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helped out of the dogcart and stood face to face with her daughter,
'Tuts, tuts, wife,' said the farmer of Broomknowes as he patted the weeping girl kindly on the shoulder.
WHEN the excitement attendant on Mr. Sempill's induction had
Mr. Lundie, who soon discovered that the new pastor, with far
'I have no fault to find with Mr. Sempill's preaching,' said Mr. Lundie, in one of those conclaves in which the office-bearers met to compare notes regarding their minister; but in my opinion his sermons might have more of a present interest. What we want in Kirjath is a man to grapple with the errors of the age, and put down Huxley and Tyndall and those people.'
'There isn't a minister round and round which can draw an
inference like Mr. Sempill,' said Mr. Teape, who never felt quite satisfied at seeing another pastor in the pulpit which he thought belonged to his nephew; but he has no local knowledge. He is still groping to get at the souls of the flock.'
If he would give us more of the plain gospel, and fewer of his own ideas, it would be all the more to our profit,' grumbled Mr. Sandison, the chemist. There is not that full appearance of the Spirit about Mr. Sempill's ministrations that I would like to see.'
Mr. Sempill would have much more influence with his flock if he were more social-like,' observed Mr. Dickson, the corn-factor, who had found out by this time that the minister was not likely to presume upon his invitation to drop in and have a glass of sherry on his way to the station. I don't like to see a pastor gallivantin' about to teas and suppers and neglectin' his studies, as so many of our young men do; but he should be free with his folk and come about among them in a homely way. It looks settin'-up like when a man keeps himself all to himself as Mr. Sempill does.'
'I met him the other day going to the Poor's-house with a bottle of wine in each pocket for the old women; and Reid the butcher told me that he had got orders to send old Widow Jamieson chops and collops every day until she got better, and to put the bill down to the minister's account; and if that isn't as good as any sermon that ever was preached in Kirjath, I'm dashed if I know what the Bible means.'
The deacons were not so shocked as might have been expected at this sinful expression, for Mr. Lyon's conversion was regarded with more than doubt by the congregation of Kirjath, and he would never have been made an office-bearer had not his wife's zeal and his own wealth been accepted in lieu of a more pronounced appearance of
Nor was the admiration which the ladies of the congregation professed to feel for the minister of Kirjath wholly unqualified by a perception of his imperfections. When Miss Lundie saw that her quiet evenings and a little music' failed, after one or two invitations had been accepted for the sake of civility, to draw the pastor into the social circle of Simonie, that young lady declared to her friends that the minister was gosh and deficient in tong. Miss Powrie made several vain attempts to ensnare the minister into a correspondence by asking for his advice as to what works she should peruse in order to thoroughly master the question of Justification by Faith, and received a curt reply naming several treatises on the subject, but suggesting also that a lady's spare time might be more profitably given to the prosecution of works of charity and benevolence than to the study of dogmatic theology. Nor did a delicate offer to cooperate with Mr. Sempill in visiting the poor and reading to the siek meet with greater encouragement; and Miss Powrie at length confessed to her friend Miss Lundie that the minister of Kirjath was a very commonplace sort of person; that he was wanting in soul and sensi
bility. In short, the ladies of the congregation were disposed to resent Mr. Sempill's indifference to their good opinions, and to believe that his affections had been pre-engaged before his arrival among them; but, however adverse this feeling might have been to his popularity, it was little to the storm that arose in the congregation when the news broke out that their pastor was in love with Daisy Lyon.
There could be no doubt that the story was well founded, however preposterous it might seem. Not only were Mr. Sempill's visits at Broomknowes much more frequent than his pastoral duties demanded, but he had been known on several occasions to convoy her home from his Bible class on Tuesday evenings. Mesdames Lundie and Powrie got no peace until they had fathomed the depths of this atrocious story, and going one evening to the Bible class they found it was only too true. When the class broke up, the minister paid a few formal compliments to the ladies from Simonie, and then hurried off by himself along the road to overtake Miss Lyon, who had already disappeared in the twilight. This was an enormity that the virgin heart of Miss Lundie could never have apprehended, and she hurried home to her parent to call upon him to purify Kirjath from the reproach which the conduct of its pastor was likely to bring upon the Church. Had Mr. Sempill cast his eyes upon a stranger, and taken her to preside at the manse, Miss Lundie or Miss Powrie could have forgiven him, and received the new-comer with open arms. But here, in their very presence, he had given the golden apple to a rival, and thus directly challenged their enmity; and neither Miss Lundie nor Miss Powrie was disposed to forgive such an affront, and they both resolved that Kirjath should ring with his conduct before many days were over.
And he whisked past us with scarcely as much as a “good evening,” said Miss Lundie to her father as she stood before the parlour fire, and ran after her down the road. A nice example to set to the young people of the congregation. The Bible class will soon become a randyvoo for assignations. I shouldn't wonder if young Nesbitt and he were meeting but there would be a fight about her. And as she made this suggestion Miss Lundie undid her bonnet-strings with a jerk, and threw the ribbons viciously over her shoulder.
• It is awkward, extremely awkward,' said Mr. Lundie, reflectively stroking his legs with the palms of his hands; but I have seen for some time past that Mr. Sempill was likely to give us trouble. It is a bad sign when a young minister does not open himself to the influence of his deacons. I really fear we shall have to deal with him before long; in fact, I'm sure we must deal with him unless a very marked alteration takes place in his behaviour.'
*Dealing' was a very comprehensive phrase in the language of Kirjath, and embraced all the forms of ecclesiastical action, from simple counsel up to the refusal of Church ordinances, or, in the case of a minister, to dismissing him from his charge; and it was well, perhaps, for Mr. Sempill's peace of mind that his love-dreams were
undisturbed by any presentiment that his deacon was proposing to have him dealt with. For in love the minister of Kirjath undoubtedly was. He had tried hard to persuade himself that this was not the case, but the evidence of his feelings was getting too strong to be gainsaid. From the first time he saw her Daisy Lyon had aroused a keen interest in his mind. The minister of Kirjath had not lived for five-and-thirty years in the world without having been in love before, but he speedily began to perceive that his former attachments had been of a more transient character than the one into which he was now drifting. The charm which the freshness of youth and innocence exercises more perhaps upon a man in his maturity than upon one who has not learned by their loss the true value of these possessions was gradually weaving itself round the minister's mind; and every time that he exposed himself anew to its influence he felt that all hope of escape was growing more and more desperate. Mr. Sempill had, both by principle and professional training, accustomed himself to maintain the mastery over his passions, and it was not without many mental apologies and excuses to his better judgment that he continued to place himself in temptation's way. cuses, under such circumstances, are easily furnished when one has only one's own conscience to satisfy. He tried with very fair success to assure himself that his frequent visits to Broomknowes were due to the interest that Mrs. Lyon showed in his pastoral work, and to the fact that her husband was the only one of his deacons upon whose sincerity and disinterestedness he could depend with confidence. He had not been without scruples as to the propriety of escorting Daisy home from the Bible class; but was not young Nesbitt laying plots to entrap the young girl's innocence ? and would he not in all likelihood endeavour to force his company upon her as she walked home ? Mr. Sempill had repeatedly noticed Nesbitt's handsome but dissipated face in the back pews of Kirjath on Bible-class nights; and in his mind he could not help recalling that when the sons of men came to present themselves before God, Satan came also among them. Clearly, then, as her pastor he ought to protect Daisy against Nesbitt's importunities, and how could he do this unless he accompanied her home? His attentions were evidently agreeable to Mrs. Lyon, while Daisy's father, so long as he saw his girl happy, was not likely to trouble himself as to whether it was right or wrong of the minister to accompany her home. And so Mr. Sempill soon made up
bis mind that it was his duty to take Daisy Lyon specially under his pastoral wing; and he prepared himself for any uncharitable remarks which might be caused in consequence by the reflection that one is never so much exposed to calumny as when striving to walk in the path of duty. Did it occur to Mr. Sempill that there were other paths of duty equally open to him in which there would have been much less danger of detraction? There was lame Jane Sim, for instance, who never missed a class or a meeting at Kirjath, toiling stoutly along the road, though walking must have been exquisitely
painful for her shrunk leg. Would Mr. Sempill have been as firmly resolved to face obloquy if it had been to be met with in assisting her home to her cottage ? And there was old Widow Proctor, who had been a member of Kirjath since the congregation was first formed, whose seat in the church was never vacant, and who was so bad with asthma that she was obliged to stand up and take breath at every few yards as she walked along the road. Would Mr. Sempill have felt that there was any need for mental apologies had his perception of duty led him to offer his arm to Widow Proctor on her way home? But Mr. Sempill was still in the youth and vigour of manhood, and heart-free, and it was not much wonder that his duty seemed to lie more directly in the way of Daisy Lyon than of either lame Jane Sim or asthmatic Widow Proctor.
And what did Daisy herself think of the minister's evident preference for her society? At first, she was disposed to regard his company as an infiction, and to feel rather disappointed that the pastor should play the part of a sheep-dog to scare away younger and more amusing companions. But the female mind is quick to detect the existence of any regard of which it is the object; and Daisy was not long of divining that the minister's stiffness and awkwardness in her company were due to feelings under these, struggling for expression to which he was afraid to give utterance. The idea of captivating a man of Mr. Sempill's age and gravity seemed so preposterous to the girl's mind that she felt inclined to treat it as a joke; and in her giddy moments she would scandalise her mother, and amuse the servant-maids, by picturing to them how she would act if the minister were to propose to her. But at heart Daisy soon began to discover that Mr. Sempill's feelings were not so much a matter of indifference to her as she would have her friends believe. At first she had been awed in the minister's presence, but gradually, as the ice between them began to break, she could not help perceiving that he possessed many manly and lovable qualities. There was a dash of romance, too, in the idea of a man so much superior in years and wisdom falling in love with her that was not displeasing to a girl of Daisy's time of life; and as the young ladies of the congregation had always affected to treat her as a child, she was not without a feeling of pride that Mr. Sempill had thus distinguished her by his regard. The previous love-episode in Daisy's life had not been one that she could take pride in, even at the time when she fancied herself to be passionately fond of young Nesbitt. And now that she had got a suitor whom she need feel no shame in owning before all the world, the girl's heart was not a little elated. But although she felt sure of her mother's approbation of Mr. Sempill's pretensions, and of her father's ready concurrence in any project for her happiness, Daisy had yet her own reasons to avoid the declaration of her attachment to the minister of Kirjath.
· Don't think you can throw me away like an old glove,” young Nesbitt had said to her at their last interview, when the girl told
No. 611 (NO. CXXXI. N. s.)