THE CURRENT OF LIFE
The year when Hodder had gone east—to Bremerton and Bar Harbor, he had read in the train a magazine article which had set fire to his imagination. It had to do with the lives of the men, the engineers who dared to deal with the wild and terrible power of the western hills, who harnessed and conquered roaring rivers, and sent the power hundreds of miles over the wilderness, by flimsy wires, to turn the wheels of industry and light the dark places of the cities. And, like all men who came into touch with elemental mysteries, they had their moments of pure ecstasy, gaining a tingling, intenser life from the contact with dynamic things; and other moments when, in their struggle for mastery, they were buffeted about, scorched, and almost overwhelmed.
In these days the remembrance of that article came back to Hodder. It was as though he, too, were seeking to deflect and guide a force —the Force of forces. He, too, was buffeted, scorched, and bruised, at periods scarce given time to recover himself in the onward rush he himself had started, and which he sought to control. Problems arose which demanded the quick thinking of emergency. He, too, had his moments of reward, the reward of the man who is in touch with reality.
He lived, from day to day, in a bewildering succession of encouragements and trials, all unprecedented. If he remained at St. John’s, an entire new organization would be necessary . . . . He did not as yet see it clearly; and in the meantime, with his vestry alienated, awaiting the bishop’s decision, he could make no definite plans, even if he had had the leisure. Wholesale desertions had occurred in the guilds and societies, the activities of which had almost ceased. Little Tomkinson, the second assistant, had resigned; and McCrae, who worked harder than ever before, was already marked, Hodder knew, for dismissal if he himself were defeated.
And then there was the ever present question of money. It remained to be seen whether a system of voluntary offerings were practicable. For Hodder had made some inquiries into the so-called “free churches,” only to discover that there were benefactors behind them, benefactors the Christianity of whose lives was often doubtful.
One morning he received in the mail the long-expected note from the bishop, making an appointment for the next day. Hodder, as he read it over again, smiled to himself. . . He could gather nothing of the mind of the writer from the contents.
The piece of news which came to him on the same morning swept completely the contemplations of the approaching interview from his mind. Sally Grover stopped in at the parish house on her way to business.
“Kate Marcy’s gone,” she announced, in her abrupt fashion.
“Gone!” he exclaimed, and stared at her in dismay. “Gone where?”