The minute Inez entered the parsonage and shut the door she found herself face to face with Rose. And as she took a step into the room she confronted Miss Burton, who was seated at the piano.
Rose said quietly, "You have come with the proof of the dodger. If you will give it to me I will take it into my brother."
Inez, without a word, handed the proof over and Rose took it and went into Howard's study, closing the door.
Inez remained standing in the middle of the room, looking at Miss Burton. They could hear the low sound of voices in the other room.
"Did you have to come here, Inez?"
"Yes, I did. How about you?"
"I came because Miss Chase invited me," said Miss Burton, colouring a little.
"And I came because Mr. Chase invited me," said Inez, a little defiantly.
"I brought over the proof he wanted. Is there anything wrong about that?"
"No, perhaps not. But after what you told me----"
Inez came over and sat down by Miss Burton. She seemed greatly disturbed as she spoke hurriedly.
"I told you I was afraid I would get him into trouble. But I wouldn't do it for the world. I think too much of him."
"Hush!" said Miss Burton, and she added, almost sternly, "Inez, we can't talk here, but you must remember what a gossippy town Red Hill is----"
Inez was listening, her face pale, her lips trembling, her eyes on the door into the minister's study.
"I know," she said, "it's the worst place in Kansas for gossip. But I wasn't doing any harm. I just wanted to see him. I was hungry to see him. Help me to go away, won't you, Miss Burton, before I----"
Miss Burton put out a hand and laid it on the girl's arm. Inez was trembling like some hunted creature.
In the little study Howard was going over the proof, making a few corrections, rapidly.
When Rose came in she had gone up to his desk and said:
"Here's the proof of your dodger Miss Clark brought."
"Oh, all right," said Howard, absently, as if still removed in abstraction from his surroundings. His sister laid the paper on his desk in front of him. He looked at it with a start and exclaimed, "Oh!"
"Yes. And she's waiting for you to correct it."
"In the sitting-room. She's visiting with Miss Burton."
"Yes, I asked her over to spend the evening going over the music. It won't disturb you, will it, if we practice?"
He began to make his corrections on the proof and when he was through he looked up at his sister.
"Did you invite Miss Burton over because----"
"Yes. Howard, I don't believe you begin to understand what a wicked world this is. You are so good yourself, so free from any thought of evil that even if you are a minister and make a business of preaching to others, you are like a child in some things, and when it comes to women, you know nothing."
He did not answer her, only looked up from where he sat, his great dark eyes taking on a deeper hue, the lines in his mouth straightening out, his face expressing his feeling for his sister's thought of him and more than that, his own real knowledge of her purpose. And silently he reached up a long arm, drew her down to him and kissed her.
When Rose came back into the sitting-room Inez got up and took the proof and turned to the door.
"We will send the copies over in the morning so Mr. Chase can get them in time to distribute. Will you tell him?"
"Yes. He said six hundred copies would be enough?"
"He needn't call for them. We'll see that he gets them."
Inez said it as if she were bidding farewell to something. But to Rose's surprise she sat for several minutes talking with Miss Burton about the scene at the fire before she finally went away.
Mrs. Wilson, over on her porch, waited what she thought was a long time for Inez to come out of the parsonage. Then she went into the house, put on her hat, came out, and went up the street a block, crossed over and knocked at the door of a house on the corner.
A large woman came to the door.
"Oh, it's you, Mrs. Wilson. Come in. Come in."
Mrs. Wilson came in and brought with her the air of communicative eagerness that she knew would be welcome with her neighbour.
"I've a great piece of news, Mrs. Gale. You wouldn't guess it in a month."
"Something about the new minister?" asked Mrs. Gale shrewdly. She had hitched her chair up close to Mrs. Wilson's and the two women continued their talk in low but intimate voices.
Mrs. Wilson looked somewhat disconcerted.
"Well, yes, it is about the new minister, but it's about another person, too."
"You don't mean----"
"You don't know, after all?"
"The other person."
"Is there another person?"
"There always is."
"But you wouldn't expect in so short a time----"
"What has that to do with it? Mrs. Gale, if people knew what I know and could see what I have seen--: You remember that young minister the Presbyterians had some six--no eight years ago this fall, how in less than four weeks we found--you remember----"
Mrs. Gale nodded her big head vigorously to indicate that she remembered. And she had good reason to remember, for the scandal created about the young preacher came very near ruining his career at the very start.
"Well, I've found out a thing about Mr. Chase that will make some folks change their minds about him. Why, almost the first time I saw him I said to Mr. Wilson, `The girls will all be running after him.' And it's true."
"You don't mean----" Mrs. Gale leaned forward an eager look on her face, her eyes gleaming, her hands clutching the sides of her chair. "You don't mean----"
"Of course," Mrs. Wilson continued, ignoring Mrs. Gale's anxiety to know what Mrs. Wilson did mean. "Of course I don't wish Mr. Chase any ill, but----"
"But what?" Mrs. Gale asked, as Mrs. Wilson made an impressive pause.
"Never mind. If folks only knew what I know----"
"Well, what do you know?" Mrs. Gale lost her patience and put the question pointedly.
Mrs. Wilson drew her chair up a little nearer her neighbour's and dropped her voice still lower.
"You know Inez Clark?"
"Every one does."
"Of course. Everybody here in Red Hill has to know everybody," said Mrs. Wilson fretfully. "But I didn't mean that. Do you know what kind of a girl she is?"
"No, not specially. I see her at the movies every time I go. I suppose she's like most of the girls in Red Hill."
"She's different." Mrs. Wilson said it impressively. "She's different. I said over a year ago to Mr. Wilson, `That girl will make trouble for some young man some time.'"
"But isn't that what all of 'em do?" Mrs. Gale interrupted with unexpected shrewdness.
"Not like Inez," Mrs. Wilson said solemnly. The subject was not to be trifled with. "Inez is different. She isn't like the other girls. She's secretive. She won't talk. I've tried to get her to tell me about her father's invention, but you can't get anything out of her."
Mrs. Gale listened with commendable patience. But when Mrs. Wilson paused for breath she interjected the question.
"But what has that to do with Mr. Chase?"
"Everything. You wouldn't suspect to look at him that a girl like Inez Clark would----"
"She's very pretty," interrupted Mrs. Gale.
"Maybe she is. But--well, I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't heard it and seen it."
"Heard and seen what!" exclaimed Mrs. Gale.
"What I heard and saw. You see I was sitting on my porch to-night, about eight or half-past, half-past, I think it was, when who should come up the street towards the Congregational parsonage but Inez Clark."
"How could you tell?"
"Well, the street light is right across from Dr. Vaughn's, you know. And besides, there isn't a girl in town walks like Inez. She almost runs. It's a very peculiar walk."
Mrs. Gale nodded as if agreeing.
"And besides," continued Mrs. Wilson, mysteriously, "I had reason to know that she was coming to the parsonage about that hour."
"No!" exclaimed Mrs. Gale, her big eyes gleaming eagerly.
"Yes. I heard her say herself----But that is later. She went right up to the parsonage and went in."
"Who opened the door?"
"I couldn't see," Mrs. Wilson acknowledged the unfortunate fact reluctantly. "But she hadn't been in the house long before she went into the study. You know the study is right at the corner and Mr. Chase's desk is right up between two windows. I noticed it when I went in one day they were getting it ready for him."
"Well, it seems just awful, but in less than five minutes after Inez went in there, Mr. Chase put his arm around her and drew her right down into his lap."
"What!" Mrs. Gale exclaimed, the unexpected suddenness of the statement colliding with the enjoyment she was experiencing over Mrs. Wilson's revelation.
"Isn't it just awful. But the shadows on the curtains were very plain. I remember telling Mrs. Burton while she was getting those curtains, I was in the store that day. I said to her, `Mrs. Burton, that curtain stuff is pretty thin. It will show right through.' She said it was for the study and was thick enough. Mrs. Burton is a woman you can't argue with, so I didn't say any more, but I remember I said to Mr. Wilson I thought the Ladies' Aid of the Congregational Church was skimping a good deal on the parsonage furnishings."
"But about Inez," Mrs. Gale said. "You feel sure, sure, it was her."
"Why I know it was. I heard her tell Mr. Chase she would be at the parsonage by eight or nine."
"You heard her tell him?" Mrs. Gale said incredulously.
"I was going into the office this morning to get a paper and Mr. Chase and Inez were close together up by the type case. They seemed to be a good deal confused as I came in. I thought at the time it was a queer thing for a girl to say. But I heard her say it plain enough. Isn't it awful?"
"Awful," Mrs. Gale said like a big echo.
"If the people of this town knew what we know, Mrs. Gale--well, I don't know what would happen. But it would create a sensation, all right."
"It surely would," Mrs. Gale nodded her big head vigorously. And then she added, with a downward look, "Of course, it won't go any further."
"Of course not," Mrs. Wilson exclaimed indignantly. "We don't want to make trouble for Mr. Chase. But I think it's awful about Inez."
"Yes, awful," Mrs. Gale assented, as her visitor rose to go. "But these pretty girls are always----"
"Yes, they are----" Mrs. Wilson said as she went out.
Saturday was a busy day in Red Hill. The farmers came in to do their shopping and exchange political views. The street was lined with automobiles and buggies. By noon the main business thoroughfare presented a bustling appearance "looks like K. C.," as the Expressman said to a farmer acquaintance.
"Were you ever in K. C?" asked the farmer.
"Sure!" answered the Expressman. "I went down last Christmas to the Grand Opery."
"I didn't know you sang," said his farmer acquaintance.
"I don't unless I'm paid opery prices," said the Expressman.
Just then a boy came down the crowded sidewalk distributing dodgers. The Expressman held out his hand for one, as the boy went by.
"It's a notice of the union meeting at the Congregational Church Sunday night," said the boy. "Everybody's going."
"If everybody goes who didn't go last Sunday night there will be a crowd," said the farmer. "All the folks in our district planned to drive over if the storm hadn't come up."
"Elder Noyes is going to preach," said the expressman, as he read the dodger. "He's a pretty good preacher, but he can't say Amen to Mr. Chase. None of 'em can. He's smart, he is. I came pretty near joining the church first time I heard him. He's got a mighty takin' way with him. If he had my job there wouldn't be another express wagon in town. Folks would lose their trains just to wait for him to come when he'd forgot to put it on the slate. But, say"--he dropped his voice, and slowly pulled at his scraggy moustache as he looked around and edged over a little nearer the young farmer--"say, have you heard the story that's going around about Mr. Chase and----" Here his voice dropped so that the farmer had to bend his head to hear.
"You don't say." His eye gleamed with interest.
"I don't say it's true. But it's going the rounds."
"I didn't know he was that sort," the young farmer grinned, and his face showed eager interest. "Why, he hasn't been here three weeks."
"I don't say it's true," the expressman insisted, with some feeling. "I like Mr. Chase. Everybody likes him. You ought to have heard the talk on the street day after Jake Seymour was blown out of the Cozy. Why, Mr. Chase made no more of carrying him across there to Meyer's Drug Store than if he had been a empty suit case. I'd a had to put skids under Jake and back the wagon up to the sidewalk and take out the tail board before I could load him in. But Mr. Chase, he just took him up with one hand just as easy as--as--lying."
"You're sure you're telling the truth about this other matter?" said the farmer, as he started to move along.
"No, I don't say it's true," protested the Expressman. "I only say it's going round. I can't believe it's true. But you never can tell. A good many of these smart fellows has somethin' queer about 'em. But folks can't help likin' him. I took to him before he put his foot on the platform. I'd hate to see him get into trouble."
But the young farmer was already down the street, retailing what he had heard to groups of young and old farmers, who listened with eager ears and gleaming eyes, for exciting news was scarce in Red Hill and "this young preacher Chase" seemed destined to prove a Godsend to the new desert of Red Hill and vicinity, to judge from the hungry and thirsty minds that feasted on the story that was "going 'round."
Howard had been going down on the street during the two Saturdays since he arrived in Red Hill. He loved a crowd. He had mixed eagerly with the farmers, being introduced to them by his own church members as he met them. And with that attraction which men like the Expressman felt without being able to define it, he had drawn men to him. There was an irresistible charm in his ready grin, in his complete absence of ministerial manner, in his complete and absolute love of humanity and passion for democracy. Is it any wonder poor Inez bent to him as if a breath from some invisible zephyr had dropped over her and bent her frail blossom to nod trembling as he passed her? Results that with others required weeks and months for ripening, with him were accomplished with swift hastening steps. He acted on people as a tonic and created friendship with a passing smile, making important history with amazing rapidity.
But this Saturday before the Sunday which was to begin the union evening services from which he began to anticipate some great results, he did not go down town, but spent the time between his little study and the church yard.
His disfigured looks were, he told himself, partly to blame for his shrinking from the public. He said to himself, with real honesty, the clear, transparent sort which a man uses on himself as well as on other people, "I am, when you come to look at me a fright. I can tell that the minute I catch sight of myself in a window pane, to say nothing of a mirror. It is useless to deny I have always been a little proud of my looks. It is partly joy at being well and strong, but some of it is just pride, sheer pride, no matter what Rose says. I am beginning already to think of how I will feel when I have to face the people to-morrow morning. It will be something of an ordeal. And I know it will be humiliating until I get to preaching and perhaps even after that."
He had a number of details to attend to in connection with his services and with the seating of the yard. While he was at work in his study in the forenoon, Rose brought in the dodgers which Inez had sent over by one of the boys in the neighbourhood who belonged to the Sunday School.
Howard at once invited him to go out on the street and distribute the circulars, getting some other boys to help, and also had him leave some at Deacon Burton's store to give out to his many farmer customers to take out to the farms with them. He called up Brother Noyes and asked him to call up Gray and Harris and ask them to take some part in the evening meeting, and then he shut himself into his little room to give his undivided thought to his morning sermon, which had for its theme, "Paul, the Man of One Idea."
When he came out at one o'clock to get a little lunch, Rose gently rallied him on his looks.
"Honest, Howard, you do not look fit to go into the pulpit Sunday. Look at yourself in the glass and you'll see what the people will have to look at."
"I've stopped looking in the glass since the fire. You'll have to comb my hair for me. But I'm going into the pulpit to-morrow. It will be quite a shock to them, I know, but they'll get over it."
"But you look awful funny without eyebrows."
"And yet it's no joke," he said gravely. "Perhaps if I'm no better next Sunday I'll let Roy preach for me. Isn't it jolly to know he and Kate are coming?"
"Yes. I'm glad for your sake that Roy is coming. I don't know his wife."
"She's just as nice as he is. They're both used to luxuries, but they are like children in their enjoyment of simple things. I hope they can stay a long time."
He spent the afternoon going over his sermon and helping to complete the final arrangements for his outdoor service. He had rearranged the seats so as to allow of more space in front of the door and he ran a few electric lights out across the road so that people who came in their autos would feel they were more a part of the audience in the yard.
After supper he turned to Rose, who had gone into the kitchen for something.
"Now it's dark and I'm as good-looking as any one. I'll go over and see how Jake Seymour is. I'll not be out long."
Seymour lived across the Santa Fe tracks on the other side of Red Hill. Howard had already been to see him to make inquiry about his injuries, but at the time of his call he had been asleep and the man who came to the door had said it was the doctor's orders not to excite him with company. Howard had learned that the man at the door was Seymour's brother and that the two lived together in the small house, keeping "bachelor's" quarters. Seymour's brother being a brakeman on the Santa Fe with a run to Newton, getting home at irregular intervals.
"As soon as he's able to see any one he'll want to see you, sure, Mr. Chase. Come again. If he's any worse I'll let you know."
To-night, when Howard knocked at the door, the Agent opened it.
"Oh, it's you, Mr. Chase. Come in. Jake's getting on fine. He wants to see you."
Howard went in, seeing everything and seeming to see nothing. He found Jake Seymour sitting up, his head bandaged and a general air of being blown up about his person, but on the sure road to recovery and ready to express his thankfulness to Howard for his part on the night of the accident.
"I thought I was done for, sure, and the End was on my film. But I'm glad to be alive, Mr. Chase, and I'm grateful to you. I don't know how to express myself any better."
Howard was surprised at the man's language and the evident marks of his culture and education. Seymour was a very large, awkwardly built man, with a plain, common-looking face, but a good brow and a clear, bright eye. Howard liked him and in his usual enthusiastic manner proceeded to get at his real aim in life.
"I want to know about the films I mean about your part in them. When you get able to talk matters over I want you to give me inside information about your exchange, the source of your supply, the chances for bettering the shows, and so forth."
Jake Seymour leaned forward in bed and gave Howard a look of real interest.
"Say, you're the first preacher in this town ever talked like that to me. They're always blaming me for the character of the shows. I can tell you a lot of things about the business. I'm just as much interested as you are in getting good films. But I have to take what they send me. Many a time I don't see the fool thing till it's wobbling over the screen. And I've put my hand over the shutter more than once to cut off something I knew was coming that the kids ought not to see. I'll be awful glad to talk it over with some one who has sense and understands."
Howard's eyes glowed with eager interest.
"When you're able to talk we'll have a great time. We'll get the Agent here to write a scenario with a railroad thriller in it that will be the real thing. `Santa Fe all the way,' and work in the moral without any foolishness. I know the Agent could do it in fine style."
The Agent actually blushed, so that his pink eyebrows were nearly as invisible as Howard's.
"I don't know but he could do it, all right," Jake Seymour grinned. "Perhaps you don't know, Mr. Chase, but in between setting the signals, selling tickets and opening the key to Lawton, he's leaning towards literachure. I've seen some of his `pieces' and they ain't half bad."
The Agent blushed redder than ever.
"He's kiddin' you, Mr. Chase. I've never broke into print yet. Looks as if the semaphore was always set for me to slow down and stop."
Howard was delighted. It seemed to him that every day he was discovering some new and interesting types in Red Hill. He had not suspected the Agent.
"Some day when you're not busy, come up to the parsonage and let me see some of your stuff. I've been practising some myself on the magazines, and I believe either of us could beat some of the matter they print. Come on up sometime."
"I'll do it, Mr. Chase. I believe I could get one of my pieces into Munsey's Railway Man's Magazine if I could lick it into shape."
"I'm sure you could. If I was the editor I'd pay three cents a mile for it." Howard grinned and the Agent and Seymour joined in a loud laugh, as Howard rose to go.
"You got hurt yourself, Mr. Chase," Seymour suddenly said, with gravity, and with marked delicacy, not seeming to call attention directly to the remarkable absence of eyebrows.
"Only some of my beauty rubbed off. I'm hoping it will grow on again."
He shook hands with Seymour and the Agent and went out with his swift, but not noisy manner.
After he was gone, the Agent sat silently staring at Seymour. He had come over to sit with the moving picture man until his brother came in on the Newton freight.
"He's a fine fellow," said Seymour at last. "Never thought I should ever owe my life to a preacher."
"Yes," said the Agent slowly and in a low tone, "And doesn't it seem a pity, if it's true, what's going the rounds?"
"What's that?" asked Seymour, sitting up and his face took on an eager look.
"Haven't you heard? The Expressman told me this afternoon. It's all over town. He and Inez Clark----"
Here the Agent dropped his voice still lower and leaned over the bed as he finished his sentence.
"I don't believe it," said Seymour, throwing a big fist down on his bed cover. "Don't believe Mr. Chase is that kind of a man."
"Well, I don't, either. But it's going the rounds," said the Agent slowly.
Late that night Howard finished his sermon. And leaning his elbows on his desk, he looked up at the picture of Christ which Roy Lennox had given him.
Red Hill was asleep. The last farmer had driven out. The soft prairie night wind blew through the little porch at the end of the house, bringing with it a scent of ripening grain and heavy, rich earth odour and fruit blossoms.
He looked at the picture with his gaze absorbed and his whole person removed from his surroundings. If he had been born in India, he would have understood the mystic and the trance dreamer. Yet no one so wide awake and earth-born and earth-interested as he.
There in the night quiet, as he sat detached from all his surroundings, his mind was moving forward to his morning service, his vision outlined the audience, his heart longed for a visible response to his message, his whole passionate desire breathed the longing for real results in his hearer's lives, and as he gazed at the Christ it seemed to him he was going to have his prayer answered.
"Why should I wait any length of time in my ministry before I win souls? Why may I not get results tomorrow?"
It was only one phase of his rapidly moving nature that spoke the wish of his heart to his Lord. Body, mind, will, emotions, sentiment, spiritual longing in him were restless under restraint. His was not one of the slow-moving patient, waiting souls but rather one insistent eager to see results in his young manhood, ready to reap the harvest on the evening of the very day he had sown the seed.
Later on, if some reverent spirit had been allowed to look into the study, it would have seen the new minister of Red Hill kneeling by his desk, his head on his hands, praying out of a wide-awake spirit for a Pentecostal Lord's Day.
Sunday morning dawned over Red Hill a perfect June day, and when Howard stood up to preach he faced a congregation and a condition of human interest without a parallel in that little Kansas town.
It was like his first Sunday, only twice as many people. Farmers' automobiles lined the road, people stood outside eagerly trying to get a look through the open windows and an air of expectant interest greeted Howard at the very outset of the service.
And yet, in spite of the fact that his preaching was unlike anything the people had ever heard and his prayer at the close made the audience sit in painful hushed attention, the result was altogether disappointing.
He said to Rose after it was all over and they were back in the parsonage for dinner:
"I don't know what the matter is. But I didn't get anywhere to-day. Something wrong somewhere."
Rose did not answer at once.
"I think you are tired. But the people may have been affected by your looks. Did that trouble you?"
"No. I forgot all about that. Do you think the people let it get in the way of my message?"
"No. You silly boy, don't you realise they came in a crowd to-day to see the hero who threw Jake Seymour across the street with one hand? That's what `swelled the audience,' as the papers say. The absence of your eyebrows was the public proof of your heroism."
"`Heroism!'" he exclaimed. "If I thought anything like that brought the people to church----"
His horror of cheap claptrap, of sensation, or running after the latest fad caused a feeling like disgust and dislike of humanity. He was too sane and healthy of spirit to allow such a mental attitude to prevail, but he could not shake the feeling off and it followed him throughout the day and into the evening service.
The crowd at that service broke all records for church attendance in Red Hill. The evening was perfect. Elder Noyes preached what he called an old-fashioned gospel sermon. The young people under Miss Burton's direction sang with spirit and evidently pleased the crowd, the other ministers took their parts acceptably and under any ordinary conditions Howard would have called the evening a great success and gone on to plan with enthusiasm for the future.
But he came into the parsonage after the people were gone and the lights all out, looking and feeling more depressed than Rose had ever seen him. For he was a stranger to "moods" and his uniformity of cheerfulness and evenness of temper were his peculiar characteristics.
"Something gone wrong to-day and I can't lay it to my eyebrows," he grinned, but not in his usual careless fashion. "We got no results either morning or evening."
"Only the crowds," said Rose, trying to cheer him up.
"Crowds! What are they? What use is a crowd if it doesn't do something, commit itself, take a stand, change its habits? A crowd does not mean anything, sister, to me unless it does something more than come to a meeting. It must not only come it must go, and go in some real positive conscious way, or all preaching and meetings are empty things. And that is what ours was to-day. And did it seem to you that the ministers were rather cold and unfriendly?"
"Why, no. You must have imagined it. They seemed friendly enough to me."
"I must be tired and imagined it. But it seemed to me they acted a little queer. You know I'm sensitive on that point. I want people to like me. I like to be liked."
"And you are liked. Howard, do you realise that in the few short weeks you have been here you have won the people? Mrs. Burton said to-day she never saw anything like it. The people just can't help liking you."
"Is that so?" he laughed liked a boy, but he was immensely pleased.
"I can go to sleep on that, little sister, but somehow the day was not a success. Let's forget it, and try again. I did my praying all alone. I'll get the other men to join me before next Sunday."
But when morning came and he began his week's work, he felt an unusual depression as if an intangible something was in the air. He went down town and people greeted him as usual and spoke of the great Sunday meetings, but he felt an unspoken reserve or difference in manner, which annoyed and disturbed him mentally, because he could not define it to himself. Even Deacon Burton did not seem quite the same when Howard stepped into the store on his way back from the post office. And Deacon Burton was fast winning a very warm place in the young minister's heart.
Under any ordinary circumstances he would, acting on his absolutely frank and undiplomatic nature, have gone at the heart of the trouble and tried to find out the reason. But he decided it was a case of unusual "tired" or something left over from his moving picture night experience, or possibly people were embarrassed on account of his looks; yes, that must be it, he ginned, and resolutely set himself to dismiss the whole thing and go at his work in his usual vigorous fashion, getting ready also for his classmate's arrival and so the week passed with no special incident until Lennox and his wife arrived on Friday.
Rose and Howard were down at the station to meet them so they wouldn't "get lost among the population," as Howard reminded Roy, and they escorted them up to the parsonage and rejoiced to see them installed in the best room with a promise to stay for an indefinite visit.
Howard had not seen Inez since he saw her in the chorus on Sunday, and Rose had been to the printer's with his copy and secured the dodgers, doing it under the guise of helping him while he was busy with his chum, and so forth. The Rev. Mr. Gray was to be the preacher and the circulars printed rather a full programme of special music.
Saturday Howard spent busily with Lennox in preparation for the Sunday meetings, going over his plans with his Seminary classmate, who showed the greatest enthusiasm in everything.
"I believe there's work enough here for two men," Lennox said, as he watched Howard pull benches around the yard, screw electric lamps into new connections, reconstruct a part of the platform to give the chorus more room, and go from one thing to another with a quiet swiftness that looked easy, but was in reality the price of constant and untiring practice.
"I've had my hands full ever since I came," Howard replied, with a cheerful smile. "Not a dull minute. After supper I'll take you down to see the man who's responsible for my lost eyebrows. This is an exciting parish."
Late that night, after he and Roy had come back from an interesting visit with Seymour, and after the others had retired and Howard was alone in his study, a quiet knock at the door brought him out into the little sitting-room. Evidently he had not heard or paid attention to the first knock, for as he was about to open the door the rap was repeated, and when the door opened, Deacon Burton was seen there on the little porch.
He stepped in and greeted Howard gravely.
"I want to see you alone, Brother Chase."
"Come into the study," Howard said, surprised, but calm as he always was inwardly.
Deacon Burton went in and Howard closed the door.
The deacon laid his hat down slowly on the little table by Howard's desk and taking the seat offered him he sat down and looked earnestly, and Howard thought, sorrowfully into his pastor's face. He was totally in the dark as to the object of the deacon's call. But he sat there facing him with a fast growing conviction that something like a tremendous event was about to happen, or that a crisis of some great and impending meaning had suddenly come upon him.
The soft June night was very quiet about the house and the two men in the minister's study.