“Do you mean to call me the devil?” screamed the deacon.
“I’m not calling you anything: I’m speaking of the unrighteous act you want done. I won’t do it for you; and, further, I’ll put Bittles on his guard against any one else who may try it.”
“Mr. Bartram,” said the deacon, rising, “I guess I’ll have to take all my law-business to somebody else. Good-morning.”
“I didn’t suppose I should have to suffer for my principles so soon,” said the lawyer, as the deacon started; “but when you want to be converted, come see me and you’ll learn I bear you no grudge. Indeed, you’ll be obliged to come to me, as you’ll learn after you think over all your affairs a little while.”
The deacon stopped: the two men stood face to face a moment, and then parted in silence.
When Eleanor Prency heard that her lover had not only been converted but was taking an active part in the special religious meetings, she found herself in what the old women of the vicinity called a “state of mind.” She did not object to young men becoming very good; that is, she did object to any young man of whom she happened to be very fond becoming very bad. But it seemed to her that there was a place where the line should be drawn, and that Reynolds Bartram had overstepped it. That he might sometime join the church was a possibility to which she had previously looked forward with some pleasurable sense of anticipation. She belonged to the church herself, so did her father and mother, and she had long been of the opinion that a little religion was a very good thing for a young man who was in business and subject to temptation. But, as she regarded the events of the past few evenings as reported by people who had been to the meetings, she became more than ever of the opinion that a little religion would go a long way, and that Reynolds Bartram had more than was necessary.
To add to her annoyance, some of her intimate acquaintances who knew that if the two young people were not engaged they certainly were very fond of each other, and who regarded the match as a matter of course in the near future, began to twit her on the possibility of her lover becoming a minister should he go on in his present earnest course of trying to save lost souls. The more they talked about her, in her presence, as a minister’s wife, the less she enjoyed the prospect. Minister’s wives in Bruceton were sometimes pretty, but they never dressed very well, and Miss Eleanor was sure, from what she saw of their lives, that they never had any good times.
Fuel was added to the fire of her discontent when her mother announced one morning that Jane Kimper had arrived and would assist the couple at their sewing. To Eleanor, Jane represented the Kimper family, the head of which was the cause of Reynolds Bartram’s extraordinary course. Eleanor blamed Sam for all the discomfort to which she had been subjected on account of Bartram’s religious aspirations, and she was inclined to visit upon the new seamstress the blame for all the annoyances from which she had suffered.