this your Son, my Lord? 147
He will never be moved alive. Poor fellow, he
appears to be a victim of his inability to make his
broken English understood. It is really an unusu-
ally sad case, I infer from what the officer says."
" Very sad, very sad indeed," murmured Fred
abstractedly, and went his way, congratulating
himself on having had the good fortune to witness
the effects of a pistol-shot wound in the head,
fracture of the skull, and the various physical phe-
nomena which follow.
" Pore feller," said the policeman ; " I wish I had
got there a little sooner. I might'a helped him."
" Poor fellow," thought the surgeon, " all we
can do now is to quiet his pain. Poor fellow, he
has a good face."
" Exceedingly interesting case," said Fred Harmon
to himself, as he strolled up the street. "Very
pleasing and well-ordered sequence indeed. The
way his legs tottered, the way he bore the pain
of examination at first, the giving way of his legs,
and then of his stomach, and then his nerves when
he began to cry very interesting quite a bit
of experimental knowledge added to my store.
Well, I am glad I started out aimlessly and
above all I'm glad that I am able to engage my
mind with all such little things. Intellectual train-
ing is a vast gain. Now those men the officers,
for instance took no intelligent interest whatever
in the development of the case as a means of edu-
148 Js this your Son, my Lord?
cation ; " and so Mr. Fred Harmon philosophized
and congratulated himself, until he came suddenly
to the entrance of a large hall into which numbers
of men were pouring.
" No women ; " thought he. " 'M-m-m " then
stepping up to a gentleman he inquired what was
going on inside.
" Young men's prayer and experience meeting,'
he said, " won't you come in ? All are welcome."
Fred thanked him and went in. He took a seat
near the door, intending to go out again in ten
minutes ; but the hymns and prayers entertained
him, and when several got up and spoke one after
another, he found himself held and attracted by the
variety. He wondered each time if the " experi-
ence " would vary much from that of the man who
had gone before. Several had begun by saying
that they felt themselves the chief of sinners, and
had then gone on to develop the idea that since a
given date they had cared for nothing, loved noth-
ing, wanted nothing, but God. Fred noticed that
one of the men on the platform who had said some-
thing of this kind was the commercial traveller,
his erst- while companion at poker, the night of the
Military Ball in St. Louis. The thought sent a flood
of memories through his brain. He felt chastened
and depressed. Life had dealt hardly with him of
late. He was both lonely and aimless. It was
suddenly borne in upon him that his name had
Ts (Ms your Son, my Lord? 149
been spoken. He looked up. The commercial
traveller was standing and had evidently spoken
to him. There was a slight movement and a ripple
of curiosity in the house " and if the gentleman,
our distinguished guest from Boston, who, with his
characteristic modesty, is near the door, will step
this way, we will be happy to give him a seat on
the platform. Come this way, Mr. Harmon."
Fred shook his head ; but his commercial friend
urged him. Fred thought this in very bad taste.
At last he arose, looked about him and said, " How-
ever much I should like to accept your cordial invi-
tation to occupy a seat upon the platform, I am
compelled to decline. Unfortunately I have
another engagement. I came in for only a few
moments. I shall have to go soon."
" Before you go, we shall be glad to have you
stand where you are and give your religious expe-
rience for the help and comfort and encouragement
of others who may be strangers and whose names
I may not know, all of whom are welcome here as
they will be welcome over there ; " and the chair-
man waved his hand toward the upper part of the
front of the house, in which he appeared to locate
a celestial abode of the future. Fred thought all
this very droll indeed. He ran hastily over what
he could best recall of his " experience " and noth-
ing that occurred to him at the moment appeared
to be especially suited to the occasion, or likely to
150 Ts this your Son, my Lord?
help the strangers about him to a cheerful view of
the Christian life. He shook his head. He had
not had time to suspect that his friend on the plat-
form was having his little fun out of the situation.
This thought began to assert itself just as he heard
that gentleman's voice say solemnly, " our mis-
fortune ; but I am sure that his eloquent voice will
not decline to lead us at the throne of grace. Let
us pray. Mr. Harmon, please lead us in prayer."
The whole audience arose. It was not the first
time that Fred Harmon had prayed in public. His
choice of language was rich and forceful. Indeed
he had been told that he was " gifted in prayer. "
He felt no sense of inappropriateness ; but the tinge
of humor that had begun to creep in caused him to
open his eyes as he went on, and as he did so he saw
that the gentleman who had urged him to offer the
prayer was shaking with some suppressed emotion,
and that his hand, which was over his eyes, had a
wide space open between two of the fingers where
an eye, which was not closed, appeared and distinctly
twinkled. Fred's voice shook a little. " Amen,"
he said reverently. " Amen ! " went up from the
audience. " Amen," said Fred's friend from the
platform ; " Amen, praise the Lord ! Thank you,
brother Harmon. Come to our meetings again."
Fred bowed, and went out. In the lobby he
stopped to button his coat, and light a cigar. A
hand fell on his arm.
Ts this your Son, my Lord? 151
'< I heard that you were going to take Holy
Carders, and I thought you might as well get your
hand in on our crowd;" said his commercial friend,
who had hastened out after him. " They will take
'most anything. They know that some of us are
more or less irregular don't you know, but they
don't mind it. Stopping at the G. P.? Yes?
Well, so am I. Room 98. Come in any time, up
to three o'clock, and have a quiet little game. Ben
will be there, and oh, well, if you rather, bring
your own deck, of course ; but there, they need
me. That's my hymn, and then I have to give
them a little talk on the beauty of holiness. See
you later." He waved his hand, and disappeared.
He had no sooner re-entered the hall, than his
strong, inspiring voice swelled into the melody of
" Nearer My God to Thee " at the third line, and
so enthused the whole body, that they arose with
one accord, and gave forth a fresh volume of
ecstatic and enthusiastic vocalization.
Some of them believed that their emotions were
caused by religion ; some of them thought very
little about it, and simply went with the swim ;
some of them knew that they were utilizing, for
business purposes, purely physical sensations ; but
one and all went away feeling that the evening had
been well spent, and that at least no harm could
come to any man so long as he was in no worse a
place than that. If there was one man in the room
152 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
who felt that he had added to the sum of human
misery, or degradation, or sorrow, it certainly was
not Mr. Fred Harmon, nor was it his friend, the
Later that night, they laughed over it a little, it
is true, but neither of them doubted for a moment
the wisdom of his own course, nor the wickedness
of those who openly questioned a morality built
upon conventional observances, and an eternal
reward contingent on faith.
If Mr. Fred Harmon was expert at poker, he was
not invariably a winner, and although he always
said that he played a very small game, as became a
gentleman who indulged in the sport merely for
pastime, still it sometimes came about, if jackpots
were shy, or flushes unduly abbreviated, that his
exchequer, at no time plethoric, became reduced to
the verge of collapse. At such trying times he re-
ported to his mother, as a dutiful son should, that
he had met with a misfortune. Once or twice
this had taken the shape of an ordinary pickpocket,
and the young man so blamed himself for his care-
lessness in carrying money where it could be so
easily abstracted from his pockets, and for his stu-
pidity for falling asleep on a street car in broad
daylight, that his devoted parent consoled and ex-
cused him, with ingenious thought of his active
brain, which she had no doubt needed the sleep,
and sent him all the money she could get from
Ts this your Son, my Lord? 153
the indulgent but far from opulent head of the
house. But just now it occurred to him that the
"street-car, overworked-brain, pickpocket racket,"
as he smilingly called it in his own mind, could
hardly be presented so soon again. The impulsive
relieving of a sad case of destitution was equally
threadbare. He thought of a public subscription
for Foreign Missions, but decided against it. Such
lists were published, a vulgar and inconvenient
custom, but still so universal that he gave the plan
only a moment's consideration.
The leather trade presented attractions again ;
but after mature deliberation and a careful weigh-
ing of points for and against a step which might
smirch his whole future, even though temporarily
resorted to, he decided to accept the long-since for-
gotten, and now providentially recalled, invitation
of Preston Mansfield to drop in on him and take a
hunt or a rest in the quiet and seclusion of that
young gentleman's not far distant home. There
could be very few calls for money in such a place
as that. Hotel bills would cease and well, Pres-
ton Mansfield was not a bad fellow to know in the
West. So Mr. Fred Harmon made up his mind to
hibernate, as he phrased it to himself, until the next
regular time came around when he might expect
money from home. He could then bloom once more
afresh in the world he loved to grace, the world
which rewarded his exceptional ability so poorly
1 54 Is thi& your Son.; my Lord?
that he was barely enabled to live as became a
gentleman on the higher planes of thought and
action, giving scant heed to the grosser necessities
of life, such as money making, where he could
devote his rare talents to those purely intellectual
processes, commonly called education, in which his
life had thus far been spent.
This training had resulted, as we have seen, in the
young man's proud ability to interest himself in any
thing, from a globule to a geological period, or a
gun-shot wound, without those disturbing elements
of emotion, love or sympathy or fear or regret,
which militate so grievously against the unpre-
judiced planes of thought whereon civilized and
cultured collegians were at that time struggling
desperately to maintain themselves. It is true that
comparatively few of them succeeded. Their home
training in most cases was against it, and the rare
combination of home, church, and collegiate dis-
cipline which had focused in his case, and devel-
oped the nature of Mr. Fred Harmon into that
much envied being, a successful conventional
leader, free from all sentiment and full of all
sentimentality, had been almost perfect for the
purpose from his earliest infancy. He knew before
he was ten years old, that it was vulgar to differ
from social and religious leaders in one's opinions
on any subject whatever, and that it was quite
unpardonable to give utterance to such differences.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 155
He knew, too, that a gentleman might be wretch-
edly poor, might accept the bounty of those who
labored, but if he engaged in any kind of busi-
ness his claims to position were at once gone. He
had never forgotten the impressive lesson on this
point that he had received very early in life.
His uncle had come to talk a matter over with his
sister, Fred's mother. It was soon after the civil
war, and it appeared from the account that this
uncle had lost his all, and was left without means
of support. He had been offered a very fair and
tempting salary if he would take charge of certain
business matters for an elderly gentleman of his
acquaintance. The position was that of a sort of
upper clerk, or manager.
" You must not think of it," said his sister in-
dignantly. " It is an insult for him to suggest such
a thing to you. You manage his affairs, indeed!
Be a head clerk in a mercantile house ! Never !
Go to the poorhouse like a gentleman, if you must,
Cuthbert ; but never forget, brother, that you are
Fred had thought a great many times, in his brief
career, of going to the poorhouse like a gentleman,
and in his childhood had vaguely wondered who
supported the superior beings whose pride reduced
them to such straits as this. He learned later that
it was done chiefly by the cruder class, whose pride
and breeding and culture did not stand between
156 Is this your Son, my Lordf
them and money-producing occupations of various
degrees of vulgarity. So, although Fred did not,
by any means, suppose that going to visit Preston
Mansfield would be quite like entering an elee-
mosynary institution, still he looked upon it some-
what as the genteel resort of a man of culture in
reduced circumstances, to tide over, not at his own
expense, for he did not permit himself to think of
it in the affirmative formula a period of financial
depression, of greater or less duration. That it was
a very great compliment to Preston Mansfield, he
realized ; but he had his satirical doubts if that
young gentleman would comprehend it as fully as
he should. That Preston would be pleased to see
him, that he would be hospitable and cordial, he did
not doubt ; but would Preston have the insight to
appreciate the honor of it ? That was the question ;
and he smilingly decided that it was altogether
unlikely that so emotional and coarse-grained a
fellow would be endowed with sufficiently fine in-
stincts to do so. He decided to make a study of the
case, and had already thought out a humorous letter
he should write to his mother, giving the curious
details of life in such a family, and the relish with
which he discovered his own ability to keep himself
so well in hand that not one of them should discover
that he felt himself to be doing an exceedingly
gracious thing in giving them the benefit of a social
example as simply as if he were on their own plane.
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 157
He prided himself on the simplicity and charm of
his manner towards his inferiors. He thought it very
likely that servants were human, from a strictly
anatomical outlook, and he felt it only right to rec-
ognize that fact, from time to time. Never by taking
an interest in their affairs, of course ; but well,
he had spoken distinctly to Thomas who served him
at the hotel, at least twice, in the weeks that he was
there, and he had stepped aside for the chamber-
maid one morning, in such a way that she must
have known that he saw her and therefore knew
that she existed. He thought such little things
kept servants devoted to their superiors, and it was
not a great sacrifice for a gentleman to make, if he
once made up his mind to it ; but the intolerable
impudence of the serving class, he felt, made even
such slight concessions somewhat dangerous, unless
one were really heroic in his devotion to prin-
He had heard the Reverend Highchurch dis-
course upon the subject, " How shall we treat our
servants ? " And he knew that the entire congre-
gation had felt that the Christian beauty of his ad-
vice was the result of an exaltation almost divine.
He had distinctly advised moderation in censure,
and said that even a word of praise judiciously
offered might not always be a bad plan where ser-
vants were faithful and devoted, and had grown
gray in one's service. But such as these were, of
158 Is this your Son, my Lord?
course, rare enough to make this radical advice
innocuous, even if followed.
It is due to Mr. Fred Harmon to say that he did
not give the thought that Preston Mansfield had
several pretty sisters any consideration whatever.
He knew that he could make himself agreeable to
almost any girl or woman, if he saw fit ; and if he
did not, well, it was easy enough to drop a vague
hint of a wounded heart in such a way that gentle
sympathy and thoughtful kindness would be drawn
out, and no complications result ; for his new friends
would not know who the lady was, and no one could
doubt the ease of a role like that if he once tried it.
Fred smiled to think how often it had worked in
his own brief career. Before he was fairly out of
knickerbockers, his mother had added jelly to his
toast, and sent it to his darkened room, with a
tender message for the stricken heart of her son.
That time it was one of his teachers. She was a
very pretty girl indeed, and not more than ten
years his senior. She had married well, too, a man
much above her, Fred's mother thought, the
young rector in a town near by. Fred was deso-
late, and enjoyed the fruits of his woe in the
shape of jelly and long naps in the morning, and
gentle words and tones, until the sharp edge of his
heartbreak wore off. So with ageing melancholy
he cast his eyes alternately upon Bertie Fairchild
and the Church. He was confirmed shortly there-
Is this your Son, my Lord? 159
after. Then he felt better for a time. Fred always
thought of holy orders at such crises as these, and
had even gone the length of pondering over the
growing ranks of monks then attracting attention in
ritualistic Protestant circles because of the recent
conversion to their order of a certain conspicuous
young churchman who had taken the vows of chas-
tity and poverty. Fred thought of this again when
his mother first objected to his betrothal to Maude
Stone, and he had read up on the requirements of
such a position in the English Church in America.
He knew it would give him great prestige to be a
convert, and renounce the world so conspicuously ;
but it was uncouth to be in haste about anything,
and there was ample time to think it over.
The inclination had almost faded out, until his
last misfortune with the jackpot (whoever heard
<jf two such hands being beaten, one right after the
other?), and then it swept over him anew. It
was always a splendid possibility for the future.
But he decided against haste, as before. He would
visit Preston Mansfield, and give himself time to
think in dignified seclusion from the world. Then,
too, Pauline Tyler had left Chicago three days
She confided to him, before she left, that there
was absolutely no truth in the report that she
was to marry Chicago's mayor-elect ; and as to
banker Hartley well she had met him only
160 Is this your Son, my Lord?
three times, and the absurdity of such a thing was
quite manifest. Fred agreed with her perfectly,
and wrote for her a somewhat touching denial of
these rumors to the society columns of the papers,
whereupon the reporters called upon Miss Pauline,
who peremptorily refused to see them; sending
down word that she was prostrated by the publicity
given to her affairs.
The postman's indignation was aroused the next
day and the next and the next, by the armful of
newspapers he was called upon to convey from the
house of Miss Tyler's uncle to the post-office. He
noticed that they were addressed in a feminine
hand and were sent to othernewspapers, as well as
to private persons all over the country, and not a
few were sent abroad. He concluded that they
contained marked notices of a wedding or a death,
but he did not see why one of the servants might*
not have made a large package of the whole lot
and gone with them himself to the post-office.
But Pauline was gone now, and those terrible
Chicago reporters would trouble her no more.
But stay would it not be their fiendish work,
after all, which would follow her ? And would not
all those other papers copy from them and bandy
her name about as if she were some vulgar woman
who had done something written a play, or
acted one, or some such bold thing as that ? And
poor Pauline drew her veil down, laid her weary
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 161
head back on the car seat and sighed heavily. It
was the penalty of distinction. Pauline thought
how hard it must be for great men to bear it. And,
women, but the bold creatures who got their
names in the papers outside of the society columns
no doubt liked it. Of course, to be in the
society column was quite different. One's person-
ality was subordinated there to one's clothes ; but
to have one's name mentioned in print as having
been so pronounced as to do anything, or say or
think anything whatsoever, apart from costumes and
church charity, was outside the pale of serious
consideration by womanly women at least. Pauline
had said all this and more a great many times.
Pauline was orthodox in all things.
162 Is this your Son, my Lordf
" Durable morality had been associated with a transitory faith. The
faith fell Into Intellectual discredit, and . . . morality shared its
decline for a season. This must always be the natural consequence of
building sound ethics on the 'shifting sands and rotting foundations of
theology." John Morley.
"Men talk of 'mere morality,' which Is much as if one should say,
'Poor God, with nobody to help him.' " Emerson.
" Think not that lam come to send peace on earth : I came not to send
peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his
father, and the daughter against her mother." Jesus Christ.
When Harvey Ball came home he was greatly
surprised to find his mother still somewhat disturbed
by the letter he had written about Albert's choice
of a profession. She had never been a very strict
church-member, but had usually gone to hear a
sermon, each week, all her life, and her husband
frequently went with her. There had been but
little talk about it in the family, and it was simply
taken for granted that the liberal teachings of the
broad-minded, cheerful, kind man who filled their
pulpit, were axiomatically correct, and that Harvey
and Albert were mentally in accord with it all.
Harvey had always been such an upright fellow.
From his very infancy his sense of justice had
been strong, and any inclination to be untruthful that
he may originally have had, or imbibed from others,
had nothing to feed upon at home, for he feared no
one. If he made a " bad break," as he called it, he
Is this your Son, my Lord? 163
usually told his father or mother quite frankly, and
they helped him out of it. Not by trying to
conceal or distort the fact that it was a mistake, or
even a wrong; but by explaining the other side
to him, meanwhile keeping a fast hold of the boy's
love of their approbation. He had lied one day,
when only a very little fellow, about the quantity
of candy he had. It seemed to him that it would
be easier to do that than to give up any more of
the sweet stuff ; so he had hid it, and said there
was no more, when his mother asked him. His
father had seen him slyly abstracting a piece from
the box which he had concealed behind a trunk.
" Bring it all out, Harvey," he had said, with not
the slightest hint of disapproval in his voice ; " you
can get at it better out here, and you won't feel
so uncomfortable. Telling what is not true to your
mother, or me, makes you feel rather uneasy, I
notice. It is always that way. When I have
tried it I always feel worse afterward ; and then it
does not pay to let other people get the idea that
you do not tell, and do not care for, the truth.
Would it make you uncomfortable or unhappy if
you thought that what I say to you is not true ? "
" No sir," said Harvey promptly, with a mouth-
ful of candy. His imagination was too weak just
then to grasp the idea.
That afternoon Mr. Ball promised his son a
drive in the country. Harvey was filled with
164 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
delight. Shortly afterward, as the little fellow
stood on tip-toe watching for his father, he saw
him drive past and disappear. The boy ran out to
the gate, but his father did not come back. He
wept, and raged, and sulked within himself. That
night his father said, " Oh, did you expect me to
take you ? "
" You know you promised me ; " sobbed Harvey,
" and there was room, and you said you would take
" So I did, so I did," said his father ; " and you
believed me, didn't you? Well, Harvey, I told
you a lie just to show you that it would hurt
somebody. Now it hurt you, didn't it, son ?
and it hurt me too. Then it did another thing :
the next time I tell you I will do anything, you
will not know whether to believe me or not, will
v "No sir," said Harvey, with wide eyes and a
sense of loss.
" You would a great deal rather feel sure, would
" Yes, I would, papa."
" Well, that's the way it is," said Mr. Ball, taking
the boy up in his arms. " It is just that way about
everything. Unless people know that a man tells
the truth, as a rule, nobody will know whether to
believe anything at all that he says.' Very
soon they will not believe him, even when he
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 165
is honest. Nobody will deal with him, and he will
cause so much confusion and want of confidence,
that he will harm a good many people beside him-
self. So, don't you see, Harvey, people must tell
the truth for the safety and happiness of them-
selves as well as of others ? Don't you see that it
is a great deal to one's own advantage to be truth-
ful, and that it is necessary for children to learn
the lesson pretty early? That is the reason why
there are laws against lying. Did you know there
is a law
" Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbor," piped up the boy, who had gone to
Sunday-school from time to time.
" Yes," said his father, " that was built on the
very experience I tell you about. Men found out
that it would not do to lie; it would interfere
with everything ; and so, long after they found that
out, some one stated it in that way. But, after all,
that is only one side of it. That is the perjury
side, the side the law takes hold of. But just
suppose it was the rule to lie. You would take
ten cents and go to a store to buy marbles. The
man would tell you they were two cents each.
How many would you get ? "
" Five," said Harvey, promptly.
"Well now, suppose you handed him your
money, and when you got out of the door you
found that he had given you only four ? "
166 Is this your /Son, my Lordf
" I would go back and make him give me the
other," said the boy, savagely.
" But suppose you could not ? He is the
" Then I would tell you ! " Harvey was trium-
" Well, but suppose I myself had lied to that
man the day before had sold him a horse as
good and sound, when he was blind in one eye ?
Don't you see, Harvey, it would not work ? Don't
you see that people could not get along ? Don't you
see that everything would get so tied up and con-
fused that business would stop, and nobody would
believe a word that anybody else said ? Don't you
think that would be pretty bad ? Business would
be impossible ; homes would be impossible. Every-
thing would go to pieces. It could not be done.
Well, now, that fact became known by experience,
and so, for self-protection, people had to tell the
truth, don't you see ? "
" I thought it was because God said " began
the boy, with his catechism still in his mind.
" Oh, to be sure, to be sure, they say God said it.
That is, some people do and no doubt He did
but don't you see how they got the idea first?"
asked his father, quite inconsistently. " They
found out how it was what was necessary and
you know when men find that out they always
think and say that it is God's way. Their necessi-
Is this your Son, my Lord? 167
ties are God's wishes, and so God's wishes are
different in .different countries, and at different
This was rather deep, and rather puzzling
theology to the boy ; and very inconsistent religion
in the father ; but neither of them knew the latter
fact, and the lesson went home to the boy's mind
strictly as a rational and utilitarian view of the
command to be truthful.
Mr. Ball himself had no idea that his explana-
tion was a trifle unorthodox. He had based his
life on reason, and then he had gone occasionally to
an Orthodox church, because it was the custom, and
he liked the preacher personally.
He did not think it exactly right or safe, how-
ever, to have Harvey base his ideas of right and
wrong on the catechism, and so he took him out of
Sunday-school. At the same time he had intended
the boy to return later on, when his moral ideas
should be founded on reason, so he had told him-
self. But Harvey had never asked to go back.
He had liked to stay at home or take a drive, far
better, and as a consequence, his religion^ instruc-
tion had never gone very far. Sometimes he had
attended church with his mother; but he usually
went to sleep, or got so interested in watching the
people and Chinking about them that whatever of
dogmatic theology the Rev. Carr had preached, had
escaped Harvey. He liked Mr. Carr very much
168 Is this your Son, my Lord?
indeed. They always had a merry chat when tin
met in the street. The clergyman seemed to tako
a deep interest in marbles, and later on in base-
ball, so they were the best of friends, and neither of
them realized how wide apart their points of view
had grown as the years went by. Even in Harvey's
college days, in the vacations, when he was at home,
he had always enjoyed meeting Mr. Carr.
When Harvey first entered college, he found his
father's lessons and character a firm foundation.
All about him was different. Temptations had
new forms, pleasures and vices new faces. Some
of the boys lost their heads. The boundary line
of moral actions wavered or got rubbed out. To
those who lost their absolute faith, the belief in a
certain phase of life as the only right or decent
one; to those who found for the first time con-
flicting dogmas held as equally good; to those
who met new questions and scientific facts with
undeveloped and illogical minds; to those who
were suddenly awakened to the knowledge that
their religion was not universal, or even approxi-
mately so, to the fact that more millions were
without it than with it, and that morality had no
necessary connection with religion, to all thee,
college life was a dangerous awakening. Some of
them kept their feet fairly well ; but for the most
part they became, either openly or in secret, ad-
dicted to vices which they no longer measured as
Is this your >S'0n, my Lord? 169
such, because their standards of measurement had
ceased to be useful. These boys had no other moral
standards, and they found themselves adrift with-
out square or compass. Some of them added to
their other vices that of duplicity." They professed
to accept and use their old creeds ; they concluded
that this was universal ; that no one believed what
he pretended to, on any subject whatever. Virtue
and candor were for women and children to be
talked about in public ; but the men, who believed
in either, were ignorant fools or milk-sops. Edu-
cated men knew better. It was all a gigantic,
roaring farce, and they took their cues with spirit.
A few kept their feet, but were discouraged and
dazed. A small number underwent no revolution.
A wider view they saw ; but it was part and parcel
of the well-known field of natural experiences,
the same measurements lengthened, the same
calculations multiplied, the same rules developed,
that was all.
Fred Harmon had gone down with those who
still outwardly conformed. In him duplicity and
reticence, in all things, had held such sway that he
did not himself know their boundary lines.
Preston Mansfield flung everything to the winds
with the first revelation made to him by his father,
and was openly and boldly a man of the rapid
world, who did not care to hide the fact except from
those of his own household. Even at home he made
170 is this your Son, my Lord?
no pretence. He simply held his tongue and rested
on that miraculous capacity which each man's
women- folks have for accepting him at, or even above,
his own valuation, while a certain discount system is
applied to every other man of their acquaintance.
Preston's mother had sometimes had vague doubts of
her husband, in spite of his conspicuous position in
her beloved church. Of Preston she had no doubts
at all. To her he was still a lad, pure, simple, direct
and clean-minded. His sisters estimated him even
higher, nor had a quaver of doubt ever come to
them of the absolute moral integrity of their
father. All this hurt Preston Mansfield, and he
chafed under it whenever he was at home. He
said that he hated to cheat women. It went
against him to be the receiver of stolen goods
whether these were the confidences of those who
loved him, or the proceeds of a less material, more
dangerous, and more manly robbery.
" I always feel like a thief at home," he said ; " a
sneak-thief in an orphan asylum at that ; not a
brave highwayman, who takes his chances and
risKs his own skin with men." So Preston stayed
away from home all he could.
Fred Harmon had no such inconveniently primi-
tive prejudices. His mother knew that he did not
believe " in that sense " many of the things to
which he subscribed outwardly ; but she did not
know that he had still a third set of opinions and
Is (Ms your Son, my Lord? 171
actions which he did not care to submit even to her
lenient inspection. The basis of his moral and
mental attitude she knew, and had helped, she
proudly felt, to form ; but the full development of
her teachings she did not suspect, nor could she
have believed, if the results had been pointed out
to her, that they were anything short of the imag-
inings of a madman, or the machinations of an
Duplicity she had translated into tact, and had
lived the translation. Her son " reverted," as they
say in evolution, to the original type.
Selfishness she framed and draped as the just
sense of one's duties in ideal self-development.
She always held that this was for the benefit of
others, for the Race. Fred wrote " race " with a
small r and " Self " with a large S, and he elimi-
nated " others " altogether.
His mother believed that the Episcopal Church
held the highest ideals in morals, religion, art, and
music, to be found in this world. Fred believed
that it was the organization of greatest power and
influence to which a gentleman of culture could
belong, and that it was a social lever and a moral
screen that no man in his senses could afford to
ignore. Fred was under the impression that his
mother secretly agreed with this opinion. He had
no doubt that the Broad Churchmen all did, and
that the High Churchmen were clinging to the old
172 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
beliefs, either through fear, or ignorance of the
tendency of the times. In short, it simply was not
within Mr. Fred Harmon's comprehension that any
one was ever real, and frank, and direct in any-
thing whatsoever, unless he were either weak-
minded or without the adequate culture to cover
his tracks. Therefore Mr. Fred Harmon did not
feel in the least like a sneak-thief in an orphan ,
asylum, nor at a disadvantage morally with any one.
When his artificial ethical legs were once knocked
from under him, he had no doubt whatever that
everybody else had stood on exactly the same kind,
and that they, too, had cast them in due season.
Preston Mansfield looked upon himself as the
victim of a deliberate piece of peculiar and un-
accountable villainy. He hated his father dead,
as he would have hated him living, and he believed
that few other sons had ever been so cursed. He
thought that he had been deliberately crippled in
life, maimed in his self-esteem, and robbed of the
chance to be honest.
" I don't doubt I'd have made a fool of myself
often," he would say, grinding his teeth ; " but I
don't believe that I would have turned out a
He was talking to Harvey Ball about it, once,
and Harvey had said : " Oh, well, Pres., so long as
you look at it that way, what is to hinder you from
turning over a new leaf, as they say ? Start over."
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 173
" Start over ? Where ? New leaf ! Look here,
Ball, you're not a hypocrite, at least. Now tell me
frankly, openly, squarely ; if you had a sister whom
you loved, would you be willing for her to marry
" I'd a great deal rather she would marry you
than a good many other fellows that I know ; " said
Harvey, evasively, thinking of Maude Stone.
" Humph ! " said Preston. " In other words, you
prefer Mephistopheles to the Devil. You do not
want to be killed ; but if you have got to be, why
you would take to a gun-shot rather than to a
hempen rope. Well, so should I, but I did not
ask you any such question. I asked " He paused.
Presently he said :
" Never mind that ; that is the view of her
brother or father. Now, suppose we take her per-
sonally. What do you think she would say or feel,
if she knew the truth ? Well, do you know, Ball,
I've got a prejudice somehow," he pronounced
the word " prejudice " scornfully, " against trick-
ing a good woman into marrying me. I think it is
a damned low piece of business to deliberately
deceive a girl to her rum, whether it is for once or
for a lifetime. If a grown-up woman, who knows
what she is about and what it all means, makes up
her mind to go to the devil, I suppose my con-
science is as easy as anybody's about helping her
along ; but I'll be hanged if I've got the heart to
174 Is this your Son, my Lord?
cheat a young girl into a liaison whether it is
temporary or permanent, in or out of marriage
when she thinks it means one thing and I know
that it means another. Well, if any decent woman
knew the truth about me, do you suppose I could
get her to live with me ? Then my married bliss
would have to depend upon my cheating her suc-
cessfully all my life, wouldn't it ? Now look here,
Ball, how do you think you would feel, to wake up
and remember, every morning of your life, that
you had got to deceive that woman all day - about
things that would break her heart ? "
"I don't believe that I'd like it," acquiesced
"Like it!" exclaimed Preston, bringing his fist
down with a bang. "Like it! If you had any
respect for her, not to mention love, if you had
a decent instinct, not to mention self-respect,
you simply could not do it, that's all. And I have
been robbed of my chance in lif e Damn him ! "
He said the last so fiercely, he said it with such
bitter vehemence, that Harvey Ball stood up
" You wonder who it is I hate like that, Ball ; "
said the young man, ramming his hands into his
pockets and pacing up and down the floor. " Well,
I'll tell you. I'll tell you because you read me that
letter from your home, and I just thought if I had
had your chance, by gad, I would have been your "
Js this your Son^ my Lord? 175
equal, he was going to say, but he stopped and
then said : I'd have been able to feel as you do.
It was my father I was talking about just now."
Harvey stared at him in consternation.
" I do not wonder you are shocked and sur-
prised. I know the kind of father you've got and
what you think of him. Well, mine's dead. I'm
glad of that at least, for I believe I would kill him
if he wasn't."
"Don't, Preston," said Harvey Ball, putting a
hand on his shoulder. " Don't say that. You're
all worked up about something. You'll regret it
after a while."
" No, I shall not," said Preston, savagely ; " but I
just tell you what it is, Ball, you don't know what
you owe your father. It seems to me if I had had
such a one, I'd rather die than hurt him. My God,
I wanted to love my father ; but you do not under-
stand it, and I can't tell you any more."
The memory of this conversation swept over
Harvey Ball the day he came home to talk over
Albert's career, and his recent letter which seemed
he could not imagine why to have caused such
"Don't you believe in the Bible, son?" his
father had asked, and his mother's face was troubled
and anxious. "Don't you think your mother's
religion and mine is good enough for you and for
176 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
"Don't put it that way, father," said Harvey,
touched and surprised. " I do not believe in the
Bible in any sense that means it is different from
any other old book, and as to the religion of you
and mother being good enough for me " the
young fellow paused. Then he went on slowly,
" Father, did you ever have a University education ?
" You know, my son, that I never saw the inside
of a school after I was fifteen ; " said his mother a
little reproachfully, and old Mr. Ball looked at his
son with surprised eyes in which a shadow of disap-
pointment began to find place.
" Well, then, mother, do you think it would be
fair to ask me, because I wanted to go to college,-
and father could afford to send me do you think
it would be fair to reproach me by asking if the
education which was good enough for you and
father, was not good enough for me ? I do not be-
lieve that you and father think that I have shown
disrespect to you because I learned geometry and
you did not. Certainly I never looked at it that
" Of course not, son," said his mother, puzzled.
Harvey turned to his father.
" Now, father, why not put it the same way in
religion ? I have not come to the same conclusions
you say that you have, though from your life and
training I am sure I can't see that we can be very
Ts this your Son^ my Lord? 177
far apart in reality. But suppose we are, suppose
I have drawn wholly different conclusions from
yours and mother's; suppose I do not believe what
you and mother do about the Bible, is that disre-
spect to you ? Is it fair to state it as you did ?
Look here, father, I would rather do almost any-
thing than hurt you or mother. I think you are
the two very best people in this world, and I love
you the best, you know;" he did not think it
necessary to mention Maude Stone just then; "but
father, I don't believe as you seem to expect me to,
and I am sure you cannot want me to lie about it.
You have given me a good many advantages that
you never had yourself. I have read and studied
and thought in new lines and channels that were
not open to you. I have tried to make good use of
the opportunities you gave me, and, father, it really
seems to me that this is a far higher compliment to
you and to mother, than for me to have stopped
where you did, where you were forced to stop,
because you had no further opportunities to go
Mr. Ball moved the book in front of him, but
said nothing, and Harvey began again : " Would
you think it showed more respect to you if I had
refused to go to school after I wa.s fifteen, on the
ground that I thought my mother's education was
good enough for me ? Now, what you taught me
of religion if we can call it that I think was
178 Is this your Son, my Lord?
the very best part of your belief. ' Be honest and
kind ' was the creed. And, father, you know it was
always on natural grounds you taught me this."
The old man moved a trifle uneasily, and Mrs.
Ball murmured something about its being all their
" Fault ! " exclaimed Harvey. " Why, mother, it
was right. Your love and instinct led you to give
us the very best training that two boys ever had.
I never realized it until I went to college. Then
I knew the worth of it, and thanked you both
every day I lived. I was master of myself, no
matter what changes of opinion swept about me.
I had a solid footing, and, father, I'm sorry to say
that very few of the fellows had. I owed it all to
you and mother. I knew that, and I thank you
now, on my knees, that you trained me as you did ; "
and the young fellow slipped down beside his
mother, put his arms about her waist, and kissed
her forehead, lips, and hand. His father reached
over and laid a hand gently upon his shouldej.
Presently Harvey went on :
" My reasoning and information led me to form
certain conclusions about the Bible and religion.
Was that disrespect to you ? Or was it only that
I told you what I thought? You taught me to
tell the truth. Which would have shown more
respect to you: to refuse to use the brains and
opportunities you gave me, or to use them and
Js this your /Son, my Lord? 179
then refuse to tell the truth about my conclusions, or
to have striven to blind myself and you to what I
grew to think? Does it show more respect for
one's parents, more love for them, to decline to go
beyond them in education, prosperity, or religion ?
Father, I cannot believe that you think so. Do
the men who talk about holding this or that belief,
because their mother's religion is good enough for
them, talk the same way about her education, her
financial condition, her views on politics, or any
other subject on earth ? Don't you think, father, as
you recall the men who talk that way, that you
recognize some other motive than that of simple
devotion to their mothers' belief that goes the
length of identical thought ? Do you want me to
think exactly the same thoughts you do? If I
cannot, do you want me to pretend to ? "
The young fellow's lips were white, and he still
held his mother about the waist. She bent forward
and kissed him.
There was a long pause. The old man moved
uneasily in his chair, but no word escaped his lips.
At last Harvey's voice broke the strained silence
" I cannot understand this change, father. You
have always expected me to be simply and openly
frank with you. It is not it never has been a
question of whether we agreed in opinion. Since
we differ if we differ am I to be untrue to
180 Is this your Son, my Lord?
myself ? Am I to pretend to hold your exact views,
if I do not? Such servility as that is demanded
nowhere else in life except in religion, and only
in the one religion that claims to make men true to
themselves, to the highest that is in them, the
religion that claims to bring peace and goodwill
on earth. Peace ! " he added, sorrowfully, " Peace,
and good will, and joy, and unity! Is it peace that
simply seeks to silence opposition by force, physi-
cal or mental? The kind of peace that demands
subjection on one hand, and asserts the right of
arrogant authority on the other, is not worth having.
It is not peace at all. It is the most abject slavery.
It is tyranny unspeakable. I cannot think you
want that, father ; it is not like you. It is opposed
to your whole life and your splendid character.
Father! father! what does it all mean? Are we
to wreck our confidence and unity, and wound our
love for the sake of this shadow? Suppose you
are right and I am wrong, still, what is it you want ?
Silence ? Deception ? Why ? What is gained by
either ? And think oh, think, father, of all that
is lost! Is it well to build a wall between us on
any subject ? Is a religion, can anything be good
that demands either silence or subjection? O
father, I am stunned, and perhaps I am talking
wildly. Perhaps I shall wound you. Perhaps I
have said too much, and yet forgive me. I love
you too well to be able to give up, without a
Is this your Son, my Lord? 181
struggle, our life-long confidence and harmony, our
frank and open comradeship.
" We have differed often, always in politics
but this is our first " he was going to say " break,"
then " quarrel " came to his mind ; but after a pause
he. said, with unsteady voice, " misunderstanding.
And it is like a blow in the face. It staggers and
blinds me." His mother drew his head up against
her breast and held her trembling hand on his cheek,
kissing his hair.
" My son, my blessed boy," she said, trying vainly
to check the tears as they fell from her eyes, " I am
sure your father was wrong to say that. I do not want
the husk of your devotion to me and to what I think,
or believe. I want my honest son. I want the boy
who shows his love not by talking about my religion
being good* enough for him and so shifting the duty
he owes himself to think for himself on one who has
had far less training in thought. I want my brave,
honest, candid boy. He will think nobly, although
he thinks differently from his mother." She ended
with a little sob and kissed him again. Harvey
sprang to his feet and went rapidly out of the room.
His father followed him. He found him in the hall,
with his hat on, leaning against the stairs.
The son looked at his father doubtfully.
" Harvey," said the old man huskily, " Harvey ! "
and he held out both his arms. " I was wrong. I
was not fair to you, my boy."
182 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
"Hush, father, hush," said Harvey, from his
father's shoulder ; "do not blame yourself. I un-
derstand. Let me go now. It makes me feel as
though I had quarrelled with you and mother. O
father, could anything on earth do that, but reli-
gion ? Isn't it all wrong some way ? Isn't it cruel,
this forcing people to think one way, or else sacri-
fice either candor, or confidence and harmony? I'm
going to see Uncle Stone, father. I feel sore and
strained. Will you go ? "
The old man put on his hat and took Harvey's
arm, and they passed out of the door.
"I shall talk to John," he thought, "and let
Maude cheer Harvey up. I'm an old fool. I have
shut the door of the boy's heart toward me for the
first time in all our lives. For what? For what?"
Is this your Son, my Lord? 183
" The first condition of human goodness Is something to love." George
" There Is a sort of wrong that can never be made up for." Ibid.
" We wretches cannot tell out all our wrong
Without offence to decent happy folk.
I know that we must scrupulously hint
With half-words, delicate reserves, the thing
Which no one scrupled we should feel In full.
Let pass the rest, then; only leave my oath
. . . man's violence
Not man's seduction, made me what I am."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
" Truth's a dog that must to kennel." Shakespeare.
" Doctor," said Preston Mansfield, coming into
ray office suddenly, one day, " doctor, I'm a pretty
fellow to be playing the role of virtuous protector
of endangered innocence ; but I suppose a man
never gets so low down that he doesn't plume him-
self on that noble quality in his nature, provided
the endangered innocent happens to be a member
of his own family, or if he isn't the man from
whom she needs protection. The most expert
horse thief makes a good lyncher, and the only
member of a vigilance committee I ever knew had
committed murder in another State." He flung
himself into a deep armchair and put one leg over
the arm. Then he went on satirically :
" Not that we care a fig for justice to girls, not
that we feel for the woes of the outraged; but
184 Is this your Son, my Lordf
simply and solely that, being a part of our own
families, wrong to them will cause us personal dis-
tress and inconvenience."
I began to protest, but he held his hand up to
check me and went rapidly on :
" Hold on a minute till I give you my proofs.
Don't make up your mind that I'm a dime museum
freak until I state my case. I try to protect my
sisters from other fellows ; other fellows are trying
to shield theirs from each other even Fred Har-
mon would fight to the death for his if he had one ;
well now, why ? If it were a manly desire, honestly
felt, to protect the helpless and innocent or inex-
perienced ; if it were from a sense of fairness ; if it
were innate honor; if it were because we believe
that we have no right to allow the ruin of the life
of another being whom it is in our power to
shield, why, don't you see, doctor, we wouldn't
have to watch each other at all ? Our sisters would
all be safe ; because every man would do his level
best to see that every girl had a fair chance to grow
up and make her own choice of her own life when
she was old enough to understand ; but you know
that it isn't so. You know that nine-tenths of the
girls that go wrong are tricked or bullied into it,
in the first place, by some scoundrel who knows
perfectly well what he is about. What does he
care for her ruined life ? What does he care for
justice or honor toward the helpless? She isn't
Is this your Son, my Lord? 185
his sister. It won't react on him if she is dis-
graced. I tell you, doctor, men are a bad lot.
You know perfectly well that there is a tacit under-
standing among them not to give each other away.
They all watch women and shield each other.
They don't even want a woman to tell the truth in
books. They pretend the conditions do not exist,
that women are morbid and erotic. I don't believe
that they know the meaning of unselfishness.
Every act of their lives is for themselves. They
howl about wanting their families to be happy;
but it is all because it would be less comfortable for
themselves if they were not. My proof? Why, we
all constantly do the things secretly that we know
would make our families most unhappy if they knew
it. Don't we ? No evasion, now ; don't we ?
My God, doctor, I'm beginning to wish that I'd
been born a decent horse or a good dog. I'm
disgusted with the human race. One half knaves
and the other half fools. I'm ashamed to be-
long to either one, and the worst of it is, in my
case, that I don't belong to the fools and I don't
"What is the matter, now, Preston?" I asked.
" Can I do anything for you ? " The young fellow's
bitterness had, in these days, become quite familiar
to me, and he appeared to take comfort in coming
to me from time to time to berate himself and men
186 Is this your Son, my Lord?
" Matter enough," he replied, savagely ; " but I
don't see that you can do anything about it. I don't
know why I came to you only it is a little
habit I have," he added, laughing. Then looking
steadily at me for a moment, his eyes actually filled
with tears as he said, huskily : " I wish to heaven
you had been my father ! "
He got up and went quickly to the window.
Presently I went to him and taking his arm led him
back into the room.
" Tell me what it is, Preston, " I said. If I
can help you I shall be very glad. You know
that." Still he was silent. Presently I said,
" Preston, let me tell you one thing. It is only fail-
that I should. When I came home from abroad, I
made up my mind that I had been mistaken in you
when jou were a boy. The day I met you in front
of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, I decided that you were
a bad lot, as you say, and that your case was simply
He laughed a little bitterly at the memory, and
then broke in :
" Of course you did ; you're not an idiot."
Then he turned to me with his face flushed : " Do
you remember what I asked you that day ? I have
hoped since that you had forgotten it or, better
still, that you had not heard Avhat I said. I might
have known better. You always notice, and
Hell ! what a brute I was ! Why didn't you knock
Js this your Son, my Lord? 187
me down ? " I made no reply. Presently he went
on. "I wonder you didn't kick me. I deserved it
richly ; but the fact is, doctor, I had made up my
mind then, that there were only two kinds of men.
I knew you weren't a fool and and I had
often wondered to tell the truth, I'm glad you
came back, or ... I'm glad I know you, doctor.
It gives me it makes me doubt oh, hang it, I
can't talk ! " and, struggling with his emotions, he
began pacing up and down the room.
" Don't try to express it, Pres.," said I. " I think
I understand ^about what you mean ; but don't set
me up on a pedestal. I suppose I've done a good
many things in my life that your sensitive con-
science would revolt at, and!
He stopped short in his walk, and laughed up-
" My ' sensitive conscience ' is good ! O Lord, doc-
tor, but you are a droll bird when you make up your
mind to it," and he went off into a fit of laughter
again. Suddenly he stopped and came close up to
me. He put his hand out and I took it. I was
surprised at the revelation. It was as cold as the
hand of a corpse. His voice trembled when he
tried to speak. "Doctor," he said, closing his
fingers firmly over mine ; " for God's sake don't
tell me if you are like the rest of us. I watched
you, at first, hoping, and " confidently expecting, to
find you out. After a while I began to fear that I
188 Js this your Son, my Lord?
might, and now " he paused to steady his
voice; "and now I believe that it would half
kill me if I did. Let me believe in one man. Let
me believe wholly, absolutely, fervently, in you.
I must, or I shall go mad. Lie out of it, go away,
or send me away ; do anything ! but for God's sake
don't ever let me find out that you are just a great,
big male brute like the rest of us ! "
He was so much moved and excited that I said :
" Sit down, Preston ; do you know that you are
on the verge of hysterics ? No, hysterics are not
confined to women, by any means ; and, my boy,"
said I, laying my hand on his shoulder, " they are
not always a sign of weakness, either. In your
case they are the accompaniment of a mental exal-
tation that has made me your friend again, and
convinced me that my early estimate of you as a
boy was quite right. You were made for a splen-
did fellow, Preston. You were caught in the
awful meshes of fate ; you were not strong enough
to stem the tide. First, your own ignorance was
against you, and later on, the training by I
paused to think of. a mild word to apply to his
father ; but before I had found it, he had flung him-
self, full length, on my lounge, and looking up at
me like a caged creature, said through his set
" Don't mention him to me, doctor. I've tried
not to curse him, openly, since that day at his
Is this your Son,' my Lord? 189
grave. I know how that shocked you; but but
now, when my little sister is in danger, it all
comes back to me with renewed force. I have
never told you what he did. I want to tell you
now. May I ? I want you to know it. No one
else does, and and I want you to understand what
makes me almost a madman at times. I did not
sleep last night ; I could not. I had been posing
all day to myself as little Dell's guardian and
protector, and was planning to send her away until
she should forget the handsome face and attractive
voice of my friend, Fred Harmon."
He laid satirical emphasis on the word friend,
and I looked up startled, for I had seen the
child, she was no more than this, with her fourteen
years of utter inexperience, walking with their city
guest only yesterday. He noticed my changed
"No," he said, "no great harm is done yet,
only the poor child is in love with him and just in a
frame of mind to believe anything he says or do any-
thing he asks. He knows it. Well," he broke off
suddenly, and then began again in a bitter tone.
" Well, I know Fred Harmon. You don't. If he
thinks he can have a pleasant time, increase his
comfort or happiness, or serve any purpose whatso-
ever, by tearing out the heart of a rabbit or a girl,
from time to time, he would give it no more serious
thought than just enough to make sure that he
190 Is this your Son, my Lord?
wouldn't be found out or If he was found out, to
be moderately certain he was in a position to make
it look as if he were on the right side, at least on
the popular side. It wouldn't give him a pang, so
long as he had the best of it, so long as society
smiled upon him. Well, you know what society is.
A good surface appearance is all it wants of a man,
so far as character goes. But just let a breath of
pollution touch a girl's cheek and she is hunted
down and howled at, until she commits suicide or
He covered his eyes with his hands for a moment,
and then went on.
" I have driven at least one girl to that ; fa
the man in the grave out there, and I. I can't
marry her. There is no way that I can repair the
crime none whatever and yet she is an outcast,
to-day, and I am welcomed by those who pass her
by. It was not her fault at any time ! " This was
a new phase of it. He noticed my changed expres-
Wait," he said, till I tell you. I had a letter
from her yesterday, just when I was posing as Dell's
defender and was beginning to feel quite virtuous."
He ground his teeth. " Nellie was with me when
I got it. I think you know, doctor, that I love
Nellie and wish that I could marry her ; but "
" Does Nellie care for you, Preston ? " I asked,
struck with an idea of helping him out, if I found
Is this your Son, my Lord? 191
that his cousin loved him. But he took the question
as a sort of accusation.
" I'm afraid she does," he groaned, and yet with
a warmth of happy emotion in his voice. "I'm
afraid she does, doctor, and that she thinks
strangely of me that I do not say something. Yes-
terday she looked at the letter I so hastily put in
my pocket, very curiously indeed, and I I lied to
her." He put his hand up to his eyes again as if
shading them from a memory.
"Oh, I hate to lie! Most of all to her!" he
" Why don't you tell her the whole truth, Pres. ?"
I asked. He shrank back as if I had struck him.
"The whole bare ugly truth. Give her your
side. Tell her the extenuating circumstances "
" Humph ! " he said with a curled lip.
" Tell her that an older man perhaps you need
not say who he was " He sprang to his feet and
took two or three hasty steps. Then he faced me
like a chained tiger.
" Don't ! Leave Nellie out, just now. Let me
tell you the whole damnable story first. Then
you may tell me if you think it one calculated to
win the confidence and love of a girl, or to keep
it after it is won," he added tremblingly.
I saw that he dared not marry her with his secret
untold, and that he dreaded lest he should lose her
love if he told her.
192 fs this your Son, my X,ordf
" Well, tell me, Preston, if you think it will help
you ; and if I can do anything for you afterward,
you know I shall be glad to. I believe in you, Pres.,
old fellow," I added, putting my hand on his arm
" I believe that you have never had half a chance.
Perhaps it isn't too late yet to make a fresh start.
Your inclinations and conscience have never fallen
in with your training. That is a good beginning."
" No, I haven't had a fair show," he said, despair-
ingly ; " but it is too late now. Read that." He
handed me the letter he had received the day
" I was beginning almost to forget and be happy.
I was driving with Nellie, and was going to ask her
what to do about Dell I was a great fool ever to
have asked Harmon here, when this was handed
out at the post-office. I had to hold the horse,
and so Nellie got out and went in. She got it and
handed it to me ; " and he breathed hard at the
recollection. I read the letter in silence.
"Mr. Mansfield, I have learned your right
address at last," it said ; " and unless you send me
a thousand dollars at once I shall come there to see
you. The children are both well, God help me ! I
asked at the school yesterday. I saw them for a
moment. They did not know me, and I only said
that I had been sent to ask if they were well, and if
they needed anything. I am glad, at least, that
you do not forget them so far as money goes."
Is this your Son, my Lord? 193
I handed the letter back to him, and tried to
think of something to say that would not seem
cruel ; but he spoke first.
" Do you think that is a promising letter to give
Nellie to read ? Well, I will not marry any girl,
and lie to her either about my past, or my present,
or my future. I've had enough of the humiliation
of deception, and I will not disgrace myself, or the
girl I love, by compelling her to live with a man
she would not live with if she knew the truth about
him, even if that man does happen to be myself.
We'd say any man was a brute, we'd say the law
was cruelly unjust, to force a woman to marry a
man whose character she loathed ; who required of
her honor, and gave her dishonor ; who demanded
all of her life, but gave only a scrap of his thrown
to her as a bone is thrown to a dog after he is
done with it ; who. demanded of her that she be
good, and pure, and noble, and honorable toward
him, while he made no pretence to offer her more
than the mere shell of these. I'm pretty low,
doctor, but, by gad, I'm not quite down to that
yet. I won't do it. I won't deliberately cheat a
woman I love. Look here," he demanded, " I'm
not a very good talker, but I know I'm right in the
idea. Don't you think a good woman is as good as
a good man, is worth as much ? Suppose we put
it as a matter of merchandise. The value is equal,
isn't it ? Well, now, suppose a fellow makes the
194 Is this your Son, my Lord?
trade. He pretends to give value for value, doesn't
he? Well, the fact is, he simply deliberately
cheats. He stacks the cards. He uses a marked
deck. We say he isn't fit for decent society, if he
does that at poker, or misrepresents in a horse
trade, or a land sale, where there are other men,
capable and experienced enough to take care of
themselves ; but when it is a young girl, and her
whole life is at stake, it is all right to deceive
her into making the bargain." He got up and
stood by the grate, with his elbow resting on the
" I am Nellie's guardian and trustee since he
died. What would people think of me if I lied to
her about her money, and kept back and pocketed
and turned to my own advantage her property,
simply because I have the power to do it, and she
trusts me ? The more she relies on my honor, the
meaner it would be, wouldn't it ? Well, a woman
has to trust wholly to a man's honor in marriage,
and men think it is smart to deceive them. They
have no sense of shame about it. Look at my
mother ! Father would have murdered her if she
had done half what he did. He demanded all of
her life to be true to him, and he gave her, in ex-
change, a miserable, beggarly, warped corner of a
deceitful, underhanded, unclean nature in exchange
for it. And he thought it was good enough for
her. He had no sense of shame about it.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 195
"What did he give her in exchange for her honor
and loyalty? Dishonor. What did he give her
for her truth ? Lies. What did he take home to
her every day of his life ? A mere shred of his
nature, patched up and stuffed out and dressed to
look real, and he depended entirely on her not find-
ing it out on her strong faith in him to carry
him through. He traded on her tenderest emotions
and then pretended to love and respect her ! Bah !
That kind of love and respect wouldn't go down
with him. Why should it with her? I tell you,
doctor, I don't believe the man lives who loves
his wife enough to be absolutely true to her ; to
let her see every corner of his heart and life,
both before and after marriage." Then suddenly
facing me, " Do you ? "
I opened my lips to reply ; but he checked me.
"No, don't tell me yet what yon think, for it
will it might put yourself in with the rest.
Wait till I tell you the story of the girl who wrote
" She seems to be one who threatens ; who is
willing to "
" Stop ! " he said. " She ought to threaten. She
ought to force me to tell it all. She ought to
demand that I take her up to the plane I live on.
What right have I to let her be an outcast, socially,
and I stay where I am ? Where I was ? Where
she was before I before he "
196 Is this your Son, my Lord?
He stopped, with his voice shaking. After he
regained control of it, he went on.
" When you left us in New York that time, he
tried all sorts of schemes with me. He took me
to two or three gilded houses. Well, you know I
was pretty shy of women and well, he didn't
feel sure that I was properly started on the road to
hell, so he took me to board in a house where there
was a widow with a pretty little girl two years
younger than I. You know I was seventeen." He
began pacing the room again.
" The widow was of good family, but poor, and
she had gone to New York with the confidence of
ignorance, to make a living for herself. The girl
was large, well formed, and very pretty. I liked
her ; but I was shy and she did most of the talking.
My father was kind to the girl's mother, told her
he would get her a better position she was writ-
ing in a law office. He won her confidence, and after
a while he asked her to let her little girl go to the
matinee with us. Once or twice we took the
mother, too; but she could not go often. She was
pleased that her child had met with so safe and
good a chance to have a little pleasure and catch
a glimpse of the brighter side of life.
" One day we took her to drive in Central Park.
She had never driven there before and was en-
chanted. She looked very pretty. I remember
having an impulse to kiss her and the mere thought
Is this your Son, my Lord? 197
made me blush. After we left the Park it was
along in the afternoon we drove into a side street
that I knew nothing about. It was not very closely
built up, and there was a large circular building of
some kind. I remember that, because of some-
thing I will tell you of later oh. We stopped oppo-
site that, and fa he told me to hold the horses
until he came back. He said he had an errand
near by. He laughingly told the girl her name
was Minnie Kent to get out and go with
him. ' I can't trust you two youngsters here
alone,' he said. < Pres. might get to making love to
you and let the horses run away.' This so discon-
certed me that I got the color of a beet, and she
jumped out as if she had been pushed. She turned
her ankle a little, and went away limping, but
laughing to hide her embarrassment. She was a
nice little girl, though she was n't so very bright
and she but no matter, I must stick to my story,
now that I am wound up to the point of telling it."
The veins stood out on his forehead ; but he
steadied his voice and went on.
" They went around the circular building and
disappeared. It seemed to me that they would
never come back. I drove up and down and
around and across ; but as I did not know just
where they had gone, I went back and sat holding
the horses where fa where he had left me. At
last he came back alone and said that the girl had
198 Is this your Son, my Lord?
hurt her ankle so badly when she got out of the
carriage that he had taken her to a doctor, near by,
and that I was to drive the horses back to the stable,
and then go to our boarding house. He would
bring Minnie home very soon. lie told me not to
tell any one of her mishap, because the doctor said
that it would amount to very little, and there was
no need to have it talked over by the people in the
boarding house. I did exactly as he told me, and
was at the window, two hours later, when he re-
turned. Minnie was with him, and I saw that she
had been crying. I thought the doctor had hurt or
frightened her. He unlocked the door and let her
in, and came directly up to our rooms.
" That night at the dinner table Minnie fainted.
It was my father who carried her upstairs and
quieted her mother's fears. He sat by the girl until
she fell asleep, after they had worked over her and
given her some powders and a little champagne.
Then he came to our rooms again. He was a little
uneasy, but I did not notice it much. I was uneasy
myself. I was afraid she had hurt herself seri-
ously, and I thought her mother ought to know
about it. But my fa he told me to mind my own
business ; that the girl was a little frightened and a
good deal hysterical (I have never heard the word
since without feeling actually sick), and that she
would be all right in the morning. He twitted me
9, little, and said he guessed I was in love with her,
Is this your Son, my Lord? 199
or I wouldn't be so anxious. That silenced me
effectually, as lie knew it would. She had promised
to go with me alone to the matinee next day ; but
when the time came she said she was not well
enough to go. She seemed to avoid me, and treated
my fa him very strangely, I thought ; but I fan-
cied it was all because he had teased her about me.
I suppose boys are never too young to be egotisti-
cal. Her mother was very busy in those days and
was at home but little. Then she was tired being
unused to such steady work and kept her room
to herself most of the time. By and by I noticed
that my fa that he had gained complete control
over Minnie. He asked her mother if the girl
might again go with us to drive. Minnie began to
protest almost tearfully ; but her mother said :
'Nonsense, child, you are not afraid of horses at all.
It will do you good. I want you to go ; you are
looking pale.' Then she thanked us for all our
kind attentions, and closing the door behind her
went off smiling to her task, which" was to take her
to Philadelphia for two days to copy some legal
papers. She called back to Minnie to be sure to
do as my fa as he told her, while she was away.
Well, of course he found some way to make her go.
When we were near the circular building he again
told me to wait while he took Minnie with him.
She had worn a thick veil, this time (she said it was
to keep the wind from her face), and I thought I
200 Is this your Son, my Lord?
saw a tear behind it as she got out ; but, little fool
that I was, I never dreamed what it all meant, and
I was glad enough that he did not poke any more
fun at me about love making, but just took her with
him as a matter of course. After a while he came
back saying that he would be delayed a good deal
longer than he had expected, and for me to tie the
horses and come with him. I went. I shall never
forget the shock of what I saw, and the girl's wild
despair when she saw me."
Preston clinched his fists and walked several
times across the room before he could control
himself sufficiently to go on. "My f lie unlocked
the street door as if he were used to the place, and
went straight upstairs. The room he stopped at
was in the back of the house, two flights up. He
unlocked that door, too, pushed me in, and hastily
closed and locked it behind me. The room was so
dimly lighted that at first I could see nothing, and
I was so surprised by my f , by his actions, that I
stood perfectly still. Presently I saw some one
move, and said, ' Minnie ? ' At the sound of my
voice there was a wild cry, and she flew to the
far end of the room. I went hastily toward her,
and saw that she was only partially dressed. I
was so shocked and frightened that I did not
know what to do. I realized then, for the first
time, something of what it all meant, and that he
had locked us in and gone away ! I learned the
Is this your Son, -my Lord f 201
rest from her, by degrees, after I made her under-
stand that I had not been, at any time, a party to
the plot." He ground his teeth. " She sobbed, and
sobbed. I tried to comfort her. I blamed my f
him, and I cursed him, for the first time in my life.
I have repeated that curse a thousand times since,
but, my God, doctor, it was terrible then ! "
" Sit down, Preston. You are "
" Wait ! Let me finish ! Here is where my own
devilment comes in. While I sat there with that
girl in my arms, trying to comfort her, calling
down the wrath of heaven on his head, the devil
got the best of me. We were locked up there for
hours together, and in promising to avenge her,
in swearing to take her part against him, in the
helplessness of our youth and ignorance, clinging
to each other for mutual comfort, I added my
infamy to his, and the girl was doubly damned,
before we realized that sympathy could lead to
crime ! "
He sat down and wiped the beads of perspiration
from his forehead. There was a long silence.
" She told me that the first day he took her there
he locked the door, and after trying to coax her
to yield to him, had taken a revolver from his
pocket and threatened her. She was too inexpe-
rienced and young to doubt for a moment that he
meant to shoot her. Then he told her that no
one would ever know it if she kept quiet. If she
202 Is this your Son, my Lord?
made a fuss about it she was lost anyway, foi
everyone knew the kind of house it was, and they
had seen her go in willingly. Nobody would be-
lieve her if she said she did not know. Oh, he used
all the damnable arguments and threats and devices
familiar to civilized savages, and afterward kept
her quiet by promises and threats, and now I had
added my crime to his, and the girl threatened to kill
herself. She tried to jump out of the window. I
caught her and well, I promised to marry her
and I I meant it then.
" There is no need to tell the rest not to you.
You will know how it went on after that with such
a teacher as my f , as that devil, to manage us.
He did not let me marry her, of course. The girl
was sacrificed, utterly, and I well, here I am!"
He dropped both arms by his sides as he stood
before me like a criminal waiting for his sentence.
I was too much surprised and shocked to trust
myself to speak. I had known his father as a
thoroughly selfish man, with an undeveloped eth-
ical nature ; as one of that great class of success-
ful business men who think, in all sincerity, that
all is grist that comes to their mill ; who are
thorough believers in religion, and who do not know
the meaning of morality ; who are honestly shocked
by a declaration of disbelief in a vicarious atone-
ment which shall purge themselves of any lapse
from rectitude, which lapse they beMeve, with the
Is this your Son, my Lord?
faith of childhood, is a necessary part and parcel
of depraved human nature. I was sure that Mr.
Mansfield had died as confident of salvation for
himself as he was that he had sinned. Had not
the blessed Christ atoned for all the sins of frail
humanity ? He believed this to be the truth, the
fairest, most fortunate truth in all the world, for
tempted, depraved humanity ; and he thanked God
not as a hypocrite, but as a devout believer whose
faith was too real and too complete ever to admit
of a single doubt.
He knew, did he not, that all men were tempted
to do wrong ? He knew, did he not, that most of
them yielded ? He believed that this was the
result of original sin in Adam. He believed im-
plicitly that Eve* was the active agent in that sin.
Therefore it was only just that Eve's sinful daugh-
ters should suffer most and be the victims of men,
since all men were first her victims. If men could
do right, if they could redeem themselves from
their own debased tendencies, then why had Christ
died ? If man is his own redeemer, what need of
the plan of salvation ? The vicarious atonement
became a hollow mockery if man could do right of
his own motion if he could be taught that he
must be his own redeemer. If he cannot, if he
must yield to his passions, if he is totally depraved,
and, as I say, Mr. Mansfield did not doubt it,
then there was but the one way. Let Christ bear
204 Is this your Son, my Lord?
the burden as he had volunteered to do. Accept the
redemption thankfully, humbly, without question
and without reservation. Mr. Mansfield had always
done this in perfect sincerity, and he daily prayed to
be forgiven for any wrong he believed himself to
have done. He believed that his prayers for pardon
should be addressed to God, and that the plea upon
which he should base the claim for forgiveness, was
the love and death for his sins of the only begotten
Son. He believed that a God could, and would have
the right to, relieve him of all consequence of any
crime or wrong he might commit (even though that
wrong was toward other human beings), and that
He would do it. Had He not promised ? Would
not the Almighty redeem His pledge ? Had Christ
died in vain ? Mr. Mansfield had settled all these
points finally, in his own mind, and to his own sat-
isfaction very early in life, and he was wont to say
to his class in Sunday-school that he thanked God
that he had never wavered in his absolute belief
and consoling faith from that time on. And he
spoke the simple truth. This faith had ever been
a solace and support to him. He often confessed
that he was the chief of sinners that his feet had
slipped, again, and he felt better after the con-
fession. " But though my sins are as scarlet they
shall be whiter than snow. It is for such as I that
Christ died, for poor weak humanity, unable to
save itself, incapable of resisting temptation, whose
Is this your Son, my Lord? 205
feet slip by the way, whose sinful passions overcome
them. Believe on me and ye shall have everlast-
ing life.' Cast your burdens on the sinless One who
gave Himself a willing sacrifice that whosoever
believeth on him shall have everlasting life."
Mr. Mansfield had no doubt that everlasting life
would be a blessing and a joy to him. If he ever
thought of Minnie Kent exactly in this connection,
he knew that she could gain the same priceless boon
by a simple act of faith, and he thought that God
would undoubtedly soften her heart before she died,
so that she might accept salvation. If she did not,
r and he was deprived of the pleasure of seeing
her in the next world, it would be her own delib-
erate refusal, and she must choose her way for
eternity. No one could do that for her. I knew
so well how he had argued to himself, when he
had thought about it at all. I knew so well that
his faith had comforted and upheld him all his
life long. He had not used his religion as a cloak.
His religion was his cloak. I looked at his son,
standing before me now with both arms by his
sides and with hands clinched, waiting for me to
speak, and I found myself dumb.
" Did your father ever realize and try to atone for
his crime ? " arose to my lips ; but a flood of mem-
ories of the man checked me before I gave utter-
ance to the words. "I did not think he was
capable of that," shaped itself in my mind, and
206 Is this your Son, my Lord?
then I remembered that it was very nearly this
that he had asked me to do, or help him to accom-
plish, years ago. The minutes stretched out, and
still I had not spoken. Nothing that I could think
of seemed suitable to say. At last the young fellow
shook himself as if trying to be freed from bonds,
and raised his eyes to mine.
" I don't wonder that you are silent, doctor," he
said slowly, " but oh, say something ! Say any-
thing ! 1 have borne it alone as long as I can, and
you are my only hope. Say something, say some-
thing, doctor, or I shall go mad ! "
" Have you ever thought that it may not be too
late to marry her yet, Preston? to sacrifice your-
self, and your love for another, in an effort to do all
you can to undo this terrible double wrong? Has it
occurred to you that you have no right to think of
your own happiness, and that you should make her
your honored wife?" I asked.
He burst into a laugh as mirthless as it was dis-
cordant. "And so even you think that by marry-
ing her I could give her respectability, if I cannot
give her love, and that by giving her a loveless hus-
band I can make reparation to her ! Let me tell
you something, doctor. I spent about two years
making up my mind to do that. I felt perfectly
heroic and virtuous when the time came. I pitied
myself. I went to her, one day, and presented
the case from that outlook." He paused and I
Is this your Son, my Lord? 207
said : " I am glad you did that, Preston. She was
grateful and pleased, no doubt, even if some cause
prevented you, later on, from doing it. "
" O Lord, yes, she was pleased and grateful ! "
he said with a dry sarcasm that was steeped in gall.
"Her gratitude and pleasure were beautiful to
behold. She waited until I had finished my gener-
ous offer and was expecting the fruits of my hero-
ism to envelope us both in a perfect sea of tender
self abnegation, when she inquired calmly, but with
" ' How could you make me respectable ? How can
you give me that which you do not possess yourself ?
How could a permanent connection with you con-
fer upon me anything admirable ? Make an honest
woman of me, indeed ! You have more than you
can do, Preston, to make an honest man of your-
self. I am, and always have been, far more than
your equal. You and your fiend of a father once
had the power to commit a crime against me and
against those two helpless children who will always
bear the curse of your blood ; but you have never
since I was old enough to understand had the
power to make me commit the worst of all crimes
against myself. No, I will not marry you. 1 am
low enough already. For the sake of the children ?
How can it benefit them to know that they have
two such parents? One is quite enough ; but they
are to have neither. Thank God ! illegitimate chil-
208 Is this your Son, my Lord?
dren belong to the mother who suffered for them.
It is only the married mother who suffers the deg-
radation of not owning her own child.' All this was
when she had made up her mind to place the chil-
dren at school and have. them educated as orphans.
She watches them from afar, and if my cheques do
not reach them in time if she fears I may neglect
their support I get a letter like that." He still
held the crumpled paper in his hand. He wiped the
beads of dampness from his brow, and I offered
him a glass of wine. 'He swallowed it at a gulp.
Presently he faced me again with the same calm
desperation with which he had just spoken.
" No, doctor, there doesn't seem to be any way
out of it at all. Consequences are unrelenting.
This is the very reason I so hate my father. He
has placed me where I can neither repair the past
for others nor for myself. And I cannot begin
anew with that burden on my soul that stain on
my life. I want Nellie to know that I love her too
well to ask her to marry the moral leper who was
scorned by a woman who spoke only the truth when
she said : ' You cannot give what you do not possess
yourself. You cannot make me respectable.' All
she said was perfectly true. Her position in the
matter is beyond argument. It is the impudent
arrogance of power that enables men who have
injured women, to talk about making their victims
' respectable ' afterward. It is not the beggar who
Is this your Son, my Lord? 209
offers alms. It is not the thief's prerogative to sit
on the bench. She was right. It was a greater
insult for me to assume that I could lift her up, than
if I had struck her. If I had asked her to marry
me, to make me respectable, to make me reparation
for all that was lost out of my life, there might
have been some sense in it. It might be possible
for a woman (if she loved a man well enough) to
give him respectability by marrying him after he
had seduced or injured her ; but for him to pretend
or assume that he can give it to her that is im-
possible. Minnie Kent is not, and never has been,
a bad woman. She makes her living now in the
only way that Christian society leaves open to her ;
but she still has too much self-respect to marry a
man she does not love and cannot respect
especially the one who injured her. If she had
loved me, it would be different, perhaps. She is a
brave woman. She might have forgiven me if her
heart had been on my side, for she knows as well
as I do that in the beginning I was but little more
to blame than she. She always says that she does
not blame me particularly. She looks upon me as
almost as much of a victim at the start as she was.
Oh, she is fair enough, doctor; but that doesn't
help matters out much. She said " His lips
trembled and he waited to command himself.
" She says that I that she never looked at me,
or thought of me, as as I. I only represent
210 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
him to her. I stand for I am little or nothing
to her, in ray own person ; but I am everything
devilish to her as as his representative. As her
eternal curse from him through him. ... I do
not tell it very well ; but I thought I could quite
understand her that day. I can't make you see how
it looked to her how she made it look to me."
" Yes, Preston," I said ; " you do make me see.
But don't try to. Don't "
He lifted his hand to stop me and went on.
" Oh, heavens, doctor, why prolong the agony ?
Don't you see that it is all quite hopeless quite f
Do you wonder that I hate my father with a hatred
that is woven into every fibre of my being ? Do
you wonder that I am glad he died before I
awoke to the deeper meanings of life, for fear that
my own hand would have been the one to take his
life ? Great God ! do you wonder at anything in a
world where fathers commit such crimes against
their sons where daughters are hunted of men
who are taught to believe that they can bestow re-
spectability upon their victims or withhold it from
them at their pleasure ? What an infamous train-
ing it all is that teaches that the injured is the dis-
graced, and that the villain who wrongs a girl stands
on a pedestal to which he can lift her if he sees fit 1
And then they have the impudence to say that men
do not look down upon women, that it is only
women who scorn the degraded of their sex ! Bah !
Js this your Son, my Lord? 211
I haven't any patience with the kind of narcotics
we men use to deaden the little sense of justice and
honor we were born with."
He arose and stood in front of me again as he
ceased speaking, and seemed to expect me to reply.
" Have you ever thought that you might tell
Nellie the whole truth, just as you have told it to
me, and that it might be a wise thing for you to
do?" I asked, trying to speak quite naturally.
" Have I thought of it ? " he exclaimed bitterly,
and with a desperation that forced itself out on
neck and forehead in great cords of tense muscles.
" Have I thought of food when I am hungry ? But
I dare not! I dare not! And then, look; I would
have to tell of I would have to tell all of it from
the first, and of your part about sister Allie.
Of that object lesson you tried to give him ; of
his infamous life, and she he he was always
kind to her. He was like a father to her. She never
knew any other. She would not be able to believe
me, even if she wanted to, and she would not
want to not against him. Then if she did, just
look at it, doctor, just look at the whole thing as I
have, a thousand times. She believes in him, not
only because she loved him, but he did all the
things that women are taught to believe are neces-
sary in the life of a good man that is, he did
outwardly, and as far as she ever knew. Now I
don't. I refused to be made deacon in his place.
212 Ts this your Son, my Lord?
Nellie knows that I swear, and don't you see,
the weight of evidence is all on his side even his
" If he were alive I could do it better. I might
risk it then, for I could force him to tell her that
I was not lying, or I would tell no, I couldn't
tell mother. It would kill her, and I could not do
that, even to gain my own life. My God, doctor,
don't you see that it is quite hopeless?" He
broke off suddenly and threw himself into a chair.
In a moment he was up again and pacing the floor
" But suppose she did believe me ? Suppose I
were to tell that story to Nellie, and suppose she
forgave me (and there is very little a woman will
not forgive if she loves a fellow ; I've learned
that, and men trade on it the cowards ! ). Sup-
pose she held him responsible for all that part,
even then what can I do? Who is to shoulder
the rest of my devilment? And you, naturally,
could not take much stock in my general morals,
after I was once fairly launched, could you ? Why,
I outdid the old man in a couple of years. No,"
he added hastily, as he saw my look of inquiry.
" Oh, no ; I never got quite so low as to dupli-
cate his particular piece of villany. I never
deliberately laid a trap to catch a young girl, and
I never took part in but one thing that struck me
as being based on the same kind of cold-blooded,
Is this your Son, my Lord? 213
cruel-hearted brutality. I assisted once at a rabbit
coursing. It made me sick. A lot o'f well-dressed
brutes on two legs cheered themselves hoarse
at the sight of a few timid, panic-stricken, defense-
less little rabbits running in the wildest, most
hopeless flight from trained dogs that were urged
on by the shouts of their high-bred owners.
There was absolutely no chance for the defenseless
little beast. All means of escape by flight were
cut off ; but it was a noble sight to see a rabbit
dash wildly here and there with its eyes starting
from its head, and its heart beating like a trip-
hammer, until the dogs finally ran it down and
crushed its spine between their cruel teeth, when
it was already about to die of fright! Do you
know I couldn't help thinking of those rabbits as
girls they are about as utterly defenseless
and of the trained dogs as men who hunt them
down, with as little mercy and about as little
danger to themselves ?
" I believe I could stand it to see them course cats
or rats, or any kind of animal that can fight, that,
has a chance, but the grade of brute enjoyment
to be obtained in rabbit coursing strikes me as
admirably adapted to the men who hunt down little
girls, and use their money and their piety and
position as a shield.
" The fellows all guyed me unmercifully because
I said, after the first heat, that it made me sick.
214 Is this your Son, my Lord?
Fred Harmon said it was noble sport, and if I'd
only stay till 1 got used to it, I'd enjoy it hugely.
I told him I might be able to stay at a bull fight
until the arena looked like a Chicago slaughter
house, but I didn't believe that I'd ever get old
enough, or experienced enough, or cultured enough,
in this world, not to retain a prejudice against
seeing grown men beat the brains out of babies
just for the fun of hearing the babies yell, and
witnessing the anguish of the mothers. Now, Har-
mon looks on me as a cad, because I talk that way.
He thinks it is a lack of culture that it is crude.
Well, maybe it is ; but somehow I've got a preju-
dice against getting my manhood all cultured out
of me. Whenever I get so refined and exquisite
and polished that the terror and suffering of any
living thing affords me amusement, I hope to God,
doctor, that you, or some other good friend, will
have me put in a madhouse, or give me a dose
of cold lead. I'm pretty low, I know, and my
tastes are not at all fashionable, but I'd rather be
out of the swim than deliberately to cultivate the
tiger within me, or rather the jackal, for it is that
noble animal, I believe, that depends on the help-
lessness of its prey for success."
I was glad that he had taken this channel of
conversation to relieve his pent-up feelings, and I
had led him on and on, farther and farther from
the subject of his recent confession, and had begun
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 215
to congratulate myself upon the success of my
plan to divert him, and so gain time, when he
suddenly turned to me :
" Well, doctor, haven't you made up your mind
what to say yet ? I'm about talked out. I've been
running emptyings, as they say in the maple sugar
camps, for the last half hour, to give you a chance
to grapple with my charming little story in all its
bearings ; but I see you're a trifle short yet in the
matter of congratulations. Well, I'll come again.
This is your office hour. Good-bye."
" I would rather think it over, Preston, before I
say much to you. Come in to-morrow at the same
hour. I shall be alone."
"All right," said he, and passed out. He had
not reached the hall door before he turned and re-
entered my office. He came straight up to me and
took my hand.
" Don't worry over me, doctor," he said. "Hell
is full of my kind, and I'll only be one more."
He dropped my hand as suddenly as he had taken
it, and was gone before I could utter a word.
" Poor Preston," I said to myself, " what can I
say to you to-morrow ? "
216 Is this your Son, my Lord?
"Knowing at last the unstudied gesture of esteem, the reverent eyes
made rich with honest thought, and holding high above all other things
high as hope's great throbbing star above the darkness of the dead the
love of wife and child and friend." Robert G. Ingersoll.
" Now what could artless Jeanle do ?
She had nae will to say him na;
At length she blush'd a sweet consent.
And love was ay between them twa."
When Maude Stone received no reply to her
note of final dismissal, addressed to Mr. Fred Har-
mon in Chicago, she at first grieved a little, then
feared that he might not have received it. At last
when six months had passed, she confided this fear
to her father. He assured her that her note had been
received and receipted for by Mr. Fred Harmon
himself ; for Mr. Stone had taken the precaution to
send it registered.
" How did you ever happen to think of that,
papa?" asked Maude, in astonishment.
Tier father drew her down upon his knee, and
pushing the light curls back about her fine forehead
in the ugly way that the best intentioned men usually
manage to achieve when handling a woman's hair,
said softly :
" I thought I knew Fred Harmon, daughter. I
did not believe that he would reply, and I meant
Is this your Son, my Lord? 217
that you should have no doubts about his having
received the note. Here is the post-office receipt."
He took the worn paper out of his pocket and
placed it in her hand; then he pushed the curls
back from her face again. He noticed that a sud-
den dampness covered her brow, and he mistook
its meaning. Her hand trembled a little, then she
deliberately tore the paper into bits, laid her head
on his shoulder, and put one soft little palm against
his cheek, pushing his face down on her own.
They were silent for a long time, when Maude said
" You blessed old papa, I wonder if any other
girl ever had such a wise, loving friend."
Mr. Stone rubbed his smooth cheek gently up
and down on the velvet one of his daughter, but
said nothing. It was dark in the heavily curtained
library, and Mr. Stone rocked back and forth with
the girl as if she were still a child.
" If I could make my little girl happy," he said
presently, " if I only could defend her against her
own generous, loving heart, I would be content;
but " he sighed and pressed her closer to ,him.
She freed herself so that she could sit upright,
and taking his face in her hands looked steadily,
unflinchingly into his eyes. The light had faded
so that only the outlines of their faces were clear
to each other ; but her great, fine eyes looked lu-
minous and clear.
11 8 Is this your Son, my Lord?
" Papa," she said slowly, " you have defended me
against my own heart. You have made me see
clearly in Fred, what I had always blamed myself
for catching glimpses* of at times. I could not be
happy with a man who was not true to himself
as well as to me. I could not long love a man
who had no basis of character that was his own
his very own. Fred was so different from any
one I knew. He was so nice on the surface,
and at first I did not dream that it was not real.
I admired him, and thought I loved him ; but I
believe now that I never did. You are so real,
so genuine ; Uncle Ball is, and and " she was
going to say Harvey, but she did not. " Perhaps
I was old enough to have known that all men are
not to be measured by you ; but I think I have
always done that> and I never knew how
terribly short of good weight a man can come when
brought to that test, until that awful night of the
Military Ball, nearly a year ago ndw, popsie. Did
you know that it was so long as that ? Since then,
papa, I think nothing on this earth could have made
me want to marry Fred. I felt so ashamed for him
that night as I measured him by you, and and
saw that he was not even capable of recognizing the
disparity. Such differences as he saw he very
clearly thought were to his advantage."
Mr. Stone's hands clasped themselves back of
the girl's waist. She was stroking his cheeks now
Is this your Son, my Lord? 219
as if he were the one to be shielded and dealt
gently with. Presently she went on steadily but
in a low tone :
"I am not at all a broken-hearted girl, papa.
Don't worry about me. I am I shall be it
was a great revelation to me. I feel years and
years older ; oh, ever so many years older, and as
if I had come through a very great change; but
I am not unhappy as you fear, and as I would
have expected to be as I would surely .have
been if I had really loved him, papa. It just
seems to me all the while now as if some one a
friend or neighbor had died, and I have to keep
quiet and step softly, and and not laugh very
much or very often."
Her father groaned a little, and kissed her hand
as it came near his lips. He liked her to laugh
very often indeed.
" But truly, papa, I am not it just seems as if
< each morning now when I wake up I have to
try to think what it is that presses upon my spirits,
and just what it is that I have lost. And truly,
papa, I do not believe that it is my happiness. I
know that it is not that ; but only my confidence
in and ignorance of of other kinds of men.
I was very young, you know, last year, very young
indeed, for my age."
Her father snatched her to his heart again and
a half sob escaped him. She was quite still for a
220 Is this your Son, my Lord?
time, and then said softly : " I am not so young a
girl now, papa, but that it is time I should learn one
of the hard lessons of life. All women must, I sup-
pose, and as to men - - how could you have read
Fred as you did, if you had not learned long ago
to measure, and sift, and distrust people? I wish
we did not have to do it. I wish we could take
what people seem to be for what they are and not
be cheated ; but if we cannot, papa mine, is it not
time that your great, big girl should know it?"
She was trying to cheer him up now by her old
ways and tones. " Why, you see, popsie, I am get-
ting pretty old not exactly gray and toothless, "
she said laughingly, and her fine teeth gleamed out
for a moment ; "but quite old enough, for all that,
and I ought to be more experienced and wise. You
have told me yourself that nothing teaches one like
sorrow. I never understood it until now. It is
true, and in spite of all, I guess it was a lesson I
needed pretty badly. I was too childish and too
happy. Even love did not mean what it ought to
have meant. It dii not go deep enough and
then I was very thoughtless of other people."
"You were never that, daughter," said her
father ; " you were always thinking of others. "
" Oh yes," she broke in, " perhaps I was as to
whether they had this or that to eat or to wear ;
but I never thought much about whether they them-
selves were, or only seemed to be. In spite of the
7s this your Son, my Lord? 221
pain, I am glad I had that lesson, for your sake,
papa, if for nothing else. I never half appre-
ciated you before, and some other men like
Her father had both her hands in one of his now,
and he was holding them to his lips just where
the inside of the round little wrists came close
together. " All the knowledge I had was just
pitched helter-skelter into my brain. I've been
making out a sort of table of contents from time to
time this past year. I've tried to stop long enough
to let the sediment settle. I used to suppose most
people had parents like mine. Poor Fred! What
a training, what weak examples, what soulless
friends he must have had ! How much he has lost
and and how much I have to be glad about."
She sat up suddenly and laughed. " I am happy
to have made your acquaintance," she said mock-
ingly. "That expression always amused me so
when I have heard people use it; but, papa, I am
glad to have made your acquaintance, and I never
knew you before until this last year."
" John ! " called out Mrs. Stoae, pushing aside
the portiere and stepping into the room. " John ! "
Maude put her hand over her father's lips, and
they remained silent in the darkness.
" Maude, Maud-i-e ! I don't know where they
are. They are sure to be together concocting
some mystery. Maud-i-e ! "
222 7s this your /Son, my .Lord?
Mrs. Stone had dropped the portiere, and was
going down the hall again when Maude's clear
laugh rang out.
" "What-e-e ? " She called after her mother.
" The two old hardened conspirators are here in
the dark, mama-chen. What is wanted of them?
They are a bad lot. Come in gingerly Wah !
go slow there ! " And the girl laughed again as
the sound reached her of some one in the darkness
walking against a chair.
" Stand still now and wait until I whistle, and
then you follow the whis, mama-chen. Now
wh e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e ! We're both over here.
Wh e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e ! " She whistled again.
"Where the head conspirator is, there will the
small fry be found also. Selah ! "
" I am not mama-chen, but I have found you
by your whis, as you call it, and by her conniv-
ance," said Harvey Ball ; " and now it is her turn,
and mine, to laugh."
Mrs. Stone's merry voice called out from the
drapery, she was always very happy to hear Maude
talk in her old, flippant, rollicking way, "Ah, ha,
Miss, you are not the only one to play tricks in the
dark. But for goodness' sake, light the gas, John.
Harvey's father is out here. No, he has gone in
search of you. He is out in the dining room," and
Mrs. Stone started to join their old friend, and to
say that her husband would be out at once.
_7s this your Son, my Lord? 223
Maude sprang to her feet and was on the other
side of her father in a flash, with a hand on each
of his shoulders, when Harvey Ball's voice had
made known his presence. He was so near now
that he could see the outline of the two figures.
He put one hand on John Stone's shoulder and
under it he felt the warm soft hand of the girl. It
sent a thrill of almost painful pleasure through his
veins. It was a good omen he thought and she
did not take her hand away. He was not sure but
she had a vague idea that if she let it lie perfectly
still he would not know that it was there and
would remove his own. He wondered if he dared
close his fingers over it. Would she be angry ? It
seemed strange to think of it in that way. Maude's
hand had lain in his a thousand times in the past ;
but dared he lo take it up now ? He pressed a
little more firmly so that it could not slip out, but
he did not close his fingers.
" Well, between you two youngsters I do not see
how I am going to get up ;" said Mr. Stone, resign-
edly. " Maude is holding me down on one side
and you on the other. But such is life. The old
folks have to take a seat and give the floor to the
rising generation. When did you come home,
He made a pretence of sinking hopelessly into
the chair. The movement lowered his shoulder
so that Harvey's fingers slipped naturally under
224 Is this your Son, my Lordf
Maude's hand, and still she made no effort to draw-
it away. Harvey forgot the object of his visit.
He forgot the sore heart with which he had started
from home to see his old friend John Stone, to tell
him about the new fear that had come into his
life the fear to be open and frank, and truthful
His heart beat wildly, for surely, surely, Maude's
silent acquiescence meant something for him. Not
long ago she would have slyly pinched his fingers
or openly made comment on the situation, claiming
to be a prisoner in common with her father ; but
" What will you give us to let you up ? " she
asked her father.
" Us ! " Harvey pressed her hand a little more
firmly ; but kept the weight of his own upon her
father's shoulder. Maude bore down a trifle more
heavily on the other side and made elaborate pre-
tense to be so occupied there that she was wholly
unaware of the location of the hand that Har-
vey held. The young fellow wondered if she
could be unconscious of it, and his heart sank ; but
he could not believe it. It was not like Maude.
She would have noticed. She was keeping a secret
with him. Her heart was beating like his, too!
It was almost too delicious to believe, but
She had put the side of her face down by her
father's and asked again : " What will you give if
Is this your Son, my Lord? 225
we let you up?" She rubbed her soft cheek
against his, but that other hand still lay in Har-
vey's and it was deliciously flexible and warm.
" Give ? " blustered Mr. Stone ; " give ? why I won't
give anything. I do not propose to buy or beg
my liberty. I believe in a man taking what he
wants in this world, especially if it belongs to him by
rights," and he suddenly shook his great frame free
and stood up ; but in the general movement, Harvey
had carried Maude's hand to his lips, and pressed
it there one long, rapturous moment. Did she
know ? She did not say a word to indicate it, if
she did. Was she so merrily occupied in this little
contest with her father, that even that eager kiss
had not made her sure of a hidden meaning in
their clasped hands ? Harvey did not believe it, and
when he dropped her hand, his heart was singing
a new song, and he could not struggle back to the
unhappiness that had brought him there to-night. It
had all taken such a little while, and yet how every-
thing was changed ! Why did any one want to go
to a lighter room? This one was brilliant.
" Can't we stay here and not have a light ? "
Harvey asked, and his voice trembled with happi-
ness. " I like to sit in the dark. The moonlight
is enough. It is getting in here now, see?" And
stepping to the window he held back the drapery.
" There is Lyra," Maud said, from the window.
"Do you know, I like Lyra best of all the constella-
226 Is- this your Son, my Lordf
tions. Why? Oh, I do not know, only I do. I
always look for her when I am at the window, or
if I am outdoors at night. I always think of her
" I'll go and get a match to light this gas, and
bring your father back with me, Harvey," said
John Stone. " I must say it is a little dark for my
eyes, but I suppose you children can read almost
anything by the light of the moon, or Lyra, hey,
Maude ?" And her father slipped out from behind
the curtain where she had dragged him to investi-
gate her favorite constellation. Harvey's heart
gave a wild leap. Could he, dared he, leave his
window and go to where she stood ? Would she
care ? Would he have time before her father came
back ? Was her heart as wildly, as madly ecstatic
as his own ? Had his any reason ?
"Harvey?" said a soft voice beside him. He
turned, and the moonlight fell full on the upturned
face and shining eyes of Maude. She was holding
the heavy curtains back with both upstretched
arms, and the soft folds of her gown almost touched
" Maude, my darling ! " and their lips met in a
long, eager kiss.
" Oh, I love you, I love you, I love you!" burst
from the girl's lips, and her arms clung about his
neck. " I love you, Harvey, I love you ! " There
were happy tears in her eyes.
Is this your Son, my Lord? 227
Harvey was beyond speech. He pressed her to
his breast in a transport, and kissed her eyes, her
hair, her lips, her throat. There was a long silence.
Then a great sob broke from his lips and he un-
clasped her hands from his neck, and suddenly sank
at her feet.
" Oh, my God, Maude, darling, do not touch me
again not just now or I shall go mad with joy.
Darling, darling, darling, you love me ! " -
She took his hands from his face and kissed them
madly their palms and wrists and holding one
against her neck, she drew him up to the window
seat beside her, and taking his head against her
bosom, murmured softly, "Dear boy, dear boy,
dear boy, are you as happy as I ? "
No words, no thoughts, would come to either of
these young hearts, stirred for the first time to
their depths, where the birth of love's rapture
had crowded all else out. Endearing names,
soft tones, cooing inflections, murmured inarticu-
late caresses made speech a useless thing. Their
hearts understood, and sang with a joy that was
pain and rapture, that deadened all capacity to
" Kiss my other eye ; it feels so lonely," she
said presently. " You have kissed that one three
times, and the other one loves you too."
Harvey broke into a rapturous laugh, and with
his lips against the neglected orb whispered :
228 Is this your Son, my Lord?
" It loves me too, the precious, beautiful darling.
Did I neglect it ? " and he made that inarticulate,
consolatory sound in his throat that mothers and
lovers use when words will not express the strug-
gling emotions of the heart. Maude laughed a
happy little peal.
" Oh, oh, oh, don't put it out ! I shall need it
to look at you. I could not see enough of you
with only one. There there oh, don't put
the other one out too ! I never dreamed that one
could be so happy and live. I, who have known
so little except happiness, have never seen its face
before ! "
Then standing with his face between her palms
she said softly, reverently :
" My darling ! " She closed her eyes as if to shut
out all the world, but the one thought, and sight,
" My darling, oh, my darling ! "
"Mau-die! Mau-die ! Har-vie! Where are those
children ? Mau-die ! " called Mrs. Stone, from the
doorway. " They are not here, Mr. Ball. I guess
they have gone out for a walk. I must say it is a
splendid night. Almost too fine to be in doors.
Don't go. They will be back soon I am sure,
and Harvey won't know what to make of your
leaving so early and without him."
But old Mr. Ball was restless and unhappy. He
wanted to be with his son again and yet he dreaded
Is this your Son, my Lord? 229
it. He wondered if he could take down the
barriers between them. He had confided his
trouble to John Stone, and John had taken Har-
vey's side of course. " But Harvey won't hold any
ill-will about it, Edward," he had said. " He will
" Understand, yes," said the old man forlornly,
"but can he forget? It must look to him as if I
had deliberately tried to bully him into saying one
thing when he thought another. I'm afraid John,
I have thrown away the best pearl on the string, to
make room for a conch- shell sound, not value.
I've been a pitiful old fool. It is not a question as to
whether Harvey would hold malice, or whether he
will want to feel estranged, and as if there was a
barrier between us of course he won't want to
but can he help it, now ? That is the question.
And can I ? What did I do it for ? I can't see
now myself. I did feel as if I must warn him and
check him ; but I cannot see for the life of me now
what put it into my head. He is good. That is
what I want. He is honest. That is what I want.
Well, what in G'od's name was I after any way?
What did I want him to do or say ? "
"You wanted his honest opinion, Edward," said
John Stone, with a twinkle in his eye, "but with
the usual consistency of the theological devotee you
wanted him to be just honest enough to hide his
doubts, if he had any, and make his opinions fit the
230 Is this your Son, my Lord?
prevailing fashion, or you would know the reason
"John ! " said Mrs. Stone, reprovingly.
Her husband laughed. He took hold of his old
friend's overcoat, and held it up for him to put on.
"Taken all in all, Edward, you are the least
tyrannical of believers and the most reasonable
of those who reject reason as their guide. Jf you
had not been born with a certain belief in your
veins, you would talk just as Harvey does to-day.
But in the day when you were born, faith, belief,
dogma was born in people. Their mothers had no
doubts at all, and their fathers kept such as they
may have had, to themselves. It was a good deal
safer to do it, in those good old days," he added
dryly. " Well, it is different now. In fact it is
exactly turned round. The mothers doubt and
keep quiet for the most part, and the fathers disbe-
lieve and speak out. The birthmark is no longer
faith ; it is doubt, more or less open. It is agnosti-
cism plain or on the half-shell that is about the
size of it these days. Well, Harvey takes his
straight. So do I. The Broad-churchmen and
Christian Evolutionists serve theirs with a dash of
Judaism, a pinch of Paulinism, a hint of Buddhism,
and now and then a thimbleful of good, old-fash-
ioned orthodox Christianity ; but the latter variety
is served to country customers only, and the man
who passes it sprays himself afterward with more
Js this your Son, my Lord? 231
or less Ethical Culture and Nineteenth Century
Platonism." lie laughed and slapped Mr. Ball on
the back with a sounding whack that raised a little
"Why, Edward, you say yourself that you do
not know anything about any other life than this;
you say yourself, that you would not like to swear
to there being another world ; you admit that you
are not at all sure that a prayer was ever answered,
in any theological sense. You confess that the
only kind of beings you personally know anything
about are residents of this world ; well, that is the
whole field. You are an agnostic, but you do not
know it. You have certain little frills and bows
that you tack on in the shape of church attendance
and forms of expression; but when it comes to
real, solid facts, you do not pretend to go one step
farther than I do. Well, Harvey stands right
where you do, in point of fact, only he takes a
calm outlook, plants his feet and takes the con-
sequences of his premises. He does not try to eat
his jam and keep it, too, and when it is all gone, does
not put the cover on the dish and try to make other
folks believe that it is full. Now the 'reconcilers'
do just that. They give away their whole case, and
then they vow they have got it, only it is covered up.
Beecher did that. Heber Newton does it, and so
does Phillips Brooks and Dr. Thomas and all those
progressive fellows over at Andover.
232 Is this your Son, my Lord?
" Why, great Scott, Edward, when they lay
down their premises, argue their case and then
begin to draw their conclusions, it is enough to
make a dog laugh. Their premises and conclusions
are not even blood relations ; " and John Stone
chuckled over his comparison. " If you believe
Avithout a doubt, the story of the creation, the
Garden of Eden legend, the snake tale, which is
necessary to the fall of man, and the * In Adam
all men died ' theory ; if you accept the possi-
bility of vicarious atonement, and can think it not
a vicious idea; if you believe Christ was a God
and had no human father, and that his death could
in any way relieve you of your own responsibility,
or make an All- wise God change his mind about
damning you ; if you are sure of such a God, such
a creation, such a temptation, such a fall, such a
Christ, such an atonement, and that it could have
the results claimed, then you are able to argue
with some show of consistency. But drop one
single link, admit one single doubt or question,
and you are gone. Your whole system is worthless.
The Catholics are the only consistent Christians.
They do not try to use both faith and reason.
They scout reason altogether, and they are right,
unless you let it have full sway. The old-time
Protestants and there are precious few of them
left tried to take three parts faith and one part
reason, but it did not stop there. It could not.
Js this your /Son, my Lord? 233
The Catholic Church understood that perfectly.
To-day, the Broad-churchman and ' reconciler ' ele-
ment those who 'reconcile' science and religion,
or evolution and creation try to work it with one
part faith and three parts reason ; but it is fatal to
both. The result is that it is boiled down to just
this Rome or Reason. Now, you would make a
pretty Catholic, wouldn't you ? " And he laughed
" John," again remonstrated his wife, " you are
such a tease. Let Uncle Ball go in peace if he
will not stay any longer. I wonder where those
children are? Maudi-e-e!"
234 Is this your Son, my Lordf
" You never need think you can turn over any old falsehood, without a
terrible squirming and scattering of the horrid little population that
dwells under It. Every real thought on every real subject knocks the
wind out of somebody or other." Oliver Wendell Holmes.
When Mr. Fred Harmon returned to Boston from
his prolonged Western tour an incident of which
was his unfortunate "call" of a plethoric jack-
pot when his opponent happened to hold a straight
flush, and his subsequent six weeks' " hibernation "
at the home of Preston Mansfield he was the lion
of the season. It was pretty generally understood
that this heroic young man had come through a
number of hair-breadth escapes, matrimonially
speaking, in which scheming Western mothers and
Indian hunting, crack-shot frontier fathers had
figured somewhat actively.
, There was very little doubt in the minds of his
admirers that nothing short of his phenomenal
finesse and aplomb could ever have brought him
safely back to them, unaccompanied by a follow-
ing and a household, who would have spread
dismay on Beacon street, and carried ruin to the
very base of Bunker Hill. But an overruling Prov-
idence had saved the scion of culture, and con-
founded the Philistines. Fred Harmon was back
again, was matrimonially free, and was seriously
Is this your Son, my Lord? 235
considering once more whether he would bestow
the favor of his society and the wealth of his
accomplishments and abilities upon the Almighty,
or whether he would endow some other profession
than that of theology with his exceptional genius.
It was argued that the great divine who cast a
lustre over Boston could not live always. He was
not so young as he once had been, and who was
to fill his place? Who could? No living man,
now known to fame, would be tolerated by those
who had been blest for years by his ministrations.
Who else could lull their restless thoughts and
questioning minds by so deliciously musical a voice,
such intrepidity of tongue and facility of utterance ?
Who else could command language so graceful and
ornate, that no break need be felt between the
intonations of the sermon, the service, and the
In Fred Harmon there was hope; but if he
failed them, where was Boston to turn, when the
awful day should come and the place that knew
its idol should know him no more forever ? Serious
as the question was, fatal as would be the result if
he failed them, it is nevertheless true, that Fred
still felt that it was an open question whether he
would better sacrifice himself on this altar of duty
and worship, or whether he would not do well to
continue to temper poker with the prayer book and
revive the traditions of Daniel Webster while he
236 Is this your Son, my Lord?
eclipsed that gentlemen's fame in oratory and law
and statesmanship. But this latter involved a
somewhat longer purse than was at the young man's
command. He figured that it would take as much
as two years, after he should be admitted to the
bar, before he could hope to be in a commanding
financial position. Five years might elapse before
his fame would be world- wide ; and five years is
a long look ahead to a genius of twenty-four.
In the ministry it would be different. He would
not have to compete directly. His jury would be
all on his side beforehand. If his pleadings were
badly drawn, or if his arguments were faulty,
there would be no opposing counsel at his elbow
to take advantage of his blunder. His finances
would not depend on his winning the case; but
only on pleasing the taste of those who were
already of his way of thinking. And while Mr.
Fred Harmon had a very elastic and expansive
opinion of his own abilities, still he did not lose
sight of the fact that nowhere else on earth was
mediocrity so safe from criticism and comparison
of a discomposing order and proximity as in
a calling where the line of argument is all laid
out beforehand, and all parties concerned have
previously accepted the conclusions which are to be
drawn. There were times, therefore, when Mr.
Fred Harmon felt that the security and ease and
certainty of such a position would compensate for
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 237
a good deal. So the scales balanced back and
forth, and Beacon Street trembled.
Fred's mother was ecstatically terrified. She
would have been extremely happy to see the young
man burst upon a dazzled nation as a statesman,
whose voice should drown the memory of a Wash-
ington, a Webster, and a Lincoln ; tut in these days,
politics were somewhat vulgar, and he would be
thrown with men of well, to put it mildly, an
inferior order. They would not be able to appre-
ciate him, and, indeed, she doubted very much if
anybody could, outside of Boston.
But in the church ! Ah, how delightful it would
be to see him wield the power and receive the wor-
ship of all those cultured souls ; and then the re-
flected glory that would fall upon her that, too,
was a delicious anticipation. What a vast deal of
good he would do, this lovely son of hers, with
his exquisitely fine nature. How he would exalt
the people. How he would free them from all lin-
gering traces of Philistinism. How he would spirit-
ualize and decorate and beautify their religion.
How the touch of his fancy, the sheen of his taste,
would tone down and glorify orthodox creeds.
How he would read new meanings into them and
read the last remnants of the old meanings out.
Mrs. Harmon had two friends who were Unitari-
ans, and she felt sure when Fred should wear
the surplice and stole, these dear ones would be
238 Is this your Son, my Lord?
redeemed too. They had once told her that they
could look upon the ceremony of communion with
nothing short of horror.
" If you really believe that it is the body and
blood of Christ, why do you eat and drink it, dear ? "
one of them had asked. " It seems to me horrible,
beyond words to express. I can see how you might
want to take it home and keep it as a sacred thing
but eat it ; " and she held her hands up in token
" How literal you are," Fred's mother had
replied. " You take all the poetry, and spiritual
meaning, and lofty ethical significance out of a
beautiful and holy service, and then yoii hold it to
account for your own lack of sympathy with its
deeper meaning. Of course one would not want
to eat the body, and drink the blood of a dead
man, or a dead god, as you say. Even more
truly would one shudder to do so, if one had loved
or revered the lost ; but
" Then why do you say that you do it ? Why
do you go through the form which you admit
would be abhorrent, if it were not wholly form,
if it were fact ? Have words absolutely no par
value in your creeds ? Why do you not say what
you mean ? In other matters you are hypercritical
as to mere shades of difference in your use of
words. So is your clergyman ; but he says, * This
is the body and the blood of Christ.' Now, if ha
Is this your Son, my Lord? 289
does not mean that, why does he say it ? and what
does he mean ? What are words for in theology ?
If he means that it is a symbol of that, why does
he not say so ? And why eat it even then ? Why
eat a symbol of the flesh and blood of the dead?
No, no, my dear, you cannot make it appear to me
either honest to call a thing by one name, and
mean that it is a totally different thing, nor can
you convince me that it is elevating to teach
people even to say, in a Pickwickian sense, that
they eat dead gods or men. It is shocking, be-
yond words to express, and when explained away
from its original literal meaning, which the Cath-
olics still insist upon, it adds dishonesty as well.
The Catholics, at least, are honest. They mean
what they say. However I may object to the
meaning, I respect their sincerity. When they
say ' this is so and so,' they don't turn around and
explain it away, and finally end up by declaring
that it is something totally different. They have
the courage and mental integrity of their convic-
tions. When they tell their devotees to believe
that a certain relic is a piece of the true cross, they
don't add, * that is to say, it is made of a tree that
once stood in the same forest from which the wood
for the true cross was obtained ; or, if you prefer
to look at it another way, we will allow you to
believe it in this form : It was cut in another
country altogether; but it happened to fall with
240 Is this your Son, my Lord?
its top pointing eastward, which, taken in its true
spiritual sense, amounts to exactly the same thing.'
Oh, no, they don't trim their requirements to catch
the ethical agnosticism of the day. They, at least,
are honest, direct, and firm in their demands on
absolute faith ; and mental reservations that reserve
the whole fabric, are not accepted by them. No, no,
my dear, if I should ever accept any of it, I should
have to accept it all, absolutely, without mental
reservation, evasion, or lapse, and then I would not
join a Protestant church. I should go to the
cathedral at once and finally."
Mrs. Harmon had given her friend up for the
time ; but when Fred should present the case,
when he should stand before them in all his vest-
ments, and clothe in prismatic tints the bald facts
and undraped creeds of Protestant orthodoxy, as
elaborated and refined by the ethical leaders of the
Broad Church ; when her gifted son should once
vitalize the exquisite statue of revealed religion,
Beacon Street, as one man, would become Pygma-
lions and the divine Galatea would have, not only
the old lovers at her feet, but even these devotees
of the King's Chapel should be lured by her incom-
parable charms. Not a night, not a day passed that
she did not pray, long and fervently, to a god
(which in conversation she translated into a Great
First Cause) to bring about this transcendent bless-
ing through her wonderful boy, and for the sake
Is this your Son, my Lord? 241
of Jesus Christ her Saviour whom she sometimes
admitted she believed to be the son of a carpen-
ter in Nazareth.
" In which case, why do you ask for things in his
name and for his sake ? " a sceptical friend had
asked. " Why do you call him your Saviour ?
Do you not think that any explanation on that
basis makes your petition, in his name and for
his sake, quite meaningless and absurd?" But
Fred's mother had laughed the question aside and
insisted that no one could talk seriously with such
an absurdly literal person.
" You have no spirituality, dear," she had said.,
" Why, it is just as natural to me to go to Christ
for help in the things of to-day, as if he were in the
next room, and yet when you pin me down in that
energetic fashion, of course I believe that he was
the son of Joseph, and that he is dead in the same
sense that all of us are, or will be dead ; but really
dear, if you will excuse me for saying so, I fail
to see what that has to do with it." Indeed,
Mrs. Harmon had no more doubt that when her
gifted son should explain the plan of salvation
to these sceptical friends they would thenceforth
believe in its efficacy, than had that unfortunate
young gentleman in the sufficiency of a " king full "
when stakes were heavy and luck his way. " The
Rector was explaining just that point to Fred the
other day," she had said ; " I wish you could have
242 Js this your Son,, my Lord?
heard him. It was beautiful. He told Fred that
a literal belief that Christ was a god and had no
human father or that he arose from the dead
in any material sense in any sense that all the
dead are not arisen is not at all vital. He does
not accept that view, and he explained to Fred
that it was quite unnecessary and Fred saw it
clearly. I did, too, but you know I am such a
poor sieve of a creature. It all slipped through
my mind. I cannot make it clear to you now ;
but it was like crystal as they talked it, and dear
Fred " and here Mrs Harmon's eyes filled with
tears as she took her friend's hand. " You must
not breathe it, dear, not just yet but my
boy has promised to take holy orders ! Oh, my
heart is so full of joy and thankfulness to God
that I cannot talk, and yet I could not keep it from
you a moment longer. It is settled ! I am to
give my talented son to the service of the Church.
There are far more brilliant and showy, and
(from a personal and selfish outlook) advantageous
positions open to such as he, I know ; but think
of the blessedness of devoting one's whole life to
others under the direct hand and will of Almighty
God ! " Her friend wondered vaguely how an
impersonal Great First Cause was going to give
special directions to Mr. Fred Harmon, of Boston,
U. S. A.; but she said nothing and only smiled
inwardly a little.
Js this your Son, my Lord? 243
" I am so happy, so happy, so happy ! I pray
that I may keep my reason ! " continued Fred's
mother, covering her face with her dainty lace
handkerchief. When her friend withdrew, she
sank softly by her couch and prayed long and fer-
vently. As she knelt she had noticed that the
pillow sham on the opposite side of the bed had
slipped a trifle from its place. When she arose she
rang for her maid.
" Mary, you are getting more and more careless
about your duties. I shall be compelled to dismiss
you, if you are not able to do better. That sham
disturbed me at my devotions. It is far from
" Yis, mum," said Mary humbly, " they is thet
" Never mind explaining, Mary. How often
have I told you that a servant's place is to keep
such perfect order that explanations are unneces-
sary ? Whenever a servant has to tell why a thing
is not right, that is proof enough that it is wrong,
and the apology comes too late. The only apology
I accept from my servants is such perfect attention
to their duties, that apologies are rendered un-
necessary. This is a warning, Mary. Do not let
it occur again."
" Yis, mum," said Mary, somewhat irrelevantly,
and forthwith departed to readjust the offending
244 Is this your /Son, my Lord?
" Oupoligy," said she, as soon as the door was
closed, "Ouppligy, indade! an' mesilf havin' no
toim to so much as listhen to me b'y, Tummus, ex-
hplainin' the purtictive turruff to thim shtupid
ghrocery men ! Uv curse, Oi'v got no immegit
inthrust in pollythicks, mesilf bein' a lady but
Oi'd loik to know if it ishent every mother's juthy
to incourahg her b'y to thake an inthrest in publick
affairhs? An' ish'ent Tummus good fer the School
Boarhd if he wance gits elechted this toim anto the
commithee av elechtion inspechtors?" And the
proud mother of Thomas, the prospective election
inspector, re-arranged the couch of the proud
mother of Frederick, the prospective divine, each
feeling that her duty lay in sinking her individual-
ity, and scheming for sons who accepted it as the
natural and merited homage paid to exceptional
ability by those who should keenly feel the reflected
honor of the close relationship.
When Mary returned to the dining-room, she
found her son far along in his address. As she
entered the door, however, she was privileged to
hear his closing, eloquent remarks :
"And thet is the raashon Oi so perthiculerly
want ye both t' cahst yep franchoises fer Misther
Blaine. Oi want the mon best calcu/athed to per-
tect the turruff agin thim low Oitalians a-comin'
ovher here an' ruhinin' the ontoir counthry at the
behist av Aingland bad 'cess t' her I "
Js this your /Son, my Lord? 245
"What air they a-goin' t' do to the tur-ruff,
Tummus ? " inquired his admiring mother, from her
place by the door.
" Chyart it all aff, av course," responded the ready
politician, promptly scowling upon her feminine
incapacity to grasp a question so comprehensive as
that of the protective tariff.
" The murtherin scoundrels ! " exclaimed she, and
the three prospective voters scowled fiercely out of
the window at an organ-grinder, and Thomas
"You musthent interrhupt a politichal spaach,"
said he, addressing the disturbing element by the
door. " You'll git me thet nervhous thet Oi sha'n't
be able to egsplahin the pints; but what Oi do
know ish this ; thim thet knows do say thet af the
tur-ruff ish nat purthected they'll chayart the whole
av it aff to build ap the tur-ruff av Aingland thet
ish almost tothally disthroied already. Ahn Oi
say, be jabbers, let them build ap their own tur-ruff
with their own sod, and nat be afther a rhuinin
the looks av Americka by a cayartin aff hern.
Americky fer the Americans, sez Oi, und Oi'll foit
to purtect her sod again a aignerent furren poperla-
tion ! "
Mary's enthusiasm became so great at this point,
that she forgot her warning and applauded loudly.
" Och, but you're the beautiful polithical spaakher,
Tummus," said she. " An' so thet is what all this
246 Is (Ms your Son, my Lord?
thalk about the tur-ruff is ovher, is it? Well, if
they're short av sod, sez Oi, let 'em thake some an
welcum. It'll ghrow agin an' Oi'd jist loik t'
show um thet Ameriky hev plenthy an' to shpare."
" Dhry up ! " said Thomas, who saw signs of
defection in his two recent converts.
" Dhry up ! phwat do a woman know abhout
polly ticks? They air nat well enough inforhmed
an the thopics av the toims, to imdhersthand
pwhat we leadhers air thalkin' about, much less the
mainin' av it ; and an intilligent vother, that's got
any sinse at all, won't so much as listhen to wan
av ye gabble. Here, help shpread this thable-
cloth an' kape shtill ! "
The butcher's boy and the grocer's clerk with-
drew to ponder over the tariff, and to deliver their
wares next door.
Is this your Son^ my Lord? 247
" But, Lady Clare Vere de Vere,
Tou make your wares by far too cheap;
Tour net claims all as fish that comes
Within the limit of its sweep.
You sit beside me here to-day;
You try to make me love again ;
But I am safe the while I think
You've sat thus with a score of men." Tennyson.
" The moment you attempt to find a base for morals outside of human
nature, you go wrong; no other is solid and sure. The aid of the so-called
sanctions of theology is not only needless, but mischievous. The alliance
of the realities of duty with theological phantoms, exposes duty to the
same ruin which daylight brines to tlio superstition that has been associ-
ated with duty." John Morley.
When Miss Paiiline Tyler received a proposal
of marriage from Mr. Fred Harmon, her emotions
almost overcame her. She assured him that she
had never dreamed of such a thing, and that
she really must have time to think it all over.
Meantime she wanted him to understand, fully,
that she was absolutely not betrothed to either the
Envoy from Russia or the Senator from Michigan.
How such cruel and foundationless reports got
started in the first place, and how any one could
be found to credit them, was beyond her compre-
Fred agreed with her in regard at least to a
part of this statement ; but he hinted that it was
no wonder such gossip found ready believers,
248 Is this your Son, my Lord?
for slander, like death, loved a shining mark and
who else shone as she ? "I wonder who will be
next," he thought, while he talked. " There are
really comparatively few left, and she will surely
not descend to captains in the regular army, or
unofficial men of wealth. I never but once knew
her to shoot below a colonel. Of coiarse she looks
upon me as a bishop in embryo. She would be a
great help to a man in his career. Her money,
her untamed ambition, and her extensive blood
relationship with everybody who is anybody, in
both Boston and New York, would all 'be incom-
parable advantages to a rising man. When she is
married to me she will naturally drop the habit of
denying her engagement to other men, and
well, after all, only a very few people appear to
see through it, and it is a slight foible, and not
confined to her. I suppose it would be unreason-
able for me to expect absolute perfection in taste
Fred sighed as he thought that no one in this
world was likely to secure these when they married,
unless, forsooth, it might be the fortunate woman
who should one day become his bride. There was
one point of difference between them. Pauline
preferred that he should be a High Churchman ;
and then it occurred to her that she might like
it better if he did not go so far as to receive
confessions from Henrietta Dangerfield and Lucy
Is this your /Son, my Lord? 249
Fairfax ; so, after all, it might be best for him not
to go the length of having a confessional. To be
just high enough to come below, that was her idea.
But Fred demurred. He said that if he were not
a Broad Churchman he should feel it his duty to
take the vows of celibacy and poverty and join
either an Episcopal or a Catholic Brotherhood. In-
deed, he hinted gloomily, that his inner conscience
told him that this was his highest ideal ; but that
his heart pleaded for her. He was not at all sure
that in the end he should not awake to realize that
she was the beautiful temptress of old who should
keep a struggling soul back from the loftiest attain-
ment of which it was capable. The struggle had
been a hard one but she love of her had won,
and he had chosen the less holy way for her dear
Miss Pauline Tyler would have thought all this
the noblest of sentiment if she had heard it or read
it as applied to any one else ; but she was not
prepared to look upon herself as a wholly sinful
indulgence, which should make a man think he
was giving up an altogether higher mission in a
descent to her. Somehow it did not impress her
as so entirely complimentary as Fred appeared to
think. Of course it was beyond dispute that a
Brotherhood was far higher and holier than
marriage; but Pauline, for the first time in her
life, questioned the taste of saying so. She put it
250 Js this your Son, my Lord?
on the ground of taste. So Mr. Fred Harmon was
not the only party to the tacit engagement who
pondered over certain little changes it would be
desirable to make in the outward expression, if
not in the inward thought, after they should be
Pauline told him that she wanted time to exam-
ine her heart. She appeared to look upon that
important member as a detached article, which had
to be taken from an orris perfumed drawer and
spread out before her for inspection to discover if
the moths had gotten into it since last summer.
This looked perfectly reasonable to Fred and he
consented. He expressed the hope, however, that
she would be able to go all over it carefully in a
week's time, as he did not think that he could
endure the suspense for a longer period. She
thought that a week would give her ample time
for the minutest investigation and then she
hinted that she would like to lay the matter before
her confessor. Fred saw no objection to this, and
he did not at all comprehend why she seemed a
little hurt over it. He supposed that it was not
that in reality. He had doubtless mistaken her
manner and tone. It was most likely due to
her deep spiritual preoccupation.
But Pauline was thinking that she would not like
to know that Lucy and Henrietta were confessing
in private to him. Why was he so indifferent
Is this your Son, my Lord? 251
about her confessions to another man ? She was
unable to solve the mystery, so she took another
" If I say yes, can we not have a public, solemn,
sacred betrothal ? I think I should be dressed in
simple white, with a rosary about my waist, and
we should kneel before Father High-church and
have a betrothal service. We could invite a select
few, and it could be very quiet indeed, and very
It impressed Fred as a charming idea. He at
once pictured such service as a part of his future
work. He thought she was right in thinking it
could be made very effective. He saw himself in
full vestments blessing a young couple kneeling
before him, and then and there plighting their
troth in a solemn way and in set terms. The more
he thought of it the more firmly was he convinced
that a betrothal should be a sacrament, and under
the control of the clergy. He wondered if it would
be easy to have a law passed to that effect. A
wide field opened before him, and he felt that the
duties and responsibilities of a servant of the altar
were vastly greater and more varied than he had
ever before realized. He wondered vaguely if he
would be equal to it; but he put such thovights
from him as unworthy. His vows would sustain
him when once they were taken. Men failed or
fell, he thought, because they did not openly
252 Is this your Son, my Lord?
commit themselves to a given course. When once
his vows were taken, it would be easy enough.
His liberty to browse on other fields would be
surrendered. He felt very serious indeed, and the
burdens of the new life seemed already almost upon
him. He sighed.
"I do not wonder you feel your position so
keenly," Pauline said, sympathetically. " That is
one reason I want time to think. As your wife,
my life too would be necessarily devoted to the
altar and the cross. It is almost like taking the
veil to marry a man in holy orders, don't you think
so ? It is very solemn. That is what I was think-
ing of in the church betrothal. That could sym-
bolize the white veil; then the marriage could
represent the black veil. Of course I could not
wear black, but we could translate it to mean that.
Interpretation is everything, don't you think? It
would mean only a marriage to other people, but
to those who understood the true higher signifi-
cance, I could be the bride of the church, and dead
to the world henceforth."
Fred glanced at the handsome bronze clock, and
said that he must leave her now. Both, he said,
needed to be alone to think. He would not
attempt to see her again until that day week. He
stood with his legs very wide apart and gazed at
her a moment, and then wrung her hand and bowed
Is this your Son y my Lord? 253
As he buttoned his great coat over his evening
dress, he said to himself: " By Jove, I believe I am
late, don't you know! "What a cad to stay over
time. The fellows won't wait, and I shall miss the
game altogether." Then he consoled himself with
th6 memory that in that case he could still drop in
for the last act of the comic opera, and see one of
the plump beauties, in tights, home. The Parker
House or even the "Parsonage" would not be
much out of her way actresses were always hun-
gry. He supposed this sort of thing would have
to be stopped after he took his vows ; but, mean-
" Drive faster," he called out, " I am beastly late
254 Is this your Son, my Lordt
"Strange Is the heart of man, with Its quick, mysterious Instincts!
Strange la the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments,
\\ hereupon turn, as on binges, the gates of the wall adamantine! "
" The conduct that Issues from a moral conflict has often so close a
resemblance to vice, that the distinction escapes all outward judgments,
founded on a mere comparison of actions." George Shot,
" Oh, here will I set up my everlasting rest;
And shake the yoke of Inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied jesa. Syes, loou your last!
Anns, take your last embrace! and lips, o you,
The doors of breath, seal with a rigliteotr kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death \"ShaJtspeare.
The next day I sat waiting for Preston Mansfield.
I had made up my mind to advise him to tell Nellie
the truth, at all hazards. I was surprised to find
that he was late. I looked at my watch. It
wanted a quarter to three, and my office hour began
in thirty minutes. The door was flung open and
Preston burst into the room like a madman.
"Doctor, for God's sake let me bring her in
here!" he exclaimed, breathlessly. His face was
set and wild, and his lips pressed each other, until
the instant after he had spoken, they were thin and
white. I had never seen such wild despair, fight-
ing with hope,, on any human face. " She is dying,
I think ! It was all my fault ! I "
He had rushed back to the carriage which stood
at my door, and I had followed him.
Js this your Son, my -Lord? 255
"Here, let her alone, there! Don't you touch
her. Nellie ! Nellie ! " he murmured, with his lips
close to her ear ; but she did not move, nor open
her eyes, and he turned to me with a groan.
" It takes the strength all out of me to see her
like that. I thought I could carry her alone ; but
you help me, doctor. I don't want that fellow to
touch her, and two of us can make it easier for her,
can't we ? There, now, so ? No, under this way.
Is that right, doctor ? I'm so Won't that hurt
her ? Is there any danger of holding her so as to
miss a chance of getting her heart to beat again ?
On the floor? Oh, doctor, why not on your
lounge? No pillow? Nellie, Nellie! Oh, do some-
thing, doctor, do something for God's sake, do
something to save her ! " He chafed her hands, and
watched her lips with an eagerness born of despair.
" Do you think she will ever speak again, doctor ?
Is it it is not death? My God! she will
speak again, once ? Once ? "
" Wait, Preston," I said, " I am trying to learn
if it is if she will breathe again. Sit there.
Tell me how it happened, while I work. Here,
hold this now help. No, not that way so.
Yes, that is right. Let her lie so. Now hold this,
and tell me how it happened."
He groaned aloud, " It was all my fault. I took
her to drive. You know that colt of mine ? Well,
I took it like a damned fool. I had no business
256 Is this your Son, my Lordf
to risk her life. This way? Oh, did her eyelid
move ? Look ! Oh, doctor, won't that hurt her ?
Nellie ! Nellie ! Great God ! Is she dead ? My
darling, my darling, speak to me just once !
just once ! Oh, God, have mercy ! Just once ! "
. The tears were rolling down his cheeks and fall-
ing unheeded. He would not dry them lest a sign
that she might move or speak would be lost by the
movement. His eyes were strained and set upon
her face which was but little whiter than his own
He had looked so long at her eyes that the waver-
ing of his own deceived him.
" Oh, doctor, she is alive ! Her eyelids moved.
I am sure ! Oh, I am sure ! Nellie, Nellie, can you
hear me ? I love you, I love you, I love you, darling !
Do you hear me, darling ? Don't die and not know.
Oh, my God, it is no use ! There did you see that?
She did move that time. Her lips, listen ! "
He put his ear to the voiceless lips and strained
to hear the tones that were silent forever. Presently
he looked up at me and then slowly gathered her in
his arms and staggered to a chair.
" Lock the door, doctor," he said hoarsely, " and
go away. She is mine, now, and I want to be all
alone with her just a little while. Nellie, Nellie,
darling, I love you, oh, I loved you too truly to de-
ceive you ! I could not ask you to marry me as it
was. Do you understand now? Do you? Do
Js this your Son, my Lord? 257
He strained the lifeless form to his breast, and
kissed the parted lips as one starving and now in
reach of food.
" I shall be back, Preston," I said, " in just fifteen
minutes. Try to be calmer, my boy," and I laid
my hand on his head. He looked up, with the
tears still streaming from his eyes, and slowly
shook his head. Five minutes later I looked into
the room through a glass partition. He had turned
with his face to the clock, and was holding the
dead girl in his arms, as when I left him. Presently
I heard a movement within, and I stepped to the
door again. He was laying her on the lounge.
He placed her gently there, and kissed her lips and
hands. Then he knelt beside her, and laid his
head upon her feet, and as the hands of the clock
pointed to the time I said I 'should return, a shot
rang out through the silent house. I burst through
the door, and knelt beside him.
" Forgive me, doctor," he whispered. " It was the
only way. You you will understand. I told
her and she turned from me. She tried
to jump from the buggy, and the colt
eaw her and ran . I ought to have known
better. It was all my fault."
Two hours later Preston Mansfield was dead.
Dead by his own hand. Or stay, was it by the
hand of his father?
From the press of the Arena Publishing Company.
"Che Hit of the year."
The Literary Hit
of the Season
Pride, paper, 50 cents ; cloth, $1.25.
AN UNOFFICIAL PATRIOT.
Have you read Helen H. Gardener's new war story, "An
Unofficial Patriot 11 ? No? Then read what competent
critics say of this remarkable historical story of the Civil
" Helen H. Gardener has made for herself within a very few
years an enviable fame for the strength and sincerity of her
writing on some of the most important phases of modern social
questions. Her most recent novel, now published under the title
of An Unofficial Patriot,' is no less deserving of praise. As an
artistic piece of character study this book is possessed of supe-
rior qualities. There is nothing in it to offend the traditions of
an honest man, north or south. It is written with an evident
knowledge of the circumstances and surroundings such as might
have made the story a very fact, and, more than all, it is written
with an assured sympathy for humanity and a recognition of
right and wrong wherever found. As to the literary merit of
the book and its strength as a character study, as has been said
heretofore, it is a superior work. The study of Griffith Daven-
port, the clergyman, and of his true friend, ' Lengthy ' Patterson,
is one to win favor from every reader. There are dramatic
scenes in their association that thrill and touch the heart.
Davenport's two visits to President Lincoln are other scenes
worthy of note for the same quality, and they show an apprecia-
tion of the feeling and motive of the president more than histori-
cal in its sympathy. Mrs. Gardener may well be proud of her
success in the field of fiction."
" Helen Gardener's new novel, ' An Unofficial Patriot,' which
is just out, will probably be the most popular and salable novel
since ' Robert Elsmere.' It is by far the most finished and
ambitious book yet produced by the gifted author and well de-
serves a permanent place in liteiature.
" The plot of the story itself guarantees the present sale. It
is ' something new under the sun' and strikes new sensations,
new situations, new conditions. To be sure it is a war story, and
war stories are old and hackneyed. But there has been no such
war story as this written. It gives a situation new in fiction and
tells the story of the war from a standpoint which gives the book
priceless value as a sociological study and as supplemental
" The plot is very strong and is all the more so when the
reader learns that it is true. The story is an absolutely true one
and is almost entirely a piece of history written in form of fic-
tion, with names and minor incidents altered."
For sale by all newsdealers, or sent postpaid by
Arena Publishing Co., Boston, Mass.
i-rom the press of the Arena Publishing Company.
Che Double 8tan6ar6 of Jftorals Discussed.
Mrs. S. n.
Price, paper, 50 cents ; doth, $1.25.
THE FORTUNES OF HARGARET WELD.
This is a frank, simple record of the terrible temptation
that sweeps with the force of circumstance into only too
many women's lives. Margaret Weld is typical of a great
many profoundly spiritual characters touched with the
spirit of revolt against the old blind conventionalisms of re-
ligious and social dogma, but not wholly in accord with
the profounder religious spirit underlying the new thought.
In many respects it is an old story, but it is one that needs
telling over and over again, of which the heart can never
tire. And there is an element of hope and pity and justice
in it which belongs entirely to the new spirit creeping in-
to the literature of social thought of our day. The story
shows how a high-minded, pure woman, can make a grave
mistake, but it also shows that with an environment of
human sympathy, and love, and true charity, that mistake
is not irreparable. It is a strong plea for a single standard
Price, paper, 50 cents ; cloth, $1.00.
PRAY YOU, SIR, WHOSE DAUGHTER?
" The civil and canon law," writes Mrs. Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, "state and church alike, make the mothers of
the race a helpless, ostracised class, pariahs of a corrupt
civilization. In Helen Gardener's stories I see the promise
of such a work of fiction that shall paint the awful facts of
woman's position in living colors that all must see and feel.
Those who know the sad facts of woman's life, so carefully
veiled from society at large, will not consider the pictures
in this story overdrawn. Some critics say that everyone
knows and condemns these facts in our social life, and
that we do not need fiction to intensify the public disgust.
But to keep our sons and daughters innocent we must warn
them of the dangers that beset them. Ignorance under
no circumstances insures safety. Honor protected by
knowledge is safer than innocence protected by ignorance."
For sale by all newsdealers or sent postpaid by
Arena Publishing Co., Boston, Mass.
PR Gardener, Helen Hamilton
G37I8 Is this your son. my Lord?
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY