Thomas Jefferson was honestly horrified, and he looked it.
“I’d like to know what in the world you’re talking about,” he said.
“About your being a minister, of course. Only in France, they call them priests of the church.”
The boy’s lips went together in a fine straight line. Not for nothing did the blood of many generations of Protestants flow in his veins. “Priest” was a Popish word.
“The Pope of Rome is antichrist!” he declared authoritatively.
She seemed only politely interested.
“Is he? I didn’t know.” Then, with a tactfulness worthy of graver years, she drew away from the dangerous topic. “When are you going?”
“Is it far?”
“Yes; it’s an awful long ways.”
“Never mind; you’ll be coming back after a while, and then we’ll be friends—if you want to.”
Surely Thomas Jefferson’s heart was as wax before the fire that day.
“I’m mighty glad,” he said. Then he got up. “Will you let me show you the way home again?—the short, easy way, this time?”
She hesitated a moment, and then stood up and gave him her hand.
“I’m not afraid of you now; we don’t hate him any more, do we, Hector?”
And so they went together through the yellowing aisles of the September wood and across the fields to the manor-house gates.
THE SHADOW OF THE ROCK
Tom Gordon—Thomas Jefferson now only in his mother’s letters—was fifteen past, and his voice was in the transition stage which made him blushingly self-conscious when he ran up the window-shade in the Pullman to watch for the earliest morning outlining of old Lebanon on the southern horizon.
There had been no home-going for him at the close of his first year in the sectarian school. The principal had reported him somewhat backward in his studies for his age,—which was true enough,—and had intimated that a summer spent with the preceptor who had the vacation charge of the school buildings would be invaluable to a boy of such excellent natural parts. So Tom had gone into semi-solitary confinement for three months with a man who thought in the dead languages and spoke in terms of ancient history, studying with sullen resentment in his heart, and charging his imprisonment to his preacher-uncle, who was, indeed, chiefly responsible.
He had mourned that loss of liberty all through his second year, and was conscious the while that it would prove the parent of a still greater loss. It is the exile’s anchorage in a shifting world to think of the home haven as unchanged and unchanging; as a place where by and by the thread of life as it was may be knotted up with that of life as it shall be. But Tom remembered that he had left Paradise in the midst of convulsive upheavals, and was correspondingly fearful.