Leonard was back in his own town, enriched with new esteem from the public and from the men of his profession. The noted case was won, a victory for the peace and dignity of the state, due wholly, it was said, to the energy and sagacity of the young district attorney. A murder had been so cunningly done that suspicion could fasten nowhere, until Byington laid his finger upon a man of so unspotted a name that no one else had had the mental courage to point to him. Through a long and masterly untangling of contradictions the state’s counsel had so overwhelmingly proved him guilty that he had confessed without waiting for the jury’s verdict.
“Yes,” said many, “it was a great stroke, Leonard’s management of that thing.” And not a few added that it had made him an older man—“that or something.” Those who were of his politics, and even some who were not, stopped him in Main Street and State Street to “shake” and to say, without too much care for logical sequence, how soon, in their opinion, he would be the commonwealth’s “favorite son.”
“My dear Mrs. Morris,” said the General, “every town has at least one.” But even Mrs. Morris could see the father’s faith and pride through the old soldier’s satire.
THE STORM REGATHERS
On the other hand, things were going ill with the little church of All Angels. Arthur kept his people as tensely strung as ever, but he no longer drew from them the chords of aspiration and enterprise. It was a sad disenchantment, and none the less so because no one seemed to know what the matter was. One darkly guessed he was writing a book, and the vestryman who had praised the lovely simplicity of the wedding lucidly explained that the young rector had “lost his grip.”
At times there were flashes of recovery. One Sabbath the whole congregation came out under his benediction uplifted by his word that “loving is living.”
“The more we love,” they quoted him on their various ways home, “the more we live. The deeper we love, the deeper we live. The more selfishly or unselfishly, the higher, the broader, the purer, the wiser, we love, the more selfishly or unselfishly, the higher, the broader, the purer, the wiser, we live!” The rector’s gentle wife was visibly and ever so prettily rejoiced.
True, but hardly the whole truth. In her mother’s cottage her smiles were almost sad, and when she had crossed the garden and got into her own room she dropped upon her bed and wept. Yet she quickly ceased, and put on again a brave serenity, for a very tender reason which forbade such risks.
A bunch of the church’s best men got together and agreed that all Arthur needed was rest; that this bright moment was the right one in which to offer him a vacation; that his physician should flatly order him to take it; and that Byington should arrange the matter.
Leonard accepted the task, the physician spoke with startling flatness, and the whole kind plot worked well. Arthur consented to go away up into the hills beyond all the jar of the busy world’s unrest.