Dangerous Days HTML version
That afternoon, accompanied by a rather boyishly excited elderly clergyman, he
took two hours off from the mill and purchased a new car for Doctor Haverford.
The rector was divided between pleasure at the gift and apprehension at its cost,
but Clayton, having determined to do a thing, always did it well.
"Nonsense," he said. "My dear man, the church has owed you this car for at least
ten years. If you get half the pleasure out of using it that I'm having in presenting
it to you, it will be well worth while. I only wish you'd let me endow the thing. It's
likely to cost you a small fortune."
Doctor Hayerford insisted that he could manage that. He stood off, surveying with
pride not unmixed with fear its bright enamel, its leather linings, the complicated
system of dials and bright levers which filled him with apprehension.
"Delight says I must not drive it," he said. "She is sure I would go too fast, and
run into things. She is going to drive for me."
"How is Delight?"
"I wish you could see her, Clayton. She - well, all young girls are lovely, but
sometimes I think Delight is lovelier than most. She is much older than I am, in
many ways. She looks after me like a mother. But she has humor, too. She has
been drawing the most outrageous pictures of me arrested for speeding, and she
has warned me most gravely against visiting road houses!"
"But Delight will have to be taught, if she is to run the car."
"The salesman says they will send some one."
"They give one lesson, I believe. That's not enough. I think Graham could show
her some things. He drives well."
Flying uptown a little later in Clayton's handsome car, the rector dreamed certain
dreams. First his mind went to his parish visiting list, so endless, so never
cleaned up, and now about to be made a pleasure instead of a penance. And
into his mind, so strangely compounded of worldliness and spirituality, came a
further dream - of Delight and Graham Spencer - of ease at last for the girl after
the struggle to keep up appearances of a clergyman's family in a wealthy parish.
Money had gradually assumed an undue importance in his mind. Every Sunday,
every service, he dealt in money. He reminded his people of the church debt. He
begged for various charities. He tried hard to believe that the money that came in
was given to the Lord, but he knew perfectly well that it went to the janitor and
the plumber and the organist. He watched the offertory after the sermon, and
only too often as he stood waiting, before raising it before the altar, he wondered
if the people felt that they had received their money's worth.
He had started life with a dream of service, but although his own sturdy faith
persisted, he had learned the cost of religion in dollars and cents. So, going up
town, he wondered if Clayton would increase his church subscription, now that
things were well with him.
"After all," he reflected, "war is not an unmixed evil," and outlined a sermon, to be
called the Gains of War, and subsequently reprinted in pamphlet form and sold
for the benefit of the new altar fund. He instructed Jackson to drive to the parish