The exercises progressed as usual until the discussion was over, when, as was the custom, the president called upon the chairman of the literary committee to announce the topic and the name of the member to treat it for the next meeting.
The chairman arose and said, while an ominous silence fell upon the room:
“Miss Minturn has been appointed to give us a paper for our next gathering, and the subject chosen is, ’Christian Science and Its Transcendental Tendency.’”
An audible titter ran around the room as this announcement was made, and every eye was fastened upon Katherine, who instantly suspected the situation had been planned for the sole purpose of making her uncomfortably conspicuous and bringing her beloved Science before the club simply to be ridiculed.
She was naturally quick-tempered, though years of discipline had taught her how to hold herself well in hand upon most occasions. But now, for the moment, her whole soul arose in arms and was ready to flash. forth in fiery indignation.
She flushed crimson and a dangerous gleam leaped into her usually gentle eyes, while she trembled from head to foot.
“See! it has hit her in a tender spot!” whispered Ollie Grant to Sadie Minot. “Look out, now, for a tempest from Miss Propriety! Won’t it be fun?”
But the unaccustomed emotion passed almost as quickly as it had come. It was like the flash of summer heat that is followed by no thunder. Her momentary resentment was bravely quelled, and, after a brief denial of error, she arose to her feet, the flush still hot on her cheeks, but a sunny smile parting her red lips and chasing the temper from her eyes.
“Lady President and comrades,” she began, bowing first to the presiding officer, then to her companions, and there was not the slightest evidence of anger in her sweetly modulated tones, “there is nothing that I love more than Christian Science, and if I thought you also were really interested in it, and I could, consistently, give you some information regarding it, it would give me great pleasure to do so. But you are not interested in it--you do not believe in it; many of you think it absurdly transcendental, as your topic indicates. Thus you have nothing but ridicule for it. So you can understand that what is very sacred to me I could not discuss in such an antagonistic atmosphere. Besides—”
“Oh, but we really do want to learn something about it,” here interposed Ollie Grant, as she gave Sadie a nudge with her elbow, “and—and”—with mock demureness—“if we have wrong ideas about it, why, you can perhaps set us right.”
“I am sure it would be very interesting,” Clara Follet observed, with a sly wink at her nearest neighbor; “it is so—mysterious and—creepy; like spiritualism, you know.”
Katherine had seen both nudge and wink; but neither now had power to move her to any feeling save that of compassion for the thoughtless offenders.