The City of Fire (Chapter 10, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 10

The service that evening had been one of peculiar tenderness. The
minister prayed so earnestly for the graces of forgiveness, loving
kindness and tender mercy, that several in the congregation began to
wonder who had been hard on his neighbor now. It was almost uncanny
sometimes how that minister spotted out the faults and petty
differences in his flock. Many examined their own hearts fearfully
during the prayer, but at its close the face of the senior Elder was
stern and severe as ever as he lifted his hymn book and began to turn
the leaves to the place.

Then the organ mellowed forth joyously: "Give to the winds thy fears,
Trust and be undismayed,
God hears thy prayers and counts thy tears
God shall lift up thy head."

Elder Harricutt would much rather it had been "God the All Terrible."
His lips were pursed for battle. He knew the minister was going to be
soft hearted again, and it would fall to his lot to uphold the spotless
righteousness of the church. That had been his attitude ever since he
became a Christian. He had always been trying to find a flaw in Mr.
Severn's theology, but much to his astonishment and perhaps
disappointment, he had never yet been able to find a point on which
they disagreed theologically, when it came right down to old fashioned
religion, but he was always expecting that the next sermon would be the
one wherein the minister had broken loose from the old dyed-in-the-wool
creeds and joined himself to the new and advanced thinkers, than whom,
in his opinion, there were no lower on the face of God's earth. And yet
in spite of it all he loved the minister, and was his strong admirer
and loyal adherent, self-appointed mentor though he felt himself to be.

Over on the other side of the church Elder Duncannon, tall, gaunt,
hairy, with kind gray eyes and a large mouth, reminding slightly of
Abraham Lincoln, sang earnestly, through steel bowed spectacles
adjusted far out on the end of his nose. Behind him Lemuel Tipton, also
an elder, sandy, with cherry lips, apple cheeks and a fringe of
grizzled red hair under his chin, sang with his head thrown back,
looking like a big robin. The minister knew he could depend on those
two. He scanned his audience. The elders were all present. Gibson. He
had a narrow forehead, near-sighted eyes, and an inclination to take
the opposite side from the minister. His lips were thin, and he pursed
them often, and believed in efficiency and discipline. He would
undoubtedly go with Harricutt. Jones, the short fat one who owned the
plush mills and hated boys. He had taken sides against Mark about the
memorial window. No hope from him! Fowler, small, thin, gray, with a
retreating chin, had once lived next to Mrs. Carter and had a difference
about some hens that strayed away to lay. Harricutt likely had him all
primed. Jones, Gibson, Harricutt--three against three. Joyce's vote
would decide it. Joyce was a new man, owner of the canneries. He was a
great stickler for proprieties, yet he seemed to feel that a minister's
word was law--Well--! God was still above--!

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