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The Speaking Picture
by [?]

There had been a great discussion in the High School all the week, and as Friday drew nearer the excitement grew more and more intense. For Barton High School had many girls from the Hill section of the town where the mill owners lived, and also many girls from the River section where the mill workers lived.

There was to be an election for the president of the Senior Class and when the names of the candidates for the presidency had been posted on the bulletin board by the nominating committee, a mill girl headed the list.

Such a thing had never been heard of in the school. Always the president of the class had been the one who could entertain the class, who could stand out prominently during class week, whose father would help to pay the bills of the Commencement time.

But at the beginning of the year, the class had decided to learn to do things according to parliamentary law and to be democratic, and this was the result. Never for a moment had the girls and boys of the Hill section dreamed that a committee would dare to choose a River-section president.

To be sure, the girl whom they had chosen had led the class both in marks and in the debating club. Yes, she could make a splendid Commencement Day speaker, but she was a River-section girl, and they just wouldn’t have it.

So they argued and pleaded and tried to persuade their friends to make her fail the election. Why, there would be no fun at all during Commencement week if she led the class. She had nothing at all to spend for fun.

Chief among the objectors had been Mary Waite. Her father owned the largest mill and she had thought surely the place was to be hers. She had even planned how she would entertain the class on the lawn of her home. She was ready to do almost anything to upset the plans of the nominating committee.

So the group of girls were still scolding when they reached the door of the museum about four o’clock on Thursday afternoon. Mary had an errand in the picture gallery and the rest were to wait for her in the corridor below.

As she entered the gallery, she pulled from her book the assignment which had been given to her:

“Study the pictures in Gallery Nine and bring the name and the artist of the picture that speaks most plainly to you.”

What an assignment! How could any picture speak to her when she was feeling in such an unpleasant mood. She passed down one side and then along the end of the gallery. She liked the children in this and the flowers in that. But surely none would speak to her.

Down another side she went, stopping more often to look at the things that interested her.

Suddenly she saw a picture of the Christ. It was at the end of the gallery, and a wonderful light was thrown on it from a globe just above the picture. The Christ was standing in a room and in his face was such a tender, thoughtful look.

Mary sat down in the seat nearest to her. She did not want to move nearer lest she lose the rare expression of the face of the Christ. It had only been a few weeks since she had been standing before the altar of the church, making herself a gift to the Christ. So as she sat and watched the picture, she thought to herself:

“What a wonderful man he was! I should have loved to have had him look in my face as he is looking into theirs. I wish I might have really seen him.”

After a time she moved nearer. Then she could see the faces of the other persons in the picture. From where she had been sitting, only the face of the Christ had seemed to stand out, though one knew the others were there. They were sitting about the table in a home.