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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."
"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.