Cover image for The price
The price
Kraus, Jim.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, [2000]

Physical Description:
vi, 360 pages ; 21 cm.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.2 18.0 60146.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Value priced! The Price is the first in a historical four-book fiction series about the California Gold Rush by the writing team of Jim and Terri Kraus. When the lure of gold pulls Joshua Quittner away from the small church he is pastoring, he must choose between material wealth and peace with God. Only when he discovers the true meaning of love and sacrifice does Joshua find true fulfillment.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The Price is husband-and-wife team Kraus' first entry in what looks to be a likable four-volume series, Circle of Destiny, chronicling the fortunes of four Harvard classmates in the mid^-nineteenth century. It follows the unpredictable life of Joshua Quittner, son of a pioneer preacher, whose scholarly ways earn him his primitive Ohio community's support to study at Harvard's famous seminary. The catch is that he must return to Ohio to take up his father's ministry, which is hard to do after he's heard Ralph Waldo Emerson talk of a universal religion and met liberated, would-be physician Hannah Collins. News of the gold strike in California fires his wanderlust, and he strikes off to find his fortune, leaving lots of disappointed folks back in Ohio. The Krauses do solid work; they may be the next Brock and Bodie Thoene.



Chapter One Harvard Divinity School September 1842 His journey to Cambridge, Massachusetts, took three days.     Three sunrises.     Three sunsets.     Hundreds and hundreds of miles.     On the dawning of the fourth day, Joshua awoke to the train's rattling and chug-cough-chugging along the banks of the Charles River, a few hours west of Boston. The long journey--his first train ride on the "iron horse," as his father called it--was, at the outset, intensely exhilarating, with only dreamed-of sights and sounds. But now he was bone tired and ready to be off this noisy railway car. He wanted to begin his new life.     As dawn's steely light glinted off the ripples of the slow-flowing river, Joshua tried but could not see to the far side of the Charles. It was too foggy. Cambridge lay in that direction. Cambridge, just north of Boston, was home to both Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School.     He looked down at the Bible--his father's--that lay unopened on the seat next to him. When Joshua had left Shawnee, his father had given it to him and had instructed him to read it every day, as both knew he would. As Joshua now ran his hand over the leather cover, worn to a skin's thickness, he closed his eyes. He could almost hear the chorus of a thousand church choirs, trembling together as one reedy voice. The thousands of sermons he'd heard since birth echoed in his father's voice.     His palm rested flat against the book, and it warmed to his flesh. He lifted the Bible, still unopened, and hefted it into the air, feeling its pull. In Ohio, the words felt as if each had dimension and weight. Now, nearly at his destination, the words grew light, as light as gossamer, a fainter and fainter echo, almost pulling his heart heavenward, like the thin white chords of a dandelion head loosed by the wind. Without knowing the reason or searching for one, Joshua felt less encumbered than ever before. Even the carefree and light days of childhood were weighty and grave in comparison to the lightness of his heart on this particular morning.     He smiled. Soon he would be walking on the hallowed grass quadrangle of Harvard as a divinity student. Walking among the same great ivory towers, the same tall stacks of books, as did John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. The noble thoughts that must permeate the very air of Cambridge, Joshua thought.     He was young for a divinity student; most of his fellow classmates would have gone to college first, at least for a few years. But Joshua did not have the time or resources for such a leisurely approach. And he was already an accomplished student, most of his learning self-taught.     As he watched the rising sun, his gray-green eyes brightened further. Realizing his long blond hair lay thick and matted from the journey, he ran his hand through it, smoothing it as best he could. When he combed it back from his forehead, the sun highlighted the slight streak of red in the blond locks. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he was unaware that other passengers were watching him. For Joshua Quittner, from the hamlet of Shawnee, Ohio, was a man who often drew long looks from blushing young women.     Drawing little comfort from the stale air trapped in the crude sleeping car, he slipped the Bible into his leather bag, drawing the drawstring as tight as he could. Then he stood, rocking to the sway of the railcar, and looked out the dirty window as ashes and cinders rained down from the locomotive's smokestack.     Other words from southern Ohio echoed in his head.     "Don't need to be goin' off to some fancy school out East to learn truth from the Bible, boy," his uncle Hiram, also a local preacher of sorts, had forewarned. "You're a smart one, sure. But there ain't much they can teach you that you can't be learnin' right here. Besides, I hear tell that school is run by a bunch of Unitarians."     Joshua had merely nodded in deference to his uncle's admonitions and replied quietly, "Then perhaps I am needed there to be a beacon of the Truth."     "You're a leader," his uncle had added, growing more avuncular. "You lead people right, they'll follow you--even if you don't think they will. They'll be able to see the Truth in your eyes. You look to the Lord, and others will look to you. That's your callin', boy. That's your destiny. To lead . . . and to be a servant of the people and serve the Almighty."     Joshua shook his head to clear the memory, then opened the door to stand outside on the platform between the railcars. He breathed deeply of the air, spiced with the taste of coal dust, and stared out, his hands loose on the dew-slick railing. The train clattered past clusters of farms and villages nestled in fog-shrouded vales.     "We'll be setting into Boston in an hour," the conductor called as he stepped past Joshua on the rattling steps. "That's your stop, isn't it?"     Joshua nodded. "Well, Cambridge, actually. Harvard Divinity School."     The conductor, a bulky man with an enormous mustache, narrowed his eyes. "Well . . . I wouldn't have taken you for a preacher. Something about your face that don't take to being set off in a church."     Joshua offered a puzzled smile in return. Just what does a preacher look like? he thought.     The conductor squinted again, his hand on the forward door. "Then again, I've been told that traveling as much as I do in this blasted wheeled rattletrap will addle a man's mind." As he started to pull the door shut behind him, he paused for one last comment. "So be it, I always say. If I'm addled, don't pay me no mind. You'll be a fine preacher some day, if that's what you're to be."     Blinking against the acrid fingers of smoke around him, Joshua smiled, then threw his head back and laughed--the kind of rolling, bubbling merriment that came from his heart and soul. Startled, the conductor nearly tripped as he slammed the door behind him.     From the ladies' car forward, Joshua heard the muffled words, "Boston--next stop. End of the line--Boston!" * * * Joshua had procured a Boston city map from the land office of the courthouse of Shawnee County, Ohio. Now he bent closer to make out the details. According to the map, the distance from the center of Boston, where the train depot lay, to Cambridge was no greater than the thickness of his little finger.     But that short distance on the map had become a hard-edged, expanding geography because of the heavy theology books that lay evenly divided between his two satchels. By the time he made the crest of Boston's first hill, his arms were crying out in pain.     He passed horse-drawn rockaway carriages, gaily painted wheeled contraptions that ran in narrow tracks laid right into the cobblestones. Each massive carriage, pulled by a team of large horses, groaned under the weight of a dozen or more passengers.     Elegant plum-colored broughams clattered past him, carrying smartly dressed city folk, their coachmen calling to the horses for more speed. A steady stream of shiny hackneys also passed. No doubt they could be hired with a whistle, but Joshua knew such an extravagance was too dear for a person of his meager financial means.     Regardless of the fare, walking will be easiest on my wallet, he told himself. In Ohio I would walk for miles and think nothing of it. But walking here was different. The main streets were of cobblestone or paving bricks, bumpy and uneven. Where there were walkways, the boards were uneven.     Since Boston was near the ocean, Joshua had imagined the waters would provide cooling breezes to the city. But where he now walked, the sun bore down without interruption of tree or cloud. The air was still and had a cloying, sweaty wetness. Joshua had grown up living next to cows, pigs, and chickens--each with an earthy muskiness of their own. But Boston smelled different. There were horses, to be sure, but also the scents of neighborhoods--the aromas of food stalls, the produce peddlers, alcohol, and waftings of tobacco pipe smoke. This heady combined fragrance promised something more . . . more exotic, more foreign, more enticing.     Joshua wiped his brow with his sleeve, shifted his bags, and walked on.     Boston was noisy. Wagons clattered on the hard streets, horses' hooves clopped, and whistles and sirens sounded behind him and from a distance. A peddler cried out, his voice only a bit louder than the clattering of the tinware pots and kettles stacked high on his wagon.     "Milk! Fresh milk!"     Another offered fresh oysters. And another held up the morning newspaper, calling out the headlines, "Labor Unions Legalized! Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules Labor Unions Legal!" Among the peddlers were young boys and girls-- mere children, Joshua thought--selling matches, toothpicks, and flowers.     Just underfoot was the steady hum and clank of a city--a city alive and breathing. As Joshua walked upon its streets and felt Boston's pulsing breath, anticipation quickened his pulse but also nicked his heart with fear.     This is what I've dreamed about all my life, he thought, and I cannot believe it has all come to pass.     To his left was the golden dome of the state capitol. Harvard lay to the north of that, he knew, across the Charles River. A church spire reached up over the city's buildings, most of them red brick or white clapboard. Neat and tidy houses, crowded shutter to shutter, flanked Joshua's walk. Verandas with shiny painted railings and flower boxes lined the street. He turned left, then right, then left again.     Stopping at a corner, he lowered his bags, flexed his fingers, and massaged his sore arms. He took a step forward and, through a narrow gap in the buildings, could see a bridge and the glimmer of water. Turning toward a man who leaned against a cart stacked high with potatoes and cabbages, Joshua pointed toward the river.     "Is that the bridge one would take to Harvard?" he asked, careful with each word, avoiding the slurred and loopy speech of backwoods Ohio.     It was obvious the short and swarthy man couldn't see what Joshua gestured toward. From his mouth came a torrent of clipped words--none that Joshua knew or could begin to understand.     "Cambridge?" Joshua asked loudly and slowly, pointing again toward the north and the river.     The dark-eyed man chattered off a dozen unintelligible words, then said, "New bridge. Craigie's Bridge." He nodded in a most friendly manner, pointed, and added, "Cambridge three mile."     Joshua smiled back. "Thank you."     The little man touched the bill of his cap as Joshua walked past. Cambridge, Massachusetts Nearly an hour later Joshua stood in the center of Cambridge, at Harvard Square--the hallowed home of America's first institution of higher learning for two centuries.     To his left was the new astronomy observatory he had read about. To his right was the tall clock tower, complete with cupola and bell, over Harvard's imposing administration building. With the dozens of granite columns flanking the building, it looked every bit like a heathen Greek temple Joshua had seen once in a drawing.     Joshua tried to feel a sense of awe but could not. He was too tired and sweaty and thirsty and hungry, and more than a little confused. He wiped his brow with his sleeve, spun completely around, his eyes searching for a clue as to where to begin his new life.     Ten minutes later Joshua stood on the street where his new home was supposedly situated, a mere two and a half blocks from the clock tower and the school commons. Yet even in that short distance, Joshua had made two wrong turns and asked three people for directions--none of whom seemed eager to stop and talk.     They move so fast here, he noticed. Like farmers before a harvest rainfall.     "619 Follen Street," he said aloud. He looked at the house numbers, then down at the penciled address on the back of his acceptance letter.     To Joshua, the choice of housing had been nearly as important as the school. His tuition was underwritten by a scholarship funded by a group of rural churches in Shawnee County that pooled a fraction of their tithes every week to train local pastors' sons for the ministry. Joshua was the first son to have asked for the scholarship. In the small world of southern Ohio, Joshua's intelligence and ability burned brightly.     But living costs were to be borne by the student or his family. Joshua's parents had saved for years, but it had been a penny here, a nickel there. Joshua had only the sum needed for train fare and his first two months' rent. After sixty days, he would be on his own.     He knew that was proper. After all, he'd be having an easy time at school compared to his father and mother, who would have to work twice as hard on their tiny plot of land to make up for his absence during the fall's harvest and spring plantings.     Now Joshua stared up at the rambling, three-story white clapboard house before him. It looked crisp and tidy--at least at a distance.     As he walked closer, he saw the front of the house was an inviting jumble of dark-green shutters, wide porches, railings, stairways, and doors. Ivy covered much of the first floor and curled its way to the second.     The petite and thoroughly wrinkled landlady, Hazel Parsons, was expecting him. They made their way painstakingly up the first floor stairway, where Mrs. Parsons stopped, breathing hard, then continued on to the third floor.     Joshua spoke up. "I could take the key, Mrs. Parsons. I'm sure I could find it."     She did not stop her trudge upstairs.     "Mrs. Parsons?" Joshua called out, more loudly this time, reminding him of the number of deaf farmers in his father's church. But Mrs. Parsons still didn't stop. By the time he decided to try again, she'd made it to the top of the stairs. Apparently winded, she clutched at her chest with one hand and pointed with the other toward the porch at the rear of the house. Joshua saw a door almost hidden by the branches of an elm tree that had grown close to the roof.     "You'll have to push the branches aside, Mr. Quibbner. Haven't anyone to prune them back just now."     "It's Quittner, Mrs. Parsons," he called out, almost shouting. "Joshua Quittner , not Quibbner."     "Quibbner. That's what I said, young man." Mrs. Parsons muttered under her breath, "Nice boy, but can't hear worth beans." Unlocking the door, she stood aside, ushered him in, and gave him the key. "Rent's due the first and fifteenth. No liquor. No women. No hooliganism."     "You don't have to worry about that, Mrs. Parsons," Joshua called out. "I'm attending the divinity school."     She eyed him closely, leaning toward him. "Divinity school?" she said, sniffing. "Don't look like a preacher to me."     And with that, Joshua was left alone. He lowered his bags and glanced around the twelve-by-twelve-foot room, noticing the one wall that stood short due to the roofline. The walls, covered with wide, inexpensive planking, had been painted white years prior, and now threads of dark brown wood and knotholes peeked through. The floor, partially covered by a braided rug, glowed the color of a butternut squash in the sun. There was a washstand with a pitcher, a basin, and a long looking glass. A large, ancient bed with a quilt of reds and browns stood under the eaves, and a bedside table held a globe-shaded lamp. A single wardrobe and fireplace took up much of the free wall, and a plain desk with an oil lamp and a chair filled the other wall.     The room was nearly twice the size of his at home. And he had his own window, even though it was only a dormer! Joshua felt powerful and free as he first stood in the middle of this space--his space--and drank in his surroundings.     He walked over to the window, parted the starched white cotton curtains, and gazed out at Cambridge. Bending to the sash, he forced it open, the dry wood squealing. With the door open a crack, a slight breeze washed through the room, and coolness began to replace the hot staleness.     He stripped down and washed the grime of the last three days from his body. Amazing what soap and water can do for a man's soul, he thought.     Now clean and wearing a fresh shirt and trousers, he faced another challenge. Not simply hungry, he was famished. He vowed that, regardless of the cost, he would eat until he was full this day. He might scrimp tomorrow, but not today. Making sure his door was locked, he headed toward the stairway.     At the bottom of the steps stood a young man who would play a part in changing his life forever. * * * "Careful there, my good man!" boomed a voice from downstairs.     Joshua leaned over the third-story railing on the street side of the house. Parked in front of 619 Follen Street was the largest and most laden livery wagon Joshua had ever seen. Men swarmed around it, lifting steamer trunks and wooden cartons, hefting them to their shoulders and staggering toward the house.     On the second-floor landing stood a tall fellow, near to Joshua's age, wearing a white suit with silver buttons and a brightly striped cravat. He turned, and the afternoon sun outlined his profile: classically handsome, Joshua would recall later, with a chiseled nose, strong jaw, and a shock of dark hair.     Joshua's hard-soled shoes must have sounded loud, for this fellow suddenly squinted up the stairs.     "Say, you must be the new fellow," he called out, bounding up the steps three at a time, extending his hand before he was halfway to the top. "Gage Davis," he said. "Actually, I'm Gage Davis the second, though I never use that appellation. Too pretentious, don't you think?"     Once at the top of the steps, Gage grabbed Joshua's hand and pumped it with a surprising, refreshing vigor.     "Joshua Quittner," Joshua replied. "From Ohio. Shawnee."     Gage's dark eyes pierced Joshua, knowing, yet unthreatening. "Never heard of it," he replied. "Shawnee, I mean. Ohio I have heard of . . . once or twice at any rate. Indians out there, right? Tomahawks and scalpings and all that?"     Joshua fumbled for a reply.     Gage clapped him on the shoulder, as one would a long-lost brother, and laughed. "You must get used to my feeble attempts at humor, Joshua, now that we share the same address. I am jesting, I assure you. I've been to Cleveland--a right smart city it is, I must say. I've just never heard of Shawnee before. Southern part of the state?"     Joshua felt tumbled over, washed along by a raging river of goodwill and immediate camaraderie. He could manage only a nod.     "Well, then, that's settled," Gage said. "No Indians at all--just a burg in the southern counties. Shipping? Logging? Factories? Which is it?"     Oh, he must mean my family business, Joshua thought.     "Uh . . . farming, of a sort . . . and preaching."     "Preaching?" Gage questioned.     "I'll be studying for a three-year term at the divinity school starting Monday," Joshua said, finally getting out a complete sentence.     "Divinity school? Well, I'll be . . . ," Gage said, his voice trailing off. Then, placing his arm about Joshua's shoulders, he leaned in close. "This is a perfect serendipity. You'll be here, above me," he said with a sweep of his other arm, "making sure I do nothing too dangerous, foolish, or illegal." He released Joshua's shoulder. "It will be like having a conscience. Won't that be grand?"     Feeling as clumsy as a new foal on a field of spring ice, Joshua gathered up his poise to ask a question. "I was on my way out to find a restaurant . . . that isn't too dear. I haven't had a decent meal since I left home over three days ago. Perhaps there is a place you could recommend?"     Gage brightened. "Another serendipity. I am feeling most peckish myself. And, yes, I do know of a wonderful place close to here. I trust you don't think this too forward, my inviting myself to dine with you. But we are sharing the same address."     "Why, yes, of course. I would welcome the company," Joshua said, hoping his words sounded as polished and sure as Gage's.     Despite being dazzled and overwhelmed by this fast-talking, somewhat brash young man, Joshua also began to feel a growing sense of ease for the first time in many days. He'd worried about fitting in at Harvard. After all, he came from a town no one had ever heard of.     Gage called out some last-minute directions to the stevedores and teamsters unloading his myriad trunks from the wagon, then whispered to Joshua, "I have a tendency to overpack a little."     They had walked a block from the house when Joshua asked, "What is this place we're going to? It's not a saloon, is it?"     "Land sakes no, Joshua," Gage said, laughing. "I won't so soon lead you into temptation. The place is one of my favorite haunts. You'll love it, just you wait. It's called the Destiny Café." * * * After plowing through a hearty portion of a rich stew of corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, squash, and turnips, a hunk of Boston brown bread, three steins of a tart cider, and two tasty apple dumplings, Joshua sighed with satisfaction and pushed away from the table.     Gage had ordered a cold roast beef sandwich and stein of ale. He grabbed it when delivered and wandered about the room, greeting others, sitting and talking at this table, then another. It appeared to Joshua that his housemate knew just about every person in the café. His newfound friend had been right about the food. It was plentiful, palatable, and, even for a small-town boy like Joshua, surprisingly affordable.     Only three blocks from 619 Follen, and a few from Harvard Commons, the Destiny Café seemed to be a most popular spot for returning students. The large room, filled with a happy clattering of voices and plates, was pleasantly worn and faded. Round wooden tables scarred with use and mismatched chairs were arranged haphazardly. The walls, mellowed to a light umber, bore the scrawled signatures from generations of Harvard students. The tin ceiling was covered with a smoky haze from oil lamps, and cozy leather-seated booths lined the walls. Joshua guessed there was no one over the age of thirty there, save for the sour-faced owner. He was perched on a tall stool by the counter, a locked cash box at his elbow.     As Joshua finished his last bite the waitress sauntered past and asked, in a honeyed voice, if he might like a cup of coffee or an ale. Joshua looked up into her face and flushed. He'd never been comfortable around women, and the waitress was comely, with big brown eyes and an inviting smile.     "Uh . . no thanks, miss," he stammered. "I think I've had enough for today."     She hugged her serving tray, crossing her arms.     "Are you a new student at Harvard?" she asked, flashing that smile again.     He knew his face was reddening, and he struggled to hold his voice in check.     "Yes, I am . . . or will be . . . at the school . . . I mean the divinity school."     The waitress arched her eyes in surprise. "Well, that's a pity. But I'm sure I'll see you again. Everybody comes to the Destiny. My name is Melinda."     "J-J-Joshua," he replied.     And with that she headed back to the kitchen.     Melinda, Joshua thought. That's a pretty name.     A second later two thoughts popped into his mind:. Why didn't I say that to her? and What should a divinity student look like?     After a moment of silence, he surprised himself by grinning. I'm going to like it here. * * * "A very good place to eat," Joshua said as he and Gage walked back to Follen Street. "Lots of food and inexpensive. We don't have anything like that in Shawnee."     "Next time try the clam chowder," Gage replied. "It's delicious. There are better restaurants in town, of course, but the Destiny is close and convenient."     "Is this your second year at Harvard?" Joshua asked, knowing it could not be Gage's first, since he was so familiar with the place.     "My second, less a half. There was a bit of disagreement after my first year as to which courses I passed and which I did not. Yet now I've settled into a firm routine. Business classes mostly, which my father approves of. Philosophy, which my mother thinks will improve my cultural standing. And the study of poetry, which neither of them wishes to understand."     Much more relaxed now that his hunger was satisfied, Joshua felt less frazzled and unnerved. Cambridge was still a long way from Shawnee, but even after these first hours, Joshua had a growing sense of peace.     "When do you think the others will be moving into the house?" Joshua asked as they turned onto Follen. "I haven't seen any yet, have you?"     Gage smiled. "There won't be any others."     "But there must be a half-dozen rooms on the second floor alone. Surely Mrs. Parsons would have them rented by now."     "She has."     "But you said there won't be any more fellows arriving," Joshua said. "I don't understand."     "I've rented them all," Gage replied.     "A dozen rooms?" Joshua asked incredulously.     "Actually, it's fourteen rooms--but it's more like one big suite of rooms now. I had my carpenters open up doorways and move a few walls last year."     "But . . ."     "I was actually looking for a house to buy during the last term," Gage said matter-of-factly, "but the closest one was nearly eight blocks away. And that would not do. I like to sleep late in the morning."     Joshua stopped and stared at Gage, who had walked ahead several paces. "And the whole second floor is your apartment?"     "No, not the whole second floor . . . alone. I use the rest of the rooms on the third floor, too--for storage mostly. Don't know why I overlooked that small room in the corner . . . but apparently Mrs. Parsons did not. That's the room you have now."     "You've rented out an entire floor and a half of that big house?" Such expansiveness was rare in Shawnee.     "Well, yes," Gage replied. For an instant, Joshua thought Gage looked a tiny bit sheepish. But the moment soon passed.     "It's a great residence. School is close, the Destiny is a pleasant stroll away, and best of all, Mrs. Parsons is deaf. I don't think she sees very well after dark, either. If you're careful, you can do anything you want."     Joshua had not taken another step. "Gage, just what does your family do? I mean, as a trade."     As soon as the words poured from his mouth, Joshua realized he had no business asking such a private question. Back home you didn't inquire about such things until the other person brought it up. Even so, you could guess farming and be right 95 percent of the time.     "Well, Joshua," Gage replied, without the slightest hesitation or discomfort, "we make money. Lots of it." FROM THE JOURNAL OF JOSHUA QUITTNER October 1842 How absolutely delicious, yet often puzzling, these first two months have been--a whirlwind of experiences, ideas, and emotions. To put them onto paper is to do a disservice to the richness of this time, but yet I must.     On my first Sunday on campus, I sought out a church in which to worship. There is a large Presbyterian church several blocks from 619 Follen Street. Perhaps it will be my church home away from Ohio. It was comforting to slip into a pew and to experience a familiar service, though more polished than I'm accustomed to. The music, swelling out from an immense pipe organ, was grand, and the preaching infinitely more erudite and studied than back home in Shawnee. The pastor, in a black flowing robe and purple vestment, spoke on Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Up to this point I had considered myself well schooled in the Bible, yet I struggled to keep pace with the sermon. If this is what's considered preaching here, then I have much work to do. To be a preacher such as this, speaking with power and theological authority, stirring the hearts of men and women to uphold the Scriptures, and to impact their minds--that is, and has been, my dream . . . and my father's dream for me, as it was his father's dream and his father before him . . . a family legacy of dreams.     But after the first week of classes, I despair over my dream ever coming to fruition.     To be certain, every student, save myself and other obvious rustics, must have had the luxury of growing up coddled--attending the best of schools, with money, privilege, and all extravagances. These students possess an ease of knowledge I dare not dream possible. I must delve into my books until the gray shank of dawn colors the sky, burning the midnight oil merely to stay abreast. Most fellows in my class seem nary to crack the spine of a book, and the facts roll off their tongues in melodious, studied tones that the professors appear to lap up.     And the professors--liberal to the core, from what I can glean. I have heard the word universalism often whispered at the edges of students' conversations. I admit some remarks made in class lead me to believe that some of my professors harbor views that allow man not one path to God but many and say that the Scriptures allow for a road to heaven that perchance does not enter through the door of Christ.     Even writing these words, I feel a tightness in my heart. These learned men are misguided, and even though I'm a new student, I can see the error of such words. Will I continue to sit quietly as they espouse such ideas? Should I speak out? Or should I learn what I can and discard the chaff?     Such are the trials and tribulations of a first-year divinity student. In time, no doubt, I will have these weighty matters sorted out.     Yet there is more than simply attending classes and studying. Much, much more.     What of simpler matters--like living and eating and the rest?     It is certain that Gage Davis, the fellow who shares the house with me at 619 Follen, has taken me under his wing. He's instructing me in the basics of the cultured life and proper behavior on this cosmopolitan campus--including what is, and what is not, proper to wear. Joshua Quittner, late of Shawnee, Ohio, is now puzzling over style and cut, rather than hoping the frayed edges of his attire will not be noticed. Gage, in a fabulously generous gesture, has lent me a veritable gentleman's wardrobe--perhaps two dozen topcoats, waistcoats, and trousers, with shirts, vests, cravats, and socks to match. "Since we are of the same stature, you may as well enjoy them. I will never need them all," he said. Then he confided in me that he has a weakness for good tailoring.     I've never met such a wealthy person. The richest man in Shawnee County, as far as I know, was Spider Jeffreys, who owned five hundred acres of good bottomland near the river. He seldom ventured far from his tract, chasing off strangers with a rusty flintlock. From what my father preached from the pulpit, I imagined a rich man might be more imperious and taken with himself. That does not seem the case with Gage. I like him.     On more than one occasion I have descended the stairs with a "borrowed" ensemble of clothes, feeling grand. Gage steps out from his suite, looks me over, and either nods--and I go on my way--or he raises an eyebrow and grins. It's that look that causes me to return and alter my choice.     I must admit that, dressed in stylish attire, I have begun to feel more at ease here at Harvard, and in some ways, more sophisticated. Perhaps my rough edges have become, or are becoming, less visible.     Such is the way of the world, is it not? And did not Paul say that in Rome, he acted as a Roman might act. Is that not what I'm doing? Excerpted from The Price by Jim and Terri Kraus. Copyright © 2000 by Jim and Terri Kraus. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.