“I feel no hope—I feel no courage, but—I will try. I see what you mean—that my punishment is my powerlessness.”
He bent his head.
“You are so strong—perhaps you can help me.”
“I shall always be ready,” he replied.
He escorted her down the steps to the dark blue brougham with upstanding, chestnut horses which was waiting at the curb. But Mrs. Constable turned to the footman, who held open the door.
“You may stay here awhile,” she said to him, and gave Hodder her hand....
She went into the church . . . .
Asa Waring and his son-in-law, Phil Goodrich, had been to see Hodder on the subject of the approaching vestry meeting, and both had gone away not a little astonished and impressed by the calmness with which the rector looked forward to the conflict. Others of his parishioners, some of whom were more discreet in their expressions of sympathy, were no less surprised by his attitude; and even his theological adversaries, such as Gordon Atterbury, paid him a reluctant tribute. Thanks, perhaps, to the newspaper comments as much as to any other factor, in the minds of those of all shades of opinion in the parish the issue had crystallized into a duel between the rector and Eldon Parr. Bitterly as they resented the glare of publicity into which St. John’s had been dragged, the first layman of the diocese was not beloved; and the fairer-minded of Hodder’s opponents, though appalled, were forced to admit in their hearts that the methods by which Mr. Parr had made his fortune and gained his ascendency would not bear scrutiny . . . . Some of them were disturbed, indeed, by the discovery that there had come about in them, by imperceptible degrees, in the last few years a new and critical attitude towards the ways of modern finance: moat of them had an uncomfortable feeling that Hodder was somehow right,—a feeling which they sought to stifle when they reflected upon the consequences of facing it. For this would mean a disagreeable shaking up of their own lives. Few of them were in a position whence they might cast stones at Eldon Parr . . . .
What these did not grasp was the fact that that which they felt stirring within them was the new and spiritual product of the dawning twentieth century—the Social Conscience. They wished heartily that the new rector who had developed this disquieting personality would peacefully resign and leave them to the former, even tenor of their lives. They did not for one moment doubt the outcome of his struggle with Eldon Parr. The great banker was known to be relentless, his name was synonymous with victory. And yet, paradoxically, Hodder compelled their inner sympathy and admiration! . . .