Then came an even worse reflection; how if he had fallen among material thieves as well as spiritual ones? He knew very little of how his money was going on; he had put it all now into Pryer’s hands, and though Pryer gave him cash to spend whenever he wanted it, he seemed impatient of being questioned as to what was being done with the principal. It was part of the understanding, he said, that that was to be left to him, and Ernest had better stick to this, or he, Pryer, would throw up the College of Spiritual Pathology altogether; and so Ernest was cowed into acquiescence, or cajoled, according to the humour in which Pryer saw him to be. Ernest thought that further questions would look as if he doubted Pryer’s word, and also that he had gone too far to be able to recede in decency or honour. This, however, he felt was riding out to meet trouble unnecessarily. Pryer had been a little impatient, but he was a gentleman and an admirable man of business, so his money would doubtless come back to him all right some day.
Ernest comforted himself as regards this last source of anxiety, but as regards the other, he began to feel as though, if he was to be saved, a good Samaritan must hurry up from somewhere—he knew not whence.
Next day he felt stronger again. He had been listening to the voice of the evil one on the night before, and would parley no more with such thoughts. He had chosen his profession, and his duty was to persevere with it. If he was unhappy it was probably because he was not giving up all for Christ. Let him see whether he could not do more than he was doing now, and then perhaps a light would be shed upon his path.
It was all very well to have made the discovery that he didn’t very much like poor people, but he had got to put up with them, for it was among them that his work must lie. Such men as Towneley were very kind and considerate, but he knew well enough it was only on condition that he did not preach to them. He could manage the poor better, and, let Pryer sneer as he liked, he was resolved to go more among them, and try the effect of bringing Christ to them if they would not come and seek Christ of themselves. He would begin with his own house.
Who then should he take first? Surely he could not do better than begin with the tailor who lived immediately over his head. This would be desirable, not only because he was the one who seemed to stand most in need of conversion, but also because, if he were once converted, he would no longer beat his wife at two o’clock in the morning, and the house would be much pleasanter in consequence. He would therefore go upstairs at once, and have a quiet talk with this man.