“Marilla is eighty-five,” said Anne with a sigh. “Her hair is snow-white. But, strange to say, her eyesight is better than it was when she was sixty.”
“Well, dearie, I’m real glad you’re all back. I’ve been dreadful lonesome. But we haven’t been dull in the Glen, believe me. There hasn’t been such an exciting spring in my time, as far as church matters go. We’ve got settled with a minister at last, Anne dearie.”
“The Reverend John Knox Meredith, Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan, resolved not to let Miss Cornelia tell all the news.
“Is he nice?” asked Anne interestedly.
Miss Cornelia sighed and Susan groaned.
“Yes, he’s nice enough if that were all,” said the former. “He is very nice—and very learned—and very spiritual. But, oh Anne dearie, he has no common sense!
“How was it you called him, then?”
“Well, there’s no doubt he is by far the best preacher we ever had in Glen St. Mary church,” said Miss Cornelia, veering a tack or two. “I suppose it is because he is so moony and absent-minded that he never got a town call. His trial sermon was simply wonderful, believe me. Every one went mad about it— and his looks.”
“He is very comely, Mrs. Dr. dear, and when all is said and done, I do like to see a well-looking man in the pulpit,” broke in Susan, thinking it was time she asserted herself again.
“Besides,” said Miss Cornelia, “we were anxious to get settled. And Mr. Meredith was the first candidate we were all agreed on. Somebody had some objection to all the others. There was some talk of calling Mr. Folsom. He was a good preacher, too, but somehow people didn’t care for his appearance. He was too dark and sleek.”
“He looked exactly like a great black tomcat, that he did, Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan. “I never could abide such a man in the pulpit every Sunday.”
“Then Mr. Rogers came and he was like a chip in porridge—neither harm nor good,” resumed Miss Cornelia. “But if he had preached like Peter and Paul it would have profited him nothing, for that was the day old Caleb Ramsay’s sheep strayed into church and gave a loud ‘ba-a-a’ just as he announced his text. Everybody laughed, and poor Rogers had no chance after that. Some thought we ought to call Mr. Stewart, because he was so well educated. He could read the New Testament in five languages.”
“But I do not think he was any surer than other men of getting to heaven because of that,” interjected Susan.
“Most of us didn’t like his delivery,” said Miss Cornelia, ignoring Susan. “He talked in grunts, so to speak. And Mr. Arnett couldn’t preach at all. And he picked about the worst candidating text there is in the Bible—’Curse ye Meroz.’”
“Whenever he got stuck for an idea, he would bang the Bible and shout very bitterly, ‘Curse ye Meroz.’ Poor Meroz got thoroughly cursed that day, whoever he was, Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan.