“But there’s something else to talk about, isn’t there, besides—besides your conscience?” she asked. Her eyes bent upon him a kindly pressure as she spoke, which took all possible harshness from her meaning.
Theron answered the glance rather than her words. “I know that you are my friend,” he said simply.
Sister Soulsby straightened herself, and looked down upon him with a new intentness. “Well, then,” she began, “let’s thrash this thing out right now, and be done with it. You say it’s hurt your conscience to do just one little hundredth part of what there was to be done here. Ask yourself what you mean by that. Mind, I’m not quarrelling, and I’m not thinking about anything except just your own state of mind. You think you soiled your hands by doing what you did. That is to say, you wanted all the dirty work done by other people. That’s it, isn’t it?”
“The Rev. Mr. Ware sat up, in turn, and looked doubtingly into his companion’s face.
“Oh, we were going to be frank, you know,” she added, with a pleasant play of mingled mirth and honest liking in her eyes.
“No,” he said, picking his words, “my point would rather be that—that there ought not to have been any of what you yourself call this—this ‘dirty work.’ That is my feeling.”
“Now we’re getting at it,” said Sister Soulsby, briskly. “My dear friend, you might just as well say that potatoes are unclean and unfit to eat because manure is put into the ground they grow in. Just look at the case. Your church here was running behind every year. Your people had got into a habit of putting in nickels instead of dimes, and letting you sweat for the difference. That’s a habit, like tobacco, or biting your fingernails, or anything else. Either you were all to come to smash here, or the people had to be shaken up, stood on their heads, broken of their habit. It’s my business—mine and Soulsby’s—to do that sort of thing. We came here and we did it—did it up brown, too. We not only raised all the money the church needs, and to spare, but I took a personal shine to you, and went out of my way to fix up things for you. It isn’t only the extra hundred dollars, but the whole tone of the congregation is changed toward you now. You’ll see that they’ll be asking to have you back here, next spring. And you’re solid with your Presiding Elder, too. Well, now, tell me straight—is that worth while, or not?”
“I’ve told you that I am very grateful,” answered the minister, “and I say it again, and I shall never be tired of repeating it. But—but it was the means I had in mind.”