Eleanor looked at Jane very sharply, but the sewing-girl’s face was averted, so that questioning looks could elicit no answers. Eleanor’s gaze, however, continued to be fixed. She was obliged to admit to herself, as she had said to her mother several days before, that Jane had a not unsightly face and quite a fine figure. She had heard that there were sometimes “great larks,” as the young men called them, at the village hotel, and she wondered how much the underlings of the establishment could know about them, and what stories they could tell. Jane suddenly became to her more interesting than she had yet been. She wondered what further questions to ask, and could not think of any that she could put into words. Finally, she left the room, sought her mother, and exclaimed,—
“Mother, I’m not going to marry Reynolds Bartram. If hotel servants know all about his goings-on evenings, what stories may they not tell if they choose? That sort of people will say anything they can of him. I don’t suppose they know the difference between the truth and a lie; at least they never do when we hire them.”
The mother looked at the daughter tenderly and shrewdly. Then she smiled, and said,—
“Daughter, I can see but one way for you to relieve your mind on that subject.”
“What is that?” asked the daughter.
“It is only this: convert Jane.”
As the special meetings at the church went on, Deacon Quickset began to fear that he had made a mistake. He had taken an active part in all previous meetings of the same kind for more than twenty-five years. The results of some of them had been very satisfactory, and the deacon modestly but nevertheless with much self-gratulation had recounted his own services in all of them.
“Whoso converteth a sinner from the error of his ways shall save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins; that is what the good book says,” said the deacon to himself one day, as he walked from his house to his place of business; “and considering the number of people that I have helped to snatch as brands from the burning, it does seem to me that I must have covered a good many sins of my own,—such as they are. I’m only a human being, and a poor, weak, and sinful creature, but there’s certainly a good many folks in this town that would not have started in the right way when they did if it hadn’t been for what I said to them. Now, here’s the biggest movement of the kind going on that ever was known in this town, and I’m out of it. What for? Just because I don’t agree with Sam Kimper. I mean, just because Sam Kimper don’t agree with me. I don’t suppose the thing would have come to anything, anyhow, if it hadn’t been for that fool of a young lawyer setting his foot in it in the way he did. Everybody likes excitement, and it’s a bigger thing for him to have gone into this protracted meeting than it would be for a circus to come to town with four new elephants. It’s rough.”