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Part one




Panting and hissing, a locomotive brought its string of yellow wooden cars to a stop in the old Wells Street station. Herbert Renbrush was already on the bottom step of the day coach on which he had ridden from Ranosha. Although first to leave the train, he walked slowly along the board platform, up the steps, and out through the waiting­ room, eyes and ears eager for everything around him.

Outside it was already dark and there was a chill drizzle of rain. Turning up his coat collar, he swung south across the bridge.

Flags and bunting hung sodden and soot-stained as he turned east in Randolph Street. Chicago was cele­brating the Peace of Paris following the Spanish­ American War. His throat ached with emotion as he thought of McKinley, of Roosevelt the Rough Rider, of Dewey, of Sampson, of Schley, of Shafter, of his country, sacrificing "blood and treasure" to free Cuba from tyranny.

In Michigan Avenue Herbert turned south. He noted the progress made on the filling-in of Grant Park, covertly studied girls lifting their skirts out of the wet, stood and watched the first horseless carriage he had ever seen-a lumbering electric hansom cab­- and thrilled to the clang of Illinois Central suburban





trains rushing homeward in their groove next what was then the lake shore.

Soon, he hoped, he would be a part of all this.

At Twelfth Street Herbert entered an ugly, rec­tangular, seven-story building on the east side of the avenue: a spick and span lobby, brilliantly lighted; big leather arm-chairs stood about; a leather divan lounged against one wall. At the rear was a hotel counter, with mail-boxes ranged behind. Through double doors on the left he could see a large corner store fitted up with platform, piano, and rows of chairs, like a chapel. On the right, glass doors showed a book-store. In a corner of the front an office had been partitioned off with varnished oak and glass.

People were sitting and standing in pairs and little groups. Most of them were middle-aged, neatly but plainly dressed-no style to them. Most of them car­ried Bibles, periodicals, and hymn-books. There was something about their faces that puzzled Herbert. Anyone of them, seen alone, would have seemed or­dinary; but taken together there was a similarity that baffled analysis.

Some of the faces were wasted and discolored by disease; but in the big hollow eyes was the same un­canny something. Some were on crutches, some in wheel-chairs, and some in bandages.

A little group of young folks-these without Bibles and hymn-books-talked and laughed in a corner by the desk. Herbert watched them a few mo­ments, trying to decide what it was in their manner that made them differ from a group of youngsters in Ranosha. Not exactly seriousness, he thought, nor restraint.




More like watchfulness. They laughed as if they knew it might be well for them, at any moment, to pull their faces straight. Deliberately he studied these boys and girls-especially the girls. They were about his own age-in their early twenties. Most of them were more stylishly dressed than their elders, but none went to extremes. In imagination he could see them watching the clock in an office or shipping­-room, but not in a college classroom.

His turn at the desk came, and he asked for Elder Renbrush.

"With all my heart," answered the clerk cordially. "You're the elder's brother, I guess. He told me you was coming. I'm glad to see you. We think a lot of Elder Renbrush in Zion." He shook hands warmly as he spoke. The man was tall, with military build and bearing, handsomely dressed. He had laughing blue eyes, light brown hair and mustache, and his skin, while coarse, was ruddy. His voice was slightly husky, but there was warmth and fun in it. Herbert was drawn to him.

"Your brother was here a few minutes ago, askin' for you, and can't be far off." He struck a bell on the counter and a pimpled youth appeared.

"Eddie, look around, will you, and see if you can find Elder Renbrush. Tell 'm his brother's here."

"Yes, Captain," said the boy, and went.

"My name is Chris Erdman," said the clerk, "but everybody calls me Captain. I've been Captain of Zion Guard ever since the General Overseer started it." The bell-boy came up with Elder Ezra Renbrush, Herbert's brother, ten years older than he.




"Well, Herbert,"~ he said, extending his hand, his shy, sympathetic face in smiles, "I'm glad you've come at last. The Lord has been leading you toward Zion for years."

Ezra Renbrush was dark and heavily bearded. His voice was gentle, his brown eyes soft, but intelligent and kindly. He had been a country preacher. In this he had won success, because no one could doubt the sincerity of his sympathy, kindness, and faith in his religion. He had never won to any large or prosper­ous church, because he was as lacking in guile and political talent as a child. Now he and his rather numerous family were in "Zion"-had been for nearly two years.

Every preacher who came into the fold was "or­dained" by the General Overseer, no matter how many ordinations he might have suffered before. If unmarried, he bore the title of evangelist; if married, elder. Some of the elders' wives were also ordained. They were called evangelists. So Ezra was an elder. His wife Myra, however, was just plain Mrs. Ren­brush. She had a mind and spirit of her own and shaped a number of events to her liking.

Strong but inarticulate affection and a family loy­alty more potent than ordinary bound the brothers to each other. Both had more than the average human failing of believing what they wanted to believe, but Ezra was more unsophisticated than Herbert.

"I told the dear General Overseer you were coming this evening," said Ezra, "and I'm so glad to say he wants to see you. Isn't that wonderful? He arranged for me to take you to his private office at the tabernacle 




just before the regular meeting of Zion Seventies."

"Well, that's fine. I'm very curious to see Dr. Dowie."

"Oh, Herbert, he is such a wonderful man of God, and is doing a great work, a very great work. I'm sure you'll love him, as we all do in Zion, and you'll want to give your life to the blessed full gospel of salvation, healing, and holy living."

"Well, I'm willing to investigate. I want to see and hear for myself. But I'm not going off half-cocked about this or anything else."

"All right, Herbert. I know you love the Lord and want to do His will, and He'll lead you in His own way. C'mon, it's time to go to the tabernacle."

The brothers walked down Michigan A venue to Sixteenth Street and entered Central Zion Taber­nacle.

"This used to be an Episcopal church," explained Ezra. "The General Overseer bought it a couple of years ago and completely rebuilt the inside. It was a miracle of God's goodness the way the money came in to pay for the work. It will seat forty-five hundred."

This tabernacle was an imposing stone structure, and when Herbert went inside he saw that it had been reconstructed by building two large galleries, one above the other. Swiftly counting seats and rows, however, he had his doubts about its capacity. He could not account for more than three thousand seats. "Who told you this would seat forty-five hun­dred?" he asked.




"Why, I've heard the General Overseer say so hun­dreds of times," replied Ezra, mildly surprised.

"H'm," said Herbert, "maybe I counted wrong."

Behind the platform, on which were a pulpit and a row of ecclesiastical high-back chairs, was a choir-­loft with banked seats for about three hundred and fifty. A big reed organ with two banks of keys stood in the lower midst. On the wall, above the choir-loft, were crutches, braces, plaster casts, high-sole shoes, trusses, medicine bottles, uniforms, and cocked hats. The crutches were arranged in the form of a huge crown. Painted above the crown there gleamed in gold-leaf, "Christ Is All and In All." On the upper right-hand corner of the space appeared, in big block letters, "S. P."

"All these crutches and surgical appliances were thrown aside by people who were healed by the Lord in answer to our dear General Overseer's prayers. The uniforms were given up by members of secret so­cieties. You know the General Overseer has exposed the diabolical and unchristian character of the lodges -and especially of the Masons. The S. P. is made of boxes of cigars, given up by a tobacco fiend, delivered from his habit in answer to the General Overseer's prayers. It stands for "Stink Pot." That's what he calls men who use tobacco, you know. There are jars up there, too, containing cancers which fell out when the General Overseer laid on hands according to the Scriptures. How anyone can look at that wall and not believe in Jesus the Healer is more than I can un­derstand. It is ocular demonstration. But 'there are none so blind as they who will not see.' "




While the brothers were looking about the inside of the tabernacle, people were coming in. They stood in groups, talking spiritedly. There were fervent, greetings and much laughter. Yet Herbert, listen­ing with one ear, heard many pious exclamations, of which "Praise the Lord!" was most frequent.

This was, in some respects, a more attractive­ looking crowd than the one in the lobby of Zion Home. Nearly all seemed to be healthy and happy, and there was more spontaneity in their expression and manner. They looked and dressed like common laborers, skilled artisans, small retailers, salesmen for wholesale groceries, clerks, and dentists. A certain something in their appearance that Herbert could not interpret was not pleasant to him.

"We better get up by that door over there," sug­gested Ezra. "The General Overseer should be here soon and he will want you to be handy." They went over to a door at the right of the platform and sat in' a front seat near-by. The lower floor and first gallery had filled rapidly and now the people sat chatting to­gether in low voices. Narrow-headed, futile-looking men, many of them bearded, moved importantly about. Ezra pointed some of them out and named them Elder This and Evangelist That. They had been denominational preachers in obscure churches.

It was past time for the meeting to begin, but these people showed no sign of impatience or wonder. Her­bert, however, who hated waste of any kind and had all of "Poor Richard's" reverence for minutes, had an uneasy feeling of hostility toward the man who thus flung away fifteen thousand minutes of




other people's time-including Herbert Renbrush's.

Finally, the door at the left of the platform opened and Captain Erdman, smiling and nodding gaily to acquaintances here and there, came out and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Come on, my boy. The Gen­eral Overseer will see you now."

They entered a small, irregular-shaped room under a stairway. It was simply furnished with ingrain car­pet, small roll-top desk, a big swivel chair, and sev­eral straight-backed wooden ones. But it was domi­nated, blotted out by the man who rose swiftly to greet his callers.

Five feet four inches tall, with wide shoulders, deep chest, and big, round pot-belly, he was surprisingly agile. His short, bowed legs were thin, so that in his shirt-sleeves or a jacket he would have looked like the picture of Humpty-Dumpty. He wore, however, a Prince Albert coat of finest black broadcloth, a spotless collar, white lawn tie, round cuffs, black trousers, and tiny patent-leather shoes. But Herbert did not notice the little man's clothing. His head and face were all-compelling. Except for a fringe of black wavy hair which fell over his collar, he was pinkly, gleamingly bald. A long crinkly white beard of the prophetic pattern covered his lower face and spread over his bosom. The somewhat narrow skull was roundly domed on top, long from the ears for­ward and comparatively short behind, but it looked big-brainy. His nose was concave, with heavy, blunt tip. In his purplish gray eyes, however, was found the force of the man, or, rather, the legion of mighty and fascinating men in his personality. When those




eyes blazed and condemned, few could withstand their steady fire. When they plead and cajoled, few could resist their magnetism. In repose, they were in­telligent and kindly, but they could sparkle with hu­mor, melt with tenderness, darken with tragedy, weep and wring tears from thousands.

As Herbert Renbrush looked into this famous pair of eyes for the first time he saw a warmth of kindness that surprised him, and a quizzical penetration that seemed to strip him of disguises.

"Ah, Mister Renbrush, I'm glad to welcome you to Zion. Your good brother, the elder, has told me about you. Did they take good care of you at Zion Home?" He spoke with a suggestion of Scotch burr.

"Oh, yes, Captain Erdman kindly found my brother for me, thank you," replied Herbert.

"Splendid fellow, Erdman," said the General Over­seer, complacently. "As you know, I was the instru­ment in God's hands of saving his life, restoring him to health, and rescuing him from drunkenness and debauchery. He was dying of vile diseases when God's Little White Dove, 'Leaves of Healing' first brought him my message of Jesus the Healer. He'd been a race-track tout and then keeper of a dive in the slums of Chicago. When he 'came to old Zion Tabernacle Number Two, he could scarcely walk, could not bend his knees, using two canes. I laid hands on him and prayed for him. God healed him instantly. He threw away his sticks and, on his way home, ran up to the elevated station two steps at a time. You wouldn't think, to look at him now, that he was once a dirty bum, with a nose like a ripe tomato."




"That's wonderful," said Herbert.

"How long shall you remain with us?" asked the General Overseer.

"Oh, I'm going back to Ranosha on the midnight train. I expect to see a man about a job when I leave here, and hope to arrange something with him before train-time.”

"What kind of job?"

"Well, since I left college, I've been working in a small real-estate and insurance office in Ranosha, and I want to get into something better in Chicago. I've an old college friend in a big office in La Salle Street and I'm hoping he can help me find an opening."

"Why don't you stay a few days? Then you could spend more time with your brother, could see more of God's work in Zion. You would have a chance to look over the real-estate field and make a desirable connection. "

"To tell you the truth, Dr. Dowie, I couldn't feel right to go to the expense of several days in Chicago."

"Your scruples do you credit, young man. How­ever, you are welcome to stay with us at Zion Home as my guest, if that will help you."

"That's wonderfully kind of you, Doctor," said Herbert, "but I couldn't think of trespassing on your generosity. And besides, I don't believe I ought to stay away from the office so long. We're short-handed and I'm needed."

''I'd like to help you, Mr. Renbrush, partly for your good brother's sake. Zion is a very busy place and we have need of many workers. If you like to come back to us in a few days, I can find something here for you




to do. I do not pay extravagant salaries, for it is God's work, but I've no doubt I can find a few pennies for you. You can at least have bread-and perhaps some butter and jam. You could then use your spare time looking up the position you want. What salary do you get now?"

"Seven and a half a week-but I got two hundred dollars more last year, out of my five percent of the commissions I earn for the office. Probably a little more this year."

"Well, suppose we say fifteen dollars a week, then.

That will be a bit better than you are doing now?"

"Oh, that would be generous," said Herbert, de­lighted. "It would be a great help, Doctor. Thank you very much. I must be frank with you, though, and tell you while I'm interested in your work, I'm not a member of your church, and may never be."

"Well, we won't quarrel about that, young man.

I want to do what I can for you for the dear elder's sake. Are you a member of any church?"

"Yes, I'm nominally a member of the Congrega­tional church in Ranosha; but I got so tired of going to meetings, leading meetings, serving on committees, chasing around begging for money, and all the rest of it, with no results, that not long ago I told the pastor I wouldn't waste time on it any more."

"And what did he say to that?" asked Dr. Dowie, his eyes twinkling, his mustache twitching.

"Oh, he said the work of the church was to build character, not to do the spectacular."

"Yes, yes, I used to be a big-headed Congregation­alist myself. And what did you tell him?"




"I told him J couldn't see that the members of his church averaged any better-built characters than people of the same class outside the church."

"Nor do they," said the General Overseer, hotly.

"The apostate churches have forsaken the Gospel of Christ. He preached sal~ation, healing, and holy liv­ing. And they preach 'character-building'!"

After agreeing that he would take up his new duties on November first, Herbert bade the General Overseer good-by and went with his brother into the auditorium. The people still sat patiently waiting, al­though it was now nearly an hour past time for the

meeting to begin.

The General Overseer raced out upon the platform as if he had just torn himself away from affairs of epochal importance. First dropping to his knees behind the pulpit a moment, he rose and began to speak in a harsh, disagreeable, but strangely carrying voice. Herbert was surprised to see that he looked tall

and powerful.

Soon the preacher announced a hymn and the people sang.

This crowd can sing!" whispered Herbert to his brother.

Oh, yes," was the answer, “they have the love and joy of the Lord in their hearts."

This was a weekly meeting of the recently organized Zion Seventies. These people, said Ezra, went in pairs, from house to house, all over Chicago, selling “Leaves of· Healing," distributing tracts, testifying, caring for the sick when they could get an opportunity,




doing housework for sick mothers, gathering information about families in distress.

At this meeting, after the General Overseer had preached for an hour, another hour was devoted to reports from -members. Men and women related their experiences. Some had stories of people “brought into Zion," of people healed in answer to the General Overseer's prayer, of poverty and distress relieved. Others had been struck or kicked, had been cursed, threatened, ridiculed. These seemed prouder and hap­pier than those who had come “bringing in the

sheaves" of conversions and healings.

All this made Herbert uncomfortable. Happy abandonment to the faith that was in these people put him to shame. Compared to theirs, his religion seemed cold and perfunctory.

After the meeting, which closed at about eleven

o'clock, the people seemed unwilling to leave. Stand­ing or seated in groups, they talked religion as a crowd of undergraduates discusses a football game.

All the way up the avenue to Zion Home, Ezra talked.

“The thing that makes me so happy in Zion," he

said, "is that here the Bible means just what it says-­all of it. We don't need to try to explain away any of it. For us it is all up to date, all true, and all practica­ble. And we get actual, concrete results every day to prove it. Then it is a joy to work with people who are so whole-heartedly in accord. They're too busy serving the Lord and their fellow-men to have any time for the jealousy, backbiting, scheming and conspiring




you and I have seen so much of in the apostate churches. And there's none of the indifference that used to discourage me so in my pastorates. Every one is too willing, if anything. We have to hold them back for their health's sake."

At Zion Home, Herbert told Ezra that he would not look up his friend that night. It was only three quarters of an hour to train time, and besides, since he had agreed to go to work for Dr. Dowie, there was no hurry about seeing Phil. So the brothers sat chat­ting in the lobby.

In a few minutes Captain Erdman came in, ac­companied by a tall, athletic young man of about twenty-eight. His head was high but well-propor­tioned, his forehead intellectual. Level gray eyes looked at the world with intelligent, friendly interest. Dress and grooming bespoke cultivated tastes. He was, thought Herbert, easily superior to all the Zion folks he had seen. "He looks like a gentleman and a scholar," he said to himself.

"Mr. Renbrush," said the captain, "I want you to meet Mr. Harrow, the general manager of Zion Printing and Publishing House and general associate editor of 'Leaves of Healing' and Zion publica­tions."

"That's a whale's mouthful of title, isn't it?" laughed Harrow, easily, as he shook hands with Her­bert. "I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Renbrush. I'd know you were a college man even if the captain hadn't told me. You see, we've been talking about you. I hope to get better acquainted."

Herbert was charmed. Here, he felt, was a man of




his own class. Somehow, he was not quite so fright­ened and miserable, now that this splendid man, about his own age, had appeared.

"You're a college man too, of course," he said. "What's your alma mater?"

"Oh, I'm Princeton, Ninety-one," said Harrow, "and what's yours?"

"Berrence, Ninety-six."

"Well, we're too far apart on the map to fight about our football teams, so we ought to be peace­ful enough. Did you play?"

"Yes, three years, right guard."

"Good for you! Sounds like varsity. I didn't get that far, but I did manage to lose some skin for dear old Ninety-one. The captain tells me you're going to ' work here. Come in and see me as soon as you can. Publishing house is at the corner of Thirteenth and Michigan. "





On the first day of November, 1898, Herbert Renbrush arrived in Chicago. He went at once to his brother Ezra's flat in Monroe Avenue near Sixty-first Street, where, for three dol­lars a week, he was to have the use of a folding bed in the living-room, and his breakfasts and suppers. Arriving in the morning, he visited with his brother, ate dinner with him, and then took a Cottage Grove Avenue cable car uptown to Zion Home.

Herbert's welcome by Captain Erdman, at Zion Home, made him glow inside.

“I'll telephone up to Murray, the General Over­seer's secretary," said the captain, picking up an in­strument. "I think I can get you an interview this afternoon."

The captain spoke briefly, banteringly, to some one he called Merry Christmas.

"Come along, my boy," said he, setting down the telephone and coming out from behind the counter with long, graceful strides. "What'd I tell you? Merry worked you in ahead of a long line of elders and evangelists, but we've got to get there quick."

They rounded the left end of the counter and found the building's one elevator car waiting.

"Four times, Freddie," sang Erdman to the grin­ning young saint on the wire rope. They rose to the



fourth floor. Stepping into the corridor, Erdman led the way toward an open door at the western or front end. Beyond this door was a waiting-room, where Herbert could see about a dozen patient-looking eld­ers, most of them bearded, lined up against the wall in wooden chairs. At a roll-top desk against the other wall sat a reedy youth with long, fleshy nose. Beside him was a girl with saucy face and mischievous brown eyes. They were cutting columns of clippings from newspapers and pasting them in huge scrap-books, thus combining functions of waiting-room attend­ants and clipping bureau.

Captain Erdman passed by quickly, turned to the right, opened a door, and slipped, with Herbert, in­side a little foyer, about ten feet square, lighted only by a single incandescent. Four closed doors appeared. This had been a three-room de luxe suite in days when the building had been a profane hotel. Tradi­tion asserted that John L. Sullivan had used for spirituous ceremonials the rooms now sacred to the office work of the spiritual head of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion Throughout the World.

Captain Erdman tapped lightly on one of the four doors and stood waiting. There was no response. He grinned and knocked again. Not a sound except the swift impact of typewriter keys inside. "The little shrimp-tryin' to be mean," whispered the captain, laughing silently, as he tapped again. Rattle of type on paper ceased-the door opened.

Lawrence Murray was small, with lady-like hands and feet. His hair, his nails, his linen, his clothing were as neat and compact as the works of a watch.



His dark eyes were smoldering, his brow drawn in a scowl which advertised itself as ferocious. But while his mouth was screwed tight shut, his lips were full and a ripe red. For all his fierce manner, he appeared sulky rather than angry, and Herbert had the im­pression it was all a mask for a shy but friendly soul.

"Hello yourself, Merry Christmas," whispered the captain. "Glad to see you lookin' so frivolous. This is Mr. Herbert Renbrush, the elder's brother-and this, Mr. Renbrush, is the famous Merry Christmas you've heard of so often."

Murray permitted a tight smile to dimple one smooth cheek, shook hands stiffly and murmured, "How do you do, Mr. Renbrush?"

"Stop and see me when you go out, my boy," in­vited the captain as he left.

"Won't you sit down, Mr. Renbrush," said Murray precisely. "The General Overseer desired me to in­form you that he would see you at his earliest oppor­tunity, between appointments. He is very much occupied, but he desires to make you welcome and to induct you into your duties as early as possible."

"All right," answered Herbert, smiling with the secretary.

Murray's office was neat, small, and compact, like himself. He had a mahogany roll-top desk, immacu­lately in order-everything in painfully exact, geo­metrical position-and a small typewriter desk of the same wood beside it. On the wall was but one picture -a life-sized head and shoulders of Dr. Dowie. The one window looked out upon Michigan Avenue, but from where Herbert sat, nothing but the Royal Tailors'



Building across the street was visible. From below came the incessant clop-clop of horses' hoofs.

Murray returned to his typewriter without more conversation. Minutes slipped by, then slowed to a crawl. Murray went on typing, the tailors across the avenue went on cutting acres of cloth, the horses below went on weaving intricate patterns of rhythm. But Herbert only sat. He looked about for something to read-at least his time need not be wholly wasted -but everything in this office was so mathematically placed he dared not disturb a detail. He tried to think, to plan; but there was too much unknown in the future for him to make a beginning.

This was a fine way to treat a fellow, he thought.

"Rush up! Right away! Hurry, or you'll be too late! Then sit outside and waste hours of time! By jiminy, I won't stand it! I don't have to."

"Guess I'd better come back later," he finally told Murray. "Evidently Dr. Dowie doesn't want to see me now."

The secretary ceased typing long enough to say, coldly, "If you desire to converse with the General Overseer, you would do well to remain until he sum­mons you."

"Oh, well! But it's a great waste of time."

“It is his time,” replied Murray, simply.

Herbert stared, mouth slack, while Murray went on at the typewriter.

“’His time,' “he thought. "Does he mean the man's God Almighty?"

Another hour passed. Occasionally there was a soft knock on the outer door and the bell-boy silently



handed in one or more yellow:..jacketed tele­grams, a bundle of printed blanks fastened together with a clip, or an envelop containing one of the same kind of blanks. These blanks were written upon in many different hands, some in pencil, some in ink. A few were typewritten. All these Murray arranged, as they came, in a neat pile close to his typewriter.

A buzzer sounded on the wall above the secretary's sleek head. He rose solemnly, picked up the handful of telegrams and blanks he had collected, then si­lently opened a door at the left of his typewriter desk, disappeared through it, and as silently closed it. After fifteen minutes the door was opened wide, Murray came through, stood ceremoniously aside and stiffly pronounced:

"The General Overseer desires you to come in, Mr. Renbrush."