The Stumbling Shepherd - H.A. Cody - ebook
Opis

Thanks to the main character, readers will be able to understand the value of books. It all starts with the fact that he finds an amazing book. The writings of the early fathers of the Church in their gloomy bindings occupied the lowest shelf. Above them, rank by rank, were collected church stories, ancient, modern and medieval. All the articles on his desk were organized according to his preferences.

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Liczba stron: 412

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Contents

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XIX

Chapter XX

Chapter XXI

Chapter XXII

Chapter XXIII

Chapter XXIV

Chapter XXV

Chapter XXVI

Chapter XXVII

Chapter XXVIII

Chapter XXIX

Chapter XXX

Chapter XXXI

Chapter XXXII

Chapter XXXIII

Chapter XXXIV

Chapter I

THE NIGHT CALL

His trouble seemed to begin the evening he found that book out of its place. It startled him as he sat before the bright wood-fire. He had not noticed it at first, so intent was he upon watching the flames and enjoying the big comfortable chair after his long drive. But as his eyes turned at length to his beloved books, and he noticed that one of them was out of its usual position, he rose to his feet and stepped swiftly forward.

The other volumes stood like perfectly-trained soldiers on dress-parade. They were a goodly collection, chosen through long years with considerable care. Writings of the early Fathers of the Church in their sombre bindings occupied the lowest shelf. Above them, rank upon rank, were marshalled Church histories, ancient, modern, and medieval, with homiletics, apologetics, dogmatics, and liturgics. There was nothing light or frivolous in the entire array. They were all grim and stern weapons in the armory of him whose hands had placed them there, and whose eyes had studied their pages with the master’s keen interest and delight.

But one was askew, and the man wondered as he pushed it back until it was in line with its companions. He was worried.

“I am getting careless. I must have left it that way while preparing my sermon last night. I am certain that no one else here would have occasion to use my Greek dictionary. Yes, I must have done it myself. It is most unusual.”

He glanced about the room as if to find any other sign of his carelessness. But everything in that study was in its proper place. All the articles on his writing-table were arranged according to his liking. Paper, pens and ink were in mathematical order. The few books on the centre-table were lying just as he had left them. Nothing could be observed to cause him the least worry. He gave a sigh of relief as he once again sat down before the fire. The tongs and poker immediately attracted his attention. Rachel must have moved them while lighting the fire. When he had straightened them up he felt more satisfied. But not entirely, for the thought of that book was still in his mind, and several times his brow wrinkled in annoyance.

Complete system and order were vital factors to the Reverend Daniel Landrose, Rector of Green Mount. They formed part of his nature, and after forty years in the Ministry they were most deeply rooted.

“Order is one of God’s great laws,” he always argued. “He delights in it, and sets us the example. If the inanimate things around us obey His behest, should not we who are made in His image?”

And this idea he applied not only to his own life but to his dealings with the members of his flock, and in his instructions concerning the one great Cause in which he was so earnestly engaged.

At the sound of a small bell he left the fire and went to the dining-room. The table was neatly set, and his eyes shone with pleasurable anticipation at the supper his housekeeper had prepared.

“This is very nice,” he praised, after he had bent his head in a silent grace and taken his seat at the table. “It is good of you, Rachel, to light that fire for me in the study. It is unusually raw for this time of the year, and I was quite chilled after my long drive.”

A slight smile of amusement overspread the woman’s face at these words of commendation. They were most familiar to her, as she had heard them so often before. There had not been an evening for months past that she had not had the fire lighted for him upon his return home. She always heard him as he drove into the stable, and knew almost to the minute when he would enter the house after he had stabled his horse. It was his systematic habit of years.

As the parson ate his supper, Rachel busied herself in the kitchen, coming in occasionally to attend to his wants.

“By the way, Rachel,” he said as she came back for the third time, “was anybody in the study to-day besides yourself?”

“Why, no, sir, not to my knowledge. What makes you think there was?”

“Because I found one of my books, my Greek dictionary, to be more exact, removed from its accustomed place. Are you sure you did not do it?”

Rachel thought for a minute, and then her face brightened to a smile as she noticed the worried expression in the parson’s eyes and surmised its meaning.

“I believe I did move several of those books this morning,” she at length acknowledged.

“You did!” There was an eagerness in the old man’s voice, and the anxious look vanished. “Are you sure?”

“I am, sir. I was chasing a moth and it alighted on top of one of those books, and I had to take down several before I could catch it. I may have left one somewhat out of place.”

Parson Dan gave a deep sigh of relief as he folded his napkin and placed it in its ring.

“You have lifted a weight from my mind, Rachel. Forgetfulness in little things has always given me much worry, as you well know. It not only tells of negligence, but it is sometimes a sign of mental decay. I would not like to think that the latter condition applies to me. Although I have been a long time in the Ministry I feel physically as strong as ever. I also believe that my mental faculties are unimpaired, and, in fact, are in their prime. I have heard that old men are not wanted in the Ministry, and that only young men can do effective work. That is wrong. I am sure that I can give better service to-day than forty years ago. Surely my long experience, knowledge and study should far outweigh the advantages of youth about which so many prate. I never had the least doubt until I found that book partly removed from its place. I then feared that I had been laboring under a delusion, and that mental decay had already set in. Your explanation has lifted a weight from my mind. I was not forgetful, after all.”

“If you were not, then I am,” Rachel replied. “I have forgotten to deliver the message which came for you this evening. How stupid of me! You are wanted at the hotel as soon as possible. A sick woman is anxious to see you.”

“At the hotel!” the parson exclaimed in surprise. “I did not know it was open yet for visitors, as it is too early for them to come here.”

“I know it is, but an old woman and her daughter came there a few days ago. Mrs. Wickham told me about them when she brought the message. Susie Wickham is working at the hotel, so she told her mother about the old woman.”

“What is her name, Rachel?”

“I cannot remember, although Mrs. Wickham told me. I am getting very forgetful.”

“Never mind about her name, Rachel. I suppose it wouldn’t mean anything to me if I did hear it. What did Susie say about her? I like to be somewhat prepared when I call upon a stranger.”

“She is very odd and worries her grand-daughter almost to death, so Susie said. Until she was taken suddenly ill yesterday, she asked many questions about this parish. She seems greatly interested in you, too.”

“In me!” the parson gasped. “Why should she be interested in me? What did she want to know about an old parson?”

“How long you have been here, and what you look like.”

“Ho, ho! She must think I am a curiosity. Perhaps that is why she wishes to see me. Does she expect to find me a dried up fossil or a curio of some sort such as tourists are always seeking? Is it possible that my long years here have made me a special attraction? I have half a mind not to go.”

“But she is very ill now, so Mrs. Wickham said,” Rachel reminded. “Our own doctor has been to see her, and another has been up from the city for special consultation. She is very wealthy, so Susie told her mother.”

“Well, if she is ill it is my duty to go, Rachel. I have never refused such a request yet, and I am too old to begin now. But I do not like to go merely to satisfy a morbid curiosity.”

The clergyman rose slowly from the table, and Rachel noticed that he was very weary.

“It is too bad that you have to go out again to-night, sir.”

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