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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Inside Of The Cup - Volume 7 - Chapter 24. The Vestry Meets
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The Inside Of The Cup - Volume 7 - Chapter 24. The Vestry Meets Post by :sansoftyme Category :Long Stories Author :Winston Churchill Date :May 2012 Read :1041

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The Inside Of The Cup - Volume 7 - Chapter 24. The Vestry Meets

VOLUME VII CHAPTER XXIV. THE VESTRY MEETS

At nine o'clock that evening Hodder stood alone in the arched vestry room, and the sight of the heavy Gothic chairs ranged about the long table brought up memories of comfortable, genial meetings prolonged by chat and banter.... The noise of feet, of subdued voices beside the coat room in the corridor, aroused him. All of the vestry would seem to have arrived at once.

He regarded them with a detached curiosity as they entered, reading them with a new insight. The trace of off-handedness in Mr. Plimpton's former cordiality was not lost upon him--an intimation that his star had set. Mr. Plimpton had seen many breaches healed--had healed many himself. But he had never been known as a champion of lost causes.

"Well, here we are, Mr. Hodder, on the stroke," he remarked. "As a vestry, I think we're entitled to the first prize for promptness. How about it, Everett?"

Everett Constable was silent.

"Good evening, Mr. Hodder," he said. He did not offer to shake hands, as Mr. Plimpton had done, but sat down at the far end of the table. He looked tired and worn; sick, the rector thought, and felt a sudden swelling of compassion for the pompous little man whose fibre was not as tough as that of these other condottieri: as Francis Ferguson's, for instance, although his soft hand and pink and white face framed in the black whiskers would seem to belie any fibre whatever.

Gordon Atterbury hemmed and hawed,--"Ah, Mr. Hodder," and seated himself beside Mr. Constable, in a chair designed to accommodate a portly bishop. Both of them started nervously as Asa Waring, holding his head high, as a man should who has kept his birthright, went directly to the rector.

"I'm glad to see you, Mr. Hodder," he said, and turning defiantly, surveyed the room. There was an awkward silence. Mr. Plimpton edged a little nearer. The decree might have gone forth for Mr. Hodder's destruction, but Asa Waring was a man whose displeasure was not to be lightly incurred.

"What's this I hear about your moving out of Hamilton Place, Mr. Waring? You'd better come up and take the Spaulding lot, in Waverley, across from us."

"I am an old man, Mr. Plimpton," Asa Waring replied. "I do not move as easily as some other people in these days."

Everett Constable produced his handkerchief and rubbed his nose violently. But Mr. Plimpton was apparently undaunted.

"I have always said," he observed, "that there was something very fine in your sticking to that neighbourhood after your friends had gone. Here's Phil!"

Phil Goodrich looked positively belligerent, and as he took his stand on the other side of Hodder his father-in-law smiled at him grimly. Mr. Goodrich took hold of the rector's arm.

"I missed one or two meetings last spring, Mr. Hodder," he said, "but I'm going to be on hand after this. My father, I believe, never missed a vestry meeting in his life. Perhaps that was because they used to hold most of 'em at his house."

"And serve port and cigars, I'm told," Mr. Plimpton put in.

"That was an inducement, Wallis, I'll admit," answered Phil. "But there are even greater inducements now."

In view of Phil Goodrich's well-known liking for a fight, this was too pointed to admit of a reply, but Mr. Plimpton was spared the attempt by the entrance of. Nelson Langmaid. The lawyer, as he greeted them, seemed to be preoccupied, nor did he seek to relieve the tension with his customary joke. A few moments of silence followed, when Eldon Parr was seen to be standing in the doorway, surveying them.

"Good evening, gentlemen," he said coldly, and without more ado went to his customary chair, and sat down in it. Immediately followed a scraping of other chairs. There was a dominating quality about the man not to be gainsaid.

The rector called the meeting to order....

During the routine business none of the little asides occurred which produce laughter. Every man in the room was aware of the intensity of Eldon Parr's animosity, and yet he betrayed it neither by voice, look, or gesture. There was something uncanny in this self-control, this sang froid with which he was wont to sit at boards waiting unmoved for the time when he should draw his net about his enemies, and strangle them without pity. It got on Langmaid's nerves--hardened as he was to it. He had seen many men in that net; some had struggled, some had taken their annihilation stoically; honest merchants, freebooters, and brigands. Most of them had gone out, with their families, into that precarious border-land of existence in which the to-morrows are ever dreaded.

Yet here, somehow, was a different case. Langmaid found himself going back to the days when his mother had taken him to church, and he could not bear to look at, Hodder. Since six o'clock that afternoon--had his companions but known it--he had passed through one of the worst periods of his existence....

After the regular business had been disposed of a brief interval was allowed, for the sake of decency, to ensue. That Eldon Parr would not lead the charge in person was a foregone conclusion. Whom, then, would he put forward? For obvious reasons, not Wallis Plimpton or Langmaid, nor Francis Ferguson. Hodder found his, glance unconsciously fixed upon Everett Constable, who, moved nervously and slowly pushed back his chair. He was called upon, in this hour and in the church his father had helped to found, to make the supreme payment for the years of financial prosperity. Although a little man, with his shoulders thrown back and his head high, he generally looked impressive when he spoke, and his fine features and clear-cut English contributed to the effect. But now his face was strained, and his voice seemed to lack command as he bowed and mentioned the rector's name. Eldon Parr sat back.

"Gentlemen," Mr. Constable began, "I feel it my duty to say something this evening, something that distresses me. Like some of you who are here present, I have been on this vestry for many years, and my father was on it before me. I was brought up under Dr. Gilman, of whom I need not speak. All here, except our present rector, knew him. This church, St. John's, has been a part--a--large part--of my life. And anything that seems to touch its welfare, touches me.

"When Dr. Gilman died, after so many years of faithful service, we faced a grave problem,--that of obtaining a young man of ability, an active man who would be able to assume the responsibilities of a large and growing parish, and at the same time carry on its traditions, precious to us all; one who believed in and preached, I need scarcely add, the accepted doctrines of the Church, which we have been taught to think are sacred and necessary to salvation. And in the discovery of the Reverend Mr. Hodder, we had reason to congratulate ourselves and the parish. He was all that we had hoped for, and more. His sermons were at once a pleasure and an instruction.

"I wish to make it clear," he continued, "that in spite of the pain Mr. Hodder's words of last Sunday have given me, I respect and honour him still, and wish him every success. But, gentlemen, I think it is plain to all of you that he has changed his religious convictions. As to the causes through which that change has come about, I do not pretend to know. To say the least, the transition is a startling one, one for which some of us were totally unprepared. To speak restrainedly, it was a shock--a shock which I shall remember as long as I live.

"I need not go into the doctrinal question here, except to express my opinion that the fundamental facts of our religion were contradicted. And we have also to consider the effect of this preaching on coming generations for whom we are responsible. There are, no doubt, other fields for Mr. Hodder's usefulness. But I think it may safely be taken as a principle that this parish has the right to demand from the pulpit that orthodox teaching which suits it, and to which it has been accustomed. And I venture further to give it as my opinion--to put it mildly that others have been as disturbed and shocked as I. I have seen many, talked with many, since Sunday. For these reasons, with much sorrow and regret, I venture to suggest to the vestry that Mr. Hodder resign as our rector. And I may add what I believe to be the feeling of all present, that we have nothing but good will for him, although we think we might have been informed of what he intended to do.

"And that in requesting him to resign we are acting for his own good as well as our own, and are thus avoiding a situation which threatens to become impossible,--one which would bring serious reflection on him and calamity on the church. We already, in certain articles in the newspapers, have had an indication of the intolerable notoriety we may expect, although I hold Mr. Hodder innocent in regard to those articles. I am sure he will have the good sense to see this situation as I see it, as the majority of the parish see it."

Mr. Constable sat down, breathing hard. He had not looked at the rector during the whole of his speech, nor at Eldon Parr. There was a heavy silence, and then Philip Goodrich rose, square, clean-cut, aggressive.

"I, too, gentlemen, have had life-long association with this church," he began deliberately. "And for Mr. Hodder's sake I am going to give you a little of my personal history, because I think it typical of thousands of men of my age all over this country. It was nobody's fault, perhaps, that I was taught that the Christian religion depended on a certain series of nature miracles and a chain of historical events, and when I went East to school I had more of this same sort of instruction. I have never, perhaps, been overburdened with intellect, but the time arrived nevertheless when I began to think for myself. Some of the older boys went once, I remember, to the rector of the school--a dear old man--and frankly stated our troubles. To use a modern expression, he stood pat on everything. I do not say it was a consciously criminal act, he probably saw no way out himself. At any rate, he made us all agnostics at one stroke.

"What I learned in college of science and history and philosophy merely confirmed me in my agnosticism. As a complete system for the making of atheists and materialists, I commend the education which I received. If there is any man here who believes religion to be an essential factor in life, I ask him to think of his children or grandchildren before he comes forward to the support of Mr. Constable.

"In that sermon which he preached last Sunday, Mr. Hodder, for the first time in my life, made Christianity intelligible to me. I want him to know it. And there are other men and women in that congregation who feel as I do. Gentlemen, there is nothing I would not give to have had Christianity put before me in that simple and inspiring way when I was a boy. And in my opinion St. John's is more fortunate to-day than it ever has been in its existence. Mr. Hodder should have an unanimous testimonial of appreciation from this vestry for his courage. And if the vote requesting him to resign prevails, I venture to predict that there is not a man on this vestry who will not live to regret it."

Phil Goodrich glared at Eldon Parr, who remained unmoved.

"Permit me to add," he said, "that this controversy, in other respects than doctrine, is more befitting to the Middle Ages than to the twentieth century, when this Church and other denominations are passing resolutions in their national conventions with a view to unity and freedom of belief."

Mr. Langmaid, Mr. Plimpton, and Mr. Constable sat still. Mr. Ferguson made no move. It was Gordon Atterbury who rushed into the breach, and proved that the extremists are allies of doubtful value.

He had, apparently, not been idle since Sunday, and was armed cap-a pie with time-worn arguments that need not be set down. All of which went to show that Mr. Goodrich had not referred to the Middle Ages in vain. For Gordon Atterbury was a born school-man. But he finished by declaring, at the end of twenty minutes (much as he regretted the necessity of saying it), that Mr. Hodder's continuance as rector would mean the ruin of the church in which all present took such a pride. That the great majority of its members would never submit to what was so plainly heresy.

It was then that Mr. Plimpton gathered courage to pour oil on the waters. There was nothing, in his opinion, he remarked smilingly, in his function as peacemaker, to warrant anything but the most friendly interchange of views. He was second to none in his regard for Mr. Hodder, in his admiration for a man who had the courage of his convictions. He had not the least doubt that Mr. Hodder did not desire to remain in the parish when it was so apparent that the doctrines which he now preached were not acceptable to most of those who supported the church. And he added (with sublime magnanimity) that he wished Mr. Hodder the success which he was sure he deserved, and gave him every assurance of his friendship.

Asa Waring was about to rise, when he perceived that Hodder himself was on his feet. And the eyes of every man, save one, were fixed on him irresistibly. The rector seemed unaware of it. It was Philip Goodrich who remarked to his father-in-law, as they walked home afterwards, of the sense he had had at that moment that there were just two men in the room,--Hodder and Eldon Parr. All the rest were ciphers; all had lost, momentarily, their feelings of partisanship and were conscious only of these two intense, radiating, opposing centres of force; and no man, oddly enough, could say which was the stronger. They seemingly met on equal terms. There could not be the slightest doubt that the rector did not mean to yield, and yet they might have been puzzled if they had asked themselves how they had read the fact in his face or manner. For he betrayed neither anger nor impatience.

No more did the financier reveal his own feelings. He still sat back in his chair, unmoved, in apparent contemplation. The posture was familiar to Langmaid.

Would he destroy, too, this clergyman? For the first time in his life, and as he looked at Hodder, the lawyer wondered. Hodder did not defend himself, made no apologies. Christianity was not a collection of doctrines, he reminded them,--but a mode of life. If anything were clear to him, it was that the present situation was not, with the majority of them, a matter of doctrines, but of unwillingness to accept the message and precept of Jesus Christ, and lead Christian lives. They had made use of the doctrines as a stalking-horse.

There was a stir at this, and Hodder paused a moment and glanced around the table. But no one interrupted.

He was fully aware of his rights, and he had no intention of resigning. To resign would be to abandon the work for which he was responsible, not to them, but to God. And he was perfectly willing--nay, eager to defend his Christianity before any ecclesiastical court, should the bishop decide that a court was necessary. The day of freedom, of a truer vision was at hand, the day of Christian unity on the vital truths, and no better proof of it could be brought forward than the change in him. In his ignorance and blindness he had hitherto permitted compromise, but he would no longer allow those who made only an outward pretence of being Christians to direct the spiritual affairs of St. John's, to say what should and what should not be preached. This was to continue to paralyze the usefulness of the church, to set at naught her mission, to alienate those who most had need of her, who hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and went away unsatisfied.

He had hardly resumed his seat when Everett Constable got up again. He remarked, somewhat unsteadily, that to prolong the controversy would be useless and painful to all concerned, and he infinitely regretted the necessity of putting his suggestion that the rector resign in the form of a resolution.... The vote was taken. Six men raised their hands in favour of his resignation--Nelson Langmaid among them: two, Asa Waring and Philip Goodrich, were against it. After announcing the result, Hodder rose.

"For the reason I have stated, gentlemen, I decline to resign," he said. "I stand upon my canonical rights."

Francis Ferguson arose, his voice actually trembling with anger. There is something uncanny in the passion of a man whose life has been ordered by the inexorable rules of commerce, who has been wont to decide all questions from the standpoint of dollars and cents. If one of his own wax models had suddenly become animated, the effect could not have been more startling.

In the course of this discussion, he declared, Mr. Hodder had seen fit to make grave and in his opinion unwarranted charges concerning the lives of some, if not all, of the gentlemen who sat here. It surprised him that these remarks had not been resented, but he praised a Christian forbearance on the part of his colleagues which he was unable to achieve. He had no doubt that their object had been to spare Mr. Hodder's feelings as much as possible, but Mr. Hodder had shown no disposition to spare their own. He had outraged them, Mr. Ferguson thought,--wantonly so. He had made these preposterous and unchristian charges an excuse for his determination to remain in a position where his usefulness had ceased.

No one, unfortunately, was perfect in this life,--not even Mr. Hodder. He, Francis Ferguson, was far from claiming to be so. But he believed that this arraignment of the men who stood highest in the city for decency, law, and order, who supported the Church, who revered its doctrines, who tried to live Christian lives, who gave their time and their money freely to it and to charities, that this arraignment was an arrogant accusation and affront to be repudiated. He demanded that Mr. Hodder be definite. If he had any charges to make, let him make them here and now.

The consternation, the horror which succeeded such a stupid and unexpected tactical blunder on the part of the usually astute Mr. Ferguson were felt rather than visually discerned. The atmosphere might have been described as panicky. Asa Waring and Phil Goodrich smiled as Wallis Plimpton, after a moment's hush, scrambled to his feet, his face pale, his customary easiness and nonchalance now the result of an obvious effort. He, too, tried to smile, but swallowed instead as he remembered his property in Dalton Street.... Nelson Langmaid smiled, in spite of himself... Mr. Plimpton implored his fellow-members not to bring personalities into the debate, and he was aware all the while of the curious, pitying expression of the rector. He breathed a sigh of relief at the opening words of Hodder, who followed him.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I have no intention of being personal, even by unanimous consent. But if Mr. Ferguson will come to me after this meeting I shall have not the least objection to discussing this matter with him in so far as he himself is concerned. I can only assure you now that I have not spoken without warrant."

There was, oddly enough, no acceptance of this offer by Mr. Ferguson. Another silence ensued, broken, at last, by a voice for which they had all been unconsciously waiting; a voice which, though unemotional, cold, and matter-of-fact, was nevertheless commanding, and long accustomed to speak with an overwhelming authority. Eldon Parr did not rise.

"Mr. Hodder," he said, "in one respect seems to be under the delusion that we are still in the Middle Ages, instead of the twentieth century, since he assumes the right to meddle with the lives of his parishioners, to be the sole judge of their actions. That assumption will not, be tolerated by free men. I, for one, gentlemen, do not, propose to have a socialist for the rector of the church which I attend and support. And I maintain the privilege of an American citizen to set my own standards, within the law, and to be the sole arbitrar of those standards."

"Good!" muttered Gordon Atterbury. Langmaid moved uncomfortably.

"I shall not waste words," the financier continued. "There is in my mind no question that we are justified in demanding from our rector the Christian doctrines to which we have given our assent, and which are stated in the Creeds. That they shall be subject to the whims of the rector is beyond argument. I do not pretend to, understand either, gentlemen, the nature of the extraordinary change that has taken place in the rector of St. John's. I am not well versed m psychology. I am incapable of flights myself. One effect of this change is an attitude on which reasonable considerations would seem to have no effect.

"Our resources, fortunately, are not yet at an end. It has been my hope, on account of my former friendship with Mr. Hodder, that an ecclesiastical trial might not be necessary. It now seems inevitable. In the meantime, since Mr. Hodder has seen fit to remain in spite of our protest, I do not intend to enter this church. I was prepared, gentlemen, as some of you no doubt know, to spend a considerable sum in adding to the beauty of St. John's and to the charitable activities of the parish. Mr. Hodder has not disapproved of my gifts in the past, but owing to his present scruples concerning my worthiness, I naturally hesitate to press the matter now." Mr. Parr indulged in the semblance of a smile. "I fear that he must take the responsibility of delaying this benefit, with the other responsibilities he has assumed."

His voice changed. It became sharper.

"In short, I propose to withhold all contributions for whatever purpose from this church while Mr. Hodder is rector, and I advise those of you who have voted for his resignation to do the same. In the meantime, I shall give my money to Calvary, and attend its services. And I shall offer further a resolution--which I am informed is within our right--to discontinue Mr. Hodder's salary."

There was that in the unparalleled audacity of Eldon Parr that compelled Hodder's unwilling admiration. He sat gazing at the financier during this speech, speculating curiously on the inner consciousness of the man who could utter it. Was it possible that he had no sense of guilt? Even so, he had shown a remarkable astuteness in relying on the conviction that he (Hodder) would not betray what he knew.

He was suddenly aware that Asa Waring was standing beside him.

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Waring, "I have listened to this discussion as long as I can bear it with patience. Had I been told of it, I should have thought it incredible that the methods of the money changers should be applied to the direction and control of the house of God. In my opinion there is but one word which is suitable for what has passed here to-night, and the word is persecution. Perhaps I have lived too long I have lived to see honourable, upright men deprived of what was rightfully theirs, driven from their livelihood by the rapacity of those who strive to concentrate the wealth and power of the nation into their hands. I have seen this power gathering strength, stretching its arm little by little over the institutions I fought to preserve, and which I cherish over our politics, over our government, yes, and even over our courts. I have seen it poisoning the business honour in which we formerly took such a pride, I have seen it reestablishing a slavery more pernicious than that which millions died to efface. I have seen it compel a subservience which makes me ashamed, as an American, to witness."

His glance, a withering moral scorn, darted from under the grizzled eyebrows and alighted on one man after another, and none met it. Everett Constable coughed, Wallis Plimpton shifted his position, the others sat like stones. Asa Waring was giving vent at last to the pent-up feelings of many years.

"And now that power, which respects nothing, has crept into the sanctuary of the Church. Our rector recognizes it, I recognize it,--there is not a man here who, in his heart, misunderstands me. And when a man is found who has the courage to stand up against it, I honour him with all my soul, and a hope that was almost dead revives in me. For there is one force, and one force alone, able to overcome the power of which I speak,--the Spirit of Christ. And the mission of the Church is to disseminate that spirit. The Church is the champion on which we have to rely, or give up all hope of victory. The Church must train the recruits. And if the Church herself is betrayed into the hands of the enemy, the battle is lost.

"If Mr. Hodder is forced out of this church, it would be better to lock the doors. St. John's will be held up, and rightfully, to the scorn of the city. All the money in the world will not save her. Though crippled, she has survived one disgrace, when she would not give free shelter to the man who above all others expressed her true spirit, when she drove Horace Bentley from her doors after he had been deprived of the fortune which he was spending for his fellow-men. She will not survive another.

"I have no doubt Mr. Parr's motion to take from Mr. Hodder his living will go through. And still I urge him not to resign. I am not a rich man, even when such property as I have is compared to moderate fortunes of these days, but I would pay his salary willingly out of my own pocket rather than see him go....

"I call the attention of the Chairman," said Eldon Parr, after a certain interval in which no one had ventured to speak, "to the motion before the vestry relating to the discontinuance of Mr. Hodder's salary."

It was then that the unexpected happened. Gordon Atterbury redeemed himself. His respect for Mr. Waring, he said, made him hesitate to take issue with him.

He could speak for himself and for a number of people in the congregation when he reiterated his opinion that they were honestly shocked at what Mr. Hodder had preached, and that this was his sole motive in requesting Mr. Hodder to resign. He thought, under the circumstances, that this was a matter which might safely be left with the bishop. He would not vote to deprive Mr. Hodder of his salary.

The motion was carried by a vote of five to three. For Eldon Parr well knew that his will needed no reenforcement by argument. And this much was to be said for him, that after he had entered a battle he never hesitated, never under any circumstances reconsidered the probable effect of his course.

As for the others, those who had supported him, they were cast in a less heroic mould. Even Francis Ferguson. As between the devil and the deep sea, he was compelled, with as good a grace as possible, to choose the devil. He was utterly unable to contemplate the disaster which might ensue if certain financial ties, which were thicker than cables, were snapped. But his affection for the devil was not increased by thus being led into a charge from which he would willingly have drawn back. Asa Waring might mean nothing to Eldon Parr, but he meant a great deal to Francis Ferguson, who had by no means forgotten his sensations of satisfaction when Mrs. Waring had made her first call in Park Street on Francis Ferguson's wife. He left the room in such a state of absent-mindedness as actually to pass Mr. Parr in the corridor without speaking to him.

The case of Wallis Plimpton was even worse. He had married the Gores, but he had sought to bind himself with hoops of steel to the Warings. He had always secretly admired that old Roman quality (which the Goodriches--their connections--shared) of holding fast to their course unmindful and rather scornful of influence which swayed their neighbours. The clan was sufficient unto itself, satisfied with a moderate prosperity and a continually increasing number of descendants. The name was unstained. Such are the strange incongruities in the hearts of men, that few realized the extent to which Wallis Plimpton had partaken of the general hero-worship of Phil Goodrich. He had assiduously cultivated his regard, at times discreetly boasted of it, and yet had never been sure of it. And now fate, in the form of his master, Eldon Parr had ironically compelled him at one stroke to undo the work of years. As soon as the meeting broke up, he crossed the room.

"I can't tell you how much I regret this, Phil," he said. "Charlotte has very strong convictions, you know, and so have I. You can understand, I am sure, how certain articles of belief might be necessary to one person, and not to another."

"Yes," said Phil, "I can understand. We needn't mention the articles, Wallis." And he turned his back.

He never knew the pain he inflicted. Wallis Plimpton looked at the rector, who stood talking to Mr. Waring, and for the first time in his life recoiled from an overture.

Something in the faces of both men warned him away.

Even Everett Constable, as they went home in the cars together, was brief with him, and passed no comments when Mr. Plimpton recovered sufficiently to elaborate on the justification of their act, and upon the extraordinary stand taken by Phil Goodrich and Mr. Waring.

"They might have told us what they were going to do."

Everett Constable eyed him.

"Would it have made any difference, Plimpton?" he demanded.

After that they rode in silence, until they came to a certain West End corner, where they both descended. Little Mr. Constable's sensations were, if anything, less enviable, and he had not Mr. Plimpton's recuperative powers. He had sold that night, for a mess of pottage, the friendship and respect of three generations. And he had fought, for pay, against his own people.

And lastly, there was Langmaid, whose feelings almost defy analysis. He chose to walk through the still night the four miles--that separated him from his home. And he went back over the years of his life until he found, in the rubbish of the past, a forgotten and tarnished jewel. The discovery pained him. For that jewel was the ideal he had carried away, as a youth, from the old law school at the bottom of Hamilton Place,--a gift from no less a man than the great lawyer and public-spirited citizen, Judge Henry Goodrich--Philip Goodrich's grandfather, whose seated statue marked the entrance of the library. He, Nelson Langmaid,--had gone forth from that school resolved to follow in the footsteps of that man,--but somehow he missed the path. Somehow the jewel had lost its fire. There had come a tempting offer, and a struggle--just one: a readjustment on the plea that the world had changed since the days of Judge Goodrich, whose uncompromising figure had begun to fade: an exciting discovery that he, Nelson Langmaid, possessed the gift of drawing up agreements which had the faculty of passing magically through the meshes of the Statutes. Affluence had followed, and fame, and even that high office which the Judge himself had held, the Presidency of the State Bar Association. In all that time, one remark, which he had tried to forget, had cut him to the quick. Bedloe Hubbell had said on the political platform that Langmaid got one hundred thousand dollars a year for keeping Eldon Parr out of jail.

Once he stopped in the street, his mind suddenly going back to the action of the financier at the vestry meeting.

"Confound him!" he said aloud, "he has been a fool for once. I told him not to do it."

He stood at last in the ample vestibule of his house, singling out his latch-key, when suddenly the door opened, and his daughter Helen appeared.

"Oh, dad," she cried, "why are you so-late? I've been watching for you. I know you've let Mr. Hodder stay."

She gazed at him with widened eyes.

"Don't tell me that you've made him resign. I can't--I won't believe it."

"He isn't going to resign, Helen," Langmaid replied, in an odd voice.

"He--he refused to."

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