But that hour of waiting for the messenger of death, who, she thought, had called her, had swept away this film. “It is not teaching in Sunday-school,” said her brain. “It is not tract distributing; it is not sewing societies for the poor; it is not giving or going. It is none of these things, or any of them, or all of them, as the case may be, and as they come afterward. But first it is this question: Am I my own mistress? do I belong to myself or to God? will I do as I please or as he pleases? will I submit my soul to him, and ask him to keep it and to show me what to do, or when and where to step?”
The night was utterly spent, and the gray dawn of the early sweet summer morning was breaking into the grove, and still Ruth lay with wide-open eyes, and thought. A struggle? Oh dear, yes! Such an one as she had never imagined. That strong will of hers, which had led not only herself but others, yield it, submit to other leadership, always to question: Is this right? can I go here? ought I to say that? What a thing to do! But it involved that; she knew it, felt it. She might have been blind during the week past, but she was not deaf.
How they surged over her, the sentences from one and another to whom she had listened! They were not at play, these great men. What did it mean but that there was a life hidden away, belonging to Christ? She felt no love in her heart, no longing for love, such as poor little Flossy had yearned for. She felt instead that she was equal to life; that the world was sufficient for her; that she wanted the world; but that the world was at conflict with God, and that she belonged to God, and that she should give herself utterly into his hands.
Moreover, she knew there was coming a time when the world, and Saratoga, and the season, with its pleasures, would not do. There was grim death!—he would come. She could not always get away. He was coming every hour for somebody around her. She must—yes, she must get ready for him. It would not do to be surprised again as she had been surprised last night. It was not becoming in Ruth Erskine to live so that the sound of death could palsy her limbs and blanch her cheek and make her shudder with fear. She must get where she could say calmly: “Oh, are you here? Well, I am ready.”
It was just as the sun which was rising in glory forced its smiles in between the thick leaves of the Chautauqua birds’ nests, and set all the little birds in a twitter of delight, that Ruth raised herself on her elbow and said aloud, and with the force that comes from a determined will that has decided something in which there has been a struggle:
“I will do it.”
“I’VE BEEN REDEEMED.”
“What about Saratoga?” was Eurie’s first query as she awoke to life and talk again on that summer morning. “Do you think you will take the 10:50 train, Ruth?”