“Ha, ha! That’s good!” laughed the lawyer.
“I felt that it was good, too,” pursued Theron. “I am getting to see a great many things differently, here in Octavius. Our Methodist Discipline is like the Beatitudes—very helpful and beautiful, if treated as spiritual suggestion, but more or less of a stumbling-block if insisted upon literally. I declare!” he added, sitting up in his chair, “I never talked like this to a living soul before in all my life. Your confidences were contagious.”
The Rev. Mr. Ware rose as he spoke, and took up his hat.
“Must you be going?” asked the lawyer, also rising. “Well, I’m glad I haven’t shocked you. Come in oftener when you are passing. And if you see anything I can help you in, always tell me.”
The two men shook hands, with an emphatic and lingering clasp.
“I am glad,” said Theron, “that you didn’t stop coming to church just because you lost the girl.”
Levi Gorringe answered the minister’s pleasantry with a smile which curled his mustache upward, and expanded in little wrinkles at the ends of his eyes. “No,” he said jestingly. “I’m death on collecting debts; and I reckon that the church still owes me a girl. I’ll have one yet.”
So, with merriment the echoes of which pleasantly accompanied Theron down the stairway, the two men parted.
Though time lagged in passing with a slowness which seemed born of studied insolence, there did arrive at last a day which had something definitive about it to Theron’s disturbed and restless mind. It was a Thursday, and the prayer-meeting to be held that evening would be the last before the Quarterly Conference, now only four days off.
For some reason, the young minister found himself dwelling upon this fact, and investing it with importance. But yesterday the Quarterly Conference had seemed a long way ahead. Today brought it alarmingly close to hand. He had not heretofore regarded the weekly assemblage for prayer and song as a thing calling for preparation, or for any preliminary thought. Now on this Thursday morning he went to his desk after breakfast, which was a sign that he wanted the room to himself, quite as if he had the task of a weighty sermon before him. He sat at the desk all the forenoon, doing no writing, it is true, but remembering every once in a while, when his mind turned aside from the book in his hands, that there was that prayer-meeting in the evening.
Sometimes he reached the point of vaguely wondering why this strictly commonplace affair should be forcing itself thus upon his attention. Then, with a kind of mental shiver at the recollection that this was Thursday, and that the great struggle came on Monday, he would go back to his book.