XIV. Mrs. Alec Davis Makes A Call
John Meredith walked slowly home. At first he thought a little about Rosemary,
but by the time he reached Rainbow Valley he had forgotten all about her and
was meditating on a point regarding German theology which Ellen had raised. He
passed through Rainbow Valley and knew it not. The charm of Rainbow Valley
had no potency against German theology. When he reached the manse he went
to his study and took down a bulky volume in order to see which had been right,
he or Ellen. He remained immersed in its mazes until dawn, struck a new trail of
speculation and pursued it like a sleuth hound for the next week, utterly lost to
the world, his parish and his family. He read day and night; he forgot to go to his
meals when Una was not there to drag him to them; he never thought about
Rosemary or Ellen again. Old Mrs. Marshall, over-harbour, was very ill and sent
for him, but the message lay unheeded on his desk and gathered dust. Mrs.
Marshall recovered but never forgave him. A young couple came to the manse to
be married and Mr. Meredith, with unbrushed hair, in carpet slippers and faded
dressing gown, married them. To be sure, he began by reading the funeral
service to them and got along as far as "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" before
he vaguely suspected that something was wrong.
"Dear me," he said absently, "that is strange--very strange."
The bride, who was very nervous, began to cry. The bridegroom, who was not in
the least nervous, giggled.
"Please, sir, I think you're burying us instead of marrying us," he said.
"Excuse me," said Mr. Meredith, as it it did not matter much. He turned up the
marriage service and got through with it, but the bride never felt quite properly
married for the rest of her life.
He forgot his prayer-meeting again--but that did not matter, for it was a wet night
and nobody came. He might even have forgotten his Sunday service if it had not
been for Mrs. Alec Davis. Aunt Martha came in on Saturday afternoon and told
him that Mrs. Davis was in the parlour and wanted to see him. Mr. Meredith
sighed. Mrs. Davis was the only woman in Glen St. Mary church whom he
positively detested. Unfortunately, she was also the richest, and his board of
managers had warned Mr. Meredith against offending her. Mr. Meredith seldom
thought of such a worldly matter as his stipend; but the managers were more
practical. Also, they were astute. Without mentioning money, they contrived to
instil into Mr. Meredith's mind a conviction that he should not offend Mrs. Davis.
Otherwise, he would likely have forgotten all about her as soon as Aunt Martha
had gone out. As it was, he turned down his Ewald with a feeling of annoyance
and went across the hall to the parlour.
Mrs. Davis was sitting on the sofa, looking about her with an air of scornful
What a scandalous room! There were no curtains on the window. Mrs. Davis did
not know that Faith and Una had taken them down the day before to use as court
trains in one of their plays and had forgotten to put them up again, but she could
not have accused those windows more fiercely if she had known. The blinds