It was quite dark when Mr. Jack Brace stopped before Father Wynn’s open door. The windows were also invitingly open to the wayfarer, as were the pastoral counsels of Father Wynn, delivered to some favored guest within, in a tone of voice loud enough for a pulpit. Jack Brace paused. The visitor was the convalescent sheriff, Jim Dunn, who had publicly commemorated his recovery by making his first call upon the father of his inamorata. The Reverend Mr. Wynn had been expatiating upon the unremitting heat of a possible precursor of forest fires, and exhibiting some catholic knowledge of the designs of a Deity in that regard, and what should be the policy of the Legislature, when Mr. Brace concluded to enter. Mr. Wynn and the wounded man, who occupied an arm-chair by the window, were the only occupants of the room. But in spite of the former’s ostentatious greeting, Brace could see that his visit was inopportune and unwelcome. The sheriff nodded a quick, impatient recognition, which, had it not been accompanied by an anathema on the heat, might have been taken as a personal insult. Neither spoke of Miss Nellie, although it was patent to Brace that they were momentarily expecting her. All of which went far to strengthen a certain wavering purpose in his mind.
“Ah, ha! strong language, Mr. Dunn,” said Father Wynn, referring to the sheriff’s adjuration, “but ’out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ Job, sir, cursed, we are told, and even expressed himself in vigorous Hebrew regarding his birthday. Ha, ha! I’m not opposed to that. When I have often wrestled with the spirit I confess I have sometimes said, ‘D—n you.’ Yes, sir, ‘D—n you.’”
There was something so unutterably vile in the reverend gentleman’s utterance and emphasis of this oath that the two men, albeit both easy and facile blasphemers, felt shocked; as the purest of actresses is apt to overdo the rakishness of a gay Lothario, Father Wynn’s immaculate conception of an imprecation was something terrible. But he added, “The law ought to interfere with the reckless use of camp-fires in the woods in such weather by packers and prospectors.”