“Oh, yes!” exclaimed the girl, walking hurriedly to the door. “I—I should like to go at once.”
She turned and held out her hand to the minister with a smile.
“Thank you for coming,” she said. “I wanted you to see the house as it is now.”
He looked down into her upturned face with its almost childish appeal of utter candor, frowning slightly.
“Have you no one—that is, no near relative to advise you in the matter?” he asked. “The purchase of a large property, such as this, ought to be carefully considered, I should say.”
Deacon Whittle coughed in an exasperated manner.
“I guess we’d better be gitting along,” said he, “if we want to catch Jedge Fulsom in his office before he goes to dinner.”
Lydia turned obediently.
“I’m coming,” she said.
Then to Elliot: “No; there is no one to—to advise me. I am obliged to decide for myself.”
Wesley Elliot returned to Brookville and his unfinished sermon by a long detour which led him over the shoulder of a hill overlooking the valley. He did not choose to examine his motive for avoiding the road along which Fanny Dodge would presently return. But as the path, increasingly rough and stony as it climbed the steep ascent, led him at length to a point from whence he could look down upon a toy village, arranged in stiff rows about a toy church, with its tiny pointing steeple piercing the vivid green of many trees, he sat down with a sigh of relief and something very like gratitude.
As far back as he could remember Wesley Elliot had cherished a firm, though somewhat undefined, belief in a quasi-omnipotent power to be reckoned as either hostile or friendly to the purposes of man, showing now a smiling, now a frowning face. In short, that unquestioned, wholly uncontrollable influence outside of a man’s life, which appears to rule his destiny. In this role “Providence,” as he had been taught to call it, had heretofore smiled rather evasively upon Wesley Elliot. He had been permitted to make sure his sacred calling; but he had not secured the earnestly coveted city pulpit. On the other hand, he had just been saved—or so he told himself, as the fragrant June breeze fanned his heated forehead—by a distinct intervention of “Providence” from making a fool of himself. His subsequent musings, interrupted at length by the shrieking whistle of the noon train as it came to a standstill at the toy railway station, might be termed important, since they were to influence the immediate future of a number of persons, thus affording a fresh illustration of the mysterious workings of “Providence,” sometimes called “Divine.”