I was the last one to leave the building.
I came back to gather the few books I had left in my classroom – Aristotle, Shakespeare, Blake, McCauley’s History of England – and was stunned to find the doors open and no one inside. I don’t know why I should have been surprised. There was nothing left of the school as an institution, as of two days before. Even the trustees had disbanded. I did not know the fate of the building.
In the empty hallway I was overcome with a creeping, then overwhelming sense of what we had lost here. Though our school was bankrupt for the second time in ten years – this time there would be no one to bail it out – the building retained its glory. The arched western windows, floor to ceiling, admitted the warm light of this perfect autumn afternoon and the desks in classroom after classroom stood still in ordered rows, as if waiting for the day’s business. There would be none. Never again in this place.
Why did our prayers go unanswered? What in our mission would the Lord not approve? And where in this place will what we could have brought forth – light and understanding, riches and beauty – where will that be cultivated? It is 1911, and the world turns away from what is real and sustaining and to those false prophets who aim at selling newspapers. We could have made a mark here. We could have taught men discernment.