"You are lucky to have any thing finished," he rejoined. "Since Hazard
got here every thing is turned upside down; all the plans are changed.
He and Wharton have taken the bit in their teeth, and the church
committee have got to pay for whatever damage is done."
"Has Mr. Hazard voice enough to fill the church?" she asked.
"Watch him, and see how well he'll do it. Here he comes, and he will hit
the right pitch on his first word."
The organ stopped, the clergyman appeared, and the talkers were silent
until the litany ended and the organ began again. Under the prolonged
rustle of settling for the sermon, more whispers passed.
"He is all eyes," murmured Esther; and it was true that at this
distance the preacher seemed to be made up of two eyes and a voice, so
slight and delicate was his frame. Very tall, slender and dark, his
thin, long face gave so spiritual an expression to his figure that the
great eyes seemed to penetrate like his clear voice to every soul within
"Good art!" muttered her companion.
"We are too much behind the scenes," replied she.
"It is a stage, like any other," he rejoined; "there should be an
_entre-acte_ and drop-scene. Wharton could design one with a last
"He would put us into it, George, and we should be among the wicked."
"I am a martyr," answered George shortly.
The clergyman now mounted his pulpit and after a moment's pause said in
his quietest manner and clearest voice:
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
An almost imperceptible shiver passed through Esther's figure.
"Wait! he will slip in the humility later," muttered George.
On the contrary, the young preacher seemed bent on letting no trace of
humility slip into his first sermon. Nothing could be simpler than his
manner, which, if it had a fault, sinned rather on the side of plainness
and monotony than of rhetoric, but he spoke with the air of one who had
a message to deliver which he was more anxious to give as he received
than to add any thing of his own; he meant to repeat it all without an
attempt to soften it...