During his ministry of more than twenty years the Rabbi had never preached at Drumtochty—being fearful that he might injure the minister who invited him, or that he might be so restricted in time as to lead astray by ill-balanced statements—and as the keenest curiosity would never have induced any man to go from the Glen to worship in another parish, the Free Kirk minister of Kilbogie was still unjudged in Drumtochty. They were not sorry to have the opportunity at last, for they had suffered not a little at the hands of Kilbogie in past years, and the coming event disturbed the flow of business at Muirtown market.
“Ye’re tae hae the Doctor at laist,” Mains said to Netherton—letting the luck-penny on a transaction in seed-corn stand over—“an’ a’m jidgin’ the time’s no been lost. He’s plainer an’ easier tae follow then he wes at the affgo. Ma word”—contemplating the exercise before the Glen—“but ye’ll aye get eneuch here and there tae cairry hame.” Which shows what a man the Rabbi was, that on the strength of his possession a parish like Kilbogie could speak after this fashion to Drumtochty.
“He’ll hae a fair trial, Mains”—Netherton’s tone was distinctly severe—“an’ mony a trial he’s hed in his day, they say: wes’t three-an’-twenty kirks he preached in afore ye took him? But mind ye, length’s nae standard in Drumtochty; na, na, it’s no hoo muckle wind a man hes, but what like is the stuff that comes. It’s bushels doon bye, but it’s wecht up bye.”
Any prejudice against the Rabbi, created by the boasting of a foolish parish not worthy of him, was reduced by his venerable appearance before the pulpit, and quite dispelled by his unfeigned delight in Carmichael’s conduct of the “preliminaries.” Twice he nodded approval to the reading of the hundredth Psalm, and although he stood with covered face during the prayer, he emerged full of sympathy. As his boy read the fifty-third of Isaiah the old man was moved well-nigh to tears, and on the giving out of the text, from the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Rabbi closed his eyes with great expectation, as one about to be fed with the finest of the wheat.
Carmichael has kept the sermon unto this day, and as often as he finds himself growing hard or supercilious, reads it from beginning to end. It is his hair-shirt, to be worn from time to time next his soul for the wrongness in it and the mischief it did. He cannot understand how he could have said such things on a Sacrament morning and in the presence of the Rabbi, but indeed they were inevitable. When two tides meet there is ever a cruel commotion, and ships are apt to be dashed on the rocks, and Carmichael’s mind was in a “jabble” that day. The new culture, with its wider views of God and man, was fighting with the robust Calvinism in which every Scot is saturated, and the result was neither peace nor charity. Personally the lad was kindly and good-natured; intellectually he had become arrogant,