The laugh that was raised over this innocently put question seemed to irritate her new acquaintance. He spoke hastily.
“It is a Sabbath-breaking concern, viewed in any light that you choose to put it. There is no sense in holding camp-meetings over the Sabbath, and every one agrees that they have a demoralizing effect.”
“Do you mean me to understand you to think that the several thousand people who are now stopping at Chautauqua will be breaking the Sabbath by going out of their tents to-morrow and walking down to the public service?”
The bit of sophistry in this meekly put question was overlooked, or at least not answered, and the logical young gentleman asked:
“If they think Sabbath services in the woods so helpful, why are they not consistent? Let them throw the meeting open for all who wish to come, making the gospel without money and without price, as they pretend it is. Why isn’t that done?”
“Well, there are at least half a dozen reasons. I wonder you have not thought of one of them. In the first place, that, of course, would tempt to a great deal of Sabbath traveling, a thing which they carefully guard against now by refusing to admit all travelers. And in the second place, it would give the Chautauqua people a great deal to do in the way of entertaining so large a class of people. As it is, they have quite as much as they care to do to make comfortable the large company who belong to their family. And in the third place—But perhaps you do not care to hear all the reasons?”
He ignored this question also, and went back to one of her arguments.
“They don’t keep travelers away at all, even by your own admission. What is to hinder hundreds of them from coming here to-day and buying season tickets in order to get in to-morrow?”
He had the benefit of a most quizzical glance then from Marion’s shining eyes before she answered.
“Oh, well, if the people are really so hungering and thirsting for the gospel, as it is dispensed at Chautauqua, that they are willing to act a lie, by pretending that they are members who have been and are to be in regular attendance, and then are willing to pay two dollars and a half for the Sunday meeting, I don’t know but I think they ought to be allowed to creep in. Don’t you?”
GETTING READY TO LIVE.
Amid the laughter that followed this retort the company rose up from the table and went their various ways, to meet, perhaps, again.
“How on earth do you manage to keep so thoroughly posted in regard to Chautauqua affairs? One would think you were the wife of the private secretary. I shouldn’t have known whether the gates were to be opened or closed to-morrow.”
This from Ruth as the two girls paced the long piazza while waiting for the carriage which was to take them to the boat; for, having exhausted the resources of Mayville for entertainment, they were about to return to Chautauqua.