She listened, bending forward, her eyes glued to the speaker’s lips and letting no word drop. He had the build and look of the fanatic: thin to emancipation; brown; brilliant-eyed; his words snapped in nervous energy and rang in awful earnestness.
“Life is sin, and sin is sorrow. Sorrow is born of selfishness and self-seeking—our own good, our own happiness, our own glory. As if any one of us were worth a life! No, never. A single self as an end is, and ought to be, disappointment; it is too low; it is nothing. Only in a whole world of selves, infinite, endless, eternal world on worlds of selves—only in their vast good is true salvation. The good of others is our true good; work for others; not for your salvation, but the salvation of the world.” The audience gave a low uneasy groan and the minister in whose pulpit the stranger preached stirred uneasily. But he went on tensely, with flying words:
“Unselfishness is sacrifice—Jesus was supreme sacrifice.” ("Amen,” screamed a voice.) “In your dark lives,” he cried, “who is the King of Glory? Sacrifice. Lift up your heads, then, ye gates of prejudice and hate, and let the King of Glory come in. Forget yourselves and your petty wants, and behold your starving people. The wail of black millions sweeps the air—east and west they cry, Help! Help! Are you dumb? Are you blind? Do you dance and laugh, and hear and see not? The cry of death is in the air; they murder, burn, and maim us!” ("Oh—oh—” moaned the people swaying in their seats.) “When we cry they mock us; they ruin our women and debauch our children—what shall we do?
“Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away sin. Behold the Supreme Sacrifice that makes us clean. Give up your pleasures; give up your wants; give up all to the weak and wretched of our people. Go down to Pharaoh and smite him in God’s name. Go down to the South where we writhe. Strive—work—build—hew—lead—inspire! God calls. Will you hear? Come to Jesus. The harvest is waiting. Who will cry: ’Here am I, send me!’”
Zora rose and walked up the aisle; she knelt before the altar and answered the call: “Here am I—send me.”
And then she walked out. Above her sailed the same great stars; around her hummed the same hoarse city; but within her soul sang some new song of peace.
“What is the matter, Zora?” Mrs. Vanderpool inquired, for she seemed to see in the girl’s face and carriage some subtle change; something that seemed to tell how out of the dream had stepped the dreamer into the realness of things; how suddenly the seeker saw; how to the wanderer, the Way was opened.
Just how she sensed this Mrs. Vanderpool could not have explained, nor could Zora. Was there a change, sudden, cataclysmic? No. There were to come in future days all the old doubts and shiverings, the old restless cry: “It is all right—all right!” But more and more, above the doubt and beyond the unrest, rose the great end, the mighty ideal, that flickered and wavered, but ever grew and waxed strong, until it became possible, and through it all things else were possible. Thus from the grave of youth and love, amid the soft, low singing of dark and bowed worshippers, the Angel of the Resurrection rolled away the stone.