As to the particular form in which the result of the Experiment might appear he cared little. He had a certain curiosity on the subject naturally, but he knew well enough that the Experiment would be useless if he laid interfering hands on its inner processes. That would be like trimming a whitethorn tree in a formal garden, to make it resemble a pyramid. He was not making a thorn pyramid in an Italian garden; he wanted an oak, to grow by the common road of all men’s life. And oaks must grow oak-fashion, or not at all.
* * * * *
Four years of the ten had passed. That part of the history of John Wesley, Jr., which is told in the following pages, is the story of the other six years.
AN INSTITUTE PANORAMA
“If anybody expects me to stay away from Institute this year, he has got a surprise coming, that’s all.”
The meeting was just breaking up, after a speech whose closing words had been a shade less tactful than the occasion called for. But the last two sentences of that speech made all the difference in the world to John Wesley, Jr.
The Epworth League of First Church, Delafield, was giving one of its fairly frequent socials. The program had gone at top speed for more than an hour. All that noise could do, re-enforced by that peculiar emanation by youth termed “pep,” had been drawn upon to glorify a certain forthcoming event with whose name everybody seemed to be familiar, for all called it simply “the Institute.”
Pennants, posters, and photographs supplied a sort of pictorial noise, the better to advertise this evidently remarkable event, which, one might gather, was a yearly affair held during the summer vacation at the seat of Cartwright College.
The yells and songs, the cheers and games and reminiscences, re-enforced the noisy decorations. At the last, in one of those intense moments of quiet which young people can produce as by magic, came a neat little speech whose purpose was highly praiseworthy. But, to John Wesley, Jr., it ended on the wrong note. Another listener took mental exception to it, though his anxiety proved to be groundless.
It was a recruiting speech, directed at anybody and everybody who had not yet decided to attend the Institute.
The speaker was, if anything, a trifle more cautious than canny when he came to his “in conclusion,” and his zeal touched the words with anti-climax.
“Of course,” he said, “since ten, or at most twelve, is our quota, we are not quite free to encourage the attendance of everybody, particularly of our younger members. They have hardly reached the age where the Institute could be a benefit to them, and their natural inclination to make the week a period of good times and mere pleasure would seriously interfere with the interests of others more mature and serious minded.”