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avoided, for close behind them, cantering along the county road, came old Mr. Nesbitt, of Westermains, whose unsteady seat in the saddle, his feet thrust far into the stirrups, and his hat perched upon the back of his head, were indications that he had refreshed himself with more liberality than discretion at the White Hart, on his way from market. As he noticed the Lyons he reined in his horse with a shock which nearly threw the animal on his haunches, and made the rider sway from side to side as he shaded his bloodshot eyes to see who were the occupants of the dogcart. Uttering a tipsy Holloa!' as he recognised the farmer of Broomknowes, he struck his horse's haunch with his riding-switch, and in another minute he was alongside the vehicle, pulling off his hat with ostentatious courtesy to Mrs. Lyon with one hand, while with the other he endeavoured to steady himself by grasping the pommel of the saddle.
Ah, Mrs. Lyon, how d'ye do? how d'ye do? I declare you're looking younger and fresher than your own daughter, although that isn't saying little. Eh? Is it, Miss Daisy? I don't know what you have done to my boy, for he goes mooning about like a natural, and, faith, it is little wonder either, for those cheeks of yours are too much for older men than he is.'
'You've been to market, Nesbitt,' said Mr. Lyon, pretending to look indifferent, while his wife lowered her brows and drew herself up still more stiffly, and Daisy held down her head in indignant confusion, ready to burst into tears. Corn looking any better?'
‘D—1 a bit, and cattle a couple of pounds a head worse than last fortnight. I don't know how our rents are to be made up if things go on as they are doing. Lucky fellow, you don't mind market. Been to Kirjath, have you? Wish you joy of your new minister, Mrs. Lyon. My boy says he is a right enough sort of chap, and no mistake. Ah, Mrs. Lyon, a good minister is a great privilege; my boy always says so. You did miss him at Kirjath to-day, Miss Daisy, didn't you? Sir Robert sent for him to see the pictures that he has new brought home from London, else he would not have stayed away from Kirjath on any account. He said he was devilish sorry he couldn't be at the business to-day.'
Mr. Sempill is indeed a great gain to the Church,' said Mrs. Lyon in very pointed tones. I wish you had heard what he said last Sabbath about ordering our conversation aright, Mr. Nesbitt.' 'No doubt, ma'am, no doubt. I'm sure it must have been devilish to the point. I expect my boy will go a deal to his meetings. You have no idea how pious he is grown; he is always running to Kirjath, or some other place where preaching or praying is going on.' Mr. Lyon gave his horse the whip, and the road branching off to Broomknowes saved them from further profanity, and the old sinner rode off, exulting with tipsy satisfaction at the politic language he had used, and the impression which he must have made upon the ladies by his accounts of his son's piety.
'Daisy Lyon,' said the mother between her teeth, as she was
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. But excuses, 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 his 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