He was a portly man, who held his head back so that his face seemed all jowl and mouth and sandy chin-whisker. He smiled broadly upon them with half-closed eyes, and shook hands again.
“I said to ’em,” he went on with loud pretence of heartiness, “the minute I heerd your name called out for our dear Octavius, ’I must go over an’ interduce myself.’ It will be a heavy cross to part with those dear people, Brother Ware, but if anything could wean me to the notion, so to speak, it would be the knowledge that you are to take up my labors in their midst. Perhaps—ah—perhaps they are jest a trifle close in money matters, but they come out strong on revivals. They’ll need a good deal o’ stirrin’ up about parsonage expenses, but, oh! such seasons of grace as we’ve experienced there together!” He shook his head, and closed his eyes altogether, as if transported by his memories.
Brother Ware smiled faintly in decorous response, and bowed in silence; but his wife resented the unctuous beaming of content on the other’s wide countenance, and could not restrain her tongue.
“You seem to bear up tolerably well under this heavy cross, as you call it,” she said sharply.
“The will o’ the Lord, Sister Ware—the will o’ the Lord!” he responded, disposed for the instant to put on his pompous manner with her, and then deciding to smile again as he moved off. The circumstance that he was to get an additional three hundred dollars yearly in his new place was not mentioned between them.
By a mutual impulse the young couple, when they had at last gained the cool open air, crossed the street to the side where over-hanging trees shaded the infrequent lamps, and they might be comparatively alone. The wife had taken her husband’s arm, and pressed closely upon it as they walked. For a time no word passed, but finally he said, in a grave voice,—
“It is hard upon you, poor girl.”
Then she stopped short, buried her face against his shoulder, and fell to sobbing.
He strove with gentle, whispered remonstrance to win her from this mood, and after a few moments she lifted her head and they resumed their walk, she wiping her eyes as they went.
“I couldn’t keep it in a minute longer!” she said, catching her breath between phrases. “Oh, why do they behave so badly to us, Theron?”
He smiled down momentarily upon her as they moved along, and patted her hand.
“Somebody must have the poor places, Alice,” he said consolingly. “I am a young man yet, remember. We must take our turn, and be patient. For ‘we know that all things work together for good.’”
“And your sermon was so head-and-shoulders above all the others!” she went on breathlessly. “Everybody said so! And Mrs. Parshall heard it so direct that you were to be sent here, and I know she told everybody how much I was lotting on it—I wish we could go right off tonight without going to her house—I shall be ashamed to look her in the face—and of course she knows we’re poked off to that miserable Octavius.—Why, Theron, they tell me it’s a worse place even than we’ve got now!”