“Curse God, and die!” was all that the wife of Job could think to say to him, in his extremity.
“Well! well!” was the comment Redman Rush could make on this disaster, repeating Summerman’s words with an emphasis not all his own. It was evident that, for a moment at least, he had forgotten himself; his face was no longer dark with misery, but full of consternation, alive with sympathy. And still he said:
“Where’s your Good Will doctrine, though?”
“Safe!” cried the organist, and he crossed his arms on his breast with a look of perfect triumph.
“You eat your words with a vengeance. You preach the best sermon I ever heard, I swear,” said Mr. Rush, looking at him with amazement.
“Humph!” ejaculated Summerman.
“I believe, after all, ’twas my cursed picture that did it,” continued Rush. He was not able to stand there in silence listening to the roaring of the fire, by the side of the man whose property was being destroyed in this relentless manner. He must talk; and no one hindered him, for the most of the working force of the village was busy trying to draw water from the frozen pumps of the neighborhood.
“I might have known such a face would raise the devil,” muttered he.
“Then, they are both done for!” was Summerman’s quick answer. “If you are burnt to death, it’s clear you can’t be drowned. So, it seems you’re a new man altogether. Sir, your wife calls you! But, before you go, pray, take the Good Will doctrine in. A present from me, if you please.”
Having said these words, the organist wiped his eyes, and laughed.
“If this is a dream,” said Redman Rush, astonished into doubt of all he saw and heard, “let me get home before I wake up, for God’s sake.” And he turned away from the organist, and was hid in the crowd from the eyes that followed him.
He turned away, but would he ever lose the memory of a soft voice, saying:
“Mr. Summerman, my boys and I insist on your coming to spend the holidays with us.”
Or, of a grey-haired gentleman’s aspect, who came hurrying through the crowd till he stood face to face with the little organist, whose hands he grasped as he said:
“Never mind, lad; never mind. You’ll be a richer man before night than you ever were before. Here is a year’s salary in advance, from the church, sir. You understand. And we all want our daguerreotypes; so order an instrument.”
Or, of an agitated voice, that followed him like the voice of a spirit, mysterious and persuasive:
“Oh, believe in the Good Will Doctrine!”
BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
Not always unimpeded can I
Nor, pitying saint, thine intercession claim:
Too closely clings the burden of the day,
And all the mint and anise that I pay
But swells my debt and deepens my self-blame.