Looking through his fingers, Theron all at once saw something which caught at his breath with a sharp clutch. Alice had risen from the minister’s pew—the most conspicuous one in the church—and was moving down the aisle toward the rail, her uplifted face chalk-like in its whiteness, and her eyes wide-open, looking straight ahead.
The young pastor could scarcely credit his sight. He thrust aside his hand, and bent forward, only to see his wife sink upon her knees among the rest, and to hear this notable accession to the “mourners” hailed by a tumult of approving shouts. Then, remembering himself, he drew back and put up his hand, shutting out the strange scene altogether. To see nothing at all was a relief, and under cover he closed his eyes, and bit his teeth together.
A fresh outburst of thanksgivings, spreading noisily through the congregation, prompted him to peer through his fingers again. Levi Gorringe was making his way down the aisle—was at the moment quite in front. Theron found himself watching this man with the stern composure of a fatalist. The clamant brethren down below were stirred to new excitement by the thought that the sceptical lawyer, so long with them, yet not of them, had been humbled and won by the outpourings of the Spirit. Theron’s perceptions were keener. He knew that Gorringe was coming forward to kneel beside Alice; The knowledge left him curiously undisturbed. He saw the lawyer advance, gently insinuate himself past the form of some kneeling mourner who was in his way, and drop on his knees close beside the bowed figure of Alice. The two touched shoulders as they bent forward beneath Sister Soulsby’s outstretched hands, held over them as in a blessing. Theron looked fixedly at them, and professed to himself that he was barely interested.
A little afterward, he was standing up in his place, and reading aloud a list of names which one of the stewards had given him. They were the names of those who had asked that evening to be taken into the church as members on probation. The sounds of the recent excitement were all hushed now, save as two or three enthusiasts in a corner raised their voices in abrupt greeting of each name in its turn, but Theron felt somehow that this noise had been transferred to the inside of his head. A continuous buzzing went on there, so that the sound of his voice was far-off and unfamiliar in his ears.
He read through the list—comprising some fifteen items—and pronounced the names with great distinctness. It was necessary to take pains with this, because the only name his blurred eyes seemed to see anywhere on the foolscap sheet was that of Levi Gorringe. When he had finished and was taking his seat, some one began speaking to him from the body of the church. He saw that this was the steward, who was explaining to him that the most important name of the lot—that of Brother Gorringe—had not been read out.
Theron smiled and shook his head. Then, when the Presiding Elder touched him on the arm, and assured him that he had not mentioned the name in question, he replied quite simply, and with another smile, “I thought it was the only name I did read out.”