The old Tabbies might find something better to talk about, he said, his face hardening. Oh, Amy, thats the kind of thing that makes a man cringe! I mean a minister. Here is this great, serious, strenuous matter of living the consciousness of God; thats what living is in its highest expression. And to further that consciousness is the divinest human passion. A man tries to do it, gives his life to it, and immediately he is food for chattering old women! They gossip about his affairs, or his clothes, or his looks, even! William West sat up, his face stirred with anger and pity. But I suppose I must admit that the Parsons bring it on themselves to some extent, he ended, with a sigh; we dont mingle enough with men; they[7] distrust us, and think we talk twaddle about overcoming temptations we know nothing about. So, being shut out from masculine living, we do haunt tea-tables, and gabble about vestments. I suppose theres no doubt of it. Amy, I believe that the old hunting, swearing parsons of three generations ago were of more real value in the world than the harmless creatures that we have now!

He had a certain stern way of thrusting out his lower lip when he was very much in earnest, and drawing his strong brows together; an impatient fire sprang into his beautiful dark eyes. He turned and looked at her, claiming her understanding.
Yes, she said; yes, it is so. The belittling of the profession of the ministry is a dreadful thing a shameful thing. I once heard a man say that Elderly unmarried women always had to have something to fuss over and coddle, something to lead around by a blue ribbon. Sometimes it was a poodle; sometimes it was a clergyman. And there s truth in it, Billy.

There is, he said grimly. Well, dear, she reassured him, smiling, your distinguished rudeness to the ladies of your congregation has at least protected you from the blue ribbon.
He began to protest, but the talk slipped back into their own affairs, and somehow he succeeded in getting her hand, and by and by they were silent, just for happiness, and because it was sunset, and the river was flickering with light, and there was a faint stir of leaves overhead. They were to be married in a fortnight, and they were going to have all their lives together to say how good life was, so there was no need to talk now.

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