“They’ll rally,” said George. “Leave those who haven’t the courage to do so alone; you’re better rid of them. I suppose it’s apt to make a difference in your finances.”
The clergyman colored.
“That’s true, though it’s hard to own. It subjects one to a strong temptation. After all, we’re expected to keep our churches full—it’s necessary.”
“The road to success,” Edgar remarked, “is comparatively easy. Always proclaim the popular view, but be a little more emphatic and go a little farther than the rest. Then they’ll think you a genius and make haste to follow your lead.”
Hardie looked at him quietly.
“There’s another way, Mr. West, and the gate of it is narrow. I think it seldom leads to worldly fame.” He paused and sighed. “It needs courage to enter, and one often shrinks.”
“Well,” said Edgar, “I’ll confess that I find the popular idea, whatever it may happen to be, irritating; I like to annoy the people who hold it by pointing out their foolishness, which is partly why I’m now farming in western Canada. George, of course, is more altruistic; though I don’t think he ever analyzes his feelings. As soon as he sees anybody in trouble and getting beaten, he begins to strip. I’ve a suspicion that he enjoys a fight!”
“If you would stop talking rot, we’d get on better,” George said curtly, and then turned to his visitor. “I gather that you’re afraid of wrecking your church. It’s an awkward situation, but I suppose you have made up your mind?”
“Yes; I must go on, if I go alone.”
The man, as the others recognized, had no intention of being dramatic, but his quiet announcement had its effect, and there was silence for a moment or two. Then Edgar, who was impatient of any display of strong feeling, made an abrupt movement.
“After all,” he said cheerfully, “you’ll have Mrs. Nelson beside you, and I’m inclined to think she would enliven any solitude.”
Hardie smiled, and the lad continued:
“Now we had, perhaps, better be practical and consider how to get over the difficulties.”
He grew less discursive when they fell in with his suggestion. George possessed sound sense and some power of leading, and for a while they were busy elaborating a plan of campaign, in which his advice was largely deferred to. Then there was an interruption, for Grierson, his hired man, came in.
“I was hauling hay from the big sloo when I saw the Hereford bull,” he said. “He was by himself and bleeding from the shoulder. Thought I’d better bring him home, though he walked very lame.”
“Ah!” exclaimed George sharply. “I’ll come and look at him.”
The others followed and on reaching the wire-fenced corral they found the animal lying down, with its forequarter stained with blood. George sent for some water, and he soon found the wound, which was very small and round.