The Zenith branch of the League of the Higher Illumination met in the smaller ballroom at the Hotel Thornleigh, a refined apartment with pale green walls and plaster wreaths of roses, refined parquet flooring, and ultra-refined frail gilt chairs. Here were gathered sixty-five women and ten men. Most of the men slouched in their chairs and wriggled, while their wives sat rigidly at attention, but two of them—red-necked, meaty men—were as respectably devout as their wives. They were newly rich contractors who, having bought houses, motors, hand-painted pictures, and gentlemanliness, were now buying a refined ready-made philosophy. It had been a toss-up with them whether to buy New Thought, Christian Science, or a good standard high-church model of Episcopalianism.
In the flesh, Mrs. Opal Emerson Mudge fell somewhat short of a prophetic aspect. She was pony-built and plump, with the face of a haughty Pekingese, a button of a nose, and arms so short that, despite her most indignant endeavors, she could not clasp her hands in front of her as she sat on the platform waiting. Her frock of taffeta and green velvet, with three strings of glass beads, and large folding eye-glasses dangling from a black ribbon, was a triumph of refinement.
Mrs. Mudge was introduced by the president of the League of the Higher Illumination, an oldish young woman with a yearning voice, white spats, and a mustache. She said that Mrs. Mudge would now make it plain to the simplest intellect how the Sun Spirit could be cultivated, and they who had been thinking about cultivating one would do well to treasure Mrs. Mudge’s words, because even Zenith (and everybody knew that Zenith stood in the van of spiritual and New Thought progress) didn’t often have the opportunity to sit at the feet of such an inspiring Optimist and Metaphysical Seer as Mrs. Opal Emerson Mudge, who had lived the Life of Wider Usefulness through Concentration, and in the Silence found those Secrets of Mental Control and the Inner Key which were immediately going to transform and bring Peace, Power, and Prosperity to the unhappy nations; and so, friends, would they for this precious gem-studded hour forget the Illusions of the Seeming Real, and in the actualization of the deep-lying Veritas pass, along with Mrs. Opal Emerson Mudge, to the Realm Beautiful.
If Mrs. Mudge was rather pudgier than one would like one’s swamis, yogis, seers, and initiates, yet her voice had the real professional note. It was refined and optimistic; it was overpoweringly calm; it flowed on relentlessly, without one comma, till Babbitt was hypnotized. Her favorite word was “always,” which she pronounced olllllle-ways. Her principal gesture was a pontifical but thoroughly ladylike blessing with two stubby fingers.
She explained about this matter of Spiritual Saturation:
“There are those—”
Of “those” she made a linked sweetness long drawn out; a far-off delicate call in a twilight minor. It chastely rebuked the restless husbands, yet brought them a message of healing.