“I tried to beg off,” she said; “I told them that the subject and I had nothing in common; that I was a primary class teacher, and in that line lay my work. But there is no sort of use in trying to change Dr. Vincent’s mind about anything, so I had to submit. But for once in my life I remind myself of Gough. I once overheard him in conversation with a committee on lectures. They were objecting to having him lecture on temperance, and pressing him to name some other subject. ’Choose what subject you please, gentlemen,’ he said at last, ’and I’ll lecture on it, but remember what I say will be on temperance.’ So they have given me this subject and I have engaged to take it, but I want you to remember that what I say will be on primary class-teaching.”
By this time Miss Morris had the sympathy of her audience, and had awakened an interest to see how she would follow out her programme, and from first to last she held their attention. Certain thoughts glowed vividly. I don’t know who else they influenced, but I knew they roused and startled Marion, and will have much to do with her future methods of teaching.
“Remember,” said the speaker, “that you can not live on skim-milk and teach cream!” The thought embodied in that brief and telling sentence was as old as time, and Marion had heard it as long ago as she remembered anything, but it never flashed before her until that moment.
What an illustration! She saw herself teaching her class in botany to analyze the flowers, to classify them, to tell every minute item concerning them, and she taught them nothing to say concerning the Creator. Was this “skim-milk” teaching? She knew so many ways in which, did she but have this belief concerning heaven, and Christ, and the judgment, in her heart, she could impress it upon her scholars. She had aimed to be the very cream of teachers. Was she? She came back from her reverie, or, rather, her self-questioning, to hear Miss Morris say:
“Why, one move of your hand moves all creation! and as surely does one thought of your soul grow and spread and roll through the universe. Why, you can’t sit in your room alone, and think a mean thought, or a false thought, or an unchristian thought, without its influencing not only all people around you, not only all people in all the universe, but nations yet unborn must live under the shadow or the glory that the thought involves.”
Bold statements these! But Marion could follow her. Intellectually she was thoroughly posted. Had she not herself used the illustration of the tiny stream that simpered through the home meadow and went on, and on, and on, until it helped to surge the beaches of the ocean? But here was a principle involved that reached beyond the ocean, that ignored time, that sought after eternity. Was she following the stream? Could she honestly tell that it might not lead to a judgment that should call her to account for her non-religious influence over her scholars? Marion was growing heavy-hearted; she wanted at least to do no harm in the world if she could do no good. But if all this mountain weight of evidence at Chautauqua proved anything, it proved that she was living a life of infidelity, for the influence of which she was to be called into judgment.