Anne Warner.

Sunshine Jane

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Emily didn't understand and didn't care. "Do tell me how it's done, anyway," she begged eagerly.

"I don't know whether what I say will have any meaning for you, but I'll say it, anyway. You'll have to know that it's what I believe and live by, and if you're to believe it and live by it, it will come to you quite easily, and if not it's because it isn't for you yet."

"I mean to believe," said Emily firmly. "I want something, and I'll do anything to get it."

Jane shook her head. "That's the very hardest road to come by," she said, "unless it's some overcoming in yourself that you are wanting. You see, the very first step has to be the conquering of ourselves, not the asking for material things. You have to open a channel for the spirit, and then the material flows through afterwards, as a matter of course. But if you've gone on a good ways, you don't think of getting things at all; you just want opportunities to grow, and you know that what you need for life will keep coming."

"But it doesn't with lots of people," said Emily. "Just look at the poor – and the suffering."

"They aren't living according to this law," said Jane. "They're living on another plane. There are different planes."

"Don't you see," interposed Susan, "we asked Mrs. Croft because it would get me on a plane where, when Matilda came back, she wouldn't mind so many changes."

Emily looked inquiring. "A different plane?"

"Yes," said Jane, "you can lift yourself straight out of any circle of conditions by suddenly altering all your own ideas – if you've strength to do so."

"I'd never have asked Mrs. Croft alone by myself, you know," said Susan; "nobody that looked at things the way other folks do, would. But Jane looks at everything different from everybody else. She said it would be a quick way of being different. I guess she's right."

"I never heard any ideas like that."

"But they aren't new," said Jane; "they're older than the hills. God made the world and then gave every man dominion over his world. We all have the whole of our world to rule. This way of looking at things is new to you, but there are thousands and thousands of people proving it true every day. All the old religions teach it, and all the new religions bid you live it or they won't be for you. They don't kill men for not believing now. They just let them live and suffer and go blundering on. Why" – Jane grew suddenly pink with fervor – "why, everywhere I look, almost, I see just lovely chances being let die, because people won't fuss to tend them. People are too careless and too thoughtless. The truth is so plain that the very word 'thoughtless' fairly screams what's the matter to every one, but hardly any one bothers."

"But the people who believe as you do, – do they all get everything that they want?" asked Emily.

"Or else they want what they get," said Jane; "it comes to exactly the same thing when you begin to understand.

The beauty of every step nearer God is the new learning of how exactly right his world is managed. All my old puzzles have been cleared up, and it's so wonderful. Why, I used to think that when beautiful, dear little children died it was awful; but now I know that they came to help and teach others, and that when they'd spread their lesson to those others, they didn't need lessons themselves and just left the school and went back into the beautiful world of Better Things. It was such a help to me to know why splendid men and women who were needed went so suddenly sometimes; it's because they're needed much more elsewhere and respond to that call of duty at once. I don't think of death as anything dreadful now; I think of it as a door that will open and close very easily for me."

"It's one door that Matilda liked to keep setting open," said Susan, – "oh, dear me, Jane, I'm trying to grow brain-cells and be a credit to you, and I can't think of anything but old Mrs. Croft. Perhaps she's woke up."

Jane rose and went into the house.

"Do you think you can take it all in?" Emily asked, slowly and thoughtfully.

"I'm doing my best," said Susan, "she's so happy and so good I think she must know what she's talking about."

Jane came back. "She's still sleeping," she said; "don't you worry, dear Auntie."

"I can't help it," said Susan. "I've dodged about for so long and played things were so that weren't so, that I guess I'm pretty much out of tune, and it'll be a little while before I can stop worrying."

"No, you aren't out of tune," said Jane, smiling at her affectionately, "or if you are, just say you're in tune and you will be, right off."

"Do you believe that?" Emily asked.

"Why, of course. I know it absolutely for myself, and I know that it's equally true for others if they have the strength to declare it."

"But how?"

"How! Why, because every declaration of good is spiritual, and proves that you are one with your soul and master over your body, just as false declarations make you one with your body and take away all power from your soul. That's how mental cures work. When anybody says 'I am well,' she declares souls can't be ill, and she makes Truth stronger by adding her strength to its strength. But when a man says 'I am ill,' he declares a lie, for souls can't be ill, and so he's claiming not to be spiritual, but just to be his own body. It's as if a weaver stopped weaving and said: 'I've broken several threads, and I'm going to be imperfect, and I won't bring any price, and I'll only be fit to cut up into cleaning cloths.' What would you think of him? You'd say: 'Why, that's only an hour's work in cloth and can be put aside without further thought. Just go right on and with your skill and judgment make the next piece perfect. It was never any of it you; it was the stuff you were making.' Bodies are the stuff we are making."

Emily laid down her work. "Jane, that's wonderful," she said solemnly. "You put that so that I really got hold of it. I understand exactly what you mean, and if only everybody else did!"

"But nobody else really matters to you," said Jane; "all that matters to you is that you believe. They have their lives – you have yours."

Emily was looking very earnest. "I'm going to try," she said, rising. "I'm going to try. I must go now, but I'm going home to go to work in my world."

Jane walked with her to the gate. "I'll help you all I can," she said, "I'm so glad you're interested. It makes life so splendid."

Emily stopped and took her hand.

"Jane," she said, "I want to tell you something. I want to marry Mr. Rath. I think he's the nicest man I ever saw. Do you really – really – believe that I can, if I learn to think as you do?"

Jane turned white beneath the other's eyes. "Why, but don't you know – don't you see that he's in love?"

"In love! With you?"

"With me, – oh, no. With Madeleine."

"Oh, no, he's not in love with her," said Emily decidedly; "I know that. I know that perfectly well."

"They knew one another before they came here, you know."

"Why, I see them round town together all hours," said Emily; "they're like brother and sister, they're not one bit in love. I thought that perhaps it was you."

"Oh, dear, no – I can't marry. I never even think of it."

"Don't you use any of your ideas with him?"

"No, indeed! I never ask anything for myself any more. I just ask to manifest God's will, – to help in any of His work that offers."

"You're awfully good, dear. But, honestly, do you think that I could surely get him if I tried?"

"Why, the law is certain, but" – Jane spoke gently – "you're so far from understanding it yet. I only told you a little. It takes ever so long to get one's mind built to where it will grasp an ideal and hold it without wavering once. There's such a lot I didn't tell you; I couldn't in those few minutes. I just showed you the picture, and you have to work hard till you learn how to paint it. You see, a wish is like blowing a bubble, and if you add wishes and more wishes, you gradually change the bubble into a solid mold, which is a real thing of spirit but empty of material; then, if you keep it solid and firm, the fact of it is real spiritually, and a vacuum as to matter makes the matter just have to fill it, and it is that filling into the mold shaped by our thoughts that makes what we see and live here in this world. The world is all matter circulating in thought-molds. Anything that you carefully and steadily and consistently think out must become manifest. God manifesting His will means that. We are His will. And the nearer we approximate to the highest in Him, the more we can manifest ourselves. That's why very good people are seldom rich; they want to manifest in deeds and not in things. That's why they never keep money – it only represents to them the need of others. If you really and truly love Mr. Rath, and feel it steadily and steadfastly your mission to make him very happy, of course it will be, even though he loved some one else. But to want a man who loved some one else wouldn't be possible to any one who believed in this teaching. That's where it is, you see. When you get power, you never want to do evil with it. Power from God never manifests in evil. When you are where you can get whatever you want, it simply means that you are living where only good can come, and where you are able to see it coming."

Emily stood perfectly still, looking downwards. Then suddenly she burst into violent sobs. "Oh, I feel so small, so mean – so wicked. It isn't as you feel a bit with me. I just want to get out of this stupid town – and he's so good-looking!"

Jane's eyelids fell.

"I feel so mean and petty," Emily went on, pressing her hands over her face. "I could never be good like you. I can't understand. I just want to be married. I'm so tired of my life."

"Well," said Jane, with steady firmness, "why don't you go to him and talk it all over nicely? As you would with Madeleine or me. Perhaps that would be best."

"Do you really think so?" said Emily, lifting her eyes; "do you believe that a girl can go to a man and be honest with him, just as a man can with a woman?"

"I couldn't," said Jane, "because I wouldn't want to, but if you want to do it, I don't see why you can't."

"But why wouldn't you?"

"Because I get my things that other way, – simply by asking God to guide me towards His will and guide me from mistake."

"Did you do that about asking old Mrs. Croft?"

"Certainly. I do it about everything. I live by that rule now. I've absolute faith in God's guidance."

Emily looked at her. "It must be beautiful," she said, "and you really think that it would be all right for me to go and talk to him, do you?"

"Yes," said Jane slowly. "I think that it would be best all round."

"After all, this is the woman's century," said Emily, with a sudden energy quite unlike her previous interest. "I don't know why I shouldn't."

"I think that the best way to handle all our problems is to let them flow naturally to their finish," said Jane; "dammed or choked rivers always make trouble."

"I should like to say just what I felt to a man just once," said Emily thoughtfully. "It would do me a world of good."

"Then say it," said Jane. "Only are you really sure that he's not in love with Madeleine?"

"Oh, I'm positive as to that."

"Then go ahead."

They parted, and Jane returned to the house. She was not so entirely spiritual that she could repress a very human kind of smile over Emily's project.


AS Emily turned from Mrs. Ralston's gate, she felt more buoyant happiness than anything in life had ever hitherto brought her. She felt licensed on high authority to revel in the hitherto forbidden. She wanted Lorenzo Rath, and she thought that she understood how to get him. We may follow her thought and then we will follow where it led her, for in all the surge of the new teaching there is no lesson greater to learn than this which Emily had failed to grasp, – that the possession of tools does not make one a carver; that all things spiritual must be learned exactly as all things material. One may have so lived previously that the learning is a mere showing how, but without experience nothing, either spiritual, mental, or physical, can be efficaciously handled. When people declare that something is not true because they tried it and it failed to work, remember Emily Mead. Emily had acquired just one idea out of Jane's exposition: "That you could get anything that you want." It is the idea that hosts of people find most attractive in this world, quite irrespective of its correlative esotericism, – that the soul growing towards infinite power learns every upward step by resolutely liking what it gets. No man can climb a stair by hacking down every step passed; he climbs by being so firm upon each step that he can poise his whole weight thereon as he mounts. It is part of the supremely beautiful logic of the highest teaching that the same effort which Jesus made – every great teacher has made – is sure to make, too. We must see the Divine embodied in the Present and the Weak and the Humble, before in our own spirit we may deal, for the good of all, with the Future and Strength and Power. When one seizes upon anything God-given as a means of acquiring earth-gifts, one has but seized the empty air; the idea and then ideal have never been in the possession of such an one. There is nothing shut away from those who really make God's teaching a vital part of themselves, but such men and women are no longer keen to selfishly possess, and the good which they reach out for flows easily in for their further distribution; in other words, they become what we were all designed to be, – the outward manifestations of God's purpose, the living breathing, blessed servants of His will.

How far this interpretation lay from poor Emily's comprehension the reader knows.

She hurried along, her whole being bounding with joy over the simplicity of the new lesson. It all seemed almost too story-book-like to be happening in her stupid, commonplace life. She had spent so many long hours in thinking over how things would never happen for her, that she had entirely lost faith in their ever changing their ways and now, all of a sudden, here was a complete reversal. Bonds were turned into wings; that unattainable being, a live man, was not only at hand, but available; she felt herself bidden not to doubt her power; she judged herself advised to say frankly all the things that girls may never say. This was the day of feminine freedom. To wish was to have. What one wanted was the thing that was best for one. Emily – with all of Jane's ideas swimming upside down in her head – felt superbly joyous and confident. After all, being alive was a pretty good thing.

She turned a corner into the lane that led in a roundabout way to her mother's back garden gate and walked swiftly. She was a fine, straight girl with a lithe, springy walk. Perhaps Lorenzo Rath could not have done better, from most standpoints, than to marry such an one. Many men do worse. And there was old Mr. Cattermole's money, too. Some of these views float in all human atmosphere to-day – float there securely, because the world is a practical world, and an automobile is obvious, while love and trust are absolutely unknown to many. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon too," and Mammon is very plain and practical, rolling on rubber tires to the best restaurant. Emily could not have reduced her roseate visions to any such sordid reasoning, but love to her meant leaving town and having a good-looking and lively young man to take her about. This was not really love, any more than the means by which she expected to acquire it were the religion taught by Jane. We hear much of the downfall of love and the downfall of religion in these days, but no one even stops to realize that religion and love cannot possibly even shake on their thrones. Their counterfeits may crumble and tumble, but real truth can never fail. It was the counterfeits at which Emily, like many another, grasped eagerly.

So now she was tripping lightly along and, turning the twist by the great chestnut tree, her heart gave a sudden flop, for just ahead she saw her quarry. He was propped against the fence, using his knees for an easel, while he made a rapid water-color sketch. He was good at those little impressions of an artistic bit, that nearly always show forth in youth a great artist struggling to grow.

Emily started, for she was very close to him before she saw him, and her rampant thoughts led her to blush, apologize, and stammer precisely as she might have done, had her sex never advanced at all but merely remained the dominant note that they have always been.

"Why, Mr. Rath," and then she paused.

Lorenzo – who wanted to finish his sketch – nodded pleasantly without looking up. "Grand day for walking," he said, as a supremely polite hint, and continued to work rapidly.

Emily went close beside him and looked downward upon the canvas. "How pretty! I wish I knew more about pictures. What is that brown hill? You can't see a hill from here."

"That's a cow," said Lorenzo, painting very fast indeed, "but don't ask me to explain things, for I can't work and talk at the same time."

Emily sank down beside him with a pleasant sense of proprietorship now that she could get him by will power alone. "I've just come from Mrs. Ralston's. They're in such distress over old Mrs. Croft."

"Is she worse?" The artist forgot to paint all of a sudden, and turned quickly towards her.

"Oh, no, – she was asleep when I left. Jane didn't seem a bit troubled, but Mrs. Ralston is almost wild over not knowing what to say to her sister when she comes back and finds that awful old woman there. It's a terrible situation. Everybody knows that young Mrs. Croft has run away. She just hated to stay and now she's gone. Isn't it awful?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Lorenzo, suddenly regaining his deep interest in work, "I have a distinct feeling that Miss Grey will bring things out all right for most people always. It's her way."

"Yes, she's a dear girl," said Emily, and paused to have time to consider things a little while, feeling that the conversation should be continued by the man. The man didn't continue the conversation, however, merely wielding his brush and looking completely absorbed.

Then she remembered her mission. "Mr. Rath, do you believe in frankness always?"

"I wish that I did."

"But don't you?"

"Civilization wouldn't stand for it."

"Perhaps not every one could bear it, but some could. I could, I'm sure."

"Are you so sure?"

"Yes, I am sure. I was talking with Jane alone just at the gate before I left, and she believes that frankness is best always."

"It's easiest, certainly." Lorenzo raised his eyebrows a little impatiently, but she paid no attention.

"Do you think so?"

"Why, of course. When one wants to be let alone and blurts out, 'Let me alone,' why, one gets let alone."

"Oh, but that would be impolite," said Emily, feeling that for an artist he used very crude metaphor. "Of course, Jane and I were not talking about that kind of people, or that kind of ways. We were talking of people like you and me – nice people, you know. Jane advised me to be quite frank with you."

Lorenzo opened his eyes widely. "About what, please?"

"Oh, about all things. You see I meet so few men, and men are so interesting, and I enjoy talking with them. I've read a good deal, and I don't care for the life in this place. I want to leave it dreadfully."

"So do I," said the artist. "I quite agree with you there."

"You see, Jane has been teaching me to understand life, and I am getting the feeling that I am meant for something else than just helping my mother, wandering about town, and going to church. I'm very tired and restless."

Lorenzo painted fast.

"Mr. Rath, if you – a man – felt as I do, what would you do?"

"Get out."

"But where?"

"Everybody can find a way, if they really want to."

"It isn't as if I had talent, you see."

"A good many people haven't talent and yet do very well, indeed."

"But I don't want to be a shop-girl or anything like that."

"Naturally not."

There was a pause.

"I'm very much interested in the progress women are making," said Emily. "I read all I can get hold of about it. Don't you think it remarkable?"

"I don't think much about it, and I skip everything on the subject."

"Oh, Mr. Rath!"

"I'm a jealous brute. I don't like to realize that a woman can do everything that is a man's work, even to the verge of driving him to starvation, while he can't do any of her work under any circumstances."

"He could wash and cook and sweep."

"Oh, he's invented machines to save her that."

"I see you've no sympathy with the advanced woman."

"Yes, I have. I'm very sorry for her. A nice mess the next generation will be."

"Oh, dear."

"My one comfort is that boys take after their mothers, and I'm looking to see a future generation of men so strong-minded that they smash ladies back to where they belong – in the rear with the tents."

"Goodness, Mr. Rath, then you don't like any of the ways things are going?"

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