“That’s just the trouble, ma’am,” said Sam; “I can’t; I don’t know how. I’ve thought an’ cried an’ prayed about that gal more than anybody’d ever believe, I s’pose,—anybody that knows me an’ knows her too. But I can’t get no light nor no sense about it. But I’m only a man, Mrs. Prency, an’ you’re a woman. She’s a woman too, an’ it did seem to me that maybe you, with all you’re good sense an’ all your good-heartedness, could think of somethin’, some way, that would bring that gal back to what she ort to be before she goes an’ does what her mother done—marry some worthless fool before she’s old enough to marry at all, an’ then be helpless and downcast all the rest of her life.”
“I might,” said the lady, after musing a little while, “I might possibly make her a place among my own servants, but I imagine she would not care for such a position, for I have always discovered that the servants who have been in hotels are dissatisfied with any other sort of service. Besides, you probably do not wish her to associate with the servant class, and it would be far better for her if she did not.”
“She’d have to go, ma’am, if you was willin’ to take her,” said the cobbler, “but, as you say, whether she’d stay or not is a question. Oh, Mrs. Prency,” said he, resuming his work again with violent energy, “it’s the hardest question that ever come up to me in all my life. It’s harder than bein’ in jail or breakin’ off drinkin’ or anythin’ else that I ever tried. It’s even harder than goin’ to work; I give you my word it is.”
“Mr. Kimper,” said the lady, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I give you my word that I will think earnestly on the subject, and do it at once, and give myself no rest until I have devised some plan to do what you have asked me.”
“God bless you, ma’am! God bless you!” said the cobbler, dropping a tear upon one of the grimy hands at work upon the shoe.
Reynolds Bartram was greatly annoyed by the results of the several interviews he had imposed upon the new assistant cobbler at Bruceton. He had silenced, if not conquered, all the other religious controversialists of the town, and found the weak spots in the armor of many good people not given to controversy, whom he had beguiled into talking on religious themes. Why he should want to converse at all upon such subjects puzzled the people of the town, all of whom had known him from boyhood as a member of a family so entirely satisfied with itself that it never desired any aid from other people, to say nothing of higher powers. Sometimes the Bartrams went to church for social purposes, but always with an air of conferring a favor upon the power in whose honor the edifice was erected.