Infomotions, Inc.The Calling of Dan Matthews / Wright, Harold Bell, 1872-1944



Author: Wright, Harold Bell, 1872-1944
Title: The Calling of Dan Matthews
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): dan; miss farwell; farwell; corinth; doctor; matthews; harry; church; brother matthews; nurse; grace conner; minister
Contributor(s): Legge, James, 1815-1897 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 87,983 words (short) Grade range: 7-10 (grade school) Readability score: 71 (easy)
Identifier: etext9314
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Title: The Calling Of Dan Matthews

Author: Harold Bell Wright

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THE CALLING OF DAN MATTHEWS

BY

HAROLD BELL WRIGHT

1909

AUTHOR OF

"THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS"

"THAT PRINTER OF UDELL'S"


_With Illustrations by_

ARTHUR I. KELLER







TO

WILLIAM WILLIAMS, M.D.




CONTENTS

      I. THE HOME OF THE ALLY

     II. A REVELATION

    III. A GREAT DAY IN CORINTH

     IV. WHO ARE THEY?

      V. HOPE FARWELL'S MINISTRY

     VI. THE CALLING OF DAN MATTHEWS

    VII. FROM DEBORAH'S PORCH

   VIII. THE WORK OF THE ALLY

     IX. THE EDGE OF THE BATTLEFIELD

      X. A MATTER OF OPINION

     XI. REFLECTIONS

    XII. THE NURSE FORGETS

   XIII. DR. HARRY'S CASE

    XIV. THAT GIRL OF CONNER'S

     XV. THE MINISTER'S OPPORTUNITY

    XVI. DAN SEES THE OTHER SIDE

   XVII. THE TRAGEDY

  XVIII. TO SAVE A LIFE

    XIX. ON FISHING

     XX. COMMON GROUND

    XXI. THE WARNING

   XXII. AS DR. HARRY SEES IT

  XXIII. A PARABLE

   XXIV. THE WAY OUT

    XXV. A LABORER AND HIS HIRE

   XXVI. THE WINTER PASSES

  XXVII. DEBORAH'S TROUBLE

 XXVIII. A FISHERMAN

   XXIX. A MATTER OF BUSINESS

    XXX. THE DAUGHTER OF THE CHURCH

   XXXI. THE REALITY

  XXXII. THE BARRIER

 XXXIII. HEART'S TRAGEDIES

  XXXIV. SACRIFICED

   XXXV. THE TIE THAT BINDS

  XXXVI. GOOD-BYE

 XXXVII. RESULTS

XXXVIII. A HANDFUL OF GOLD

  XXXIX. THE VICTORY OF THE ALLY

     XL. THE DOCTOR'S GLASSES

    XLI. THE FINAL WORD

   XLII. JUSTICE

  XLIII. THE HOME COMING

   XLIV. THE OLD TRAIL




ILLUSTRATIONS

Drawn by
ARTHUR I. KELLER

WITH THE DOCTOR THE TWO STRANGERS IN CORINTH TOOK DENNY TO HIS HOME

"--YOU MUST BE IN LIFE A FISHERMAN"

A GOOD-BYE CARESS

DAN PLEADED WITH HIM




The Calling of Dan Matthews




CHAPTER I.

THE HOME OF THE ALLY

"And because the town of this story is what it is, there came to dwell
in it a Spirit--a strange, mysterious power--playful, vicious, deadly; a
Something to be at once feared and courted; to be denied--yet confessed
in the denial; a deadly enemy, a welcome friend, an all-powerful Ally."


This story began in the Ozark Mountains. It follows the trail that is
nobody knows how old. But mostly this story happened in Corinth, a town
of the middle class in a Middle Western state.

There is nothing peculiar about Corinth. The story might have happened
just as well in any other place, for the only distinguishing feature
about this town is its utter lack of any distinguishing feature whatever.
In all the essential elements of its life, so far as this story goes,
Corinth is exactly like every other village, town or city in the land.
This, indeed, is why the story happened in this particular place.

Years ago, when the railroad first climbed the backbone of the Ozarks, it
found Corinth already located on the summit. Even before the war, this
county-seat town was a place of no little importance, and many a good
tale might be told of those exciting days when the woods were full of
guerrillas and bushwhackers, and the village was raided first by one
side, then by the other. Many a good tale is told, indeed; for the
fathers and mothers of Corinth love to talk of the war times, and to
point out in Old Town the bullet-marked buildings and the scenes of many
thrilling events.

But the sons and daughters of the passing generation, with their sons
and daughters, like better to talk of the great things that are going to
be--when the proposed shoe-factory comes, the talked-of mills are
established, the dreamed-of electric line is built out from the city, or
the Capitalist from Somewhere-else arrives to invest in vacant lots,
thereon to build new hotels and business blocks.

The Doctor says that in the whole history of Corinth there are only two
events. The first was the coming of the railroad; the second was the
death of the Doctor's good friend, the Statesman.

The railroad did not actually enter Corinth. It stopped at the front
gate. But with Judge Strong's assistance the fathers and mothers
recognized their "golden opportunity" and took the step which the
eloquent Judge assured them would result in a "glorious future." They
left the beautiful, well-drained site chosen by those who cleared the
wilderness, and stretched themselves out along the mud-flat on either
side of the sacred right-of-way--that same mud-flat being, incidentally,
the property of the patriotic Judge.

Thus Corinth took the railroad to her heart, literally. The depot, the
yards, the red section-house and the water-tank are all in the very
center of the town. Every train while stopping for water (and they all
stop) blocks two of the three principal streets. And when, after waiting
in the rain or snow until his patience is nearly exhausted, the humble
Corinthian goes to the only remaining crossing, he always gets there just
in time to meet a long freight backing onto the siding. Nowhere in the
whole place can one escape the screaming whistle, clanging bell, and
crashing drawbar. Day and night the rumble of the heavy trains jars and
disturbs the peacefulness of the little village.

But the railroad did something for Corinth; not too much, but something.
It did more for Judge Strong. For a time the town grew rapidly.
Fulfillment of the Judge's prophecies seemed immediate and certain. Then,
as mysteriously as they had come, the boom days departed. The mills,
factories and shops that were going to be, established themselves
elsewhere. The sound of the builder's hammer was no longer heard. The
Doctor says that Judge Strong had come to believe in his own prediction,
or at least, fearing that his prophecy might prove true, refused to part
with more land except at prices that would be justified only in a great
metropolis.

Neighboring towns that were born when Corinth was middle-aged, flourished
and have become cities of importance. The country round about has grown
rich and prosperous. Each year more and heavier trains thunder past on
their way to and from the great city by the distant river, stopping only
to take water. But in this swiftly moving stream of life Corinth is
caught in an eddy. Her small world has come to swing in a very small
circle--it can scarcely be said to swing at all. The very children stop
growing when they become men and women, and are content to dream the
dreams their fathers' fathers dreamed, even as they live in the houses
the fathers of their fathers built. Only the trees that line the unpaved
streets have grown--grown and grown until overhead their great tops touch
to shut out the sky with an arch of green, and their mighty trunks crowd
contemptuously aside the old sidewalks, with their decayed and broken
boards.

Old Town, a mile away, is given over to the negroes. The few buildings
that remain are fallen into ruin, save as they are patched up by their
dusky tenants. And on the hill, the old Academy with its broken windows,
crumbling walls, and fallen chimneys, stands a pitiful witness of an
honor and dignity that is gone.

Poor Corinth! So are gone the days of her true glory--the glory of her
usefulness, while the days of her promised honor and power are not yet
fulfilled.

And because the town of this story is what it is, there came to dwell in
it a Spirit--a strange, mysterious power--playful, vicious, deadly; a
Something to be at once feared and courted; to be denied--yet confessed
in the denial; a dreaded enemy, a welcome friend, an all-powerful Ally.

But, for Corinth, the humiliation of her material failure is forgotten
in her pride of a finer success. The shame of commercial and civic
obscurity is lost in the light of national recognition. And that
self-respect and pride of place, without which neither man nor town can
look the world in the face, is saved to her by the Statesman.

Born in Corinth, a graduate of the old Academy, town clerk, mayor, county
clerk, state senator, congressman, his zeal in advocating a much
discussed issue of his day, won for him national notice, and for his
town everlasting fame.

In this man unusual talents were combined with rare integrity of purpose
and purity of life. Politics to him meant a way whereby he might serve
his fellows. However much men differed as to the value of the measures
for which he fought, no one ever doubted his belief in them or questioned
his reasons for fighting. It was not at all strange that such a man
should have won the respect and friendship of the truly great. But with
all the honors that came to him, the Statesman's heart never turned from
the little Ozark town, and it was here among those who knew him best that
his influence for good was greatest and that he was most loved and
honored. Thus all that the railroad failed to do for Corinth the
Statesman did in a larger, finer way.

Then the Statesman died.

It was the Old Town Corinth of the brick Academy days that inspired
the erection of a monument to his memory. But it was the Corinth of the
newer railroad days that made this monument of cast-iron; and under the
cast-iron, life-sized, portrait figure of the dead statesman, this newer
Corinth placed in cast-iron letters a quotation from one of his famous
speeches upon an issue of his day.

The Doctor argues in language most vigorous that the broken sidewalks,
the permitted insolence of the railroad, the presence and power of that
Spirit, the Ally, and many other things and conditions in Corinth, with
the lack of as many other things and conditions, are all due to the
influence of what he calls "that hideous, cast-iron monstrosity." By
this it will be seen that the Doctor is something of a philosopher.

The monument stands on the corner where Holmes Street ends in Strong
Avenue. On the opposite corner the Doctor lives with Martha, his wife.
It is a modest home for there are no children and the Doctor is not rich.
The house is white with old-fashioned green shutters, and over the porch
climbs a mass of vines. The steps are worn very thin and the ends of the
floor-boards are rotted badly by the moisture of the growing vines. But
the Doctor says he'll "be damned" if he'll pull down such a fine old vine
to put in new boards, and that those will last anyway longer than either
he or Martha. By this it will be seen that the Doctor is something of a
poet.

On the rear of the lot is the wood-shed and stable; and on the east,
along the fence in front, and down the Holmes Street side, are the
Doctor's roses--the admiration and despair of every flower-growing
housewife in town.

Full fifty years of the Doctor's professional life have been spent in
active practice in Corinth and in the country round about. He declares
himself worn out now and good for nothing, save to meddle in the affairs
of his neighbors, to cultivate his roses, and--when the days are
bright--to go fishing. For the rest, he sits in his chair on the porch
and watches the world go by.

"Old Doctors and old dogs," he growls, "how equally useless we are, and
yet how much--how much we could tell if only we dared speak!"

He is big, is the Doctor--big and fat and old. He knows every soul in
Corinth, particularly the children; indeed he helped most of them to
come to Corinth. He is acquainted as well with every dog and cat, and
horse and cow, knowing their every trick and habit, from the old brindle
milker that unlatches his front gate to feed on the lawn, to the bull
pup that pinches his legs when he calls on old Granny Brown. For miles
around, every road, lane, by-path, shortcut and trail, is a familiar way
to him. His practice, he declares, has well-nigh ruined him financially,
and totally wrecked his temper. He can curse a man and cry over a baby;
and he would go as far and work as hard for the illiterate and penniless
backwoodsman in his cabin home as for the president of the Bank of
Corinth or even Judge Strong himself.

No one ever thinks of the Doctor as loving anyone or anything, and that
is because he is so big and rough on the outside: but every one in
trouble goes to him, and that is because he is so big and kind on the
inside. It is a common saying that in cases of trying illness or serious
accident a patient would rather "hear the Doctor cuss, than listen to
the parson pray." Other physicians there are in Corinth, but every one
understands when his neighbor says: "The Doctor." Nor does anyone ever,
ever call him "Doc"!

After all, who knows the people of a community so well as the physician
who lives among them? To the world the Doctor's patients were laborers,
bankers, dressmakers, scrub-women, farmers, servants, teachers,
preachers; to the Doctor they were men and women. Others knew their
occupations--he knew their lives. The preachers knew what they
professed--he knew what they practiced. Society saw them dressed up--he
saw them--in bed. Why, the Doctor has spent more hours in the homes of
his neighbors than ever he passed under his own roof, and there is not a
skeleton closet in the whole town to which he has not the key.

On Strong Avenue, across from the monument, is a tiny four-roomed
cottage. In the time of this story it wanted paint badly, and was not in
the best of repair. But the place was neat and clean, with a big lilac
bush just inside the gate, giving it an air of home-like privacy; and on
the side directly opposite the Doctor's a fair-sized, well-kept garden,
giving it an air of honest thrift. Here the widow Mulhall lived with her
crippled son, Denny. Denny was to have been educated for the priesthood,
but the accident that left him such a hopeless cripple shattered that
dream; and after the death of his father, who was killed while
discharging his duties as the town marshal, there was no money to buy
even a book.

When there was anything for her to do, Deborah worked out by the day.
Denny, in spite of his poor, misshapen body, tended the garden, raising
such vegetables as no one else in all Corinth could--or would, raise.
From early morning until late evening the lad dragged himself about among
the growing things, and the only objects to mar the beauty of his garden,
were Denny himself, and the great rock that crops out in the very center
of the little field.

"It is altogether too bad that the rock should be there," the neighbors
would say as they occasionally stopped to look over the fence or to order
their vegetables for dinner. And Denny would answer with his knowing
smile, "Oh, I don't know! It would be bad, I'll own, if it should ever
take to rollin' 'round like. But it lays quiet enough. And do you see,
I've planted them vines around it to make it a bit soft lookin'. And
there's a nice little niche on yon side, that does very well for a seat
now and then, when I have to rest."

Sometimes, when the Doctor looks at the monument--the cast-iron image of
his old friend, in its cast-iron attitude, forever delivering that speech
on an issue as dead today as an edict of one of the Pharaohs--he laughs,
and sometimes, even as he laughs, he curses.

But when, in the days of the story, the Doctor would look across the
street to where Denny, with his poor, twisted body, useless, swinging
arm, and dragging leg, worked away so cheerily in his garden, the old
physician, philosopher, and poet, declared that he felt like singing
hymns of praise.

And it all began with a fishing trip.




CHAPTER II.

A REVELATION

"And because of these things, to the keen old physician and student of
life, the boy was a revelation of that best part of himself--that best
part of the race."


It happened on the Doctor's first trip to the Ozarks.

Martha says that everything with the Doctor begins and ends with fishing.
Martha has a way of saying such things as that. In this case she is more
than half right for the Doctor does so begin and end most things.

Whenever there were grave cases to think out, knotty problems to solve,
or important decisions to make, it was his habit to steal away to a
shady nook by the side of some quiet, familiar stream. And he confidently
asserts that to this practice more than to anything else he owes his
professional success, and his reputation for sound, thoughtful judgment
on all matters of moment.

"And why not?" he will argue when in the mood. "It is your impulsive,
erratic, thoughtless fellow who goes smashing, trashing and banging
about the field and woods with dogs and gun. Your true thinker slips
quietly away with rod and line, and while his hook is down in the deep,
still waters, or his fly is dancing over the foaming rapids and swiftly
swirling eddies, his mind searches the true depths of the matter and
every possible phase of the question passes before him."

For years the Doctor had heard much of the fishing to be had in the
more unsettled parts of the Ozarks, but with his growing practice he
could find leisure for no more than an occasional visit to nearby
streams. But about the time that Martha began telling him that he was
too old to stay out all day on the wet bank of a river, and Dr. Harry
had come to relieve him of the heavier and more burdensome part of his
practice, a railroad pushed its way across the mountain wilderness. The
first season after the road was finished the Doctor went to cast his
hook in new waters.

In all these after years those days so full of mystic beauty have lived
in the old man's memory, the brightest days of all his life. For it was
there he met the Boy--there in the Ozark hills, with their great ridges
clothed from base to crest with trees all quivering and nodding in the
summer breeze, with their quiet valleys, their cool hollows and lovely
glades, and their deep and solemn woods. And the streams! Those Ozark
streams! The Doctor wonders often if there can flow anywhere else such
waters as run through that land of dreams.

The Doctor left the train at a little station where the railroad crosses
White River, and two days later he was fishing near the mouth of Fall
Creek. It was late in the afternoon. The Boy was passing on his way home
from a point farther up the stream. Not more than twelve, but tall and
strong for his age, he came along the rough path at the foot of the bluff
with the easy movement and grace of a young deer. He checked a moment
when he saw the Doctor, as a creature of the forest would pause at first
sight of a human being. Then he came on again, his manner and bearing
showing frank interest, and the clear, sunny face of him flushing a bit
at the presence of a stranger.

"Hello," said the Doctor, with gruff kindness, "any luck?"

The boy's quick smile showed a set of teeth--the most perfect the
physician had ever seen, and his young voice was tuned to the music of
the woods, as he answered, "I have caught no fish, sir."

By these words and the light in his brown eyes the philosopher knew him
instantly for a true fisherman. He noted wonderingly that the lad's
speech was not the rude dialect of the backwoods, while he marveled at
the depth of wisdom in one so young. How incidental after all is the
catching of fish, to the one who fishes with true understanding. The
boy's answer was both an explanation and a question. It explained that
he did not go fishing for fish alone; and it asked of the stranger a
declaration of his standing--why did he go fishing? What did he mean by
fisherman's luck?

The Doctor deliberated over his reply, while slowly drawing in his line
to examine the bait. Meanwhile the boy stood quietly by regarding him
with a wide, questioning look. The man realized that much depended upon
his next word.

Then the lad's youth betrayed him into eagerness. "Have you been farther
up the river just around the bend, where the giant cottonwoods are, and
the bluffs with the pines above, and the willows along the shore? Oh, but
it's fine there! Much better than this."

He had given the stranger his chance. If the Doctor was to be admitted
into this boy's world he must now prove his right to citizenship. Looking
straight into the boy's brown eyes, the older fisherman asked, "A better
place to catch fish?"

He laughed aloud--a clear, clean, boyish laugh of understanding, and
throwing himself to the ground with the easy air of one entirely at home,
returned, "No, sir, a better place to fish." So it was settled, each
understanding the other.

An hour later when the shadow of the mountain came over the water, the
boy sprang to his feet with an exclamation, "It's time that I was going,
mother likes for me to be home for supper. I can just make it."

But the Doctor was loth to let him go. "Where do you live?" he asked.
"Is it far?"

"Oh, no, only about six miles, but the trail is rough until you strike
the top of Wolf Ridge."

"Humph! You can't walk six miles before dark."

"My horse is only a little way up the creek," he answered, "or at least
he should be." Putting his fingers to his lips he blew a shrill whistle,
which echoed and re-echoed from shore to shore along the river, and was
answered by a loud neigh from somewhere in the ravine through which Fall
Creek reaches the larger stream. Again the boy whistled, and a black
pony came trotting out of the brush, the bridle hanging from the saddle
horn. "Tramp and I can make it all right, can't we old fellow?" said the
boy, patting the glossy neck, as the little horse rubbed a soft muzzle
against his young master's shoulder.

While his companion was making ready for his ride the Doctor selected
four of the largest of his catch--black bass they were--beauties. "Here,"
he said, when the lad was mounted, "take these along."

He accepted graciously without hesitation, and by this the Doctor knew
that their fellowship was firmly established. "Oh, thank you! Mother is
so fond of bass, and so are father and all of us. This is plenty for a
good meal." Then, with another smile, "Mother likes to fish, too; she
taught me."

The Doctor looked at him wistfully as he gathered up the reins, then
burst forth eagerly with, "Look here, why can't you come back tomorrow?
We'll have a bully time. What do you say?"

He lowered his hand. "Oh, I would like to." Then for a moment he
considered, gravely, saying at last, "I think I can meet you here day
after tomorrow. I am quite sure father and mother will be glad for me to
come when I tell them about you."

Was ever a fat old Doctor so flattered? It was not so much the boy's
words as his gracious manner and the meaning he unconsciously put into
his exquisitely toned voice.

He had turned his pony's head when the old man shouted after him once
more. "Hold on, wait a moment, you have not told me your name. I am Dr.
Oldham from Corinth. I am staying at the Thompson's down the river."

"My name is Daniel Howitt Matthews," he answered. "My home is the old
Matthews place on the ridge above Mutton Hollow."

Then he rode away up the winding Fall Creek trail.

The Doctor spent the whole of the next day near the spot where he had met
the boy, fearing lest the lad might come again and not find him. He even
went a mile or so up the little creek half expecting to meet his young
friend, wondering at himself the while, that he could not break the spell
the lad had cast over him. Who was he? He had told the Doctor his name,
but that did not satisfy. Nor, indeed, did the question itself ask what
the old man really wished to know. The words persistently shaped
themselves--_What_ is he? To this the physician's brain made answer
clearly enough--a boy, a backwoods boy, with unusual beauty and strength
of body, and uncommon fineness of mind; yet with all this, a boy.

But that something that sits in judgment upon the findings of our brain,
and, in lofty disregard of us, accepts or rejects our most profound
conclusions, refused this answer. It was too superficial. It was not, in
short, an answer. It did not in any way explain the strange power that
this lad had exerted over the Doctor.

"Me," he said to himself, "a hard old man calloused by years of
professional contact with mankind and consequent knowledge of their
general cussedness! Huh! I have helped too many hundreds of children
into this world, and have carried too many of them through the measles,
whooping-cough, chicken-pox and the like to be so moved by a mere boy."

The Thompsons could have told him about the lad and his people, but the
Doctor instinctively shrank from asking them. He felt that he did not
care to be told about the boy--that in truth no one could tell him about
the boy, because he already knew the lad as well as he knew himself.
Indeed the feeling that he already knew the boy was what troubled the
Doctor; more, that he had always lived with him; but that he had never
before met him face to face. He felt as a blind man might feel if, after
living all his life in closest intimacy with someone, he were suddenly
to receive his sight and, for the first time, actually look upon his
companion's face.

In the years that have passed since that day the Doctor has learned that
the lad was to him, not so much a mystery as a revelation--the revelation
of an unspoken ideal, of a truth that he had always known but never fully
confessed even to himself, and that lies at last too deeply buried
beneath the accumulated rubbish of his life to be of any use to him or to
others. In the boy he met this hidden, secret, unacknowledged part of
himself, that he knows to be the truest, most precious and most sacred
part, and that he has always persistently ignored even while always
conscious that he can no more escape it than he can escape his own life.
In short, Dan Matthews is to the Doctor that which the old man feels he
ought to have been; that which he might have been, but never now can be.

It was still early in the forenoon of the following day when the Doctor
heard a cheery hail, and the boy came riding out of the brush of the
little ravine to meet his friend who was waiting on the river bank. As
the lad sprang lightly to the ground, and, with quick fingers, took some
things from the saddle, loosed the girths and removed the pony's bridle,
the physician watched him with a slight feeling of--was it envy or
regret? "You are early," he said.

The boy laughed. "I would have come earlier if I could," Then, dismissing
the little horse, he turned eagerly, "Have you been there yet--to that
place up the river?"

"Indeed I have not," said the Doctor, "I have been waiting for you to
show me."

He was delighted at this, and very soon was leading the way along the
foot of the bluff to his favorite fishing ground.

It is too much to attempt the telling of that day: how they lay on the
ground beneath the giant-limbed cottonwoods, and listened to the waters
going past; how they talked of the wild woodland life about them, of
flower and tree, and moss and vine, and the creatures that nested and
denned and lived therein; how they caught a goodly catch of bass and
perch, and the Doctor, pulling off his boots, waded in the water like
another boy, while the hills echoed with their laughter; and how, when
they had their lunch on a great rock, an eagle watched hungrily from his
perch on a dead pine, high up on the top of the bluff.

When the shadow of the mountain was come once more and in answer to the
boy's whistle the black pony had trotted from the brush to be made ready
for the evening ride, the Doctor again watched his young companion
wistfully.

When he was ready, the boy said, "Father and mother asked me to tell you,
sir, that they--that we would be glad to have you come to see us before
you leave the hills." Seeing the surprise and hesitation of the Doctor,
he continued with fine tact, "You see I told them all about you, and they
would like to know you too. Won't you come? I'm sure you would like my
father and mother, and we would be so glad to have you. I'll drive over
after you tomorrow if you'll come."

Would he _go_! Why the Doctor would have gone to China, or Africa, or
where would he not have gone, if the boy had asked him.

That visit to the Matthews' place was the beginning of a friendship that
has never been broken. Every year since, the Doctor has gone to them for
several weeks and always with increasing delight. Among the many
households that, in his professional career, he has been privileged to
know intimately, this home stands like a beautiful temple in a world of
shacks and hovels. But it was not until the philosopher had heard from
Mrs. Matthews the story of Dad Howitt that he understood the reason. In
the characters of Young Matt and Sammy, in their home life and in their
children, the physician found the teaching of the old Shepherd of the
Hills bearing its legitimate fruit. Most clearly did he find it in
Dan--the first born of this true mating of a man and woman who had never
been touched by those forces in our civilization which so dwarf and
cripple the race, but who had been taught to find in their natural
environment those things that alone have the power to truly refine and
glorify life.

Understanding this, the Doctor understood Dan. The boy was well born; he
was natural. He was what a man-child ought to be. He did not carry the
handicap that most of us stagger under so early in the race. And because
of these things, to the keen old physician and student of life, the boy
was a revelation of that best part of himself--that best part of the
race. With the years this feeling of the Doctor's toward the boy has
grown even as their fellowship. But Dan has never understood; how indeed
could he?

It was always Dan who met the Doctor at the little wilderness station,
and who said the last good-bye when the visit was over. Always they were
together, roaming about the hills, on fishing trips to the river,
exploring the country for new delights, or revisiting their familiar
haunts. Dan seemed, in his quiet way, to claim his old friend by right
of discovery and the others laughingly yielded, giving the Doctor--as
Young Matt, the father, put it--"a third interest in the boy."

And so, with the companionship of the yearly visits, and frequent letters
in the intervening months, the Doctor watched the development of his
young friend, and dreamed of the part that Dan would play in life when he
became a man. And often as he watched the boy there was, on the face of
the old physician, that look of half envy, half regret.

In addition to his training at the little country school, Dan's mother
was his constant teacher, passing on to her son as only a mother could,
the truths she had received from her old master, the Shepherd. But when
the time came for more advanced intellectual training the choice of a
college was left to their friend. The Doctor hesitated. He shrank from
sending the lad out into the world. He foolishly could not bear the
thought of that splendid nature coming in touch with the filth of life as
he knew it. "You can see," he argued gruffly, "what it has done for me."

But Sammy answered, "Why, Doctor, what is the boy for?" And Young Matt,
looking away over Garber where an express train thundered over the
trestles and around the curves, said in his slow way, "The brush is about
all cleared, Doctor. The wilderness is going fast. The boy must live in
his own age and do his own work." When their friend urged that they
develop or sell the mine in the cave on Dewey Bald, and go with the boy,
they both shook their heads emphatically, saying, "No, Doctor, we belong
to the hills."

When the boy finally left his mountain home for a school in the distant
city, he had grown to be a man to fill the heart of every lover of his
race with pride. With his father's powerful frame and close-knit muscles,
and the healthy life of the woods and hills leaping in his veins, his
splendid body and physical strength were refined and dominated by the
mind and spirit of his mother. His shaggy, red-brown hair was like his
father's but his eyes were his mother's eyes, with that same trick of
expression, that wide questioning gaze, that seemed to demand every vital
truth in whatever came under his consideration. He had, too, his mother's
quick way of grasping your thoughts almost before you yourself were fully
conscious of them, with that same saving sense of humor that made Sammy
Lane the life and sunshine of the countryside.

"Big Dan," the people of the hills had come to call him and "Big Dan"
they called him in the school. For, in the young life of the schools, as
in the country, there is a spirit that names men with names that fit.

Secretly the Doctor had hoped that Dan would choose the profession so
dear to him. What an ideal physician he would make, with that clean,
powerful, well balanced nature; and above all with that love for his
race, and his passion to serve mankind that was the dominant note in his
character. The boy would be the kind of a physician that the old Doctor
had hoped to be. So he planned and dreamed for Dan as he had planned and
dreamed for himself, thinking to see the dreams that he had failed to
live, realized in the boy.

It was a severe shock to the Doctor when that letter came telling him of
Dan's choice of a profession. For the first time the boy had disappointed
him, disappointed him bitterly.

Seizing his fishing tackle the old man fled to the nearest stream. And
there gazing into the deep, still waters, where he had cast his hook, he
came to understand. It was that same dominant note in the boy's life,
that inborn passion to serve, that fixed principle in his character that
his life must be of the greatest possible worth to the world, that had
led him to make his choice. With that instinct born in him, coming from
the influence of the old Shepherd upon his father and mother, the boy
could no more escape it than he could change the color of his brown eyes.

"But," said the Doctor to his cork, that floated on the surface in a
patch of shadow, "what does he know about it, what does he really know?
He's been reading history--that's what's the matter with him. He sees
things as they were, not as they are. He should have come to me, I could
have--" Just then the cork went under. The Doctor had a bite. "I could
have told him," repeated the fisherman softly, "I--" The cork bobbed up
again--it was only a nibble. "He'll find out the truth of course. He's
that kind. But when he finds it!" The cork bobbed again--"He'll need me,
he'll need me bad!" The cork went under for good this time. Zip--and the
Doctor had a big one!

With fresh bait and his hook once more well down toward the bottom the
Doctor saw the whole thing clearly, and so planned a way by which, as he
put it, he might, when Dan needed him, "_stand by_."




CHAPTER III.

A GREAT DAY IN CORINTH

"'Talk of the responsibilities of age; humph! They are nothing compared
to the responsibilities of youth. There's Dan, now--'"


Corinth was in the midst of a street fair. The neighboring city held a
street fair that year, therefore Corinth. All that the city does Corinth
imitates, thereby with a beautiful rural simplicity thinking herself
metropolitan, just as those who take their styles from the metropolis
feel themselves well dressed. The very Corinthian clerks and grocery
boys, lounging behind their counters and in the doorways, the lawyer's
understudy with his feet on the window sill, the mechanic's apprentice,
the high school youths and the local sporting fraternity--all imitated
their city kind and talked smartly about the country "rubes" who came to
town; never once dreaming that they themselves, when they "go to town,"
are as much a mark for the like wit of their city brothers. So Corinth
was in the midst of a street fair.

On every vacant lot in the down town section were pens, and stalls, and
cages, wherein grunted, squealed, neighed, bellowed, bleated, cackled
and crowed, exhibits from the neighboring farms. In the town hall or
opera house (it was both) there were long tables covered with almost
everything that grows on a farm, or is canned, baked, preserved, pickled
or stitched by farmers' wives. The "Art Exhibit," product mainly of
Corinth, had its place on the stage. Upon either side of the main street
were booths containing the exhibits of the local merchants; farm
machinery, buggies, wagons, harness and the like being most conspicuous.
The chief distinction between the town and country exhibits were that
the farmer displayed his goods to be looked at, the merchant his to be
sold. It was the merchants who promoted the fair.

In a vacant store room the Memorial Church was holding its annual bazaar.
On different corners other churches were serving chicken dinners, or ice
cream, or in sundry ways were actively engaged for the conversion of the
erring farmer's cash to the coffers of the village sanctuaries. In this
way the promoters of the fair were encouraged by the churches. From every
window, door, arch, pole, post, corner, gable, peak, cupola--fluttered,
streamed and waved, decorations--banners mostly, bearing advertisements
of the enterprising merchants and of the equally enterprising churches.

Afternoons there would be a baseball game between town and country teams,
foot races, horseback riding, a greased pig to catch, a greased pole to
climb and other entertainments too exciting to think about, too
attractive to be resisted.

From the far backwoods districts, from the hills, from the creek bottoms
and the river, the people came to crowd about the pens, and stalls and
tables; to admire their own and their neighbors' products and
possessions, that they had seen many times before in their neighbors'
homes and fields. They visited on the street corners. They tramped up
and down past the booths. They yelled themselves hoarse at the games and
entertainments, and in the intoxication of their pleasures bought ice
cream, chicken dinners and various other things of the churches, and much
goods of the merchants who promoted the fair.

The Doctor was up that day at least a full hour before his regular time.
At breakfast Martha looked him over suspiciously, and when he folded his
napkin after eating only half his customary meal she remarked dryly,
"It's three hours yet till train time, Doctor."

Without answer the Doctor went out on the porch.

Already the country people, dressed in their holiday garb, bright-faced,
eager for the long looked for pleasures, were coming in for the fair.
Many of them catching sight of the physician hailed him gaily, shouting
good natured remarks in addition to their salutations, and laughing
loudly at whatever he replied.

It may be that the good Lord had made days as fine as that day, but the
Doctor could not remember them. His roses so filled the air with
fragrance, the grass in the front yard was so fresh and clean, the
flowers along the walk so bright and dainty, and the great maples, that
make a green arch of the street, so cool and mysterious in their leafy
depths, that his old heart fairly ached with the beauty of it. The Doctor
was all poet that day. Dan was coming!

It had worked out just as the Doctor had planned it on that fishing trip
some three months before. At first Martha was suspicious when he broached
the subject. Mostly Martha is suspicious when her husband offers
suggestions touching certain matters, but the wise old philosopher knew
what strings to pull, and so it all came out as he had planned. Sammy had
written him expressing her gladness, that her boy in the beginning of his
work was to be with the friend whose counsel and advice they valued so
highly. The Doctor had growled over the letter, promising himself that he
would "stand by" when the boy needed him, but that was all he or an angel
from heaven could do now. And the Doctor had written Dan at length about
Corinth, but never a word about his thoughts regarding the boy's choice,
or his fears for the outcome.

"There are some things," he reflected, "that every man must find out for
himself. To some kinds of people the finding out doesn't matter much. To
other kinds, it is well for them if there are those who love them to
stand by." Dan was the kind to whom the finding out would mean a great
deal, so the Doctor would "stand by."

There on his vine covered porch that morning, the old man's thoughts went
back to that day when the boy first came to him on the river bank, and to
all the bright days of Dan's boyhood and youth that he had passed with
the lad in the hills. "His life--" said he, talking to himself, as he has
a way of doing--"His life is like this day, fresh and clean and--". He
looked across the street to the monument that stood a cold, lifeless mask
in a world of living joy and beauty; from the monument he turned to
Denny's garden. "And," he finished, "full of possibilities."

"Whatever are you muttering about now?" said Martha, who had followed
him out after finishing her breakfast.

"I was wishing," said the Doctor, "that I--that it would be always
morning, that there was no such thing as afternoon, and evening and
night."

His wife replied sweetly, "For a man of your age, you do say the most
idiotic things! Won't you ever get old enough to think seriously?"

"But what could be more serious, my dear? If it were morning I would
always be beginning my life work, and never giving it up. I would be
always looking forward to the success of my dreams, and never back to
the failures of my poor attempts."

"You haven't failed in everything, John," protested Martha in softer
tones.

"If it were morning," the philosopher continued, with a smile, "I would
be always making love to the best and prettiest girl in the state."

Martha tossed her head and the ghost of an old blush crept into her
wrinkled cheeks. "There's no fool like an old fool," she quoted with a
spark of her girlhood fire.

"But a young fool gets so much more out of his foolishness," the man
retorted. "Talk of the responsibilities of age; humph! They are nothing
compared to the responsibilities of youth. There's Dan now--" He looked
again toward the monument.

"My goodness me, yes!" ejaculated Martha. "And I've got a week's work to
do before I even begin to get dinner. You go right off this minute and
kill three of those young roosters--three, mind you."

"But, my dear, he will only be here for dinner."

"Never you mind, the dinner's my business. Kill three, I tell you. I've
cooked for preachers before. I hope to the Lord he'll start you to
thinking of your eternal future, 'stead of mooning about the past." She
bustled away to turn the little home upside down and to prepare dinner
sufficient for six.

When the Doctor had killed the three roosters, and had fussed about until
his wife ordered him out of the kitchen, he took his hat and stick and
started down town, though it was still a good hour until train time. As
he opened the front gate Denny called a cheery greeting from his garden
across the street, and the old man went over for a word with the crippled
boy.

"It's mighty fine you're lookin' this mornin', Doctor," said Denny
pausing in his work, and seating himself on the big rock. "Is it the
ten-forty he's comin' on?"

The Doctor tried to appear unconcerned. He looked at his watch with
elaborately assumed carelessness as he answered: "I believe it's
ten-forty; and how are you feeling this morning, Denny?"

The lad lifted his helpless left arm across his lap. "Oh I'm fine, thank
you kindly, Doctor. Mother's fine too, and my garden's doing pretty good
for me." He glanced about. "The early things are all gone, of course, but
the others are doing well. Oh, we'll get along; I told mother this
morning the Blessed Virgin hadn't forgotten us yet. I'll bet them
potatoes grew an inch some nights this summer. And look what a day it is
for the fair, and the preacher a comin' too."

The Doctor looked at his watch again, and Denny continued: "We're all so
pleased at his comin'. People haven't talked of anything else for a
month now, that and the fair of course. Things in this town will liven
up now, sure. Seems to me I can feel it--yes sir, I can. Something's
goin' to happen, sure."

"Humph," grunted the Doctor, "I rather feel that way myself." Then, "I
expect you two will be great friends, Denny."

The poor little fellow nearly twisted himself off the rock. "Oh Doctor,
really why I--the minister'll have no time for the likes of me. And is
he really goin' to live at Mrs. Morgan's there?" He nodded his head
toward the house next to his garden.

"That's his room," the other answered, pointing to the corner window.
"He'll be right handy to us both."

Denny gazed at the window with the look of a worshiper. "Oh now, isn't
that fine, isn't it grand! That's such a nice room, Doctor, it has such
a fine view of the monument."

"Yes," the Doctor interrupted, "the monument and your garden." And then
he left abruptly lest he should foolishly try to explain to the
bewildered and embarrassed Denny what he meant.

It seemed to the Doctor that nearly every one he met on the well-filled
street that morning, had a smile for him, while many stopped to pass a
word about the coming of Dan. When he reached the depot the agent hailed
him with, "Good morning, Doctor; looking for your preacher?"

"_My_ preacher!" The old physician glared at the man in the cap, and
turned his back with a few energetic remarks, while two or three loafers
joined in the laugh, and a couple of traveling men who were pacing the
platform with bored expressions on their faces, turned to stare at him
curiously. At the other end of the platform was a group of women, active
members of the Memorial Ladies' Aid who had left their posts of duty at
the bazaar, to have a first look at the new pastor. The old Elder, Nathan
Jordan, with Charity, his daughter, was just coming up.

"Good morning, good morning, Doctor," said Nathan grasping his friend's
hand as if he had not seen him for years. "Well I see we're all here."
He turned proudly about as the group of women came forward, with an air
of importance, the Doctor thought, as though the occasion required their
presence. "Reckon our boy'll be here all right," Nathan continued.

"_Our_ boy!" The Doctor caught a naughty word between his teeth--a feat
he rarely accomplished.

The ladies all looked sweetly interested. One of them putting her arm
lovingly about Charity cooed: "So nice of you to come, dear." She had
remarked to another a moment before, "that a fire wouldn't keep the girl
away from the depot that morning."

The Doctor felt distinctly the subtle, invisible presence of the Ally,
and it was well that someone just then saw the smoke from the coming
train two or three miles away, around the curve beyond the pumping
station.

The negro porter from the hotel opposite the depot, came bumping across
the rails, with the grips belonging to the two traveling men, in his
little cart; the local expressman rattled up with a trunk in his shaky
old wagon; and the sweet-faced daughter of the division track
superintendent hurried out of the red section-house with a bundle of big
envelopes in her hand. The platform was crowded with all kinds of people,
carrying a great variety of bundles, baskets and handbags, asking all
manner of questions, going to and from all sorts of places. The train
drew rapidly nearer.

The Doctor's old heart was thumping painfully. He forgot the people, he
forgot Corinth, he forgot everything but the boy who had come to him that
day on the river bank.

Swiftly the long train with clanging bell and snorting engine came up to
the depot. The conductor swung easily to the platform, and, watch in
hand, walked quickly to the office. Porters and trainmen tumbled off, and
with a long hiss of escaping air and a steady puff-puff, the train
stopped.

In the bustle and confusion of crowding passengers getting on and off,
tearful good-byes and joyful greetings, banging trunks, rattling trucks,
hissing steam, the doctor watched. Then he saw him, his handsome head
towering above the pushing, jostling crowd. The Doctor could not get to
him, and with difficulty restrained a shout. But Dan with his back to
them all pushed his way to an open window of the car he had just left,
where a woman's face turned to him in earnest conversation.

"There he is," said the Doctor, "that tall fellow by the window there."

At his words the physician heard an exclamation, and, glancing back, saw
the women staring eagerly, while Charity's face wore a look of painful
doubt and disappointment. The Elder's countenance was stern and frowning.

"Seems mightily interested," said one, suggestively.

"What a pretty face," added another, also suggestively.

The Doctor spoke quickly, "Why that's--" Then he stopped with an
expression on his face that came very near being a malicious grin.

The conductor, watch again in hand, shouted, the porters stepped aboard,
the bell rang, the engineer, with his long oil-can, swung to his cab,
slowly the heavy train began to gather headway. As it went Dan walked
along the platform beside that open window, until he could no longer
keep pace with the moving car. Then with a final wave of his hand he
stood looking after the train, seemingly unconscious of everything but
that one who was being carried so quickly beyond his sight.

He was standing so when his old friend grasped his arm. He turned with a
start. "Doctor!"

What a handsome fellow he was, with his father's great body, powerful
limbs and shaggy red-brown hair; and his mother's eyes and mouth, and
her spirit ruling within him, making you feel that he was clean through
and through. It was no wonder people stood around looking at him. The
Doctor felt again that old, mysterious spell, that feeling that the boy
was a revelation to him of something he had always known, the living
embodiment of a truth never acknowledged. And his heart swelled with
pride as he turned to lead Dan up to Elder Jordan and his company.

The church ladies, old in experience with preachers, seemed strangely
embarrassed. This one was somehow so different from those they had
known before, but their eyes were full of admiration. Charity's voice
trembled as she bade him welcome. Nathaniel's manner was that of a
judge. Dan himself, was as calm and self possessed as if he and the
Doctor were alone on the bank of some river, far from church and church
people. But the Doctor thought that the boy flinched a bit when he
introduced him as Reverend Matthews. Perhaps, though, it was merely the
Doctor's fancy. The old man felt too, even as he presented Dan to his
people, that there had come between himself and the boy a something
that was never there before, and it troubled him not a little. But
perhaps this, too, was but a fancy.

At any rate the old man must have been somewhat excited for when the
introductions were over, and the company was leaving the depot, he
managed to steer Dan into collision with a young woman who was standing
nearby. She was carrying a small grip, having evidently arrived on the
same train that brought the minister. It was no joke for anyone into
whom Big Dan bumped, and a look of indignation flashed on the girl's
face. But the indignant look vanished quickly in a smile as the big
fellow stood, hat in hand, offering the most abject apology for what he
called _his_ rudeness.

The Doctor noted a fine face, a strong graceful figure, and an air of
wholesomeness and health that was most refreshing. But he thought that
Dan took more time than was necessary for his apology.

When she had assured the young fellow several times that it was nothing,
she asked: "Can you tell me, please, the way to Dr. Abbott's office?"

Dr. Abbott! The Doctor's own office--Dr. Harry's and his now. He looked
the young woman over curiously, while Dan was saying: "I'm sorry, but I
cannot. I am a stranger here, but my friend--"

The older man interrupted gruffly with the necessary directions and the
information that Dr. Abbott was out of town, and would not be back until
four o'clock. "Will you then direct me to a hotel?" she asked. The Doctor
pointed across the track. Then he got Dan away.

The church ladies, with Charity and her father, were already on their way
back to the place where the bazaar was doing business. Half way down the
block the Doctor and Dan were checked by a crowd. There seemed to be some
excitement ahead. But in the pause, Dan turned to look back toward the
young woman who had arrived in Corinth on the same train that had brought
him. She was coming slowly down the street toward them.

Again the thought flashed through the Doctor's mind that the boy had
taken more time than was necessary for his apology.




CHAPTER IV.

WHO ARE THEY?

"And the old man pointed out to Dan his room across the way--the room
that looked out upon the garden and the monument."


Jud Hardy, who lives at Windy Cove on the river some eighteen miles
"back" from Corinth, had been looking forward to Fair time for months.
Not that Jud had either things to exhibit or money to buy things
exhibited. For while Jud professed to own, and ostensibly to cultivate a
forty, he gained his living mostly by occasional "spells of work" on the
farms of his neighbors. In lieu of products of his hand or fields for
exhibition at the annual fair, Jud invariably makes an exhibition of
himself, never failing thus to contribute his full share to the "other
amusements," announced on the circulars and in the Daily Corinthian, as
"too numerous to mention."

The citizens of the Windy Cove country have a saying that when Jud is
sober and in a good humor and has money, he is a fairly good fellow, if
he is not crossed in any way. The meat of which saying is in the well
known fact, that Jud is never in a good humor when he is not sober, that
he is never sober when he has money; and that with the exception of
three or four kindred spirits, whose admiration for the bad man is
equalled only by their fear of him, no one has ever been able to devise
a way to avoid crossing him when he is in his normal condition.

With three of the kindred spirits, Jud arrived in Corinth that day, with
the earliest of the visitors, and the quartette proceeded, at once, to
warm up after their long ride. By ten o'clock they were well warmed.
Just as the ten-forty train was slowing up at the depot, Jud began his
exhibition. It took place at the post office where the crowd was
greatest, because of the incoming mail. Stationing himself near the
door, the man from Windy Cove blocked the way for everyone who wanted to
pass either in or out of the building. For the women and young girls he
stepped aside with elaborate, drunken politeness and maudlin,
complimentary remarks. For the men who brushed him he had a scowling
curse and a muttered threat. Meanwhile, his followers nearby looked on
in tipsy admiration and "'lowed that there was bound to be somethin'
doin', for Jud was sure a-huntin' trouble."

Then came one who politely asked Jud to move. He was an inoffensive
little man, with a big star on his breast, and a big walking stick in
his hand--the town marshal. Jud saw an opportunity to give an exhibition
worth while. There were a few opening remarks--mostly profane--and then
the representative of the law lay in a huddled heap on the floor, while
the man from the river rushed from the building into the street.

The passing crowd stopped instantly. Scattered individuals from every
side came running to push their way into the mass of men and women,
until for a block on either side of the thoroughfare there was a solid
wall of breathless humanity. Between these walls strolled Jud, roaring
his opinion and defiance of every one in general, and the citizens of
Corinth in particular.

It could not last long, of course. There were many men in the crowd who
did not fear to challenge Jud, but there was that inevitable hesitation,
while each man was muttering to his neighbor that this thing ought to be
stopped, and they were waiting to see if someone else would not start
first to stop it.

Nearly the length of the block, Jud made his triumphant way; then, at the
corner where the crowd was not so dense, he saw a figure starting across
the street.

"Hey there," he roared, "get back there where you belong! What th' hell
do you mean? Don't you see the procession's a comin'?"

It was Denny. He had left his garden to go to the butcher's for a bit of
meat for dinner. The crippled lad had just rounded the corner, and,
forced to give all his attention to his own halting steps, did not grasp
the situation but continued his dragging way across the path of the
drunken and enraged bully. The ruffian, seeing the lad ignore his loud
commands, strode heavily forward with menacing fists, heaping foul
epithets upon the head of the helpless Irish boy.

The crowd gasped.

"Oh, why does someone not do something!" moaned a woman. A girl screamed.

Several men started, but before they could force their way through the
press, the people saw a stranger, a well-dressed young giant, spring
from the sidewalk, and run toward the two figures in the middle of the
street. But Dan had not arrived upon the scene soon enough. Almost as he
left the pavement the blow fell, and Denny lay still--a crumpled, pitiful
heap in the dirt.

Jud, flushed with this second triumph, turned to face the approaching
stranger.

"Come on, you pink-eyed dude! I've got some fer you too. Come git your
medicine, you--"

Dan was coming--coming so quickly that Jud's curses had not left his
lips when the big fellow reached him. With one clean, swinging blow the
man from Windy Cove was lifted fairly off the ground to fall several
feet away from his senseless victim.

There was an excited yell from the crowd. But Jud, lean, loose-jointed
and hard of sinew, had the physical toughness of his kind. Almost
instantly he was on his feet again, reaching for his hip pocket with a
familiar movement. And there was a wild scramble as those in front sought
cover in the rear.

"Look out! Look out!"--came from the crowd.

But the mountain bred Dan needed no warning. With a leap, cat-like in
its quickness, he was again upon the other. There was a short struggle,
a sharp report, a wrenching twist, a smashing blow, and Jud was down
once more, this time senseless. The weapon lay in the dust. The bullet
had gone wide.

The crowd yelled their approval, and, even while they applauded, the
people were asking each of his neighbor: "Who is he? Who is he?"

Several men rushed in, and Dan, seeing the bully safe in as many hands as
could lay hold of him, turned to discover the young woman whom he had met
at the depot kneeling in the street over the still unconscious Denny.
With her handkerchief she was wiping the blood and dirt from the boy's
forehead. Dan had only time to wonder at the calmness of her face and
manner when the crowd closed in about them.

Then the Doctor pushed his way through the throng, and the people, at
sight of the familiar figure, obeyed his energetic orders and drew aside.
A carriage was brought and Dan lifted the unconscious lad in his arms.
The Doctor spoke shortly to the young woman, "You come too." And with the
Doctor the two strangers in Corinth took Denny to his home.

In the excitement no one thought of introductions, while the people
seeing their hero driving in the carriage with a young woman, also a
stranger, changed their question from, "Who is he?" to "Who are they?"

When Denny had regained consciousness, and everything possible for his
comfort and for the assistance of his distracted mother, had been done;
and the physician had assured them that the lad would be as good as ever
in a day or two, the men crossed the street to the little white house.

"Well," ejaculated Martha when Dan had been presented, and the incident
on the street briefly related, "I'm mighty glad I cooked them three
roosters."

Dan laughed his big, hearty laugh, "I'm glad, too," he said. "Doctor
used to drive me wild out in the woods with tales of your cooking."

The Doctor could see that Martha was pleased at this by the way she
fussed with her apron.

"We always hoped that he would bring you with him on some of his trips,"
continued Dan, "we all wanted so much to meet you."

To the Doctor's astonishment, Martha stammered, "I--maybe I will go some
day." Then her manner underwent a change as if she had suddenly
remembered something. "You'll excuse me now while I put the dinner on,"
she said stiffly. "Just make yourself to home; preachers always do in
this house, even if Doctor don't belong." She hurried away, and Dan
looked at his host with his mother's questioning eyes. The Doctor knew
what it was. Dan had felt it even in the house of his dearest friend. It
was the preacher Martha had welcomed, welcomed him professionally
because he was a preacher. And the Doctor felt again _that_ something
that had come between him and the lad.

"Martha doesn't care for fishing," he said gently.

Then they went out on the porch, and the old man pointed out to Dan his
room across the way--the room that looked out upon the garden and the
monument.

"Several of your congregation wanted to have you in their homes," he
explained. "But I felt--I thought you might like to be--it was near
me you see--and handy to the church." He pointed to the building up
the street.

"Yes," Dan answered, looking at his old friend curiously--such broken
speech was not natural to the Doctor--"You are quite right. It was very
kind of you; you know how I will like it to be near you." Then looking
at the monument he asked whose it was.

The Doctor hesitated again. Dan faced him waiting for an answer.

"That--oh, that's our statesman. You will need time to fully appreciate
that work of art, and what it means to Corinth. It will grow on you. It's
been growing on me for several years."

The young man was about to ask another question regarding the monument,
when he paused. The girl who had gone to Denny in the street was coming
from the little cottage. As she walked away under the great trees that
lined the sidewalk, the two men stood watching her. Dan's question about
the monument was forgotten.

"I wonder who she is," he said in a low voice.

The Doctor recalled the meeting at the depot and chuckled, and just then
Martha called to dinner.

And the people on the street corners, at the ladies' bazaar, in the
stores, the church booths and in the homes, were talking; talking of the
exhibition of the man from Windy Cove, and asking each of his neighbor:
"Who are they?"




CHAPTER V.

HOPE FARWELL'S MINISTRY

"Useful hands they were, made for real service."


After dinner was over and they had visited awhile, the Doctor introduced
Dan to his landlady across the way and, making some trivial excuse about
business, left the boy in his room. The fact is that the Doctor wished
to be alone. If he could have done it decently, he would have gone off
somewhere with his fishing tackle. As he could not go fishing, he did
the next best thing. He went to his office.

The streets were not so crowded now, for the people were at the ball
game, and the Doctor made his way down town without interruption. As he
went he tried to think out what it was that had come between him and the
boy whom he had known so intimately for so many years. Stopping at the
post office, he found a letter in his care addressed to "Rev. Daniel H.
Matthews." In his abstraction he was about to hand the letter in at the
window with the explanation that he knew no such person, when a voice at
his elbow said: "Is Brother Matthews fully rested from his tiresome
journey, Doctor?"

The Doctor's abstraction vanished instantly, he jammed that letter into
his pocket and faced the speaker.

"Yes," he growled, "I think Brother Matthews is fully rested. As he is
a grown man of unusual strength, and in perfect health of body at least,
and the tiresome journey was a trip of only four hours, in a comfortable
railway coach, I think I may say that he is fully recovered."

Then the Doctor slipped away. But he had discovered what it was that had
come between the boy and himself. The _man_, Dan Matthews, was no longer
the Doctor's boy. He was "Reverend," "Brother," the _preacher_. All the
morning it had been making itself felt, that something that sets
preachers apart. The Doctor wondered how his young hill-bred giant would
stand being coddled and petted and loved by the wives and mothers of men
who, for their daily bread, met the world bare-handed, and whose
hardships were accepted by them and by these same mothers and wives as a
matter of course.

By this time the Doctor had reached his office, and the sight of the
familiar old rooms that had been the scene of so many revelations of real
tragedies and genuine hardships, known only to the sufferer and to him
professionally, forced him to continue his thought.

"There was Dr. Harry, for instance. Who, beside his old negro
housekeeper, ever petted and coddled _him_? Who ever thought of setting
him apart? Whoever asked if he were rested from his tiresome
journey--journeys made not in comfortable coaches on the railroad, but
in his buggy over all kinds of roads, at all times of day or night, in
all sorts of weather winter and summer, rain and sleet and snow? Whoever
'Reverended' or 'Brothered' him? Oh no, he was only a man, a physician.
It was his business to kill himself trying to keep other people alive."

Dr. Harry Abbott had been first, the Doctor's assistant, then his
partner, and now at last his successor. Of a fine old Southern family,
his people had lost everything in the war when Harry was only a lad. The
father was killed in battle and the mother died a year later, leaving
the boy alone in the world. Thrown upon his own resources for the
necessities of life, he had managed somehow to live and to educate
himself, besides working his way through both preparatory and medical
schools, choosing his profession for love of it. He came to Dr. Oldham
from school, when the Doctor was beginning to feel the burden of his
large practice too heavily, and it was while he was the old physician's
assistant that the people learned to call him Dr. Harry. And Dr. Harry
he is to this day. How that boy has worked! His profession and his church
(for he is a member, a deacon now, in the Memorial Church) have occupied
every working minute of his life, and many hours beside that he should
have given to sleep.

As the months passed Dr. Oldham placed more and more responsibilities
upon him, and at the end of the second year took him into full
partnership. It was about this time that Dr. Harry bought the old Wilson
Carter place, and brought from his boyhood home two former slaves of his
father to keep house for him, Old Uncle George and his wife Mam Liz.

Every year the younger man took more and more of the load from his
partner's shoulders, until the older physician retired from active
practice; and never has there been a word but of confidence and
friendship between them. Their only difference is, that Harry will go to
prayer meeting, when the Doctor declares he should go to bed; and that
he will not go fishing. Always he has been the same courteous, kindly
gentleman, intent only upon his profession, keeping abreast of the new
things pertaining to his work, but ever considerate of the old Doctor's
whims and fancies. Even now that Dr. Oldham has stepped down and out
Harry insists that he leave his old desk in its place, and still talks
over his cases with him.

The Doctor was sitting in his dilapidated office chair thinking over all
this, when he heard his brother physician's step on the stairs. Harry
came in, dusty and worn, from a long ride in the country on an all-night
case. His tired face lit up when he saw his friend.

"Hello, Doctor! Glad to see you. Has he come? How is he?" While he was
speaking the physician dropped his case, slipped out of his coat, and
was in the lavatory burying his face in cold water by the time the other
was ready to answer. That was Harry, he was never in a hurry, never
seemed to move fast, but people never ceased to wonder at his quickness.

"He's all right," the Doctor muttered, his mind slipping back into the
channel that had started him off to thinking of his fellow physician.
"Got in on the ten-forty. But you look fagged enough. Why the devil don't
you rest, Harry?"

Standing in the doorway rubbing his face, neck, and chest, with a coarse
towel the young man laughed, "Rest, what would I do with a vacation? I'll
be all right, when I get outside of one of Mam Liz's dinners. It was that
baby of Jensen's that kept me. Poor little chap. I thought, two or three
times he was going to make a die of it sure, but I guess he'll pull
through now."

Dr. Oldham knew the Jensens well, eighteen miles over the worst roads in
the country. He growled hoarsely: "It'll be more years than there are
miles between here and Jensen's before you get a cent out of that case.
You're a fool for making the trip; why don't you let 'em get that old
bushwhacker at Salem, he's only three miles away?"

Harry pulled on his coat and dropped into his chair with a grin. "What'll
you give me to collect some of your old accounts, Doctor? The Jensens say
that the reason they have me is because you have always been their
physician."

Then the Doctor in characteristic language expressed his opinion of the
whole Jensen tribe, while Harry calmly glanced through some letters on
his desk.

"See here, Doctor," he exclaimed, wheeling around in his chair and
interrupting the old man's eloquent discourse. "Here is a letter from
Dr. Miles--says he is sending a nurse; just what we want." He tossed the
letter to the other. "There'll be the deuce to pay at Judge Strong's
when she arrives. Whew! I guess I better trot over home and get a bite
and forty winks. A Jensen breakfast, as you may remember, isn't just the
most staying thing for a civilized stomach, and I need to be fit when I
call at the Strong mansion. Wonder when the nurse will get here."

"She's here now," said the old Doctor, and he then told him about the
meeting at the depot and the fight on the street. "But go on and get your
nap," he finished. "I'll look after her."

Harry had just taken his hat when there came a knock on the door leading
into the little waiting room. He hung his hat back in the closet, and
dropped into his chair again with a comical expression of resignation on
his face. But his voice was cheerful, when he said: "Come in."

The door opened. The young lady of the depot entered. The old physician
took a good look at her this time. He saw a girl of fine, strong form and
good height, with clear skin, showing perfect health, large, gray
eyes--serious enough, but with a laugh back of all their seriousness,
brown hair, firm, rounded chin and a generous sensitive mouth.
Particularly he noticed her hands--beautifully modeled, useful hands
they were, made for real service. Altogether she gave him the impression
of being very much alive, and very much a woman.

"Is this Dr. Abbott?" she asked, looking at Harry, who had risen from
his chair. When she spoke the old man again noted her voice, it was low
and clear.

"I am Dr. Abbott," replied Harry.

"I am Hope Farwell," she answered. "Dr. Miles, you know, asked me to
come. You wanted a nurse for a special case, I believe."

"Oh, yes," exclaimed Harry, "we have the letter here. We were just
speaking of you, Miss Farwell. This is Dr. Oldham; perhaps Dr. Miles
told you of him."

She turned with a smile, "Yes indeed, Dr. Miles told me. I believe we
have met before, Doctor."

The girl broke into a merry laugh, when the old man answered, gruffly: "I
should think we had. I was just telling Harry there when you came in."

Then the younger physician asked, "How soon can you be ready to go on
this case, Nurse?"

She looked at him with a faint expression of surprise. "Why I'm ready
now, Doctor."

And the old Doctor broke in so savagely that they both looked at him in
astonishment as he said: "But this is a hard case. You'll be up most of
the night. You're tired out from your trip."

"Why, Doctor," said the young woman, "it is my business to be ready at
any time. Being up nights is part of my profession. Surely you know
that. Besides, that trip was really a good rest, the first good rest
I've had for a long time."

"I know, of course," he answered. "I was thinking of something else. You
must pardon me, Miss. Harry there will explain that I am subject to these
little attacks."

"Oh, I know already," she returned smiling. "Dr. Miles told me all about
you." And there was something in her laughing gray eyes that made the
rough old man wonder just what it was that his friend Miles had told her.

"All right, get back to business you two," he growled. "I'll not
interrupt again. Tell her about the case, Harry."

The young woman's face was serious in a moment, and she gave the
physician the most careful attention as he explained the case for which
he had written Dr. Miles to send a trained nurse of certain
qualifications.

The Judge Strong of this story is an only son of the old Judge who moved
Corinth. He is a large man--physically, as large as the Doctor, but where
the Doctor is fat the Judge is lean. He inherited, not only his father's
title (a purely honorary one) but his father's property, his position as
an Elder in the church, and his general disposition; together with his
taste and skill in collecting mortgages and acquiring real estate. The
old Judge had but the one child. The Judge of this story, though just
passing middle age, has no children at all. Seemingly there is no room in
his heart for more than his church and his properties--his mind being
thus wholly occupied with titles to heaven and to earth. With Sapphira,
his wife, he lives in a big house on Strong Avenue, beyond the Strong
Memorial Church, with never so much as a pet dog or cat to roughen the
well-kept lawn or romp, perchance, in the garden. The patient whom Miss
Farwell had come to nurse, was Sapphira's sister, a widow with neither
child nor home. The Judge had been forced by his fear of public sentiment
to give her shelter, and he had been compelled by Dr. Oldham and Dr.
Harry to employ a nurse. The case would not be a pleasant one; Miss
Farwell would need all that abundant stock of tact and patience which Dr.
Miles had declared she possessed.

All this Dr. Harry explained to her, and when he had finished she asked
in the most matter-of-fact tone: "And what are your instructions,
Doctor?"

That caught Harry. It caught the old Doctor, too. Not even a comment on
the disagreeable position she knew she would have in the Strong
household, for Harry had not slighted the hard facts! She understood
clearly what she was going into.

A light came into the young physician's eyes that his old friend liked
to see. "I guess Miles knew what he was talking about in his letter,"
said the old Doctor. And the young woman's face flushed warmly at his
words and look.

Then in his professional tones Dr. Harry instructed her more fully as to
the patient's condition--a nervous trouble greatly aggravated by the
Judge's disposition.

"Nice job, isn't it, Miss Farwell?" Harry finished.

She smiled. "When do I go on, Doctor?"

Harry stepped to the telephone and called up the Strong mansion. "This
you, Judge?" he said into the instrument. "The nurse from Chicago is
here; came today. We want her to go on the case at once. Can you send
your man to the depot for her trunk?"

By the look on his face the old Doctor knew what Harry was getting. The
younger physician's jaw was set and his eyes were blazing, but his voice
was calm and easy. "But Judge, you remember the agreement. Dr. Oldham is
here now if you wish to speak to him. We shall hold you to the exact
letter of your bargain, Judge. I am very sorry but--. Very well sir. I
will be at your home with the nurse in a few moments. Please have a room
ready. And by the way, Judge, I must tell you again that my patient is in
a serious condition. I warn you that we will hold you responsible if
anything happens to interfere with our arrangements for her treatment.
Good-bye."

He turned to the nurse with a wry face. "It's pretty bad, Miss Farwell."

Then, ringing up the village drayman, he arranged to have the young
woman's trunk taken to the house. When the man had called for the checks
Harry said: "Now, Nurse, my buggy is here, and if you are ready I guess
we had better follow your trunk pretty closely."

From the window the old Doctor watched them get into the buggy,
and drive off down the street. Mechanically he opened the letter
from Dr. Miles, which he still held in his hand. "An ideal nurse, who
has taken up the work for love of it,--have known the family for
years--thoroughbreds--just the kind to send a Kentuckian like you--I
warn you look out,--I want her back again."

The Doctor chuckled when he remembered Harry's look as he talked to the
young woman. "If ever a man needed a wife Harry does," he thought. "Who
knows what might happen?"

Who knows, indeed?

Then the Doctor went home to Dan. He found him in Denny's garden, with
Denny enthroned on the big rock--listening to his fun, while Deborah,
from the house, looked on, unable to believe that it was "the parson
sure enough out there wid Denny,"--Denny who was to have been a priest
himself one day, but who would never now be good for much of anything.




CHAPTER VI.

THE CALLING OF DAN MATTHEWS

"'In the battle of life we cannot hire a substitute; whatever work one
volunteers to make his own he must look upon as his ministry to the
race.'"


Dan, with the Doctor and Mrs. Oldham were to take supper and spend the
evening at Elder Jordan's. Martha went over early in the afternoon,
leaving the two men to follow.

As they were passing the monument, Dan stopped. "Did you know him?" he
asked curiously, when he had read the inscription. It was not like Dan
to be curious.

The Doctor answered briefly: "I was there when he was born and was his
family physician all his life, and I was with him when he died."

Something in the doctor's voice made Dan look at him intently for a
moment, then in a low tone: "He was a good man?"

"One of the best I ever knew, too good for this town. Look at that thing.
They say that expressed their appreciation of him--and it does," he
finished grimly.

"But," said Dan, in a puzzled way, turning once more to the monument,
"this inscription--" he read again the sentence from the statesman's
speech on the forgotten issue of his passing day.

The Doctor said nothing.

Then gazing up at the cast-iron figure posed stiffly with outstretched
arm in the attitude of a public speaker, Dan asked: "Is that like him?"

"Like him! It's like nothing but the people who conceived it," growled
the Doctor indignantly. "If that man were living he would not be always
talking about issues that have no meaning at this day. He would be giving
himself to the problems that trouble us now. This thing," he rapped the
monument with his stick until it gave forth a dull, hollow sound, "this
thing is not a memorial to the life and character of my friend. It
memorializes the dead issue to which he gave himself at one passing
moment of his life, and which, had he lived, he would have forgotten, as
the changing times brought new issues to be met as he met this old one.
He was too great, too brave, to ever stand still and let the world go by.
He was always on the firing line. This thing--" he rapped the hollow iron
shaft again contemptuously, and the hollow sound seemed to add emphasis
to his words--"this is a dead monument to a dead issue. Instead of
speaking of his life, it cries aloud in hideous emphasis that he is
dead."

They stood silently for a moment then Dan said, quietly: "After all,
Doctor, they meant well."

"And that," retorted the old man grimly, "is what we doctors say when we
see our mistakes go by in the hearse."

They went on up the street until they reached the church. Here Dan
stopped again. He read the inscription cut large in the stone over the
door, "The Strong Memorial Church." Again Dan turned to his friend
inquiringly.

"Judge Strong, the old Judge," explained the Doctor. "That's his picture
in the big stained-glass window there."

In all his intentions Nathaniel Jordan was one of the best of men.
Surely, if in the hereafter, any man receives credit for always doing
what his conscience dictates, Nathan will. He was one of those
characters who give up living ten years before they die. Nathan stayed
on for the church's good.

Miss Charity, the Elder's only child is--well, she was born, raised and
educated for a parson's wife. The Doctor says that she didn't even cry
like other babies. At three she had taken a prize in Sunday school for
committing Golden texts, at seven she was baptized, and knew the reason
why, at twelve she played the organ in Christian Endeavor. At fourteen
she was teaching a class, leading prayer meeting, attending conventions,
was president of the Local Union, and pointed with pride to the fact that
she was on more committees than any other single individual in the
Memorial Church. The walls of her room were literally covered with
badges, medals, tokens, prizes and emblems, with the picture of every
conspicuous church worker and leader of her denomination. Between times
the girl studied the early history of her church, read the religious
papers and in other ways fitted herself for her life work. Poor Charity!
She was so cursed with a holy ambition, that to her men were not men,
they simply _were_ or were _not_ preachers.

When Dan and the Doctor reached the Jordan home they found this daughter
of the church at the front gate watching for them, a look of eager hope
and expectancy on her face. The Elder himself with his wife and Mrs.
Oldham were on the front porch. Martha could scarcely wait for the usual
greeting and the introduction of Dan to Mrs. Jordan, before she opened on
the Doctor with, "It's a great pity Doctor, that you couldn't bring
Brother Matthews here before the last possible minute; supper is ready
right now. A body would think you had an important case, if they didn't
know that you were too old to do anything any more."

"We did have an important case, my dear," the Doctor replied, "and it
was Dan who caused our delay."

"That's it; lay it on to somebody else like you always do. What in the
world could poor Brother Matthews be doing to keep him from a good meal?"

"He was studying--let me see, what was it, Dan? Art, Political
Economy--or Theology?"

Dan smiled. "I think it might have been the theory and practice of
medicine," he returned. At which they both laughed and the others joined
in, though for his life the Doctor couldn't see why.

"Well," said the Elder, when he had finished his shrill cackle, "we
better go in and discuss supper awhile; that's always a satisfactory
subject at least." Which was a pretty good one for Nathaniel.

When the meal was finished, they all went out on the front porch again,
where it soon became evident that Nathaniel did not propose to waste
more time in light and frivolous conversation. By his familiar and
ponderous "Ahem--ahem!" even Dan understood that he was anxious to get
down to the real business of the evening, and that he was determined to
do his full duty, or--as he would have said--"to keep that which was
committed unto him."

"Ahem--ahem!" A hush fell upon the little company, the women turned
their chairs expectantly, and the Doctor slipped over to the end of the
porch to enjoy his evening cigar. The Elder had the field.

With another and still louder "Ahem!" he began. "I am sorry that Brother
Strong is not here this evening. Judge Strong that is, Brother Matthews;
he is our other Elder, you understand. I expected him but he has
evidently been detained."

The Doctor, thinking of Dr. Harry and the nurse, chuckled, and Nathan
turned a look of solemn inquiry in his direction.

"Ahem--ahem,--you did not come to Corinth directly from your home, I
understand, Brother Matthews?"

The Doctor could see Dan's face by the light from the open window. He
fancied it wore a look of amused understanding.

"No," answered the minister, "I spent yesterday in the city."

"Ahem--ahem," coughed the Elder. "Found an acquaintance on the train
coming up, didn't you? We noticed you talking to a young woman at the
car window."

Dan paused a moment before answering, and the Doctor could feel the
interest of the company. Then the boy said, dryly, "Yes, I may say
though, that she is something more than an acquaintance."

Smothered exclamations from the women. "Ah hah," from the Elder. The
Doctor grinned to himself in the dark. "The young scamp!"

"Ahem! She had a pretty face, we noticed; are you--that is, have you
known her long?"

"Several years, sir; the lady you saw is my mother. I went with her to
the city day before yesterday, where she wished to do some shopping, and
accompanied her on her way home as far as Corinth."

More exclamations from the women.

"Why, Doctor, you never told us it was his mother," cried Martha, and
Nathaniel turned toward the end of the porch with a look of righteous
indignation.

"You never asked me," chuckled the Doctor.

After this the two older women drifted into the house. Charity settled
herself in an attitude of rapt attention, and the program was continued.

"Ahem. You may not be aware of it Brother Matthews, but I know a great
deal about your family, sir."

"Indeed," exclaimed Dan.

"Yes sir. You see I have some mining interests in that district, quite
profitable interests I may say. Judge Strong and I together have quite
extensive interests. Two or three years ago we made a good many trips
into your part of the country, where we heard a great deal of your
people. Your mother seems to be a remarkable woman of considerable
influence. Too bad she is not a regular member of the church. Our
preachers often tell us, and I believe it is true, that people who do
so much good out of the church really injure the cause more than
anything else."

Dan made no answer to this, but as the Doctor saw his face in the light
it wore a mingled expression of astonishment and doubt.

The Elder proceeded, "They used to tell us some great stories about your
father, too. Big man, isn't he?"

"Yes sir, fairly good size."

"Yes, I remember some of his fights we used to hear about; and there was
another member of the family, they mentioned a good deal. Dad--Dad--"

"Howitt," said Dan softly.

"That's it, Howitt. A kind of a shepherd, wasn't he? Discovered the big
mine on your father's place. One of your father's fights was about the
old man. Ahem--ahem--I judge you take after your father. I don't know
just what to think about your whipping that fellow this morning. Someone
had to do something of course, but--ahem, for a minister it was rather
unusual. I don't know how the people will take it."

"I'm afraid that I forgot that I was a minister," said Dan uneasily. "I
hope, sir, you do not think that I did wrong."

"Ahem--ahem, I can't say that it was wrong exactly, but as I said, we
don't know how the people will take it. But there's one thing sure," and
the Elder's shrill cackle rang out, "it will bring a big crowd to hear
you preach. Well, well, that's off the subject. Ahem--Brother Matthews,
why haven't your people opened that big mine in Dewey Bald?"

"I expect it would be better for me to let father or mother explain that
to you, sir," answered Dan, as cool and calm as the evening.

"Yes, yes of course, but it's rather strange, rather unusual you know,
to find a young man of your make-up and opportunities for wealth,
entering the ministry. You could educate a great many preachers, sir, if
you would develop that mine."

"Father and mother have always taught us children that in the battle of
life one cannot hire a substitute; that whatever work one volunteers to
make his own he must look upon as his ministry to the race. I believe
that the church is an institution divinely given to serve the world, and
that, more than any other, it helps men to the highest possible life. I
volunteered for the work I have undertaken, because naturally I wish my
life to count for the greatest possible good; and because I feel that I
can serve men better in the church than in any other way."

"Whew!" thought the Doctor, "that was something for Nathan to chew on."
The lad's face when he spoke made his old friend's nerves tingle. His was
a new conception of the ministry, new to the Doctor at least. Forgetting
his cigar he awaited the Elder's reply with breathless interest.

"Ahem--ahem, you feel then that you have no special Divine call to the
work?"

"I have always been taught at home, sir, that every man is divinely
called to his work, if that work is for the good of all men. His
faithfulness or unfaithfulness to the call is revealed in the _motives_
that prompt him to choose his field." The boy paused a moment and
then added slowly--and no one who heard him could doubt his deep
conviction--"Yes sir, I feel that I am divinely called to preach the
gospel."

"Ahem--ahem, I trust, Brother Matthews, that you are not taken up with
these new fads and fancies that are turning the minds of the people from
the true worship of God."

"It is my desire, sir, to lead people to the true worship of God. I
believe that nothing will accomplish that end but the simple old
Jerusalem gospel."

The Doctor lit his cigar again. They seemed to be getting upon safer
ground.

"I am glad to hear that--" said the Elder heartily--"very glad. I feared
from the way you spoke, you might be going astray. There is a great work
for you here in Corinth--a great work. Our old brother who preceded you
was a good man, sound in the faith in every way, but he didn't seem to
take somehow. The fact is the other churches--ahem--are getting about
all our congregation."

Then for an hour or more, Elder Jordan, for the new minister's benefit,
discussed in detail the religious history of Corinth, with the past,
present and future of Memorial Church; while Charity, drinking in every
word of the oft-heard discussion, grew ever more entranced with the
possibilities of the new pastor's ministry, and the Doctor sat alone at
the farther end of the porch. The Elder finished with: "Well, well,
Brother Matthews, you are young, strong, unmarried, and with your
reputation as a college man and an athlete you ought to do great things
for Memorial Church. We are counting on you to build us up wonderfully.
And let me say too, that we are one of the oldest and best known
congregations in our brotherhood here in the state. We have had some
great preachers here. You can make a reputation that will put you to the
top of your--ah, calling."

Dan was just saying, "I hope I will please you, sir," when the women
appeared in the doorway. Martha had her bonnet on.

"Come, come Nathan," said Mrs. Jordan, "you mustn't keep poor Brother
Matthews up another minute. He must be nearly worn out with his long
journey and all the excitement."

The Doctor thought again of the girl who had made the same journey in
the car behind Dan, and who had also shared the excitement. He wondered
how the nurse was enjoying her evening and when she would get to bed.
"That's so," exclaimed the Doctor, rising to his feet. "We're all a lot
of brutes to treat the poor boy so."

Dan whirled on him with a look that set the old man to laughing, "That's
all right, sonny," he chuckled. "Come on, I've been asleep for an hour."




CHAPTER VII.

FROM DEBORAH'S PORCH

"'With nothin' to think of all the time but the Blessed Jesus an' the
Holy Mother; an' all the people so respectful, an' lookin' up to you.
Sure 'tis a grand thing, Doctor, to be a priest.'"


Nathaniel Jordan's prediction proved true.

In the two days between Dan's arrival and his first Sunday in Corinth,
the Ally was actively engaged in making known the identity of the big
stranger, who had so skillfully punished the man from Windy Cove. Also
the name and profession of the young woman who had gone to Denny's
assistance were fully revealed.

The new minister of the Memorial Church was the sensation of the hour.
The building could scarcely hold the crowd, while the rival churches
were deserted, save only by the few faithful "pillars" who were held in
their places by the deep conviction that heaven itself would fall should
they fail to support their own particular faith. With the people who had
attended the fair, the Ally journeyed far into the country, and the roads
being good with promise of a moon to drive home by, the country folk for
miles around came to worship God, and, incidentally, to see the preacher
who had fought and vanquished the celebrated Jud. Many were there that
day who had not been inside a church before for years. The Ally went
also, but then the Ally, they say, is a regular attendant at all the
services of every church.

Judge Strong, with an expression of pious satisfaction on his hard face,
occupied his own particular corner. From another corner Elder Jordan
watched for signs of false doctrine. Charity, except when busy at the
organ, never took her adoring eyes from the preacher's face. At the last
moment before the sermon, Dr. Harry slipped into the seat beside the
Doctor. And many other earnest souls there were who depended upon the
church as the only source of their life's inspiration and strength.

Facing this crowd that even in the small town of Corinth represented
every class and kind, Dan felt it all; the vulgar curiosity, the craving
for sensation, the admiration, the suspicion, the true welcome, the
antagonism, the spiritual dependence. And the young man from the
mountains and the schools, who had entered the ministry from the truest
motives, with the highest ideals, shrank back and was afraid.

Dan was, literally, to this church and people a messenger from another
world. It was not strange that many of the people thought, "How out of
place this big fellow looks in the pulpit." Many of them felt dimly,
too, that which the Doctor had always felt, that this man was somehow a
revelation of something that might have been, that ought to be. But no
one tried to search out the reason why.

The theme of the new minister's sermon was, "The Faith of the Fathers,"
and it must have been a good one, because Martha said the next day, that
it was the finest thing she had ever heard; and she had it figured out
somehow that the members of neighboring churches, who were there, got
some straight gospel for once in their lives. Elder Jordan assured the
Doctor in a confidential whisper, that it was a splendid effort. The
Doctor knew that Dan was splendid, and he could see that the boy had
fairly hypnotized the crowd, but he could not understand why it should
have been much of an effort. He confided to Martha that "so far as he
could see, the sermon might have been taken from the barrel of any one
of the preachers that had served the Memorial Church since its
establishment." But the sermon was new and fresh to Dan, and so gained
something of interest and strength from the earnestness and personality
of the speaker. "The boy had only to hold that gait," reflected the
Doctor, "and he would, as Nathan had said, land at the very top of his
profession."

In the evening, the Doctor slipped away from church as soon as the
services were over, leaving Dan with those who always stay until the
janitor begins turning out the lights. Martha would walk home with
fellow workers in the Ladies' Aid, who lived a few doors beyond, and the
Doctor wished to be alone.

Crossing the street to avoid the crowd, he walked slowly along under
The big trees, trying to accustom himself to the thought of his boy
dressed in the conventional minister's garb, delivering time worn
conventionalities in a manner as conventional. It was to this strange
thinking old man, almost as if he had seen Dan behind the grated doors
of a prison cell.

Very slowly he went along, unmindful of aught but the thoughts that
troubled him, until, coming to the Widow Mulhall's little cottage, where
Deborah and Denny were sitting on the porch, he paused. Across the street
in front of his own home, Martha and her friends were holding an animated
conversation.

"Come in, come in, Doctor," called Deborah's cheery voice, "it's a fine
evenin' it is and only beginnin'. I was just tellin' Denny that 'tis a
shame folks have to waste such nights in sleep. Come right in, I'll
fetch another chair--take the big rocker there, Doctor, that's right.
And how are you? Denny? Oh the bye is all right again just as you said;
sure the minister had him out in the garden that same afternoon. 'Twas
the blessin' of God, though, that his Reverence was there to keep that
devil from batin' the poor lad to death. I hope you'll not be forgettin'
the way to our gate entirely now, Doctor, that you'll be crossin' the
street so often to the house beyond the garden there."

In the Widow's voice there was a hint of her Irish ancestry, as, in her
kind blue eyes, buxom figure and cordial manner, there was more than a
hint of her warm-hearted, whole-souled nature.

"How do you like your new neighbor, Deborah?" asked the Doctor.

"Ah, Doctor, it's a fine big man he is, a danged fine man inside an' out.
Denny and me are almighty proud, havin' him so close. He's that sociable,
too, not at all like a priest. It's every blessed day since he's been
here he's comin' over to Denny in the garden, and helpin' him with the
things, a-talkin' away all the time. ''Tis the very exercise I need,'
says he. 'And it's a real kindness for ye to let me work a bit now and
then,' says he. But sure we kin see, 'tis the big heart of him, wishful
to help the bye. But it's queer notioned he is fer a preacher."

"Didn't I see you and Denny at church this evening?" asked the Doctor.

"You did that, sir. You see not havin' no church of our own within reach
of our legs, an' bein' real wishful to hear a bit of a prayer and a
sermon like, Denny an' me slips into the protestant meetings now and
then. After all there's no real harm in it now, do you think, Doctor?"

"Harm to you and Denny, or the church?" the Doctor asked.

"Aw, go on now, Doctor you do be always havin' your joke," she laughed.
"Harm to neither or both or all, I mane, for, of course--well, let it go.
I guess that while Denny and me do be sayin' our prayers in our little
cabin on this side of the street, and you are a-sayin' yours in your fine
house across the way, 'tis the same blessed Father of us all gets them
both. I misdoubt if God had much to do wid layin' out the streets of
Corinth anyhow. I've heard how 'twas the old Judge Strong did that."

"And what do you think of Mr. Matthews' sermon?"

"It's ashamed I am to say it, Doctor, but I niver heard him."

"Never heard him? But I thought you were there."

"And we was, sir, so we was. And Denny here can tell you the whole thing,
but for myself I niver heard a blessed word, after the singin' and the
preacher stood up."

"Why, what was the matter?"

"The preacher himself."

"The preacher?"

"Yes sir. 'Twas this way, Doctor, upon my soul I couldn't hear what he
was a-sayin' for lookin' at the man himself. With him a-standin' up there
so big an' strong an'--an' clean like through an' through an' the look on
his face! It set me to thinkin' of all that I used to dream fer--fer my
Denny here. Ye mind what a fine lookin' man poor Jack was, sir, tho' I do
say it, and how Denny here, from a baby, was the very image of him. I
always knowed he was a-goin' to grow up another Jack for strength an'
looks. And you know yourself how our hearts was set on havin' him a
priest, him havin' such a turn that way, bein' crazy on books and
studyin' an' the likes--an' now--now here we are, sir. My man gone, an'
my boy just able to drag his poor broken body around, an' good fer
nothin' but to dig in the dirt. No sir, I couldn't hear the sermon fer
lookin' at the preacher an' thinkin'."

Denny moved his twisted, misshapen body uneasily, "Oh, come now, mother,"
he said, "let's don't be spoilin' the fine night fer the Doctor with our
troubles."

"Indade, that we will not," said Deborah cheerfully. "Don't you think
Denny's garden's been doin' fine this summer, Doctor?"

"Fine," said the Doctor heartily. "But then it's always fine. There's
lots of us would like to know how he makes it do so well."

Denny gave a pleased laugh.

"Aw now Doctor you're flatterin' me. They have been doin' pretty well
though--pretty well fer me."

"I tell you what it is, Doctor," said Deborah, "the bye naturally loves
them things into growin'. If people would be takin' as good care of their
children as Denny does for his cabbage and truck it would be a blessin'
to the world."

"It is funny, Doctor," put in Denny, "but do you know those things out
there seem just like people to me. I tell mother it ain't so bad after
all, not bein' a priest. The minister was a-sayin' yesterday, that the
people needed more than their souls looked after. If I can't be tellin'
people how to live, I can be growin' good things to keep them alive, and
maybe that's not so bad as it might be."

"I don't know what we'd be doin' at all, if it wasn't fer that same
garden," added Deborah, "with clothes, and wood and groceries to buy, to
say nothin' of the interest that's always comin' due. We--"

"Whist," said Denny in a low tone as a light flashed up in the corner
window of the house on the other side of the garden. "There's the
minister come home."

Reverently they watched the light and the moving shadow in the room. The
moon, through the branches of the trees along the street, threw waving
patches of soft light over the dark green of the little lawn. Martha's
friends had moved on. Martha herself had retired. The street was
seemingly deserted and very still.

Leaning forward in her chair Deborah spoke in a whisper. "We can always
tell when he's in of nights, and when he goes to bed. Ye see it's almost
like we was livin' in the same house with him. An' a great comfort it is
to us too, wid him such a good man, our havin' him so near. Poor bye
I'll warrant he's tired tonight. But oh, it must be a grand thing,
Doctor, to be doin' such holy work, an' a livin' with God Almighty like,
with nothin' to think of all the time but the Blessed Jesus and the Holy
Mother; an' all the people so respectful, an' lookin' up to you. Sure
'tis a grand thing, Doctor, to be a priest, savin' your presence sir,
for I know how you've little truck wid churches, tho' the lady your wife
does enough fer two."

The Doctor rose to go for he saw that the hour was late. As he stood on
the steps ready to depart the steady flow of Deborah's talk continued,
when Denny interrupted again, pointing toward a woman who was crossing
to the other side of the street. She walked slowly, and, reaching the
sidewalk in front of the Doctor's house, hesitated, in a troubled,
undecided way. Approaching the gate, she paused, then drew back and
moved on slowly up the street. Her movements and manner gave the
impression that she was in trouble, perhaps in pain.

"There's something wrong there," said the Doctor. "Who is it? Can you
see who it is, Denny?"

"Yes, sir," he answered, and Deborah broke in, "it's that poor girl
of--of Jim Conner's, sir."

The Doctor, at once nervous and agitated, was not a little worried and
could make no reply, knowing that it was Jim Conner who had killed
Deborah's husband.

"Poor thing," murmured Deborah. "For the love of God, look at that now,
Doctor!"

The girl had reached the corner, and had fallen or thrown herself in a
crouching heap against the monument.

The widow was starting for the street, but Denny caught her arm: "No--no
mother, you mustn't do that, you know how she's scared to death of you;
let the Doctor go."

The physician was already on his way as fast as his old legs would take
him.




CHAPTER VIII.

THE WORK OF THE ALLY

"In the little room that looked out upon the Monument and the garden,
Dan--all unknowing--slept. And over all brooded the spirit that lives in
Corinth--the Ally--that dread, mysterious thing that never sleeps."


Grace Conner is a type common to every village, town and city in the
land, the saddest of all sad creatures--a good girl with a bad
reputation.

Her reputation Grace owed first to her father's misdeeds, for which the
girl could in no way be to blame, and second, to the all-powerful Ally,
without whom the making of any reputation, good or bad, is impossible.

The Doctor knew the girl well. When she was a little tot and a member
of Martha's Sunday school class, she was at the house frequently. Later
as a member of the church she herself was a teacher and an active worker.
Then came the father's crime and conviction, followed soon by the
mother's death, and the girl was left to shift for herself. She had
kept herself alive by working here and there, in the canning factory
and restaurants, and wherever she could. No one would give her a place
in a home.

The young people in the church, imitating their elders, shunned her, and
it was not considered good policy to permit her to continue teaching in
the Sunday school. No mother wanted her child to associate with a
criminal's daughter; naturally she drifted away from the regular
services, and soon it was publicly announced that her name had been
dropped from the roll of membership. After that she never came.

It was not long until the girl had such a name that no self respecting
man or woman dared be caught recognizing her on the street.

The people always spoke of her as "that Grace Conner."

The girl, hurt so often, grew to fear everyone. She strove to avoid
meeting people on the street, or meeting them, passed with downcast
eyes, not daring to greet them. Barely able to earn bread to keep life
within her poor body, her clothing grew shabby, her form thin and worn;
and these very evidences of her goodness of character worked to
accomplish her ruin. But she was a good girl through it all, a good girl
with a bad reputation.

She was cowering at the foot of the monument, her face buried in her
hands, when the Doctor touched her on the shoulder. She started and
turned up to him the saddest face the old physician had ever seen.

"What's the matter, my girl?" he said as kindly as he could.

She shook her head and buried her face in her hands again.

"Please go away and let me alone."

"Come, come," said the Doctor laying his hand on her shoulder again.
"This won't do; you must tell me what's wrong. You can't stay out here
on the street at this time of the night."

At his tone she raised her head again. "This time of the night! What
difference does it make to anyone whether I am on the street or not?"

"It makes a big difference to you, my girl," the Doctor answered. "You
should be home and in bed."

God! What a laugh she gave!

"Home! In bed!" She laughed again.

"Stop that!" said the physician sharply, for he saw that just a touch
more, and she would be over the line. "Stand up here and tell me what's
the matter; are you sick?"

She rose to her feet with his help.

"No sir."

"Well, what have you been doing?"

"Nothing, Doctor. I--I was just walking around."

"Why don't you go back to the Hotel? You are working there, are you not?"

At this she wrung her hands and looked about in a dazed way, but answered
nothing.

"See here, Grace," said the physician, "you know me, surely--old Doctor
Oldham, can't you tell me what it is that's wrong?"

She made no answer.

"Come, let me take you to the Hotel," he urged; "it's only a step."

"No--no," she moaned, "I can't go there. I don't live there any more."

"Well where do you live now?" he asked.

"Over in Old Town."

"But why did you leave your place at the Hotel?"

"A--a man there said something that I didn't like, and then the
proprietor told me that I must go, because some of the people were
talking about me, and I was giving the Hotel a bad name. Oh, Doctor, I
ain't a bad girl, I ain't never been, but folks are driving me to it.
That or--or--" she hesitated.

What could he say?

"It's the same everywhere I try to work," she continued in a hopeless
tone. "At the canning factory the other girls said their folks wouldn't
let them work there if I didn't go. I haven't been able to earn a cent
since I left the Hotel. I don't know what to do,--oh, I don't know what
to do!" She broke down crying.

"Look here, why didn't you come to me?" the Doctor asked roughly. "You
knew you could come to me. Didn't I tell you to?"

"I--I was afraid. I'm afraid of everybody." She shivered and looked over
her shoulder.

The Doctor saw that this thing had gone far enough. "Come with me," he
said. "You must have something to eat."

He started to lead her across the street toward Mrs. Mulhall whom he
could see at the gate watching them. But the girl hung back.

"No, no," she panted in her excitement. "Not there, I dare not go there."
The Doctor hesitated.

"Well, come to my house then," he said. She went as far as the gate then
she stopped again.

"I can't, Doctor. Mrs. Oldham, I can't--" The girl was right. The Doctor
was never so ashamed in all his life. After a little, he said with
decision, "Look here, Grace, you sit down on the porch for a few minutes.
Martha is in bed and fast asleep long ago." He stole away as quietly as
possible, and in a little while returned with a basket full of such
provisions as he could find in the pantry. He was chuckling to himself as
he thought of Martha when she discovered the theft in the morning, and
cursing half aloud the thing that made it necessary for him to steal from
his own pantry for the girl whom he would have taken into his home so
gladly, if--

He made her eat some of the cold chicken and bread and drink a glass of
milk. And when she was feeling better, walked with her down the street a
little way, to be sure that she was all right.

"I can't thank you enough, Doctor," she said, "you have saved me from--"

"Don't try," he broke in. He did not want her to get on that line again.
"Go on home like a good girl now, and mind you look carefully in the
bottom of that basket." He had put a little bill there, the only money
he had in the house. "This will help until times are better for you, and
mind now, if you run against it again, come to me or go to Dr. Harry at
the office, and tell him that you want me."

He watched her down the street and then went home, stopping for a word
of explanation to Deborah and Denny, who were waiting at the gate.

The light was still burning in Dan's window when the Doctor again entered
his own yard. He thought once that he would run in on the minister for a
minute, and then remembered that "the boy would be tired after his great
effort defending the faith of Memorial Church." It was long past the old
man's bed time. He told himself that he was an old fool to be prowling
about so late at night, and that he would hear from Martha all right
tomorrow. Then, as he climbed into bed, he chuckled again, thinking of
the empty kitchen pantry and that missing basket.

The light in Dan's room went out. Some belated person passed, going home
for the night; a little later, another. Then a man and woman, walking
closely, talking in low tones, strolled slowly by in the shadow of the
big trees. The quick step of a horse and the sound of buggy-wheels came
swiftly nearer and nearer, passed and died away in the stillness. It was
Dr. Harry answering a call. In Judge Strong's big, brown house, a nurse
in her uniform of blue and white, by the dim light of a night-lamp,
leaned over her patient with a glass of water. In Old Town a young woman
in shabby dress, with a basket on her arm, hurried--trembling and
frightened--across the lonely, grass-grown square. Under the quiet stars
in the soft moonlight, the cast-iron monument stood--grim and cold and
sinister. In the peace and quiet of the night, Denny's garden wrought
its mystery. In the little room that looked out upon the monument and
the garden, Dan--all unknowing--slept.

And over all brooded the spirit that lives in Corinth--the Ally--that
dread, mysterious thing that never sleeps.




CHAPTER IX.

THE EDGE OP THE BATTLEFIELD

"But it was as if his superior officers had ordered him to mark time,
while his whole soul was eager for the command to charge."


Dan was trying to prepare his evening sermon for the third Sunday of what
the old Doctor called his Corinthian ministry. The afternoon was half
gone, when he arose from his study table. All day he had been at it, and
all day the devils of dissatisfaction had rioted in his soul--or wherever
it is that such devils are supposed to riot.

The three weeks had not been idle weeks for Dan. He had made many
pastoral calls at the homes of his congregation; he had attended
numberless committee meetings. Already he was beginning to feel the
tug of his people's need--the world old need of sympathy and inspiration,
of courage and cheer; the need of the soldier for the battle-cry of his
comrades, the need of the striving runner for the lusty shout of his
friends, the need of the toiling servant for the "well-done" of his
master.

Keenly sensitive to this great unvoiced cry of life, the young man
answered in his heart, "Here am I, use me." Standing before his people
he felt as one who, on the edge of a battlefield longs, with all his
heart, to throw himself into the fight. But it was as if his superior
officers had ordered him to mark time, while his whole soul was eager
for the command to charge.

Why do people go to church? What do men ask of their religion? What have
they the right to expect from those who assume to lead them in their
worship? Already these questions were being shouted at him from the
innermost depths of his consciousness. He felt the answer that his Master
would give. But always between him and those to whom he would speak there
came the thought of his employers. And he found himself, while speaking
to the people, nervously watching the faces of the men by whose
permission he spoke. So it came that he was not satisfied with his work
that afternoon, and he tossed aside his sermon to leave his study for the
fresh air and sunshine of the open fields. From his roses the Doctor
hailed him as he went down the street, but the boy only answered with a
greeting and a wave of his hand. Dan did not need the Doctor that day.
Straight out into the country he went walking fast, down one hill--up
another, across a creek, over fences, through a pasture into the woods.
An hour of this at a good hard pace, and he felt better. The old familiar
voices of hill and field and forest and stream soothed and calmed him.
The physical exercise satisfied to some extent his instinct and passion
for action.

Coming back through Old Town, and leisurely climbing the hill on the
road that leads past the old Academy, he paused frequently to look back
over the ever widening view, and to drink deep of the pure, sun-filled
air. At the top of the hill, reluctant to go back to the town that lay
beyond, he stood contemplating the ancient school building that held so
bravely its commanding position, and looked so pitiful in its shabby old
age. Then passing through a gap in the tumble-down fence, and crossing
the weed-filled yard, he entered the building.

For a while he wandered curiously about the time-worn rooms, reading the
names scratched on the plaster walls, cut in the desks and seats, on the
window casing, and on the big square posts that, in the lower rooms,
supported the ceiling. He laughed to himself, as he noticed how the sides
of these posts facing away from the raised platform at the end of the
room were most elaborately carved. It suggested so vividly the life
that had once stirred within the old walls.

Several of the names were already familiar to him. He tried to imagine
the venerable heads of families he knew, as they were in the days when
they sat upon these worn benches. Did Judge Strong or Elder Jordan,
perhaps, throw one of those spit-balls that stuck so hard and fast to
the ceiling? And did some of the grandmothers he had met giggle and hide
their faces at Nathaniel's cunning evasion of the teacher's quick effort
to locate the successful marksman? Had those staid pillars of the church
ever been swayed and bent by passions of young manhood and womanhood?
Had their minds ever been stirred by the questions and doubts of youth?
Had their hearts ever throbbed with eager longing to know--to feel life
in its fullness?

Seating himself at one of the battered desks he tried to bring back the
days that were gone, and to see about him the faces of those who once
had filled the room with the strength and gladness of their youth. He
felt strangely old in thus trying to feel a boy among those boys and
girls of the days long gone.

Who among the boys would be his own particular chum? Elder Jordan? He
smiled. And who, (the blood mounted to his cheek at the thought) who
among the girls would be--Out of the mists of his revery came a face--a
face that was strangely often in his mind since that day when he arrived
in Corinth. Several times he had caught passing glimpses of her; once he
had met her on the street and ventured to bow. And Dr. Harry, with whom
he had already begun an enduring friendship, had told him much to add to
his interest in her. But to dream about the stranger in this way--

"What nonsense!" he exclaimed aloud, and rising, strode to the window to
clear his mind of those too strong fancies by a sight of the world in
which he lived and to which he belonged.

The next moment he drew back with a start--a young woman in the uniform
of a trained nurse was entering the yard.




CHAPTER X.

A MATTER OF OPINION

"'Who spoke of condemnation? Is that just the question? Are you not
unfair?'"


Miss Farwell had heard much of the new pastor of the Memorial Church.
Dr. Harry frequently urged her to attend services; Deborah, when Hope
had seen her was eloquent in his praise. Mrs. Strong and the ladies who
called at the house spoke of him often. But for the first two weeks of
her stay at Judge Strong's the nurse had been confined so closely to
the care of her patient that she had heard nothing to identify the
preacher with the big stranger whom she had met at the depot the day of
her arrival.

By the time Miss Farwell began hearing of the new preacher the interest
occasioned by his defense of Denny had already died down, and it chanced
that no one mentioned it in her presence when speaking of him, while each
time he had called at the Strong home the nurse had been absent or busy.
Thus it happened that so far as she knew, Miss Farwell had never met the
minister about whom she had heard so much. But she had several times seen
the big fellow, who had apologized at such length for running into her at
the depot, and who had gone so quickly to the assistance of Denny. It was
natural, under such conditions, that she should remember him. It was
natural, too, that she never dreamed of connecting the young hero of the
street fight with the Reverend Matthews of the Memorial Church.

Her patient had so far improved that the nurse was now able to leave her
for an hour or two in the afternoon, and the young woman had gone for a
walk just beyond the outskirts of the village. Coming to the top of the
hill she had turned aside from the dusty highway, thinking to enjoy the
view from the shade of a great oak that grew on a grassy knoll in the
center of the school grounds.

Dan watched her as she made her way slowly across the yard, his eyes
bright with admiration for her womanly grace as she stopped, here and
there, to pick a wild flower from the tangle of grass and weeds. Reaching
the tree she seated herself and, laying her parasol on the grass by her
side, began arranging the blossoms she had gathered--pausing, now and
then, to look over the rolling country of field and woods that, dotted by
farm houses with their buildings and stacks, stretched away into the blue
distance.

The young fellow at the window gazed at her with almost superstitious
awe. That her face had come before him so vividly, as he sat dreaming in
the old school-room, at the very moment when she was turning into the
yard, moved him greatly. His blood tingled at the odd premonition that
this woman was somehow to play a great part in his life. Nothing seemed
more natural than that he should have come to this spot this afternoon.
Neither was it at all strange that, in her walk, she too, should be
attracted by the beauty of the place. But the feeling forced itself upon
him nevertheless that this perfectly natural incident was a great event
in his life. He knew that he would go to her presently. He was painfully
aware that he ought not to be thus secretly watching her, but he
hesitated as one about to take a step that could never be retraced.

She started when he appeared in the doorway of the building and
half-arose from her place. Then recognizing him she dropped back on the
grass; and there was a half-amused frown on her face, though her cheeks
were red. She was indignant with herself that she should be blushing
like a schoolgirl at the presence of this stranger whose name even she
did not know.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Farwell, I fear that I startled you," he said,
hat in hand. Already Dan had grown so accustomed to being greeted by
strangers, that it never occurred to him that this lady did not know
who he was.

She saw the sunlight on his shaggy red-brown hair, and the fine poise of
the well-shaped head, as she answered shortly, "You did."

Woman-like she was making him feel her anger at herself; and also
woman-like, when she saw his embarrassment at her blunt words and manner,
she smiled.

"I am sorry," he said, but he did not offer to go on his way.

When she made no reply but began rearranging her handful of blossoms, he
spoke again, remarking on the beauty of the view before them; and
ventured to ask if the knoll was to her a favorite spot, adding that it
was his first visit to the place.

"I have never been here before either," she answered. The brief silence
that followed was broken by Dan.

"We seem to have made a discovery," he said, wondering why she should
seem confused at his simple remark. "I know I ought to go," he continued.
"I will if you say the word, but--" he paused.

"You were here first," she returned with a smile. Really, she thought,
there was no reason why she should drive him away. He was so evidently a
gentleman, and the place was on the public thoroughfare.

"Then I may stay?" He dropped on the grass at her feet with an
exclamation of satisfaction and pleasure.

Looking away over the landscape where the clouds and shadows were racing,
and the warm autumn light lay on the varying shades of green and brown,
he remarked: "Do you know when I see a bit of out-doors like that, on
such a day as this, or when I am out in the woods or up in the hills, I
wonder what men build churches for, anyway. I fear I must be something of
a pagan, for I often feel that I can worship God best in his own temple.
Quite heathenish isn't it?" He laughed, but under the laugh there was a
note of troubled seriousness.

She looked at him curiously. "And is it heathenish to worship God outside
of a church? If it is I fear that I, too, am a heathen."

He noted the words "I, too," and saw instantly that she did not know him
but had understood from his words that he was not a church man. He felt
that he ought to correct her false impression, that he ought to tell her
who and what he was, but he was possessed of a curious feeling of
reluctance to declare his calling.

The truth is, Dan Matthews did not want to meet this woman as a priest,
but as a man. He had already learned how the moment the preacher was
announced the man was pushed into the background.

While he hesitated she watched him with increasing interest. His words
had pleased her; she waited for him to speak again.

"I suppose your profession does keep you from anything like regular
church attendance," he said.

"Yes," she answered, "I have found that sick people do not as a rule
observe a one-day-in-seven religion. But it is not my professional
duties that keep me from church."

"You are not then--"

"Decidedly I am not," she answered.

"Really, you surprise me. I thought of course you were a member of some
church."

There was a touch of impatience in her quick reply. "You thought 'of
course'? And why of course, please?"

He started to answer, but she went on quickly, "I know why; because I am
a woman, _the weaker sex_!"

It is not possible to describe the fine touch in her voice when she said
"the weaker sex." It was so delicately done, that it had none of the
coarseness that commonly marks like expressions, when used by some women.
Dan was surprised to feel that it emphasized the fineness of her
character, as well as its strength.

"Because I am not a man must I be _useless_?" she continued. "Is a
woman's life of so little influence in the world that she can spend it in
_make-believe living_ as little girls play at being grown up? Have I not
as great a right to my paganism as you call it, as you have to yours?"

Again he saw his opportunity and realized that he ought to correct her
mistake in assuming from his words that he was not a man of church
affiliation, but again he passed it by saying slowly, instead: "I think
your kind of paganism must be a very splendid thing; no one could think
of one in that dress as useless."

"I did not mean--"

"I understand I think," he said earnestly, "but won't you tell me why
you feel so about the church?"

She laughed as she returned, "One might think from your awful seriousness
that you were a preacher. Father Confessor, if you please--" she began
mockingly, then stopped--arrested by the expression of his face. "Oh I
beg your pardon, have I been rude?"

With a forced laugh he answered, "Oh no, indeed, not at all. It is only
that your views of the Christian religion surprise me."

"My views of the Christian religion," she repeated, very serious now. "I
did not know that my views of Christianity were mentioned."

He was bewildered. "But the church! You were speaking of the church."

"And the church and Christianity are one and the same of course." Again
with a touch of sarcasm, more pronounced, "You will tell me next, I
suppose, that a minister really ministers."

Dan was astonished and hurt. He had learned much of the spirit of
Christianity in his backwoods home, but he knew nothing of churches
except that which the school had taught him. He had accepted the church
to which he belonged at its own valuation, highly colored by biased
historians. Such words as these were to his ears little less than
sacrilege. He was shocked that they should come from one whose
personality and evident character had impressed him so strongly. His
voice was doubtful and perplexed as be said: "But is not that true
church of Christ, which is composed of his true disciples, Christian?
Surely, they can no more be separated than the sun can be separated from
the sunshine; and is not the ministry a vital part of that church?"

Miss Farwell, seeing him so troubled, wondered whether she understood
him. She felt that she was talking too freely to this stranger, but his
questions drew her on, and she was curiously anxious that he should
understand her.

"I was not thinking of that true church composed of the true disciples
of Christ," she returned. "And that is just it, don't you see? _This
true church that is so inseparable from the religion of Christ is so far
forgotten that it never enters into any thought of the church at all._
The sun always shines, it is true, but we do not always have the
sunshine. There are the dark and stormy days, you know, and sometimes
there is an eclipse. To me these are the dark days, so dark that I
wonder sometimes if it is not an eclipse." She paused then added
deliberately, "This selfish, wasteful, cruel, heartless thing that men
have built up around their opinions, and whims, and ambitions, has so
come between the people and the Christianity of the Christ, that they
are beginning to question if, indeed, there is anywhere such a thing as
the true church."

Again Dan was startled at her words and by her passionate earnestness;
the more so that, in the manner of her speaking as in her words, there
was an impersonal touch very unusual to those who speak on religious
topics. And there was a note of sadness in her voice as well. It was as
if she spoke to him professionally of the sickness of some one dear to
her and sought to keep her love for her patient from influencing her
calm consideration of the case.

His next words were forced from him almost against his will. And his eyes
had that wide questioning look so like that of his mother. "And the
ministry," he said.

She answered, "You ask if the ministry is not a vital part of the church,
and your very question expresses conditions clearly. What conception of
Christianity is it that makes it possible for us to even think of the
ministry as a part of the church? Why, the true church is a ministry!
There can be no other reason for its existence. But don't you see how we
have come to think of the ministry as we have come to think of the
church? It is to us, as you say, a part of this great organization that
men have created and control, and in this we are right, for this church
has made the minister, and this minister has in turn made the church.
They are indeed inseparable."

Dan caught up a flower that she had dropped and began picking it to
pieces with trembling fingers.

"To me," he said slowly, "the minister is a servant of God. I believe,
of course, that whatever work a man does in life he must do as his
service to the race and in that sense he serves God. But the ministry--"
he reached for another flower, choosing his words carefully, "the
ministry is, to me, the highest service to which a man may be called."

She did not reply but looked away over the valley.

"Tell me," he said, "is it not so?"

"If you believe it, then to you it is so," she answered.

"But you--" he urged, "how do you look upon the minister?"

"Why should I tell you? What difference does it make what I think? You
forget that we are strangers." She smiled. "Let us talk about the
weather; that's a safe topic."

"I _had_ forgotten that we are strangers," he said, with an answering
smile. "But I am interested in what you have said because you--you have
evidently thought much upon the matter, and your profession must
certainly give you opportunities for observation. Tell me, how do you
look upon the minister and his work?"

She studied him intently before she answered. Then--as if satisfied with
what she found in his face, she said calmly: "To me he is the most
useless creature in all the world. He is a man set apart from all those
who live lives of service, who do the work of the world. And then that
he should be distinguished from these world-workers, these servers, by
this noblest of all titles--_a minister_, is the bitterest irony that
the mind of the race ever conceived."

Her companion's face was white now as he answered quickly, "But surely a
minister of the gospel is doing God's will and is therefore serving God."

She answered as quickly, "Man serves God only by serving men. There can
be no ministry but the ministry of man to man."

"But the minister is a man."

"The world cannot accept him as such, because his individuality is lost
in the church to which he belongs. Other institutions employ a man's
time, the church employs his life; he has no existence outside his
profession. There is no outside the church for him. The world cannot
know him as a man, for he is all preacher."

"But the church employs him to minister to the world?"

"I cannot see that it does so at all. On the contrary a church employs a
pastor to serve itself. To the churches Christianity has become a
question of fidelity to a church and creed and not to the spirit of
Christ. The minister's standing and success in his calling, the amount
of his salary, even, depends upon his devotion to the particular views
of the church that calls him and his ability to please those who pay him
for pleasing them. His service to the world does not enter into the
transaction any more than when you buy the latest novel of your favorite
author, or purchase a picture that pleases you, or buy a ticket to hear
your favorite musician. We do not pretend, when we do these things that
we are ministering to the world, or that we are moved to spend our money
thus to serve God, even though there may be in the book, the picture, or
the music, many things that will make the world better."

The big fellow moved uneasily.

"But" he urged, eagerly, "the church is a sacred institution. It is not
to be compared to the institutions of men. Its very purpose is so holy,
so different from other organizations."

"Which of the hundreds of different sects with their different creeds do
you mean by the church?" she asked quickly. "Or do you mean all? And if
all are equally sacred, with the same holy purpose, why are they at such
variance with each other and why is there such useless competition
between them? How are these institutions--organized and controlled, as
they are, by men, different from other institutions, organized and
controlled by the same men? Surely you are aware that there are
thousands of institutions and organizations in the world with aims as
distinctly Christian as the professed object of the church. Why are
these not as holy and sacred?"

"But the church is of divine origin."

"So is this tree; so is the material in that old building; so are those
farms yonder. To me it is only the spirit of God in a thing that can make
it holy or sacred. Surely there is as much of God manifest in a field of
grain as in any of these churches; why, then, is not a corn field a holy
institution and why not the farmer who tends the field, a minister of
God?"

"You would condemn then everyone in the church?" he asked bitterly. "I
cannot think that--I know--" he paused.

"Condemn?" she answered questioningly, "I condemn?" Those deep gray eyes
were turned full upon him, and he saw her face grow tender and sad, while
the sweet voice trembled with emotion. "Who spoke of condemnation? Is
that just the question? Are you not unfair? In my--" she spoke the words
solemnly, "my ministry, I have stood at the bedside of too many heroes
and heroines not to know that the church is filled with the truest and
bravest. And that--Oh! don't you see--that is the awful pity of it all.
That those true, brave, noble lives should be the--the cloud that hides
the sun? As for the ministry, one in my profession could scarcely help
knowing the grand lives that are hidden in this useless class set apart
by the church to push its interests. The ministers are useless only
because they are not free. They cannot help themselves. They are slaves,
not servants. Their first duty is, not service to the soul-sick world
that so much needs their ministry, but obedience to the whims of this
hideous monster that they have created and now must obey or--" she
paused.

"Or what?" he said.

She continued as if she had not heard: "They are valued for their
fidelity to other men's standards, never for the worth of their own
lives. They are hired to give always the opinions of others, and they
are denied the only thing that can make any life of worth--freedom of
self-expression. The surest road to failure for them is to hold or
express opinions of their own. They are held, not as necessities, but as
a luxury, like heaven itself, for which if men have the means to spare,
they pay. They can have no real fellowship with the servants of the race,
for they are set apart by the church not to a ministry but from it. Their
very personal influence is less than the influence of other good men
because the world accepts it as professional. It is the way they earn
their living."

"But do you think that the ministers themselves wish to be so set apart?"
asked Dan. "I--I am sure they must all crave that fellowship with the
workers."

"I think that is true," she answered. "I am sure it is of the many grand,
good men in the ministry whom I have known."

"Oh," he said quickly, "then there are good men in the ministry?"

"Yes," she retorted, "just as there are gold and precious stones
ornamenting heathen gods and pagan temples, and their goodness is as
useless. For whether they wish it or not the facts remain that their
masters set them apart and that they are separated, and I notice that
most of them accept gracefully the special privileges, and wear the
title and all the marks of their calling that emphasize the distinction
between them and their fellow men."

"Yet you wear a distinguishing dress," he said. "I knew your calling the
first time I saw you."

She laughed merrily.

"Well what amuses you?" he demanded, smiling himself at her merriment.

"Oh, it's so funny to see such a big man so helpless. Really couldn't you
find an argument of more weight? Besides you didn't know my profession
the first time you saw me. I only wear these clothes when I am at work,
just as a mechanic wears his overalls--and they are just as necessary, as
you know. The first time you--you bumped into me, I dressed like other
people and I had paid full fare, too. Nurses don't get clergy credentials
from the railroad."

With this she sprang to her feet. "Look how long the shadows are! I must
go right back to my patient this minute."

As she spoke she was all at once painfully conscious again that this man
was a stranger. What must he think of her? How could she explain that it
was not her habit to talk thus freely to men whom she did not know? She
wished that he would tell her his name at least.

Slowly--silently they walked together across the weed-grown yard. As
they passed through the gap in the tumble-down fence, Dan turned to look
back. It seemed to him ages since he had entered the yard.

"What's the matter, have you lost something?" she asked.

"No--that is--I--perhaps I have. But never mind, it is of no great
importance, and anyway I could not find it. I think I will say good-bye
now," he added. "I'm not going to town just yet."

Again she wondered at his face, it was so troubled.

He watched her down the street until her blue dress, with its white
trimming became a blur in the shadows. Then he struck out once more for
the open country.




CHAPTER XI.

REFLECTIONS

"And gradually, out of the material of his school experience, he built
again the old bulwark, behind which he could laugh at his confusion of
the hour before."


Since that first chance meeting at the depot when he had looked into the
nurse's eyes and heard her voice only for a moment, Dan had not been
able to put the young woman wholly out of his mind. The incident on the
street when she had gone to Denny, and the scene that followed in Denny's
home had strengthened the first impression, while the meeting at the old
Academy yard had stirred depths in his nature never touched before. The
very things she had said to him were so evidently born out of a nature
great in its passion for truth and in its capacity for feeling that, even
though her words were biting and stung, he could not but rejoice in the
beauty and strength of the spirit they revealed.

The usual trite criticisms of the church Dan had heard, and had already
learned to think somewhat lightly of the kind of people who commonly
make them. But this young woman--so wholesome, so good to look at in her
sweet seriousness, so strong in her womanliness and withal so useful in
what she called her ministry--this woman was--well, she was different.

Her words were all the more potent, coming as they did after the
disquieting thoughts and the feeling of dissatisfaction that had driven
him from his study that afternoon. The young minister could not at first
rid himself of the hateful suggestion that there might be much truth in
the things she had said. After all under the fine words, the platitudes
and the professions, the fact remained he _was_ earning his daily bread
by being obedient to those who hired him. He had already begun to feel
that his work was not so much to give what he could to meet the people's
need as to do what he could to supply the wants of Memorial Church, and
that his very chance to serve depended upon his satisfying these
self-constituted judges. He saw too, that these same judges, his masters,
felt the dignity of their position heavily upon them, and would not be in
the least backward about rendering their decision. They would let him
know what things pleased them and what things were not to their liking.
Their opinions and commandments would not always be in definite words,
perhaps, but they would be none the less clearly and forcibly given for
all that.

He had spoken truly when he had told Miss Farwell, as they parted, that
he had lost something. And now, as he walked the country road, he sought
earnestly to regain it; to find again his certainty of mind; to steady
his shaken confidence in the work to which he had given his life.

Dan's character was too strong, his conviction too powerful, his purpose
too genuine, for him to be easily turned from any determined line of
thought or action. Certainly it would require more than the words of a
stranger to swing him far from his course, even though he felt that there
might be a degree of truth in them. And so, as he walked, his mind began
shaping answers to the nurse's criticism and gradually, out of the
material of his school experience, he built again the old bulwark, behind
which he could laugh at his confusion of the hour before.

But withal Dan's admiration of the young woman's mind and character was
not lessened. More, he felt that she had in some way given him a deeper
view into her life and thoughts than was due a mere stranger. He was
conscious, too, of a sense of shame that he had, in a way, accepted her
confidence under false pretense. He had let her believe he was not what
he was. But, he argued with himself, he had not intentionally deceived
her and he smiled at last to think how she would enjoy the situation
with him when she learned the truth.

How different she was from any of the women he had known in the church!
They mostly accepted their religious views as they would take the
doctor's prescription--without question.

And how like she was to his mother!

Then came the inevitable thought--what a triumph it would be if he could
win such a character to the church. What an opportunity! Could he do it?
He must.

With that the minister began putting his thoughts in shape for a sermon
on the ministry. Determined to make it the effort of his life, he planned
how he would announce it next Sunday for the following week, and how,
with Dr. Harry's assistance, he would perhaps secure her attendance at
the service.

Meanwhile Hope Farwell passing quickly along the village street on her
way home from the old Academy yard, was beset by many varied and
conflicting emotions. Recalling her conversation with the man who was to
her so nearly a total stranger, she felt that she had been too earnest,
too frank. It troubled her to think how she had laid bare her deepest
feelings. She could not understand how she had so far forgotten her
habitual reserve. There was a something in that young man, so tall and
strong, and withal so clean looking, that had called from her, in spite
of herself, this exposition of her innermost life and thoughts. She ought
not to have yielded so easily to the subtle demand that he--unconsciously
no doubt--had made.

It was as though she had flung wide open the door to that sacred, inner
chamber at which only the most intimate of her friends were privileged
to knock. He had come into the field of her life in the most commonplace
manner--through the natural incident of their meeting. He should have
stopped there, or should have been halted by her. The hour should have
been spent in conversation on such trivial and commonplace topics as
usually occupy strangers upon such occasions, and they should have parted
strangers still. She felt that after this exhibition of herself, as she
termed it in her mind, she at least was no stranger to him. And she was
angry with herself, and ashamed, when she reflected how deeply into her
life he had entered; angry with him too, in a way, that he had gained
this admittance with apparently no effort.

She reflected too, that while she had so freely opened the door to him,
and had admitted him with a confidence wholly inexcusable, he had in no
way returned that confidence. She searched her memory for some
word--some expression of his, that would even hint at what he thought,
or believed, or was, within himself; something that would justify her in
feeling that she knew him even a little. But there was nothing. It was
as though this stranger, whom she had admitted into the privacy of the
inner chamber, had worn mask and gown. No self-betraying expression had
escaped him. He had not even told her his name. While she had laid out
for his inspection the strongest passions of her life; had felt herself
urged to show him all, and had kept nothing hidden. He had looked and
had gone away making no comment.

"Of course," she thought, "he is a gentleman, and he is cultured and
refined, and a good man too." Of this she was sure, but that was nothing.
One does not talk as she had talked to a man just because he is not a
ruffian or a boor. She wanted to know him as she had made herself known
to him. She could not say why.

The nurse's work in Corinth was nearly finished; she would probably never
meet this man again. She started at the thought. Would she ever meet him
again? What did it matter? And yet--she would not confess it even to
herself, but it did, somehow, seem to matter. Of one thing she was
sure--he was well worth knowing. She had felt that there was a depth, a
richness, a genuineness to him, and it was this feeling, this certainty
of him, that had led her to such openness. Yes--she was sure there were
treasures there--deep within, for those whom he chose to admit. She
wished--(why should she not confess it after all)--she wished that she
might be admitted.

Hope Farwell was alone in the world with no near living relatives. She
had only her friends; and friends to her meant more than to those who
have others dearer to them by ties of blood.

That evening when Dr. Harry was leaving the house after his visit to his
patient, the nurse went with him to the door, as usual, for any word of
instruction he might wish to give her privately.

"Well, Miss Hope," he said, "you've done it."

"What have I done?" she asked, startled.

"Saved my patient in there. She would have gone without a doubt, if you
had not come when you did. It's your case all right."

"Then I'm glad I came," she said quietly. "And I may go back soon now,
may I not, Doctor?"

He hesitated, slowly drawing on his gloves.

"Must you go back Miss Farwell? I--we need you so much here in Corinth.
There are so many cases you know where all depends upon the nurse. There
is not a trained nurse this side of St. Louis. I am sure I could keep you
busy." There was something more than professional interest in the keen
eyes that looked so intently into her own.

"Thank you Doctor, you are very kind, but you know Dr. Miles expects me.
He warned me the last thing before I left, that he was only lending me to
you for this particular case. You know how he says those things."

"Yes," said the man grimly, "I know Miles. It is one of the secrets of
his success, that he will be satisfied with nothing but the best. He
warned me, too."

He watched her keenly. "It would be just like Miles," he thought, "to
tell the young woman of the particular nature of the warning." But Miss
Farwell betrayed no embarrassing knowledge, and the doctor said, "You
did not promise to return to Chicago did you?"

She answered slowly, "No, but he expects me, and I had no thought of
staying, only for this case."

"Well won't you think of it seriously? There are many nurses in Chicago.
I don't mean many like you--" interrupting himself hastily--"but here
there is no one at all," and in his low-spoken words there was a note of
interest more than professional.

She lifted her face frankly and let him look deep into her eyes as she
answered--"I appreciate your, argument, Dr. Abbott, and--I will think
about it."

He turned his eyes away, and his tone was quite professional as he said
heartily, "Thank you, Miss Farwell. I shall not give up hoping that we
may keep you. Good night!"

"Isn't he a dear, good man?" exclaimed the invalid, as the nurse
re-entered the sick room.

"Yes," she answered, "he is a good man, one of the best I think, that I
have ever known."

The patient continued eagerly, "He told me the ladies could come here
for their Aid Society meeting next week, if you would stay to take care
of me. You will, won't you dear?"

The nurse busy with the medicine the doctor had left did not answer at
once.

"I would like it so much," came the voice from the bed.

Hope turned and went quickly to her patient saying with a smile, "Of
course I will stay if you wish it. I believe the meeting will do you
good."

"Oh thank you, and you'll get to meet our new minister then, sure. Just
to think you have never seen him, and he has called several times, but
you have always happened to be out or in your room."

"Yes," said the young woman, "I have managed to miss him every time."

Something in the voice, always so kind and gentle, caused the sick woman
to turn her head on the pillow and look at her nurse intently.

"And you haven't been to church, since you have been here, either."

"Oh, but you know I am like your good doctor in that, I can plead
professional duties."

"Dr. Harry is always there when he can possibly go. I never thought of
it before. Will you mind, dearie, if I ask you whether you are a
Christian or not? I told Sapphira this afternoon that I knew you were."

"Yes," said Hope, "you are right. I cannot often go to church, but--"
and there was a ring of seriousness in her voice now, "I am a Christian
if trying to follow faithfully the teachings of the Christ is
Christianity."

"I was sure you were," murmured the other, "Brother Matthews will be so
glad to meet you. I know you will like him."

To which the nurse answered, "But you will be in no condition for the
visit of the ladies, if I don't take better care of you now. Did you know
that you were going to sleep? Well you are. You have had a busy day, and
you are not to speak another word except 'good night.' I am going to turn
the light real low--so--And now I am going to sit here and tell you about
my walk. You're just to shut your eyes and listen and rest--rest--rest."

And the low, sweet voice told of the flowers and the grass and the trees,
the fields lying warm in the sunlight, with the flitting cloud-shadows,
and the hills stretching away into the blue, until no troubled thought
was left in the mind of the sick woman. Like a child she slept.

But as the nurse talked to make her patient forget, the incident of the
afternoon came back, and while the sick woman slept, Hope Farwell sat
going over again in her mind the conversation on the grassy knoll in the
old Academy yard, recalling every word, every look, every expression.
What was his work in life? He was no idler, she was sure. He had the air
of a true worker, of one who was spending his life to some purpose. She
wondered again at the expression on his face as she had seen it when
they parted. Should she go back to the great city and lose herself in
her work, or--she smiled to herself--should she yield to Dr. Abbott's
argument and stay in Corinth a little longer?




CHAPTER XII.

THE NURSE FORGETS

"He seemed so made for fine and strong things."


The affairs of Memorial Church were booming.

Or, in the more orthodox language of Elder Jordan, in an article to the
official paper of the denomination, "the congregation had taken on new
life, and the Lord's work was being pushed with a zeal and determination
never before equalled. The audiences were steadily increasing. The
interest was reviving in every department, and the world would soon see
grand old Memorial Church taking first place in Corinth, if not in the
state. Already Reverend Matthews had been asked to deliver a special
sermon to the L. M. of J. B.'s, who would attend the service in a body,
wearing the full regalia of the order. Surely God had abundantly blessed
the brethren in sending them such an able preacher."

The week following Dan's talk with Miss Farwell in the old Academy yard,
the ladies of the Aid Society assembled early, and in unusual numbers,
for their meeting at the home of Judge Strong. As the announcement from
the pulpit had it--there was business of great importance to transact;
also there was work on hand that must be finished.

The business of importance was the planning of a great entertainment to
be given in the opera house, by local talent, both in and out of the
church, for the purpose of raising money that the church still owed their
former pastor. The unfinished work was a quilt of a complicated wheel
pattern. Every spoke of each wheel contained the name of some individual
who had paid ten cents for the honor. The hubs cost twenty-five cents.
When finished this "beautiful work of the Lord" (they said their work was
the Lord's work) was to be sold to the highest bidder; thereby netting a
sum of money for the pulpit furniture fund, nearly equal to the cost to
anyone of the leading workers, for the society's entertainment, in a
single afternoon or evening, for what would appear in the Sunday issue of
the Daily Corinthian as a "social event."

It must not be understood that all the women enrolled as members of Dan's
congregation belonged to the Ladies' Aid. Only the workers were active in
that important part of the "Body of Christ." Many there were in the
congregation, quiet, deeply--truly--religious souls, who had not the time
for this service, but in the scheme of things as they are, those were not
classed as active members. They were not of the inner circle on the
inside. They were reckoned as counting only on the roll of membership.
But it was the strength, the soul, the ruling power, the spirit of this
Temple of God that assembled that afternoon at Judge Strong's big, brown
house, on Strong Avenue, just beyond Strong Memorial Church.

The Ally came also. The Ally, it is said, never misses a Ladies' Aid
meeting in Corinth.

Miss Farwell was there with her patient as she had promised, and Mrs.
Strong took particular care that as fast as they arrived each one of her
guests met the young woman. To some--women of the middle class--the
trained nurse, in her blue dress with white cap and apron, was an object
of unusual interest. They did not know whether to rank her with servants,
stenographers, sales-ladies or teachers. But the leading ladies (see the
Daily Corinthian) were very sure of themselves. This young woman worked
for wages in the homes of people, waited on people; therefore she was a
working girl--a servant.

No one wasted much time with the stranger. The introduction was
acknowledged with a word or a cool nod and an unintelligible murmur of
something that meant nothing, or--worse--with a patronizing air, a sham
cordiality elaborately assumed, which said plainly "I acknowledge the
introduction here, because this is the Lord's business. You will be sure
please, that you make no mistake should we chance to meet again." And
immediately the new arrival would produce the modern weapon of the
Christian warfare, needle, thread and thimble; and--hurrying to the side
of some valiant comrade of her own set--join bravely in the fray.

That quilt was attacked with a spirit that was worth at least a half
column in the denominational weekly, while the sound of the conflict
might almost have been heard as far as Widow Mulhall's garden where
Denny was cheerily digging away, with his one good side, while the
useless, crippled arm swung from the twisted shoulder.

To Miss Farwell sitting quietly--unobserved, but observing--there came a
confused sound of many voices speaking at once, with now and then a
sentence in a tone stronger than the common din.

"She said the Memorial Church didn't believe in the Spirit anyhow, and
that all we wanted was to get 'em in ... I told them that Brother
Matthews would surely be getting some of their folks before the year was
out, if they kept on coming to our services ... I says, says I--'Brother
Matthews never said that; you'd better read your Bible. If you can show
me in the Book where you get your authority for it, I'll quit the
Memorial Church right then and join yours' ... Yes, all their people
were out ... Sure, he's their church clerk. I heard him say with my own
ears that Brother Matthews was the biggest preacher that had ever been
in Corinth ... I'll venture that sermon next Sunday on 'The Christian
Ministry' will give them something to think about. The old Doctor never
misses a service now. Wouldn't it be great if we was to get him? Wasn't
that solo the sweetest thing? Wish he would join; we'd be sure of him
then ... They would like mighty well to get him away from us if they
could. He'll stay fast enough as long as Charity plays the organ!"

There was a laugh at this last from a group near the window and Miss
Charity blushed as she answered, "I've worked hard enough to get him,
and I certainly intend to keep him if I can! I've been urging all the
girls to be particularly nice to him."

Someone nearer to Miss Farwell said, in low tone--"Of course there's
nothing in it. Charity's just keeping him in the choir. She wouldn't
think of anyone but the preacher. I tell you if Brother Matthews knows
what's best for him, he won't miss that chance. I guess if the truth was
known old Nathan's about the best fixed of anyone in Corinth."

Sometimes a group would put their heads closer together and by the quick
glances in her direction the nurse felt that she was contributing her
full share to the success of the meeting. On one of these occasions she
turned her back on the company to speak a few words to her patient who
was sitting in an easy chair a little apart from the circle.

The invalid's face was all aglow. "Isn't it fine!" she said. "I feel as
if I had been out of the world. It's so kind of these dear sisters to
have the meeting here today so that I could look on. It's so good of you
too, dear, to stay so they could come." She laughed. "Do you know, I
think they're all a little bit afraid of you."

The nurse smiled and was about to reply when there was a sudden hush in
the room and her patient whispered excitedly, "He's come! Now you'll get
to meet our minister!"

Mrs. Strong's voice in the hall could be heard greeting the new arrival,
and answering her the deeper tones of a man's voice.

Miss Farwell started. Where had she heard that voice before? Then she
felt him enter the room and heard the ladies greeting him. Something held
her from turning and she remained with her back to the company, watching
her patient's face, as the eyes of the invalid followed the minister
about the room.

Charity alone was noting the young woman's too obvious lack of interest.

The hum had already commenced again when Mrs. Strong's hand was placed
lightly on the nurse's arm.

"Miss Farwell, I want you to meet our minister, Reverend Matthews."

There was an amused smile on Dan's face as he held out his hand. "I
believe Miss Farwell and I have met before."

But the young woman ignored the out-stretched hand, and her voice had an
edge, as she answered, "It is possible sir. I am forced to meet so many
strangers in my profession, you know, but I--I have forgotten you."

Charity was still watching suspiciously. At the minister's words she
started and a touch of color came into her pale cheeks, while at Miss
Farwell's answer the look of suspicion in her eyes deepened. What
could it mean?

Dan's embarrassment was unmistakable. Before he could find words to
reply, the sick woman exclaimed, "Why, how strange! Do tell us about it,
Brother Matthews. Was it here in Corinth?"

In a flash the minister saw his predicament. If he said he had met the
young lady in Corinth they would know that it was impossible that she
should have literally forgotten him. He understood the meaning of her
words. These women would give them a hundred meanings. If he admitted
that he was wrong and that he had not met her, there was always the
chance of the people learning of that hour spent on the Academy grounds.

Meanwhile the young woman made him understand that she realized the
difficulties of his position, and all awaited his next words with
interest. Looking straight into her eyes he said, "I seem to have made a
mistake. I beg your pardon, Miss Farwell."

She smiled. It was almost as good as if he had deliberately lied, but it
was the best he could do.

"Please do not mention it," she returned, with a meaning for him alone.
"I am sorry that I will not be here next Sunday to hear your sermon on
'The Christian Ministry!' So many have urged me to attend. There is no
doubt it will be interesting."

"You are leaving Corinth, then?" he asked.

At the same moment her patient and Mrs. Strong exclaimed, "Oh Miss Hope,
we thought you had decided to stay. We can't let you go so soon."

She turned from the man to answer the invalid.

"Yes I must go. I did not know the last time we talked it over, but
something has happened since that makes it necessary. I shall leave
tomorrow. And now, if you will excuse me please, I will run away for a
few moments to get my things together. You are doing so nicely, you
really don't need me at all, and there is no reason why I should stay
longer--now that I have met the minister." She bowed slightly to Dan and
slipped from the room.

The women looked significantly at one another, and the minister too came
in for his full share of the curious glances. There was something in the
incident that they could not understand and because Dan was a man they
naturally felt that he was somehow to blame. It was not long until
Charity, under the pretext of showing him a sacred song which she had
found in one of Mrs. Strong's books, led him to another room, away from
the curious crowd.

All the week Dan had looked forward to this meeting of the Ladies' Aid
Society for he knew that he would see the nurse again. Charmed by the
young woman's personality and mind, and filled with his purpose to win
her to the church, he was determined, if chance did not bring it about,
to seek another opportunity to talk with her. He had smiled often to
himself, at what he thought would be a good joke between them, when she
came to know of his calling. Like many such jokes it was not so funny
after all. Instead of laughing with him she had given him to understand
that the incident was closed, that there must be no attempt on his part
to continue the acquaintance--that, indeed, she would not acknowledge
that she had ever met him, and that she was so much in earnest that she
was leaving Corinth the next day because of him.

"Really, Brother Matthews, if I have offended you in any way, I am very
sorry." Dan awoke with a start. He and Charity were alone in the room.
From the open door, came the busy hum of the workers in the Master's
vineyard.

"I beg your pardon, what were you saying?" he murmured.

"I have asked you three times if you liked the music last Sunday."

Apologizingly he answered, "Really I am not fit company for anyone
today."

"I noticed that you seemed troubled. Can I help you in any way? Is it
the church?" she asked gently.

He laughed, "Oh no, it's nothing that anyone can help. It's myself.
Please don't bother about it. I believe if you will excuse me, and
make my excuses to the ladies in there, I will go. I really have some
work to do."

She was watching his face so closely that she had not noticed the nurse
who passed the window and entered the garden. Dan rose to his feet as he
spoke.

"Why, Brother Matthews, the ladies expect you to stay for their business
meeting, you know. This is very strange."

"Strange! There is nothing strange about it. I have more important
matters that demand my attention--that is all. It is not necessary to
interrupt them now, you can explain when the business meeting opens.
They would excuse me I am sure, if they knew how important it was." And
before poor Charity had time to fairly grasp the situation he was gone,
slipping into the hall for his hat, and out by a side door.

Miss Farwell from meeting the minister, had gone directly to her room,
but she could not go about her packing. Dropping into a chair by the
window she sat staring into the tops of the big maples. She did not see
the trees. She saw a vast stretch of rolling country, dotted with
farm-buildings and stacks, across which the flying cloud-shadows raced,
a weed-grown yard with a gap in the tumble-down fence, an old deserted
school building, and a big clean-looking man standing, with the sun-light
on his red-brown hair.

"And he--he was that." She had thought him something so fine and strong.
He seemed so made for fine and strong things. And he had let her go
on--leading her to talk as she would have talked only to intimate friends
who would understand. She had so wanted him to understand. And then he
had thought it all a joke! The gray eyes filled with angry tears, and the
fine chin quivered. She sprang to her feet. "I won't!" she said aloud, "I
won't!"

Why should she indeed think a second time of this stranger--this
preacher? The room seemed close. She felt that she could not stay
another minute in the house, with those people down stairs. Catching up
a book, she crept down the back way and on out to a vine covered arbor
that stood in a secluded corner of the garden.

Miss Farwell had been in her retreat but a few minutes when the sound of
a step on the gravel walk startled her. Then the doorway was darkened by
a tall, broad-shouldered figure, and a voice said, "May I come in?"

The gray eyes flashed once in his direction. Then she calmly opened her
book, without a further glance, or a sign to betray her knowledge of his
presence.

"May I come in?" he asked again.

She turned a page seeming not to hear.

Once more the man repeated the same words slowly--sadly.

The young woman turned another page of her book.

Then suddenly the doorway was empty. She rose quickly from her place and
started forward. Then she stopped.

Charity met him on his way to the gate.

"Have you finished that important business so soon?" she asked sharply.
Then with concern at the expression of his face she exclaimed, "Tell me,
won't you, what is the matter!"

He tried to laugh and when he spoke, his voice was not his voice at all.

The daughter of the church turned to watch her minister as he passed
through the gate, out of the yard and down the street. Then she went
slowly down the path to the arbor, where she found a young woman crouched
on the wooden bench weeping bitter tears;--a book on the floor at her
feet.

Quickly Charity drew back. Very quietly she went down the walk again. And
as she went, she seemed all at once to have grown whiter and thin and
old.




CHAPTER XIII.

DR. HARRY'S CASE

"'Whatever or whoever is responsible for the existence of such people and
such conditions is a problem for the age to solve. The fact is, they are
here.'"


The meeting of the Ladies' Aid adjourned and its members, with sighs and
exclamations of satisfaction over work well done, separated to go to
their homes--where there were suppers to prepare for hungry husbands,
and children of the flesh.

Thus always in the scheme of things as they are, the duties of life
conflict with the duties of religion. The faithful members of Memorial
Church were always being interrupted in their work for the Lord by the
demands of the world. And as they saw it, there was nothing for them to
do but to bear their crosses bravely. What a blessed thought it is that
God understands many things that are beyond our ken!

The whistles blew for quitting time. The six o'clock train from the West
pulled into the yards, stopped--puffing a few moments at the water
tank--and thundered on its way again. On the street, business men and
those who labored with their hands hurried from the scenes of their
daily toil, while the country folk untied their teams and saddle-horses
from the hitch-racks to return to their waiting families and stock on
the distant farms.

A few miles out on the main road leading northward the home-going farmers
passed a tired horse hitched to a dusty, mud-stained top-buggy, plodding
steadily toward the village. Without exception they hailed the driver of
the single rig heartily. It was Dr. Harry returning from a case in the
backwoods country beyond Hebron.

The deep-chested, long-limbed bay, known to every child for miles around,
was picking her own way over the country roads, for the lines hung slack.
Without a hint from her driver the good horse slowed to a walk on the
rough places and quickened her pace again when the road was good, and of
her own accord, turned out for the passing teams. The man in the buggy
returned the greetings of his friends mechanically, scarcely noticing who
they were.

It was Jo Mason's wife this time. Jo was a good fellow but wholly
incapable of grasping, single-handed, the problem of daily life for
himself and brood. There were ten children in almost as many years.
Understanding so little of life's responsibilities the man's dependence
upon his wife was pitiful, if not criminal. With tears streaming down
his lean, hungry face he had begged, "Do somethin', Doc! My God Almighty,
you jest got to do some-thin'!"

For hours Dr. Harry had been trying to do something. Out there in the
woods, in that wretched, poverty-stricken home, with only a neighbor
woman of the same class to help he had been fighting a losing fight.

And now while the bay mare was making her tired way home he was still
fighting--still trying to do something. His professional knowledge and
experience told him that he could not win; that, at best, he could do no
more than delay his defeat a few days, and his common sense urged him to
dismiss the case from his mind. But there was something in Dr. Harry
stronger than his common sense; something greater than his professional
skill. And so he must go on fighting until the very end.

It was nearly twilight when he reached the edge of the hill on the
farther side of the valley. He could see the lights of the town twinkling
against the dark mass of tree and hill and building, while on the
faintly-glowing sky the steeple of Memorial Church, the cupola of the old
Academy building, and the court-house tower were cut in black. Down into
the dusk of the valley the bay picked her way, and when they had gained
the hill on the edge of town it was dark. Now the tired horse quickened
her pace, for the home barn and Uncle George were not far away. But as
they drew near the big brown house of Judge Strong, she felt the first
touch of the reins and came to a walk, turning in to the familiar
hitching post with reluctance.

At that moment a tall figure left the Judge's gate to pass swiftly down
the street in the dusk.

Before the bay quite came to a stop at the post her master's hand turned
her head into the street again, and his familiar voice bade her, somewhat
sharply, to "go on!" In mild surprise she broke into a quick trot. How
was the good horse to know that her driver's impatience was all with
himself, and was caused by seeing his friend, the minister coming--as he
thought--from the Strong mansion? Or how was Dr. Harry to know that Dan
had only paused at the gate as if to enter, and had passed on when he saw
the physician turning in?

Farther down the street at the little white cottage near the monument,
the bay mare was pulled again to a walk, and this time she was permitted
to turn in to the curb and stop.

The old Doctor was sitting on the porch. "Hello!" he called cheerily,
"Come in."

"Not tonight, thank you Doctor, I can't stop," answered the younger man.
At his words the old physician left his chair and came stiffly down the
walk to the buggy. When he was quite close, with one hand grasping the
seat, Dr. Harry said in a low tone, "I'm just in from Mason's."

"Ah huh," grunted the other. Then inquiringly--"Well?"

"It's--it's pretty bad Doctor."

The old man's voice rumbled up from the depth of his chest, "Nothing to
do, eh? You know I told you it was there. Been in her family way back.
Seen it ever since she was a girl."

"Yes I knew it was of no use, of course. But you know how it is, Doctor."

The white head nodded understandingly as Dr. Harry's hand was slowly
raised to his eyes.

"Yes I know Harry. Jo take it pretty bad?"

"Couldn't do anything with, him, poor fellow, and those children, too--"

Both men were silent. Slowly the younger man took up the reins. "I just
stopped to tell you, Doctor."

"Ah huh. Well, you go home and rest. Get a good night whatever you do.
You'll have to go out again, I suppose. Call me if anything turns up;
I'm good for a little yet. You've got to get some rest, Harry, do you
hear?" he spoke roughly.

"Thank you, Doctor. I don't think I will need to disturb you, though;
everybody else is doing nicely. I can't think of anything that is likely
to call me out."

"Well, go to bed anyway."

"I will, good night, Doctor."

"Good night, Harry."

The mare trotted on down the dark street, past the twinkling lights. The
Doctor stood by the curb until he heard the buggy wheels rattle over the
railroad tracks, then turned to walk stiffly back to his seat on the
porch.

Soon the tired horse was in the hands of old Uncle George, while Mam Liz
ministered to the weary doctor. The old black woman lingered in the
dining room after serving his dinner, hovering about the table, calling
his attention to various dishes, watching his face the while with an
expression of anxiety upon her own wrinkled countenance. At last Harry
looked up at her with a smile.

"Well Mam Liz, what is it? Haven't I been good today?"

"No sah. Mars Harry yo ain't. Yo been plumb bad, an' I feel jest like I
uster when yo was er little trick an' I tuk yo 'cross my knee an'
walloped yo good."

"Why, Mammy, what have I done now? Wasn't that new dress what you wanted?
You can change it, you know, for anything you like."

"Law, chile, 'tain't _me_. Yo ole Mammy mighty proud o' them dress
goods--they's too fine fo ole nigger like me. 'Tain't nothin' yo done to
other folks, Mars Harry. Hit's what yo all's doin' to yoself." A tear
stole down the dusky cheek. "Think I can't see how yo--yo plumb tuckered
out? Yo ain't slep in yo bed fo three nights 'ceptin' jest fo a hour one
mo'nin' when other folks was er gettin' up, an' only the Good Lawd knows
when yo eats."

The doctor laughed. "There, there Mammy, you can see me eating now all
right can't you?" But the old woman shook her head mournfully.

Harry continued, "One of your dinners, you know, is worth at least six
of other folks' cooking. Fact--" he added grimly, "I believe I might
safely say a dozen." Then he gave her a laughing description of his
attempt to cook breakfast for himself and the ten children at the Masons
that morning.

The old woman was proudly indignant, "Dem po'r triflin' white trash! To
think o' yo' doin' that to sech as them! Ain't no sense 'tall in sech
doin's, no how, Mars Harry. What right dey got to ax yo', any how? Dey
shore ain't got no claim on yo'--an' yo' ain't got no call to jump every
time sech as them crooks they fingers."

Dr. Harry shook his head solemnly.

"Now Mam Liz, I'm afraid you're an aristocrat."

"Cos I's a 'ristocrat. Ain't I a Abbott? Ain't I bo'n in de fambly in
yo' grandaddy's time--ain't I nuss yo' Pa an' yo? 'Ristocrat! Huh! Deed
I is. No sah, Mars Harry, yo' ought to know, yo ain't got no call to
sarve sech as them!"

"I don't know," he returned slowly, "I'm afraid I have."

"Have what?"

"A call to serve such as them." He repeated her words slowly. "I don't
know why they are, or how they came to be. Whatever or whoever is
responsible for the existence of such people and such conditions is a
problem for the age to solve. The fact is, they are here. And while the
age is solving the problem, I am sure that we as individuals have a call
to personally minister to their immediate needs." The doctor had spoken
half to himself, following a thought that was often in his mind.

It was a little too much for the old servant. She watched him with a
puzzled expression on her face.

"Talkin' 'bout ministers, de Pa'son was here to see yo' yest'day
evenin'."

"Brother Matthews? I am sorry I was not at home."

"Yes sah, I was sorry too; he's a right pious-lookin' man, he sho is. I
don tole him de Lawd only knowed whar yo' was or when yo'd git back. He
laughed an' says he sho de Lawd wasn't far away wherever yo' was, an'
that I mus' tell yo' hit was only a little call, nothin' of
impo'tance--so's yo wouldn't bother 'bout it, I reckon."

Dr. Harry rose from the table. "Perhaps he will run in this evening. No,
this is prayer meeting night. Heigh-ho!" He stretched his tired body--"I
ought--"

The old woman interrupted him. "Now look a here Mars Harry, yo' ain't
goin' to leave this yer house tonight. Yo' goin' jest put on yo' slippa's
an' jacket an' set down in thar an' smoke yo' pipe a lille an' then yo'
goin' to bed. Yo' ain't et 'nough to keep er chicken 'live, an' yo' eyes
like two holes burned in er blanket. Won't yo' stop home an' res',
honey?" she coaxed, following him into the hall. "Yo' plumb tuckered."

The weary physician looked through the door into the library where the
lamp threw a soft light over the big table. The magazines and papers lay
unopened, just as they had been brought from the office by Uncle George.
A book that for a month, Harry had been trying to read, was lying where
he had dropped it to answer a call. While he hesitated, the old negro
came shuffling in with the doctor's smoking jacket and slippers.

"Yes sah, here dey is--an' de mare's all right--ain't hurted a
bit--takin' her feed like er good one. Oh, I tell yo' der ain't no betta
on de road dan her."

Dr. Harry laughed. "Uncle George, I give you my honest professional
opinion--Mother Eve was sure a brunette." As he spoke he slipped out of
his coat and Mam Liz took it from his hand, while Uncle George helped
him into the comfortable jacket.

"He--he--he--" chuckled the old servant. "A brunette, he--he. That air's
yo Liz, ol' 'oman, yo' sho brunette. Yes sah, 'pon my word, Mars Harry,
I believe yo'. He--he--"

And the black woman's deep voice rolled out--"Yo' go on now--yo' two,
'tain't so--'cause Adam he sho po'r white trash. Ain't no decent colored
body goin' to have no truck wid sech as him."

With the doctor's shoes in his hand the old servant stood up, "Anythin'
else, sah? No? Good night, sah! Good night, Mars Harry!" They slipped
noiselessly from the room.

Is there, after all, anything more beautiful in life than the ministry
of such humble ones, whose service is the only expression of their love?

Many of the Master's truths have been shamefully neglected by those into
whose hands they were committed. Many of His grandest lessons are ignored
by His disciples, who ambitious for place and power--quarrel among
themselves. Many of His noblest laws have been twisted out of all
resemblance to His spirit by those who interpret them to meet the demands
of their own particular sects and systems. But of all the truths the
Master has given to men, none, perhaps, has been more neglected, or
abused than the simple truth He illustrated so vividly when He washed
His disciples' feet.

Left alone Dr. Harry picked up one magazine after another, only to turn
the leaves impatiently and--after a moment--toss them aside. He glanced
at his medical journal and found it dull. He took up his book only to lay
it down again. Decidedly he could not read. The house with its empty
rooms was so big and still. He seated himself at his piano but had
scarcely touched the keys, when he rose again to go to the window.

"After all," he thought, "it would have been better to have gone to
prayer meeting. I am not fit to be alone tonight. If I could only go to
bed and sleep, but I feel as if I had forgotten how. Those Masons
certainly got on my nerves." Indeed, the strain was plainly visible, for
his face was worn and haggard. In his ears poor Jo's prayer was ringing,
"Do somethin' Doc! My God Almighty, you jest got to do somethin'!"

Turning from the window the doctor's eyes fell on his medicine case,
which Uncle George had brought in from the buggy and placed near the
hall door.

"Why not?" he thought.

Picking up the case he went to the table, where he opened it
hesitatingly.

"After all, why not?" he repeated half-aloud. "I would give it to a
patient in my condition."

"But the patient wouldn't know what it was," a voice within himself
answered.

"I need something. I--" his hand went out toward the case--"I have never
done it before."

"You have seen others who have," said the voice again.

"This is an exceptionally trying time," he argued.

"There will be many more such times in your practice."

"But I must get some rest!" he cried, "I must!" He reached again for the
open case but paused--startled by the ringing of the door-bell.

Obeying the impulse of the moment he dropped into his chair and caught up
a paper.

Mam Liz's voice, in guarded tones came from the hall, "Yes marm, he's to
home, but he's plumb tuckered out. Is yo' got to see him? Yo' ain't
wantin' him to go out agin is yo'?"

Another voice answered, but the listening doctor could not distinguish
the reply.

"Oh sho mam. Come in, come in. He's in the library."

A moment the nurse stood, hesitating, in the doorway.

Dr. Harry sprang to his feet. "Miss Farwell! I'm glad to see you. I--"
Then he stopped looking at her in astonishment.

Very softly she closed the door behind her, and--going to the
table--closed the medicine case. Then lifting her eyes to him with a
meaning look she said simply, "I am glad, too."

He turned his face away. "You--you saw?"

"The window shades were up. I could not help it."

He dropped into the chair. "I'm a weak fool, Miss Farwell. No man in my
profession has a right to be so weak."

"Yes, that's it," she said gently. "Your profession--those who depend
upon you for their own lives and the lives of their dear ones--you must
remember that always. Your ministry."

He raised his face and looked at her squarely. "I never did this before.
You believe me, Miss Farwell, that this is the first time?"

She returned his look frankly. "Yes," she said. "I believe you, and I
believe it will be the last."

And it was.

For there was something in that voice, something in the calm still depth
of those gray eyes that remained with Dr. Harry Abbott and whenever
afterwards he reached the limit of his strength, whenever he gave so
much of himself in the service of others that there was nothing left for
himself--this incident came back to him, that something held him--kept
him strong.

Very quickly the nurse changed the subject and led the physician's mind
away from the sadness and horror of his work that had so nearly wrought
such havoc. The big empty house no longer seemed so big and empty. She
made him light his pipe again and soon the man felt his tired nerves
relax while the weary brain ceased to hammer away at the problems it
could not solve.

Then at last she told him why she had come--to bid him good-bye.

"But I thought you were going to stay!" he cried.

"I had thought of doing so," she admitted. "But something--something
makes it necessary for me to go."

His arguments and pleadings were in vain. Her only answer was, "I cannot,
Dr. Abbott, truly I cannot." Nor would she tell him more than that it was
necessary for her to go.

"But we need you so. I need you; there is no one can take your
place--Hope--" Then he stopped.

She was frankly permitting him to look deep into her eyes. "I am sorry,
Doctor, but I must go." And the strength of her held him and made him
strong.

"Just one thing, Miss Farwell. You are not going because of--because of
me?"

She held out her hand. "No indeed, Doctor. Whatever you think, please
don't think that."

He would have accompanied her home but she would not permit it and
insisted so strongly that he retire at once, that he was forced to
yield. But he would not say good-bye, declaring that he would be at the
depot in the morning to see her off.

Mrs. Oldham, coming home from prayer meeting, found her husband still
sitting on the porch. When she could not force him to listen to reason
and go to bed, she left him to his thoughts. A little later the old
Doctor saw the tall form of the minister turn in at the gate opposite.
Then the light in the corner window flashed brightly. A few moments
more, and he saw a woman coming down the street, going toward Judge
Strong's. Nearing the house across the way, she slackened her pace,
walking very slowly. Under the corner window she almost stopped. As she
went on she turned once to look back, then disappeared under the trees
in the dusk.

It was almost morning when Miss Farwell was awakened by a loud knocking
at the front door. Then Mrs. Strong came quickly up stairs to the nurse's
room. The young woman was on her feet instantly.

"That old negro of Dr. Abbott is here asking for you," explained Mrs.
Strong. "He says Dr. Harry sent him and that he must see you. What in
the world can it mean?"




CHAPTER XIV.

THAT GIRL OF CONNER'S

"'You will tell the people that this poor child wanted to kill herself,
and the people will call it suicide. But, by God--it's murder! Murder--I
tell you!'"


Slipping into her clothing the nurse went down to the front door where
Uncle George was waiting. A horse and buggy stood at the front gate.

"Evenin' mam, is yo' de nurse?" said the old negro, lifting his cap.

"Yes, I am the nurse, Miss Farwell. Dr. Abbott sent you for me?"

"'Deed he did, mam, 'deed he did--said I was to fetch yo' wid big Jim
out dar. Tol' me to say hit was er'mergency case. I dunno what dat is,
but dey sho needs yo' powerful bad over in Old Town--'deed dey does."

The latter part of this speech was delivered to the empty doorway. The
nurse was already back in her room.

The old negro rubbed his chin with a trembling hand, as he turned with a
puzzled look on his black face from the open door to the horse and buggy
and back to the door again.

"Dat young 'oman run lak a scared rabbit," he muttered. "What de ole
scratch I do now?"

Before he could decide upon any course of action, Miss Farwell, fully
dressed was by his side again, and half way to the gate before he could
get under way.

"Come," she said, "you should have been in the buggy ready to start."

"Yas'm, yas'm, comin' comin'," he answered, breaking into a trot for the
rig, and climbing in by her side. "Come Jim, git! Yo' black villen, don'
yo' know, dis here's er'mergency case? Yo' sho got to lay yo' laigs to
de groun' dis night er yo' goin' to git left sartin! 'Mergency case!" he
chuckled. "Dat mak him go, Miss. Funny I nebber knowed dat 'fore."

Sure enough, the black horse was covering the ground at a pace that
fairly took Miss Farwell's breath. The quick steady beat of the iron-shod
feet and the rattle of the buggy wheels echoed loudly in the gray
stillness. Above the tops of the giant maples that lined the road, the
nurse saw the stars paling in the first faint glow of the coming day,
while here and there in the homes of some early-rising workers the
lights flashed out, and the people--with the name of Dr. Harry on their
lips--paused to listen to the hurried passing of big Jim.

"Can you tell me something of the case?" asked the nurse.

"Case? Oh you mean de po'r gal what tried to kill herse'f. Yes, Miss, I
sho can. Yo' see hit's dis away. Hit's dat po'r Conner gal, her whose
Daddy done killed Jack Mulhall, de town marshal yo' know. De Conners
used to be nice folks, all 'ceptin' Jim. He drink a little sometimes,
an' den he was plumb bad. Seems lak he got worse dat way. An' since dey
took him off an' Mrs. Conner died de gal, she don't git 'long somehow.
Since she left de hotel she's been livin' over in Old Town along some
colored folks, upstairs in de old town-hall building. I knows 'bout hit
'y see, coz Liz an' me we all got friends, Jake Smith an' his folks,
livin' in de same buildin', yo see. Wal, lately de gal don't 'pear to be
doin' even as well as usual, an' de folks dey got plumb scared she ac'
so queer like. Sometime in de night, Jake an' Mandy dey waked up hearin'
a moanin' an' a cryin' in de po'r gal's room. Dey call at de door but
dey ain't no answer an' so dey stan 'round for 'while 'thout knowin'
what to do, till de cryin' an' screechin' gits worse, an' things 'pears
to be smashin' round lak. Den Mandy say to de folks what's been waked up
an' is standin' 'round de door she ain't goin' to stan dare doin'
nothin' no mo', an' she fo'ce open de door an' goes in.

"Yes sah, Miss Nurse, Mandy say dat gal jest throwin' herself 'round de
room an' screechin', an' Mandy grab her jest as she 'bout to jump out de
winder. She won't say nothin' but how she's burnin' up an' Mandy she
send Jake to me quick. I sho don' want to wake Dr. Harry, Miss coz he's
done tuckered out, but I'se scared not to, coz once 'fore I didn't wake
him when somebody want him an' I ain't nebber done hit no more. Go on
dar, Jim. Yes sah, Mars Harry Abbott he's a debbil, Miss, when he's mad,
'deed he is, jest lak de old Mars--he's daddy. So I calls him easy-like
but Lawd--he's up an' dress 'fore I can hook up big Jim here, an' we
come fer Old Town on de run. Quick as he get in de room he calls out de
winder fo' me to drive quick's I can to de Judge's an' fotch yo. An'
dat's all I know--'ceptin' Dr. Harry say hit's a'mergency case. We most
dare now. Go on Jim--go on sah!"

While the old negro was speaking the big horse was whirling them through
the quiet streets of the village. As Uncle George finished they reached
the top of Academy Hill, where Miss Farwell saw the old school
building--ghostly and still in the mists that hung about it like a
shroud, the tumble-down fence with the gap leading into the weed-grown
yard, the grassy knoll and the oak--all wet and sodden now, and--below,
the valley--with its homes and fields hidden in the thick fog, suggestive
of hidden and mysterious depths.

"Is yo' cold, Miss? We's mos dar, now." The nurse had shivered as with a
sudden chill.

Turning sharply to the north a minute later they entered the square of
Old Town where a herd of lean cows were just getting up from their beds
to pick a scanty breakfast from the grass that grew where once the farmer
folk had tied their teams, and in front of the ruined structure that had
once been the principal store of the village, a mother sow grunted to her
squealing brood.

Long without touch of painter's brush, the few wretched buildings that
remained were the color of the mist. To the nurse--like the fog that hid
the valley--they suggested cold mysterious depths of life, untouched by
any ray of promised sun. And out of that dull gray abyss a woman's voice
broke sharply, on the stillness, in a scream of pain.

"Dat's her, dat's de po'r gal, now, nurse. Up dare where yo' sees dat
light."

Uncle George brought the big black to a stand in front of the ancient
town-hall and court-house, a two-story, frame building with the stairway
on the outside. A group of negroes huddled--with awed faces--at the foot
of the stairs drew back as the nurse sprang from the buggy and ran
lightly up the shaky old steps. The narrow, dirty hallway was crowded
with more negroes. The odor of the place was sickening.

Miss Farwell pushed her way through and entered the room where Dr. Harry,
assisted by a big black woman, was holding his struggling patient on the
bed. The walls and ceiling of the room--stained by the accumulated smoke
of years, the rough bare floor, the window--without shade or curtain, the
only furniture--a rude table and a chair or two, a little stove set on
broken bricks, a handful of battered dishes and cooking utensils, a
trunk, and the bed with its ragged quilts and comforts, all cried aloud
the old, old familiar cry of bitter poverty.

Dr. Harry glanced up as the nurse entered.

"Carbolic acid," he said quietly, "but she didn't get quite enough. I
managed to give her the antidote and a hypodermic. We better repeat the
hypodermic I think."

Without a word the nurse took her place at the bedside. When the patient,
under the influence of the drug, had grown more quiet, Dr. Harry
dismissed the negro woman with a few kind words, and the promise that he
would send for her if she could help them in any way. Then when he had
sent the others away from the room and the hallway he turned to the
nurse.

"Miss Farwell, I am sorry that I was forced to send for you, but you can
see that there was nothing else to do. I knew you would come without loss
of time, and I dared not leave her without a white woman in the room." He
paused and went to the bedside. "Poor, poor little girl. She tried so
hard to die, nurse; she will try again the moment she regains
consciousness. These good colored people would do anything for her, but
she must see one of her own race when she opens her eyes." He paused
seemingly at a loss for words.

Miss Farwell spoke for the first time, "She is a good girl, Doctor? Not
that it matters you know, but--"

Dr. Harry spoke positively, "Yes, she is a good girl; it is not that,
nurse."

"Then how--" Miss Farwell glanced around the room. "Then why is she
here?"

No one ever heard Dr. Harry Abbott speak a bitter word, but there was a
strange note in his voice as he answered slowly, "She is here because
there seems to be no other place for her to go. She did this because
there seemed to be nothing else for her to do."

Then briefly he related the sad history of this good girl with a bad
reputation. "Dr. Oldham and I tried to help her," he said, "but some ugly
stories got started and somehow Grace heard them. After that she avoided
us."

For a little while there was silence in the room. When Dr. Harry again
turned from his patient to the nurse, Miss Farwell was busily writing
upon his tablet of prescription blanks with a stub of a pencil which she
had taken from her pocket. The doctor watched her curiously for a moment,
then arose, and taking his hat, said briskly: "I will not keep you longer
than an hour Miss Farwell. I think I know of a woman whom I can get for
today at least, and perhaps by tonight we can find someone else, or
arrange it somehow. I'll be back in plenty of time, so don't worry. Your
train does not go until ten-thirty, you know. If the woman can't come at
once, I'll ask Dr. Oldham to relieve you."

The nurse looked at him with smiling eyes, "I am very sorry, Dr. Abbott,
if I am not giving satisfaction," she said.

The physician returned her look with amazement, "Not giving satisfaction!
What in the world do you mean?"

"Why you seem to be dismissing me," she answered demurely. "I understood
that you sent for me to take this case."

At the light that broke over his face she dropped her eyes and wrote
another line on the paper before her.

"Do you mean--" he began, then he stopped.

"I mean," she answered, "that unless you send me away I shall stay on
duty."

"But Dr. Miles--that case in Chicago. I understood from you that it was
very important."

She smiled at him again. "There is nothing so important as the thing
that needs doing now," she answered. "And," she finished slowly, turning
her eyes toward the unconscious girl on the bed--"I do seem to be needed
here."

"And you understand there will be no--no fees in this case?" he asked.

The color mounted to her face. "Is our work always a question of fees,
Doctor? I am surprised, cannot I collect my bill when you receive yours?"

He held out his hand impulsively.

"Forgive me, Miss Farwell, but it is too good to be true. I can't say
any more now. You are needed here--you cannot know how badly. I--we all
need you." She gently released her hand, and he continued in a more
matter-of-fact tone, "I will go now to make a call or two so that I can
be with you later. Your patient will be all right for at least three
hours. I'll send Uncle George with your breakfast."

"Never mind the breakfast," she said. "If you will have your man bring
these things, I will get along nicely." She handed him a prescription
blank. "Here is a list that Mrs. Strong will give him from my room. And
here--" she gave him another blank, "is a list he may get at the grocery.
And here--" she handed him the third blank, "is a list he may get at some
dry goods store. I have not my purse with me so he will need to bring the
bills. The merchants will know him of course--" Dr. Harry looked from the
slips in his hand to the young woman.

"You must not do that, Miss Farwell. Really--"

She interrupted, "Doctor, this is my case, you know."

"It was mine first," he answered grimly.

"But Doctor--"

"Shall I send you my bill, too?" he asked.

A few moments later she heard the quick step of big Jim and the rattle
of the wheels.

Two hours had passed when in response to a low knock, the nurse opened
the door to find Dr. Oldham standing in the narrow hall. The old
physician was breathing heavily from his effort in climbing the rickety
stairs. His arms were full of roses.

Miss Farwell exclaimed with delight, "Oh Doctor, just what I was wishing
for!"

"Uh huh," he grunted. "I thought so. They'll do her good. Harry told me
what you were up to. Thought I better come along in case you should need
any help."

He drew a chair to the bedside, while the nurse with her sleeves rolled
up returned to the work which his knock at the door had interrupted.

Clean, white sheets, pillows and coverings had replaced the tattered
quilt on the bed. The floor was swept. The litter about the stove was
gone, and in its place was a big armful of wood neatly piled, the
personal offering of Uncle George, who had returned quickly with the
things for which the nurse had sent. The dirt and dust had vanished from
the windows. The glaring light was softened by some sort of curtain
material, that the young woman had managed to fix in place. The bare old
cupboard shelves covered with fresh paper were filled with provisions,
and the nurse, washing the last of the dishes and utensils, was placing
them carefully in order. She finished as Dr. Oldham turned from the
patient, and--throwing over the rough table a cloth of bright
colors--began deftly arranging in such dishes as the place afforded, the
flowers he had brought. Already the perfume of the roses was driving
from the chamber that peculiar, sickening odor of poverty.

The old physician, trained by long years of service to habits of close
observation, noted every detail in the changed room. Silently he watched
the strong, beautifully formed young woman in the nurse's uniform,
bending over his flowers, handling them with the touch of love while on
her face, and in the clear gray eyes, shone the light that a few truly
great painters have succeeded in giving to their pictures of the Mother
Mary.

The keen old eyes under their white brows filled and the Doctor turned
hastily back to the figure on the bed. A worn figure it was--thin and
looking old--with lines of care and anxiety, of constant pain and
ceaseless fear, of dread and hopelessness. Only a faint suggestion of
youth was there, only a hint of the beauty of young womanhood that might
have been; nay that would have been--that should have been.

Miss Farwell started as the old man with a sudden exclamation--stood
erect. He faced the young woman with blazing eyes and quivering face--his
voice shaken with passion, as he said: "Nurse, you and Harry tell me this
is suicide." He made a gesture toward the still form on the bed. "You
will tell the people that this poor child wanted to kill herself, and the
people will call it suicide. But, by God--it's murder! Murder--I tell
you! She did not want to kill herself. She wanted to live, to be strong
and beautiful like you. But this community with its churches and Sunday
schools and prayer meetings wouldn't let her. They denied her the poor
privilege of working for the food she needed. They refused even a word of
real sympathy. They hounded her into this stinking hole to live with the
negroes. She may die, nurse, and if she does--as truly as there is a
Creator, who loves his creatures--her death will be upon the unspeakably
cruel, pious, self-worshiping, churchified, spiritually-rotten people in
this town! It's _murder_! I tell you, by God--it's _murder_!" The old man
dropped into his chair exhausted by his passionate outburst.

For a few moments there was no sound in the room save the heavy breathing
of the physician. The nurse stood gazing at him--a look of mingled
sadness and horror on her face.

Then the figure on the bed stirred. The sick girl's eyes opened to stare
wildly--wonderingly, about the room. With a low word to the Doctor, Miss
Farwell went quickly to her patient.




CHAPTER XV.

THE MINISTER'S OPPORTUNITY

"He saw only the opportunity so mysteriously opened to him."


When Dan left Miss Farwell in the summer house at Judge Strong's he went
straight to his room.

Two or three people whom he met on the way turned when he had passed to
look back at him. Mrs. James talking over the fence with her next door
neighbor, wondered when he failed to return her greeting. And Denny from
his garden hailed him joyfully. But Dan did not check his pace. Reaching
his own gate he broke fairly into a run, and leaping up the stairway,
rushed into his room, closing and locking his door. Then he stood,
breathing hard, and smiling grimly at the foolish impulse that had made
him act for all the world like a thief escaping with his booty.

He puzzled over this strange feeling that possessed him, the feeling
that he had taken something that did not belong to him, until the thought
struck him that there might, after all, be good reason for the fancy;
that it might indeed be more than a fancy.

Pacing to and fro the length of his little study he recalled every
detail of that meeting in the Academy yard. And as he remembered how he
had consciously refrained from making known his position to the young
woman--not once, but several times when he knew that he should have
spoken, and how his questions, combined with the evident false impression
that his words had given her had led her to speak thoughts she would
never have dreamed of expressing had she known him, the conviction grew
that he had indeed--like a thief, taken something that did not belong to
him. And as he realized more and more how his silence must appear to her
as premeditated, and reflected how her fine nature would shrink from what
she could not but view as a coarse ungentlemanly trick he grew hot with
shame. No wonder, he told himself, that he had instinctively shrunk from
looking into the faces of the people whom he had met and had fled to the
privacy of his rooms.

Dan did not spare himself that afternoon, and yet beneath all the self
scorn he felt, there was a deeper sub-conscious conviction, that he was
not--at heart--guilty of the thing with which he charged himself. This
very conviction, though felt but dimly, made him rage the more. He had
the hopeless feeling of one caught in a trap--of one convicted of a
crime of which in the eyes of the law he was guilty, but which he knew
he had unwittingly committed.

The big fellow in so closely analyzing the woman's thoughts and feelings,
and in taking so completely her point of view, neglected himself. He
could not realize how true to _himself_ he had been that afternoon, or
how truly the impulse that had prompted him to deny his calling was an
instinct of his own strong manhood--the instinct to be accepted or
rejected for what he was within himself, rather than for the mere
accident of his calling and position in life.

One thing was clear, he must see Miss Farwell again. She must listen to
his explanation and apology. She must somehow understand. For apart from
his interest in the young woman herself, there was that purpose of the
minister to win her to the church. It was a monstrous thought that he
himself should be the means of strengthening her feeling against the
cause to which he had given his life. So he had gone to Judge Strong's
home early that evening determined to see her. But at the gate, when he
saw Dr. Harry turning in as if to stop, he had passed on in the dusk.
Later at prayer meeting his thoughts were far from the subject under
discussion. His own public petition was so faltering and uncertain that
Elder Jordan watched him suspiciously.

It would be interesting to know just how much the interest of the man in
the woman colored and strengthened the purpose of the preacher to win
this soul so antagonistic to his church.

The next day, Dan was putting the finishing touches to his sermon on
"The Christian Ministry" when his landlady interrupted him with the news
of the attempted suicide in Old Town. Upon hearing that the girl had at
one time been a member of his congregation, he went at once to learn
more of the particulars from Dr. Oldham. He found his old friend who
had returned from Old Town a half hour before, sitting in his big chair
on the front porch gazing at the cast-iron monument across the way. To
the young man's questions the Doctor returned only monosyllables or
grunts and growls that might mean anything or nothing at all. Plainly
the Doctor did not wish to talk. His face was dark and forbidding, and
under his scowling brows, his eyes--when Dan caught a glimpse of
them--were hard and fierce. The young man had never seen his friend in
such a mood and he could not understand.

Dan did not know that the kind-hearted old physician had just learned
from his wife that the girl with the bad reputation had called at the
house to see him a few hours before she had made the attempt to end her
life, and that she had been sent away by the careful Martha with the
excuse that the doctor was too busy to see her. Neither could the boy
know how the old man's love for him was keeping him silent lest, in his
present frame of mind, he say things that would strengthen that something
which they each felt had come between them.

Suddenly the Doctor turned his gaze from the monument and flashed a
meaning look straight into the brown eyes of the young minister. "She
was a member of your church. Why don't you go to see her? Ask the nurse
if there is anything the church can do." As Dan went down the walk he
added, "Tell Miss Farwell that I sent you." Then smiling grimly he
growled to himself, "You'll get valuable material for that sermon on
the ministry, or I miss my guess."

The nurse! The nurse! He was to see her again! The thought danced in
Dan's brain. How strangely the opportunity had come. The young minister
felt that the whole thing had, in some mysterious way, been planned to
the end he desired. In the care that the church would give this poor
girl the nurse would see how wrongly she had judged it. She would be
forced to listen to him now. Surely God had given him this opportunity!

What--the poor suicide?

Oh, but Dan was not thinking of the suicide. That would come later. Just
now his mind and heart were too full of his own desire to win this young
woman to the church. He saw only the opportunity so mysteriously opened
to him. Dan was thoroughly orthodox.

So in the brightness of the afternoon the pastor of Memorial Church went
along the street that, in the gray chill of the early morning, had echoed
the hurried steps of the doctor's horse. The homes--so silent when
the nurse had passed on her mission--were now full of life. The big
trees--dank and still then, now stirred softly in the breeze, and rang
with the songs of their feathered denizens. The pale stars were lost in
the infinite blue and the sunlight warmed and filled the air--flooding
street and home and lawn and flower and tree with its golden beauty. At
the top of Academy Hill Dan paused. For him no shroud of mist wrapped the
picturesque old building; no fog of mysterious depths hid the charming
landscape.

Recalling the things the nurse had said to him there under the oak on the
grassy knoll, and thinking of his sermon in answer--he smiled. It was a
good sermon, he thought, with honest pride--strong, logical, convincing.

And it was--_at that moment_.

With a confident stride he went on his way.




CHAPTER XVI.

DAN SEES THE OTHER SIDE

"'What right have you, Mr. Matthews, to say that you do not
understand--that you do not know? It is your business to understand--to
know.'"


Miss Farwell was alone with her patient. Dr. Harry, who had returned
soon after the girl regained consciousness, had gone out into the
country, promising to look in again during the evening on his way home,
and the old Doctor finding that there was no need for him to remain had
left a few moments later.

Except to answer their direct questions the sick girl had spoken no
word, but lay motionless--her face turned toward the wall. Several
times the nurse tried gently to arouse her, but save for a puzzled,
half-frightened, half-defiant look in the wide-open eyes, there was no
response, though she took her medicine obediently. But when Miss Farwell
after bathing the girl's face, and brushing and braiding her hair,
dressed her in a clean, white gown, the frightened defiant look gave
place to one of wondering gratitude, and a little later she seemed to
sleep.

She was still sleeping when Miss Farwell, who was standing by the window
watching a group of negro children playing ball in the square, saw a man
approaching the group from the direction of the village. The young
woman's face flushed as she recognized the unmistakable figure of the
minister.

Then an angry light shone in the gray eyes, and she drew back with a low
exclamation. As in evident answer to his question, a half dozen hands
were pointed toward the window where she stood. Watching, she saw him
coming toward the building.

His purpose was clear. What should she do? Her first angry impulse was
to refuse to admit him. What right had he to attempt to see her after her
so positive dismissal? Then she thought--perhaps he was coming to see the
sick girl. What right had she to refuse to admit him, when it could in no
way harm her patient? The room, after all, was the home of the young
woman on the bed--the nurse was only there in her professional capacity.

Miss Farwell began to feel that she was playing a part in a mighty drama;
that the cue had been given for the entrance of another actor. She had
nothing to do with the play save to act well her part. It was not for her
to arrange the lines or manage the parts of the other players. The
feeling possessed her that, indeed, she had somewhere rehearsed the scene
many times before. Stepping quickly to the bed she saw that her patient
was still apparently sleeping. Then she stood trembling, listening to the
step in the hall as Dan approached.

He knocked the second time before she could summon strength to cross the
room and open the door.

"May I come in?" he asked hat in hand.

At his words--the same that he had spoken a few hours before in the
garden--the nurse's face grew crimson. She made no answer, but in the
eyes that looked straight into his, Dan read a question and his own face
grew red as he said, "I called to see your patient. Dr. Oldham asked me
to come."

"Certainly; come in." She stepped aside and the minister entered the
sick-room. Mechanically, without a word she placed a chair for him
near the bed, then crossed the room to stand by the window. But he did
not sit down.

Presently Dan turned to the nurse. "She is asleep?" he asked in a low
tone.

Miss Farwell's answer was calmly--unmistakably professional. Looking at
her watch she answered, "She has been sleeping nearly two hours."

"Is there--will she recover?"

"Dr. Abbott says there is no reason why she should not if we can turn
her from her determination to die."

Always Dan had been intensely in love with life. He had a strong,
full-blooded young man's horror of death. He could think of it only as a
fitting close to a long, useful life, or as a possible release from
months of sickness and pain. That anyone young, and in good health, with
the world of beauty and years of usefulness before them, with the
opportunities and duties of life calling, should willfully seek to die,
was a monstrous thought. After all the boy knew so little. He was only
beginning to sense vaguely the great forces that make and mar humankind.

At the calm words of the nurse he turned quickly toward the bed with a
shudder. "Her determination to die!" he repeated in an awed whisper.

Miss Farwell was watching him curiously.

He whispered half to himself, wonderingly, "Why should she wish to die?"

"Why should she wish to live?" The nurse's cold tones startled him.

He turned to her perplexed, wondering, speechless.

"I--I--do not understand," he said at last.

"I don't suppose you do," she answered grimly. "How could you? Your
ministry is a matter of schools and theories, of doctrines and beliefs.
This is a matter of life."

"My church--" he began, remembering his sermon.

But she interrupted him, "Your church does not understand, either; it is
so busy earning money to pay its ministers that it has no time for such
things as this."

"But they do not know," he faltered. "I did not dream that such a thing
as this could be." He looked about the room and then at the still form on
the bed, with a shudder.

"You a minister of Christ's gospel and ignorant of these things? And yet
this is not an uncommon case, sir. I could tell you of many similar cases
that have come under my own observation, though not all of them have
chosen to die. This girl could have made a living; I suppose you
understand. But she is a good girl; so there was nothing for her but
this. All she asked was a chance--only a chance."

The minister was silent. He could not answer.

The nurse continued, "What right have you, Mr. Matthews, to say that you
do not understand--that you do not know? It is your business to
understand--to know. And your church--what right has it to plead
ignorance of the life about its very doors? If such things are not its
business what business has this institution that professes to exist for
the salvation of men; that hires men like you--as you yourself told
me--to minister to the world? What right I say, have you or your church
to be ignorant of these everyday conditions of life? Dr. Abbott must
know his work. I must know mine. Our teachers, our legal and professional
men, our public officers, our mechanics and laborers, must all know and
understand their work. The world demands it of us, and the world is
beginning to demand that you and your church know your business." As the
nurse spoke in low tones her voice was filled with sorrowful, passionate
earnestness.

And Dan, Big Dan, sat like a child before her--his face white, his brown
eyes wide with that questioning look. His own voice trembled as he
answered, "But the people are not beasts. They do not realize. At heart
they--we are kind; we do not mean to be carelessly cruel. Do you believe
this, Miss Farwell?"

She turned from him wearily, as if in despair at trying to make him
understand.

"Of course I believe it," she answered. "But how does that affect the
situation? The same thing could be said, I suppose, of those who
crucified the Christ, and burned the martyrs at the stake. It is this
system, that has enslaved the people, that feeds itself upon the strength
that should be given to their fellow men. They give so much time and
thought and love to their churches and creeds, that they have nothing
left--nothing for girls like these." Her voice broke and she went to the
window.

In the silence Dan gazed at the form on the bed--gazed as if fascinated.
From without came the shouts of the negro boys at their game of ball,
and the sound of the people moving about in other parts of the building.

"Is there--is there no one who cares?" Dan said, at last in a hoarse
whisper.

"No one has made her feel that they care," the nurse answered, turning
back to him, and her manner and tone were cold again.

"But you" he persisted, "surely you care."

At this the gray eyes filled and the full voice trembled as she answered,
"Yes, yes I care. How could I help it? Oh, if we can only make her feel
that we--that someone wants her, that there is a place for her, that
there are those who need her!" She went to the bedside and stood looking
down at the still form. "I can't--I won't--I won't let her go."

"Let us help you, Miss Farwell," said Dan. "Dr. Oldham suggested that I
ask you if the church could not do something. I am sure they would gladly
help if I were to present the case."

The nurse wheeled on him with indignant, scornful eyes.

He faltered, "This is the churches' work, you know."

"Yes," she returned, and her words stung. "You are quite right, this is
the churches' work."

He gazed at her in amazement as she continued hotly, "You have made it
very evident Mr. Matthews, that you know nothing of this matter. I have
no doubt that your church members would respond with a liberal collection
if you were to picture what you have seen here this afternoon in an
eloquent public appeal. Some in the fullness of their emotions would
offer their personal service. Others I am sure would send flowers. But I
suggest that for your sake, before you present this matter to your church
you ask Dr. Oldham to give you a full history of the case. Ask him to
tell you why Grace Conner is trying to die. And now you will pardon me,
but in consideration of my patient, who may waken at any moment, I dare
not take the responsibility of permitting you to prolong this call."

Too bewildered and hurt to attempt any reply, he left the room and she
stood listening to his steps as he went slowly down the hall and out of
the building.

From the window she watched as he crossed the old square, watched as he
passed from sight up the weed-grown street. The cruel words had leaped
from her lips unbidden. Already she regretted them deeply. She knew
instinctively that the minister had come from a genuine desire to be
helpful. She should have been more kind, but his unfortunate words had
brought to her mind in a flash, the whole hideous picture of the poor
girl's broken life. And the suggestion of such help as the church would
give now, came with such biting irony, that she was almost beside
herself.

The situation was not at all new to Miss Farwell. Her profession placed
her constantly in touch with such ministries. She remembered a
saloonkeeper who had contributed liberally to the funeral expenses of a
child who had been killed by its drunken father. The young woman had
never before spoken, in such cruel anger. Was she growing bitter? She
wondered. All at once her cheeks were wet with scalding tears.

Dan found the Doctor sitting on the porch just as he had left him. Was
it only an hour before?




CHAPTER XVII.

THE TRAGEDY

"Now, for the first time, he was face to face with existing conditions.
Not the theory but the practice confronted him now. Not the traditional,
but the actual. It was, indeed, a tragedy."


Dan went heavily up the path between the roses, while the Doctor observed
him closely. The young minister did not sit down.

"Well?" said the Doctor.

Dan's voice was strained and unnatural. "Will you come over to my room?"

Without a word the old man followed him.

In the privacy of his little study the boy said, "Doctor, you had a
reason for telling me to ask Miss Farwell if the church could do anything
for--for that poor girl. And the nurse told me to ask you about the case.
I want you to tell me about her--_all_ about her. Why is she living in
that wretched place with those negroes? Why did she attempt to kill
herself? I want to know about this girl as you know her--as Miss Farwell
knows."

The old physician made no reply but sat silent--studying the young man
who paced up and down the room. When his friend did not speak Dan said
again, "Doctor you must tell me! I'm not a child. What is this thing
that you should so hesitate to talk to me freely? I must know and you
must tell me now."

"I guess you are right, boy," returned the other slowly.

To Big Dan, born with the passion for service in his very blood and
reared amid the simple surroundings of his mountain home, where the
religion and teaching of the old Shepherd had been felt for a generation,
where every soul was held a neighbor--with a neighbor's right to the
assistance of the community, and where no one--not even the nameless
"wood's colt"--was made to suffer for the accident of birth or family,
but stood and was judged upon his own life and living, the story of Grace
Conner was a revelation almost too hideous in its injustice to be
believed.

When the Doctor finished there was a tense silence in the minister's
little study. It was as though the two men were witnessing a grim
tragedy.

Trained under the influence of his parents and from them receiving the
highest ideals of life and his duty to the race, Dan had been drawn
irresistibly by the theoretical self-sacrificing heroism and
traditionally glorious ministry of the church. Now, for the first time,
he was face to face with existing conditions. Not the theory but the
practice confronted him now. Not the traditional, but the actual.

It was, indeed, a tragedy.

The boy's face was drawn and white. His eyes--wide with that questioning
look--burned with a light that his old friend had not seen in them
before--the light of suffering--of agonizing doubt.

In his professional duties the Doctor had been forced to school himself
to watch the keenest suffering unmoved, lest his emotions bias his
judgment--upon the accuracy of which depended the life of his patient.
He had been taught to cause the cruelest pain with unshaken nerve by the
fact that a human life under his knife depended upon the steadiness of
his hand. But his sympathy had never been dulled--only controlled and
hidden. So, long years of contact with what might be called a disease of
society, had accustomed him to the sight of conditions--the revelation
of which came with such a shock to the younger man. But the Doctor could
still appreciate what the revelation meant to the boy. Knowing Dan from
his childhood, familiar with his home-training, and watching his growth
and development with personal, loving interest, the old physician had
realized how singularly susceptible his character was to the beautiful
beliefs of the church. He had foreseen, too, something of the boy's
suffering when he should be brought face to face with the raw, naked
truths of life. And Dan, as he sat now searching the rugged, but kindly
face of his friend, realized faintly why the Doctor had shrunk from
talking to him of the sick girl.

Slowly the minister rose from his chair. Aimlessly--as one in perplexing,
troubled thought--he went to the window and, standing there, looked out
with unseeing eyes upon the cast-iron monument on the opposite corner of
the street. Then he moved restlessly to the other window, and, with eyes
still unseeing, looked down into the little garden of the crippled
boy--the garden with the big moss and vine-grown rock in its center. Then
he went to his study table and stood idly moving the books and papers
about. His eye mechanically followed the closely written lines on the
sheets of paper that were lying as he had left them that morning. He
started. The next moment, with quick impatient movement, he crushed the
pages of the manuscript in his powerful hands and threw them into the
waste basket. He faced the Doctor with a grim smile.

"My sermon on 'The Christian Ministry.'"




CHAPTER XVIII.

TO SAVE A LIFE

"It was not Hope Farwell's way to theorize about the causes of the wreck,
or to speculate as to the value of inventions for making more efficient
the life-saving service, when there was a definite, immediate, personal
something to be done for the bit of life that so closely touched her
own."


"Nurse!"

Miss Farwell turned quickly. The girl on the bed was watching her with
wide wondering eyes. She forced a smile. "Yes, dear, what is it? Did you
have a good sleep?"

"I was not asleep. I--oh nurse, is it true?"

Hope laid a firm, cool hand on the hot forehead, and looked kindly down
into the wondering eyes.

"You were awake while the minister was here?"

"Yes I--I--heard it all. Is it--is it true?"

"Is what true, child?"

"That you care, that anyone cares?"

Miss Farwell's face shone now with that mother-look as she lowered her
head until the sick girl could see straight into the deep gray eyes. The
poor creature gazed hungrily--breathlessly.

"Now don't you know that I care?" whispered the nurse, and the other
burst into tears, grasping the nurse's hand in both her own and with a
reviving hope clinging to it convulsively.

"I'm not bad, nurse," she sobbed. "I have always been a good girl even
when--when I was so hungry. But they--they talked so about me, and made
people think I was bad until I was ashamed to meet anyone. Then they put
me out of the church, and nobody would give me work in their homes, and
they drove me away from every place I got, until there was no place but
this, and I was so frightened here alone with all these negroes in the
house. Oh nurse, I didn't want to do it--I didn't want to do it. But I
thought no one cared--no one."

"They did not mean to be cruel, dear," said the nurse softly. "They did
not understand. You heard the minister say they would help you now."

The girl gripped Miss Farwell's hand with a shudder.

"They put me out of the church. Don't let them come, don't! Promise me
you won't let them in."

The other calmed her. "There, there dear, I will take care of you. And no
one can put you away from God; you must remember that."

"Is there a God, do you think?" whispered the girl.

"Yes, yes dear. All the cruelty in the world can't take God away from us
if we hold on. We all make mistakes, you know, dear--terrible mistakes
sometimes. People with the kindest, truest hearts sometimes do cruel
things without thinking. Why, I suppose those who crucified Jesus were
kind and good in their way. Only they didn't understand what they were
doing, you see. You will learn by-and-by to feel sorry for these people,
just as Jesus wept over those who he knew were going to torture and kill
him. But first you must get well and strong again. You will now, won't
you dear?"

And the whispered answer came, "Yes, nurse. I'll try now that I know you
care."

So the strong young woman with the face of the Mother Mary talked to the
poor outcast girl, helping her to forget, turning her thoughts from the
sadness and bitterness of her experience to the gladness and beauty of a
possible future, until--when the sun lighted up the windows on the other
side of the square with flaming fire, and all the sky was filled with
the glory of his going--the sick girl slept, clinging still to her
nurse's hand.

In the twilight Miss Farwell sat in earnest thought. Deeply
religious--as all true workers must be--she sought to know her part in
the coming scenes of the drama in which she found herself cast.

The young woman felt that she must leave Corinth. Her experience with
Dan had made the place unbearable to her. And, since the scene that
afternoon, she felt, more than ever, that she should go. She had no
friends in Corinth save her patient at Judge Strong's, Mrs. Strong, the
two doctors, Deborah and Denny. At home she had many friends. Then from
the standpoint of her profession--and Hope Farwell loved her
profession--her opportunities in the city with Dr. Miles were too great
to be lightly thrown aside.

But what of the girl? This girl so helpless, so alone--who buffeted and
bruised, had been tossed senseless at her very feet by the wild storms
of life. Miss Farwell knew the fury of the storm; she had witnessed
before the awful strength of those forces that overwhelmed Grace Conner.
She knew, too, that there were many others struggling hopelessly in the
pitiless grasp of circumstances beyond their strength--single handed--to
overcome.

As one watching a distant wreck from a place of safety on shore, the
nurse grieved deeply at the relentless cruelty of these ungoverned
forces, and mourned at her own powerlessness to check them. But she felt
especially responsible for this poor creature who had been cast within
her reach. Here was work to her hand. This she could do and it must be
done now, without hesitation or delay. She could not prevent the
shipwrecks; she could, perhaps, save the life of this one who had felt
the fury of the storm. It was not Hope Farwell's way to theorize about
the causes of the wreck, or to speculate as to the value of inventions
for making more efficient the life-saving service, when there was a
definite, immediate, personal something to be done for the bit of life
that so closely touched her own.

There was no doubt in the nurse's mind now but that the girl would live
and regain her health. But what then? The people would see that she was
cared for as long as she was sick. Who among them would give her a place
when she was no longer an object of ostentatious charity? Her very
attempted suicide would mark her in the community more strongly than
ever, and she would be met on every hand by suspicion, distrust and
cruel curiosity. Then, indeed, she would need a friend--someone to
believe in her and to love her. Of what use to save the life tossed up
by the storm, only to set it adrift again? As Miss Farwell meditated in
the twilight the conviction grew that her responsibility could end only
when the life was safe.

It is, after all, a little thing to save a life; it is a great thing to
make it safe. Indeed, in a larger, sense a life is never saved until it
is safe.

When Dr. Harry called, later in the evening as he had promised, he handed
the nurse an envelope. "Mr. Matthews asked me to give you this," he said.
"I met him just as he was crossing the square. He would not come in but
turned back toward town."

He watched her curiously as she broke the seal and read the brief note.

"I have seen Dr. Oldham and he has told about your patient. You are
right--I cannot present the matter to my people. I thank you. But this
cannot prevent my own personal ministry. Please use the enclosed for
Miss Conner, without mentioning my name. You must not deny me this."

The "enclosed" was a bill, large and generous. Miss Farwell handed the
letter to Dr. Harry with the briefest explanation possible. For a long
time the doctor sat in brown study. Then making no comment further than
asking her to use the money as the minister had directed, he questioned
her as to the patient's condition. When she had finished her report he
drew a long breath.

"We are all right now, nurse. She will get over this nicely and in a week
or two will be as good as ever. But--what then?"




CHAPTER XIX.

ON FISHING

"'It is not for you to waste your time in useless speculation as to the
unknowable source of your life-stream, or in seeking to trace it in the
ocean. It is enough for you that it is, and that, while it runs its brief
course, it is yours to make it yield its blessings. For this you must
train your hand and eye and brain--you must be in life a fisherman.'"


"Come boy," said the Doctor at last, laying his hand upon the young
minister's shoulder. "Come, boy--let's go fishing. I know a dandy place
about twelve miles from here. We'll coax Martha to fix us up a bite and
start at daylight. What do you say?"

"But I can't!" cried Dan. "Tomorrow is Saturday and I have nothing now
for Sunday morning." He looked toward the waste basket where lay his
sermon on "The Christian Ministry."

"Humph," grunted the Doctor. "You'll find a better one when you get away
from this. Older men than you, Dan, have fought this thing all their
lives. Don't think that you can settle it in a couple of days thinking.
Take time to fish a little; it'll help a lot. There's nothing like a
running stream to clear one's mind and set one's thoughts going in fresh
channels. I want you to see Gordon's Mills. Come boy, let's go fishing."

The evening was spent in preparation, eager anticipation and discussion
of the craft, prompted by the Doctor. And as they overhauled flies and
rods and lines and reels, and recalled the many delightful days spent as
they proposed to spend the morrow, the young man's thoughts were led
away from the first real tragedy of his soul. At daylight, after a
breakfast of their own cooking--partly prepared the night before by
Martha, who unquestionably viewed the minister's going away on a Saturday
with doubtful eyes--they were off.

When they left the town far behind and--following the ridge road in the
clear wine-like air of the early day--entered the woods, the Doctor
laughed aloud as Dan burst forth with a wild boyish yell.

"I couldn't help it Doctor, it did itself," he said in half apology.
"It's so good to be out in the woods with you again. I feel as if I were
being re-created already."

"Yell again," said the physician with another laugh, and added dryly, "I
won't tell."

Gordon's Mills, on Gordon's creek, lay in a deep, narrow valley, shut in
and hidden from the world, by many miles of rolling, forest-covered
hills. The mill, the general store and post office, and the blacksmith
shop were connected with Corinth, twelve miles away, by daily stage--a
rickety old spring wagon that carried the mail and any chance passenger.
Pure and clear and cold the creek came welling to the surface of the
earth full-grown, from vast, mysterious, subterranean caverns in the
heart of the hills--and, from the brim of its basin, rushed, boiling and
roaring, along to the river two miles distant, checked only by the dam
at the mill. For a little way above the dam the waters lay still and
deep, with patches of long mosses, vines and rushes, waving in its quiet
clearness--forming shadowy dens for lusty trout, while the open
places--shining fields and lanes--reflected, as a mirror, the steep
green-clad bluff, and the trees that bent far over until their drooping
branches touched the gleaming surface.

As the two friends tramped the little path at the foot of the bluff, or
waded, with legs well-braced, the tumbling torrent, and sent their flies
hither and yon across the boiling flood to be snatched by the
strong-hearted denizens of the stream, Dan felt the life and freshness
and strength of God's good world entering into his being. At dinner time
they built a little fire to make their coffee and broil a generous
portion of their catch. Then lying at ease on the bank of the great
spring, they talked as only those can talk who get close enough to the
great heart of Mother Nature to feel strongly their common kinship with
her and with their fellows.

After one of those long silences that come so easily at such a time, Dan
tossed a pebble far out into the big pool and watched it sink down, down,
down, until he lost it in the unknown depths.

"Doctor, where does it come from?"

"Where does what come from?"

"This stream. You say its volume is always the same--that it is
unaffected by heavy rains or long droughts. How do you account for it?"

"I don't account for it," grunted the Doctor, with a twinkle in his eye,
"I fish in it."

Dan laughed. "And that," he said slowly, "is your philosophy of life."

The other made no answer.

Choosing another pebble carefully, Dan said, "Speaking as a
preacher--please elaborate."

"Speaking as a practitioner--you try it," returned the Doctor.

The big fellow stretched himself out on his back, with his hands clasped
beneath his head. He spoke deliberately.

"Well, you do not know from whence your life comes, and it goes after a
short course, to lose itself with many others in the great stream that
reaches--at last, and is lost in--the Infinite." The Doctor seemed
interested. Dan continued, half talking to himself: "It is not for you
to waste your time in useless speculation as to the unknowable source of
your life-stream, or in seeking to trace it in the ocean. It is enough
for you that it is, and that, while it runs its brief course, it is yours
to make it yield its blessings. For this you must train your hand and eye
and brain--you must be in life a fisherman."

"Very well done," murmured the Doctor, "for a preacher. Stick to the
knowable things, and don't stick at the unknowable; that is my law and my
gospel."

Dan retorted, "Now let's watch the practitioner make a cast."

"Humph! Why don't you stop it, boy?"

"Stop what?" Dan sat up.

The other pointed to the great basin of water that--though the stream
rushed away in such volume and speed--was never diminished, being
constantly renewed from its invisible, unknown source.

The young man shook his head, awed by the contemplation of the mighty,
hidden power.

And the Doctor--poet now--said: "No more can the great stream of love,
that is in the race for the race and that finds expression in sympathy
and service, be finally stopped. Fed by hidden, eternal sources it will
somehow find its way to the surface. Checked and hampered, for the
moment, by obstacles of circumstances or conditions, it is not stopped,
for no circumstance can touch the source. And love will keep
coming--breaking down or rising over the barrier, it may be--cutting for
itself new channels, if need be. For every Judge Strong and his kind
there is a Hope Farwell and her kind. For every cast-iron, ecclesiastical
dogma there is a living, growing truth."

Dan's sermon the next day, given in place of the one announced, did not
please the whole of his people.

"It was all very fine and sounded very pretty," said Martha, "but I would
like to know, Brother Matthews, where does the church come in?"




CHAPTER XX.

COMMON GROUND

"'But we will find common ground,' he exclaimed. 'Look here, we have
already found it! This garden--Denny's garden!'"


The following Tuesday morning Dan was at work bright and early in Denny's
garden. Many of the good members of Memorial Church would have said that
Dan might better have been at work in his study.

The ruling classes in this congregation, that theoretically had no ruling
classes, were beginning to hint among themselves of a humiliation beyond
expression at the spectacle, now becoming so common, of their minister
working with his coat off like an ordinary laboring man. He should have
more respect for the dignity of the cloth. At least, if he had no pride
of his own, he should have more regard for the feelings of his
membership. Besides this they did not pay him to work in anybody's
garden.

The grave and watchful keepers of the faith, who held themselves
responsible to the God they thought they worshiped, for the belief of the
man they had employed to prove to the world wherein it was all wrong and
they were all right, watched their minister's growing interest in this
Catholic family with increasing uneasiness.

The rest of the church, who were neither of the class nor of the keepers,
but merely passengers, as it were, in the Ark of Salvation, looked on
with puzzled interest. It was a new move in the game that added a spice
of ginger to the play not wholly distasteful. From a safe distance the
"passengers" kept one eye on the "class" and the other on the "keepers,"
with occasionally a stolen glance at Dan, and waited nervously for their
cue.

The world outside the fold awaited developments with amused and
breathless interest. Everybody secretly admired the stalwart young worker
in the garden, and the entire community was grateful that he had given
them something new to talk about. Memorial Church was filled at every
service.

Meanwhile wholly unconscious of all this, Big Dan continued digging his
way among the potatoes, helping the crippled boy to harvest and prepare
for market the cabbages and other vegetables, that grew in the plot of
ground under his study window, never dreaming that there was aught of
interest either to church or town in the simple neighborly kindness. It
is a fact--though Dan at this time, would not have admitted it, even to
himself--that the hours spent in the garden, with Denny enthroned upon
the big rock, and Deborah calling an occasional cheery word from the
cottage, were by far the most pleasant hours of the day.

Every nerve and muscle in the splendid warm-blooded body of this young
giant of the hills called for action. The one mastering passion of his
soul was the passion for deeds--to do; to serve; to be used. He had felt
himself called to the ministry by his desire to accomplish a work that
would be of real worth to the world. He was already conscious of being
somewhat out of place with the regular work of the church: the pastoral
calls, which mean visiting, day after day, in the homes of the members to
talk with the women about nothing at all, at hours when the men of the
household are away laboring, with brain or hand, for the necessities of
life; the meetings of the various women's societies, where the minister
himself is the only man present, and the talk is all women's talk; the
committee meetings, where hours are spent in discussing the most trivial
matters with the most ponderous gravity--as though the salvation of the
world depends upon the color of the pulpit carpet, or who should bake a
cake for the next social.

For nearly a week now, Dan had found no time to touch the garden; he was
resolved this day to make good his neglect. An hour before Denny was up
the minister was ready for his work. As he went to get the garden-tools
from the little lean-to woodshed, Deborah called from the kitchen, "'Tis
airly ye are this mornin' sir. It's not many that do be layin' awake all
the night waitin' for the first crack o' day, so they can get up to
somebody else's work fer thim."

The minister laughingly dodged the warm-hearted expressions of gratitude
he saw coming. "I've been shirking lately," he said. "If I don't do
better than this the boss will be firing me sure. How is he?"

"Fine sir, fine! He's not up yet. You'll hear him yelling at you as soon
as he sees what you're at."

"Good," ejaculated the other. "I'll get ahead of him this time. Perhaps
I can get such a start before he turns out that he'll let me stay a while
longer, as it would not be pleasant to get my discharge."

Passing laborers and business men on the way to their daily tasks, smiled
at the coatless figure in the garden. Several called a pleasant greeting.
The boy with the morning papers from the great city checked his whistle
as he looked curiously over the fence, and the Doctor who came out on the
porch looked across the street to the busy gardener and grunted with
satisfaction as he turned to his roses.

But Dan's mind was not occupied altogether that morning by the work upon
which his hands were engaged. Neither was he thinking only of his church
duties, or planning sermons for the future. As he bent to his homely
tasks his thoughts strayed continually to the young woman whom he had
last seen beside the bed of the sick girl in the poverty-stricken room
in Old Town. The beautiful freshness and sweetness of the morning and
the perfume of the dewy things seemed subtly to suggest her. Thoughts of
her seemed, somehow, to fit in with gardening.

He recalled every time he had met her. The times had not been many, and
they were still strangers, but every occasion had been marked by
something that seemed to fix it as unusual, making their meeting seem
far from commonplace. He still had that feeling that she was to play a
large part in his life and he was confident that they would meet again.
He was wondering where and how when he looked up from his work to see
her coming toward him, dressed in a fresh uniform of blue and white.

The young fellow stood speechless with wonder as she came on, picking
her way daintily among the beds and rows, her skirts held carefully, her
beautiful figure expressing health and strength and joyous, tingling life
in every womanly curve and line.

There was something wonderfully intimate and sweetly suggestive in the
picture they made that morning, these two--the strong young woman in her
uniform of service going in the glow of the early day to the stalwart
coatless man in the garden, to interrupt him in his homely labor.

"Good morning," she said with a smile. "I have been watching you from
the house and decided that you were working altogether too industriously,
and needed a breathing spell. Do you do everything so energetically?"

It is sadly true of most men today that the more you cover them up the
better they look. Our civilization demands a coat, and the rule seems to
be--the more civilization, the more coat. Dan Matthews is one of those
rare men who look well in his shirt sleeves. His shoulders and body
needed no shaped and padded garments to set them off. The young woman's
eyes, in spite of her calm self-possession, betrayed her admiration as
he stood before her so tall and straight--his powerful shoulders, deep
chest and great muscled arms, so clearly revealed.

But Dan did not see the admiration in her eyes. He was so bewildered by
the mere fact of her presence that he failed to note this interesting
detail.

He looked toward the house, then back to the young woman's face.

"You were watching me from the house," he repeated. "Really, I did not
know that you--"

"Were your neighbors?" she finished. "Yes we are. Grace and I moved
yesterday. You see," she continued eager to explain, "it was not good for
her to remain in that place. It was all so suggestive of her suffering. I
knew that Mrs. Mulhall had a room for rent, because I had planned to take
it before I decided to go back to Chicago." She blushed as she recalled
the thoughts that had led her to the decision, but went on resolutely.
"The poor child has such a fear of everybody, that I thought it would
help her to know that Mrs. Mulhall and Denny could be good to her, even
though it was Denny's father, that her father--you know--"

Dan's eyes were shining. "Yes I know," he said.

"I explained to Mrs. Mulhall and, like the dear good soul she is, she
understood at once and made the poor child feel better right away. I
thought, too, that if Grace were living here with Mrs. Mulhall it might
help the people to be kinder to her. Then someone will give her a chance
to earn her living and she will be all right. The people will soon act
differently when they see how Mrs. Mulhall feels, don't you think they
will?"

Dan could scarcely find words. She was so entirely unconscious of the
part she was playing--of this beautiful thing she was doing.

"And you?" he asked, "You are not going away?"

"Not until she gets a place. She will need me until she finds a home, you
know. And Dr. Harry assures me there is plenty of work for me in Corinth.
So Grace and I will keep house at Mrs. Mulhall's. Grace will do the work
while I am busy. It will make her feel less dependent and," she added
frankly, "it will not cost so much that way. And that brings me to what I
came out here to say." She paused. "I wish to thank you, Mr. Matthews,
for your help--for the money you sent. The poor child needed so many
things, and--I want to beg your pardon for--for the shameful way I
treated you when you called. I--I knew better, and Mrs. Mulhall has been
telling me how much you have done for them. I--"

Dan interrupted, "Please don't, Miss Farwell; I understand. You were
exactly right. I know, now." Then he added, slowly, "I want you to know,
though, Miss Farwell, that I had no thought of being rude when we talked
in the old Academy yard." She was silent and he went on, "I must make you
understand that I am not the ill-mannered cad that I seemed. I--You know,
this ministry"--he emphasized the word with a smile--"is so new to
me--I am really so inexperienced!"

She glanced at him quickly.

He continued, "I had never before heard such thoughts as you expressed,
and I was too puzzled to realize how my silence would appear to you when
you knew."

"Then this is your first church?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, "and I am beginning to realize how woefully ignorant I am
of life. You know I was born and brought up in the backwoods. Until I
went to college I knew only our simple country life; at college I knew
only books and students. Then I came here."

As he talked the young woman's face cleared. It was something very
refreshing to hear such a man declare his ignorance of life with the
frankness of a boy. She held out her hand impulsively.

"Let's forget it all," she said. "It was a horrid mistake."

"And we are to be good friends?" he asked, grasping her outstretched
hand.

Without replying the young woman quietly released her hand and drew back
a few paces--she was trembling. She fought for self-control. There was
something--what was it about this man? The touch of his hand--Hope
Farwell was frightened by emotions new and strange to her.

She found a seat on the big rock and ignoring his question said, "So
that's why you are so big and strong, and know so well how to work in a
garden. I thought it was strange for one of your calling. I see now how
natural it is for you."

"Yes," he smiled, "it is very natural--more so than preaching. But tell
me--don't you think we should be good friends? We are going to be now,
are we not?"

The young woman answered with quiet dignity, "Friendship Mr. Matthews
means a great deal to me, and to you also, I am sure. Friends must have
much in common. We have nothing, because--because everything that I said
to you at the Academy, to me, is true. We do not live in the same world."

"But it's for myself--the man and not the minister--that I ask it," he
urged eagerly.

She watched his face closely as she answered, "But you and your ministry
are one and the same. Yourself--your life is your ministry. You are your
ministry and your ministry is you."

"But we will find common ground," he exclaimed. "Look here, we have
already found it! This garden--Denny's garden! We'll put a sign over the
gate, 'No professional ministry shall enter here!'--The preacher lives
up there." He pointed to his window. "The man, Dan Matthews, works in
the garden here. To the man in the garden you may say what you like about
the parson up there. We will differ, of course, but we may each gain
something, as is right for friends, for we will each grant to the other
the privilege of being true to self."

She hesitated; then slipping from the rock and looking him full in the
face said, "I warn you it will not work. But for friendship's sake we
will try."

Neither of them realized the deep significance of the terms, but in the
days that followed, the people of Corinth had much--much more, to talk
about. The Ally was well pleased and saw to it that the ladies of the Aid
Society were not long in deciding that something must be done.




CHAPTER XXI.

THE WARNING

"From God's sunny hillside pastures to the gloom and stench of the
slaughter pens."


It happened two weeks to the day after Dan and Miss Farwell met in
Denny's garden.

The Ally had been busy to some purpose. The Ladies' Aid, having reached
the point of declaring that something must be done, did something. The
Elders of Memorial Church, in their official capacity, called on their
pastor.

Dan was in the garden when the Elders came. The Doctor's wife declared
that Dan spent most of his time in the garden now, and that, when there,
he did nothing because that nurse was always helping him. Good Martha
has the fatal gift of telling a bit of news so vividly that it gains
much in the telling.

Miss Farwell was in the garden that afternoon with the minister and so
was Denny, while Grace Conner and Deborah were sitting on the front porch
of the little cottage when the two church fathers passed. Though neither
of the men turned their heads, neither of them failed to see the two
women on the porch and the three friends in the garden.

"For the love of Heaven, look there!" exclaimed Deborah in an excited
whisper. "They're turnin' in at the minister's gate, an' him out there
in the 'taters in his shirt, a-diggin' in the ground an' a-gassin' wid
Denny an' Miss Hope. I misdoubt there's somethin' stirrin' to take thim
to his door the day. I must run an' give him the word."

But Dan had seen and was already on his way to the front gate, drawing
on his coat as he went. From the other side of the street the Doctor
waved his hand to Dan encouragingly as the young man walked hastily down
the sidewalk to overtake the church officials at the front door.

Truly in this denominational hippodrome, odd yoke-fellows are sometimes
set to run together; the efforts of the children of light to equal in
wisdom the children of darkness leading the church to clap its
ecclesiastical harness upon anything that--by flattery, bribes or
intimidation, can be led, coaxed or driven to pull at the particular
congregational chariot to which the tugs are fast! When the people of
Corinth speak of Judge Strong's religion, or his relation to the Memorial
Church they wink--if the Judge is not looking. When Elder Jordan is
mentioned their voices always have a note of respect and true regard.
Elder Strong is always called "The Judge"; Nathaniel Jordan was known far
and wide as "Elder Jordan." Thus does the community, as communities have
a way of doing, touch the heart of the whole matter.

Dan recognized instinctively the difference in the characters of these
two men, yet he had found them always of one mind in all matters of the
church. He felt the subtle antagonism of Judge Strong, though he did not
realize that the reason for it lay in the cunning instinct of a creature
that recognized a natural enemy in all such spirits as his. He felt, too,
the regard and growing appreciation of Elder Jordan. Yet the two
churchmen were in perfect accord in their "brotherly administration."

When the officials met in Dan's study that day, their characters were
unmistakable. That they were both in harness was also clear. The
minister's favorite chair creaked in dismay as the Judge settled his
heavy body, and twisted this way and that in an open effort to inspect
every corner of the apartment with his narrow, suspicious eyes; while
the older churchman sat by the window, studiously observing something
outside. Dan experienced that strange feeling of uneasiness familiar to
every schoolboy when called upon unexpectedly for the private interview
with the teacher. The Elders had never visited him before. It was too
evident that they had come now upon matters of painful importance.

At last Judge Strong's wandering eye came to rest upon Dan's favorite
fishing-rod, that stood in a corner behind a book-case. The young man's
face grew red in spite of him. It was impossible not to feel guilty of
something in the presence of Judge Strong. Even Elder Jordan started as
his brother official's metallic voice rang out, "I see that you follow
in the footsteps of the early disciples in one thing, at least, Brother
Matthews. You go fishing." He gave forth a shrill, cold laugh that--more
than anything else--betrayed the real spirit he laughed to hide.

This remark was characteristic of Judge Strong. On the surface it was
the mild jest of a churchman, whose mind dwelt so habitually on the
sacred Book, that even in his lightest vein he could not but express
himself in terms and allusions of religious significance. Beneath the
surface, his words carried an accusation, a condemnation, a sneer. His
manner was the eager, expectant, self-congratulatory manner of a dog
that has treed something. The Judge's method was skillfully chosen to
give him this advantage: it made his meaning clear while it gave no
possible opening for a reply to the real idea his words conveyed, and
forced his listener to an embarrassed silence of self-condemnation, that
secured the Judge in his assumed position of pious superiority.

Dan forced a smile. He felt that the Judge's laugh demanded it. "Yes,"
he said, "I am scriptural when it comes to fishing. Dr. Oldham and I had
a fine day at Gordon's Mills."

"So I understand," said the other meaningly. "I suppose you and the old
Doctor have some interesting talks on religion?"

It was impossible not to feel the sneering accusation under the words. It
was as impossible to answer. Again Dan's face flushed as he said, "No, we
do not discuss the church very often."

"No?" said the Judge. "I should think you would find him a good subject
to practice on. Perhaps, though, he practices on you, heh?" Again he
laughed.

"Ahem, ahem!" Elder Jordan gave his usual warning. Dan turned to the good
old man with a feeling of relief. At least Nathaniel Jordan's words would
bear their face value. "Perhaps, Brother Strong, we had better tell
Brother Matthews the object of our call."

The Judge leaned back in his chair with the air of one about to be
pleasantly entertained. He waved his hand with a gesture that said as
plainly as words, "All right, Nathaniel, go ahead. I'm here if you need
me, so don't be uneasy! If you find yourself unequal to the task, depend
upon me to help you out."

The minister waited with an expectant air.

"Ahem, ahem! You must not think, Brother Matthews, that there is anything
really wrong because we called. But we, ahem--we thought best to give you
a brotherly warning. I'm sure you will take it in the spirit in which it
is meant."

The Judge stirred uneasily in his chair, bending upon Dan such a look
as--had he been a real judge--he might have cast upon a convicted
criminal. Dan already felt guilty. He signified his assent to the Elder's
statement and Nathaniel proceeded:

"You are a young man, Brother Matthews; I may say a very talented young
man, and we are jealous for your success in this community and, ahem--for
the standing of Memorial Church. Some of our ladies feel--I may say that
we feel that you have been a little, ah--careless about some things of
late. Elder Strong and I know from past experience that a preacher--a
young unmarried preacher cannot be too careful. Not that we have the
least idea that you mean any harm, you know--not the least in the world.
But people will talk and--ahem, ahem!"

Dan's face was a study. He was so clearly mystified by the Elder's
remarks that the good man found his duty even more embarrassing than he
had anticipated.

Then Judge Strong threw a flood of light upon the situation in a
characteristic manner. "That young woman, Grace Conner, has a mighty bad
name in this town; and the other one, her friend the nurse, is a
stranger. She was in my house for a month and--well, some things about
her look mighty queer to me. She hasn't been inside a church since she
came to Corinth. I would be the last man in the world to cast a suspicion
on anyone but--" he finished with a shake of his head, and an expression
of pious doubt on his crafty face that said he could, if he wished, tell
many dark secrets of Miss Farwell's life.

Dan was on his feet instantly, his face flaming and his eyes gleaming
with indignation. "I--" then he checked himself, confused, as--in a
flash--he remembered who these men were and his relation to them in the
church. "I beg your pardon," he finished slowly, and dropped back into
his chair, biting his lips and clenching his big hands in an effort at
self-control.

Elder Jordan broke in nervously. "Ahem, ahem! You understand, Brother
Matthews, that the sisters--that we do not think that you mean any harm,
but your standing in the community, you know, is such that we must shun
every appearance of evil. We, ahem--we felt it our duty to call."

Big Dan, who had never met that spirit, the Ally, knew not how to answer
his masters in the church. He tried to feel that their mission to him was
of grave importance. He was tempted to laugh; their ponderous dignity
seemed so ridiculous.

"Thank you, sir," he at last managed to say, gravely, "I think it is
hardly necessary for me to attempt any explanation." He was still
fighting for self-control and chose his words carefully. "I will consider
this matter." Then he turned the conversation skillfully into other
channels.

When the overseers of the church were gone the young pastor walked the
floor of the room trying to grasp the true significance of the situation.
Gradually the real meaning of the Elders' visit grew upon him. Because
his own life was so big, so broad, because his ideals and ambitions were
so high, so true to the spirit of the Christ whose service he thought he
had entered, he could not believe his senses.

He might have found some shadow of reason, perhaps, for their fears
regarding his friendship for the girl with the bad reputation, had the
circumstances been other than they were, and had he not known who it was
gave Grace Conner her bad name. But that his friendship for Miss Farwell,
whose beautiful ministry was such an example of the spirit of the
Christian religion; and that her care for the poor girl should be so
quickly construed into something evil--his mind positively refused to
entertain the thought. He felt that the visit of his church fathers was
unreal. He was as one dazed by an unpleasant dream.

To come from the pure, wholesome atmosphere of his home and the inspiring
study of the history of the Christian religion, to such a twisted,
distorted, hideous corruption of the church policy and spirit, was, to
Dan, like coming from God's sunny hillside pastures to the gloom and
stench of the slaughter pens. He was stunned by the littleness, the
meanness that had prompted the "kindly warning" of these leaders of the
church.

Slowly he began to see what that spirit might mean to him.

No man of ordinary intelligence could long be in Memorial Church, without
learning that it was ruled by a ring, as truly as any body politic was
ever so ruled. Dan Matthews understood too clearly that his position in
Memorial Church depended upon the "bosses" then in control. And he saw
farther--saw, indeed, that his final success or failure in his chosen
calling depended upon the standing that should be given him by this, his
first charge; depended at the last upon these two men who had shown
themselves, each in his own way, so easily influenced by the low, vicious
tales of a few idle-minded town gossips.

As one in the dark--stepping without warning into a boggy hole--Dan
groped for firmer ground.

As one standing alone in a wide plain sees on the distant horizon the
threat of a gathering storm, and--watching, shudders at the shadow of a
passing cloud, Dan stood--a feeling of loneliness and dread heavy upon
him.

He longed for companionship, for someone to whom he could speak his
heart. But to whom in Corinth could he go? These men who had just
"advised him" were, theoretically, his intimate counselors; to them he
was supposed, and had expected, to look--in his inexperience, for advice
and help. These men, old in the service of the church--how would they
answer his troubled thoughts? He shrugged his shoulders and smiled
grimly. The Doctor? He smiled again.

Dan little dreamed how much that keen old fisherman already knew, from a
skillful baiting of Martha, about the visit of the Elders that afternoon;
while his knowledge of Dan's character from childhood, enabled the
physician to guess more than a little of the thoughts that occupied the
young man pacing the floor of his room. But the Doctor would not do for
the young man that day.

Dan went to the window overlooking the garden. The nurse was still there,
helping crippled Denny with his work. The minister's hoe was leaning
against the big rock, as he had left it when he had caught up his coat.
Should he go down? What would she say if he were to tell her of the
Elders' mission?

Something caused Miss Farwell to look up just then and she saw him. She
beckoned to him playfully, guardedly, like a schoolgirl. Smiling, he
shook his head. He could not go.

More than ever, then, he felt very much alone.




CHAPTER XXII.

AS DR. HARRY SEES IT

"Thus Dr. Harry presented another side of the problem to his bewildered
friend--a phase of the question commonly ignored by every fiery reformer,
whose particular reformation is the one--the only way."


The friendship between Dan and Dr. Abbott had grown rapidly, as was
natural, for the two men had much in common. In a town as small as
Corinth, there are many opportunities for even the busiest men to meet,
and scarcely a day passed that the doctor and the preacher did not
exchange greetings, at least. As often as their duties permitted they
were together; sometimes at the office or in Dan's rooms; again, of an
evening, at Harry's home; or driving miles across country behind the bay
mare or big Jim--the physician to see a patient, and the minister to be
the "hitchin' post."

Harry was just turning from the telephone that evening when Dan entered
the house.

"Hello, parson!" he cried heartily. "I was just this minute trying to get
you. I couldn't think of anything to do to anybody else, so I thought I'd
have a try at you. That wasn't such a bad guess either," he added, when
he had a good look at his friend's face. "You evidently need to have
something fixed. What is it, liver?" He led the way into the library.

"Not mine," said Dan shortly. "I don't believe I have one."

He pushed an arm chair to face the doctor's favorite seat by the table.

Harry chuckled as he reached for his pipe and tobacco. "You don't need to
have one yourself in order to suffer from liver troubles. Speaking
professionally, my opinion is that you preachers, as a class, are more
likely to suffer from other people's livers than from your own, though
it is also true that the average parson has more of his own than he knows
what to do with."

"And what do you doctors prescribe when it is the other fellow's?" asked
Dan.

The other struck a match. "Oh, there's a difference of opinion in the
profession. The old Doctor, for instance, pins his faith to a split
bamboo with a book of flies or a can of bait."

"And you?" Dan was smiling now.

The answer came through a cloud of smoke. "Just a pipe and a book."

Dan's smile vanished. "I fear your treatment would not agree with my
constitution," he said grimly. "My system does not permit me to use the
remedy you prescribe."

"Oh, I see. You mean the pipe." A puff of smoke punctuated the remark.
The physician was watching his friend's face now, and the fun was gone
from his voice as he said gravely, "Pardon me. Brother Matthews; I meant
no slur upon your personal conviction touching--"

"Brother Matthews!" interrupted Dan, sharply, "I thought we had agreed to
drop all that. It's bad enough to be dodged and shunned by every man in
town without your rubbing it in. As for my personal convictions, they
have nothing to do with the case. In fact, my system does not permit me
to have personal convictions."

Dr. Harry's eyes twinkled. "This system of yours seems to be in a bad
way, Dan. What's wrong with it?"

"Wrong with it! Wrong with my system? Man alive, don't you know this is
heresy! How can there be anything wrong with my system? Doesn't it
relieve me of any responsibility in the matter of right and wrong?
Doesn't it take from me all such burdens as personal convictions. Doesn't
it fix my standard of goodness, and then doesn't it make goodness my
profession? You, poor drudge; you and the rest of the merely humans must
be good as a matter of sentiment! Thanks to my system my goodness is a
matter of business; I am paid for being good. My system says that your
pipe and, perhaps your book, are bad--sinful. I have nothing to do with
it. I only obey and draw my salary."

"Oh, well," said Harry, soothingly, "there is the old Doctor's remedy.
It's probably better on the whole."

"I tried that the other day," Dan growled.

"Worked, didn't it?"

Dan grinned in spite of himself. "At first the effects seemed to be very
beneficial, but later I found that it was, er--somewhat irritating, and
that it slightly aggravated the complaint."

The doctor was smiling now. "Suppose you try a little physical exercise
occasionally--working in the garden or--"

Dan threw up his hands with a tragic gesture. "Suicide!" he almost
shouted.

Then they both lay back in their chairs and fairly howled with laughter.

"Whew! That does a fellow good!" gasped Dan.

"I guess we have arrived," said Harry, with a final chuckle. "Thought we
were way off the track once or twice; but I have located your liver
trouble, all right. When did they call?"

"This afternoon. Did you know?"

The doctor nodded. "I have been expecting it for several days. I guess
you were about the only person in Corinth who wasn't."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"If I can avoid it, I never tell a patient of a coming operation until
it's time to operate; then it's all over before they can get nervous."

Dan shuddered--the laugh was all out of him now. "I have certainly been
on the table this afternoon," he said. "I need to talk it out with
someone. That's what I came to you for."

"Perhaps you had better tell me the particulars," said Harry, quietly.

So Dan told him, and when he had finished they had both grown very
serious.

"I was afraid of this, Dan," said Harry. "You'll need to be very
careful--very careful."

The other started to speak, but the doctor checked him.

"I know. I know how you feel. What you say about the system and all that
is all too true, and you haven't seen the worst of it yet, by a good
deal."

"Do you mean to tell me that Miss Farwell will be made to suffer for her
interest in that poor girl?" demanded Dan warmly.

"If Miss Farwell continues to live with Grace Conner at Mrs. Mulhall's,
there is not a respectable home in this town that will receive her,"
answered the doctor bluntly.

"My God! are the people blind? Can't the church see what a
beautiful--what a Christ-like thing she is doing?"

"You know Grace Conner's history," replied Harry, coolly. "What reason
is there to think it will be different in Miss Farwell's case, so far as
the attitude of the community goes?"

Dan could not keep his seat. In his agitation he walked the floor.
Suddenly turning on the other he demanded, "Then I am to understand that
my friendship with Miss Farwell will mean for me--"

Dr. Harry was silent. Indeed, how could he suggest, ever so indirectly,
that the friendship between Dan and Miss Farwell should be discontinued.
If the young woman had been anyone else, or if Dr. Harry himself had
not--But why attempt explanation?

The minister continued tramping up and down the room, stopping now and
then to face the doctor, who sat still in his chair by the library table,
quietly smoking.

"This is horrible, Harry! I--I can't believe it! So far as my friendship
for Miss Farwell goes, that is only an incident. It does not matter in
itself."

Dr. Harry puffed vigorously. He thought to himself that this might be
true, but something in Dan's face and voice when he spoke--something of
which he himself was unconscious--made Harry glad that he had not
answered.

"It is the spirit of it all that matters," the minister continued,
pausing again. "I never dreamed that such a thing could be. That Grace
Conner's life should be ruined by the wicked carelessness of these people
seems bad enough. But that they should take the same attitude toward Miss
Farwell, simply because she is seeking to do that Christian thing that
the church itself will not do, is--is monstrous!" He turned impatiently
to resume his restless movement. Then, when his friend did not speak he
continued slowly, as though the words were forced from him against his
will: "And to think that they could be so unmoved by the suffering of
that poor girl, their own victim, and so untouched by the example of Miss
Farwell; and then that they should give such grave consideration and be
so influenced by absolutely groundless and vicious idle gossip! And that
the church of Christ, that Christianity itself, should be so wholly in
the hands of people so unspeakably blind, so--contemptibly mean and small
in their conceptions of the religion of Jesus Christ!"

He confronted the doctor again and his face flushed. "Why, Doctor, my
whole career as a Christian minister depends upon the mere whim of these
people, who are moved by such a spirit as this. No matter what motives
may prompt my course they have the power to prevent me from doing my
work. This is one of the strongest and most influential churches in the
brotherhood. They can give me such a name that my life-work will be
ruined. What can I do?"

"You must be very careful, Dan," said Dr. Harry, slowly.

"Careful! And that means, I suppose, that I must bow to the people of
this church--ruled as they are by such a spirit--as to my lords and
masters; that I shall have no other God but this congregation; that I
shall deny my own conscience for theirs; that I shall go about the
trivial, nonsensical things they call my pastoral duties, in fear and
trembling; that my ministry is to cringe when they speak, and do their
will regardless of what I feel to be the will of Christ! Faugh!" Big
Dan drew himself erect. "If this is what the call to the ministry means,
I am beginning to understand some things that have always puzzled me
greatly."

He dropped wearily into his chair.

"Tell me, Doctor," he demanded, "do the people generally, see these
things?"

"It seems to me that everyone who thinks must see them," replied the
other.

"Then why did no one tell me? Why did not the old Doctor explain the
real condition of the church?"

"As a rule it is not a safe thing to attempt to tell a minister these
things. Would you have listened, Dan, if he had tried to tell you? Or,
because he is not a church man, would you not have misunderstood his
motives? The Doctor loves you, Dan."

"But you are a church man, a member of the official board of my
congregation. If men like you know these things why are you in the
church at all?"

Silently Dr. Harry re-filled and lighted his pipe. It was as if he
deliberated over his reply. The membership of every church may be divided
into three distinct classes: those who are the church; those who belong
to the church; and those who are members, but who neither are, nor belong
to. Dr. Harry was a member.

"Dan," said the physician, "I suppose it is very difficult for such men
as you to understand the religious dependence of people like myself. We
see the church's lack of appreciation of true worth of character, we
know the vulgar, petty scheming and wire-pulling for place, the senseless
craving for notoriety, and the prostitution of the spirit of Christ's
teaching to denominational ends. We understand how the ministers are at
the mercy of the lowest minds and the meanest spirits in their
congregation; but, Dan, because we love the cause we do not talk of these
things even to each other, for fear of being misunderstood. It is useless
to talk of them to our ministers, for they dare not listen. Why man, I
never in my life felt that I could talk to my pastor as I am talking to
you!" He smiled. "I guess that I was afraid that they would tell Judge
Strong, and that the church would put me out. And, with most of them,
that--probably, is exactly what would have happened. I am not sure but
you will consider me unsafe, and avoid me in the future," he added
whimsically.

Dan smiled at his words, though they revealed so much to him.

Dr. Harry went on, "We remain in the church, and give it our support, I
suppose, because we are dependent upon it for our religious life; because
we know no religious life outside of it. It is the only institution that
professes to be distinctively Christian, and we love its teaching in
spite of its practice. We are always hoping that some one will show us a
way out. And some one will!" He spoke passionately now, with deep
conviction: "Some one must! This Godless mockery cannot continue. I have
too much faith in the goodness of men to believe otherwise. I don't know
how the change will come. But it will come and it will come from men in
the church--men like you, Dan, who come to the ministry with the highest
ideals. But you must be careful, mighty careful, not for your own sake,
alone, but for the sake of the cause we both love. Some operations are
exceedingly dangerous to the life of the patient; some medicines must be
administered with care lest they kill instead of cure. Men like me, from
long experience with professional reformers, look with distrust upon the
preacher who talks about his church, even while we know that there is a
great need."

Thus Dr. Harry presented another side of the problem to his bewildered
friend--a phase of the question commonly ignored by every fiery reformer,
whose particular reformation is _the_ one--the only way.

Later Dan asked, "Do you think Miss Farwell understands what her course
means, Doctor?"

Harry shook his head. "I wish I knew how much she understands. Already
two or three people who expected to call her have told me they would
find someone else. I have several cases now that need a trained nurse,
but they won't have her because of what they have heard. And yet I
promised her, you know, that she should have plenty of work."

"Have you told her this?" asked Dan.

Again Harry shook his head. "What's the good?"

"But she ought to be told," exclaimed the other.

"I know that, Dan. But I can't do it, after urging her, as I did, to
stay in Corinth. You are the one to tell her, I am sure."

Then, as if to avoid any further discussion of the matter he rose. "You
certainly have had enough of this for today, old man. I think I'll
prescribe a little music, now, and, if you don't mind, I'll take some of
my own prescription. I feel the need."

He went to his piano, and for an hour Dan was under the spell.

When the last sweet harmony had slipped softly away into the night, the
musician sat still, his head bowed. Dan went quietly to his side, and
laid a hand on the doctor's shoulder.

"Amen!" he said, reverently. "It is a wonderful, beautiful ministry,
Doctor. You have given me faith and hope and peace. Thank you!"

When his friend had gone, Dr. Harry went back to the piano. Softly,
smoothly his fingers moved over the ivory keys. He had played for
Dan--he played now for himself. Into the music he put all that he dared
not put into words: all the longing, all the pain, all the surrender,
all the sacrifice, were there. For again, when the minister had spoken
of Miss Farwell the doctor had seen in his friend's face and heard in
his voice that which Dan himself did not yet recognize. And Harry had
spoken the conviction of his heart when he said, "You are the one to
tell her, I am sure."

Of this man, too, it might be written, "He saved others; himself he could
not save."




CHAPTER XXIII.

A PARABLE

"'And do you think, Grace, that anything in all this beautiful world is
of greater importance--of more value to the world--than a human life,
with all its marvelous power to think and feel and love and hate and so
leave its mark on all life, for all time?'"


"Miss Farwell!"

The nurse looked up from her sewing in her hands.

"What is it, Grace?"

"I--I think I will try to find a place today. Mrs. Mulhall told me last
night that she had heard of two women who want help. It may be that one
of them will take me. I think I ought to try."

This was the third time within a few days that the girl had expressed
thoughts similar to these. Under the personal care of Miss Farwell she
had rapidly recovered from her terrible experience, both physically and
mentally, but the nurse felt that she was not yet strong enough to meet
a possible rebuff from the community that, before, had shown itself so
reluctant to treat her with any degree whatever of consideration or
kindness. The girl's spirit had been cruelly hurt. She was possessed of
an unhealthy, morbid fear of the world that would cripple her for life
if it could not somehow be overcome.

Miss Farwell felt that Grace Conner's only chance lay in winning a place
for herself in the community where she had suffered such ill-treatment.
But before she faced the people again she must be prepared. The
sensitive, wounded spirit must be strengthened, for it could not bear
many more blows. How to do this was the problem.

Hope dropped her sewing in her lap. "Come over here by the window, dear,
and let's talk about it."

The young woman seated herself on a stool at the feet of her companion
who, in actual years, was but little her senior, but who, in so many
ways, was to her an elder sister.

"Why are you so anxious to leave me, Grace?" asked the nurse with a
smile.

The girl's eyes--eyes that would never now be wholly free from that
shadow of fear and pain--filled with tears. She put out a hand
impulsively, touching Miss Farwell's knee. "Oh, don't say that!" she
exclaimed, with a little catch in her voice. "You know it isn't that."

The eyes of the stronger woman looked reassuringly down at her. "Well,
what is it then?" The low tone was insistent. The nurse felt that it
would be better for the patient to express that which was in her own
mind.

The girl's face was down-cast and she picked nervously at the fold of
her friend's skirt. "It's nothing, Miss Farwell; only I feel that I--I
ought not to be a burden upon you a moment longer than I can help."

"I thought that was it," returned the other. Her firm, white hand slipped
under the trembling chin, and the girl's face was gently lifted until
Grace was forced to look straight into those deep gray eyes. "Tell me,
dear, why do you feel that you are a burden upon me?"

Silence for a moment; then--and there was a wondering gladness in the
girl's voice--"I--I don't know."

The nurse smiled, but there was a grave note in her voice as she said,
still holding the girl's face toward her own, "I'll tell you why. It is
because you have been hurt so deeply. This feeling is one of the scars
of your experience, dear. All your life you will need to fight that
feeling--the feeling that you are not wanted. And you must fight
it--fight it with all your might. You will never overcome it entirely,
for the scar of your hurt is there to stay. You will always suffer at
times from the old fear; but, if you will, you can conquer it so far
that it will not spoil your life. You must--for your own sake, and for
my sake, and for the sake of the wounded lives you are going to help
heal--help all the better because of your own hurt. Do you understand,
dear?"

The other nodded; she could not speak.

"You are going out into the world to find a place for yourself, of
course, for that is right," Hope continued. "And it will be best for you
to find a place here in Corinth, if possible. But it is not going to be
easy, Grace. It's going to be hard, very hard, and you will need to know
that, no matter what other people make you feel, you have a place in my
life, a place where you belong. Let me try, if I can, to tell you so that
you will never, never forget."

For a little the nurse looked away out of the window, up into the leafy
depths of the big trees, and into the blue sky beyond, while the girl
watched her with a look that was pathetic in its wondering, hungering
earnestness. When Miss Farwell spoke again she chose her words carefully.

"Once upon a time a woman, walking in the mountains, discovered by chance
a wonderful mine, of such vast wealth that there was nothing in all the
world like it for richness. And the mine belonged to the woman because
she found it. But the wealth of the mine went out into the world for all
men to use, and thus, in the largest sense, the riches the woman found
belonged to all mankind. But still, because she had found it, the woman
always felt that it was hers. And so, through her discovery of this vast
wealth, and the great happiness it brought to the world, the mine became
to the woman the dearest of all her possessions.

"Tell me, Grace, do you think that anyone could ever replace the
mountains, the ocean or the stars, or any of these wonderful, wonderful
things in the great universe, if they were to be destroyed?"

"No." The answer came in a puzzled tone.

"And do you think, Grace, that anything in all this beautiful world is of
greater importance--of more value to the world--than a human life, with
all its marvelous power to think and feel and love and hate and so leave
its mark on all life, for all time?"

"No, Miss Farwell."

"Then don't you see how impossible it is that anyone should ever take
your place? Don't you see that you have a place in the world--a place
that is yours because God put you in it, just as truly as he put the
mountains, the seas, the stars in their places? And don't you see why
you must feel that you have a right to your own life-place, and that you
must hold it, no matter what others say, or do, or think, because of its
great value to God and to the world? And Grace--look at me, child! do you
think that anything in all the universe is dearer to the Father than a
human life, that is so wonderful and so eternal in its power? So life
should be the dearest thing in all the world to us. Not just the life of
each to himself, but every life--any life, the dearest thing to all. I
think this was true of Christ; I think it should be true of Christians.
I believe this with all my heart."

There was silence for a little while; then Hope said again: "Now tell me,
Grace, ought the mine to have felt dependent upon the woman who found it,
and who valued it so highly, do you think? Then why should you feel
dependent upon me? Why, you belong to me, child! Your life, the most
wonderful--the dearest thing in all the world, belongs to me; just as the
mine belonged to the woman and brought her great joy because it blessed
the world. When others threw your life aside, when you yourself tried to
throw it away, I found it. I took it. It is mine! And it is the dearest
thing in all the world to me, because it is so great a thing, because no
other life can take its place, and because it is of such great worth to
the world. Don't you see?" The calm voice was vibrant now with deep
emotion.

Looking into those gray eyes that shone with such loving kindness into
her own, Grace Conner realized a mighty truth; a truth that would mould
and shape her own life into a life of beauty and power.

"So, dear," the nurse continued, "when you go out into the world again,
and people make you feel the old hurt--as they will--you must remember
the woman who found the mine; and, feeling that you belong to me and to
all life, you will not let people rob you of your place in the world. You
will not let them rob me of my great wealth. And now you must try the
very best you can to get work here in Corinth, but if you should fail to
find it, you won't let that matter too much. You'll keep your place right
here with me just the same, won't you, Grace, because you are my mine,
you know?"

Long and earnestly the girl looked into the face of the nurse, and Miss
Farwell understood what the other could not say. Suddenly the girl caught
her friend's hand and kissed it passionately, then rushed from the room.
Miss Farwell wisely let her go without a word, but her own eyes were
full.

She turned to the open window to see her neighbor, the minister, coming
in at the gate.




CHAPTER XXIV.

THE WAY OUT

"'You see you will need to find a way out for yourself.'"


Deborah was in the rear of the house, busily engaged with a big washing.
Denny had gone up town on some errand. Much to Miss Farwell's surprise
Dan did not, as usual, take the path leading to the garden, but kept
straight ahead to the porch, and his face was very grave as he asked if
he might come in. She welcomed him with frank pleasure, and took up at
once the thread of conversation which the visit of the Elders had
interrupted the day before. But it was clear that her big friend's mind
was busy with other thoughts, and soon they were facing an embarrassing
silence. The young woman gazed thoughtfully at the monument across the
street, while Dan moved uneasily. At last the man broke the silence.

"Miss Farwell I don't know what you will think of me for coming to you
upon the errand that brought me, but I feel that I--I mean, I want you
to believe that I am trying to do what is best."

She looked at him questioningly.

Dan went on. "I learned something yesterday, that I am sure you ought to
know, and there seems to be no one else to tell you, so I--I came."

Miss Farwell's cheeks and brow grew crimson, but in a moment she was her
own calm self again.

"Go on, please."

Then he told her.

While he was speaking of the Elders' visit and his talk with Dr. Abbott,
she watched him closely. Two or three times she smiled. When he had
finished she asked with a touch of sarcasm in her voice, "And do you wish
to see my letters of recommendation? Shall I give you a list of people to
whom you might write?"

"Miss Farwell!" Dan's voice brought the hot color again to her cheek.

"Forgive me! That was unkind," she said.

"Well rather. You might see that I did not come to you with this
for--well for fun," he finished with a grim smile.

"You don't seem to be enjoying it greatly," she agreed critically. "I can
easily understand how this talk might result in something very serious
for you. You will remember, I think, that I warned you, you could not
leave the preacher on the other side of the fence." She was deliberately
trying him. "But of course you can easily avoid any trouble with your
people, you have only to--"

She stopped, checked by the expression on his face.

His voice rang out sharply with a quality in its tone that sent a thrill
to the heart of the woman. "I did not come here to discuss the
possibility of trouble for me. Please believe this--even if I am a
servant of the church."

He spoke the last words with a shade of bitterness, she thought, and as
she looked at him--his powerful form tense for a moment, with firm-set
lips and square jaw and stern eyes--she found herself wondering what
would happen if this servant should ever decide to be the master.

"Don't you see how this idle, silly, wicked talk is likely to harm you?"
he asked almost roughly. "You know what the same thing did for Grace
Conner. It is really serious, Miss Farwell--believe me it is, or I should
not have told you about it at all. Already Dr. Harry--" He checked
himself. His reference to his friend was unintentional.

She finished the sentence quietly, "--has found some people who will not
employ me because of the things that are being said. I knew something
was wrong, for--instead of telling me of possible cases and assuring me
of work, he has been saying lately, 'I will let you know if anything
turns up.'"

Dan broke in eagerly, "Dr. Abbott has done everything he could, Miss
Farwell. I ought not to have mentioned him at all. You must not think--"

She interrupted him with quiet dignity. "Certainly I do not think of any
such thing. You and Dr. Abbott are both very kind to consider me in this
way, but really you must not be troubled about this silly gossip. I am
not exactly dependent upon the good people of Corinth, you know. I can go
back to the city at any time. Perhaps," she added slowly, "considering
everything that would be the wisest thing to do, after all. It was only
for Grace Conner's sake I have remained."

Dan spoke eagerly again, "But you do not need to leave Corinth. This talk
you know, is all because of your companion's reputation."

"You mean," she said quietly, "the reputation that people have given my
companion."

"So far as the situation goes it amounts to the same thing," he answered.
"It is your association with her. If you could arrange to board with some
family now--"

Again she interrupted him. "Grace needs me, Mr. Matthews."

"But it is all so unjust," he argued lamely. "The sacrifice is too great.
You can't afford to place yourself before the community in such a wrong
light."

The young woman's face revealed her surprise and disappointment. She had
grown to think of Dan as being big and fine in spirit as in body, and
now, to hear him voice, what she believed to be the spirit and policy of
his profession, was a shock that hurt. She would have flashed out at him
with scornful, cutting words, but she felt, intuitively, that he was not
being true to himself in this--that he was forced, as it were, into a
false position by something deep down in his life. This feeling robbed
her of the power to reply in stinging words, and instead gave her answer
a note of sadness.

"Are you not advocating the doctrines and policy of the people who are
responsible for the 'wrong light' rather than the teachings of Christ?
Are you not now speaking professionally, having forgotten our agreement
to leave the preacher on the other side of the fence?"

The big fellow's embarrassment was evident as he said, "Miss Farwell,
you must not--you must not misunderstand me again. I did not mean--I
cannot stand the thought of your being so misjudged because of this
beautiful Christian service. I was only seeking a way out."

"No," she said gently, "I will not misunderstand you, but there is only
one way out, as you put it."

"And that?"

"My ministry."

Dan sprang to his feet and crossed the room to her side.

"What a woman you are!" he exclaimed impulsively.

She arose, trembling; always when he came near--something about this man
moved her strangely.

"But my way out will not help you," she said. "You must think of your
ministry."

"I thought we agreed not to talk of that," he returned.

"But we must. You must consider what the result will be if you are seen
with me--with Grace and me." She caught herself quickly. "Can the pastor
of Memorial Church afford to associate with two women of such doubtful
reputation? What will your church think?" She was smiling as she spoke,
but beneath the smile there was much of earnestness. She was determined
that he should know how well she understood his position. She wondered
if he himself understood it. "You see you will need to find a way out for
yourself," she insisted.

"I am not looking for a way out," he growled.

"Ah, but you should. You must consider your influence. Consider the great
harm your interest in Grace Conner will do your church. You must remember
your position in the community. You cannot afford to--to risk your
reputation."

Under her skillfully chosen words, he again assumed an air of indignant
reserve. She saw his hands clench, and the great muscles in his arms and
shoulders swell.

Unconsciously--or was it unconsciously?--she had repeated almost the
exact words of Elder Jordan. The stock argument sounded strange coming
from her. Deliberately she went on. "Really there is no reason why you
should suffer from this. It is not necessary for you to continue our
little friendship. You can stay on the other side of the fence. I--we
will understand. You have too much at stake. You--"

He interrupted. "Miss Farwell, I don't know what you think of me that
you can say these things. I had hoped that you were beginning to look
upon me as a man, not merely as a preacher. I had even dared think that
our friendship was growing to be something more than just a little
friendly acquaintance. If I am mistaken, I will stay on the other side
of the fence. If I am right--if you do care for my friendship," he
finished slowly, "I will try to serve my people faithfully, but I will
not willingly shape my life by their foolish, wicked whims. Denny's
garden may get along without me, and you may not need what you call 'our
little friendship' but I need Denny's garden, and--I need you."

Her face shone with gladness. "Forgive me," she said. "I only wished to
be sure that you understood some things clearly."

At her rather vague words, he said, "I am beginning to understand a good
many things."

"And understanding, you will still come to--" she smiled, "to work in
Denny's garden?"

"Yes," he answered with a boyish laugh, "just as if there were no other
place in all the world where I could get a job."

She watched him as he swung down the walk, through the gate and away up
the street under the big trees.

And as she watched him, she recalled his words, "I need you;--just as
though there were no other place in all the world." The words repeated
themselves in her mind.

How much did they mean, she wondered.




CHAPTER XXV.

A LABORER AND HIS HIRE

"But it was a reaching out in the dark, a blind groping for
something--Dan knew not exactly what: a restless but cautious feeling
about for a place whereon to set his feet."


It was the Sunday evening following the incidents just related that Dan
was challenged.

His sermon was on "Fellowship of Service," a theme very different from
the subjects he had chosen at the beginning of his preaching in Corinth.
The Doctor smiled as he listened, telling himself that the boy was
already beginning to "reach out." As usual the Doctor was right. But it
was a reaching out in the dark, a blind groping for something--Dan knew
not exactly what: a restless but cautious feeling about for a place
whereon to set his feet.

With the sublime confidence of the newly-graduated, this young shepherd
had come from the denominational granary to feed his flock with a goodly
armful of theological husks; and very good husks they were too. It should
be remembered that--while Dan had been so raised under the teachings of
his home that, to an unusual degree his ideals and ambitions were most
truly Christian--he knew nothing of life other than the simple life of
the country neighborhood where he was born; he knew as little of
churches. So that--while it was natural and easy for him to accept the
husks from his church teachers at their valuation, being wholly without
the fixed prejudice that comes from family church traditions--it was just
as natural and easy for him to discover quickly, when once he was face to
face with his hungry flock, that the husks were husks.

From the charm of the historical glories of the church as pictured by the
church historians, and from the equally captivating theories of
speculative religion as presented by teachers of schools of theology,
Dan had been brought suddenly in contact with actual conditions. In his
experience of the past weeks there was no charm, no glory, no historical
greatness, no theoretical perfection. There was meanness, shameful
littleness--actual, repulsive, shocking. He was compelled to recognize
the real need that his husks could not satisfy. It had been forced upon
his attention by living arguments that refused to be put aside. And Big
Dan was big enough to see that the husks did not suffice--consistent
enough to cease giving them out. But the young minister felt pitifully
empty handed.

The Doctor had foreseen that Dan would very soon reach the point in his
ministerial journey where he was now standing--the point where he must
decide which of the two courses open to him he should choose.

Before him, on the one hand, lay the easy, well-worn path of obedience
to the traditions, policies and doctrines of Memorial Church and its
denominational leaders. On the other hand lay the harder and
less-frequented way of truthfulness to himself and his own convictions.
Would he--lowering his individual standard of righteousness--wave the
banner of his employers, preaching--not the things that he believed to
be the teachings of Jesus--but the things that he knew would meet the
approval of the church rulers? Or would he preach the things that his
own prayerful judgment told him were needed if his church was to be,
indeed, the temple of the spirit of Christ. In short Dan must now decide
whether he would bow to the official board, that paid his salary, or to
his God, as the supreme authority to whom he must look for an indorsement
of his public teaching.

In Dan's case, it was the teaching of the four years of school against
the teaching of his home. The home won. Being what he was by birth and
training, this man could not do other than choose the harder way. The
Doctor with a great amount of satisfaction saw him throwing down his
husks, and awaited the outcome with interest.

That sermon was received by the Elders and ruling classes with silent,
uneasy bewilderment. Others were puzzled no less by the new and
unfamiliar note, but their faces expressed a kind of doubtful
satisfaction. Thus it happened that, with one exception, not a person of
the entire audience mentioned the sermon when they greeted their minister
at the close of the service. The exception was a big, broad-shouldered
young farmer whom Dan had never before met.

Elder Strong introduced him, "Brother Matthews, you must meet Brother
John Gardner. This is the first time he has been to church for a long
while."

The two young men shook hands, each measuring the other with admiring
eyes.

The Judge continued, "Brother John used to be one of our most active
workers, but for some reason he has dropped behind. I never could just
exactly understand it." He finished with his pious, patronizing laugh,
which somehow conveyed the thought that he did understand if only he
chose to tell, and that the reason was anything but complimentary to
Brother John.

The big farmer's face grew red at the Judge's words. He quickly faced
about as if to retort, but checked himself, and, ignoring the Elder said
directly to Dan, "Yes, and I may as well tell you that I wouldn't be
here today, but I am caught late with my harvesting, and short of hands.
I drove into town to see if I could pick up a man or two. I didn't find
any so I waited over until church, thinking that I might run across
someone here."

Dan smiled. The husky fellow was so uncompromisingly honest and
outspoken. It was like a breath of air from the minister's own home
hills. It was so refreshing Dan wished for more, "And have you found
anyone?" he asked abruptly.

At the matter-of-fact tone the other looked at the minister with a
curious expression in his blue eyes. The question was evidently not what
he had expected.

"No," he said, "I have not, but I'm glad I came anyway. Your sermon was
mighty interesting to me, sir. I couldn't help thinking though, that
these sentiments about work would come a heap more forceful from someone
who actually knowed what a day's work was. My experience has been that
the average preacher knows about as much about the lives of the laboring
people as I do about theology."

"I think you are mistaken there," declared Dan. "The fact is, that the
average preacher comes from the working classes."

"If he comes from them he takes mighty good care that he stays from
them," retorted the other. "But I've got something else to do besides
starting an argument now. I don't mind telling you, though, that if I
could see you pitch wheat once in a while when crops are going to waste
for want of help, I'd feel that we was close enough together for you to
preach to me." So saying he turned abruptly and pushed his way through
the crowd toward a group of working-men who stood near the door.

The Doctor had never commented to Dan on his sermons. But, that night as
they walked home together, something made Dan feel that his friend was
pleased. The encounter with the blunt young farmer had been so refreshing
that he was not so depressed in spirit as he commonly was after the
perfunctory, meaningless, formal compliments, and handshaking that
usually closed his services. Perhaps because of this he--for the first
time--sought an expression from his old friend.

"The people did not seem to like my sermon tonight?" he ventured.

The Doctor grunted a single word, "Stunned!"

"Do you think they will like it when they recover?" asked Dan with an
embarrassed laugh.

But the old man was not to be led into discussing Dan's work.

"In my own practice," he said dryly, "I never prescribe medicine to suit
a patient's taste, but to cure him."

Dan understood. He tried again.

"But how did _you_ like my prescription, Doctor?"

For a while the Doctor did not answer; then he said, "Well you see, Dan,
I always find more religion in your talks when you are not talking
religiously."

Just then a team and buggy passed, and the voice of John Gardner hailed
them cheerily.

"Good night, Doctor! Good night, Mr. Matthews!"

"Good night!" they answered, and the Doctor called after him, "Did you
find your man, John?"

"No," shouted the other, "I did not. If you run across anyone send 'em
out will you?"

"There goes a mighty fine fellow," commented the old physician.

"Seems to be," agreed Dan thoughtfully. "Where does he live?"

The Doctor told him, adding, "I wouldn't call until harvest is over, if
I were you. He really wouldn't have time to give you and he'd probably
tell you so." Which advice Dan received in silence.

The sun was just up the next morning when John Gardner was hitching his
team to the big hay wagon. Already the smoke was coming from the stack
of the threshing engine, that stood with the machine in the center of the
field, and the crew was coming from the cook-wagon. Two hired men, with
another team and wagon, were already gathering a load of sheaves to haul
to the threshers.

The house dog barked fiercely and the farmer paused with a trace in his
hand when he saw a big man turning into the barn lot from the road.

"Good morning!" called Dan cheerily, "I feared I was going to be late."
He swung up to the young fellow who stood looking at him--too astonished
to speak--the unhooked trace still in his hand.

"I understand that you need a hand," said Dan briefly. And the farmer
noticed that the minister was dressed in a rough suit of clothes, a worn
flannel shirt and an old slouch hat--Dan's fishing rig.

With a slow smile John turned, hooked his trace, and gathered his lines.
"Do you mean to say that you walked out here from town this morning to
work in the harvest field--a good eight miles?"

"That is exactly what I mean," returned the other.

"What for?" asked the farmer bluntly.

"For the regular wages, with one condition."

"And the condition?"

"That no one on the place shall be told that I am a preacher, and
that--for today at least--I pitch against you. If, by tonight, you are
not satisfied with my work you can discharge me," he added meaningly. As
Dan spoke he faced the rugged farmer with a look that made him understand
that his challenge of the night before was accepted.

The blue eyes gleamed. "I'll take you," he said curtly. Calling to his
wife, "Mary give this man his breakfast." Then to Dan, "When you get
through come out to the machine." He sprang on his wagon and Dan turned
toward the kitchen.

"Hold on a minute," John shouted, as the wagon began to move, "what'll I
call you?"

The other answered over his shoulder, "My name is Dan."

All that day they worked, each grimly determined to handle more grain
than the other. Before noon the spirit of the contest had infected the
whole force. Every hand on the place worked as if on a wager. The
threshing crew were all from distant parts of the country, and no one
knew who it was that had so recklessly matched his strength and staying
power against John Gardner, the acknowledged champion for miles around.
Bets were freely laid; rough, but good natured chaff flew from mouth to
mouth; and now and then a hearty yell echoed over the field, but the two
men in the contest were silent; they scarcely exchanged a word.

In the afternoon the stranger slowly but surely forged ahead. John
rallied every ounce of his strength but his giant opponent gained
steadily. When the last load came in the farmer threw down his fork
before the whole crowd and held out his hand to Dan.

"I'll give it up," he said heartily. "You're a better man than I am,
stranger, wherever you come from." Dan took the offered hand while the
men cheered lustily.

But the light of battle still shone in the minister's eyes.

"Perhaps," he said, "pitching is not your game. I'll match you now,
tonight, for anything you want--wrestling, running, jumping, or I'll go
you at any time for any work you can name."

John slowly looked him over and shook his head, "I know when I've got
enough," he said laughing. "Perhaps some of the boys here--" He turned
to the group.

The men grinned as they measured the stranger with admiring glances and
one drawled, "We don't know where you come from, pardner, but we sure
know what you can do. Ain't nobody in this outfit hankerin' to tackle
the man that can work John Gardner down."

At the barn the farmer drew the minister to one side.

"Look here, Brother Matthews," he began.

But the other interrupted sharply. "My name is Dan, Mr. Gardner. Don't
go back on the bargain."

"Well then, Dan, I won't. And please remember after this that my name is
John. I started to ask if you really meant to stay out here and work for
me this harvest?"

"That was the bargain, unless you are dissatisfied and want me to quit
tonight."

The other rubbed his tired arms. "Oh I'm satisfied all right," he said
grimly. "But I can't understand it, that's all."

"No," said the other, "and I can't explain. But perhaps if you were a
preacher, and were met by men as men commonly meet preachers, you would
understand clearly enough."

Tired as he was, the big farmer laughed until the tears came.

"And to think," he said, "all the way home last night I was wondering
how you could stand it. I understand it all right. Come on in to supper."
He led the way to the house.

For three days Dan fairly reveled in the companionship of those rough
men, who gave him full fellowship in their order of workers. Then he went
back to town.

John drove him in and the two chatted like the good comrades they had
come to be, until within sight of the village. As they drew near the town
silence fell upon them; their remarks grew formal and forced.

Dan felt as if he were leaving home to return to a strange land where he
would always be an alien. At his door the farmer said awkwardly, "Well,
goodbye, Brother Matthews, come out whenever you can."

The minister winced but did not protest. "Thank you," he returned, "I
have enjoyed my visit more than I can say." And there was something so
pathetic in the brown eyes of the stalwart fellow that the other strong
man could make no reply. He drove quickly away without a word or a
backward look.

In his room Dan sat down by the window, thinking of the morrow and what
the church called his work, of the pastoral visits, the committee
meetings, the Ladies' Aid. At last he stood up and stretched his great
body to its full height with a sigh. Then drawing his wages from his
pocket he placed the money on the study table and stood for a long time
contemplating the pieces of silver as if they could answer his thoughts.
Again he went to the window and looked down at Denny's garden that
throughout the summer had yielded its strength to the touch of the
crippled boy's hand. Then from the other window he gazed at the cast-iron
monument on the corner--gazed until the grim figure seemed to threaten
him with its uplifted arm.

Slowly he turned once more to the coins on the table. Gathering them,
one by one, he placed them carefully in an envelope. Then, seating
himself, he wrote on the little package, "The laborer is worthy of his
hire."




CHAPTER XXVI.

THE WINTER PASSES

"And, as the weeks passed, it came to be noticed that there was often in
the man's eyes, and in his voice, a great sadness--the sadness of one who
toils at a hopeless task; of one who suffers for crimes of which he is
innocent; of one who fights for a well-loved cause with the certainty of
defeat."


The harvest time passed, the winter came and was gone again, and another
springtime was at hand, with its new life stirring in blade and twig and
branch, and its mystical call to the hearts of men.

Memorial Church was looking forward to the great convention of the
denomination that was to be held in a distant city.

All through the months following Dan's sermon on "The Fellowship of
Service," the new note continued dominant in his preaching, and indeed
in all his work. Even his manner in the pulpit changed. All those little
formalities and mannerisms--tricks of the trade--disappeared, while the
distinguishing garb of the clergyman was discarded for clothing such as
is worn by the man in the pew.

It was impossible that the story of those three days in John Gardner's
harvest field should not get out. Memorial Church was crowded at every
service by those whose hearts responded, even while they failed to grasp
the full significance of the preaching and life of this manly fellow,
who, in spite of his profession, was so much a man among men.

But the attitude of the church fathers and of the ruling class was still
one of doubt and suspicion, however much they could not ignore the
manifest success of their minister. In spite of their misgivings their
hearts swelled with pride and satisfaction as, with his growing
popularity they saw their church forging far to the front. And, try as
they might, they could fix upon nothing unchristian in his teaching.
They could not point to a single sentence in any one of his sermons that
did not unmistakably harmonize with the teaching and spirit of Jesus.

It was not so much what Dan preached that worried these pillars of the
church; but it was what he did not preach, that made them uneasy. They
missed the familiar pious sayings and platitudes, the time-worn
sermon-subjects that had been handled by every preacher they had ever
sat under. The old path--beaten so hard and plain by the many "bearers
of good tidings," the safe, sure ground of denominational doctrine and
theological speculation, the familiar, long-tried type of prayer, even,
were all quietly, but persistently ignored by this calm-eyed,
broad-shouldered, stalwart minister, who was often so much in earnest in
his preaching that he forgot to talk like a preacher.

Unquestionably, decided the fathers, this young giant was "unsafe";
and--wagging their heads wisely--they predicted dire disasters, under
their breath; while openly and abroad they boasted of the size of their
audiences and their minister's power.

Nor did these keepers of the faith fail to make Dan feel their
dissatisfaction. By hints innumerable, by carefully withholding words of
encouragement, by studied coldness, they made him understand that they
were not pleased. Every plan for practical Christian work that Dan
suggested (and he suggested many that winter) they coolly refused to
endorse, while requesting that he give more attention to the
long-established activities.

Without protest or bitterness Dan quietly gave up his plans, and, except
in the matter of his sermons, yielded to their demands. Never was there
a word of harshness or criticism of church or people in his talks; only
firm, but gentle insistence upon the great living principles of Christ's
teaching. And the people, in his presence, knew often that feeling the
Doctor was conscious of--that this man was, in some way, that which they
might have been. Some of his hearers this feeling saddened with regret;
others it inspired with hope and filled them with a determination to
realize that best part of themselves; to still others it was a rebuke,
the more stinging because so unconsciously given, and they were filled
with anger and envy.

Meanwhile the attitude of the people toward Hope Farwell and the girl
whom she had befriended, remained unaltered. But now Deborah and Denny
as well came to share in their displeasure. Dan made no change in his
relation to the nurse and her friends in the little cottage on the other
side of the garden. In spite of constant hints, insinuations and
reflections on the part of his church masters, he calmly, deliberately
threw down the gauntlet before the whole scandal-loving community. And
the community respected and admired him--for this is the way with the
herd--even while it abated not one whit its determination to ruin him
the instant chance afforded the opportunity.

So the spirit that lives in Corinth--the Ally, waited. The power that
had put the shadow of pain over the life of Grace Conner, waited for
Hope and Dan, until the minister himself should furnish the motive that
should call it into action. Dan felt it--felt his enemy stirring quietly
in the dark, watching, waiting. And, as the weeks passed, it came to be
noticed that there was often in the man's eyes, and in his voice, a great
sadness--the sadness of one who toils at a hopeless task; of one who
suffers for crimes of which he is innocent; of one who fights for a
well-loved cause with the certainty of defeat.

Because of the very fine sense of Dan's nature the situation caused him
the keenest suffering. It was all so different from the life to which he
had looked forward with such feelings of joy; it was all so unjust. Many
were the evenings that winter when the minister flew to Dr. Harry and his
ministry of music. And in those hours the friendship between the two men
grew into something fine and lasting, a friendship that was to endure
always. Many times, too, Dan fled across the country to the farm of John
Gardner, there to spend the day in the hardest toil, finding in the
ministry of labor, something that met his need. But more than these was
the friendship of Hope Farwell and the influence of her life and
ministry.

It was inevitable that the very attitude of the community should force
these two friends into closer companionship and sympathy. The people,
in judging them so harshly for the course each had chosen--because to
them it was right and the only course possible to their religious
ideals--drove them to a fuller dependence upon each other.

Dan, because of his own character and his conception of Christ,
understood, as perhaps no one else in the community could possibly have
done, just why the nurse clung to Grace Conner and the work she had
undertaken; while he felt that she grasped, as no one else, the
peculiarly trying position in which he so unexpectedly found himself
placed in his ministry. And Hope Farwell, feeling that Dan alone
understood her, realized as clearly that the minister had come to depend
upon her as the one friend in Corinth who appreciated his true situation.
Thus, while she gave him strength for his fight, she drew strength for
her own from him.

Since that day when he had told her of the talk of the people that matter
had not been mentioned between them, though it was impossible that they
should not know the attitude of the community toward them both. That
subtle, un-get-at-able power--the Ally, that is so irresistible, so
certain in its work, depending for results upon words with double
meanings, suggestive nods, tricks of expression, sly winks and meaning
smiles--while giving its victims no opportunity for defense, never leaves
them in doubt as to the object of its attack.

The situation was never put into words by these two, but they knew, and
each knew the other knew. And their respect, confidence and regard for
each other grew steadily, as it must with all good comrades under fire.
In those weeks each learned to know and depend upon the other, though
neither realized to what extent. So it came to be that it was not Grace
Conner alone, that kept Miss Farwell in Corinth, but the feeling that Dan
Matthews, also, depended upon her--the feeling that she could not desert
her comrade in the fight, or--as they had both come to feel--their fight.

Hope Farwell was not a schoolgirl. She was a strong full-blooded,
perfectly developed, workwoman, matured in body and mind. She realized
what the continued friendship of this man might mean to her--realized
it fully and was glad. Dimly, too, she saw how this that was growing
in her heart might bring great pain and suffering--life-long suffering,
perhaps. For--save this--their present, common fight, the life of the
nurse and the life of the churchman held nothing in common. His deepest
convictions had led him into a ministry that was, to her, the sheerest
folly.

Hope Farwell's profession had trained her to almost perfect self-control.
There was no danger that she would let herself go. Her strong, passionate
heart would never be given its freedom by her, to the wrecking of the
life upon which it fixed its affections. She would suffer the more deeply
for that very reason. There is no pain so poignant as that which is borne
in secret. But still--still she was glad! Such a strange thing is a
woman's heart!

And Dan! Dan was not given to self-analysis; few really strong men are.
He felt: he did not reason. Neither did he look ahead to see whither he
was bound. Such a strange thing is the heart of a man!




CHAPTER XXVII.

DEBORAH'S TROUBLE

"'Oh, I don't know what he'd do, but I know he'd do something. He's that
kind of a man.'"


When the first days of the spring bass-fishing came, the Doctor coaxed
Dan away for a three days trip to the river, beyond Gordon's Mills, where
the roaring trout-brook enters the larger stream.

It was well on toward noon the morning that Dan and the Doctor left, that
Miss Farwell found Deborah in tears, with Denny trying vainly to comfort
her.

"Come, come, mother, don't be takin' on so. It'll be all right somehow,"
Denny was saying as the nurse paused on the threshold of the little
kitchen, and the crippled lad's voice was broken, though he strove so
bravely to make it strong.

The widow in her low chair, her face buried in her apron, swayed back and
forth in an agony of grief, her strong form shaking with sobs. Denny
looked at the young woman appealingly as--with his one good hand on his
mother's shoulder--he said again, "Come, mother, look up; it's Miss Hope
that's come to see you. Don't, don't mother dear. We'll make it all
right--sure we will though; we've got to!"

Miss Farwell went to Denny's side and together they managed, after a
little, to calm the good woman.

"It's a shame it is for me to be a-goin' on so, Miss Hope, but I--but
I--" She nearly broke down again.

"Won't you tell me the trouble, Mrs. Mulhall?" urged the nurse. "Perhaps
I can help you."

"Indade, dear heart, don't I know you've trouble enough of your own,
without your loadin' up with Denny's an' mine beside? Ain't I seen how
you been put to it the past months to make both ends meet for you an'
Gracie, poor child; an' you all the time fightin' to look cheerful an'
bright, so as to keep her heartened up? Many's the time, Miss Hope, I've
seen the look on your own sweet face, when you thought nobody'd be
noticin', an' every night Denny an' me's prayed the blessed Virgin to
soften the hearts of the people in this danged town. Oh, I know! I know!
But it does look like God had clean forgotten us altogether. I can't
help believin' it would be different somehow if only we could go to mass
somewhere like decent Christians ought."

"But you and Denny have helped me more than I can ever tell you, dear
friend, and now you must let me help you, don't you see?"

"It's glad enough I'd be to let you help, an' quick enough, too, if it
was anything that you could fix. But nothin' but money'll do it, an' I
can see by them old shoes you're a-wearin', an' you goin' with that old
last year's coat all winter, that you--that you ain't earned but just
enough to keep you an' Gracie alive."

"That's all true enough, Mrs. Mulhall," returned the nurse, cheerfully,
"but I am sure it will help you just to tell me about the trouble." Then,
with a little more urging, the nurse drew from them the whole pitiful
story.

At the time of Jack Mulhall's death, Judge Strong; had held a mortgage
on the little home for a small amount. By careful planning the widow and
her son had managed to pay the interest promptly, and the Judge, though
he coveted the place, had not dared to push the payment of the mortgage
too soon after the marshal's death because of public sentiment. But now,
sufficient time having elapsed for the public to forget their officer,
who had been killed on duty, and Deborah, through receiving Grace Conner
and Miss Harwell into her home, being included to some extent in the
damaging comments of the righteous community, the crafty Judge saw his
opportunity. He knew that, while the people would not themselves go to
the length of putting Deborah and her crippled boy out of their little
home, he had nothing to fear from the sentiment of the community should
he do so under the guise of legitimate business.

The attitude of the people had kept Deborah from earning as much as usual
and, for the first time, they had been unable to pay the interest. Indeed
it was only by the most rigid economy that they would be able to make
their bare living until Denny's garden should again begin to bring them
in something.

Their failure to pay the interest gave the Judge added reason for pushing
the payment of the debt. Everything had been done in regular legal form.
Deborah and Denny must go the next day. The widow had exhausted every
resource; promises and pleadings were useless, and it was only at the
last hour that she had given up.

"But have you no relatives, Mrs. Mulhall, who could help you? No friends?
Perhaps Dr. Oldham--"

Deborah shook her head. "There's only me an' Brother Mike in the family,"
she said. "Mike's a brick-layer an' would give the coat off his back for
me, but he's movin' about so over the country, bein' single, you see,
that I can't get a letter to him. I did write to him where I heard from
him last, but me letter come back. He don't write often, you see,
thinkin' Denny an' me is all right. I ain't seen him since he was here to
help put poor Jack away."

For a few minutes the silence in the little room was broken only by poor
Deborah's sobs, and by Denny's voice, as he tried to comfort his mother.

Suddenly the nurse sprang to her feet. "There is some one," she cried.
"I knew there must be, of course. Why didn't we think of him before?"

Deborah raised her head, a look of doubtful hope on her tear-wet face.

"Mr. Matthews," explained the young woman.

Deborah's face fell. "But, child, the minister's away with the Doctor.
An' what good could he be doin' if he was here, I'd like to know? He's
that poor himself."

"Oh, I don't know what he'd do, but I know he'd do something. He's that
kind of a man," declared the nurse, with such conviction that, against
their judgment, Deborah and Denny took heart.

"And he's not so far away but that he can be reached," added Hope.

That afternoon the dilapidated old hack from Corinth to Gordon's Mills
carried a passenger.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

A FISHERMAN

"'Humph!' grunted the other, 'I've noticed that there's a lot of
unnecessary things that have to be done.'"


In the crisis of Deborah's trouble, Hope had turned to Dan impulsively,
as the one woman turns to the one man. When she was powerless in her own
strength to meet the need she looked confidently to him.

But now that she was actually on the way to him, with Corinth behind and
the long road over the hills and through the forests before, she had time
to think, while the conscious object of her journey forced itself on her
thinking.

The thing that the young woman had so dimly foreseen, for herself, of her
friendship with this man, she saw now more clearly, as she realized how
much she had grown to depend upon him--upon the strength of his
companionship. How she had learned to watch for his coming, and to look
often toward the corner window of the house on the other side of the
garden! But, after all--she asked herself--was her regard for him more
than a natural admiration for his strong character, as she had seen it
revealed in the past months? Their peculiar situation had placed him more
in her thoughts than any man had ever been before. Was not this all? The
possibility had not yet become a certainty. The revelation of Hope
Farwell to herself was yet to come.

The hack, with its one passenger, arrived at Gordon's Mills about four
o'clock, and Miss Farwell, climbing down from the ancient vehicle in
front of the typical country hotel, inquired for Dr. Oldham.

The slouchy, slow-witted proprietor of the place passed her inquiry on
to a group of natives who lounged on the porch, and one, whose horse
was hitched in front of the blacksmith shop across the way, gave the
information that he had seen the Doctor and the big parson at the mouth
of the creek as he came past an hour before. He added that he "reckoned
they wouldn't be in 'til dark, fer they was a-ketchin' a right smart of
bass."

"Is it far from here?" asked the nurse.

"Somethin' less than a mile, ain't hit, Bill?"

Bill "'lowed hit war about that. Mile an' a quarter to Bud Jones', Bud
called hit."

"And the road?"

"Foller the creek--can't miss it." This from the chorus. And Miss Farwell
set out, watched by every eye on the place until she disappeared around
the first bend.

As she drew near the river, the banks of which are marked by a high bluff
on the other side, the young woman felt a growing sense of embarrassment.
What would Mr. Matthews think of her coming to him in such a way? And Dr.
Oldham--. Already she could feel the keen eyes of the old physician, with
their knowing twinkle, fixed upon her face. The Doctor always made you
feel that he knew so much more about you than you knew about yourself.

Coming to the river at the mouth of the creek, she saw them, and half
hidden by the upturned roots of a fallen tree, she stood still. They were
on the downstream side of the creek; Dan, with rubber boots that came to
his hips, standing far out on the sandy bar, braced against the current,
that tugged and pulled at his great legs; the Doctor farther down, on the
bank.

Miss Farwell watched Dan with the curious interest a woman always feels
when watching a man who, while engaged in a man's work or play, is
unconscious of her presence.

She saw the fisherman as he threw the line far out, with a strong, high
swing of his long arm. And as she looked, a lusty bass--heavy, full of
fight--took the hook, and she saw the man stand motionless, intent,
alert, at the instant he first felt the fish. Then she caught the
skillful turn of his wrist as he struck--quick and sure; watched, with
breathless interest as--bracing himself--the fisherman's powerful figure
became instinct with life. With the boiling water grasping his legs,
clinging to him like a tireless wrestler seeking the first unguarded
moment; and with the plunging, tugging, rushing giant at the other end
of the silken line--fighting with every inch of his spring--steel body
for freedom, Dan made a picture to bring the light of admiration to any
woman's eyes. And Hope Farwell was very much a woman.

Slowly, but surely, the strength and skill of the fisherman prevailed.
The master of the waters came nearer the hand of his conqueror. The young
woman held her breath while the fish made its last, mad attempt, and
then--when Dan held up his prize for the Doctor, who--on the bank--had
been in the fight with his whole soul, she forgot her embarrassment,
and--springing into full view upon the trunk of the fallen tree--shouted
and waved her congratulations.

Dan almost dropped the fish.

The Doctor, whose old eyes were not so quick to recognize the woman on
the log, was amazed to see his companion go splashing, stumbling,
ploughing through the water toward the shore.

"Hope--Miss Farwell!" gasped Dan, floundering up the bank, the big fish
still in his hand, the shining water streaming from his high boots, his
face glowing with healthful exercise--a something else, perhaps. "What
good fortune brings you here?"

At his impetuous manner, and the eagerness that shone in his eyes, and
sounded in his voice, the woman's face had grown rosy red, but by the
time the fisherman had gained a place by her side the memory of her
mission had driven every other thought from her mind. Briefly she told
him of Deborah's trouble, and a few moments later the Doctor--crossing
the creek higher up--joined them. As they talked Hope saw all the light
and joy go from Dan's face, and in its place came a look of sadness and
determination that made her wonder.

"Doctor," he said, "I am going back to Corinth with Miss Farwell tonight.
We'll get a team and buggy at the Mills."

The old man swore heartily. Why had not the foolish Irishwoman let them
know her situation before? Still swearing he drew from his pocket a book
and hastily signed a check. "Here, Dan," he said, "use this if you have
to. You understand--don't hesitate if you need it."

Reluctantly the younger man took the slip of paper. "I don't think it
will be needed," he responded. "It ought not to be necessary for you to
do this, Doctor."

"Humph!" grunted the other, "I've noticed that there's a lot of
unnecessary things that have to be done. Hustle along, you two. I'm
going back after the mate to that last one of yours."

On the way back to the hotel Dan told the nurse that the check would
mean much to the Doctor if it were used at this particular time. "But,"
he added thoughtfully, again, "I don't think it will be used."

They stopped long enough at the hotel for a hurried lunch, then--with
a half-broken team and a stout buggy--started, in the gathering dusk for
Corinth.

As the light went out of the sky and the mysterious stillness of the
night came upon them, they, too, grew quiet, as if no words were needed.
They seemed to be passing into another world--a strange dream-world
where they were alone. The things of everyday, the common-place incidents
and happenings of their lives, seemed to drift far away. They talked but
little. There was so little to say. Once Dan leaned over to tuck the lap
robe carefully about his companion, for the early spring air was chill
when the sun went down.

So they rode until they saw the lights of the town; then it all came
back to them with a rush. The woman drew a long breath.

"Tired?" asked Dan, and there was that in his voice that brought the
tears to the gray eyes--tears that he could not see, because of the dark.

"Not a bit," she answered cheerfully, in spite of the hidden tears. "Will
you see Judge Strong tonight?" She had not asked him what he was going to
do.

"Yes," he said, and when they reached the big brown house he drew the
horses to a walk. "I think, if you are not too tired, I had better stop
now. I will not be long."

There was now something in his voice that made her heart jump with sudden
fear, such as she had felt at times when Dr. Miles, at the hospital, had
told her to prepare to assist him in an operation. But in her voice no
fear showed itself.

He hitched the team, and--leaving her waiting in the buggy--went up to
the house. She heard him knock. The door opened, sending out a flood of
light. He entered. The door closed.

She waited in the dark.




CHAPTER XXIX.

A MATTER OF BUSINESS

"'You say, sir, that some things are inevitable. You are right.'"


At the church prayer meeting, that evening, Judge Strong prayed with a
fervor unusual even for him, and in church circles the Elder was rated
mighty in prayer. In fact the Judge's religious capital was mostly
invested in good, safe, public petitions to the Almighty--such
investments being rightly considered by the Judge as "gilt-edged,"
for--whatever the returns--it was all profit.

Theoretically the Judge's God noted "even the sparrow's fall," and in
all of his public religious exercises, the Judge stated that fact with
clearness and force. Making practical application of his favorite text
the Judge never killed sparrows. His everyday energies were spent in
collecting mortgages, acquiring real estate, and in like harmless
pursuits, that were--so far as he had observed--not mentioned in the
Word, and presumably, therefore, were passed over by the God of the
sparrow.

So the Judge prayed that night, with pious intonations asking his God
for everything he could think of for himself, his church, his town and
the whole world. And when he could think of no more blessings, he
unblushingly asked God to think of them for him, and to give them all
abundantly--more than they could ask or desire. Reminding God of his
care for the sparrow, he pleaded with him to watch over their beloved
pastor, "who is absent from his flock in search of--ah, enjoying--ah,
the beauties of Nature--ah, and bring him speedily back to his needy
people, that they may all grow strong in the Lord."

Supplementing his prayer with a few solemn reflections, as was expected
from an Elder of the church, the Judge commented on the smallness of the
company present; lamented the decline of spirituality in the churches;
declared the need for the old Jerusalem gospel, and the preaching of the
truth as it is in Christ Jesus; scored roundly those who were absent,
seeking their own pleasure, neglecting their duties while the world was
perishing; and finished with a plea to the faithful to assist their
worthy pastor--who, unfortunately, was not present with them that
evening--in every way possible. Then the Judge went home to occupy the
rest of the evening with some matters of business.

In the Strong mansion the room known as the library is on the ground
floor in a wing of the main building. As rooms have a way of doing, it
expresses unmistakably the character of its tenant. There is a book-case,
with a few spick-and-span books standing in prim, cold rows behind the
glass doors--which are always locked. The key is somewhere, no doubt.
There are no pictures on the walls, save a fancy calendar--presented with
the compliments of the Judge's banker, a crayon portrait of the Judge's
father--in a cheap gilt frame, and another calendar, compliments of the
Judge's grocer.

The furniture and appointments are in harmony; a table, with a teachers'
Bible and a Sunday school quarterly, a big safe wherein the Judge kept
his various mortgages and papers of value, and the Judge's desk, being
most conspicuous. It is a significant comment on the Elder's business
methods that, in the top right-hand drawer of his desk, he keeps a weapon
ready for instant use, and that the window shades are always drawn when
the lamps are lighted.

Sitting at his desk the Judge heard the front doorbell ring and his wife
direct someone to the library. A moment later he looked up from his
papers to see Dan standing before him.

The Judge was startled. He had thought the young man far away. Then, too,
the Judge had never seen the minister dressed in rough trousers, belted
at the waist; a flannel shirt under a torn and mud-stained coat; and
mud-spattered boots that came nearly to his hips. The slouch hat in the
visitor's hand completed the picture. Dan looked big in any garb. As the
Judge saw him that night he seemed a giant, and this giant had the look
of one come in haste on business of moment.

What was it that made the Judge reach out impulsively toward that top
right-hand drawer.

Forcing his usual dry, mirthless laugh, he greeted Dan with forced
effusiveness, urging him to take a chair, declaring that he hardly knew
him, that he thought he was at Gordon's Mills fishing. Then he entered at
once into a glowing description of the splendid prayer meeting they had
held that evening, in the minister's absence.

Ignoring the invitation to be seated, Dan walked slowly to the center of
the room, and standing by the table, looked intently at the man at the
desk. The patter of the Judge's talk died away. The presence of the man
by the table seemed to fill the whole room. The very furniture became
suddenly cheap and small. The Judge himself seemed to shrink, and he had
a sense of something about to happen. Swiftly he reviewed in his mind
several recent deals. What was it?

"Well," he said at last, when Dan did not speak, "won't you sit down?"

"Thank you, no," answered Dan. "I can stop only a minute. I called to see
you about that mortgage on Widow Mulhall's home."

"Ah! Well?"

"I want to ask you, sir, if it is not possible for you to reconsider the
matter and grant her a little more time."

The man at the desk answered curtly, "Possibly, sir, but it would not be
business. Do you--ah, consider this matter as coming under the head of
your--ah, pastoral duties?"

Dan ignored the question, as he earnestly replied, "I will undertake to
see that the mortgage is paid, sir, if you will give me a little time."

To which the other answered coldly, "My experience with ministers'
promises to pay has not been reassuring, and, as an Elder in the church,
I may say that we do not employ you to undertake the payment of other
people's debts. The people might not understand your interest in the
Widow's affairs."

Again Dan ignored the other's answer, though his face went white, and his
big hands crushed the slouch hat with a mighty grip. He urged what it
would mean to Deborah and her crippled son to lose their little home and
the garden--almost their only means of support. But the face of the Judge
expressed no kindly feeling. He was acting in a manner that was fully
legitimate. He had considered it carefully. As for the hardship, some
things in connection with business were inevitable.

As the Elder answered Dan's arguments and pleadings, the minister's face
grew very sad, and his low, slow voice trembled at times. When the
uselessness of his efforts were too evident for him to continue the
conversation he turned sadly toward the door.

Something caused the Judge to say, "Don't go yet, Brother Matthews. You
see, being a minister, there are some things that you don't understand.
You are making a mistake in--" He caught his breath. Instead of leaving
the room, Dan was closing and locking the door.

He came back in three quick strides. This time he placed his hat on the
table. When he spoke his voice was still low--intense--shaken with
feeling.

"You say, sir, that some things are inevitable. You are right."

There was that in his manner now that made the man in the chair tremble.
He started to speak, but Dan silenced him.

"You have said quite enough, sir. Don't think that I have not fully
considered this matter. I have. It is inevitable. Turn to your desk there
and write a letter to Mrs. Mulhall granting her another year of time."

The Judge tried to laugh, but his dry lips made a strange sound. With a
quick movement he jerked open the top right-hand drawer, but before he
could lay hand on the weapon, Dan leaped to within easy striking
distance.

"Shut that drawer!"

The Judge obeyed.

"Now write!"

"I'll have the law on you! I'll put you out of the Christian ministry!
I'll have you arrested if you assault me. I'll--"

"I have considered all that, too," said Dan. "Try it, and you will stir
up such a feeling that the people of this community will drive you out of
the country. You can't do it and live in Corinth, Judge Strong. You have
too much at stake in this town to risk it. You won't have me arrested for
this; you can't afford it, sir. Write that letter and no one but you and
I will ever know of this incident. Refuse, or fail to keep the promise of
your letter, and no power on earth shall prevent me from administering
justice! You who would rob that crippled boy of his garden--"

The man shuddered. Suddenly he opened his mouth to call. But Dan, reading
his purpose in his eyes, had him by the throat before he could utter a
sound.

This was enough.

With the letter in his pocket Dan stood silently regarding his now
cowering victim, and his deep voice was full of pain as he said, in that
slow way, "I regret this incident, Brother Strong, more than I can say.
I have no apology to make. It was inevitable. You have my word that no
one shall know, from me, what has occurred here this evening. When you
think it all over you will not carry the matter further. You cannot
afford it. You will see that you cannot afford it."

When the Judge lifted his head he was alone.

"Did I keep you waiting too long?" asked Dan, when he had again taken
his place by Miss Farwell's side.

"Oh no! But tell me: is it all right?"

"Yes, it's all right. Judge Strong has kindly granted our friends another
year. That will give us time to do something."

Arriving at the house he gave Hope the letter for Deborah. "And here," he
said, "is something for you." From under the buggy seat he drew the big
bass.

When Dan returned to Gordon's Mills with the team the next morning, he
gave back the Doctor's check, saying simply, "The Judge listened to
reason and decided that he would not press the case." And that was all
the explanation he ever made though it was by no means the end of the
matter.

Dan himself did not realize what he had done. He did not realize how
potent were the arguments that he had used to convince the Judge.

The young minister had at last furnished the motive for which the Ally
waited!




CHAPTER XXX.

THE DAUGHTER OP THE CHURCH

"Thus the Ally has something for everybody."


Dan was right. Judge Strong could not afford to make public the facts
connected with the young man's visit to him that evening. He could not
afford it for more reasons than Dan knew. The arguments with which the
minister had backed up his personal influence were stronger than he
realized. The more the Judge thought about the whole matter the more he
was inclined to congratulate himself that he had been saved from a step
far more dangerous than he had ever before ventured. He saw where, in
his desire to possess all, he had come perilously near losing everything.
But these reflections did not make the Elder feel one whit kindlier
towards Dan.

While the Judge was held both by his fear of Dan and by his own best
interests, from moving openly against the man who had so effectually
blocked his well-laid plans for acquiring another choice bit of Corinth
real estate, there were other ways, perfectly safe, by which he might
make the minister suffer.

Judge Strong had not been a ruling elder in the church for so many years
without learning the full value of the spirit that makes Corinth its
home.

While the Elder himself feared the Ally as he feared nothing else, he was
a past master in the art of directing its strength to the gaining of his
own ends. His method was extremely simple: the results certain.

When he learned of Hope's trip to Gordon's Mills and the long ride in the
night alone with Dan, the Judge fairly hugged himself. It was all so
easy!

In the two days preceding the next weekly meeting of the Ladies' Aid
Society, it happened, quite incidentally, that the Elder had quiet,
confidential talks with several of the most active workers in the
congregation. The Judge in these talks did not openly charge the minister
with wrong conduct, with any neglect of his duties, or with any
unfaithfulness to the doctrines. No indeed! The Judge was not such a
bungler in the art of directing the strength of the Ally in serving his
own ends. But nevertheless, each good sister, when the interview was
ended, felt that she had been trusted with the confidence of the very
inside of the innermost circle; felt her heart swell with the
responsibility of a state secret of vast importance; and her soul grow
big with a righteous determination to be worthy.

That was a Ladies' Aid meeting to be remembered. There had been nothing
like it since the last meeting of its kind. For of course, every sister
who had talked with the Judge was determined that every other sister
should understand that she was on the innermost inside; and every other
sister who had talked with the Judge was equally fired with the same
purpose; and the sisters who had not talked quietly with the Judge were
extraordinarily active in creating the impression that they knew even
more than those who had. So that altogether things were hinted, half
revealed and fully told about Dan and Miss Farwell that would have
astonished even Judge Strong himself, had he not known just how it would
be.

The Sunday following it seemed almost as if Dan had wished to help the
Judge in his campaign, for while there was much in his sermon about
widows and orphans, there was not a word of the old Jerusalem gospel.

Monday evening Judge Strong and his wife called upon Elder Jordan and
his family, and the two church fathers held a long and important
conference, with the church mothers and the church daughter assisting.

The Judge said very little. Indeed he seemed reluctant to discuss the
grave things that were being said in the community about their pastor.
But it was easy to see that he was earnestly concerned for the welfare
of the church and the upbuilding of the cause in Corinth. Nathan himself
was led to introduce the subject. The Judge very skillfully and politely
gave the women opportunities. He agreed most heartily with Elder Jordan
that Dan's Christian character was above reproach, and that it was very
unfortunate that there should be any criticism by the public. Such things
so weakened the church influence in the community! He regretted, however,
that their pastor in his sermons did not dwell more upon first principles
and the fundamental doctrines of the church. His sermons were good, but
the people needed to be taught the true way of salvation. Dan was young:
perhaps he would learn the foolishness of taking up these new ideas of
the church's mission and work, that were sapping the very foundations of
Christianity.

Nathaniel Jordan, because of the very goodness of his heart and his
deeply religious nature, had learned to love Dan, and to believe in him,
even while he was forced--by his whole life's training--to question the
wisdom of the young man's preaching. And while he was deeply pained by
the things the sisters reported, he found, as the Judge intended, that
Elder Strong's attitude was in close harmony with his own.

Thus the Ally has something for everybody. Those who did not doubt Dan's
character questioned his preaching; and those who cared but little what
he preached found much to question in his conduct.

But there was one in the company that evening who contributed nothing to
the discussion, save now and then a word in defense of Dan. And
everything that Charity said was instantly and warmly endorsed by the
Judge.

When Judge and Mrs. Strong at last bade their friends good night and
left Nathaniel and his wife to cultivate the seed the Ally had so
skilfully planted, Charity retired at once to her room, but not to sleep.
Not for nothing had this young woman been reared in such close touch with
the inner circle of the ruling classes in Memorial Church. This was by no
means the first conference of its kind that she had been permitted to
attend. Her whole life experience enabled her to judge to a day, almost,
the length of any minister's stay in Corinth. Few had stayed more than a
year.

There was Rev. Swanson--who was too old; and Rev. Wilson--it was his
daughter; and Rev. Jones--it was his wife; and Rev. George--it was his
son; and it was Rev. Kern--who did not get on with the young people; and
Rev. Holmes--who was too young, and got on with the young people too
well. Charity always thought that she might have--. If he had only been
permitted to stay another three months! And Rev. Colby--it was because
he had neither wife nor sons nor daughters. Charity was sure she might
have--. If only he had been given more time! And now--Dan!

The poor girl cried bitterly in the dark and in her tears determined upon
desperate measures.




CHAPTER XXXI.

THE REALITY

"'Faith,' said Deborah, who, in the kitchen, heard their merry talk and
laughter. 'It must be the garden as does it.'"


"Who shall say that the Irishwoman had not the truth of the whole
matter?"

The incident of Deborah's trouble brought Hope to a fuller dependence
upon Dan than she had ever before known. The long ride alone in the hack,
with her mind so filled with thoughts of her big friend, his greeting of
her and his quick response to her appeal in Deborah's behalf, with the
drive home in the night by his side, and the immediate success of his
call upon the Judge had all led the young woman much nearer a full
realization of herself and a complete understanding of her feeling for
Dan than she knew. But one touch more was needed to make the possibility
which she had long foreseen a reality.

The touch needed came early in the afternoon of the day following the
Judge's call upon Elder Jordan. Miss Farwell, with Grace and Denny, was
in the garden, making ready for the first early seed. At Dan's urgent
request a much larger space had been prepared this year and they were
all intensely interested in what was to be, they declared, the best and
largest garden that Denny had ever grown.

Denny with his useless, twisted arm swinging at his side, and his poor,
dragging leg, was marking off the beds and rows, the while he kept up a
ceaseless, merry chatter with the two young women who assisted him by
carrying the stakes and lines.

Any one would have thought they were the happiest people in all Corinth,
and perhaps they were, though from all usual standards they had little
enough to be joyous over. Denny with his poor, crippled body, forever
barred from the life his whole soul craved, yearning for books and study
with all his heart, but forced to give the last atom of his poor strength
in digging in the soil for the bare necessities of life, denied even a
pittance to spend for the volumes he loved; Grace Conner marred in spirit
and mind, as was Denny in body, by the cruel, unjust treatment of those
to whom she had a right to look first for sympathy and help; and the
nurse, who was sacrificing a successful and remunerative career in the
profession she loved, to carry the burden of this one, who in the eyes of
the world, had no claim whatever upon her. What had they to be joyous
over that sunny afternoon in the garden?

"Faith," said Deborah, who, in the kitchen, heard their merry talk and
laughter. "It must be the garden as does it."

Who shall say that the Irishwoman had not the truth of the whole matter?

The three merry workers were expecting Dan. But Dan did not come. And it
may have been because Hope turned her eyes so often toward the corner
window, that she failed to see the young woman who turned in at their own
gate. Then Deborah's voice called from the kitchen for Miss Hope, and the
nurse went into the house.

"It's someone to see you," said the widow with an air of great mystery.
"I tuck her into your room, where she's waitin' for you. Dear heart, but
the day has brung the roses to your cheeks, and the sunshine is in your
two eyes. Sure, I can't think what she'd be wantin'. I hope 'tis nothin'
to make ye the less happy than ye are."

"Oh you, with your blarney!" returned the young woman playfully, and
then, with a note of eagerness in her voice, "Who is it, do you know
her?"

"Sure I do, and so will you when you see her. Go on in child; don't be
standin' here, maybe it's the job you've been lookin' for come at last.
I can't think that any of them would be sendin' for you, though the good
Lord knows the poor creature herself looks to need a nurse or somethin'."

She pushed Hope from the kitchen, and a moment later the young woman
entered her own room to find Miss Charity Jordan.

Hope Harwell was a beautiful woman--beautiful with the beauty of a
womanhood unspoiled by vain idleness, empty pleasures or purposeless
activity. Perhaps because of her interest and care for the girl, to whom
she was filling the place of both mother and elder sister, perhaps
because of something else that had come into her life--the past few
months, in spite of her trials, had added much to that sweet atmosphere
of womanliness that enveloped her always. The deep, gray eyes seemed
deeper still and a light was in their depths that had not been there
before. In her voice, too, there was a new note--a richer, fuller tone,
and she moved and laughed as one whose soul was filled with the best
joys of living.

Charity arose to her feet when Miss Farwell entered. The nurse greeted
her, but the poor girl who had spent an almost sleepless night, stood
regarding the woman before her with a kind of envying wonder. What right
had this creature to be so happy while she a Christian was so miserable?

To Charity there were only two kinds of people--those who belonged to the
church and those who belonged to the world. Those of the world were
strangers--aliens. The life they lived, their pleasures, their ambitions,
their loves, were all matters of conjecture to this daughter of the
church. They were, to her, people to save--never people to be intimate
with; nor were they to be regarded without grave suspicion until they
were saved. She wondered, sometimes, what they were like if one were to
really know them. As she had thought about it the night before in the
dark, it was a monstrous thing that a woman of this other world should
have ensnared their minister--her minister.

Charity was a judge of preachers. She saw in Dan the ability to go far.
She felt that no position in the church was too high for him to reach,
no honor too great for him to attain, if only he might be steadied and
inspired and assisted by a competent helper--one thoroughly familiar
with every detail of the denominational machinery, and acquainted with
every denominational engineer.

Thus to be robbed of the high place in life for which she had fitted
herself, and to which she had aspired for years, by an alien to the
church was maddening--if only Charity had possessed the capacity for
being maddened. What right had this creature who never entered a
church--what right had she even to the friendship of a minister--a
minister such as Dan? And to ruin his reputation! To cause him to be
sent away from Corinth! To wreck his career! To deprive him of a
companion so fitly qualified to help him realize to the full his
splendid ambition! Small wonder that the daughter of the church had
determined upon a desperate measure.

Left alone when Deborah had gone to call Miss Farwell, Charity had
examined the nurse's room with interest and surprise. The apartment
bore no testimony to an unholy life. Save that it was in every way a
poorer place than any room in the Jordan house, it might have been
Charity's own. There was even a Bible, well worn at that, lying on a
table by which a chair was drawn as if the reader had but just laid the
book aside.

And now this woman stood before her. This woman with the deep, kind eyes,
the soft, calm voice, her cheeks glowing with healthful outdoor exercise,
and her air of sweet womanliness.

The nurse spoke the second time.

"I am Miss Farwell. You are Miss Jordan, I believe. I see you pass the
house frequently. Won't you be seated, please, you seem to be in
trouble."

Poor Charity! Dropping weakly into a chair she burst into bitter tears.
Then before Miss Farwell could recover from her surprise, the caller
exclaimed, "I came to see you about our minister, Reverend Matthews."

The color in the nurse's cheeks deepened.

"But why should you come to me about Mr. Matthews? I know nothing of
your church affairs, Miss Jordan."

"I know that you do not," the other returned bitterly. "You have never
been to hear him preach. You know nothing--nothing of what it means to
him--to me, to all of us, I mean. How could you know anything about it?"

This passionate outburst and the sight of Charity's crimson face and
embarrassed manner caused the color to disappear from the nurse's cheeks.
After a moment she said coolly, "Do you not think it would be well for
you to explain clearly just what you mean and why you come to me?"

In her effort to explain Charity's words came tumbling recklessly,
impetuously out, in all sorts of disorder. She charged the nurse with
ruining the minister's work, with alienating him from his people, with
injuring the Memorial Church and the cause of Christ in Corinth, with
making him the talk of the town.

"What is he to you," she finished. "What can he ever be to you? You
would not dare to think of marrying a minister of the gospel--you a woman
of the world. He belongs to us, he does not belong to you, and you have
no right to take him from us." Then she pleaded with her to--as she put
it--let their pastor alone, to permit him to stay in Corinth and go on to
the great future that she was so sure awaited him.

As the girl talked the other woman sat very still with downcast face,
save now and then when Charity's disordered words seemed to carry a
deeper meaning than appeared upon the surface. Then the gray eyes were
lifted to study the speaker's face, doubtfully, wonderingly,
questioningly.

In her painful excitement Charity was telling much more than she
realized. And more, Charity was not only laying bare her own heart to
the nurse, but she was revealing Hope Farwell to herself. That young
woman was stirred as she had never been before.

When her visitor had talked herself out the nurse said quietly, "Miss
Jordan, it is not at all necessary that I should reply to the things
you have said, but you must answer me one question. Has Mr. Matthews
ever, either by word or by his manner towards you, given you reason
to feel that you, personally, have any right whatever to say these
things to me?"

It was so frank, so direct, and withal so womanly and kind, and so
unexpected--that Charity hung her head.

"Tell me please, Miss Jordan. After all that you have said, you must."

The answer came in a whisper. "No."

"Thank you." There was that in the nurse's voice that left the other's
heart hopeless, and robbed her of power to say more. She rose and moved
toward the door.

The nurse accompanied her to the porch. "Miss Jordan." Charity paused.
"I am very sorry. I fear you will never understand how--how mistaken you
are. I--I shall not harm either your church or--your minister. Believe
me, I am very, very sorry."

Miss Farwell could not return to the garden. He would be there. She could
not meet him just yet. She must be alone. She must go somewhere to think
this thing out.

Stealing from the house, she slipped away down the street. Without her
conscious will, her feet led her toward the open country, to Academy
Hill, to the grassy knoll under the oak in the old Academy yard.

The possibility had become a reality, and all the pain that she had
foreseen, was hers. But with the pain was a great gladness.

Miss Farwell need not have fled from meeting Dan in the garden that
afternoon. Dan was not in the garden. While the nurse, in her room, was
greeting Miss Charity, Elder Jordan, who had stopped on his way home from
the post office was knocking at the door of the minister's study.




CHAPTER XXXII.

THE BARRIER

"As he looked at the figure so immovable, so hideously rigid and fixed in
the act of proclaiming an issue that belonged to a dead age, he felt as
if his heart would burst with wild rage at the whole community, people
and church."


The Elder's visit to Dan was prompted not alone by the church situation,
as he had come to look upon it in the conference with Judge Strong the
evening before, but by the old man's regard for the young minister
himself. Because of this he had said nothing to his brother official of
his purpose, wishing to make his visit something more than an official
call in the interest of the church. Nathaniel felt that alone he could
talk to Dan in a way that would have been impossible in the presence of
Judge Strong, and in this he was not mistaken.

In the months of his work in Corinth, Dan had learned to love this old
church father, whose faithfulness to the dead past and to the obsolete
doctrines of his denomination, was so large an element in his religion.
It was impossible not to recognize that, so far as the claims of his
creed would permit, Elder Jordan was a true Christian man--gentle,
tolerant, kind in all things, outside the peculiar doctrine of the
founders of his sect.

It was impossible for the minister and his Elder to see life from the
same point of view. They belonged to different ages. The younger man,
recognizing this, honored his elder brother for his fidelity to the faith
of his fathers, and saw in this very faith, a virtue to admire. But the
older man saw in Dan's broader views and neglect of the issues that
belonged to the past age, a weakness of Christian character--to be
overcome if possible, but on no ground to be tolerated, lest the very
foundation of the church be sapped.

Elder Jordan's regard for Dan was wholly personal, entirely aside from
the things of the church. The Elder was capable of sacrificing his own
daughter if, in his judgment, it was necessary for the good of the
cause, but he would not have loved her the less. There was that inhuman
something in his religion that has always made religion a thing of
schools and churches, rather than a thing of farms and shops; a thing of
set days, of forms, rites, ceremonies, beliefs--rather than a thing of
everyday living and the commonplace, individual duties, pleasures and
drudgeries of life.

The old churchman did not spare Dan that afternoon. Very clearly he
forced the minister to see the situation, making him understand the
significance of the gossip that had been revived, and the growing
dissatisfaction of the church leaders with his sermons. Dan listened
quietly, with no lack of respect for the man who talked to him so
plainly--for, under the sometimes harsh words, he felt always the true
spirit of the speaker and his kindly regard.

Touching his preaching Dan could make no reply, for he realized how
impossible it was for the Elder to change his point of view. The young
minister had, indeed, neglected the things that, to the Elder and his
kind, were the vital things. That he had taught the truths that to him
seemed most vital made no difference in the situation. The fact remained
that he was the hired servant of Memorial Church and was not employed by
that body to preach what he considered the most vital truths.

But touching his friendship with the nurse, Dan spoke warmly in defense
of the young woman--of himself he said nothing. As the Elder listened, he
thought he saw how Dan had been influenced in his ministry by this woman
who was not of the church, and the idea that had sent Charity to Miss
Farwell took possession of him. Even as his daughter pleaded with the
nurse to set the minister free, Nathaniel pleaded with Dan to free
himself. Inevitably the results were exactly the same.

"Think of your ministry, my boy," urged the old man, "of the sacred
duties of your office. Your attitude towards this woman has been, in
every way, just what the people expect the conduct of a man to be toward
the one he is seeking to make his wife. Yet no one for a moment thinks
you expect to marry this woman, who is known to be an alien to the
church. What success could you hope to have as a minister if you take to
wife one who would have nothing to do with your church? What right have
you, then, to be so intimate with her, to seek her company so constantly?
Granting all that you say of her character, and all that Dr. Miles has
written, why does she stay in Corinth, where no one will employ her, when
she could so easily return to her work in the city, taking that Conner
girl with her?"

Dan could find no words to answer the Elder. He was stunned by the
situation to which he had been so suddenly awakened by the old man's
plain words. But there were elements in the problem unknown to Nathaniel
Jordan, though the old man felt that somehow his lance had gone deeper
than he intended.

When the Elder was gone Dan's mind and heart clutched those words, "No
one believes for a moment that you expect to marry this woman."

"To marry this woman--to marry--to marry!" He thought of his father and
mother, and their perfect companionship. "What right have you in this
case, to be so intimate with her, to seek her company so constantly?"

He started to go to the window that looks down on the garden, thinking to
see her there, but checked himself. He knew now why the garden had grown
to mean so much to him. He tried to realize what his life would be
without this woman who had so grown into it.

Dan Matthews was no weakling who could amuse himself with a hundred
imitation love affairs. In his veins ran the fierce, red blood of a
strong race that had ruled by the simple strength of manhood their
half-wild mountain wilderness. As the tiny stream, flowing quietly
through peaceful meadow, still woodland, and sunny pasture--growing
always broader and deeper as it runs--is unconscious of its quiet power
until checked by some barrier, and rising, swelling to a mighty
flood--seeks to clear its path; so Dan's love had grown. In the fields
of friendship it had gained always depth and power until now--coming to
the barrier--it rose in all its strength--a flood of passion that shook
every nerve and fibre of the man's being, a mighty force that would not
be denied.

Going to the other window he saw the cast-iron monument. And as he looked
at the figure so immovable, so hideously rigid and fixed in the act of
proclaiming an issue that belonged to a dead age, he felt as if his heart
would burst with wild rage at the whole community, people and church.

"What right had he to the companionship of this woman?"

"The right that God has given to every man--nay to every beast and
bird--the right to seek his mate; the right of the future. What right,
indeed, had anyone to challenge him, to say that he should not win her
if he could? If he could--"

As suddenly as the rage had come it left him, and he shrank hopeless
within himself, cowering before the thought of his position in life, and
of her attitude toward the church and its ministers.

"The Elder and his people need give themselves no uneasiness," he
thought. "The barrier was too well-built to be swept aside by love of
man and woman."

He saw that now, even the old friendship between them would be
impossible. He wondered if his going out of her life would make any
ripple in its calm, even current; if she would care very much?

The Elder had asked, "Why has she remained in Corinth?"

"Could it be--No, no! That would be too much. It was her interest in
Grace Conner alone that held her."

So Big Dan faced this thing against which the very strength of his
manhood was his greatest weakness, and facing it he, too, was afraid to
go into the garden--as he thought--to meet her. He must gain a little
self-control first. He must grow better acquainted with this thing that
had come upon him so quickly.

Following the instinct of his ancestors to face trouble in the open, he,
too, set out, bound for a long tramp across the country. Perhaps he would
go as far even as John Gardner's, and spend the night there. He went up
the street for a block before turning north, lest his friends in the
garden hail him. Then walking quickly he pushed on towards the outskirts
of town, on the old Academy Hill road.




CHAPTER XXXIII.

HEARTS' TRAGEDIES

"So she sent him away to fight his battle alone, knowing it was the only
way such a battle could be rightly fought."


When Miss Farwell, under the oak tree in the Academy yard, turned her
eyes from the far blue roll of hills to see Dan Matthews coming through
the gap in the tumble-down fence, it was as if he had appeared in answer
to her thoughts, and the intensity of her emotions at the moment,
frightened her.

Her first impulse was to escape. Then she sat still, watching him as if
fascinated, while her trembling fingers picked at the young grass by her
side. With his face turned toward the valley below, Dan came slowly
across the weed-grown yard, unconscious of the presence of the young
woman on the knoll. Then he looked in her direction. With her face turned
quickly half-aside, she saw him stop suddenly as if halted by the same
feeling that had so moved her.

For a full minute he stood there as if questioning his senses. The girl
sat very still. Once she thought he would turn back--then he came on
eagerly, as he had come that day from the water when he had looked up to
see her on the river bank. And then he stood before her as he had stood
that other day long weeks ago, with the sunlight on his red-brown hair.

There was now no word of formal greeting. None was needed. Each seemingly
knew the travail of soul of the other.

Dropping down on the grass by her side he said quietly, as if it were
unnecessary that he should speak at all, "I thought you were in the
garden this afternoon."

"And I thought you were in the garden," she returned.

He looked at her in wondering gladness, saying, "I had a caller. After
that I could not go."

"And I--I too had a caller; and after that I--I could not go." The words
were spoken almost in a whisper. Her trembling fingers were picking again
at the short young grass; she was looking far away beyond the sweeping
line of blue. One foot had slipped a little from under the protecting
shelter of the blue skirt. He saw with a flush of anger that the shoe was
very shabby. The skirt, too, showed unmistakable signs of wear. He
controlled himself with difficulty, saying, "Your caller was--?"

"Miss Charity Jordan. And yours?"

"Elder Jordan." Dan looked away, and when he spoke again he said
bitterly, "Then I suppose you know?"

At his tone and manner she turned her face quickly to his, permitting him
for the first time to search her eyes. It was as if she wanted to comfort
him, to reassure him.

"Yes!" she said softly, gladly, triumphantly, "Yes, I know!"

Something in her confident reply caused the minister to forget all his
half-formed resolutions. His work, his life, the possible outcome, the
world itself--were lost in the overpowering rush of the passion-flood
that swept his being. His deep voice trembled. "Then you know that I
love you--love you!"

He repeated the simple words as if laying his whole self--body, soul and
spirit, at her feet.

And the woman, in very wonder at the fullness of the offering, was as one
transfixed and could find no word fit to express her acceptance of the
gift.

"It is my right to tell you this," he said proudly--defiantly almost, as
though challenging some unseen spirit or power. "And it is your right to
answer me."

"Yes," she said, "it is our right."

"Then you do care for me, Hope? I am not mistaken--you do?"

"Can you doubt it?" she asked.

He moved quickly toward her but she checked him, and while the love in
her eyes answered to the mastering passion in his, she seemed in some
subtle manner to build up a protecting wall between them, a wall to guard
them both.

"I do not understand," he faltered.

"You must think," she bade him quietly, firmly. "Don't you see that,
while it is right for you to tell me what you have, and right for me to
tell you how proud--how glad your words have made me, and how with all
my heart and life I--I--love you, this--," her voice faltered now, "don't
you see that this must be all?"

"All?" he questioned.

"All," she answered. "Everything that I said to you the first day that we
met here is still true. Don't you see that I can never, never be more to
you than I am now?"

As one who hears himself sentenced to life-exile Big Dan dropped his
head, burying his face in his hands.

And seeing him so, such a figure of helpless strength, the woman's gray
eyes filled with tears, that were not yet permitted to fall. In his
presence she would be strong--afterwards her own heart should have its
way.

Once her hand went out, slowly towards the shaggy red-brown hair, but
was silently withdrawn, and the trembling white fingers again plucked
the young blades of grass.

So they sat, these two--face to face with their hearts' tragedy,
each--for the other's sake--striving to be strong.

"Tell me," he said at last, raising his head but not looking her in the
face, and speaking in tones that were strained and hard, "if I were
anything else, if I were engaged in any other work, would you be my
wife?"

"Why do you ask that?"

"Because I must know," he answered almost harshly.

"If you were a common laborer, a business or professional man, if your
work was anything honorable and right, save what it is--yes, gladly; oh,
how gladly!"

"Then," he burst forth hotly, "I will give up my work. I will be
something else!"

"You would give up your ministry for me?" she questioned doubtfully;
"your chosen life work?"

His voice sank to a hoarse whisper. "Yes, and if it need be--my religion,
my God."

As he finished speaking she laid her hand on his arm. "Hush, oh hush!
That is not worthy of you; it is not true to our love. You are beside
yourself."

He continued eagerly, "But I have learned that other work is just as
holy, just as sacred, as the work of the preacher and the church. You do
not know how in the past months I have been teaching this. Why should I
not give my life to some of these other ministries?"

"Because it is not some other work that calls you now. These other
ministries are not yours," she answered gently. "I have learned to love
you because you are so truly yourself, because you are so true to
yourself. You must not disappoint me now. And you will not," she
continued, confidently, "I know that you will not."

At last when he had argued, protested and pleaded until she was so beset
by both his passion and her own that she felt her strength going, she
said: "Don't, oh please don't! I cannot listen to more of this now. It
is not fair to either of us. You must have time to think alone. I believe
I know you even better than you know yourself. You must leave me now. You
must promise that you will not try to see me again until tomorrow
afternoon at this same hour. I will be in the garden with the others
until four o'clock, when I will go to the house alone. If then you have
decided that you can, with all truthfulness to yourself and me, give up
your ministry, come to me and I will be your wife. But whether you come
or not you must always believe that I love you, that I shall always love
you, as my other self, and that I shall never, never doubt your love for
me."

So she sent him away to fight his battle alone, knowing it was the only
way such a battle could be rightly fought, and because she wanted him,
for his own sake, to have the certainty of a self-won victory, never
doubting in her own heart what that victory would be or what it would
mean to her. She indeed knew him better than he knew himself.




CHAPTER XXXIV.

SACRIFICED

"Standing in the midst of these things, so much a part of his chosen
life that they seemed a vital part of himself, he heard the voices in
the garden."


Alone in his little study--the door locked--Big Dan battled with himself.
Everywhere in the room were things that cried aloud to him of his
ministry; his library--books of peculiar interest to ministers, papers
and pamphlets filled with matters of the church, written for church men,
his sermons--one lying half-finished on the study table, the very
pictures on the walls and the unanswered letters on his desk. Standing in
the midst of these things, so much a part of his chosen life that they
seemed a vital part of himself, he heard, the voices in the garden. He
knew that she was there.

Since the beginning men like Dan Matthews have fought for women like Hope
Farwell. For such women such men have committed every crime, endured
every hardship, braved every danger, made every sacrifice, accomplished
every great thing. Few of the race today are strong enough to feel such
passion. It was primitive--but it was more. For there had been bred into
this man something stronger than his giant physical strength--a spirit, a
purpose, fitting such a body.

The little clock on the mantel struck the hour. Softly, slowly, the
sweet-toned notes rang out:

One! Two! Three! Four!

With face white and drawn Dan went to the window. All that afternoon,
knowing that she was there, he had denied himself even the sight of her.
Now he would see her.

He watched as, without a glance toward his window, the young woman left
her friends and went slowly into the house. Five--ten--fifteen--twenty
minutes! The ticking of the little clock seemed to beat on Dan's brain
with sledge-hammer blows.

Then he saw her come out on the front porch of the cottage. Slowly she
walked out into the yard, until screened from the street by the big lilac
bush. Turning she faced toward his window. She waved a greeting. She even
beckoned to him to come. The man swayed and put out his hand to grip the
window casing. Again she beckoned him--come. When he did not leave his
place and only waved a hand in return, she went slowly back into the
house.

Then Dan Matthews, minister--man, staggered back from the window to fall
on his knees in prayer.

It was perhaps two hours before sunrise when Dr. Harry's horse stopped
suddenly in a dark stretch of timber six miles from town. Dimly the man
in the buggy saw a figure coming toward him.

"Hello!" he said sharply; "what do you want?"

The man in the road laughed a strange, hoarse, mirthless laugh, saying as
he continued to advance, "I thought it must be you. You nearly ran me
down." And Dan climbed in by the physician's side.

The minister made no explanation, nor did his friend, after the first few
surprised questions, press him. But when they were turning in towards
Dan's gate the big fellow burst forth, "Don't stop, Harry--not here! For
God's sake, if you love me, take me on to your house for a little while!"

Then did Dr. Harry guess the truth that later he came to know.




CHAPTER XXXV.

THE TIE THAT BINDS

"The Ally was there in power. The day of the rack, the thumbscrew and
the stake, is long past: in place of these instruments of religious
discipline we have--the Ally."


All the next day Dan remained at Dr. Harry's home, returning to his own
rooms in the evening. Early the following morning he was to take the
train for the annual gathering of the denomination, that was to be held
in a distant city. He would be away from Corinth three days at least.

The minister's little study, when he had lighted the lamp that night,
seemed filled with a spirit that was never there before. It was as if,
during his absence, some unseen presence had moved in to share the
apartment with him. The very books and papers impressed him as intimate
companions, as if, in thus witnessing and--in truth--taking part in the
soul-struggle of the man, they had entered into a closer relation to
him, a relation sacred and holy. He was conscious, too, of an atmosphere
of privacy there that he had never sensed before, and, for the first
time in his life, he drew the window shades.

In the battle that Hope Farwell had set for him to fight Dan had sought
to be frankly honest with himself, and to judge himself coldly, without
regard to the demands of his heart. If he had erred at all it was in an
over-sensitiveness to conscience, for conscience has ever been a tricky
master, often betraying its too-willing slaves to their own self-injury.
It is, a large question whether one has a greater right to injure himself
than to harm another.

Dan could not admit, even to himself, that he had in any way neglected
the church, or fallen short of his duties as a hired shepherd. But after
all, was he not to some degree in error in his judgment of his people?
Had he not, perhaps, misunderstood the spirit that moved them? He had
come to Corinth from his school with the thought fixed in his mind that
the church was _all_ right. Had he not, by the unexpected and brutal
directness of his experience, been swung to the other extreme, conceiving
conditions as all wrong?

Groping in the dark of his ministry he had come to feel more and more
keenly his inexperience. After all, was he right in taking the hard,
seldom-traveled path, or was not the safe way of the church fathers the
true way? Was not his failure to put himself in tune with things as he
found them, only his own inability to grasp the deeper meanings of those
things? He had come to doubt those leaders whom he had been taught to
follow, but he had come to doubt more his own ability to lead, or even
to find the way for himself. It was this doubt that had led him to decide
as Hope Farwell knew he would.

_For Big Dan could not turn from the church and his chosen work without
the same certainty that had led him to it._

Least of all could he, after that which Hope had made so clear, go to her
with a shadow of doubt in his mind.

His convictions were not, as yet, convincing. His new-born love for the
woman bulked too large in his life for him to trust his own motives. So
it came that he had chosen at such cost to himself, and--making the
greatest sacrifice possible to one of his nature--turned to give himself
wholly to that which he still felt to be his ministry.

He looked forward now with eagerness to the gathering of church men to
which he was going on the morrow. There he would meet the great leaders
of his church, those with life-long experience in the work to which he
had given himself; those whose names were household names in the homes
of his people. There he would come into touch with the spirit of the
church as a whole, not merely the spirit of his own local congregation,
and in the deliberations of the convention, in their reports of work
accomplished, of conditions throughout the country, and in the plans for
work to be done, he would find--he must find--the key that would put him
in full harmony with those who were his fellow-workers.

Dan's thoughts were interrupted by a familiar knock at the door. The old
Doctor entered.

Of the recently-renewed talk of the community regarding Dan and Hope, and
of the growing sentiment of Memorial Church the Doctor knew all that Dan
knew--with this more. From long observation he understood, as Dan did
not, the real significance of this revival of activities by the Ally, and
the part that Judge Strong had in its inspiration. Concerning Dan and
Hope he could only conjecture, but the Doctor's conjectures amounted
almost to certainties. That the lad so dear to him was passing through
some tremendous crisis he knew, for he had talked with Dr. Harry that
afternoon. Seeing by the light in the window that Dan had returned, he
had run across the way to see if all was well with the boy. It was
characteristic of the Doctor that, while he did not make known the object
of his visit in words, he made the minister feel his sympathy and
interest, and his readiness, as he himself would have said, "to stand
by."

Grasping his young friend's hand in greeting and placing his other hand
on Dan's shoulder, he studied his face as he would have studied a
patient. "Come boy," he said, "don't you think we better go fishing?"

The minister smiled back at him. "I wish I could, Doctor; I need it, all
right. But you see there's that convention tomorrow."

"Humph!" grunted the Doctor, as he seated himself. "Heard who's going?"

Dan named a few of his church people. The Doctor grunted again. They were
nearly all of the inner circle, the Judge's confidantes in matters of the
church.

"Judge Strong is going too," offered the Doctor.

Dan said nothing.

"Uh-huh; told me this evening." The old man chuckled. "I rather thought
I'd go myself."

"You!" Dan said in surprise.

The other's eyes twinkled. "Yes, me; why not? I've never been to one of
these affairs, but for that matter neither have you. I don't suppose they
would put me out. Anyway I have some business in the city and I thought
it would be fine for us to go up together. Martha's tickled to death!
Thinks I'll get it sure if I can only hear some of the really _big_
preachers."

Dan laughed, well-pleased. He could not know of the real motive that
prompted the Doctor's strange interest in this great meeting of church
men.

The next morning at an early hour they were off: Dan, the old Doctor,
some six or eight of the active women leaders of the congregation,
Charity, and Judge Strong. The Ally went also. There was no little
surprise expressed, in a half-jesting manner, by the company, at the
presence of Dr. Oldham, and there was much putting together of heads in
whispered consultation as to what it might mean. The Judge and his
competent associates, with the Ally, kept very much together and left
Dan and his friend as much to themselves. Whenever the young minister,
prompted by his thoughts of the last few hours, approached the group
there was a significant hush, while his pleasantries were met by very
formal, and as evidently forced, monosyllables, which very soon sent him
back to his seat again with a face that made the old Doctor say things
under his breath.

"Look here, Dan," said the old physician, as they neared their
destination, "I understand that at these meetings the visiting delegates
are always entertained at the homes of the local church people. I'm not a
delegate, so I go to a hotel. You come with me; be my guest. Tell 'em you
have already accepted an invitation to stop with a friend. Don't worry,
they'll be glad enough to have one less to care for, and I want you."

The young man eagerly accepted.

At the meeting was the usual gathering of the usual types. There were
the leaders, regularly appointed by the denomination, who were determined
to keep that which had been committed to them, at any cost; and to this
end glorified, in the Lord's service, the common, political methods of
distributing the places of conspicuous honor and power, upon program and
committee, among those friends and favorites who could be depended upon
to respond most emphatically, or who were--in the vernacular--"safe."
Equally active, with methods as familiar but not equally in evidence--for
one must be careful--were the would-be leaders, who--"for the glory of
Christ"--sought these same seats of the mighty, and who were assisted by
those who aspired to become their friends and favorites--joint heirs in
their success should they succeed. Then there were the self-constituted
leaders who pushed and pulled and scrambled to the front; content if they
could, only for the moment, be thought by the multitude to be something
more than they were; who were on their feet instantly to speak upon every
question with ponderous weight of words, and were most happy if they
could fill some vacant chair on the platform. There were the heresy
hunters who sniffed with hound-like eagerness for the scent of doctrinal
weakness in the speeches of their brothers; and upon every proposed
movement of the body, guarded with bulldog fidelity, the faith of their
fathers. There were also the young preachers who came to look with awe on
the doings of the great ones, to learn how it was done and to watch for a
possible opening whereby they might snatch their bit of glory here on
earth.

Many there were of this latter class who, from the highest religious
motives, had answered the call to the ministry as to something sacred
and holy, even as had Dan. These young men, though they knew it not,
were there to learn how their leaders--while theoretically depending
upon God for their strength and guidance in managing the affairs of the
church--depended actually upon the very methods which, when used by the
world in its affairs, they stamped ungodly.

The Ally was there in power. The day of the rack, the thumbscrew and the
stake, is long past: in place of these instruments of religious
discipline we have--the Ally.

Mostly those on the firing line were ministers, though here and there a
prominent woman leader pushed to the front. The rest were brothers and
sisters, mainly sisters; who like other mortals, always backed their
favorites in the race that was set before them all. These prayed
sincerely and devoutly that somehow, in ways beyond their bewildered
ken, the good God would bless the efforts that were being made for
righteousness and truth, hoping thus for heavenly results from very
worldly methods.

Judge Strong was an old campaigner. A heavy contributor to the general
work and missionary funds to which the leaders looked for the practical
solution of their modest bread and butter problems, he had the ears of
them all. Nor was the Elder slow to use his advantage. He could speak his
mind with frankness here, for these great men of the church lived far
from Corinth and, while knowing much of the Elder--the church man, knew
nothing of the Judge--the citizen and neighbor. More than this such
reports as the Elder had to make must, in the very nature of things, for
the good of the cause, be strictly private.

While the Judge was holding these little confidential chats with the
leaders, and the leaders were holding equally confidential chats with
their friends and favorites, and these in turn were doing as they had
been done by, the Elder's assistants, assigned to various church homes
in the city, were confidentially exchanging confidences with their
hostesses. And this is the simple truth of the whole matter, and the way
it all came about.

Dan was introduced to the secretary. "Ah--yes, Brother Matthews of
Corinth! Glad to meet you. Ah, excuse me I--ah, see a brother over there
with whom I must speak."

Dan was presented to the treasurer. "Oh yes, I have heard of you--at
Corinth. Why, hello, Brother Simpkins"--catching a passing preacher by
the arm--"glad to see you! How are you and how is the work?"

Dan introduced himself to one or two of those whom he had hungered to
see, those who were noted in the church papers for their broad wisdom
and saintly character, and somehow Dan felt rebuked for his forwardness
when each, from his pedestal, looked at him and said, "Oh yes; Brother
Matthews! I have heard of you, Brother Matthews!"

During the forenoon session of the second day the order of business was
reports of the churches. In response to roll call, one after the other,
the representatives of the various congregations would tell what they
had done and what they were going to do. Dr. Oldham remarked later, "No
one told what they had failed to do, or what they were not going to do."

As a rule the ministers reported for their own churches, save when some
delegate whom the pastor knew to be peculiarly qualified, was present.
Generally speaking the ministers consider the value of such a report to
be greatly increased if it can be given by some such member. The minister
himself always sees that the report is properly prepared.

Judge Strong, without consulting Dan, responded to the call for the
Memorial Church. There was a distinct hush, and heads went forward in
interest. The Elder regretted to report that, while they had held their
regular services every Sabbath, and their preacher was the most popular
preacher in Corinth, the conversions for some reason had not been as
numerous as in some previous years. But Memorial Church could be depended
upon to remedy that very soon, for they were contemplating a great
revival meeting to begin as soon as a competent evangelist could be
secured. [Loud applause from the professional evangelists present.] They
felt that a series of good old Jerusalem gospel sermons would put them
again to the front in the matter of additions. [Loud applause from the
defenders of the faith.]

Dan listened in silent amazement. This was the first he had heard of a
meeting in Corinth. The Doctor saw the boy's face grow burning red.

The Elder continued his report, touching every department of the church
in like vein, and finished by "regretting exceedingly that their offering
for the missionary, and for the general work for the present year, had
fallen short of previous years." The Judge did not explain that he had
subtracted from his part in the church offering an amount exceeding the
shortage, which amount he had added to his usual personal subscription.
As for the regular expenses of the congregation, he went on, they had
been cared for.

"And," remarked the state secretary in a loud voice, rising instantly as
the Judge sat down, "I want you all to know that Judge Strong's personal
contribution to our funds is larger this year than ever before. We who
know Brother Strong's splendid Christian generosity will understand how
the regular expenses of Memorial Church have been paid." Whereupon the
leaders-who-were and the leaders-who-would-like-to-be joined with one
accord in loud applause.

Not a preacher there but understood exactly what the Elder's report
signified.

Following the reports of the churches came the introductions of the new
pastors. Skilfully the preachers were marshaled upon the platform, Big
Dan towering at the foot of the line. Stunned and embarrassed as he was
by the Judge's report, the boy would not have gone forward at all, had
not the Doctor fairly pushed him into the aisle. The old philosopher told
himself grimly that the lad might as well get all that was coming to him.
In the ceremony that followed Dan got it.

One after the other the ministers were introduced by the secretary, who
had a glowing word for each. "Brother Williams who has done such
marvelous work at Baxter." [Loud applause for Brother Williams.] "Brother
Hardy who is going to do a wonderful work at Wheeler." [Louder applause
for Brother Hardy.] And so on down the line. Not one, from big church or
little, from city pulpit or country district, but secured the boosting
comment and the applause; for this was Christian enthusiasm.

Dan's turn came at last. His face was now white.

"And this," shouted the secretary, "is Brother Matthews, the present
pastor of our church at Corinth." There was a hush still and significant;
for this was church policy.

After a moment's silence the secretary continued, "Please sing hymn
three-hundred and one:

'Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love.'

Everybody sing!" And the denominational papers agreed that they made a
joyful noise unto the Lord.

Were the high officials and their mates on this ship of salvation to be
blamed? Not a bit of it! The Elder's report made Dan "unsafe"--and he
was. They were right. More than this, the Lord needed the Judge's
influence--and money.

When the young minister came back to his seat his old friend thought his
face the saddest he had ever seen.

At lunch the Doctor told Dan that he was going to call upon several
friends that afternoon, and among them mentioned the superintendent of a
famous steel plant in the city. Agreeing to meet at dinner in the evening
they parted, Dan going alone to the convention building. At the door he
paused.

Several ministers, chatting gaily with friends passing in for the opening
of the afternoon session, looked curiously at the stalwart, irresolute
figure standing there alone. Two or three greeted him with a word. All
were sorry for him; for not one but understood the meaning of the
incidents of the morning.

An hour later the superintendent of the great steel works greeted, with
admiring eyes, the big clean-looking fellow and wondered at the look of
sadness on his face.

"I am in the city with my friend, Dr. Oldham," explained Dan. "I expected
to find him here. He told me at lunch that he was coming."

"Oldham in town? Good!" exclaimed the man of affairs. "Of course he would
look me up, but he hasn't been here yet. Glad to meet any friend of the
Doctor's. Sit down, Mr. Matthews; he'll be in presently, no doubt. Or
perhaps while you're waiting, you would care to look about." At Dan's
eager reply he touched a bell and, to the man who appeared, he said,
"Jack, show Mr. Matthews around. A friend of my friend, Dr. Oldham."

And so the Doctor found the boy standing in the very heart of the great
plant, where the brawny workmen, naked to the waist--their bodies shining
with sweat and streaked with grime, wrestled with the grim realities of
life.

For a little while the Doctor watched him; then, tapping him on the
shoulder, shouted in his ear, above the roar of the furnace, the hissing
of steam and the crash and clank of iron and steel. "Almost as good as a
fishing trip, heh Dan?"

Back in the office again the superintendent introduced them to a
gray-haired, smooth faced, portly gentleman--the president of the steel
company, a well-known capitalist. The great man repeated Dan's name,
looking him over the while.

"Matthews. By your name and your build, sir, you are related to the
Grant Matthews who owns Dewey Bald."

"He is my father, sir," returned Dan, delighted.

"Ah yes. Through my interests in the lead and zinc industry, I am
familiar with your part of the country, sir. I have met your father
several times. It is not easy to forget such a man."

Dan now remembered the president's name, having heard it in connection
with the mines on Jake creek, near his home.

The capitalist continued, "I have tried several times to persuade your
father to open up that hill of his. He has a fortune in that mountain,
sir, a fortune! Are you interested in mining, Mr. Matthews?"

"Not directly, sir."

"No? Well, if your people should ever decide to develop that property
come to me; I know what it is. We would be glad to talk it over with you.
Good-bye, sir; glad to have met you. Good day, Doctor." And he was gone.

The Doctor and Dan dined with the genial superintendent and his family
that evening and the next morning set out for Corinth.




CHAPTER XXXVI.

GOOD-BYE

"But the big house for Dr. Harry is still empty when he returns from his
long drives; empty save for his dreams."


When Hope Farwell dismissed Dan that afternoon in the old Academy yard,
because she feared both for her lover and for herself, she had not for a
moment questioned what Dan's decision would be. With all the gladness
that their love had brought, there was in her heart no hope; for she
exacted of herself the same fidelity to her religious convictions that
she demanded of Dan. It would be as wrong for her to accept the church
as for him to reject it. So she had gone to the limit of her strength
for his sake. But when she reached again the privacy of her room, her
woman nature had its way. With the morning, strength returned
again--strength and calmness. Quietly she went about; for, while she had
left the whole burden of decision upon Dan, her heart was with her lover
in his fight.

At the appointed hour she left her friends in the garden and went into
the house as she had planned. She did not expect him but she had said
that she would wait his coming. Her heart beat painfully as the slow
minutes passed, bringing by his absence, proof that she had not misjudged
him. Then she went outside and looking up saw him standing at his window;
smiling, she even beckoned to him. She wished to make the victory
certain, final and complete. Very quietly she returned to her room. She
did not again enter the garden.

And now the young woman was conscious that she also had a part to do.
For every reason she must not remain in Corinth. She explained her plans
to Grace, for she could not leave the girl, and the two commenced to make
their simple preparations for the journey. Feeling that her strength was
not equal to the strain which another meeting with Dan would occasion,
there was no one left to bid good-bye save Deborah and Denny and--Dr.
Abbott.

Dr. Abbott's faithful Jim was waiting, ready for a long trip into the
country, when Miss Farwell reached the physician's home. Harry himself,
dressed for the drive, met her at the door.

"You were just answering a call," said the nurse. "I will not keep you,
Doctor."

"Not answering a call, just making a visit," he said, "and there is no
need at all for me to hurry, Miss Farwell." He led her to the library.

"I came to tell you good-bye," she said. "I could not go away without
thanking you, Dr. Abbott, for all your kindness to me."

The strong hands of the physician, so firm and sure in their professional
duties, trembled, as the man placed his hat and gloves on the table.

"To tell me 'good-bye,'" he repeated blankly.

"Yes," she answered, "I cannot remain longer in Corinth."

Harry's face flushed.

"Miss Farwell you do not know how sorry I am for my failure to--"

She interrupted, "Please don't Doctor. I know how you have tried," her
eyes filled, "and I know all that you have done. You understand it has
been for Grace--" she paused. "Grace will go with me. I am sure Dr. Miles
will find her a place in the hospital."

"Yes," he said, "I understand. I will--will see you again some day, Miss
Farwell."

"I shall never return to Corinth, Doctor," she answered with a shudder.
"If you come to the city, though, I shall always be glad to see you." The
words were as frank as from one man to another.

Harry was thinking of his friend, the minister, of the meeting in the
night, and Dan's plea to be taken to the doctor's home, where he had
remained until late the evening before he left for the church convention.
Why was she leaving Corinth while Dan was away attending the convention?
Did she know that he was gone? What did it all mean? Could it be--! He
started from his chair.

"I may see you again, then? You will be glad to see me, Miss Farwell?
Hope--tell me, surely you know what I would say! I would have said it
long ago but you would not let me. Tell me if there is any chance for
me--ever?"

She had risen to her feet and into her face there came a look of tender
sadness. She did not turn away, and the man, looking into those gray
eyes, knew that she spoke truly when she said, "I am sorry, Dr. Abbott,
oh so sorry! No, there can never be, for you more than my regard and
friendship." Her voice trembled. "I know how it hurts because for
me--for us--too, there is no chance."

Then Harry Abbott understood.

She left him in the library. Outside she paused a moment to bestow a
good-bye caress upon the doctor's horse and then she quickly went away.

Other helpers have now taken the place of the faithful old Mam Liz and
Uncle George, for these true souls have gone to the Master of all who
truly serve. But the big house for Dr. Harry is still empty when he
returns from his long drives; empty save for his dreams.

Dr. Harry will never leave Corinth. When the old Doctor berates him
roughly for wearing himself out for those who never express their
appreciation, and from whom he can never hope to receive a fee, he
laughingly retorts in kind, charging the Doctor himself with having
consigned to him such unprofitable patients. He will never give up his
patients; neither will he give up his dreams.

Miss Farwell's plans for the girl, whose life she had reclaimed, did not
fail. Dr. Miles, when he heard her story, gladly helped Grace to a place
in the school where she might fit herself for her chosen ministry; for,
said the famous physician, "The best nurses in the world are those who
have themselves suffered. No amount of professional skill can make up
for a lack of human sympathy and love."

As Dan, home from the convention, was turning wearily in at his gate,
Deborah, from the garden, called to him. By her manner as she came slowly
to the fence, Dan knew the good soul was troubled.

"It's a heavy heart I have, Mr. Matthews," she said; "for she's clean
gone, an' Denny an' me's that lonesome we don't know what to do."

Dan's big hand gripped the fence.

"Gone," he repeated blankly. He did not need to ask who was gone.

"Yes sir, gone--yesterday evenin' be the train, leavin' her kindest
regards and best wishes to you."




CHAPTER XXXVII.

RESULTS

"When he had finished his letter, he bowed his face in his hands and
wept."


Dan could not--or perhaps it should be written would not--understand
rightly his experience at the church convention. Sadly puzzled and
surprised by the spirit and atmosphere of that meeting to which he had
gone with such confidence, and sorely hurt by his reception, he had no
thought of the real reason for it all. He only blamed himself the more
for being so out of harmony--for failing so grievously to find the key
that should put him in tune.

In the great steel works among the sweating, toiling men; with the
superintendent of the plant, under whose hand men and machinery were
made to serve a great world's need; and with the president whose brain
and genius was such a power in the financial and industrial world Dan
had felt a spirit of kinship. Amid those surroundings he had been as
much at home as if he were again in his native hills, and for the hour
had forgotten his fellow churchmen and their ministries. But as their
train drew nearer and nearer Corinth, the Doctor saw by his companion's
face, and by his fits of brooding silence, that the minister was feeling
again the weight of his troublesome burden.

By this and by what he had seen at the convention, the old physician knew
that the hour in Dan's life for which he watched with such careful,
anxious interest, was drawing near.

With Hope gone out of his life he turned to his work with grim,
desperate, determination. What, indeed, had he now to which he might
turn but his work? He realized that now he must find in this work for
which he had made the supreme sacrifice of his life, the only thing that
would, to him, justify his choice--the choice that had cost both him and
the woman he loved so much suffering. His ministry had now become
something more to him than a chosen life work. To those high motives
that had led him to the service of the church, he added now the price he
had paid in giving up the woman who had grown so much into his life. He
_must_ find that in his ministry which would make the great price paid,
not in vain.

So, with all the strength of his great nature, he threw himself with
feverish energy into what had, in spite of himself, come to be a
too-empty ministry. Crushing every feeling of being misunderstood, and
unjustly criticized; permitting himself no thought that there were under
the surface treacherous currents working for his overthrow; blaming
himself always and others never, when he felt a lack of warmth or
sympathy in his people; yielding for the time even his own conviction as
to his teaching, and striving to shape his sermons to the established
lines of the Elders, he fought to put himself into his work.

And always, at the beck and call of Dan's real masters, that other
servant of the church--that spirit that lives in Corinth--wrought the
will of those whose ally it is.

That last meeting of Dan and Hope in the Academy yard, as if by
appointment; the sudden departure of the nurse so soon after; and Dan's
too-evident state of mind, were all skilfully used to give color to the
ugly whispered reasons for the nurse's leaving town so hurriedly.

The old Doctor knowing, watching, waited for the hour he knew would come;
understanding Dan as he had always understood him; wisely recognizing the
uselessness of doing aught but let him go his own strong, hard, way. And
Dr. Harry also, knowing the malignant power that was forcing the end, and
conscious what the end would be, watched silently, hopelessly,
helplessly, as many a time he had watched the grim drawing near of that
one whose certain coming his professional knowledge enabled him to
recognize, while giving him no power to stay.

Memorial Church was all astir, and on the tiptoe of expectancy,
preparing--they said--for the greatest revival ever held in Corinth. The
professional evangelist selected by the Elder, whose choice was, as a
matter of course, approved by his fellow officials and congregation, had
sent full instructions for the proper advertising of himself, and--as
his instructions stated--"the working up of the meeting." Dan ignoring
the slight to himself in the matter of calling the evangelist, did
everything in his power to carry out his part of the instructions.

The evangelist arrived. Royally received by the Elders and the inner
circle, he was escorted in triumph to the Strong mansion, which was to
be his home during the meeting, and within the hour began his
professional duty of "setting the church in order, and gathering a
mighty harvest of souls."

This evangelist was a good one, of his kind. His kind is that type of
professional soul-winner evolved by the system whereby the church pays
for the increase of its flock at so much per head, inasmuch as the number
of his calls, and the amount of his hire depend upon the number of
additions per meeting to the evangelist's credit. A soul-winner with
small meetings to his credit receives a very modest compensation for
his services, and short notices in the church papers. But the big
fellows--those who have hundreds of souls per meeting, come higher, much
higher; also they have more space given them in the papers, which helps
them to come higher still. Souls may have depreciated in value since
Calvary, but one thing is sure, the price of soul-winners has gone away
up since the days of Paul and his fellow ministers.

Preaching every night and conducting afternoon meetings, calling at the
homes of the people, directing the efforts of the members of the inner
circle, sometimes with Dan--oftener without him--fully informed and
instructed by the Judge, whose guest he was and to whom he looked for a
larger part of his generous salary, the evangelist made himself no small
power in the church of Corinth. Assisted always by the skill and strength
of the Ally, the effectiveness of his work from the standpoint of Elder
Strong and the inner circle at least, was assured.

That was a great meeting; a mighty revival, far reaching in its influence
and results! So the denominational papers had it from Judge Strong's
report, written while the services were still in progress, and edited by
the evangelist. And the papers published a greater truth than they knew.
There were influences of which they were ignorant, and the results
reached ends they dreamed not of.

Night after night--Dan heard the evangelist with harsh words and
startling roughness of expression, declare the awful, eternal disaster
that would befall every soul that did not accept the peculiar brand of
salvation which he and his church alone offered. He listened to the long
arguments planned to prove the rightness, and therefore righteousness,
of the evangelist himself and his denominational way, and the equal
wrongness, and therefore unrighteousness, of every other minister and
church not of his way. Then as he heard these utterances most
emphatically and enthusiastically indorsed by his Elders and people as
the old Jerusalem gospel, the conviction grew upon him that his preaching
would never be acceptable to Memorial Church.

And what place is there in the scheme of things as they are for the
unacceptable preaching of any gospel? What gospel can a preacher deliver
in order to be acceptable to his peculiar church save that church's
peculiar gospel? Dan was not one to ask the oft repeated question of
the ministry, "What must I preach in order that I may be saved?"

In the semi-secret workers meetings; in the still more private planning
of the committees; in the jubilant reports of the uneasiness of the other
churches; and in the satisfying accounts of the awakened opposition and
answering sermons of the other preachers; in the evidence of the general
stirring up of the community; and in the schemes for further advertising
and boosting the evangelist and the cause, Dan felt himself growing ever
more and more out of harmony--felt himself more and more alone.

In those days the sadness of his face grew fixed; his color lost its
healthy freshness; strange lines, that did not belong to his young
manhood, appeared; and the brown eyes that were wont to look at you so
openly, hopefully, expectantly, with laughter half-hidden in their
depths, were now doubting, questioning, fearful, full of pain.

The Doctor saw, and silently "stood by." Dr. Harry saw and wished that
it was all over.

Then came a letter from the officials of the Chicago church of which Dr.
Miles was a member. The letter asked if Dan would consider a call to that
congregation. Again and again Dan read the letter. What should he do? He
could not stay in Corinth. The sense of failure haunted him, while he was
unable to fix upon the reason for it. He condemned himself for committing
unknown offenses. Could he honestly go to another church? How should he
answer the letter? He could not answer it at once--perhaps in a few days!

While he hesitated the meeting drew to its triumphant close. After one
last, mighty, farewell effort, the evangelist departed to some other
grand harvest of souls, to some other church that needed "setting in
order." His work was well done! So well done that he was justified,
perhaps, in making another substantial increase in his stated weekly
"terms."

That night when the farewell meeting was over, and the last "good-bye"
and "God bless you" had been said to the evangelist, Dan stood alone in
his study, by the window that looked out upon Denny's garden. He was
very tired. Never before in his life had he known such weariness. He
felt that in the past few weeks he had neglected the garden down there.
For Denny and Deborah he had planned that the little plot of ground
should be more profitable that year than it had ever been before. He
would not neglect it longer. There at least were visible, actual returns
for his labor. Tomorrow he would spend in the garden.

But to-night--

Seating himself at his writing table he wrote the Chicago church that he
could not consider their call. And then in that little room where he had
made for his ministry the supreme sacrifice of his life; surrounded by
the silent witnesses of his struggle and victory, he penned his
resignation as the pastor of Memorial Church.

Dan Matthews will never outlive the suffering of that hour. He had lost
the woman he loved with all the might of his strong passionate manhood.
When she had waited and beckoned him to come, he had chosen his ministry.
And now--God pity him!--now he had lost that for which he had sacrificed
both himself and the woman he loved.

When he had finished his letter, he bowed his face in his hands and wept.




CHAPTER XXXVIII.

A HANDFUL OF GOLD

"'I fear it is more his church than mine, sir.'"


Rising early the next morning Dan looked from his window to see a
stranger already at work in the garden. He was tall, raw-boned, having
the figure and dress of a laborer. A few minutes later Dan was introduced
by the delighted Deborah to her brother Mike McGowan, who had arrived the
afternoon before from somewhere in the west. All the morning the two men
worked side by side with crippled Denny.

Returning to his self-appointed task in the afternoon, Dan was met by
the brawny Irishman who in a towering rage, was just leaving the house.

"Parson," he roared, "'tis a good man ye are, if ye be only a protestant
preacher--a damn good man sir, beggin' your pardon! But you've got a
danged poor kind of a boss, thot'll be lookin' more like he ought to
when I git through with him."

"Why, what's the matter?" asked Dan stopping with his back to the gate,
thus blocking the way, for he saw that the stranger was bent on violence
to someone. "Whom do you mean, by my boss?"

"Who do I mane? And who should I mane, but him that runs the thing yonder
they call a church, beggin' your pardon, sir. 'Tis the Elder, as you call
him--Judge Strong. I'll judge him, if I can coax him widin reach of my
two hands." He shook his huge, hairy fists in the air. "It's not strong
but wake he'll be when I git through wid him. Leave me pass, if you
please, sir."

Dan held his place. "Come, come McGowan," he said, "let's go into the
house and you tell me about this."

Deborah, who with Denny was standing in the doorway, called out to them,
"That's right Mr. Matthews. Come on in Mike, and talk it over quiet like;
let the minister tell ye what to do. It's him that'll save us a sight o'
trouble that nobody wants. Come in sir! Come on Mike, come with the
minister."

The wrathful Irishman hesitated. Dan laid a hand on his arm and together
they went into the cottage.

"'Twas this way sir," said McGowan, "I was sayin' to Debby and Denny here
at dinner what a danged fine man I took ye for after workin' wid ye all
mornin' in the garden, an' then she up an' tells me 'bout you fixin' up
the mortgage fer them an' how they niver could find out how you fixed it
with the Judge. 'The mortgage' says I, 'what mortgage is that, Debby?'
'The mortgage on the place, of course,' says she. 'Don't you mind, I was
tellin' you 'bout it when ye was here before?' 'Do I mind' says I, 'I
should think I did,' and wid that it all come out sir, and this is the
way of it.

"When I come from Colorado that time Jack was killed I found Debby here,
widout even money enough to pay for a mass, to say nothin' of the
buryin', bein' as they had put iverythin' into the little place here,
d'ye see? Well I had a run o' luck the week before, which is neither
here nor there, but I had money. I knowed from experience that it
wouldn't shtay by me long anyway, an' so I thought I'd kinda fix things
up fer Debby an' the kid here, while I could, d'ye see?

"Well when 'twas all over, I paid the undertaker's bills an' iverythin'
like that, an' then the very day I left I went to that damn thief,
beggin' your pardon, an' paid off that mortgage in good, hard cash.
Explainin' to him, d'ye see, that I wanted the papers all fixed up
straight and clear and turned over to Debby here, as a kind of a
surprise, d'ye see, after I was gone an' she would be feelin'
down-hearted bein' left by her man and me besides. The Judge bein', as I
knew, the main guy in the big church, I niver thought but that'd be all
right, d'ye see? Well sir, I went away that very day as tickled as a boy
over the thing an' niver thought nothin' about not gettin' a letter about
it from her, 'cause ye see wid me on the move so, most of the letters I
git from Debby niver find me at all. An' here she's tillin' me now that
she's niver heard nothin' 'bout it from the Judge an' she's been payin'
the interest right along, an' would a been turned out by him if it han't
a bin fer you, sir. An' me wid no writin' nor nothin' to show for the
good money I paid him. Now, ain't that a hell of a thing, sir? What kin I
do save bate the face off him onless he fixes it up right an' gives back
ivery cint he's had off her besides?"

As he listened to the Irishman's story, the new, drawn lines in Dan's
face deepened. He sat with bowed head as though he himself were being
charged with theft. When the tale was finished there was silence in the
little room for several minutes. Then Dan raised his head and the others
saw that in his eyes, as though he had received a mortal hurt.

"Tell me, Mr. McGowan," he said. "Are you sure there is not some mistake
somewhere? It is very hard for me to believe, that an Elder of the
church--would--" his voice broke.

The Irishman's rough tones were softened as he answered, "An' how could
there be any mistake, sir, wid me givin' him the hard cash out of me own
pocket after his tellin' me how much it was, an' his promise to fix it up
all right fer Debby when I'd explained the surprise I'd meant fer her?"

"You paid him the money, you say?"

"That I did sir--gold. Ye see I happened to have that draft--jest a
thousand an' I turned it in here at the bank. I remember how the feller
at the winder tried to make me take thim dirty bills an' I would not, as
neither would you if you lived as long in the west as I have, sir, an'
got used to the good, clean gold. 'It's the gold or nothin' I'll have'
says I to him, 'clean money to pay a clean debt' an' we had some words
over it--his bein' on the other side o' the winder, ye see, where he
could talk to me. An even eight hundred and fifty I gave the Judge, one
hundred and forty I paid the undertaker and the other tin I gave to Denny
here as I was leavin'. The priest I paid out of some I had in me belt."

"Come," said Dan, "we must go to the bank."

In the rear room of the little country bank, Dan introduced the Irishman
to the cashier, Colonel Dunwood.

"I think I have met Mr. McGowan before," said the Colonel with a smile.
"Mrs. Mulhall's brother are you not? You were here when Jack was killed."

"I was, sir. Glad to meet you again, sir."

"Do you remember cashing a draft for Mr. McGowan, Colonel?" asked Dan.

The banker laughed heartily. "I should say I did--a thousand dollars in
gold. I was glad the counter was between us, when I tried to persuade him
to take paper. Why sir, not in twenty years in this state would you find
a man who would even accept the gold, let alone fighting for it!"

Then Dan explained briefly the situation.

When he had finished the Colonel sprang to his feet with an oath. "And
that explains something that puzzled us here in the bank, for many a day.
Wait a minute."

He left the room to return with a slip of paper. "Can you tell me the
exact date on which you cashed the draft?" he said to McGowan.

"It was the day after the funeral. I disremember the date, but 'twould
be easy to find."

The banker nodded, "Our books show that I paid you the money the
sixteenth. And here," he laid the slip of paper before them, "is a
deposit slip made out and signed by Judge Strong dated the seventeenth,
showing that on that date he deposited eight hundred and fifty dollars
in gold. That is what puzzled us, Mr. Matthews--that the Judge should
deposit that amount of gold, there being, you see so little gold handled
here. It makes it very easy to trace. I'll illustrate." He turned to
Mike. "Did you spend any more of the gold in Corinth?"

McGowan told him about paying the undertaker. After a moment the Colonel
triumphantly laid before them a deposit slip made out by the undertaker
dated a day later, showing an item of one hundred and forty dollars in
gold.

"You see," he said, "how easy it is."

"Colonel Dunwood," said Dan, "would this be sufficient evidence before a
jury to--" He hesitated.

The Colonel let fly another oath, "Yes sir, and before any jury you could
get together in this county it wouldn't take half this to send that
damned, long-faced, sniveling, hypocrite where he belongs. He is one of
our best customers, too, but I reckon this bank can get along without his
dirty money. I beg your pardon, sir; I forgot he is an Elder in your
church."

Dan smiled sadly, "I fear it is more his church than mine, sir." And
they left the banker to puzzle over the minister's remark.

That evening Dan went again to the home of Judge Strong. He had persuaded
McGowan to let him act in the matter, for he feared that the Irishman's
temper would complicate things and make it more difficult to secure
Deborah's rights by creating some feeling in the community against the
little family.

Dan found the Judge in his library. Very quietly, sadly indeed, he told
the story. The Elder, righteously indignant, stormed at the minister,
denying everything; accusing Dan of being an impudent meddler;
threatening him with dismissal from, the church and the denomination;
accusing him even, with unlawful interest in the affairs of the widow,
and taunting him with the common reports as to his relations with Miss
Farwell and her companion.

Dan with a look of sadness growing deeper on his face listened, without
a word until the final insinuation; then he checked the other sharply,
and his voice had the ring of metal in it as he said slowly, "Judge
Strong you shall answer to me later for this insult to these good women.
Just now you will not mention them again. I am here in the interests of
Mr. McGowan. Confine your remarks to that subject."

Then he laid before the Judge the evidence he had obtained at the bank
and pointed out its damaging strength. The man was frightened now, but
still he obstinately denied having received any money in payment of the
mortgage. Dan pleaded with him, urging even the cause of the church,
telling also how McGowan had agreed to do nothing further if the Judge
would simply make restitution.

The Judge answered arrogantly that he had been a faithful member, and an
Elder in the Memorial Church, too long to be harmed by the charges of a
stranger, a wandering ruffian, who had nothing but his word to show that
he had paid him a sum of money. "And as for you, young man," he added,
"I may as well tell you now that your time is about up in Corinth, and
I'll take mighty good care that you don't get another church in our
brotherhood either. I'll show you that preachers get along better when
they attend to their own affairs."

Dan's final words, as he stood by the door, were, "I cannot believe Judge
Strong, that you will force my friends to take this matter into the
courts. But we will certainly do so if I do not receive from you by
tomorrow noon the proper papers and a check for every cent you have
taken from Mrs. Mulhall."

Until late in the night after Dan's departure, Judge Strong still sat at
his desk, deep in thought. Occasionally he rose to walk the floor.

When the Judge had received that money from McGowan he had had no thought
but regret at losing the property he coveted. With Deborah and Denny left
alone in the world, he knew that in time the place would be sure to come
to him. He had only to wait. This wild Irish brick-layer--and who knows
what beside--who was he to block the Elder's plans with his handful of
gold?

The gold! How well the Judge remembered that day, and how when Mike was
gone, he had sat contemplating the shining pieces! What a fool the man
was to carry such stuff on his person! The careful Judge never dreamed
that the money had come from his own bank. The Irishman was going away on
the morrow. Planning gleefully to surprise his sister, he had told no
one. He would wander far. It would be years before he would return, if he
ever came back. By that time the property would be--

It was seemingly all too easy. The Judge's character was not a character
to resist such an opportunity. The gold alone perhaps would not have won,
but the gold and the place--the place he had planned for and felt so
certain of owning--that was too much!

And now this big sad-faced preacher--the Irishman again, and the bank!
The more the Judge thought over Dan's quiet words, the more he saw the
danger.

So it came about, that the next morning Dan, waiting in his study,
received a visitor--the good old Elder--Nathaniel Jordan.




CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE VICTORY OF THE ALLY

"So the old Doctor found him in the late afternoon--his great strength
shaken by rage and doubt; found him struggling like a beast in the trap."


Nathaniel was greatly agitated as he faced the minister in the doorway.
He moved unsteadily across the room, stumbling toward the chair Dan
offered, and his hand shook so violently that his cane rattled against
the window ledge, where he attempted to lay it--rattled and fell to the
floor. He jumped in his seat at the sound. Dan picked up the cane and
placed it on the table. Then the Elder found his voice--thin and
trembling--and said, "I came about--about Brother Strong, you know."

"Yes," said Dan, a great pity for this good old man in his heart. "Did
Judge Strong send anything?"

The Elder fumbled in his pocket and drew out an envelope. He extended
it with shaking fingers to Dan, who opened it and examined the contents.
Slowly he replaced them in the envelope and, looking at his visitor,
waited.

Again the Elder found his voice and said with a little more self-control,
"A bad business, Brother Matthews; too bad, too bad; poor Brother
Strong!"

He shook his head sadly. Dan looked at him curiously, but made no reply.

"Poor Brother Strong," the Elder repeated. "Brother Matthews, I want to
ask you to use your influence with these people to keep this sad affair
from getting out. Do you think they will insist on--ah, on bringing
action against Brother Strong now--now that he has--ah, complied with
your request?"

"And why," asked Dan, "should you wish the matter kept secret?"

The Elder gazed at him blankly. "Why? Why, on account of the church, of
course. Judge Strong is one of our leading members--an Elder. He has been
for years. It would ruin us--ruin us!"

"But," said Dan coolly, "he is a thief. You must know that he stole this
money. Here--," he stretched forth his hand, holding the envelope, "here
is his confession of guilt."

The Elder's voice trembled again. "Brother Matthews! Brother Matthews!
I--I protest! Such language, applied to an Elder is unchristian; you
know the scripture?"

"Is it not true?" persisted Dan.

"Ahem! Brother Strong may have made a mistake, may--ah, have done wrong,
but the church--the church; we must think of the good name of the cause!
Coming so soon after the revival, too!"

"Am I to understand, then, that the church will keep this man in his
place as an Elder; that you will protect him when you know his true
character?"

At the question the other stared blankly. "Why--why how could we get
along without him?"

"How can you get along with him?" asked Dan.

"But there isn't a man in Corinth who has done so much for us and for
the missionary cause! No, no, we must be more careful, Brother Matthews."

"Then for the sake of his contributions and his position in the community
the church will shield him from the results of his crime?"

The Elder squirmed uneasily in his chair.

"Is that what you mean?" insisted Dan.

"Why--I--I don't think, Brother Matthews, for the good of our cause in
Corinth, that it would be good policy to make this matter public and so
create a great stir. Brother Strong has made restitution. We must be
charitable, brother, and forgiving. You must not think too--too hard of
him. Are these people determined to push this matter?"

"Oh, no," said Dan, "not at all. They want only that which belongs to
them. You may rest easy; as I told the Judge last night, this will end
the matter. It was under that promise that he made restitution, as
you call it. I was simply asking to know how the church would look upon
such a thing when it touches an Elder. You have explained it
clearly--_policy_!"

The Elder stiffened. It was remarkable how quickly he revived under Dan's
assurance that the danger was past! Very dignified now, as became one in
his position, he said, "Ahem, ahem! I fear, Brother Matthews, that you
are not--ah--not entirely in harmony with our brotherhood in many
things."

Dan was silent.

"Ahem! The tone of your sermons has been I may say--ah, questioned by a
good many of us, and your attitude toward the board has not been quite
as cordial as we feel we have a right to expect."

"Do you speak from personal experience, sir?"

"Oh, no--no indeed, Brother Matthews; but--ah, Brother Strong has felt
for some time past that you have treated him rather coldly."

Dan waited.

"A lack of harmony between a pastor and his Elder is very bad--ah, very
bad. Ahem! Ahem! And so, considering everything we--Brother Str--that is
the board have thought best that your relations with the Memorial Church
should discontinue."

"And when was this action taken?" asked Dan quietly.

"The day before the meetings closed. We wished to have the benefit of
Brother Sigman's advice before he left. He met with us and we considered
the whole matter quite carefully and prayerfully. I was appointed to tell
you. I should add that there is no doubt but the people will concur in
the board's decision. Many of the members, I may say, were seen before we
took action."

Dan glanced toward his desk where, in the envelopes, lay his resignation
and his answer to the Chicago church. In the excitement of McGowan's
trouble he had neglected to mail them.

"Of course," he questioned, quietly curious now, "the board will give me
a letter?"

"Ahem! We--ah, discussed that also," said the Elder. "Brother Strong and
the Evangelist--and, I may say, the entire board feel that we cannot
consistently do so."

"May I ask why?"

"Ahem! Your teaching, Brother Matthews, does not seem to be in harmony
with the brotherhood. We cannot endorse it, and the talk in the community
about your conduct has been very damaging; very!"

"Is it charged that my teaching has been false to the principles of
Christianity as taught by Christ?"

"I cannot discuss that part, Brother Matthews. It is not such teaching
as the churches of our brotherhood want."

"Does the church, sir, believe that my character is bad?"

"No, sir--no, sir! No one really believes that, but you have been--ah,
injudicious. There has been so much talk, you know--"

"Who has talked?" Dan interrupted.

The Elder continued, "These things follow a minister all his life. We
cannot recommend a man of bad repute to our sister churches; it would
reflect upon us."

"For the same reason that you keep in a high office in the church a man
who is an unrepentant thief?" said Dan.

The Elder rose. "Really, Brother Matthews, I cannot listen to such words
about our Elder!"

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Dan huskily. "I was thinking aloud. Please
tell me one thing more. I have here a letter from a church in Chicago
asking me to consider a call. Have the Elders received a letter from
them?"

"Ahem! Yes, we considered it at that same meeting."

"And you have written them?"

"We could not recommend you. I am sorry, Brother Matthews."

"I believe you are," said Dan slowly. "Thank you."

When the Elder was gone Dan turned sadly back to his little study; the
study that had come to stand so for everything to which he had devoted
his life with such holy purpose, for which he had sacrificed so much.

Slowly he went to his desk and looked down upon the work scattered over
it. Taking up the two letters he tore them slowly into fragments and
dropped them into the waste basket. Then as slowly he turned to his
books, touching many of the familiar volumes with a caressing hand. Then
he went to the table where lay his church papers and the missionary
pamphlets and reports. The envelope from Judge Strong caught his eye.

Mechanically he took his hat and went to carry the message to his friends
on the other side of the garden. From across the street the old Doctor
hailed him but he did not hear.

Delivering the envelope, with a few brief words, the minister left his
friends and wandered on down the street in a bewildered, dazed fashion,
scarce knowing where he went, or why; until he turned in through the gap
in the tumble-down fence to the old Academy yard.

But he could not stay there. The place was haunted, he could not stay!
He turned his face toward the open country, but the fields and woodlands
had no call for him that day. It was his little study that called; his
books, his work.

As one goes to sit beside the body of a dear friend, conscious that the
friend he loved is not there, yet unable to leave the form wherein the
spirit had lived, so Dan went back to his room, his desk, his books, his
papers--that which had been his work.

And now the deep passions of the man stirred themselves--awoke. Wild
anger, mad rage, seized and shook him. His whole sense of justice was
outraged. This was not Christianity, this thing that had caught him in
its foul snare! And if the church was not Christian what was
Christianity? Was there, indeed, such a thing? Was it all such a hollow
mockery?

So the Doctor found him in the late afternoon--his great strength shaken
by rage and doubt; found him struggling like a beast in the trap.

And the Doctor saw that the hour for which he had waited had come.

Dan needed him--needed him badly!




CHAPTER XL.

THE DOCTOR'S GLASSES

"'There is no hatred, lad, so bitter as that hatred born of a religious
love; no falsehood so vile as the lie spoken in defense of truth; no
wrong so harmful as the wrong committed in the name of righteousness; no
injustice so terrible as the injustice of those who condemn in the name
of the Saviour of the world!'"


When Dan, forced into something of his habitual self-control and calmness
by the presence of his old friend, began telling the Doctor of the action
of the church the other checked him abruptly with, "I know all about
that, lad."

"You know!" ejaculated Dan.

"Certainly I know. Isn't Martha one of the elect? I reckon everybody in
the whole town but you knew it before noon of the day after the meeting."

Dan muttered something about being a blind fool and the old Doctor
answered, "Humph! The fools are they who see too much, boy. Such
blindness as yours is a gift of the gods; for Heaven's sake don't let
any quack fit you out with glasses!"

Dan threw himself wearily into a chair and there was a spirit of
recklessness in his reply, as though he were letting go of himself again.
"How is a blind man to recognize a quack? I would to God I had your
glasses!"

"Perhaps," said the Doctor deliberately, "I might lend them to you, just
for once, you know."

"Well then," said the other, sitting up suddenly, "let me have them! How
do you see this thing? What have I done or not done? For what shall I
blame myself? What fatal error have I made that, with the best of
motives, with the--," he hesitated, then--"I can say it to you, Doctor,
and I will--with the sacrifice of the dearest thing in the world to me, I
am cast out in this fashion? If I can find a reason for it, I can bear
it."

"It is your blindness, boy. You could not help it; you were born blind.
I have always known this would come."

"You have always known this would come?" repeated Dan questioningly.

"Yes, I have always known, because for half a century, boy, I have
observed the spirit of this institution. Mind, I do not say the spirit
of the people in the institution. Strong people, Dan, sometimes manage
to live in mighty sickly climates. The best people in the world are
sometimes held by evil circumstances which their own best intentions
have created. The people in the church are the salt of the earth. If
it were not for their goodness the system would have rotted long ago.
The church, for all its talk, doesn't save the people; the people save
the church. And let me tell you, Dan, the very ones in the church who
have done the things you have seen and felt, at heart respect and believe
in you."

Dan broke forth in such a laugh as the Doctor had never heard from his
lips. "Then why?"

"Because," said the old man, "it is their religion to worship an
institution, not a God; to serve a system, not the race. It is history,
my boy. Every reformation begins with the persecution of the reformer
and ends with the followers of that reformer persecuting those who would
lead them another step toward freedom. Misguided religious people have
always crucified their saviors and always will!"

Dan was silent, awed by the revelation of his old friend's mind.
Presently the Doctor continued, "There is no hatred, lad, so bitter as
that hatred born of a religious love; no falsehood so vile as the lie
spoken in defense of truth; no wrong so harmful as the wrong committed
in the name of righteousness; no injustice so terrible as the injustice
of those who condemn in the name of the Saviour of the world!"

"What then, as you see it--what can I do?" demanded Dan.

The Doctor changed his tone. His reply was more a question than an
answer. "There are other churches?"

Dan laughed bitterly. "They have taken care of that, too." He began to
tell of the call to Chicago and the Elders' refusal to give him a letter,
but again the Doctor interrupted him. "Yes, I know about that, too."

"Well," demanded Dan almost angrily.

"Well," answered the other easily, "there are still other churches."

"You mean--."

"I mean that you are not the only preacher who has been talked about by
his church, and branded by his official board with the mark of the devil
in the name of the Lord. It's easy enough! Go farther, get a little
obscure congregation somewhere, stay long enough to get a letter, not
long enough to make another name; try another in the same fashion. Lay
low, keep quiet, stay away from conventions, watch your chance, and--when
the time is ripe--make a hit with the state workers in some other state.
You know how! It's all easy enough!"

Dan leaped to his feet. "Good God, Doctor! I have done nothing wrong. Why
should I skulk, and hide, and scheme to conceal something I never did,
for the privilege of serving a church that doesn't want me? Is this the
ministry?"

"It seems to be a large part of it," answered the other deliberately.
"My boy, it's the things that preachers have not done that they try
hardest to hide. As to why, I must confess that I am a little
near-sighted myself sometimes."

"I can't, I can't do it, Doctor!"

"Humph! I didn't suppose you could," came dryly from the old man.

Dan did not heed but went on in a hopeless tone to tell the Doctor how he
had written his resignation, and had declined to consider the call to
Chicago. "Don't you see that I couldn't take a church if one were offered
me now?" he asked. "Don't you understand what this has done for me? It's
not the false charges. It's not that! It's--it's the thing, whatever it
is, that has made this action of the church possible. I am forced to
doubt, not alone the church, but everything--the people, myself, God,
Christ, Christianity, life itself; everything! How can I go on with a
work, in which I cannot say to myself with truth that I believe?" His
voice ended in a groan.

And the old man, who knew the lad so well felt as though he were gazing
upon the big, naked soul. Then, indeed, the Doctor knew that the hour had
come.

There are those who, capable of giving but little to life, demand of life
much in return. To such weak natures doubt means not much. But souls like
this one, capable of giving themselves to the last atom of their
strength, demand no small returns in convictions as to the worthiness of
the cause to which they contribute. To such, doubt is destruction. It was
because Dan had believed so strongly, so wholly in the ministry of the
church that he had failed. Had he not accepted so unreservedly, and given
himself so completely to the ministry as it was presented to him in
theory, had he in some degree doubted, he would have been able to adjust
himself to the actual conditions. He would have succeeded.

For while, theoretically, the strength of the church is in its fidelity
to the things in which it professes to believe; practically and actually
the strength of the church of today is in its tacit acceptance of its
unbeliefs. Strange things would befall us if we should ever get the habit
of insisting that our practice square with our preaching; if churches
should make this the test of fellowship--that men must live their
doctrines, rather than teach them--that they must live their beliefs
rather than confess them--that they must live their faiths, rather than
profess them.

Dan's was not a nature that could preach things in which he only half
believed to a people whose belief he knew to be no stronger than his own.
It was with these things in mind that the Doctor had waited for this
moment in Dan's life, for the old man realized, as the young man could
not, what such moments mean.

Rising and going to the window overlooking the garden the Doctor called
to Dan, "Come here, boy!"

Together they stood looking down on the little plot of ground with its
growing vegetables, where Denny, with his helpless, swinging arm, and
twisted, dragging foot, was digging away, his cheery whistle floating up
to them. The physician spoke with a depth of feeling he had never
betrayed before, while Dan, troubled as he was, listened in wonder to
his friend, who had always been so reticent in matters such as this.

"Dan," he said, "you wished for my glasses. 'Tis always a mighty
dangerous thing to try to see through another man's eyes, but here are
mine." He pointed below.

"Down there I see religion--Christianity--what you will, but religion;
living, growing, ever-changing, through the season-ages; lying dormant
sometimes, it may be, but always there; yielding to each season the
things that belong to that season; depending for its strength and power
upon the Great Source of all strength and power; depending as truly upon
man's efforts, upon his cultivation and care. There is variety, harmony,
law, freedom. There is God! Something for all--potatoes, peas, turnips,
cabbage. If you do not care for lettuce, perhaps radishes will satisfy.
And there, boy, in the midst of his church, ministering to the needs of
his congregation, and thus ministering to men--is my minister: crippled,
patient Denny, who gives his frail strength to keep the garden growing.

"And look you, boy, at the great rock in the very center of the field!
How often Denny has wished it out of his way! I caught the poor lad
digging, one time, to find, if he could, how deep it is in the earth,
and how big. For three days I watched him. Then he gave it up. It is
beyond his strength and he wisely turned to devote his energies to the
productive soil around it.

"There is a rock in every garden, Dan. Religion grows always about the
unknowable. But Denny's ministry has naught to do with the rock, it has
to do with the growing things about it. So religion is in the knowable
things not in the unknowable; there such men as you, lad, must find it.
And the rock, boy, was not put in the garden by men. It belongs to the
earth itself."

While the Doctor was speaking his eyes had been fixed on the crippled
boy in the garden. He turned now, for the first time, to face the young
man by his side. Dan's eyes had that wide, questioning look. The old
physician moved to the other window.

"Now come, see what men have done." He pointed to the cast-iron monument.
"These people will tell you that was erected to commemorate the life of
my friend. His was a warm, tender, loving spirit--a great, ever-growing
soul. What can that hard, cold, immovable mass tell of him? How can that
thing--perpetuating an issue that belongs to a past age, that has nothing
to do with the life of today--how can that thing speak of the great heart
that loved and gave itself always to men?

"Through my glasses that is the church! How can an institution, or a
system of theological beliefs--with cast-iron prejudices, cast-iron
fidelity to issues long past and forgotten, cast-iron unconcern of vital
issues of the life of today and cast-iron want of sympathy with the
living who toil and fight and die on every side--how can such speak the
great loving, sympathetic, helpful spirit of Him whose name only it
bears, as that bears only the name of my friend?

"But would the people of this town, out of love for my dead friend, tear
down that monument if Denny should leave his garden to argue with them
about it? Why, they would tell him that it is because of their love for
the statesman that they keep it there and they believe it--and it is
true. Well, then, let them keep their monument and let Denny work in his
garden! And don't you see, Dan, that the very ones who fight for the
cast-iron monument must depend at last for their lives and strength upon
the things that Denny grows in his garden. Now boy, that's the first and
only time I ever preached."




CHAPTER XLI

THE FINAL WORD

"'This closes my ministry as you understand it. It by no means closes my
ministry as I have come to understand it.'"


Dan's farewell sermon was to be given in the evening. John Gardner,
who--true to the promise he had made when he challenged the minister,
after that sermon on "Fellowship of Service"--had become a regular
attendant, was present in the morning.

In the afternoon the farmer called on Dan in his study.

"Look here, Dan," he said. "You are making the mistake of your life."

"You're wrong, John. I made that mistake nearly two years ago," he
answered.

"I mean in leaving Corinth as you are leaving it."

"And I mean in coming to Corinth as I came to it."

"But wait a minute; let me tell you! You have done a lot of good in this
town; you don't know--."

"So have you done a lot of good, John; you don't know either."

The farmer tried again. "You have helped me more than you know."

"I'm glad, John, because you have helped me more than _you_ know."

"Oh, come; you know what I mean!"

"Well, don't you know what I mean?"

"Yes, I think I do. I've been listening pretty close to your sermons and
so have a lot of others. I have managed to talk with a good many church
people since it was known that you were going; just common plugs in the
congregation, like me, you know." Dan smiled. "We all understand what
you have been driving at in your preaching, and we know pretty well what
the bosses think about it, and why they have let you out. No one takes
any stock in that foul gossip, not even Strong himself. Now what I came
to say is this: a lot of us want you to stay. Why can't we have another
church for our people right here in Corinth? There's enough of us to back
you, and we mean business."

Dan shook his head sadly.

"Thank you, John," he said simply. "It is useless for me to try to tell
you how much good this does me; but I can't accept. I have thought of the
possibility you mention, but I can't do it. You do not need another
church in Corinth. You have more than you need now."

Nor could any argument move him.

"Well," said the farmer, when at last he gave it up and rose to say
good-bye, "I suppose I'll keep right on being a church member, but I
reckon I'll have to find most of my religion in my work."

"And that," said Dan, as he gripped his friend's hand, "is the best place
I know of to look for it. If you cannot find God in your everyday work,
John, you'll not find Him on Sunday at the church."

That farewell sermon is still talked about in Corinth or rather--it
should be said--is still remembered, for it was one of those sermons of
which, while little could be said, much could never be forgotten. And the
picture of the big lad, whose strong, clean-looking body drooped so as if
in great weariness; whose frank open countenance was marked with drawn
lines; in whose clear brown eyes were shadows of trouble and pain; whose
voice betrayed the sadness of a mighty soul, will also remain long in the
memory of those who were there that evening.

The place was crowded. The triumphant Judge and his friends of the inner
circle were there in force, striving in vain to hide, with pious
expression of countenance, the satisfaction and pride they felt in their
power. The other members were there, curious to hear what Dan would say;
wondering how much he knew of the methods that had brought about his
dismissal; a little sorry for him; a little indignant; and with a feeling
of impotence withal that made their sorrow and indignation of no worth
whatever. With identically the same emotions as the members, except that
it felt free to express them more freely, the world was there. To a
portion of the congregation Dan stood in the peculiar position of a
friend whom, as an individual, they loved and trusted, but whom, as a
preacher, they were forced to regard as unsafe and dangerous.

It would not do to report all he said, for much of his sermon was not
fashioned for the printed page.

But his final words were: "It is not the spirit of wealth, of learning,
or of culture that can make the church of value, or a power for good in
the world, but the spirit of Christ only. It is not in fidelity to the
past but in fidelity to the present that the church can be Christian. It
is not the opinion of man, but the eternal truths of God that can make it
a sacred, holy thing. It is holy to the degree that God is in it. God is
as truly in the fields of grain, in the forests, in the mines, and in
those laws of Nature by which men convert the product of field and forest
and mine into the necessities of life. Therefore these are as truly holy
as this institution. Therefore, again, the ministry of farm, and mine,
and factory, and shop; of mill, and railroad, and store, and office, and
wherever men toil with strength of body or strength of mind for that
which makes for the best life of their kind--that ministry is sacred and
holy.

"Because I believe these things I am, from this hour, no longer a
professional preacher, hired by and working under the direction of any
denomination or church leaders. This closes my ministry as you understand
it. It by no means closes my ministry as I have come to understand it."

When he had finished they crowded around him to express regret at his
going--sorry that he was leaving the ministry; the church needed men of
his great ability--prayed God to bless him wherever he should go--all
this and much more, with hand-shaking and many tears from the very people
who had made it impossible for him to stay. For this is the way of us
all!

As quickly as he could Dan left the church, and with the Doctor walked
toward home. The two made no exchange of words, until they reached the
monument, where they paused to stand silently contemplating the cast-iron
figure. At last Dan turned with a smile. "It is very good cast-iron, I
suppose, Doctor."

Then, as if dismissing the whole matter, he took his old friend's arm
and, with a joyous ring in his voice that had not been there for many
months, said, "Doctor, you'll do me one favor before I leave, won't you?"

"What?"

"Go fishing with me tomorrow. There is something, still, before I can
leave Corinth--. I do not know how--Will you go?"




CHAPTER XLII.

JUSTICE

"The last shadow of his Corinthian ministry had been lifted from his
soul."


Early the next morning Dan and the old Doctor set out for Wheeler's Ford.
It was the nearest point, and while the fishing was not so good as at
other places they knew the spot was what they wanted. This was one of the
days when they would go fishing--but not for fish.

Leaving their rig by the roadside near the fence, the two friends
wandered away up the stream; casting their hooks now and then at the
likely places; taking a few fish; pausing often to enjoy the views of
silver water, over-hanging trees, wooded bluffs, rocky bank or grassy
slope, that changed always with the winding of the creek.

Returning to the rig for their lunch and to give the old horse his
generous allowance, they went downstream in the afternoon, this time
leaving their rods behind.

"Really, you know," said the Doctor, "the tackle is such a bother on this
kind of a fishing trip." At which sage remark Dan's laugh rang out so
freely that the woods on the other side of the little valley gave back
the merry sound.

Dan felt strangely light-hearted and free that day. The Doctor thought
the lad was more like himself than he had been for months. The truth is
that Dan's gladness was akin to the gladness of home-coming. He felt as
one who, having been for long years in a foreign land, returns to his
own country and his own people. He was again a man among his fellow-men,
with no barrier between him and his kind. Once more he was in the world
to which he belonged, and it was a good world.

There was, too, a strange, delightful feeling of nearness to her--the
woman he loved. He had had no word since she left Corinth, nor did he
know where she was. He would never find her again, perhaps, but he no
longer belonged to a world separate and apart from her world. He felt
nearer to her even than when they were together that last time in the
old Academy yard.

Dan was conscious, too, of a sense of freedom--of a broader, fuller life
than he had ever known. Through the old Doctor's timely words, setting
his thoughts into new channels, he had come out of his painful experience
with a certain largeness of vision that made him stronger. He had found
himself. He did not know yet what he would do; he had plans dimly formed,
but nothing fixed. What did it matter? Somewhere he felt his garden
waited for him; he would find his work. He was free from the deadening
influence of the cast-iron monument and that, for the moment, was enough.
So far as his Corinthian ministry was concerned only one shadow, out of
all the dark cloud of his troubled experience remained. When that was
lifted he would turn his back upon Corinth forever, but until then he did
not feel free to go.

They were lying on the grassy bank of a woodland pasture, where a herd
of cattle grazed or lay contentedly in the shade of the scattered trees.

"Heigh-ho," said the Doctor, "I believe I will go with you, lad."

For some time they had been silent and it was almost as though the old
man had spoken to his companion's thoughts.

"Go where?" asked Dan, turning over on his side and half-raising himself
on his elbow.

"Why home to Mutton Hollow, of course. You'll be leaving pretty soon now,
I reckon."

"I suppose so," mused Dan vaguely. "But I'm not going home."

The old Doctor sat up. "Not going home!"

Dan smiled. "Not just yet," he answered. "I want to run about a little
first."

"Uh-huh," the Doctor nodded. "Want to get your hair dry and your shirt on
right side out before you face the folks."

Dan laughed. "Perhaps I want to look for my garden," he said.

"Good!" ejaculated the other, now very much in earnest. "Let me help you,
lad. You know what I have always hoped for you. My profession needs--."

Dan interrupted gently, "No. No Doctor, not that. I have a notion--but
there--it's all too vague yet to even discuss. When I am ready to go home
I'll write you and you can meet me there. Will you?"

The old man hid his disappointment, answering heartily, "Sure I will!
I'll be there when you arrive, to help kill the fatted calf." He did not
tell Dan of a letter from his mother urging him, for certain reasons, to
visit them, or that he had already promised her to be with them when Dan
should return.

The shadows were beginning to stretch toward the river, and the cattle
were moving slowly in the direction of the farmyard, hidden somewhere
beyond the fringe of timber, when the two friends went leisurely back to
the road to find their rig and start for home.

Climbing the fence they paused and--seated on the top rail--watched a
team and buggy just coming down the opposite bank of the stream to cross
the ford. Midway the horses stopped to drink.

"By George," muttered the Doctor, "it's our friend the Judge!"

The same instant, Dan recognized the man in the buggy. With the
recognition all the brightness went out of his face--as a cloud, all the
sadness returned.

"Doctor," Dan said, slipping down from the fence as he spoke, "excuse me
a minute. I must speak to that man."

The Doctor kept his place on the fence, while Dan stepped into the road.
The team, when they had left the ford, stopped as they reached him.

"How do you do, Doctor?" called the man in the buggy in a loud voice;
then to Dan, "Well, sir, what do you want now?"

Dan stood near the horses' heads, his eyes fixed on their driver, and the
Judge, seeing the sorrow in his face, misunderstood, as always.

"Judge Strong," said Dan. "You are the only man in the world with whom I
am not at peace. I cannot be content to leave Corinth, sir, with anything
between us."

The crafty Judge thought he understood. He took Dan's words, with his
manner, as an acknowledgment of defeat; an act of submission. The Elder
had not believed that the young man had really wished to leave the
ministry. He was quite sure now that the preacher, recognizing at last
the power that had thrust him from his position and place in the church,
wished to sue for peace, that the same power might help him to another
position. So this big upstart was tamed at last, was he?

The Doctor, sitting on the fence and hearing every low-spoken word, held
a different view of the situation.

"Well," said the Judge haughtily.

Dan hesitated. "I--I wished to ask a favor, sir; one that I feel sure a
Christian could not refuse."

Now the Judge was confident of his position and power. He grew still more
dignified and looked at Dan with the eye of a master.

"Well, out with it. It is growing late and I must be going."

"You will remember, sir, that the last time I called on you in your home,
you made certain grave charges against three women who are my friends."

"I repeated only the common--"

"Wait, please," interrupted Dan. "This is a matter between you and me. I
understand that you were angry and spoke hastily. Won't you please
retract those words now?" Dan's voice was almost pleading in its sad
slowness; his eyes were on the Judge with an anxious, appealing look.
Disappointed at the request so different from that which he had expected,
the Judge angrily answered, "Stand out of my way; I have no time for
this, sir!"

But quietly, carelessly it seemed, Dan laid one hand on the back of the
nearest horse, almost touching the rein, and moved a step or two closer
to the buggy.

"Sir, I am sure you do not understand. Miss Farwell and I--I had hoped
to make her my wife. We--we parted because of the church."

The Doctor on the fence felt a lump in his throat at the pain in the
boy's voice. Dan continued, "I am telling you, sir, so that you will
understand. Surely you cannot refuse to take back your words under the
circumstances."

"Oh, I see," sneered the Judge. "You lost the girl because of the church
and then you lost the church! A fine mess you made of your pious
interference with other people's business, didn't you?" And then he
laughed. Looking straight into those sad, pleading eyes--he laughed.

"The damned fool," muttered the old Doctor on the fence.

"Am I to understand that you refuse to retract your words after my
explanation?" Dan's tone was mildly doubtful.

The Judge was well pleased at what he had heard.

"I have absolutely nothing to take back, sir." He laughed again. "Now
if that is all, stand aside!"

But suddenly the light in Dan's eyes flashed red.

"No!" he cried, "that is not all!" With a long step he reached the side
of the buggy.

The next moment the Judge found himself on the ground.

"Wh--what do you mean sir?" he roared. "Take your hands off of me!"

Dan's voice was trembling with rage, but he spoke deliberately.

"You unspeakable cur, I have felt sorry for you because of your warped
and twisted nature; because you seemed so incapable of being anything
more than you are. I have given you a chance to act like a man,
and--you--you laugh at me! You escaped punishment for your theft from
that poor widow. You have escaped from God knows how many such crimes.
But now, in the name of the people you have tricked and robbed under the
cover of business, in the name of the people you have slandered and
ruined under cover of the church, I'm going to give you what such a
contemptible rascal as you are, deserves."

The Judge was a large man, in the prime of life, but his natural weapons
of warfare were those of the fox, the coyote and their kin. Cornered, he
made a show of resistance, but he was as a child in the hands of the
young giant, who thrashed him until he lay half-senseless, moaning and
groaning in pain, on the ground.

When Dan at last drew back the Doctor, who through it all had remained
quietly seated on the fence--an interested spectator--climbed down from
his position and came slowly forward. Looking the Judge over with a
professional eye he turned to Dan with a chuckle.

"You made a mighty good job of it, lad; a mighty good job. Lord, how I
envied you! Chuck him into his buggy now, and I'll take him home. You
can follow in our rig."

So they went home in the dusk of the evening. And the old Doctor told
around town a tale of how the Judge had met with an accident at Wheeler's
Ford that would keep him in the house for quite a spell.

Dan spent his last evening in Corinth with Dr. Harry and the next morning
he left. The last shadow of his Corinthian ministry had been lifted from
his soul.

Corinth still talks of the great days that are gone, and the greater days
that are to come, while still the days that are, are dead days--shadowed
by the cast-iron monument which yet holds its place in the heart of the
town, and makes of the community a fit home for the Ally.

Judge Strong has gathered to himself additional glory and honor by his
continued activity and prominence in Memorial Church and in his
denomination, together with his contributions to the various funds for
state and national work.

Elder Jordan has been gathered to his fathers. But Nathaniel came to feel
first, the supreme joy of seeing his daughter Charity proudly installed
as the assistant pastor to the last of Dan's successors. They live at the
old Jordan home and it is said he is the most successful preacher that
the Memorial Church has ever employed, and the prospects are he will
serve for many years to come.

Denny, through his minister friend, has received his education
and--surrounded now by the books he craved--cultivates another garden,
wherein he bids fair to grow food for men quite as necessary as cabbages
or potatoes. Deborah is proud and happy with her boy; who, though he be
crippled in body, has a heart and mind stronger than given to many.

The Doctor seldom goes fishing now, though he still cultivates his roses
and, as he says, meddles in the affairs of his neighbors. And still he
sits in his chair on the porch and watches the world go by. Martha says
that, more and more, the world, to the Doctor, means the doings of that
minister Dan Matthews.

It was a full month after Dan left Corinth when he wrote his old friend
that he was going home. The Doctor carefully packed his fishing tackle
and started for Mutton Hollow.




CHAPTER XLIII.

THE HOME COMING

"Some things, thank God, are beyond the damning power of our
improvements."


And now this story goes back again to the mountains to end where it
began: back to where the tree-clad ridges roll, like mighty green billows
into the far distant sky; where the vast forests lie all a-quiver in the
breeze, shimmering in the sun, and the soft, blue haze of the late summer
lies lazily over the land.

Beyond Wolf ridge, all up and down Jake and Indian creeks, and even as
near as Fall creek, are the great lead and zinc mines. Over on Garber
the heavily loaded trains, with engines puffing and panting on the heavy
grades, and waking the echoes with wild shrieks, follow their iron way.
But in the Mutton Hollow neighborhood, there are as yet no mines, with
their unsightly piles of refuse, smoke-grimed buildings, and clustering
shanties, to mar the picture. Dewey Bald still lifts its head in proud
loneliness above the white sea of mist that still, at times, rolls over
the valley below. The paths are unaltered. From the Matthews house on
the ridge, you may see the same landmarks. The pines show black against
the sunset sky. And from the Matthews place--past the deerlick in the
big, low gap past Sammy's Lookout and around the shoulder of
Dewey--looking away into the great world beyond, still lies the trail
that is nobody knows how old.

So in life. With all the changes that time inevitably brings, with all
our civilization, our inventions and improvements, some things must
remain unchanged. Some things--the great landmarks in life and in
religion, the hills, the valleys, the mists, must ever remain the same.
Some things, thank God, are beyond the damning power of our improvements.

In minor things the Matthews home itself is altered. But Dan's father
and mother are still--in spite of the years that have come--Young Matt
and Sammy.

It was that best of all seasons in the Ozarks--October--the month of
gold, when they were sitting on the front porch in the evening with the
old Doctor, who had arrived during the afternoon.

"Now, Doctor," said the mother, "tell us all about it." There was no
uneasiness in her calm voice, no shadow of worry in her quiet eyes. And
the boy's father by her side was like her in serene confidence. They knew
from Dan's letters something of the trials through which he had passed;
they had assured him often of their sympathy. It never occurred to them
to doubt him in any way or to question the final outcome.

"Yes, Doctor," came the deep voice of the father. "We have had Dan's
letters of course, but the lad's not one to put all of his fight on
paper. Let's have it as you saw it."

So the Doctor told them--told of the causes that had combined to put Dan
on the rack, that had driven him in spite of himself to change his views
of the church and its ministry; told of the forces that had been arrayed
against him, how the lad had met these forces, and how he had battled
with himself--all that the Doctor had seen in the months of watching; all
that he knew of Dan, even to the time when Dan declared his doubt of
everything, and to the chastising of Judge Strong. He omitted nothing
except the declaration he had heard Dan make to the Judge.

Several times the narrator was interrupted by the deep-voiced, hearty
laugh of the father, or with exclamations of satisfaction. Sometimes the
Doctor was interrupted by a quick, eager question from the mother, that
helped to make the story clear. Many times they uttered half-whispered
exclamations of wonder, distress or indignation.

"When he left Corinth," said the Doctor in conclusion, "he told me that
he had no clearly-defined plans, though he hinted at something that he
had in mind."

"But, Doctor, haven't you forgotten a very important part of your story?"
the mother asked.

"What have I forgotten?" he questioned.

"Why, the girl of course. What is a story without a girl?" she laughed
merrily.

To which the Doctor answered, "I reckon Dan will tell you about that
himself."

At this they all joined in a hearty laugh.

The next day Dan arrived and after a brief time, given up to the joy of
family reunion, he took up the story where the Doctor had left off.

From Corinth Dan had gone directly to the president of the big steel
works, whom he had met at the time of the convention. With the assistance
and advice of this man of affairs he had been visiting the big mines and
smelters and studying zinc and lead. He had worked out his plan and had
interested capital and had come home to consult with his parents
concerning the opening and development of the mine on Dewey Bald.

Then he talked to them of the power of wealth for good, of the sacredness
of such a trust--talked as they had never heard him talk before of the
Grace Conners, and the crippled Dennys, who needed elder brothers willing
to acknowledge the kinship.

When he had finished his mother kissed him and his father said, "It is
for this, son, that mother and I have held the old hill yonder. It is a
part of our religious belief that God put the wealth in the mountains,
not for us alone, but for all men. So it has been to us a sacred trust,
which we have never felt that we were fitted to administer. We have
always hoped that our first born would accept it as his life work--his
ministry."

So Dan found his garden--and entered the ministry that has made his life
such a blessing to men.

The next morning he saddled his mother's horse early. At breakfast she
announced that she was going over to the Jones ranch on the other side
of Dewey. "And what are you planning to do today?" she said to Dan as he
followed her out of the house.

"I was going over to old Dewey myself," he answered. "I thought I would
like to look the ground over." He smiled down at her. "But now I'm going
with you. Just wait a minute until I saddle a horse."

She laughed at him. "Oh no, you're not."

"But, mother, I want to talk to you. I--I have something to tell you."

"Yes, I know," she nodded. "You have already told me--"

"Has Doctor--" he burst forth.

"No indeed! For shame, Dan. You know Doctor wouldn't. It was in your
letters, and--But I have planned for you to tell me the rest this
evening. Go with your father and Doctor to look at the stock this
morning and write your business letters while I attend to _my_ affairs.
Then, the first thing after dinner, you slip away alone over to Dewey
and do your planning. Perhaps I'll meet you on the old trail as you come
back. You see I have it all fixed."

"Yes," he said slowly, "you always have things fixed, don't you? What a
mother you are! There's only one other woman in all the world like you."

And at this she answered bravely, "Yes, I know dear. I have always known
it would come, and I am glad, glad my boy--but--I--I think you'd better
kiss me now." So she left him standing at the fence and rode away alone
down the old familiar path.

After dinner Dan set out.




CHAPTER XLIV.

THE OLD TRAIL

"... Those whose hearts and souls are big enough to follow the trail
that is nobody knows how old."


Leaving the ridge just beyond the low gap, Dan made his way down the
mountain side into the deep ravine, below Sammy's Lookout, that opens
into the hollow.

For an hour he roamed about, his mind upon his plans for the development
of the wealth that lay in the heart of the mountain. After a time, still
intent upon his work, he scrambled up the end of the little canyon,
regained the ridge near the mouth of the cave, then climbed up on the
steep slope of Dewey to the top. From here he could follow with his eye
a possible route for the spur that should leave the railroad on Garber
to the east, round the base of the mountain and reach the mine through
the little ravine on the west.

From the top he made his way slowly toward the Lookout, thinking from
there to gain still another view of the scene of his proposed operations
and to watch the trail for the coming of his mother.

Drawing near the great ledge of rock that hangs so like a cornice on the
mountain side, he caught a glimpse--through the screen of trees and
bushes--of a figure seated on the old familiar spot. His mother must
have come sooner than she intended, he thought, or else he had been
longer than he realized. He looked at his watch; it was early yet. Then
going on a little, he suddenly stopped--that was not his mother! He drew
nearer and pushed aside a bush for a better view.

His heart leaped at sight of the familiar blue dress and its white
trimming! The figure turned slightly as if to look up the trail. The big
fellow on the mountain side trembled.

"How like," he whispered half aloud, "God, how like--"

Softly as one fearing to dispel a welcome illusion he drew
nearer--nearer--nearer. Suddenly a dry bush on the ground snapped under
his foot. She turned her face quickly toward him.

Then, springing to her feet Hope Farwell stood waiting with joy--lighted
face, as Dan went stumbling in wondering haste down the hill.

"I thought you were never coming," she said. "I have been waiting so
long." And then for a little while there was nothing more said that we
have any right whatever to hear.

When he insisted upon an explanation of the miracle, she laughed merrily.

"Why it's like most miracles, I fancy, if only one knew about them--the
most natural thing that could happen after all. Dr. Miles came to me some
two months ago, and said that he had a patient whom he was sending into
the mountains with a nurse, and asked me if I would take the case. He
said he thought that I would like to see the Mutton Hollow country,
and--and that he thought that I needed the trip. You can imagine how
quickly I said that I would go. I am living down at the Jones place."

"Where my mother went this morning?" Dan broke in eagerly.

She nodded, "Your mother and I are--are very good friends," she said
demurely.

"Does she--"

Hope blushed. "I couldn't help telling her. You see she had your letters
and she already knew a great deal. She--"

"I suppose she told you all about it--my finish at Corinth--I mean, and
my plans?" interrupted Dan.

"Yes," Hope replied.

"Then there's nothing more to do but--How is your patient?" he finished
abruptly. "How long must you stay with the case?"

She turned her head away. "My patient went home three days ago."

When the sun was touching the fringe of trees on the distant ridge, and
the varying tints of brown and gold, under the softening tone of the
gray-blue haze that lies always over hollow and hill, were most clearly
revealed in the evening light--Dan and Hope followed the same path that
Young Matt and Sammy walked years before.

In the edge of the timber beyond the deerlick, the two young lovers
found those other older lovers, and were welcomed by them with the
welcome that can only be given or received by those whose hearts and
souls are big enough to follow the trail that is nobody knows how old.




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