“A Song in the Night.” A new novella drawn from the life of the American writer and evangelist Horatio Gates Spafford, a deeply enigmatic figure remembered today as the co-author (with P.P. Bliss) of the gospel standard “It is Well With my Soul.”
In 1871 the Great Fire devastated Chicago, destroying Spafford’s downtown offices but sparing his home in Lake View. The city was left in ruins but the family had managed to avoid disaster. So it seemed, anyway, but Spafford threw open the door, invited it inside.
Chicago rebuilt, redistricted. Speculation was rampant, and Spafford invested everything, lost it all. The world unraveled around him as he borrowed from friends to pay his creditors. His friends gave up on him and he embezzled funds from clients and mortgaged the Lake View property before finally packing his wife and children off to Europe aboard the French steamship Ville du Havre.
The journey was likely as much an escape as a new beginning. Spafford planned to remain in Chicago for long enough to sell the house and settle his affairs (if, indeed, they could be settled) before joining his family in France, only to receive word that the Ville du Havre had sunk after a collision mid-ocean. The children were dead.
“Saved alone,” Anna cabled to him from Cardiff. “What shall I do Mrs. Goodwin children Willie Culver lost go with Lorriaux until answer reply Poulain 64 Rue Aboukir Paris.”