“It may be this dispute will not divide you—being now, as it were, more an argument of the schools than a matter of principle—but if it should appear that you are far apart on the greater matters of faith, then . . . you will have a heavy cross to carry. But it is my mind that the heart of the maiden is right, and that I may some day see her . . . in your home, whereat my eyes would be glad.”
The Rabbi was so taken up with the matter that he barely showed Carmichael a fine copy of John of Damascus he had secured from London, and went out of his course at worship to read, as well as to expound with much feeling, the story of Ruth the Moabitess, showing conclusively that she had in her a high spirit, and that she was designed of God to be a strength to the house of David. He was also very cheerful in the morning, and bade Carmichael good-bye at Tochty woods with encouraging words. He also agreed to assist his boy at the Drumtochty sacrament.
It was evident that the Rabbi’s mind was much set on this visit, but Carmichael did not for one moment depend upon his remembering the day, and so Burnbrae started early on the Saturday with his dog-cart to bring Saunderson up and deposit him without fail in the Free Kirk manse of Drumtochty. Six times that day did the minister leave his “action” sermon and take his way to the guest-room, carrying such works as might not be quite unsuitable for the old scholar’s perusal, and arranging a lamp of easy management, that the night hours might not be lost. It was late in the afternoon before the Rabbi was delivered at the manse, and Burnbrae gave explanations next day at the sacramental dinner.
“It wes just ten when a’ got tae the manse o’ Kilbogie, an’ his hoosekeeper didna ken whar her maister wes; he micht be in Kildrummie by that time, she said, or half-wy tae Muirtown. So a’ set oot an’ ransackit the parish till a’ got him, an’ gin he wesna sittin’ in a bothie takin’ brose wi’ the plowmen, an’ expoundin’ Scripture a’ the time.
“He startit on the ancient martyrs afore we were half a mile on the road, and he gied ae testimony aifter anither, an’ he wesna within sicht o’ the Reformation when we cam’ tae the hooses; a’ll no deny that a’ let the mare walk bits o’ the road, for a’ cud hae heard him a’ nicht; ma bluid’s warmer yet, freends.”
The Rabbi arrived in great spirits, and refused to taste meat till he had stated the burden of his sermon for the morrow.
“If the Lord hath opened our ears the servant must declare what has been given him, but I prayed that the message sent through me to your flock, John, might be love. It hath pleased the Great Shepherd that I should lead the sheep by strange paths, but I desired that it be otherwise when I came for the first time to Drumtochty.
“Two days did I spend in the woods, for the stillness of winter among the trees leaveth the mind disengaged for the Divine word, and the first day my soul was heavy as I returned, for this only was laid upon me, ‘vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction.’ And, John, albeit God would doubtless have given me strength according to His will, yet I was loath to bear this awful truth to the people of your charge.