“He doesn’t look in the least as I thought he did.” It was Eurie who whispered this, and she nudged Marion’s arm by way of emphasis as she did it.
“How did you think he looked?”
“Oh, I don’t know—rough, rather.”
Whereupon Marion laughed again.
“That is the way some people discriminate,” she whispered back. “You think because he wrote about rough people he must be rough; and when one writes about people of culture and elegance you think straightway that he is the personification of those ideas. You forget, you see, that the world is full to the brim with hypocrisy; and it is easier to be perfect on paper than it is anywhere else in this world.”
“Or to be a sinner either, according to that view of it.”
“It is easy enough to be a sinner anywhere. Hush, I want to listen.”
For which want the people all about her must have been very thankful. Our young ladies gave Dr. Eggleston their attention at the moment when he was drawling out in his most nasal and ludicrous tones the hymn that used to be a favorite in Sunday-schools ninety years ago:
“Broad is the road that
leads to death,
And thousands walk together there,
But wisdom shows a narrow path,
With here and there a traveler.”
The manner in which part of these lines were repeated was irresistibly funny. To Eurie it was explosively so; she laughed until the seat shook with mirth. To be sure, she knew nothing about modern Sunday-schools; for aught that she was certain of, they might have sung that very hymn in the First Church Sunday-school the Sabbath before; and it made not the least atom of difference whether they did or not; the way in which Dr. Eggleston was putting it was funny, and Eurie never spoiled fun for the sake of sentiment. Presently she looked up at Marion for sympathy. That young lady’s eyes were in a blaze of indignation. What in the world was the matter with her? Surely she, with her hearty and unquestioning belief in nothing, could not have been disturbed by any jar! Let me tell you a word about Marion. Away back in her childhood there was a memory of a little dingy, old-fashioned kitchen, one of the oldest and dreariest of its kind, where the chimney smoked and the winter wind crawled in through endless cracks and crannies; where it was not always possible to get enough to eat during the hardest times; but there was a large, old-fashioned arm-chair, covered with frayed and faded calico, and in this chair sat often of a winter evening a clean-faced old man, with thin and many-patched clothes, with a worn and sickly face, with a few gray hairs straggling sadly about on his smooth crown: and that old man used often and often to drone out in a cracked voice and in a tune pitched too low by half an octave the very words which had just been