Time has wrought many changes in Trumet. The packet long since ceased to ply between the village and Boston, the stage has been superseded by the locomotive, the old “square-riggers,” commanded by Cape Cod men, no longer sail the seas. Along the main road the houses have changed hands. Didama Rogers peers no more from her parlor window; that parlor is now profaned by the frivolous and irreverent summer boarder. But the old residents love to talk of the days that are gone and if you happen to catch Mr. Isaac Higgins, now postmaster and a dignified member of the board of selectmen, in a reminiscent mood he will very likely tell you of the meeting of the parish committee called by its chairman, Elkanah Daniels, to oust the Rev. John Ellery from the pulpit of the Regular church.
“I’ll never forget,” says Mr. Higgins, “that parish committee meetin’ if I live a thousand year. I, and two or three other young shavers, was hid in the little room off the vestry—the room where they kept the dishes they used for church suppers—and we heard the whole business. Of course nobody knew that Nat was goin’ to marry Keziah then, but they did know that he wa’n’t goin’ to marry Grace Van Horne, and had given her up to the minister of his own accord. So Daniels’s guns was spiked and he didn’t stand no chance at all. However, you’d never have guessed it to look at him. He marched into that meetin’ and up to the platform as stiff and dignified as if he’d swallered a peck of starch. He called the meetin’ to order—’twas a full one, for all hands and the cook was there—and then got up to speak.
“He opened fire right off. He raked John Ellery fore and aft. The parson, he said, had disgraced the society and his sacred profession and should be hove overboard immediate. ’Twas an open secret, he said. Everybody knew how he, minister of a Reg’lar church, had been carryin’ on with a Come-Outer girl, meetin’ her unbeknownst to anyone, and so on. As he got warmed up on this subject he got more bitter and, though he didn’t come out open and say slanderous things, his hints was as nigh that as a pig’s snout is to his squeal. Even through the crack of the dish-closet door I could see the bristles risin’ on the back of Cap’n Zeb Mayo’s neck.
“At last Cap’n Zeb couldn’t stand it no longer.
“‘Belay there!’ he sings out, jumpin’ to his feet. ’I want to ask you one question, Elkanah Daniels: Are you tryin’ to say somethin’ against Grace Van Horne’s character?’
“Well, that was a sort of sticker, in a way, and I cal’late Daniels realized it. He ‘hum-ha’d’ and barked a little and then give in that he couldn’t swear the Van Horne person’s character wa’n’t all right, but—”