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thought of ridiculing the curtains. I was merely trying to convince Mrs. Burcham that they do not come under the head of the pomps of this world."
"I should think not," returned Aunt Vin, emphatically. "Seems to me they'd go better among the fortifications of the flesh. Though, to be sure, you've put in those patches and darns so nicely that they ain't even risible from here. But when I do get nigh enough to extinguish 'em, they go to my heart. They show so plainly how ministers have to save and pinch to get along and keep up a decent apparition before folks,-for it won't do for ministers to go shabby, they nor their houses,-they've got to look respectable outside, though they've got nothing inside but the heads of their next concourse and an appetite! And what toils and hardships they have to endure, and no thanks to nobody! Poor creturs! they have to do the most work for the least rumination of anybody I know of!"
And Aunt Vin went back to her work, shaking her head most lugubriously.
Mrs. Burcham started to follow her, but stopped in the doorway to say, petulantly,
"I'm sick of hearing people talk about ministers' toils and sacrifices! As if they weren't well paid for it!"
Now this has been a sore point with me, Francesca, ever since I found Cousin Will in that miserable little fossilized parish of Redburn, in a community of well-to-do farmers, going without eggs, milk, or butter, for weeks together, to say nothing of things even more necessary ;--in short, patiently solving the problem how little could keep body and soul together; and in imminent danger of sundering that long-suffering pair, some frosty morning, by a very slight miscalculation. I suddenly flashed out, therefore:
"Do you really think they are well paid for it, Mrs. Burcham? When you send for a clergyman, at dead of night, to baptize your sick child, do you pay him for it?
When you desire him to come five miles into the country to preach a sermon over it, and three miles in. another direction to see it decently buried,-obliging him to hire a horse and carriage for the transit,-do you pay him for it? When he visits you in your desolation, and teaches you how to assume the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness, do you pay him for it? When he leads you, step by step, down into the valley of the shadow of death, -never letting go your hand until he has put it into the strong, tender one of Christ,—do you pay him for it? And while, year after year, he watches for your soul, as one who must give account; battling with your indifference, bearing with your asperities, patient with your infirmities, gentle with your prejudices, sorrowing over your lapses into sin, carrying you daily before the throne of grace, and wrestling with God, as Jacob of old, for a blessing upon you and yours,-do you pay him for it? Or are all these things ' in the bond' whereby Shiloh (Shylock were the better name, methinks!) agrees to receive him as her clergyman, and to pay something less than four hundred dollars for his services? Does that mean service by day, service by night, service in sickness, service in health, service of head and heart, service of prayer and teaching, service of care, of counsel, of warning, of forbearance, of consolation? Are all his kindly affections and quiet charities,-every timely admonition,-every sympathetic tear,-every product of brain and hand,-reckoned as bought and paid for by that four hundred dollars? Does nothing remain for friendliness, for generosity? For four hundred dollars, is he supposed to have become so poor, abject, slavish, that he has nothing left to give to another,-either of the warmth of his heart, the utterance of his lips, or the prayers of his soul? Are none of these his? are they all 'i' the bond?' All sold to Shiloh for four hundred dollars! And an excellent bargain! He is well paid!'"
MRS. BURCHAM (looking somewhat aghast). Of course I didn't mean all that, Miss Frost!
I. Will you be good enough to tell me what you did mean, then?
MRS. BURCHAM (stammering). Why-a-you know—a -that-a-we have a right to expect that our minister shall visit us in sickness, and attend our funerals, and all those things, because we all help to support him, you know.
I. Help to support him! There it is! Every other laborer is supposed to support himself by his labor; a clergyman is said to be "supported by" his parish. He never earns a fair salary, but his people "give him a comfortable support! Did it ever occur to you to say that you helped to support your grocer, butcher, shoemaker, physician, lawyer, Mrs. Burcham? Did you ever base on that ground a claim to overweight in every pound of sugar, gratuitous supplies of meat, several pairs of shoes per year as a bonus for your patronage, night-visits never to be charged in the bill, and briefs and travelling not to be included in the fees? Yet a clergyman has his regular work, for which he receives a stipulated payment, just as much as any of these,-writing of sermons on week-days, officiating in desk and pulpit on Sundays, care of Sunday School, baptism of infants, regular visitation of parish, and perhaps burials of his own congregation (which he has a right to expect will be so arranged as to cause him no expense). If, in addition to these, out of the largeness of his heart and his zeal for his Master's service, he chooses to hold himself at the beck and call of every conscience-stricken soul, every sick woman, every dying man, every corpse, every mourner, every poverty-pinched household, within a radius of five miles of his dwelling; though such claimant never entered his church nor gave a sixpence toward his salary; let it be so accounted of as a favor, a deed of brotherly kindness, a loving gift of a generous heart, to be gratefully received and thankfully acknowledged, and not as a service set down in the bond, and duly paid for! Do not assume that,
because he is paid for conducting public worship, he is also paid for kneeling at your bedside and commending your soul to God. In the first place, love, sympathy, private prayers, are not bought and sold in the market. In the second place, if they were, they would command a higher price.
MRS. BURCHAM (having recovered herself). You speak very contemptuously of that four hundred dollars; I suppose it does seem small to any one with extravagant city notions. But it is more than half the families in Shiloh have to live upon. Major Burcham and I haven't spent over three hundred, this last year, all told.
MISS ESSIE. Did you reckon all the milk, butter, eggs, potatoes, early vegetables, pork, rye, etc., that you used, at the market price?
MRS. BURCHAM (carelessly). Oh! we raise all those things, you know!
ESSIE (with a fiery spark in her eye). But Mr. Taylor does not raise them, you know! He has his sermons to write, and he must hold himself in readiness to respond to your calls in sickness, trouble and death. He buys them, and you sell them to him at the highest market prices. You do not think them worth reckoning among your living expenses; they form a large item in his. If they really cost you nothing, why not let him have them at the same cheap rate? Come, I'll be one of fifteen or twenty to furnish Mr. Taylor with everything of ordinary farm-growth that he needs during the coming year. If we do not feel the loss of what we use ourselves, nor make any account of it, we shall not be ruined by an additional fifteenth or twentieth of his consumption.
There was a dead silence.
Then Mrs. Shemnar said, with her weak little laugh, "It's all very well for rich people like you, Essie Volger, to make such a proposal, but―"
ESSIE (interrupting her). That shall not stand in the
way for a moment.
I will give two shares, or three, in
proportion to my means.
Another silence. Essie waited for some moments, while the flush slowly faded from her cheek; then she resumed her work, and her full, red lip took on its most scornful
BONA (softly). Do you not see that all your discussion, carried on in this spirit, is worse than useless? Mrs. Burcham and Mrs. Shemnar will remember all your gibes and stings, and forget your reasoning.
I (choking down an irritating remark that was rising to my lips). Well! a truce to discussion! No doubt Mrs. Burcham will find her own graceful and effectual way of showing her regard for Mr. Taylor; even though she does not join in our curtain-mending, nor accept your proposition in regard to the farm-produce, Miss Essie. Probably she realizes, not less fully than we, that his happiness and that of his family depend, from henceforth, very much upon the kindness, sympathy, and forbearance, of this people. She feels that whatever we do to make his abode a "House Beautiful," will, like all kindly, unselfish work, react favorably upon ourselves. Any parish which does its best to provide its clergyman with a pleasant and convenient home; thereby freeing him from petty annoyances and cares, and enabling him to give his mind more unreservedly to his intellectual and moral work; will surely find its account, not only in the heartier, more thorough and more helpful ministrations it will receive, but in its own warmer interest and affection, and its more vigorous life. And there will be, between it and its minister, a continually increasing interchange of kindly deeds, delicate consideration, gratitude, sympathy, love. Very different from the parochial relation which exists where the clergyman is expected to visit constantly, and never be visited; always to sympathize, yet ask for no sympathy; to pray for all, and be prayed for of none; to study the welfare of each individual in his