“Good Lord!” groaned Wesley.
“That,” remarked the girl, “is almost swearing. I am surprised, and you a minister.”
“But it is an awful state of things.”
“Well,” said Fanny, “Mrs. B. H. Slocum may come over from Grenoble. She used to live here, and has never lost her interest in Brookville. She is rich. She can buy a lot, and she is very good-natured about being cheated for the gospel’s sake. Then, too, Brookville has never lost its guardian angels.”
“What on earth do you mean?”
“What I say. The faith of the people here in guardian angels is a wonderful thing. Sometimes it seems to me as if all Brookville considered itself under special guardianship, sort of a hen-and-chicken arrangement, you know. Anyhow, they do go ahead and undertake the craziest things, and come out somehow.”
“I think,” said Wesley Elliot soberly, “that I ought to resign.”
Then the girl paled, and bent closer over her work. “Resign!” she gasped.
“Yes, resign. I admit I haven’t enough money to live without a salary, though I would like to stay here forever.” Wesley spoke with fervor, his eyes on the girl.
“Oh, no, you wouldn’t.”
“I most certainly would, but I can’t run in debt, and—I want to marry some day—like other young men—and I must earn.”
The girl bent her head lower. “Why don’t you resign and go away, and get—married, if you want to?”
He bent over her. His lips touched her hair. “You know,” he began—then came a voice like the legendary sword which divides lovers for their best temporal and spiritual good.
“Dinner is ready and the peas are getting cold,” said Mrs. Solomon Black.
Then it happened that Wesley Elliot, although a man and a clergyman, followed like a little boy the large woman with the water-waves through the weedage of the pastoral garden, and the girl sat weeping awhile from mixed emotions of anger and grief. Then she took a little puff from her bag, powdered her nose, straightened her hair and, also, went home, bag in hand, to her own noon dinner.
A church fair is one of the purely feminine functions which will be the last to disappear when the balance between the sexes is more evenly adjusted. It is almost a pity to assume that it will finally, in the nature of things, disappear, for it is charming; it is innocent with the innocence of very good, simple women; it is at the same time subtle with that inimitable subtlety which only such women can achieve. It is petty finance on such a moral height that even the sufferers by its code must look up to it. Before even woman, showing anything except a timid face of discovery at the sights of New York under male escort, invaded Wall Street, the church fair was in full tide, and the managers thereof might have put financiers