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Elsie Venner eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 416 pages of information about Elsie Venner.

Yours ever, Bernard.

P. S. I remember you had a copy of Fortunius Licetus’ “De Monstris” among your old books.  Can’t you lend it to me for a while?  I am curious, and it will amuse me.

CHAPTER XVII.

Old Sophy calls on the reverend doctor.

The two meeting-houses which faced each other like a pair of fighting-cocks had not flapped their wings or crowed at each other for a considerable time.  The Reverend Mr. Fairweather had been dyspeptic and low-spirited of late, and was too languid for controversy.  The Reverend Doctor Honeywood had been very busy with his benevolent associations, and had discoursed chiefly on practical matters, to the neglect of special doctrinal subjects.  His senior deacon ventured to say to him that some of his people required to be reminded of the great fundamental doctrine of the worthlessness of all human efforts and motives.  Some of them were altogether too much pleased with the success of the Temperance Society and the Association for the Relief of the Poor.  There was a pestilent heresy about, concerning the satisfaction to be derived from a good conscience, as if, anybody ever did anything which was not to be hated, loathed, despised, and condemned.

The old minister listened gravely, with an inward smile, and told his deacon that he would attend to his suggestion.  After the deacon had gone, he tumbled over his manuscripts, until at length he came upon his first-rate old sermon on “Human Nature.”  He had read a great deal of hard theology, and had at last reached that curious state which is so common in good ministers,—­that, namely, in which they contrive to switch off their logical faculties on the narrow sidetrack of their technical dogmas, while the great freight-train of their substantial human qualities keeps in the main highway of common-sense, in which kindly souls are always found by all who approach them by their human side.

The Doctor read his sermon with a pleasant, paternal interest:  it was well argued from his premises.  Here and there he dashed his pen through a harsh expression.  Now and then he added an explanation or qualified abroad statement.  But his mind was on the logical side-track, and he followed the chain of reasoning without fairly perceiving where it would lead him, if he carried it into real life.

He was just touching up the final proposition, when his granddaughter, Letty, once before referred to, came into the room with her smiling face and lively movement.  Miss Letty or Letitia Forrester was a city-bred girl of some fifteen or sixteen years old, who was passing the summer with her grandfather for the sake of country air and quiet.  It was a sensible arrangement; for, having the promise of figuring as a belle by and by, and being a little given to dancing, and having a voice which drew a

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