From Stop 11, where the little station is, your course is by the woodland path; past the little springhouse, over the tiny rustic bridge, and so on up the shady slope to the cluster of ancient pines. In the grove stood carriages; buggy horses reined to the tall trees; even that abomination around a church, the motor of the vandals. In the walk through the woods, Queed found himself side by side with a fat, scarlet-faced man, who wore a vest with brass buttons and immediately began talking to him like a lifelong friend. He was a motorman on the suburban line, it seemed, and had known Fifi very well.
“No, sir, I wouldn’t believe it when my wife seen it in the paper and called it out to me, an’ I says there’s some mistake, you can be sure, and she says no, here it is in the paper, you can read it for y’self. But I wouldn’t believe it till I went by the house on the way to my run, and there was the crape on the door. An’ I tell you, suh, I couldn’t a felt worse if ‘twas one o’ my own kids. Why, it seems like only the other morning she skipped onto my car, laughin’ and sayin’, ’How are you to-day, Mr. Barnes?’ Why she and me been buddies for nigh three years, and she took my 9.30 north car every Sunday morning, rain or shine, just as reg’lar, and was the only one I ever let stand out on my platform, bein’ strictly agin all rules, and my old partner Hornheim was fired for allowin’ it, it ain’t six months since. But what could I do when she asked me, please, Mr. Barnes, with that sweet face o’ hers, and her rememberin’ me every Christmas that came along just like I was her Pa....”
The motorman talked too much, but he proved useful in finding seats up near the front, where, being fat, he took up considerably more than his share of room.
Unless Tim had taken him to the Cathedral once, twenty years ago, it was the first time that Queed had ever been inside a church. He had read Renan at fourteen, finally discarding all religious beliefs in the same year. Approximately Spencer’s First Cause satisfied his reason, though he meant to buttress Spencer’s contention in its weakest place and carry it deeper than Spencer did. But in fact, the exact limits he should assign to religious beliefs as an evolutionary function were still indeterminate in his system. He, like all cosmic philosophers, found this the most baffling and elusive of all his problems. Meantime, here in this little country church, he was to witness the supreme rite of the supreme religious belief. There was some compensation for his enforced attendance in that thought. He looked about him with genuine and candid interest. The hush, the dim light, the rows upon rows of sober-faced people, seemed to him properly impressive. He was struck by the wealth of flowers massed all over the chancel, and wondered if that was its regular state. The pulpit and the lectern; the altar, which he easily identified; the stained-glass windows with their obviously symbolic pictures; the bronze pipes of the little organ; the unvested choir, whose function he vaguely made out—over all these his intelligent eye swept, curiously; and lastly it went out of the open window and lost itself in the quiet sunny woods outside.